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Comment: Re:Copenhagen interpretation != less complicated (Score 1) 158

by mothlos (#48635941) Attached to: Quantum Physics Just Got Less Complicated

even if it makes some things easier to understand it's not generally the most useful way to think about QM

Engineers use Newtonian gravity as the basis for their equations because they are more practical than using relativity. Even if this theory were to turn out to better describe the universe, actual work would get done using simpler, good-enough probabilistic equations instead of the deterministic ones, but that wouldn't change the fact that the new theory better explains the total body of observations we have.

and arguably in some sense can't be the way Nature does what it does.

Why would this be the case? Chaotic systems as a class are extremely difficult to calculate, but we have plenty of examples of them in nature.

Comment: an issue of terminology (Score 1) 1042

by mothlos (#48583325) Attached to: Time To Remove 'Philosophical' Exemption From Vaccine Requirements?

"Philosophical" exemptions are, in effect, no different from religious exemptions, it simply words things to be more understanding of non-"religious" beliefs. To target philosophical exemptions is to hold supernatural philosophies higher than naturalistic philosophies, a road we should probably avoid.

Comment: Reasons (Score 1) 516

by mothlos (#48466739) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

Medium sized power outages are generally caused by a failure of local transmission lines. These lines are frequently exposed to a variety of hazards, particularly trees, wind, ice, wildlife, and humans. There are only really two ways to secure against this, burying cables and building redundancy, both of which are quite expensive. Transmission fees in the USA are usually heavily regulated and the prices they may charge would not cover such an expense. It is also unclear if a market would want to pay for this, and it is very difficult to discriminate in price and service among customers who would.

Finally, bureaucracy and in-fighting between local utility providers sometimes blocks redundancy when it might otherwise available. Historical feuds, hurt feelings over regulatory decisions regarding service area, and disagreements over cost sharing to handle inter-network connections can leave one person at the end of a service line with no way to get power from another provider just down the road.

Comment: Re:Flawed, 'cos... (Score 1) 454

by mothlos (#48445881) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

1. Peak demand. In car-culture areas there's a peak demand. *Someone* has to own the rush hour fleet. But no business is going to want to invest in a fleet that has 21 hours of downtime during non-peak loads.

This isn't the comparison which makes the most sense. The question is, "Can fleet ownership result in greater value for consumers significant enough to make a profit?". Most of the trips that residential vehicles make are commuter trips, but the vehicles making these trips are very often compromise vehicles, capable of doing a larger variety of tasks. If the surge is commuters, the commuter fleet can mostly be made of much smaller, task-oriented vehicles, reducing fleet costs. Many of these vehicles will be able to service multiple users sequentially, since the starting and ending times for work surge over a two-three hour period, increasing utility rates. A non-insignificant portion of this surge fleet will still be in use by people throughout the day. The reduced nuisance of parking could increase useage for things like lunch trips. The potential for there to be economies of scale is here and benefits from fleet ownership, so this cannot be simply dismissed.

The logic of where the savings exist can be thought of in terms of, "Are there savings that self-driving vehicles could accomplish with smaller modifications to the system?". If I had a way of making my self-driving vehicle available to people to pay me to use during the day, that would result in an overall increase in economic efficiency. If it was more convenient for people to rent specialty vehicles, utilization would increase and rental costs would decrease such that my every-day car could be optimized for commuting tasks and thus less expensive, more than offsetting the occasional rental costs of specialty rentals, increasing economic efficiency. These efficiencies are easier to realize with fleet ownership and thus there is room for cost savings for consumers and profits for a fleet owner.

2. Consumers want reliability and 100% availability. Consider Uber and Lyft that promise this, except during surge pricing periods. People hate this. It's economically correct in the case of Uber and Lyft, and an obvious idea, but surge pricing during rush hour isn't going to work. People will still own their own cars.

The problem with Uber, Lyft, car sharing, and taxies is that pockets of high useage have a lasting decrease in service availability in those areas. With self-driving vehicles, there is a very small cost to shifting resources to fill in empty pockets of the map. Yes, this becomes problematic the more rural one gets, but in urban and suburban environments, populations densities are high enough that with high levels of utilization, it could easily be economical to make it a very rare occurrence to not have a vehicle able to be at any address within a small number of minutes after being summoned.

