Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:college bound HS needs shop! (Score 1) 147

by ranton (#48682649) Attached to: Boston Elementary, Middle Schools To Get a Longer Day

I have always engaged the "elite" And if they get too high up on their high horse, I bring them down a few pegs.

For in fact, a very intelligent person who knows how to get their hands dirty is vastly superior to a person who merely thinks. A person can be a Nobel Laureate, yet if his car blows a fuse in the desert, he'll die just like anyone else who doesn't know how to fix it.

You seem to have quite an ego issue. Do you know how to grow all of the food in your diet? Do you know how to make your own penicillin? Could you perform a root canal on yourself or even a loved one? Even if you can do all of those things, I'm sure there are plenty of other skills you lack. Criticizing a Nobel Laureate, who have all probably done more in their lives than you ever will, just because s/he cannot fix their own car is asinine.

I am a software engineer, and have no delusions that my skills are somehow "better" than that of a car mechanic. But learning how to service my own car (other than the basics like changing my own oil) is a waste of my time. I can either be doing work or learning new skills in my area of expertise, which provides far more benefit to both myself and society as a whole. I also pay maids to clean my home each week and a service to do my yard work each week during the warm months. I do not believe myself to be a more superior human being than my maids, but my time is certainly more valuable from an economic standpoint.

I also share your disdain for intellectuals that think they are superior to others, but I hold the same contempt for blue collar guys who think their handyman skills somehow make themselves superior to those who do not share them. Separation of labor is an important thing, and for most people who earn enough to easily pay a mechanic, learning how to repair the windows of their own car is as valuable as knowing how to churn their own butter.

Comment: Re:Old (Score 4, Insightful) 622

by ranton (#48642891) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

Take a look at documentaries from the 40s to 60s, at the peak of the making-humans-work-like-machines era, marvel at how much utterly monotonous work people used to be forced to do because we didn't have the technology to replace them with EVIL ROBOTS TAKING OUR JOBS! and then marvel again at how, despite replacing all those people with EVIL ROBOTS TAKING OUR JOBS!, most people who want to work can still find a job.

The situation over the next few decades will be much different than the last century. In the last century technology was only taking away manual labor jobs. Humans were able to cope because these jobs were replaced with knowledge based work. People aren't complaining that robots will take our jobs just because they are getting better at taking away manual labor jobs. They are worried that knowledge based work is the next to go.

There will still be a bastion of work in creative jobs (creative thinking, not the arts), but there is a real worry that there aren't enough of these creative jobs to go around. And there are worries that not everyone will be capable of these creative jobs. Office work worked great as a replacement for manual labor because most of the jobs did not creative much more intelligence than the jobs they were replacing. But not every factory worker or garbage man is capable of being a senior mechanical engineer, an actuary, or any number of other careers where critical thinking is very necessary.

If you are the type of person who struggled in algebra class in high school, the new economy will probably be a very scary place.

Comment: Re:This is not the problem (Score 2) 679

by ranton (#48616757) Attached to: Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

Most iPhone users only have an income of >25k, Since the US median is 60k, that means that the iPhone is sold to basically everyone.

Most iPhone users having over 25k income does not specify how many are in the 25k-60k range. Your source was using those numbers to show that more iPods than iPhones are owned by families with under 25k income. It wasn't saying that a significant number of iPhone owners are poor.

Also, I would assume more iPhones are owned by lower class families than iPads, since the total cost is amortized within their phone bill.

Comment: Re:This is not the problem (Score 1) 679

by ranton (#48616625) Attached to: Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

It's not clear that Apple could survive in isolation. A lot of their components are only as cheap as they are because of other lower-margin companies paying a big chunk of the R&D costs. When Apple was using PowerPC processors and were the only customer for IBM or Motorola for a particular chip, they found it very difficult to compete. They're designing their own ARM cores now, but they're benefitting enormously from the thriving ARM software ecosystem.

