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Comment Saving Grace (Score 1) 271 271

There is one upside: the case where someone has their own expertise, which has value, but must be expressed by code to be functional.

Content-driven software. Stuff where the message or the payload is the valuable part, and the coding could be done by a variety of capable drones because it, itself, is not innovative at all.

In this case, we see a valuable thing (which may be able to stand up in a market economy on its own merits) given lower barriers to existence, by the software guys basically putting yourselves out of jobs: developing systems that can be effectively applied in generic ways by novices.

Seems, uh, generous, but knock yourselves out. I know I enjoy it when something like Unity comes out and I can play with game tech so easily, and then competing with the Unreal engine you get Unity making all their paid features also free in 5. A coder might have no idea what high dynamic range lighting is for, but somebody like me might respond, 'hey! Flares! For meeee? Thanks, anonymous coder guy who once would have justifiably charged me tens of thousands to get this working in a game, but now I can just use it and not even credit you or know who you were! This will help my idea look more impressive, assuming I have one.'

Again: seems kinda, erm, generous? But by all means, carry on. I'm not the expert coder here. I can only assume many of you guys are so totally insulated from the reality of the world that you'll blithely render your skills worthless in the 'free market' in the belief that you won't end up totally hosed by the resulting flooding of recycled crap.

And your skills might, just might, be cannibalized by somebody with some decent idea worthy of success, and you'll have helped them for free. It's nice of you though the chaos of crap-flooding is not quite as nice. But that's what you get when you wipe out all the structure of the situation and reduce it to raw chaos 'market'.

Comment Whoof, look at 'em go (Score 1) 271 271

I think it's very well established what happens. As with many fields before it, you're throwing stuff open to a market in blind faith that this'll do good things. Then, social engineers take over and squeeze out the capable, and as the general populace gets more desperate for survival, they flock to the new hope in great numbers, and flood out everything, The elitism is crushed, barriers go down and you get a problem where you can't get qualified people because they can't get a foothold against the sheer numbers of crap and therefore can't survive to hone their skills.

This is not an inherent problem with democratizing stuff, it's a problem with doing that and then throwing all competitors into a maximally free market where other factors besides merit are in play.

Time ain't fungible: if you learn a tiny itty bit of everything, you'll kinda suck. If you kinda suck at social engineering and marketing, you're going to fail in a market. The person who spends WAY more of their time at that will win. If they're a Swift programmer, they will not have spent their time learning to program correctly, and their product will be junk, but since people's awareness of their product is ENTIRELY dependent on the programmer's mad social marketing skills, it will dominate and starve out other projects.

If you devote all your effort to the quality of your project, you'll leave nothing over for social engineering, and your thing will die a horrible death: what happens is people glance at it and say 'gee, that looks amazing! Since absolutely nobody is interested, they must know something I don't. I'm not interested either.'

Areas that have been profoundly affected by this whole mechanic include popular music and game programming. Look at Steam Greenlight sometime. That's your free market future, and ability to manipulate the market will always be more profitable than trying to improve quality and hoping 'the market' will notice in a world where people specialize in bending the rules.

It produces a funny sort of stratification because if you do get a foothold you can build upon that, but it takes luck to even get that (plus quite possibly a lot of sacrifice and losing money, so you will have to already be wealthy or in some kind of protective situation where you can lose money building your toehold). You harden your position as somebody the market has recognized, doing whatever you can to augment that public awareness, and this gives you the basic minimum people are unjustifiably assuming is the norm: that, in doing something, you'll be seen at all to be judged.

At that point you can act like a market element competing, but in this situation of total noise and flooding, if you don't have that there IS no path to it. In the rigidly controlled, union, regulated, gatekeeper world so many Slashdotters hate, you're blocked by gatekeepers and you know who they are and can ask their terms and negotiate: pay, study for accreditations, make friends, whatever. In the free market world the gatekeeper is Brownian motion, and you can't negotiate with a force of nature or a law of statistics.

So no, 'everyone able to build amazing apps with Swift' is not what we really need. It seems populist but it's based on an underlying fantasy of removing all gatekeepers and letting 'the market' sort it out, and the market will pick social engineers and put up barriers more daunting than anything human gatekeepers can muster.

