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Comment Re:Federal law requires your participation (Score 1) 122

It really depends.

Are we talking 'true' socialism is big fat quotes.
Or are we talking the kind of system that tend to occur when socialists implement their policies.

It's the same communism or capitalism as abstract ideals.
We can theorize that the Soviet Union was not truly communist. But there never was an ideal communist state.
We can theorize what an ideal libertarian state could be, but there never was such a state.

Yet in the end of the day, what actually matters is the policy that comes out.

The ACA is in line with modern socialist policies.
1. Forces your participation
2. Attempts to provide a service to the poor via subsidies
3. Reduces choice in the kinds of coverage you can have. The minimum is not just a basic minimum for emergencies so hospitals emergencies don't go unpaid.
4. various pricing control mechanism on providers
5. attempts to control an industry via the state ...

The ACA might not be ideal socialism, but
saying that the ACA is about as far from socialism as you can get is simply parroting a canard that only reflects poorly on you.

Comment Re:Until true AI is developed.... (Score 2) 317

People tend to overestimate the 'thought' that goes into their jobs.

Let me just preface this and say that there are people in each job that really do put some unique thought into things. But for a general practitioner of a problem and for 90% of cases, you'd be surprised how far following routine steps takes you.

I remember the first time this happened (probably about 10 years ago), I was working for a firm and they were embracing wikis and other such tools. My manager asked me to write down our trouble shooting steps in a wiki. See this line in the logs or these symptoms, and follow these steps. I kind of surprised myself how I reduced one of my great assets to something a person could follow steps on a wiki. Obviously if a new symptom showed up, not all the steps would be there. What I mean is that before there would be a problem and it would me to the rescue. Most people didn't even know where to start. Kudos to me! I realized, I just outlined the steps that most people could now follow.

You'll see similar things in other fields. Family medicine for example is one. The way most of them operate today, it is rather like an algorithm. Again, some really good doctor who spends huge time with his patients and learns all their history and quirks... might be better, but the medical care most of us receive (I'm in Canada, not sure of your countries experience) is just in and out. I have some friends who are doctors and they basically tell me the same thing. They take in the symptoms, assume it is a common ailment, order tests... if anything is weird... refer to a specialist.

I'm actually seeing more and more of the doctors 'thought' automated. I get a routine prescription based on a blood test. Today, it's all automated. Blood test results come back to the dr with ministry guidelines on what is abnormal (refer to specialist) and any dosage levels. I have little doubt most of this work about be automated. Perhaps overseen by a nurse or something just for oversight. Or approvals from a doctor if a high risk treatment is needed or something. But again, like 90% of cases can be automated.

You see the same thing in the financial industry. Are there people who can manage money really well. Probably. But they tend to stick with high net worth people or institutions. The average person gets dumped into a general mutual fund. Today, so much of it is automated by algorithms and you might as well just buy an ETF.

Even something like teaching. Do you ever wonder why teacher still write their own lesson plans? I did when I was a teacher. Are kids that unique in every class? That whole process can be automated and shared. Theoretically teachers should be assessing each student and customizing things... but that was not the reality in the classroom. Much like family doctors. There is a theoretical advantage in personalized service, but not much in practice.

So if you can get an automated system to do 90% of job, that saves a boat load of money and ensures consistency. If you're a nice institution, you can take those savings and really help the ones in need. Get rid of the higher requirements for teachers. Hire people to basically ensure classroom behavior. For example, if most of the students can be dealt with via automated lessons/tests... then more resources and attention can be given to children with issues.

It's rarely about a computer automating all of the job, but doing 90% of it. Humans can still be there for special cases, but again... that's much fewer jobs or jobs that should get much lower pay if they're just overseeing.

Comment Re:4/5 in favor (Score 2) 751

The problem is we basically have this today.
Despite what people say, even about the US, the is a minimum standard of living.
There is social housing.
There is welfare.
There is Medicaid ...
They have kept it crappy because that's why people don't want to end up there. If they kept social housing really nice and made welfare enough to buy food and not many eligibility checks... you'd basically have what is being proposed.

