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Comment: Re:New Rule in your region! (Score 1) 227

by Pfhorrest (#48207291) Attached to: Favorite clickbait hook?

"23 hot singles waiting to meet up with you in GEOSTATIONARY ORBIT." -- ads seen by astronauts

On a related note, a person I know who lives in a town with a tiny two-digit population once saw an ad like that claiming there were more hot single women in that town looking to meet up with him than there were people in that town total.

Comment: Re:Automated digesting (Score 2) 155

by nine-times (#48205857) Attached to: Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

Actually, I'd like to see better methods of processing/digesting email, but not for personal email.

My work email is flooded with all kinds of junk, and I wouldn't mind someone trying to improve that. I get a bunch of ads that I wouldn't necessarily call "spam", but their ads. I actually want to get some of them (they're sometimes relevant to my job), but it's always super-low priority. I also get copied on a bunch of stuff that I might want to look at, often don't really need to, but that I do want to keep a record of the exchange in my email.

I also get automated notifications for certain kinds of things which could stand to have automated intelligent processing. For example, I might have an automated alert set to email me when a server isn't responding to a ping, and I *do* want to see that. However, if the server's internet connection goes flaky overnight, I might end up with 80 messages saying, "Error: is offline", and then a little while later, "Recovery: is online". It'd be nice to have all of those rolled up into a email digest that says, "You received a flood of messages with similar subjects. Here is a list of them, in order." I don't know practically how you'd do that, but I wouldn't mind if someone were to figure that out. Considering how much spam still gets through my spam filters, I don't expect a solution anytime soon.

Anyway, my only point here is that there are improvements that could be made.

Comment: Re:Usury turns Free Markets into Capitalism (Score 1) 836

by Pfhorrest (#48192559) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

I agree that the real problem is ultimately with human nature, but "not complicated" is not the same thing as "easy". Everybody being nice to each other and getting along is a very uncomplicated solution, sure, but getting people to do that is really, really hard, if not outright impossible.

Given the unfeasibility of getting everyone to just play nice with each other, the next best solution is for enough good-intentioned people to band together into some kind of social institution to keep the bad-intentioned people from doing bad things. That in turn requires that institution to decide just what it's going to consider "bad things". The bad-intentioned people are of course going to do everything they can to game whatever system the good-intentioned people come up with. Which begins an arms race where the bad-intentioned people try to figure out clever holes in the rules to exploit to do bad things without getting called out on it, and the good-intentioned people try to recognize those exploits and patch those holes. What I was doing here was calling attention to a hole in the stated rules that's being exploited, and suggesting a patch for it.

In the end it does still all hang on having enough good-intentioned people standing up to the bad-intentioned people to stop them from doing bad things, but it also hangs just as much on the good-intentioned people correctly identifying all and only the bad things the need to be stopping.

Comment: Re:Usury turns Free Markets into Capitalism (Score 1) 836

by Pfhorrest (#48192521) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

You're right, automation throws a wrench in the works of the self-correcting dynamics of my usury-free market system, by completely devaluing labor; and the only way to prevent that is to make sure that everybody ends up owning a piece of the automated means of production, preferably before complete automation occurs. I think basically every possible scenario will eventually end up with everyone who is still alive living for free off the labor of robots: the questions are, firstly, who of those alive when full automation is finally achieved will live through the transition to enjoy it; and secondly, who among them will own the automatons and thus control the world when it's all through. I can see four general possible scenarios:

A) The owning class secures their power with things like robotic security and such to the point that they no longer need the working class at all, all the workers get laid off, starve and go homeless, try futilely to riot but can't overthrow the owning class's secure position, and eventually die off entirely. The remaining owning class and their descendants live in a blissful labor-free utopia for all of time afterward, and the death of the working class is remembered as a tragedy of history that none of the survivors are personally responsible for.

B) The owning class secures their position of power, the working class becomes entirely unnecessary, but out of some little shred of humanity (or possible uncertainty in the security of their position), the owning class keep the working class around, but now wielding absolute power over them as the owners have absolutely no need for the non-owners and the non-owners are absolutely dependent on the owners for their "charity".

C) The revolution comes before the owning class can totally secure their position and the working class are able to overthrow the owning class, either violently or somehow through nonviolent political means. Some traditional form of state socialism is enacted to redistribute wealth, and everyone now lives on the welfare of the state and its robot armies, which in turn (its leadership that is) wields absolute power over the people as it has no need for them per se and they are entirely dependent upon it.

D) The revolution comes soon enough to succeed by whatever means it does, and a more distributivist, libertarian-socialist solution is enacted: divisions between owners and non-owners are dissolved, everyone personally and privately owning some of the automatons, without eradicating all personal liberty in the process.

I think B and C are probably the more likely options, but A is still a frightening possibility, and it depresses me that nobody even seems to consider the possibility of genuine solutions in category D. The best-case plausible scenario is likely to be B or C eventually transitioning into D.

For a B-to-D transition, once automation is so complete that it literally costs the owners nothing (but control) to give it away, even a small trickle of genuine social charity could distribute ownership of automatons to the dependent (no longer working) classes over time, finally giving them independence. Successive generations raised in such a post-scarcity society might see less and less reason not to give their poor automaton-less friends some automatons of their own, and those given automatons could in turn use them to rescue others in the same boat at themselves, accelerating the process.