Comment Re:extracting "fuel" from the very fabric of space (Score 1) 450 450

If we could accelerate to relativistic velocity, the only other things stopping us might be relativistic dust specks, each and every one of which is now a bomb. For reference, see what could have been a deadly ding to the window of the Space Shuttle. If the object was larger, it might have penetrated. IIRC, it was thought to be caused by a paint chip. Velocity? Nowhere near relativistic.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 154 154

This is a very silly objection, and I'll tell you why.

I routinely start watching a set of Minecraft youtubers for a thing called 'Mindcrack UHC'. I know the playstyles of many of the players, what can be expected of them, even some of the unusual team-ups worthy of a pro wrestling storyline (hi, Vechs/BTC/Nebs!).

They are BOXES running around. I have no idea what they actually look like, nor am I really interested.

Video games have the capacity to become the athletics version of Asian avatar popstars: it helps if there's character customization, but even so, if you want musclebound superheroes doing superhuman feats, reality can't possibly live up to computer generation. You'll find in movies now the big stars and their action scenes are largely videogames, and nobody complains and that's not even interactive. How much cooler is it, if the superhuman avatars are actually being controlled by dedicated human athletes straining their abilities to the limit to prevail? If it's not pre-scripted?

Comment Re:Please Stop (Score 1) 154 154

Imagine competitive Rubik's Cube solving to make it more understandable. That clearly involves intense physical dexterity, but also extremely rapid situational analysis and execution. It might not look as entertaining as football because it's way harder to know where the athlete is going with their cube (in football, you can see what's intended from the outside) but it's more or less the same type of thing.

Same with competitive gaming, with the advantage that if you know the game you can (like football) follow along and imagine how things might be executed, and see whether the players execute them. It's not 'can he run faster than the linebacker chasing him' but 'can he dodge this attack or pull off this complicated move'.

E-games are going to have to become more 'readable' to outsiders to go properly mainstream, but there's no conceptual problem with it. It's purely a matter of how audience-friendly you can make the concept of 'challenge' when it's a matter of situational analysis, threat and reaction. One awkward bit is that videogames can move too fast for the layman: but in the Michael Bay era, that's being steadily reinterpreted, people expect more demanding visual data.

Comment Re:Just get diagnosed with ADHD and be done. (Score 3, Interesting) 154 154

At that point it becomes a prerequisite: you gotta be a great gamer, know your stuff, practice AND have ADHD. So much of it that you function normally on bucketloads of Adderall. You're the twitchy equivalent of a Kenyan long-distance runner with the toothpicks for legs, you've reached your final form ;)

It's horrible but it's also interesting. I've studied this stuff a bit. It doesn't bother me when you have categorical advantage but it gets more worrying when part of the 'qualification' is a dark history that leaves the hapless 'competer' human wreckage with nothing to live for but the will to win, forever unsatisfied unless they are crushing their opponents. Yet that's part of the formula, and a surprising amount of sports and entertainment is the wrangling of these freakish entities and trying to keep them from wrecking their teams, their bands, their lives etc.

You can't get away from this in any competitive sphere including life itself: when it comes down to the cult of the individual, it is ALWAYS possible to guarantee victory if you're okay with it being Pyrhhic. A sense of self-preservation or honoring the sport/context/environment is a handicap, and so you get Lance Armstrong every time, to a greater or lesser extent. That's what winning IS.

Interesting expressing these thoughts for the first time on a site where (a) there's huge respect for the cult of the winner and (b) there's also an entire subculture of shared cooperating, open source, and truly free software that is literally the opposite approach: trying to tear down all barriers to produce a context where anything is possible to anyone, without obstacle.

Comment Re:Existing Law (Score 3, Funny) 312 312

Remember, your autonomous roving drone with a Beretta and solenoid is not an automatic weapon unless you code the trigger as a do/while loop!

Unroll the loop, so it counts as ten individual fire events that just happen to trigger really really fast ;P

Comment Magic Software Enterprises... (Score 1) 617 617

The first thing I thought of was the Magic software that ran support when I was there. This was the late 90s and it was already considered old.

After I looked up that link, I realized that I had written some FORTRAN during an internship. That was in the mid 80s, and the install may have been a few years old for all I knew.

Any given program will expand to fill available memory.

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