When people speak of a guaranteed income, they generally mean free money to provide a decent life. Maybe a single person with their own apartment and enough money for basic food, internet, tv, phone.

People always want more, but here's the part you're missing.
How much are people willing to work to get *more*?
I want a ferrari right now, but I really don't want to work that hard to get one.

I think you'd be surprised by the number of people who would be quite content with a basic apartment, food, tv, internet..

Comment Re:It's an interesting idea (Score 1) 751

It's a hell of a lot of complexity.

I would argue that since the industrial revolution, we've probably had the THEORETICAL ABILITY to give everyone a decent life (food, water, shelter, electricity...) if we could organize society properly.

I don't think it is a surprise that communism came about around the same time as the industrial revolution where it became possible for academics and others to 'see' a better world.

The trouble has always been how to organize society properly.
And never underestimate this problem.

It sounds nice to change to a guaranteed income and you could save money spent on countless government programs. But here we go. Have you seen what happens to countries as they deal with public sector unions? It's hard enough to get wage freezes or pension reform. You're talking about gutting entire agencies. Good luck with that one.

Then we still have to deal with the reality that we're not in robot utopia yet and some jobs still need to be done. And who will want to do them if the guaranteed income provides a *good enough* life? Oh sure, it is easy for academics and others with pretty interesting jobs to think they'd just keep working. I'm sure I'd still write software. I'm sure some people would still teach, be doctors... I mean I certainly wouldn't work as hard as I do now, but I'd still do it out of interest.

But I mean, who'd want to stock shelves, go into the mines to mine lithium, clean the sewers...

I'm not saying it is impossible, I'm just saying it is pretty screwed up. You can say those jobs would increase wages and maybe that works. On the other hand, what could that extra money buy you versus someone who just get the free money?

So maybe we assign people work. Not guaranteed income, but guaranteed jobs. Now you're into how much is each job worth. How do you keep people working at a productive pace? Who gets what job? What should the state focus on? All the problems communism ended up with.

Somehow, the 'good' jobs get assigned to those with connections. All the crappy jobs get assigned to those without. And those with the good jobs and connections start trumping themselves up on how they deserve more.

You see this today. Oh, I studied for 5 years! I deserve more money than someone with a high school education! Even if the person with a high school education is performing a more useful task to society or is doing a job that is harder/more competitive/produces more for others?

And how will society respond to being told they would be assigned jobs? Or maybe you can just bring in enough immigrants or outsource enough work to third world countries? Who knows.

Right now, in Canada we have a shortage of farm workers because Canadians won't do the work and with increased scrutiny of temporary foreign labor, it results in problems.

Or what should society focus on?
This is a huge one. I tell you right now, I'd rather work less and focus on infrastructure. But others want more healthcare. Others want more education. Others want more military. Others might want to explore space...

And then you have the state making others work harder to make those goals happen. And judging by history, those in power do not want to just give the rest of us a good life. Imagine if the soviet union focused on giving the people a good life? Instead they focused on the military and expansion.

Can you design a system of government to ensure the people are the focus?

It's a hugely complex problem.
It's not a technical problem, but an organization one.
But those are normally the hardest problems to solve.

Comment Re:How it's supposed to work... (Score 2) 396

Well one of the big issues is that we currently get the worst of all worlds. Sometimes the 'middle road' is not the best way.

Whatever your political views, each side does offer a 'good life' in its vision.

The left/progressive way is rather standard and easy to see as good based on the way most of us live and been educated. Stable lifetime employment and a good safety net with rules to ensure improving standards. Again, that's the theory :)

In the case of the 'free market', the idea is that you'd give your all, work for a few years and then move on to something else with a big pile of cash.
Assuming a stable currency, that money can last you a long time.

Heck, I work at a bank which gets lots of foreign labor and this is the mindset of these people. It's not just Indians and Asians. For some reason, we attract a lot of French people (From France). They have the same mindset. Come to America/Canada after university, work, make a boat load of cash, return to France and do something relaxing.

