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Comment: Re:Urgh (Score 2) 442

Marxism is probably preferable to the feudal society these guys are promoting.

That's an interesting comparison. Ignoring the question of whether "these guys" are promoting feudalism, I find it interesting to think about which actually is better, Marxism or feudalism, as an economic system.

From an ideological perspective, Marxism is better, in theory at least, because placing all ownership of property in the hands of a few lords is blatantly unfair. From a practical perspective, though, I'm not sure there's a difference, because every attempt to implement Marxism on any scale larger than a small commune ends up putting control of all property in the hands of a few committee members. I don't think there is any real difference between ownership and control that looks just like ownership but isn't.

In both cases, what you have is central planning, normally organized on multiple tiers to address the fact that no one person or committee can understand and manage it all. However, feudal systems tend to create stronger demarcations between the tiers, and very strong separation of control between the fiefs. This allows for the development of a market economy between fiefs, plus whatever internal markets the feudal lords choose to allow. And those who allow greater economic freedom will find their fiefs generating greater wealth, and feudalism is, er, not much constrained by ideological considerations.

I suppose a Marxist nation that organized itself as a collection of small communes who engaged in market transactions between one another could do that as well, but I think the ideology tends to squash that idea, because if communal ownership works at the small scale, why not expand it?

All in all, though neither is a very effective economic structure, I suspect that feudalism would be better than Marxism given comparable levels of technology and education. Marx obviously thought his system would be an improvement, since his whole focus was transitioning from feudalism to the "improved" world of communal ownership. But I think history has proved that he was simply wrong.

Comment: Re:I forced myself to watch it (Score 1) 298

by swillden (#47753859) Attached to: Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

I know that someone was beheaded. It is clear that this is an horrible and cruel act, that nobody and nobody's family should experience. What information does it add to watch the video? You can convey the relevant information in text.

No, you can't. The fact you think so is the entire problem.

I think so, too, and I don't think it's a problem. Rather than just telling people they're talking out of their ass, why don't you explain what value is gained by watching it? Obviously there's no factual information in the video that can't be expressed in a few sentences of text, so the only think I can suppose is that you're of the opinion that the greater emotional impact of seeing it has value.

What, precisely, is that value? For me, personally, I can't imagine what it would be. I don't think anything could make me more strongly opposed to the act of beheading an innocent journalist. Seeing it would make that opposition more visceral -- perhaps in an almost literal sense -- but it wouldn't increase my opposition. It wouldn't lower my opinion of the terrorists, either, since it's not possible to hold a lower opinion of them than I do.

So what is the value of seeing it?

Comment: Re:Simulations are limited by imagination (Score 1) 172

by swillden (#47742055) Attached to: Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

While it would be entertaining, I don't think that's a very useful method for evaluating the performance of self-driving cars, unless you're trying to design a car for demolition derby competitions. I understand that your'e trying to design an extreme environment on the theory that if the car can perform well there, it'll definitely do fine on real roads, but I don't think that theory is valid. In real life, the vehicles on the road try not to hit one another, and the method they use (in most countries, at least) isn't hyper-alertness and evasion skills, but rather cooperative rule-following.

We avoid accidents by collaborating on a set of rules, some written and enforced by police officers, most not, that tell us all how the other drivers are going to behave in a given situation. That is the context in which self-driving vehicles need to operate, at least until we eliminate the human drivers from the road -- at that point self-driving vehicles can use their high-speed wireless communication channels to collaborate more directly. Of course, while human drivers are on the road, we (human and machines alike) have to be wary of drivers who don't behave in the expected way, so there is some value in being able to avoid bad or aggressive behavior. But I don't think optimizing for that is likely to be the most effective solution.

The Google team recognizes this and is optimizing for proper cooperative behavior, and even behavior that optimizes for the comfort of passengers, as in the example in the summary.

Comment: Re:The show is filled with mostly nonsense (Score 1) 358

by SuiteSisterMary (#47735813) Attached to: "MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

At the beginning of the show, it was 'lets see if Hollywood special effects can be done without using special effects. No. Now here's how the special effects were done.'

Then, for a while, it was actually busting myths.

Now, it's 'Does physics actually work?' I stopped watching when I saw an episode where they were challenging the assertion that, given a vehicle moving at 30 mph, with a rear-facing air cannon that would shoot at tennis ball at 30 mph, the ball, when fired from the moving vehicle, would simply drop.

Comment: Re:Simulations are limited by imagination (Score 4, Interesting) 172

by swillden (#47734021) Attached to: Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

The problem with simulator testing is that you can't test scenarios that you didn't think of. This is particularly important to find problems arising from multiple simultaneous situations. For example, you might test the scenarios "front camera obscured by rain", "car ahead of you performs emergency stop", and "dog runs into street", but that doesn't necessarily tell you how the car will respond to a combination of the three.

Real life is far more creative than any scenario designer.

Which is why you should do both. A simulation can test millions of permutations -- including arbitrary combinations of events, and in far more variety than could be tested in a reasonable amount of time on real roads -- and can verify that software changes don't introduce regressions. Real-world testing introduces an element of randomness which provides additional insights for the simulation test cases.

Ultimately, governments should probably develop their own simulators which run the autonomous car through a large battery of scenarios, including scenarios which include disabling some of the car's sensors. Then autonomous vehicles from different manufacturers could be validated on a standard test suite before being allowed on the roads, and when real-world incidents occur in which an automated car makes a bad decision, those incidents can and should be replicated in the simulator and all certified vehicles tested. They should also do real-world testing, but I suspect that in the long run simulations will provide much greater confidence.

Comment: Re:Too much good content is deleted at Wikipedia. (Score 1) 239

by SuiteSisterMary (#47732523) Attached to: Latest Wikipedia Uproar Over 'Superprotection'

Because that turns wikipedia into a Myspace/Facebook clone, where every 2-bit garage band, every marketing campaign, and every nut is free to abuse Wikipedia's services to push their self-image, desilugions and agenda.

Again, what is wrong with that?

Either that, or somebody needs to mark 'The Encyclopedia Everyone Can Edit' and every such claim on Wikipedia 'citation needed.'

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