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Submission + - Forced Arbitration Isn't 'Forced' Because No One Has To Buy Service, Says AT& (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: AT&T is denying that its contracts include "forced arbitration" clauses, even though customers must agree to the clauses in order to obtain Internet or TV service. "At the outset, no AT&T customer is ever 'forced' to agree to arbitration," AT&T Executive VP Tim McKone wrote in a letter to U.S. senators today. "Customers accept their contracts with AT&T freely and voluntarily; no one 'forces' them to obtain AT&T wireless service, DirecTV programming, or other products and services." AT&T was responding to concerns raised by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who previously alleged that AT&T's use of forced arbitration clauses has helped the company charge higher prices than the ones it advertises to customers. While AT&T is correct that no one is forced to sign up for AT&T service, there are numerous areas of the country where AT&T is the only viable option for wired home Internet service. Even in wireless, where there's more competition, AT&T rivals Verizon and Sprint use mandatory arbitration clauses, so signing up with another carrier won't necessarily let customers avoid arbitration. One exception is T-Mobile, which offers a way to opt out of arbitration. The terms of service for AT&T Internet and DirecTV require customers to "agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims" against AT&T. Class actions and trials by jury are prohibited, although individual cases in small claims courts are allowed. AT&T doesn't offer any way to opt out of the arbitration/small claims provision, so the only other option is not buying service from AT&T.

Submission + - Germany's Federal Cartel Office Claims Facebook Extorts Personal Data From Users (independent.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: Germany’s Federal Cartel Office is examining whether Facebook essentially takes advantage of its popularity to bully users into agreeing to terms and conditions they might not understand. The details that users provide help generate the targeted ads that make the company so rich. In the eyes of the Cartel Office, Facebook is “extorting” information from its users, said Frederik Wiemer, a lawyer at Heuking Kühn Lueer Wojtek in Hamburg. “Whoever doesn’t agree to the data use, gets locked out of the social network community,” he said. “The fear of social isolation is exploited to get access to the complete surfing activities of users.” Andreas Mundt, the Cartel Office’s president, said last week he’s “eager to present first results” of the Facebook investigation this year. Like the EU’s Google investigation, he said the Facebook case tackles “central questions ensuring competition in the digital world in the future”.

Comment Same thing happened to me; submissions marked SPAM (Score 1) 172

... then I could not post any replies. It took me a couple of months to figure out what had happened. I had just figured Slashdot was failing with some weird error message, guessing incorrectly perhaps related to the IP range of my ISP. I was also going through mixed feelings about Slashdot, so fixing it was not high on my priority list.

I eventually had to contact someone at Slashdot via email to fix my account. Then I could post again.

But they never unmarked the submissions as SPAM.

Here are the three submissions I posted that got marked SPAM:

"SPAM: Investigation of Nano-Nuclear Reactions in Condensed Matter"
https://slashdot.org/submissio...

"SPAM: Employment Law and Robotics, AI, and Automation"
https://slashdot.org/submissio...

"SPAM: Trump GOP convention infringed copyright for at least seven songs "
https://slashdot.org/submissio...

My stats on submissions over the past fifteen years or so:
https://slashdot.org/~Paul+Fer...
"47 declined, 12 accepted (59 total, 20.34% accepted)"

I did get one front page submission again today (on Moore's Law ending). The problem is that many interesting tech stories are about specific companies that might sell something -- like that one by HP Labs. I could maybe understand the reasoning that an article about a law firm's report about employment law (and technology) might seem spammish. But a fact-based article about the GOP convention (and tech hypocrisy)? Or an article from a US government agency about cold fusion replication (vindicating the original researchers)?

The person who responded to my email (maybe six to nine months ago?) said Slashdot had been working on its spam filters.

Still kind of annoyed those all three still have bright red SPAM tags since they were not intended as such and I have no financial interest whatsoever in those groups mentioned. But I was glad to get posting privileges back.

Much more frightening was the time my GitHub account went away after posting an issue on Calypso (for WordPress). That felt like having my whole career deleted. I had spend hours writing up the comment previously intending to post it on Matt Mullenweg's blog, but it did not go through (guessing for length and links), and then decided to make a GitHub issue instead. Their spam filters must have detected that a lot of text with links was pasted right after opening an issue. Fortunately GitHub put my account back right away after I contacted them. That issue:
https://github.com/Automattic/...
And a post about that to Mullenweg's blog:
https://ma.tt/2015/11/dance-to...

Both cases serve as reminders to me of the problems of investing time into specific commercial online services with creating a body of published works and an associated online reputation. Fortunately, both companies fixed things up -- since they have reputations to maintain too.

