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Comment Re:USA medical spend 15% of GDP, Europe 8-10% (Score 2) 201

On the other hand, the US also spends twice as much on our education system and gets worse results. Maybe this country is suffering from an excess of money and a shortage of brains... it is possible that they could convert to some other healthcare system as you suggest without actually saving money or getting better results.

Comment Re:Place names (Score 2) 642

Your post was very insightful and it made me think of this. Imagine an "Internet government" consisting of a voluntary international association that does some of the major functions of government: retirement insurance (aka Social Security), medical insurance (Medicare/Medicaid), and various other minor services, such as passport identification. You could voluntarily sign up for such a government and agree to accept its laws. In return, you could move freely within international boundaries and be freed from signing up for your local government's similar services, ie you wouldn't have to pay social security tax. Such a government, freed from geographical constraints, could be well-designed and modern, offering better guarantees of fiscal prudence and sound currency than any national government does. And membership would be strictly voluntary, unlike current national identities, so it would be in that sense "libertarian". Well, what a brainstorm!

Comment Too many and small to fail (Score 1) 649

In our current downturn, we are familiar with the failure of a few large banks. However, in the Great Depression, what they experienced was the failure of a large number of smaller banks (more than 10,000 banks went out of business between 1929 and 1933, according to, contributing to the depression). Merely breaking up banks does not guarantee that they will succeed, particularly during a widespread economic failure. Instead of "too big to fail", you have "too many and small to fail", but it's really no great improvement. It actually makes it harder to assist the individual banks, even if you intend to do so.

Comment Re:Patent troll? (Score 3, Insightful) 259

The problem with that seems to be they would have to guess the commercial value of a patent in advance. If they guess too high, they end up paying large amounts of money for the privilege of a worthless patent. If they guess too low, and their patent becomes immensely valuable, other companies can license it from them at rock-bottom prices. Imagine if copyrights worked like that and you had to guess how many books you would sell before getting a copyright...

Comment Re:Ah! (Score 1) 354

I don't agree. I replaced the original analysis (a "smart room") with a different analysis (a smart human who designed the room). However, the fact that the room is not considered smart in that particular case doesn't prove that rooms (or computers, or whatever) can't be considered smart in general. You would just need to create a different example that shows the computer to be smart. That shouldn't be hard, given my first premise, that we're only dealing with thought experiments and not real experiments, so really you can prove anything you like.

Comment Re:Ah! (Score 1) 354

There are two main problems with the Chinese room experiment. 1. Thought experiments don't really prove things, only real experiments do. 2. John Searle ignored the person who created the room, who did most of the intellectual work, making the rest derivative and predictable. It is the person who created the room who is the real intellect there, not the room itself or the person manipulating symbols inside the room. It is the room's creator who solved the general class of problem of language translation in a manner superior to the present entire output of humankind, and who therefore deserves the label "intelligent" more than the room itself. It's as though I were having a discussing with Searle and I say, "You should read this book, it's intelligent." and he replies, "What's so intelligent about it? Ink? Glue? Dead tree matter? The book-binder or person who sold you the book, perhaps?" "No," I would reply, "when I say a book is intelligent, I mean it's author is intelligent, not the book itself!" Likewise, the creator of the Chinese room, were such a person to exist, would be more intelligent than the room itself, although the room itself would admittedly be impressive in its own right. The room would not need to display "understanding", because that need would have been eliminated by its creator, who somehow reduced the problem of general understanding to one of rote mechanization.

Comment Re:I dunno... (Score 1) 776

Possible reasons for their failure: 1. Fizzbuzz contains a hidden trap. The cases are given to you in a different order than in what order you are supposed to apply them. If you apply the cases as given, the 15 test comes last and fails, because it is silently passed over due to being redundant to the other cases. 2. The applicants probably thought the problem looked simple and didn't test their code. They assumed that it worked. Or the tester took the first invocation of their program as their final answer, depriving them of the opportunity for trial and error that professionals do in practice. 3. Most of the applicants were probably college grads, not professional programmers. Classes probably accept their code if it is close enough and don't ask them to fix it. Anyway, college is not a coding factory, to drill them in basic coding technique, but a place to learn discipline and concepts.

Comment HFT versus self-driving car analogy (Score 1) 395

It's funny how Slashdot, which is so against computer-automated HFT, is equally in favor of the self-driving car. Consider what would happen if, due to some unrecognized design flaw, all the self-driving cars of the world were to crash at once. The resulting mash-up would put stock market flash crashes to shame... Anything can be automated and scaled up, including disasters. At least with HFTs, it's just someone's retirement savings that is getting crushed.

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