That is a good point. But generally aren't most R&D costs recouped by early expensive versions of products? Similar to TVs, where early models are very expensive but within 5-10 years they cost 10% of their original price. I am not aware of all the details of ARM development over the past 30 years, but it probably didn't always cater to lower-margin devices. Especially since a significant part of its early development was assisted by Apple and VLSI (neither company is known for catering to the low end market).

Comment: Re:Supernormal Stimuli & The Pleasure Trap (Score 1) 88

by ranton (#48615773) Attached to: Brain Stimulation For Entertainment?

Indeed, most people believe that they would literally suffer if they consumed a health-promoting diet devoid of such indulgences. But, it is here that their perception is greatly in error. The reality is that humans are well designed to fully enjoy the subtler tastes of whole natural foods, but are poorly equipped to realize this fact.

Humans are well designed to fully enjoy life without electricity, refrigeration, air conditioning, toilet paper, non-bipedal locomotion, and any number of other modern indulgences. Just saying people can live happy lives without modern technology does not necessarily mean they don't live happier lives with them. While I agree with your basic premise that our lives would be happier if we ate better, I think that is because of other benefits of being healthy (more energy, less chronic health problems, etc). I have lived long periods of my life in both healthy and unhealthy diets, and I never enjoyed the healthier foods more (even when almost exclusively eating healthy foods for periods of a few years).

From what I can tell, because of how our bodies are designed, foods with high levels of fat, sugar, and salt really do taste better and those who give them up really are missing out. Regardless of the benefits they gain from being healthier. Technology that allows us to be perfectly healthy while eating all the junk food we want is obviously the best solution. And I don't just mean eating anything we want without gaining weight, because there are plenty of other health issues with junk food other than weight gain. We aren't there yet, but I am optimistic that we are getting close and may get there in my lifetime.

Comment: Re:No way I'm letting them touch my brain (Score 2) 88

by ranton (#48615731) Attached to: Brain Stimulation For Entertainment?

Nuh uh. I don't trust any entertainment company enough to allow them to zap my brain. Not in a million years.

That's fine; they will make plenty of money from those who are willing. Facebook makes plenty of money without the people who refuse to have a social media fingerprint as well. This will be no different.

Comment: Re:This is not the problem (Score 4, Interesting) 679

by ranton (#48615685) Attached to: Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

I know you are being tongue and cheek, but very recent history is starting to show companies can make plenty of money just catering to the upper middle class. The richest company in the world (Apple) makes products that are only intended for a very small percentage of even a wealthy nation's population (46.3% of households with iPads have income over $100k). While rapid economic growth does need a sizable consumer class, I don't believe it necessarily needs a robust middle class. A much smaller but still sizable upper middle class will probably do just as well.

Comment: Re:Does the job still get done? (Score 5, Insightful) 679

by ranton (#48615671) Attached to: Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

Of course, there are already large swaths of people who do little to no useful work and have high social status...

There has always been a small percentage of aristocrats in society who do not have to work because of their amassed wealth. Looking at how they spent their time is probably a decent indicator of how most of the population will spend their time 50-100 years from now. My guess is most people will put far more effort into their hobbies, and many of those hobbies will turn into part time jobs. All basic and even most non-basic needs will be covered by social welfare programs paid for by publicly owned mostly-automated industries. People will only work because they want to, and the very few undesirable jobs that can't be automated will pay excessively well.

At least that is the best possible outcome. Their are plenty of dystopian possibilities as well.

Comment: Re:I don't care what the user has at home (Score 1) 241

by ranton (#48585459) Attached to: Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

Tell that to a creative who's debating between freelancing on his own or taking a steady job.

What the hell is a "creative"? Is it anything like a "grammatically correct"?

Well, since you can't read a dictionary, here you go:

Creative (noun)
1) one who is creative; especially : one involved in the creation of advertisements
2) creative activity or the material produced by it especially in advertising

I assume he was going with the first meaning.

Comment: Re:I don't care what the user has at home (Score 1) 241

by ranton (#48585205) Attached to: Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

I don't know where you're at but we have no problem getting the people we need through our doors. If you're honestly going to turn down a position because your home hardware is better than what you get at work then you must not be too serious about the real reason to have a job; results.

I will absolutely turn down a position if they care so little about their employees and their productivity to give them substandard equipment. I am never going to sit around for a spinning disk hard drive to load my applications again, or deal with a computer with under 16 GB of RAM. If a company is going to complain about $1000 in yearly hardware purchases so I can have a new laptop every three years, two decent monitors, and noise cancelling headphones, how are they going to treat me as an employee? When I am approached for a job I take effort to notice the quality of the equipment I see their current employees using. I have never seen an employee with bad equipment treated well by their employer, and rarely see employees with amazing equipment treated poorly.

Perhaps you don't have trouble attracting employees, but if you treat your employees poorly you will have trouble attracting good employees. Most people have never worked at a company where almost all their coworkers are top notch, so they don't even know what they are missing.

And regardless of a company's respect of their employees, it is simply unproductive to give people slow hardware. Shaving $500 per year in hardware costs per employee is less than 1% of even a low paid IT worker. I have seen the result of 4 year old laptops that weren't even top of the line when they were new. It involves a lot of wasted time waiting for apps to load and dealing with constant crashes or reboots.

Comment: Re:2% is nothing (Score 1) 121

by ranton (#48572599) Attached to: NASA Gets 2% Boost To Science Budget

The real fact is that budget deficits in upcoming years will only be solved by cutting military, welfare, medicare, and social security spending.

While I do agree this is the most likely solution, it is not a fact that this will be necessary. Increasing research and education spending would have a positive impact on our economy. A better economy increases tax revenue, which could balance the budget without cutting any programs. The Clinton administration did not balance the budget by being fiscally conservative, they just rode the wave of the technology boom (although it is debatable if the budget was every truly balanced). A new technology wave from the biotech sector, to pick one possible example, could have a similar effect in the near future. But only if we spend the necessary research dollars.

The way things are going now it is becoming more likely that another country will take advantage of the next technology boom, not the US.

Comment: Re:2% is nothing (Score 1) 121

by ranton (#48572083) Attached to: NASA Gets 2% Boost To Science Budget

The "funny thing" is you don't know what you're talking about. Military spending in the US is dwarfed by social welfare spending, and that was before Obamacare.

How does social welfare spending have anything to do with whether military spending should be cut? My spending on a new tablet, phone, and computer every other year is dwarfed by my mortgage, grocery bill, and car/life/health insurance payments. But if I lost my job, I would skip buying the iPad Air 3 long before I would skip paying my mortgage.

Military spending as a percentage of our total budget is not that important. US military spending as a percentage of worldwide military spending is much more important. I would still feel quite secure if our military budget was twice that of the 2nd highest spender in the world, and that would still cut our military spending by over 40%. It would also allow us to increase NASA funding by 15x its current level, although I wouldn't advocate putting all of the savings there.

Comment: Re:Meh. (Score 1) 163

by ranton (#48531133) Attached to: New Virus Means Deadlier Flu Season Is Possible

Thousands of people die in the US from the flu each year. Tens of thousands during years when H3N2 variants are prevalent. Since only a few Americans have died from Ebola this year, it is quite likely that a thousand or even close to ten thousand times more Americans die from the flu this year than from Ebola.

Comment: Re:color me anonymously disappointed (Score 3) 48

by ranton (#48517275) Attached to: Interviews: Malcolm Gladwell Answers Your Questions

Well color me identifiably disappointed. We had better discussions from Slashdot posts than Gladwell gave in this interview.

I am curious of how these interviews are run. I assumed the questions are compiled and then sent to the interviewee who then has as much time to respond as he needs. That way he can provide a thoughtful and complete response since there would be no further dialogue.

But Gladwell's answers are what you would expect during a back and forth discussion. This is what you would find in an in-person interview where the interviewer asks follow-up questions and starts a meaningful dialogue. But without further questions, each of these responses are hollow and meaningless. I am very disappointed, because while I don't agree with everything Gladwell writes he at least is normally thought provoking.

"Your stupidity, Allen, is simply not up to par." -- Dave Mack (mack@inco.UUCP) "Yours is." -- Allen Gwinn (, in alt.flame