3. Personalization and customization. Hey, I like my cars stock, but I still have my stuff in the center console, my presets on the stereo (yes, 760 am in the morning, I'm a dying breed), and my iPhone paired to Sync. A different car every day isn't going to cut it. And think about comfort, especially on a commute. If it's hit or miss as far as comfort, people are willing to pay for 100% access to a Fusion versus an Elantra (or choose an Elantra versus a smaller B-sized car).

Storing crap in one's car is probably the best argument for what will bother people about changing to this system, as having to lug crap out to the car while you are on the clock is a stress people will likely often buckle under; however, this seems like a problem which could be solved by some interesting lateral thinking. Radio presets are an easily solvable problem and luxury models are a method of price discrimination which would likely very quickly enter the marketplace, although it would be strains on my previous arguments. Much of the other elements of vehicle size and status are an extension of driving and how it feels to do so and they diminish greatly when one is a passenger. A self-driving sports car would lose a lot of its mystique. Another 'comfort' issue would be managing vehicle cleanliness between users, which might be a difficult problem as well. Of course, airlines have shown that people will tolerate an awful lot of discomfort in order to save a buck, so this is all a big open question.

4. Toy haulers. You're not going to call Uber or Lyft to tow your trailer to a state park or tow your boat to a launch. And this isn't 99%'er speaking, this is blue collar worker in my part of the country.

I really don't understand the objection here. In fact, I think owning trailer toys would be easier in a self-driving world as it can be expensive to own, operate, and maintain a huge vehicle for these purposes when you only use the towing feature a few times per year and many are not comfortable hauling a trailer at all. A self-driving towing vehicle available on your intermittent schedule and which would then be used by other people on the next weekend seems like an easy win.

All of this is going to depend on balancing a lot of variables and developing logistics algorithms and a hell of a lot of accounting, but this is not incredibly difficult stuff, just a bit tricky to get right. It is not immediately obvious that fleet ownership of residential vehicles is uneconomical and plenty of reasons for smart people to sit down and crunch numbers with the potential for them to make money and for consumers to save money under the new system.

Comment: Re: Lies, damned lies, statistics (Score 1) 551

by mothlos (#48316847) Attached to: In this year's US mid-term elections ...

While your comment has some insight, it shows the difficulties with the terms involved and the general lack of consistency of them.

Libertarian movements tend to share the commonality that large bureaucratic governments tend to lose the detail of personal-level problems and thus do a poor job of mediating them.

The big difference between Libetranianism and Libertarian Socialism is an evaluation of what the problems are and how the quality of outcomes should be measured. Libertarians tend to feel that justice is allowing people to rise and fall on their own merits and government in a force which allows those with less merit to benefit at the expense of the freedom of those with greater merit; they measure success on the lack of restrictions placed upon people's ambitions. Libertarian Socialists tend to feel that the natural state is for humans in small communities to help and support each other and that large bureaucratic governments empower actors to disrupt this in order to exploit people more effectively; they measure success on the closeness of person-level communities and their compassion for their neighbors.

In both cases, they seek smaller government, but the justifications for why this is desireable are very different with the division being the common political fault of fairness of opportunity vs. compassion of outcome. Since individuals tend to be more complex than these ideals can represent, members of these movements borrow from both, so it isn't surprising to hear ideas which are most at home in one ideology appearing in conversations about the other.

As for the term 'anarchist', it does get lobbed around a lot at both of these groups, but historical anarchist movements have tended to be more of the Libertarian Socialist sort, with calls for the development of human-scale, participatory governance over the rule of an econo-political elite. Libertarians don't really have a widely held policy proposal in the area of precisely how to structure the governance that they feel is necessary, so their calls for a radically less intrusive government presence combined with this lack of a detailed story of how governance would function leads many down the slippery slope of effectively no governance at all.

Comment: Re:.. and this is new ? (Score 1) 83

by mothlos (#48062339) Attached to: It's Not Just How Smart You Are: Curiosity Is Key To Learning

Unfortunately, not. Educational theory is a highly divided and conservative field. There are still plenty of educators who doggedly believe that students learn by behaviorist incentive motivation (carrots and sticks) and that students are blank slates. The idea that education should consider and perhaps even change in response to the internal motivations of students is an idea which has been around for decades, but has continued to be slow to catch on. Perhaps research like this, as limited in its scope as it might be, can provide quantities to convince more that student curiosity is an important factor in learning.

