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Comment: Re:You can add all the very you want (Score 1) 130

by sirlark (#48882277) Attached to: New Advance Confines GMOs To the Lab Instead of Living In the Wild
Yes ... but over a long enough time (a shorter time probably) those same mutations might occur naturally. And if the mutations are not beneficial to the organism (as opposed to beneficial to humans), then they are very likely to lost again. Look, if they create an e. coli strain that produces something amazing, for instance, a viable crude oil substitute, but it also happens to be highly effective at out-competing wild type e. coli in the human gut as a side effect, and coincidently killing us because we've basically swallowed litres of crude oil, I'd say it might still be worth the risk. If they're producing vanillain, or insulin, then definitely. The problem with the crude oil scenario, is that an escapee colony would start producing a never ending oil slick. But again, the mutations would likely be lost because the organism won't need them.

Comment: Re:I`ll be the pessimist (Score 4, Insightful) 130

by sirlark (#48879159) Attached to: New Advance Confines GMOs To the Lab Instead of Living In the Wild
The whole idea is that the escapees won't survive long enough to reproduce, as being without their essential amino acids, their growth would be limited, and bacterial reproduction rates are tied to growth rates. Also, consider that as long as they're provided with the non-native amino acids, they're under no selective pressure to revert to the wild type. Yes, it's possible, but very very unlikely.

Comment: And five minutes later... (Score 0) 238

by Samantha Wright (#48858215) Attached to: Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption

...Someone from the back row shouts out "Because our AdSense profile has determined you were visiting websites about cigarettes recently, your health insurance premium has gone up by 5% and you will probably die slightly sooner. Remember, [i]f you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place!"

Is it cynicism if you're just using a Markov chain to predict what other Slashdotters will say?

(Although obviously this is auto insurance, so I'm sure someone can translate the threat appropriately.)

Comment: Some more details and fixing some missing details (Score 4, Informative) 160

by sirlark (#48763359) Attached to: Over 30 Uber Cars Impounded In Cape Town

Captonian here. The summary is a bit misleading. In South Africa there are two nationwide requirements for anyone (including Uber drivers) to transport members of the public. They must be personally licensed to drive (i.e. have a valid drivers license), and also licensed to transport members of the public (a public drivers licence, which requires not having a criminal record, not having ever had your driver's license revoked, etc...). In Cape Town specifically, there's an additional by-law that means the vehicle must be licensed. This requirement is the case in most municipalities in South Africa, although some municipalities classify Uber's service as "chartered transportation" and Cape Town classifies it as a "metered taxi service".

A local talk radio show had both a representative from Uber and a representative from the city’s Safety and Security department. Both Uber and the city confirmed that Uber only checks the national requirements, i.e. the driver's credentials. Uber doesn't check that the vehicle is licensed to transport. To be fair, Uber apparently goes above and beyond the minimum checks regarding the driver, doing deeper background checks etc, but they do not check that the vehicle is licensed. All of the impounded vehicles were impounded due to a lack of the vehicle license. Uber seems to be trying to spin things saying that the City's bureaucracy is way too slow, but what it comes down to is the fact that are plenty of metered taxi's already, they need to be licensed, and there are a limited number of licenses. Uber's been categorised as a metered taxi service, so no new uber drivers are going to be given vehicle licenses. Uber wants to be reclassified as a chartered transport service, and here things get a little fuzzy. As far as I can tell, a chartered transport service requires an upfront statement of cost, i.e. the driver/company has to provide a quote for the proposed route. Airport shuttles fall under this for example, because they charge a fixed amount per suburb/area, they don't charge per kilometre. I'm not sure how exactly uber determines the fare, but it's not fixed, so technically, they're not a chartered service.

So it doesn't look like it's the city's fault. They're following the law. Now, it's open to discussion whether Uber is at fault for not ensuring their driver's vehicles are licensed, or whether it should be the driver's responsibility, but from the consumer side, I'd say the expectation is that Uber has done their due dilligence.

Comment: Re:I'm Gonna Say "Yes" (Score 4, Insightful) 232

by Samantha Wright (#48668621) Attached to: Should Video Games Be In the Olympics?
It may not happen; the modern Olympics, quite unlike the ancient Olympics, have not always been purely about physical sports. Competitions like poetry and painting were removed in part because the same entrants won year after year—this has not, so far, been an issue for e-sports.

Comment: Re: Why does this need a sequel? (Score 1) 299

by Samantha Wright (#48593013) Attached to: Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever"

...Not having any particular stake in this argument, are we quite sure that's Tyrell's intended meaning, something so mundane? I think Tyrell is more taking about stuff like this:

I have seen things you people wouldn't believe Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like [small cough] tears in rain. Time to die

...i.e., Roy's greatness and accomplishment as a person. At that point, Tyrell wants to sooth Roy and make him accept his place by calling him amazing. Simply saying "well, that's the cost of bein' so darn strong" conflicts with his next line: "And you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy."