The idea is that you work hard enough so you don't have to keep working. The US is really a good example of seeing the difference.

You can for example live a very low cost of living in the American South. If you want, you can work your ass off and live in a mansion, or just work a basic job and have a home, car...

Today, we don't live in any kind of a free-market, yet some companies still operate like that, but the benefits for those workers to work really hard for a few years and retire are decreasing. Currency questions are all over the place. I'm not saying inflation is crazy, but let's not pretend, anyone has any idea how their money is going to last 50 years. Higher taxes take away the pay for this hard work in a short period of time. Low interest rates are making housing going up, which increases your future costs...

But the powers that be don't mind. They get the benefits of the free market in Amazon and other firms, while they get to control society and have higher taxes in progressiveness. Luckily, they have a lot of foreign labor that can endure it and does benefit (at least for now).

Comment Re:What's the wide-spread use of Watson for medici (Score 1) 53

That's a little pessimistic. Will it get rid of doctors? Probably not immediately. But the degree to which so much is automated today is increasing.

Small example. I take thyroid medication. This is what happens today.

1. I take a blood test
2. Blood test results are electronically sent to my doctor
3. The results come back with the calculation already there showing the recommended dose and the ministry guidelines...

My doctor at this point is really just acting as a middle woman. A nurse, pharmacist or other health professional, or heck.. .radically... just myself (as this is not a high risk medication), could bypass the doctor and just get the prescription.

In any case, it is even good right now as the results are more accurate and more standardized.

I actually worked for Merge for a while working in medical imaging. Even like 5 years ago, we were doing anomaly detection and what not. It was actually pretty accurate, especially for specific cases like breast cancer. I'm sure various smarter people with Phds could make it even more accurate.

Even if it is just used as a screener before positive results get turned over to a radiologist, it is still a huge plus. At first, it will probably just make the job of a radiologist much easier.

But who knows, maybe down the road it reduces their costs, increases their volumes, or even takes over their job.

Comment Re:Similar results are possible with any subject (Score 1) 144

I fully agree with you. I was always pretty logical and rigorous in my studies.

The issue is that programming is has results right away that show if your thinking is logical and correct.

The same cannot be said of most other subjects.
Math is similar, but has been made less rigorous. As well, for most students, math problems typically lack an end state. For example, math proofs are great. I love em. I love that satisfaction. The end state is great. AHA! I got to where I needed. Yet to a lot of students, this is a pointless exercise and they really don't care about all the steps needed to prove it.

I happened to teach for a while in public high school before returning to engineering. While I certainly made programming fun for my students. Look at the bouncy ball kids! Now make it go left and right... The reality is there was this giant divide that kids either got it, or they didn't get it.

It's the same divide I saw in math class. Some kids got Algebra and variables. Others did not.

Like it or not, some kids fundamentally have an issue with the abstraction of a variable. What we would consider the most basic programming or math concept, is a blocker for many of them. No amount of this box holds this value seems to help.

The same goes for breaking down a problem into steps, algorithms...

I suspect in the end, they'll run into the same problems as math.
The kids who get it will love it. But the same kids who don't understand algebra won't understand or benefit from computer science much. Many kids will be able to get by or just get through the course, but they won't benefit much or get the benefits out of other courses.

Like many things, correlation and causation are often misunderstood. And maybe you are just spending 43k/year just to able to avoid the regular public school system and actually be taught something with rigor. Or maybe you are just getting kids who already think logically and are rigorous.

Comment Re:A long time coming... (Score 1) 364

This is the key thing.

At this point in our history, no country has anything resembling a free market. The entire system, for good or bad is tied to financial games and government spending.

Say you what you will, but infrastructure provides something very tangible for the nation.

That's more than you can say for war spending or financial sector spending.

