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Comment: Rationale for the ban is??? (Score 3, Insightful) 199

by presidenteloco (#47310229) Attached to: FAA Bans Delivering Packages With Drones

Presumeably the FAA doesn't think that hobbyists are much more responsible flyers than corporations doing business, so there must be another reason for this ban, yes? What could it be?

a) Corporate business use would amount to greatly increased drone flights, and the FAA just doesn't think its regulatory ability, or the safety aspects of the technology, is ready for prime time wide scale use yet? For example, the interaction of drones and conventional aviation would have to be worked out in great detail for safety, and more technology and rules would be needed.

b) Nuisance aspect of the technology? Noise? If widely deployed?

c) The FAA just likes banning stuff in general, and new stuff in particular?

d) Some vested competing interests (say, trucking industry? teamsters?,...?) are lobbying / bribing FAA senior administrators and/or politicians who have a say?

Comment: Re:GMOs are toxic and will be shown to cause cance (Score 1) 396

by presidenteloco (#47249295) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

A statement like GMOs cause cancer has little more information content than "life causes cancer" which is undoubtedly true but vacuous.

Which GMOs? All of them? Which genetic modification in particular? All of them? One of them? Some class of them, defined somehow?

At the level of generality you state it, you are contributing to the perception that GMO opponents are unscientific.

There are very serious concerns about GMOs and ecosystems. But overstating the case with a pseudo-science statement like "GMOs are toxic" just weakens the legitimate arguments against GMOs. Every genetic manipulation of every different organism species is a different case, and will have different effects.

It's very akin to changing a computer program. What you say is akin to saying "every change to MacOSX is toxic and will cause a worldwide computer virus epidemic". Well that is clearly an uninformed, and frankly, dumb statement, and it undermines the legitimate argument that there are some (relatively few) possible specific types of changes to MacOSX that would in fact cause a worldwide computer virus epidemic.

Comment: Re:GMOs are inherently risky (Score 1) 396

by presidenteloco (#47249169) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

They just may not prioritize the risk above their salary or their company shares value.

A lot of people are content to be engineers and scientists in pretty morally bankrupt enterprises. How could any smart, educated person with a functioning moral compass work as an engineer or scientist in say, the fossil fuel industry these days, with the possible exception of those working on coal carbon-capture and storage.

And yet plenty do. Being book smart in a specialty doesn't mean you are wise or particularly moral.

Who built Dr. Evil's high-tech lair and outfitted his sharks with frickin' lasers, I ask you? I rest my case.

Comment: GMOs are inherently risky (Score 4, Interesting) 396

by presidenteloco (#47247043) Attached to: "Super Bananas" May Save Millions of Lives In Africa

Probably most if not all current GMO food crops do not damage human health.

However, in the abstract, you are engineering (almost arbitrarily modifying) organisms capable of spontaneous reproduction and proliferation, so the level of precautionary principle needed is commensurate with "would it be ok if this escaped into the wild and took over ecosystem niches from more naturally evolved or incrementally bred crops / organisms? Do we have an accurate model of what would happen in that case? Have we tested enough to verify that model? And every case of a different manipulation or in a different organism is different so requires repetition of extensive testing."

The types of risks there run the gamut from destruction of wild varieties and species by competition from the GMO. Substantial alteration of ecosystem by shifting the balance of successful and unsuccessful organisms. Proliferation of and reliance on a GMO monoculture which is then subject to rapid destruction from a single pathogen. etc. etc. Ecological system effects in other words. Very hard to test for.

Again, it will probably be all be fine, until one day when it won't. When something unanticipated will happen and, well, the genie is out of the bottle and doesn't fit back in.

At a minimum, GMO food should be labelled as such, and let people decide for themselves and vote with their pocketbook.

Comment: My Samsung superamoled display got dim (Score 3, Interesting) 176

after only a few years of operation, there is a noticeable dimness to the screen, so that it is unusable in daylight.

I've read that AMOLED displays degrade quickly in their brightness.

Great for you if you are a company wanting to sell me a new phone every two years. Sucks for the consumer who might want to keep their phone 5 or even 8 years like I kept my last pre-smartphone.

Comment: Re:Progenitors? (Score 1) 686

by presidenteloco (#47223589) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

Selection can be confusing sometimes.