+ - Elixir 1.0.0 Released->

Submitted by mothlos
mothlos (832302) writes "

Elixir is a dynamic, functional language designed for building scalable and maintainable applications.

Where languages like Scala and Clojure implement concurrent, functional languages on a VM designed for imperative code, Elixir, instead, is a re-imagining Erlang on Erlang's own VM with a proven record running extremely high-availability, distributed systems. With a Ruby-inspired syntax, Lisp-inspired metaprogramming, and no-overhead compatibility with Erlang's libraries, Elixir makes a decades-honed toolset for concurrent programming more accessible than ever."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Dates (Score 1) 252

by mothlos (#46174275) Attached to: North Korea's Home-Grown Operating System Mimics OS X

I wasn't referencing the linked articles, but commenting on the summary.

The Red Star OS is peppered with North Korean propaganda, and its calendar tells users it is not 2014, but 103 — the number of years since the birth of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung.

The term "propaganda" may have inoccuous roots, but clearly holds a sinister connotation and it is juxtoposed in the same sentence with the bit about the North Korean year. This is the xenophobic fear mongering I was referencing.

Comment: Dates (Score 0, Offtopic) 252

by mothlos (#46167031) Attached to: North Korea's Home-Grown Operating System Mimics OS X

its calendar tells users it is not 2014, but 103

So what? Is this supposed to be some menacing thing that one group of people use a different date system than I do? Should I be concerned that in Japan the state writes Heisei 26 as the year on official documents? There are serious problems in North Korea, but we don't need to stoop to xenophobic fear mongering to illustrate it.

Comment: Perhaps not everybody, but many more (Score 2) 387

by mothlos (#46133581) Attached to: Should Everybody Learn To Code?

Having worked in office environments, the amount of effort office workers could reserve by having access to a decent scripting language is immense; I once saw someone renaming over three thousand files by hand in order to change a date format. The potential drawbacks are also fairly obvious since businesses tend to do a terrible job of managing their IT tools and anarchistic coding is going to make this worse. However, the potential for productivity enhancements is there and it seems like a challenge which can be largely overcome, particularly if the workforce had these skills which were languishing. If this is the reality we should to push for, then some sort of programming experience which can be linked to useful activities seems like it would be worthwhile for many, from the drones in the office to automated farm equipment and CNC operators.

Comment: Re:Short answer: no (Score 1) 400

by mothlos (#45777901) Attached to: Is Ruby Dying?

As a big fan of Ruby generally, I hate to take this side, but Ruby is definitely no longer for the 'cool' kids and the community has been shrinking a bit for a while now.

Your Google query chart is a bit wonky as it captures all sorts of oddities. Here is a revised chart which only looks at Computer + Electronics related searches using Google's categories for everything except Python, which I can't seem to figure out how to get it to appear.

Comment: What's the point of Bitcoin if this happens? (Score 1) 233

by mothlos (#45461081) Attached to: US Government Embraces Bitcoin in Hearing on Virtual Currency

The hopes underlying Bitcoin rely on the belief that this currency has qualities which other currencies lack, namely anonymity and freedom from government manipulation. This hearing seems to be a bunch of government officials saying that they love Bitcoin, but the government is already getting good at figuring out who is participating in transactions and wants to figure out how to regulate it, which would be a trick to pull off without making it vulnerable to government manipulation. What is left if these are no longer credible advantages?

Comment: Re:Why reinvent the wheel? (Score 1) 663

by mothlos (#45312015) Attached to: A Math Test That's Rotten To the Common Core

It is this sort of uninformed armchair policy making which is the greatest obstacle to legitimate education reform. We defer to engineers on how to best keep a bridge from falling, but everybody seems to be an expert when it comes to knowing what is best and what works in education.

The biggest problem with your assertion that educational methods at the turn of the twentieth century had indisputably better results than schools today is that schools which produced artifacts of their success weren't in the business of educating all of their students to their fullest potential. The grading system, which we maintain, was designed as a system of discrimination intended to sort students by academic capability and eventually into different tiers of work performance. These schools set a rigid standard and those who failed to meet it were simply marked as inferior. The entire system was designed around conformity to a standard and those who failed to conform were tossed aside. By this measure, dropping out of school is not only accepted, a low rejection rate was considered to be a sign of poor standards. This entire mindset is incompatible with our modern vision of an inclusive education system with an intended goal of raising everyone to their maximal learning potential.

Science and religion are in full accord but science and faith are in complete discord.

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