Comment: Re:Free Enterprise (Score 2) 184

by sirlark (#48562127) Attached to: Swedish Police Raid the Pirate Bay Again

While I agree with most of what you say, including your conclusion that the complete removal of copyright will mean de facto replacement by a patronage system, you miss two crucial points. Firstly, the fundamental difference between the arts in before the 19th century and today is that the distribution costs are now negligible, especially if the distribution is digital, but even if the distribution is physical. It costs less to produce most art in physical form and more importantly to reproduce than ever before in human history, yet prices do not come down. There's also a clear divorce between production costs and retail costs. A new DVD from a block buster movie with a budget in the 100's of millions costs the same or less to buy than the latest top 10 CDs with production budgets in the 10's of millions. Consumers get this, they understand they're being screwed by the CD producers. They're being charged what the CD producers think the market will bear... except clearly the market won't bear it, because piracy is rampant. Music producers (especially) love to harp on about lost sales, but flat out refuse to consider piracy as market indicator. Let's assume there were a full proof way prevent piracy. Sales would stay pretty flat, or I suspect drop a fair bit. People pirate way more than they could ever afford to buy, and if suddenly forced to buy everything, they would pick and choose a lot more, like back in the 80's and early 90's when kids saved their pocket money to buy that one album they'd been eyeing for three months. Concert and performance revenue would probably fall off (except for really big, well publicised, acts, i.e. the guys who are already coining it) because of lack of exposure. CD prices would be forced down. Lack of exposure is why I think CD sales might actually drop in this scenario. The same argument holds for other types of digitally reproducible art.

Secondly, the content-creation (for want of a better term) industry is a lot like the the professional sports industry. We only really here about the super stars, who are 1% of all the attempts at success. The current copyright regime is already in effect a patronage system, except the "rich dudes" are rich corporations who decide who they will promote. Yes consumers can vote with their money, which only constrains who will be promoted to largely popular inoffensive artists, whereas in a true patronage system the individual tastes of the rich dudes funded a wider variety of creative efforts. There are also a lot more "rich dudes" now than ever before. They're called the middle class. They have a fair amount of disposable income. No single person in the middle class has the money to fund an artist in the same way as traditional patronage systems, but there are vastly more potential consumers for art than ever before in human history, and what's more is the skills required to reproduce a performance and the costs involved are way less than before too, allowing artists to either manage distribution themselves, or pay substantially less than previously to someone else to do it for them.

I view piracy as a form of civil disobedience protesting inflated prices. If digital content were reduced to 25% I'm pretty sure sales would more than quadruple. Also, considering the percentages the artists get paid, they're getting screwed the least by piracy. I know that there are plenty of other people involved in music and film production, but for the most part, they all get paid salaries, not royalties. So they're not getting screwed by piracy.

P.S. I'm viewing things from a South African perspective, where minimum wage is approximately $1 an hour and new release DVDs cost about $18 ~ $25, and a new CD will set you back around $20. E-books range widely from $1 to $15, and physical books are minimum of $25 hard cover, $12 paperback. At minimum wage South Africans have to work 2 and a half days to afford a DVD/CD/Ebook/book.


Robots Put To Work On E-Waste 39

Posted by Soulskill
from the robots-disassembling-robots dept.
aesoteric writes: Australian researchers have programmed industrial robots to tackle the vast array of e-waste thrown out every year. The research shows robots can learn and memorize how various electronic products — such as LCD screens — are designed, enabling those products to be disassembled for recycling faster and faster. The end goal is less than five minutes to dismantle a product.

Comment: Re:Something we don't really need (Score 2) 30

Main advantage: I want a phone with everything... Best camera, biggest storage best screen. Right now, that cost's me bout $1000 in my country before the reverse subsidizations kick in. I say reverse, because in my country, buying a phone on plan costs more over time than buying the phone outright upfront for the more expensive phones, taking into account the costs of the plan without any phone. That's a BIG layout where I'm from, but if I can buy those components over time and upgrade according to my own priority list, I can assemble the phone within my budget. Better, after two years roll by, I only have to upgrade the components which are underpowered for me. The screen won't degrade over time, so I can keep that. The battery might need replacement, and the camera upgrading. Chances are a quad-core will still be sufficient in 2 years, if PC's are anything to go by. Wifi, bluetooth, NFC, qi charging, etc... once they're in, they won't need upgrading for a while.

Time-sharing is the junk-mail part of the computer business. -- H.R.J. Grosch (attributed)