For a C-to-D transition, the electorate could simply vote to devolve ownership of the automatons from the central control of the government to the people individually. I think pragmatically, aiming for a C outcome at first with an eye to eventually transitioning to D is probably the best strategy we can hope for: a straight D solution is too unlikely to gain traction until it's too late, and a C outcome is the easiest to transition to the ideal D solution afterward. It concerns me how similar to the "dictatorship of the proletariate" that strategy is though: for the interim we have a people's government in absolute control of everything, to keep it out of control of a malevolent few, with the intention that it will devolve that control to the many individually afterwards... but what if it doesn't?

In any case, on a very long scale I think the outlook for people born in the distant future looks good. The big concern is how much it will hurt some of us alive today (and our children, etc) on the way there.

Comment: Re:Compelling, but a mix still better... (Score 1) 392

by nine-times (#48191929) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

That's no good as an answer. If you can't narrow the possibilities at all, then there's no point in planning at all. Maybe there will be a weird set of circumstances that require we send a donkey along on the mission. I mean, the possibilities are indefinite, so who knows what we could run into. Maybe the best solution is to send a crew made entirely of 5 year olds.

You've got to narrow it down. How can you make things as robust and redundant as possible, covering all the most likely possibilities, and as many of the unlikely possibilities as you can, without being wasteful? That's why NASA needs smart people to try to figure things out, rather than throwing up their hands and saying, "Oh well, we can't figure it out!"

I don't know that it would mean an all-female crew. I'm just saying it's not as simple as saying, "Well it's possible that you'll need strength, because anything is possible."

Comment: Re:Diversity is best (Score 1) 392

by nine-times (#48189491) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

companionship from the opposite sex will likely be important for long term mental health.

Or it could cause problems. Imagine having to break off a relationship while stuck in a tiny spaceship with that person for months. Imagine if one of the women became pregnant. Lots of things could go wrong.

Comment: Re:Compelling, but a mix still better... (Score 1) 392

by nine-times (#48189457) Attached to: NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

However I'd argue in a truly remote environment where no external help is to be had, that the raw strength a few very fit males could provide could be useful in an emergency.

I don't know... I think it'd make sense to try to evaluate the likelihood of needing that raw strength. What are possible situations that a manned mission to Mars would need strength? Now eliminate all of those situations where a group of women would be strong enough to accomplish the task. Now that that set, and eliminate the situations in which men would not be strong enough. Now you have the set of situations/tasks where men's strength would be of benefit to the mission.

Now you do a sort of risk analysis. Take each of the remaining tasks, and start looking at what the probability that the crew will be in a position to do that task. If the probability is low enough eliminate that task from your list. Look at what the consequences are for failing to perform that task. If the consequences are below a certain level of importance, eliminate them from your list. Look at what the alternatives are for performing each task.

Now take the remaining tasks, and weight the cost of the additional weight (and any other complications from including men) and weigh it against the consequences of not being able to complete those remaining tasks. How does that comparison work out?

I have no idea, frankly, but that's roughly how the decision should be made. I really don't know how often raw strength becomes an issue for space travel.

Comment: Re:Bad statistics (Score 1) 193

by nine-times (#48188577) Attached to: Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

Career-wise, it would be useful to tell us the likelihood of making each earning bracket *by career*.

Of course, depending on how you break it down, that might not tell you what you think it will. Like "Most likely to make millions of dollars per year" might give you top careers like:

* Heir to grandfather's fortune
* NFL Quarterback
* Billionaire philanthropist
* Lottery winner

Sure, with those careers, you're pretty much guaranteed to be rich. But what are the chances that you'll get one of those careers? If you wanted to try to plot your career path, it'd probably be better to look at the most common jobs that are most likely to pay well. So there are a lot of physicians making a lot of money. If you set out to become a physician, your chances of getting rich are better than if you set out to be a lottery winner.

Of course, there's another problem. These are the top earners right now, but we don't know what things will look like in 10 years. If you're 18 and trying to figure out what to do with your life, then being a physician would seem to be a great choice. Hypothetically, if there were medical breakthroughs in the next 10 years that completely cure all diseases and health problems, then you might find you get out of medical school without much of a career lined up.

Comment: Re:How many really make $140k ? (Score 1) 193

by nine-times (#48188053) Attached to: Developers, IT Still Racking Up (Mostly) High Salaries

It's not below the "poverty level", but $100k isn't exactly "rolling in it" if you're living in NYC. It's enough for a single person to live in a good apartment in a pretty good neighborhood, but you're not talking about a second sports car for a "sweet downtown loft". $100k is still in the range where you're probably just hoping your tiny Brooklyn apartment's rent doesn't go up, because if it does, you don't know where you're going to be able to move to.

Comment: Re:The Middle Class is the Bedrock of Society (Score 1) 836

by Pfhorrest (#48172693) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Mind you, I'm not suggesting a direction of causality here. It could be that the nobly-intended increased state power came first and then attracted the big market players to seize it, or just as plausibly that the big market players seized control of government first and then gave it that power so they could use it to their advantage.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp