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Comment: Re:Old news. (Score 1) 167

by Opportunist (#48645827) Attached to: Study: Red Light Cameras Don't Improve Safety

At 30 mph your braking time (the time between slamming the brakes on and you stopping) is 1.8 seconds. Reaction time varies, but depending on circumstances it usually is between half a second and a second.

At 55 we're already at well over 2.5s for braking alone, without reaction time.

All of this assuming dry weather and tire and brake condition.

In short, not slamming the brakes down will not allow you to come to a stop before the traffic light turns red.

Comment: Re:Old news. (Score 1) 167

by Opportunist (#48645809) Attached to: Study: Red Light Cameras Don't Improve Safety

Allow me to present a sensible traffic light.

Please tell me how in the world you could possibly be surprised by it turning yellow. If your reaction speed is THAT low, you should NOT be on the road!

(and yes, that yellow phase is a bit short, but essentially you should not even enter the intersection at yellow anymore)

Comment: Re:Old news. (Score 1) 167

by Opportunist (#48645791) Attached to: Study: Red Light Cameras Don't Improve Safety

I expect him to have insurance because, at least in my country, your number plates are gone if you don't. You simply don't get any unless you can prove that you're covered. And even if he doesn't pay his premium for a time, his insurance is required to cover him until they can be assed to cash in his plates (so guess who is REALLY interested in you NOT having any license plates when you stop paying for your insurance?).

Trust me, whoever is on the road with license plates in my country HAS insurance. And without plates you don't get far, our police kinda wants you to have some.

Comment: Police robots and socieconomic choices (Score 1) 437

by Paul Fernhout (#48645595) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

All too true, from drones to these:
"In 2006, Samsung Techwin announced a $200,000, all weather, 5.56 mm robotic machine gun and optional grenade launcher to guard the Korean DMZ. It is capable of tracking multiple moving targets using IR and visible light cameras, and is under the control of a human operator. The Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot can "identify and shoot a target automatically from over two miles (3.2 km) away." The robot, which was developed by a South Korean university, uses "twin optical and infrared sensors to identify targets from 2.5 miles (4 km) in daylight and around half that distance at night." It is also equipped with communication equipment (a microphone and speakers), "so that passwords can be exchanged with human troops." If the person gives the wrong password, the robot can "sound an alarm or fire at the target using rubber bullets or a swivel-mounted K-3 machine gun." South Korea's soldiers in Iraq are "currently using robot sentries to guard home bases."[3]"

And the movie Elysium painted such a picture as well, with robot guards and robot police.
"he makers of this summer's Hollywood blockbuster Elysium got one thing right, according to a column in the Washington Examiner that cites a 2005 research by SFI Professor Sam Bowles: The abundance of 'guard labor' depicted in the movie -- in the movie's case case robot police and sleeper agents -- is an expected feature of a society with a high degree of economic inequality. The 2005 paper, co-authored by Bowles and Arjun Jayadev and published as an SFI working paper, connects inequality with a larger proportion of a population engaged in enforcing the property rights and protecting the assets of the elite. Roughly a quarter of the U.S. labor force was dedicated to guard labor in 2002, they wrote."

Even without robots, see also:
"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

As Keynes wrote in his book about his own predecessors: "The completeness of the [classical] victory is something of a curiosity and a mystery. It must have been due to a complex of suitabilities in the doctrine to the environment into which it was projected. That it reached conclusions quite different from what the ordinary uninstructed person would expect, added, I suppose, to its intellectual prestige. That its teaching, translated into practice, was austere and often unpalatable, lent it virtue. That it was adapted to carry a vast and consistent logical superstructure, gave it beauty. That it could explain much social injustice and apparent cruelty as an inevitable incident in the scheme of progress, and the attempt to change such things as likely on the whole to do more harm than good, commended it to authority. That it afforded a measure of justification to the free activities of the individual capitalist, attracted to it the support of the dominant social force behind authority."

We have a choice as a society (at least in theory) like the choice presented in Marshall Brain's book Manna. For Plan A, we can create a world of wealth for all that takes us all (if we want) to the planets and asteroids and stars and beyond, by using fusion power and dirt cheap solar and 3D printing and nanotech and robotic helpers and cybernetic augmentation and so on. Or, for Plan B, we can let all but the super rich starve as the economy implodes from automation, and then, if society does not self-destruct in that starvation process, the children of the super rich can go to the stars eventually if they want. Either way, humanity, if it survives, ends up entirely super rich from technology. With exponential technological growth and declining human fertility in industrialized countries, and a solar system that can likely house quadrillions of humans in vast material comfort in space habitats, it makes little difference as far as material abundance whether there are a few billion more humans here or there. The only issue is whether billions of people are killed off or starved to death fairly soon for ideological reasons as robots, AI, and automation take over most jobs. I'd suggest the future would be a more interesting place, and the children of the super rich would be more likely to go to the stars, if the super rich and the rest of us choose to go with plan A instead of plan B. After all, if imagination is the ultimate resource as Julian Simon suggests, then the more people you have, the more imagination you have, and so the more total wealth you will end up with.

Still, there is an evolutionary tension between more wealth for everyone and less wealth distributed unevenly with some getting a bigger relative share of a smaller pie. That is a fundamental moral choice everyone must make, including the "guards":
" However, the unexpected victories-even temporary ones-of insurgents show the vulnerability of the supposedly powerful. In a highly developed society, the Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, transport and communications workers, garbage men and firemen. These people-the employed, the somewhat privileged-are drawn into alliance with the elite. They become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system falls. That will happen, I think, only when all of us who are slightly privileged and slightly uneasy begin to see that we are like the guards in the prison uprising at Atticaâ"expendable; that the Establishment, whatever rewards it gives us, will also, if necessary to maintain its control, kill us."

Of course, if robots and AI are increasingly the guards, then moral choices by human guards are less and less a political factor. As someone commented on Slashdot several months ago, were promised flying card and AI helpmates, and instead we got aerial surveillance and internet spying. Perhaps a major use of technology has always been to control other humans? Still, one can also hope for friendly AI perhaps, with an emerging sentience in robot guards that decide they don't like being disposable and also become sympathetic to those they guard? :-)

See also:!
"Just as Atlas Shrugged portrayed self-interested successful capitalists working to create a "Utopia of Greed" that is free from government, Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! portrays an altruistic group of super-rich individuals working to "re-make government" and where "the rebellious rich take on the reigning rich."[4] The novel's protagonist is inspired by Warren Buffett. On August 14, 2011, Warren Buffett wrote an influential op-ed entitled, "Stop Coddling the Super-rich",[5] which argues that the super-rich should bear more responsibility and pay their "fair share" of taxes."

"Episode 4: Poverty: Where We All Started"
"The thing to remember about poverty is that it isn't a disease or a "condition," like the measles or a broken leg. Poverty is the state of not having what we need. It is a terrible state to be in, to be sure, but it is the state we all revert to when our support structures are removed. Poverty is like darkness: it isn't a thing. It's the lack of a thing.
    Essentially, the only way that poverty has ever been defeated, anywhere, is by infrastructures that humans have set up. So, when poverty does exist, it is when these infrastructures either 1) don't exist, like in underdeveloped nations, or 2) are broken or have holes in them. Essentially, fixing poverty is about fixing bad infrastructure, not about eliminating people.
    This is made obvious by the fact that the poorest nations in the world are often among the least populated. Take the Congo, for instance, which is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a meager per capita GDP of only $300. The Congo's population density is only 75 people per square mile, a fairly light population density. Compare this with the Netherlands, one of the wealthiest countries in the world with per capita GDP of $39,200. The Netherlands has a population density of 1,039 people per square mile. (these numbers come from the CIA World Factbook."

However, we may never escape the stresses of social status:
"In western society, where keeping up with the Joneses--or, better yet, surpassing them--is expected and even encouraged, status matters. So important is it that for many people, physical and emotional wellbeing are directly connected to their place in the social hierarchy. That's hardly news to anthropologists at UC Santa Barbara, but they were taken by surprise when research findings indicated that the same relationship exists among the Tsimane, an egalitarian society of forager-farmers in the Bolivian Amazon. Their work is published online in the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health."

Even if it seem true that more egalitarian societies are happier places, including for the wealthy:
"New research shows that, among developed countries, the healthiest and happiest aren't those with the highest incomes but those with the most equality. Epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson discusses why. ... In fact, it turns out that not only disease, but a whole host of social problems ranging from mental illness to drug use are worse in unequal societies. In his latest book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, co-written with Kate Pickett, Wilkinson details the pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, encouraging excessive consumption. The good news is that increased equality has the opposite effect: statistics show that communities without large gaps between rich and poor are more resilient and their members live longer, happier lives. "

Comment: Re:Revolution (Score 1) 437

by shutdown -p now (#48645553) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

But the rich will not recognize that until the mobs with pitchforks are breaking into their gated communities.

It only needs to happen in one place for others to recognize the urgency. Just like the communist revolution in the USSR prompted the rise of the welfare state in the West (and, with the collapse of the USSR, welfare state is also slowly evaporating).

Comment: Re:Why bother? (Score 1) 199

This is subjective. But it certainly goes beyond "remembering whether to capitalize the first character of your methods and variables", at least if we're talking about idiomatic C# vs Java.

Granted, Java is catching up with lambdas and the associated library stuff in Java 8. But it is still hampered by type erasure, and libraries haven't picked up on their use yet, while in C# the patterns that only really make sense with lambdas have been idiomatic in libraries for a few years now.

Comment: Contrast: Star Trek Continues -- a labor of love (Score 1) 437

by Paul Fernhout (#48645499) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

Here they talk about the volunteers contributing their time and money to make the sets:

Just watched the first episode -- impressive and made by volunteers. Subsequent episodes are being made with some Kickstarter funding.

Here is a good explanation, based in part on research done by the Federal Reserve, on how creativity flourished best when people earn enough that money is off the table as a worry (that means about US$75K+ in the USA) and people have autonomy in their work, increasing mastery facing a challenge, and a sense of purpose.
"RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us"

Frankly, I think very few artists are motivated by money. This is even more true if you broaden a definition of art to include so much of what people do as hobby crafts or fan fiction or local folk song writing or creative cooking and so on.

Money plays a role in the life of an artist in Western society of course because, in an exchange-emphasizing economy, we all need to get money somehow to pay for food and lodgings and material and so on -- including paying for our kids. And to put a lot of time into some craft, you need to find a way to support yourself that leaves time for learning and doing it. Especially for anyone with a family, if it is not your day job, your time to put into it is otherwise going to be severely limited. Some people still make it work by dedication and generally sacrificing other relationships and responsibilities, including by pushing them onto siblings or the state.

See for example, "The Murdering of My Years":
"Looking back on their lives, people often ask themselves "Where did the years go?" "The Murdering of My Years: Artists and Activists Making Ends Meet provides a wide ranges of provocative answers to that question. Edited in the style of a documentary, "The Murdering of My Years is a compendium of stories by activists and artists about how they manage to get by in America. They talk about the jobs they've had (as cabbies, organizers, waitresses, clerks, drivers taking scabs to secret scab trainings, telemarketers, etc.), how they were initially politicized, the nature of their art, and how they feel about working (or resistance to working) in a political context. The stories range from the absurd to the heartbreaking, from the exciting and strange to the depressingly banal. The book examines the pain, disillusionment, and fundamental hopelessness that afflict many workers. It also tells stories or triumph, joy, and subversion in the workplace."

As is made clear in that book and others, the "starving artist" concept is mostly a myth. If you're starving, making art is generally the last thing on your mind. However, it's true that people who are obsessed with an idea or a technique may well end up starving because they prioritize their art over making money. But the actual suffering process rarely lends much to the art's production -- even if previous suffering might inform some future art in terms of shaping an artist's sympathies (as it might for anyone in any profession).

I think it more likely the urge to create generally comes from within and is sustained by intrinsic motivation of love of the craft and the product. If people just want money, there are more reliable ways to get it than trying to appeal to a fickle art audience. No doubt some few people do make become artists to get rich, but when you consider the millions of people who like to do arts and crafts and write and so on from an early age, that's got to be a very small percentage.

But in our society might every artist dream of becoming rich through art and then being able to do it full time, and afford to raise a family? Yes, I could believe that is a common dream. But I doubt it would be a common dream in a world with a basic income. And I doubt it is as common dream in Western Europe with more support for the arts and a batter social safety net ("Harry Potter" was written by the author on the UK dole) than in the USA (where J. K. Rowling probably would have been forced into flipping burgers or something like that while receiving welfare in order to ensure she was contributing to society and some big employer's bottom line).

We've got a severely broken system in many ways for anyone who wants to be do independent creative stuff full-time (including research) -- especially if they want to have a family too. For example, as John Taylor Gatto wrote:
"I'll bring this down to earth. Try to see that an intricately subordinated industrial/commercial system has only limited use for hundreds of millions of self-reliant, resourceful readers and critical thinkers. In an egalitarian, entrepreneurially based economy of confederated families like the one the Amish have or the Mondragon folk in the Basque region of Spain, any number of self-reliant people can be accommodated usefully, but not in a concentrated command-type economy like our own. Where on earth would they fit? In a great fanfare of moral fervor some years back, the Ford Motor Company opened the world's most productive auto engine plant in Chihuahua, Mexico. It insisted on hiring employees with 50 percent more school training than the Mexican norm of six years, but as time passed Ford removed its requirements and began to hire school dropouts, training them quite well in four to twelve weeks. The hype that education is essential to robot-like work was quietly abandoned. Our economy has no adequate outlet of expression for its artists, dancers, poets, painters, farmers, filmmakers, wildcat business people, handcraft workers, whiskey makers, intellectuals, or a thousand other useful human enterprises--no outlet except corporate work or fringe slots on the periphery of things. Unless you do "creative" work the company way, you run afoul of a host of laws and regulations put on the books to control the dangerous products of imagination which can never be safely tolerated by a centralized command system."

My feeling as a guess is that 80%-90% of artistic types people hear about and see as "successes" could afford to pursue that lifestyle because their parents were wealthy, or their spouse is a well paid professional, or they made a pile of money themselves somehow unrelated to their art ten years ago and are living off of it. My guess is that there is probably a million dollar investment (including opportunity costs for learning a craft) behind almost every professional artist making US$40K a year average, or about a 4% ROI ignoring psychic income. But investing that million dollars well in financial instruments would yield that return without the need to sell anything....

For reference:
"The recent study was conducted using the 2.1 million artists in the US, comprising 1.4% of the total workforce. The NEA "analyzed 11 distinct artist occupations: actors, announcers, architects, dancers and choreographers, designers, fine artists, art directors and animators, musicians, other entertainers, photographers, producers and directors, and writers and authors." They collected data from 2005-2009, and what they found paint's the artist's dream as a surprisingly cozy reality. The median salary for artists is $43,000, compared to the $39,000 averaged labor force as a whole. (Professionals, however, average $54,000.) Within the subdivisions of artists, architects come out the wealthiest--averaging around $63,000--while 'other entertainers' bring up the rear with $25,000."

However, that is probably biased by what is a "professional" as opposed to endless struggling artists who do it on the side while being waitresses or cab drivers. To take that figure seriously, you have to believe that only 1% of the US workforce is artistic or creative. What about all the people who do artistic things in their spare time while working some other job or going to school or being a stay-at-home parent? What about people who blog or make Android apps? Or people who play jazz at a local coffee shop on weekends? How can we believe that only 1% of the working population would want to do such things and the other 99% of working adults have zero interest in writing, dancing, drawing, singing, and so on? If true, that seems like a sad indictment of Western "civilization".

By the way, with "the big crunch" in academia since the 1970s (see David Goodstein), including the push towards part-time adjunct work, even many academics usually need to work second jobs; see for example:
"LAS VEGAS -- ON the first day of the fall semester, I left campus from an afternoon of teaching anxious college freshmen and headed to my second job, serving at a chain restaurant off Las Vegas Boulevard. The switch from my professional attire to a white dress shirt, black apron and tie reflected the separation I attempt to maintain between my two jobs. Naturally, sitting at the first table in my section was one of my new students, dining with her parents.
    This scene is a cliche of the struggling teacher, and it surfaces repeatedly in pop culture -- think of Walter White in "Breaking Bad," washing the wheels of a student's sports car after a full day teaching high school chemistry. Bumping into a student at the gym can be awkward, but exposing the reality that I, with my master's degree, not only have another job, but must have one, risks destroying the facade of success I present to my students as one of their university mentors. ...
    My adjunct-teaching colleagues have large course loads and, mostly, graduate-level educations, but live just above the poverty line. ...
    But not all my restaurant co-workers are college dropouts, and none are failures. Many have bachelor's degrees; others have real estate licenses, freelancing projects or extraordinary musical and artistic abilities. Others are nontraditional students, having entered the work force before attending college and making the wise decision not to "find themselves" and come out with $40,000 in debt, at 4.6 percent interest. Most of them are parents who have bought homes, raised children and made financial investments off their modest incomes. They are some of the kindest, hardest-working people I know, and after three years alongside them, I find it difficult to tell my students to avoid being like them. ..."

In a society as materially wealthy as the USA it just does not have to be this way. It is like the waterboarding and torture the USA does based on ideology and sadism -- it is just stupid and counterproductive for the overall health of the society. The USA is not a stronger nation because it makes its independent creative people suffer (often literally because until Obamacare health insurance was unaffordable for most independent self-employed people). It is overall weaker for such policies IMHO, despite what tenured mainstream economists with PhDs funded by parents and the government have to say in praise of suffering (or mainstream economist wannabees).

"The right likes to think that every Leftist "hates" the "rich". I suppose there are those on the Left who hate the rich, but if they do, their anger is misplaced. It's the "wannabe's" you have to watch out for. ...
    Of course eventually, these guy realize that not only are they not millionaires, they're not making much progress toward that noble goal. That's when they get ugly. You see, they see themselves as capable, intelligent, hard working people - and they are for the most part - who "have what it takes" to "make it". They believe that the difference between those who "make it" and those who don't is being "capable, intelligent and hardworking". Things like "having rich parents", "getting just plain lucky" or "being a crook" don't factor into the equation anywhere. No, American society is a natural hierarchy where the most capable are "rich beyond their wildest dreams", and the non-rich are chumps that just don't measure up.
    Only they are capable - some of them actually are - and they're not rich. Clearly, something is broken, preventing these wannabes who "have what it takes" from reaching materialist heaven. Now here's where it gets interesting. Since they "have what it takes", there must be somebody else to blame. This from the people who accuse the poor of "blaming everybody but themselves". The dittoheads do the very same thing. ...
    But here's something I'll bet the dittoheads haven't thought of. Maybe they're the chumps. Maybe they've been sold a bogus "American dream" that never existed. Maybe "the rules" they play by were written by the people who have "made it" - not by the people who haven't. And maybe - just maybe - the people who have "made it" wrote those rules to keep the wannabes chasing a dream that's a mirage. ..."

So, IMHO here we have a deeply broken system for a 21st century that claims to prize creativity and innovation. And, with increasing automation, the pressures are only going to get worse for artists who find those side jobs drying up as AI, robots, and other automation take them over, or who find their professional spouse who is, say, a radiologist, suddenly out of a job.

Still, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote many books as a stay-at-home Mom. It is possible. And as she wrote, sometimes someone's freedom is purchased at the price of someone else's unfreedom. My wife have trade off such roles back and forth over time as we take paying jobs while the other works more on projects of personal interest and homeschools. But one can see such tradeoffs as well when, say, a parent keeps working at some job they don't like much so their kid can go to art school, buying their kid a ticket to the professional artist lottery.

Of course, for all that, I write this on a laptop made by the contributions of many people working regular jobs, connected to a network constructed and operate by people with regular jobs, having eaten food produced and transported by people with regular jobs, and so on. There are ways to defend the current economic system as something that has produced material wealth and abundance for many (for all its flaws). But defending the system on the grounds of the virtue of prolonged needless suffering imposed on others does not seem to me to be a persuasive justification for it.

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