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Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 1) 70

by Rich0 (#48480409) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

Only problem is, with the new international trade laws going in that let companies sue governments for "unfair competition", any government that goes cost-plus will get sued to the point where it's not worth pursuing anymore -- because there's no way the patent system can compete with low-cost drugs and open access methods. But I agree: that's what should have been happening for the past decade. It really calls into question why it hasn't, and why governments are instead pushing the current trade laws.

Don't disagree, though really with the low success rate of new drugs these days, you'd think that pharma companies would look at this as an opportunity to diversify. Right now they employ hordes of scientists and since invention is serendipitous they often end up spending money developing less-promising drugs just to keep half of their scientists busy. They can't just fire everybody when they only have one or two candidates and then scale back up when they have more - it is hard to change scale and there are economies of scale from staying big.

With a model that allows public competition under a cost-plus model a pharma company could still do end-to-end drug development that yields products that are very lucrative, but with a high risk. Then if it has spare capacity it could bid on government cost-plus contracts to develop public candidates. That would allow them to maintain their scale and make a modest profit with very little risk. The situation is really not all that different in terms of what kinds of drugs they target privately - they aim for areas with no competition so that they can make monopoly profits. The public benefits since it gives them more options - the areas the private companies are targeting are areas that the government is missing anyway for whatever reason. Also, some drugs might be needed but be politically undesirable, but private companies will go where the money is so people who suffer from conditions that have some kind of stigma associated will at least get something to help them.

Comment: Re:I think (Score 1) 333

He was explaining said conventions as a retort to my claim that humans aren't able to clearly define who can be morally shot and therefore it would be impossible for them to clearly define in an algorithm for an automated killing machine.

Fair enough, though the same argument would apply to having soldiers in the first place.

Also, defining an algorithm for an automated killing machine doesn't require being able to clearly define who can be morally shot. Armies today operate just fine despite the fact that nobody really agrees on who can be morally shot. :)

Comment: Re:Quantum Mechanics and Determinism (Score 1) 333

The universe as a whole is NOT deterministic as Quantum Mechanics proves. QM is based on true randomness (obvious a simplification but go with it for this conversation).

The fact that the theories that describe QM are based on true randomness does NOT mean that the universe as a whole is not deterministic.

First, we already know that QM is limited, because it doesn't account for gravity. Second, even if QM as it is formulated today did accurately describe the universe to the best of our ability to measure it doesn't mean that another theory that is deterministic couldn't also describe the universe.

Many of the arguments made on the basis of QM go beyond the actual math and are just fairly subjective interpretations of the implications of the theory. It might be established that you can't measure the position and velocity of a particle with arbitrary precision, but that doesn't mean that a particle doesn't have a precise position or velocity. QM tends to be formulated in terms of describing what you'd get if you performed an experiment. That doesn't necessarily mean that the universe actually works in this way.

Think about it - how could you even prove that a given chain of events was or wasn't deterministic? You can't ever reproduce the same chain of events perfectly, so it is impossible to test. That means any claim that there is or isn't determinism in nature is basically unfalsifiable.

Comment: Re:I think (Score 1) 333

Really? Do you define your moral compass to directly align with the law? Let's look at what you said.

He was explaining the Geneva Conventions/etc. That isn't an argument about morality.

Define organized. Define military, Define what constitutes an insignia. Your definition of privileged combatant excludes every combatant relevant to a modern war (at least for the US which is where the automated death machines are coming into play). Terrorists groups aren't in organized military structure, they don't wear insignias, and they don't follow the laws and customs of warfare. So by your definition of civilian, they are all civilians and in some cases both civilians and combatants.

I'm sure those terms all have definitions, and as you point out they exclude most of the folks the US tends to end up shooting at of late.

The Geneva conventions were written so that nations with big armies could decide who they are/aren't allowed to shoot at. It isn't an accident that the definition for privileged combatants exclude terrorist groups and such. Forces not wearing uniforms are basically not afforded any protections under the conventions.

How is a drone or even a soldier supposed to know the difference between the men carrying the guns? If he is standing with the other men when the soldier fires on them and he fires on the soldier is he a combatant and okay to kill then, even though he is a civilian acting in self-defense? What if the soldier is replaced with a machine? Now it's a human being defending his life and not putting another at risk.

These problems aren't unique to drones. I can't specifically answer your questions as it is a bit unclear who is shooting at who in your description above.

If you're a civilian and somehow get caught up in a firefight with an organized group of soldiers on the other side, your best bet is to run or try to surrender. If you have a gun using it in self-defence is almost certainly suicidal. That isn't going to change if you add robots to the mix. This has nothing to do with morality - it is just a fact that when you shoot at soldiers they're going to consider you the enemy and they're almost certainly more likely to come out on top.

