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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

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Comment: Re:Interesting retort (Score 1) 92

by rsmith-mac (#49145923) Attached to: Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech

I'm with you there. This really is a terrible layout, to the point that I first thought it was Firefox that was broken rather than Slashdot.

I've got a hidden Post button. Reply/Share links are overlaying comment text. Deep comments only fill the left half of the page. And everything else is unbounded to the left, resulting in stories and root comments being nearly the entire width of my screen.

Surely this was tested before it was rolled out, right?

Comment: Re: Cost savings (Score 1) 103

by JanneM (#49144065) Attached to: Argonne National Laboratory Shuts Down Online Ask a Scientist Program

It is ridiculous of course. It is also a common attitude among PI's toward their postdocs and students, especially in high-profile, high-pressure labs.

This letter from a PI to a worker made the rounds a few years ago. The PI claimed later it was a joke. It doesn't read like a joke, and the exact same attidude is not uncommon at all:

http://www.chemistry-blog.com/...

Comment: Re:I live in the Netherlands (Score 1) 270

by JanneM (#49134991) Attached to: I ride a bike ...

I used to ride every day. But my place of work changed, so now I walk and take the train instead. Around home we generally walk as well, so my bike sits unused for months on end.

Walking is also good exercize of course, but it does limit the range of places to go. I should fix up the bike and start using it again come spring.

Comment: Re:Black Mirror (Score 5, Insightful) 254

by JanneM (#49134869) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

Automation changes the source of production from workers to machines. And that separates the source of production from the source of consumption.

To put it simply, robots produce wealth but does not consume it. Humans consume wealth, but (in this possible future) can no longer produce it. Robots have owners of course, but even if you ignore what happens to the majority of people, a few extremely wealthy people can not possibly make up for the consumption shortfall. Ten-thousand people with 10k each vastly outconsume (by necessity) a single person worth 100M.

So, if the entities making wealth and those using wealth become separate, you need a way to transfer wealth from one to the other. If not, you will see a slow-moving economic collapse, as lack of demand and cost-cutting automation drive each other down.

A basic income, generated from a tax on production (transaction tax, energy tax, direct tax on machinery) is one way, and has the benefit of being simple, straightforward and having low administrative overhead.

Comment: Re:Sounds pretty awesome... (Score 2) 131

by JanneM (#49133731) Attached to: Developers Disclose Schematics For 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver

That said, I spend several years of my life helping to get rid of the Morse Code test for radio hams, so that smart folks like you could just take technical tests to get the license.

I'm currently assembling a Softrock Ensemble receiver just to play with SDR. I'm starting to become interested in more than passive receiving â" but a major part of my curiousity is about Morse, not voice. I can talk to anybody over the net after all, while Morse code communication feels like a very different kind of thing.

Comment: Re:Politics? (Score 4, Insightful) 103

by JanneM (#49133663) Attached to: Argonne National Laboratory Shuts Down Online Ask a Scientist Program

[...] and rather than cutting the least important program, they cut the most visible program, in an attempt to get their funding restored.

Honestly, though, a qestion-answer service for school children probably does rank among the least important programs for a research lab. I very much doubt this is part of their written remit (as opposed to communicate their actual research to the public), and the people spending time at work answering the questions certainly get zero professional recognition for it.

It does sound like a very nice, fun service. And I do agree that this kind of outreach is important. But if this is not part of what their funders want them to do, then it should come as no surprise if it's among the first things to go when money becomes tight.

You want this kind of thing to continue? Make sure there's funding (and paid time) earmarked for doing it. In fact, that may be a good idea in general: add a small fraction (.1% or even less) to any research grant over a certain size for general science outreach. If it's part of your funding, that also removes the career obstacles toward doing outreach we too often have now.

Comment: Re:amazing (Score 4, Interesting) 279

by JanneM (#49117441) Attached to: Intel Moving Forward With 10nm, Will Switch Away From Silicon For 7nm

I'm talking about the silicon chips doing the things that our brain can do, such as designing the next intel chip.

The major stumbling block isn't processor speed or capacity. It's that we don't know how to architect such a system in the first place.

And if you think about it, a lot of the "smart" things we want to automate really don't need anything like human-level or human-like intelligence. A car with the smarts of a mouse would do great as an autonomous vehicle. Real mice manage to navigate around a much more difficult, unpredictable and dangerous environment, using a far more complex and tricky locomotion system, after all.

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