Heck, that's probably more than you can say for spending on healthcare and education. We've spent more and more on healthcare and education (in Canada), and I don't know if our kids are people really any healthier overall. Sure, for a country with really crappy healthcare and education, you can see some tangible benefits. But for most western countries, it doesn't seem like things have improved with more spending.

But I can tell you we have one hell of an infrastructure deficit. People notice it every single day taking transit or driving to work. If you build a new subway, people will notice it...

Comment Re:huh (Score 1) 211

Here's the interesting thing.
Let me preface all this by saying my values generally agree with you. You should earn your living. You have no right to be better or more well off than someone else except if you are able to be of more service to the world and convince people to voluntarily pay you more money.

That all said, these kids who want to be protected from everything and who want no responsibility for themselves. The ultra-feminists and ultra-leftists as many would point out. Well here's the thing. do we need responsible and self-sufficient people anymore?

I pose that as a serious question. If there is no need for something, I don't see any reason why it should remain so valued?

As we enter the age of automation, so much of *need* is generally taken care of. I'm under no illusions that society still needs a lot of human labor. So much of it done by overseas or migrant labor. But play along with the thought experiment.

Heck, I barely feel hot anymore, because I'm protected via air conditioning. Oh how the conveniences creep up on you in life :P My biggest bill is housing, which has little to do with the actual cost of a home, and everything to do with low interest rates and outbidding my fellow citizen to get into a *hot* area/market.

I'm protected from disease via vaccinations and a decent universal healthcare system (I'm Canadian).

I'm protected from crime, by a decent police force and welfare system.

I'm protected from employee abuse by labor laws (well somewhat :P)

So while, I still hold that scarcity immigrant mindset of being self-sufficient and responsible, I at times wonder if it is even needed anymore. I doubt I'll be able to change. I'm young, but too old to suddenly change all my values.

Maybe it is time we self-sufficient and responsible men learned to relax a little. No need to work so hard. No need to take on societies burdens. We do have the organization and technical automation for us all to live decent lala land enjoyable lives.

That all said. Will society survive? Will it collapse if everyone buys into the left-wing feminist ideology? I have no idea.

I could write a critique on the left very easily. They want everything for free, while ignoring those who do the productive work (migrant workers, overseas working, the factory workers... They have no idea what things would cost if that self-sufficient responsible person suddenly adopted their entitled values.

But it's something I've been thinking about. I'll still raise my kids to be self-sufficient because if society has struggles, I want them prepared to deal with shit. But I leave the door open. Maybe its needless worrying on my part and we can all just enjoy life a bit more and worry less about being responsible/self sufficient.

It's an open question in my view.

Comment It has more to do with your IT department (Score 1) 517

My home PC is running Windows 8, but started off as Windows 7. It is as snappy as the day I bought it.

The issue with your organization, as with more organization is they install so much crap on there that it slows it down. It would happen if they installed so much crap on linux or mac or whatever.

It just so happens that tend not to for those system. But if enough regular users switch to those, they will.

I hate my work laptop. It auto installs software, demands reboots at varying times, runs a really shitty custom backup that backsup/restores/sometimes overwrites my local files, runs slow enterprise anti virus software, endpoint configuration, reporting tools, software scanning tools...
Heck, just recently, they started doing HTTPS man in the middle monitoring. So even google throws cert errors when I use firefox/chrome. Heck, I'm not using Bing just to avoid google HTTPs. Officially we must use IE.

In my last job, if we got our PCs to use a test domain, we could avoid all the corporate crap. But not at my current company.

Long story short, there's nothing that will cause windows 7 or 8 to slow down in time. It is generally enterprise install bullshit or users installing bad software.

Comment Re:Economic Externality (Score 1) 371

I agree with your general point.

Yes, the financial growth system is a mess.
The problem is that both the left and right are just as dependent on GDP growth. Heck, probably the only opposition you have to the financial growth system comes from the extremes on the left (occupy wall street) and the tea party (right). Everyone other movement basically believes in growth and the financial section.

Do you ever wonder why every big city (New York, Toronto, London) is 'progressive', while at the same time pretty much generating most of its wealth from financial games?