Comment: Re:I think (Score 1) 333

Then there's also the question of, how many wars have there been lately where both sides were clearly identifying themselves? Those fighting have gotten the hint that it's a dumb idea to engage bigger powers in anything other than asymmetric/guerrilla/whatever warfare.

And this would be why the large powers that worked out the Geneva Conventions wrote them in a way so as to offer no protections for people engaging in guerrilla warfare. It isn't like this is something new. There just haven't been any large-scale wars in a long time.

Keep in mind that nations are basically defined by their sovereignty. They aren't really subject to laws in the same way that ordinary citizens are. International law is really just a set of protocols everybody tends to follow because it works to their benefit. The Geneva Conventions basically say that if you don't firebomb our civilians we won't firebomb yours, and to help make that happen we'll both agree to not have civilians fighting guerrilla wars. When one side in a war decides to ignore them, they do so at the risk that the other side will also decide to ignore them.

Also, I think the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare is sometimes overstated. It works very well when the state you are fighting doesn't really have a big stake in the game, and is governed by some kind of democracy with a free press and all that. It only tends to work against occupying forces, since it lacks the ability to project power. It also relies on the fact that the occupying power desires to have peaceful relations with the existing population.

If you tried to use guerrilla warfare under other circumstances you would probably not be as successful. If you were fighting against a opponent governed by a dictatorship who occupied your country solely because they need your natural resources they might just decide to nerve gas the entire local population and move in their own workers to exploit your resources. If you were fighting against even a democratic opponent but they felt that their way of life was at risk, they might resort to brutal measures to put down the revolt (maybe they're engaged in a larger war and need your country as a base of operations). If some local tribe had attacked an essential US base in the pacific in WWII I doubt the local marines would have put up with it.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 1) 430

by Rich0 (#48471857) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

But big sequentually accessed files like video or music are perfect for a hardddisc, It's random access & thousands of little files where SSD's shine because of zero seektimes.

Sure. However, there seems to be some kind of argument that SSDs will completely replace hard drives for consumer use. That doesn't seem likely to me. SSDs are great for many things, maybe even for most things, but there are many common use cases where they just aren't adequate. Their cost may very well come down, but so do hard drive costs.

Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 1) 70

by Rich0 (#48471845) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

I wasn't really trying to debate that part of your post. I don't know what their original agreement was, but if they promised to develop it then they may very well have failed to uphold the agreement.

I think part of the issue here is that Ebola was a dead-end financially until recently. It is still speculative that anybody will make money off of it. So, companies weren't exactly beating down the door to develop it. Really the solution in these kinds of cases is for the government to just hire a company to do the work on a cost+plus basis or something like that, with the government retaining the patent rights. Of course, that would cost money, which is probably why it wasn't done.

Heck, I think that the government should be doing this a lot more even for potentially profitable areas. I'd like to see how a cost-plus model works for drug development. The resulting drugs would be cheap, with the taxpayers paying all the bills. This model could compete with the current patent-based model and we could see which was more effective in the long run.

Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 1) 70

by Rich0 (#48470081) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

That's the point people generally make -- but look at the context of the article you're commenting about -- the drug in this case was invented in Canada, paid for by Canadian taxpayers, and then rights were sold pretty much at-cost to a US company to test and develop it

Setting aside the breach of contract angle, keep in mind that the cost to test and develop a drug is actually the vast majority of the total cost to bring it to market.

It is a bit like saying that I sold my conceptual art drawing of a flying car to Ford for $100k and they went on and made millions on an actual flying car. The art drawing might have gone into the design, but there is a lot more to a flying car than a painting. Even an untested design isn't worth a whole lot, because the company buying it may test it only to find that it doesn't work.

The work required to bring an Apple Newton and an Apple iPad to market could very well be the same. That doesn't mean that the rights to market either are going to sell for the same price.

Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 2) 70

by Rich0 (#48470063) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

Canada creates a highly viable experimental vaccine for a very dangerous and scary virus, and US pharmaceuticals seek to pwn it up in their own market.

The distinction is that Canada did NOT create an FDA-approved vaccine. The difference between a vaccine and an FDA-approved vaccine is that you have to start with about 15 of the former and spend $100M on each to end up with just one of the latter, typically.

Commercial pharma companies sell each other early discovery compounds on the cheap all the time, so it isn't really a scandal when governments sell them. Early drug candidates don't cost much because it turns out that 95% of them don't work.

Imagine that a hurricane floods out a car dealership. A week later the water has drained away. An auction is held for all the cars on the lot. Do you think they will sell for their sticker prices? They'll certainly sell, but for a fraction of what they would get in undamaged condition.

Now imagine that you take a lot full of 1000 flooded cars. You perform a complete teardown and inspection on all of them. You end up with 990 cars that are in horrible condition, and 10 that by some miracle happened to get through with minimal damage. Now if you auction them all individually the 990 will sell for their value as scrap (even less than the average price paid sight unseen), and the 10 will sell competitively to ordinary used cars. The cars didn't change at all, but the knowledge of them did change.