It turns out that low cost and recording time long enough to record a movie were more important adaptive advantages than better picture quality, when it came to attracting human buyers (economic mates, if you will) of the first video recording technology.

Similarly, low cost and the fact that everyone would have the same word processor were more important adaptive advantages for early PCs and their operating systems than, say, decent operating system software and command architecture, decent chip and memory architecture, software elegance and simplicity, or good-quality word processor design (e.g. Framemaker, lightyears superior to MSWord when they both began, but alas, too expensive and too "different" than what everyone else was using).
The first buyers just needed a computer that was cheap and compatible. Assymetrical information an network effects. Sigh.

Comment: Re:Progenitors? (Score 1) 686

by presidenteloco (#47223481) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

Many biological systems use small but non-zero amounts of iron, magnesium, lithium, zinc, copper, chromium, nickel, cobalt, vanadium, arsenic, molybdenum, manganese, selenium etc. Not sure but I believe these are made use of mainly in energy conversion or energy storage roles. Example: Hemoglobin.

Also as you say there is a lot of speculation about whether metals were needed to catalyze early reactions at the formation of life.

Something else: The metals also add stable solid structure and a lot of gravitational material-gathering effect to the planet as a whole. Material gathering is definitely a prerequisite for life formation.

Comment: Um. We're intelligent and haven't explored (Score 1) 686

by presidenteloco (#47219999) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

Beyond our solar system.

If it did take until around about now (in terms of numbers of stars in universe with heavy atom planets) for complex life to form, it's not really surprising others haven' visited us. It's paradoxical why Fermi expected them to have visited us when we haven't visited them.

Space is big. Really really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

Comment: Re: Progenitors? (Score 1) 686

by presidenteloco (#47219973) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

Language (and before that no doubt complex gesturing) was one of the hallmarks of the flourishing of significantly greater intelligence in humans. As soon as you have those, every generation need not learn from scratch again, but can be taught by the previous generation (and by each other.)

That's one of the key advantages of intelligence: a means of communicating leading to mutually beneficial cooperation of individual organisms. Cultural learning is much faster than genetic-selection learning.

Comment: Re:Progenitors? (Score 3, Insightful) 686

by presidenteloco (#47219757) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

One detail you miss is that when each step happens once, it reduces the probability of the same kind of step happening again locally, because the first occurrence is a competitor for the would-be second, and has a time advantage to have evolved to be a better competitor, or an assimilator. Remember, life is about pattern competition, and pattern amalgamation (if more effective than competition at prolonging the sub-patterns.)

Life is about information patterns competing with each other to pattern the matter and energy which both surrounds and hosts the information.

Probably quite likely to happen, so long as there is enough structural and functional vocabulary (molecular variety and molecular combination variety) for embodied information to have probable mechanisms for enacting their 3D printing. Oh and just enough thermodynamic free energy and gravity so that stuff comes together about as often as it blows apart. Oh and another probable requirement is a region (such as but not exclusively) Earth's surface region, where common elements exist in all three of gaseous, liquid, and solid form and can sometimes transition in phase. This latter condition is again part of ensuring there can be enough structural and functional vocabulary to make the mechanisms (containment in solid or semi-solid structure, flow of energy-transferring and material-transferring contained gases and fluids.)

 

Comment: Re:Progenitors? (Score 4, Interesting) 686

by presidenteloco (#47219711) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

You are right. We don't know for sure.
But a large variety of elements with fundamentally different properties (different masses, different chemical bonding properties) yields a large vocabulary of different molecules with widely differing properties. This large vocabulary of structure allows for a large vocabulary of function, increasing the number of ways in which self-sustaining reaction groups (and eventually life) could occur.

Comment: Re:Battery Life (Score 5, Interesting) 376

by presidenteloco (#47207179) Attached to: Theater Chain Bans Google Glass

This kind of technology is obviously going to evolve, and have better battery life, not to mention, increased miniaturization.

It's going to get interesting once people (other than CIA operatives) start wearing camera+audio recorder technology that masquerades as stylish jewelry, or a baseball cap http://www.amazon.com/Baseball....

I suspect that we're going to have to give up on being able to reliably ban such stuff.

That doesn't mean that certain uses of it won't still legitimately be considered douchebaggery.

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