It's a big irony.

There's also a huge number of political ironies. One of the reasons you can eat so cheaply in much of the developing world is because you can pay people crap. I guarantee you, you make the minimum wage $2.00/hour in London and you'll magically start seeing lots of places serving fresh food.
But that brings all sorts of issues depending on your end of the political spectrum.

Probably the biggest issue right now is housing. Our politicians/bankers have convinced the population that increases in home prices increase their wealth. That this is somehow a good thing.

When in reality, you're still living in the same home you were 20 years ago when home prices were more reasonable. You get the same value out of the home. The only difference is all your citizens are trying to jump on the real estate train out bidding each other due to low interest rates.

In any case, I'll sneak this is there. I hate plastic and packaging. I can claim it from a moral angle. But it's also out of self interest. Every week, I take out the trash and my god is there a lot of packaging that takes up space. It's just me and my wife and there's so many bottles, cans, boxes... it's insane.
I actually started buying products with nicer packaging, just knowing I have to take this crap out.

At my supermarket for example, they sell croissants. But they package it in a big plastic container. Just think of the wasted space in my recycling bag. I stopped buying it and only grab it when they sometimes package it in a bag. Or even sometimes we buy the fresh cut fruit. That shit comes in a plastic container. Man, at least make it out of something better. It is literally used to hold the fruit for less than a week, but they package it in plastic that can last 100 years or whatever.

I don't know what it will take, but I want to see less packaging, at least in these obvious cases. I know some products needs to be shipped or need more packaging for security/anti theft... but there is so much low hanging fruit...

Comment Re:Trimming the fat (Score 1) 96

Forget about paying top dollar.

Banks spend huge amount of money on IT.
The problem is that it is really poorly allocated.

They'll spend massive amounts of money buying expensive products from IBM. Spend massive amount of money on IT contractors. Spend massive amounts of money on IT security scanning...

The problem is largely in the small space with dev and IT where the people who actually make the damn thing work day in and day out.

When it comes to banks, I'm sorry, I've worked in the industry. They have no shortage of IT money. It's just spent horribly.

Comment I think you have it figured out already (Score 1) 257

It seems to me that you have already figured it out.

Get a developer/build VM Image and you're basically done.
Well, that and make sure to use open source / easily licensed tools so you won't ever run out of a license.

Are you worried that the x64 instruction set is going to disappear within the next 25 years?

I'd say that is highly unlikely.
When AMD when to x64, they made sure it still ran x86.

In 25 years, I doubt we'll be dropping x64 from mainstream support. You're probably safe there.

Not to mention, you'll probably be able to buy some old chips if that should ever happen. Just go on ebay and you can still find 386 chips :P

Not to mention virtualization.

Comment Re:First Post with good info (Score 3, Insightful) 51

Yep, I had a very interesting talk with my wife's friend.
She's an accountant and she was just complaining about IT.

So I talked to her about our side, and it's amazing the disconnect there.

We talked and I mentioned how every IT project needs a maintenance budget. You need knowledge retention in case the service needs to be updated in the future. You need someone to support it... You know, just like any other project. You wouldn't build a washroom and budget someone to clean it.

So she asked, well why don't you include that in your estimates? So we can have proper costing for the project.

Then I thought about it. There is a huge gap in accounting and IT. In IT, we often view accounting as something in the way. Stupid time tracking software. Bah, I'll just charge all my time to my assigned project. I have to provide an estimate. I'll just provide an estimate for the development. It's not my job to think about knowledge maintenance or operations...

Now of course the average IT person should not think about this, but the upper IT folks definitely should by setting up the right groups and proper leadership on how projects are structured. It's their job to get the funding so to speak.

It's not so much a problem that all the heads want to know is budget, on time...
It's largely that IT accounting is very poor to not account for all the costs. And we're so used to delivering something even if it does not account for maintenance that they get used to it.

Maybe Computer Science should be in the College of Theology. -- R. S. Barton