Another example is buying vintage packs of baseball cards and such. The pack sells for a value that represents the average likely value of its contents. If you open it up the contents instantly become either much less valuable, or much more valuable.

It is no different for drugs. If you take a bunch of research leads they might all look equally promising, but after you invest millions in clinical trials it becomes apparent which ones will make money. If you sell your lead at the beginning you get a lot less for it. On the other hand, if you hold onto it you might find you held onto a bunch of junk cards when you could have gotten a portion of the value of a prized card for it.

Comment: Re:Need automatic "loser pays" in jurisprudence (Score 1) 208

by Rich0 (#48468667) Attached to: Hacker Threatened With 44 Felony Charges Escapes With Misdemeanor

I think a potential solution is to have the court mediate costs.

There is a lawsuit. The court evaluates the size of the claims, and determines what a reasonable total legal expenditure is for a case of that size. Obviously a billion dollar patent lawsuit will involve more legal fees than a $100 bent fender dispute. The court then divides that amount in two and allocates half for each party.

The two parties then can select lawyers who bill their services to the court. It would be illegal for any lawyer to collect a fee directly from a client to support a trial. The goal would be to avoid making finances a factor in the outcome of a trial.

After the conclusion of the case the court would pay the reward to the winner immediately out of the state treasury. The loser would then become indebted to the state for the amount of the judgment plus costs. Apportionment of costs might not be 100% to either side.

There would be no games with collections on judgments - the IRS can go after the loser just as they do after tax evaders. If the lower doesn't have any money, the winner still gets their settlement. That combined with the inevitable changes in the laws would get rid of a lot of legal abuses. If losses by patent holding companies with no assets cost the state and not just innovators, then you'll see patent reform in no time.

The biggest benefit is getting rid of the whole pay to win system we have today.

Comment: Re:Shyeah, right. (Score 1) 275

by Rich0 (#48468113) Attached to: Is LTO Tape On Its Way Out?

You're talking about a used market to start, and a drive that takes up quite a bit of space physically (it makes sense in a rack, but not so much otherwise).

Then $20/tb is not much cheaper than you get with hard drives.

At that price point the tape drive almost makes sense if you have a fair bit to back up. However, a more reasonable price point would be 6TB per tape at $30 per tape and $100 for the drive new. Once upon a time that was the sort of price point tape drives ran for in the consumer space. I doubt we'll ever see it again.

Comment: Re:Microsoft Windows only (Score 1) 142

by Rich0 (#48468005) Attached to: Highly Advanced Backdoor Trojan Cased High-Profile Targets For Years

You're focusing on a specific piece of software, and missing the reason the software was written in the first place.

I'm focusing on what I quoted in my response.

You quoted, "targeted attacks like this are OS agnostic."

Then you said "In the case of Regin (did you even read the lead before shooting your idiot mouth?) it is not OS agnostic."

He didn't say that Regin was OS agnostic. He said that targeted attacks are OS agnostic. Heck, you can perform a targeted attack without the use of a computer at all.

The people who wrote Regin weren't out to break Windows. They were out to obtain information. If it was easier to obtain that information by sending in ninjas at night, they would have done that.

If the sole point of your whole argument is that Regin only targets Windows, well, congratulations, I guess you can win the internet tonight. :)

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 1) 430

by Rich0 (#48464109) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

And 15 years ago I bought a massive 2GB drive for $350.

Computer stuff gets cheaper over time. There's no reason the same won't be true for SSDs. At some point SSDs will be cheap enough that even if HDD are still 1/100th of the price, SSDs will still win because of all their other advantages.

You can get a 32GB SSD for $40 these days. Since 32GB is more than enough for anybody (if you live in the year 2000), there is clearly no reason for anybody to buy anything bigger.

The problem is that while prices come down, the demand for more storage goes up. Today everybody wants to store hundreds of hours of 1080p video. Tomorrow everybody will want to store hundreds of hours of holographic video at 40k pixels cubed. You can never have too much capacity, and spinning disks are likely to stay ahead on that front for a while to come.

Comment: Re:Microsoft Windows only (Score 1) 142

by Rich0 (#48462647) Attached to: Highly Advanced Backdoor Trojan Cased High-Profile Targets For Years

I'm not saying that Reign is OS-agnostic.

I'm saying that the people who wrote Reign are probably OS-agnostic. If their targets weren't running Windows, then Reign wouldn't target Windows.

You're focusing on a specific piece of software, and missing the reason the software was written in the first place.

I'm not suggesting that Reign is part of a bigger suite of hacking tools. I'm saying that Reign was written by people with brains who could target any OS they wanted to target.

The personal attacks are not helpful to the discussion.

Never ask two questions in a business letter. The reply will discuss the one you are least interested, and say nothing about the other.