Anyway, hope Slashdot resolves the account issue for you too, Mosquito Bites! I see Slashdot marked twelve of your submissions as spam -- which all look like good articles to me:
https://slashdot.org/~Mosquito...

Seeing this happen both to me and someone else makes me really wonder about the risk of submitting any more articles to Slashdot? I'd rather be able to discuss stuff than get front page articles posted.

Anyway, could be worse -- see the movie Brazil (hopefully not the darker Director's cut version though).

Comment The Richest Man in The World Parable (Score 1) 238

That's a bit like plot in this parable I created seven years ago:
"The Richest Man in The World"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?...
"A parable about robotics, abundance, technological change, unemployment, happiness, and a basic income."

The richest man in the world uses monopolies and robotics to expand to more monopolies (including owning the food supply as well as the government which compliantly expands his monopolies further) until all the wealth in the world is owned by just one person (and his robots). As both in the USA recently and in the story, many people argued the solution to widespread unemployment was cut social benefits along with lowering taxes to promote investment -- but the robots still got all the jobs.

Comment And also, worse, "With Folded Hands" (Score 1) 238

from 1947: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
"With Folded Hands ..." is a 1947 science fiction novelette by American writer Jack Williamson. Willamson's influence for this story was the aftermath of World War II and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and his concern that "some of the technological creations we had developed with the best intentions might have disastrous consequences in the long run."[1]"

AIs in that story helpfully decide to protect us from all possible short-term physical risk..

Also A Logic Named Joe (more on human nature):
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

More hopeful:

Two Faces of Tomorrow:
http://www.jamesphogan.com/boo...

The Culture series
EarthCent Ambassador series
Old Guy Cybertank series

Player Piano I feel is a bit silly in some ways (even as it makes some good points relative to social structures today). A basic income would take care of most of the issues in that society instead of make-work low-status jobs. The book also ignores how raising children well (especially in the most important early years) takes about as much time as you can put into it -- ass can a desire to learn, and a desire to create your own local subsistence processes for fun, learning, community, and security.

Comment About 40 other ideas I put together (good & ba (Score 1) 238

about a decade ago: http://pdfernhout.net/beyond-a...
"This article explores the issue of a "Jobless Recovery" mainly from a heterodox economic perspective. It emphasizes the implications of ideas by Marshall Brain and others that improvements in robotics, automation, design, and voluntary social networks are fundamentally changing the structure of the economic landscape. It outlines towards the end four major alternatives to mainstream economic practice (a basic income, a gift economy, stronger local subsistence economies, and resource-based planning). These alternatives could be used in combination to address what, even as far back as 1964, has been described as a breaking "income-through-jobs link". This link between jobs and income is breaking because of the declining value of most paid human labor relative to capital investments in automation and better design. Or, as is now the case, the value of paid human labor like at some newspapers or universities is also declining relative to the output of voluntary social networks such as for digital content production (like represented by this document). It is suggested that we will need to fundamentally reevaluate our economic theories and practices to adjust to these new realities emerging from exponential trends in technology and society."

Glad to see more and more people are thinking about this.

And thanks for the laugh: "Push for a universal basic income for your robot AI" has to be one of the funniest things I've read on Slashdot.

And that idea is not that far fetched: http://www.rfreitas.com/Astro/...
"Robots and software persons are entitled to protection of life and liberty. But does "life" imply the right of a program to execute, or merely to be stored? Denying execution would be like keeping a human in a permanent coma â" which seems unconstitutional. Do software persons have a right to data they need in order to keep executing? Can robot citizens claim social benefits? Are unemployed robo-persons entitled to welfare? Medical care, including free tuneups at the government machine shop? Electricity stamps? Free education? Family and reproductive rights? Don't laugh. A recent NASA technical study found that self-reproducing robots could be developed today in a 20-year Manhattan-Project-style effort costing less than $10 billion (NASA Conference Publication 2255, 1982)."

Submission + - Why the Calorie is broken (sciencealert.com) 2

schwit1 writes: Wrangham and his colleagues have since shown that cooking unlaces microscopic structures that bind energy in foods, reducing the work our gut would otherwise have to do. It effectively outsources digestion to ovens and frying pans.

Wrangham found that mice fed raw peanuts, for instance, lost significantly more weight than mice fed the equivalent amount of roasted peanut butter. The same effect holds true for meat: there are many more usable calories in a burger than in steak tartare.

Different cooking methods matter, too. In 2015, Sri Lankan scientists discovered that they could more than halve the available calories in rice by adding coconut oil during cooking and then cooling the rice in the refrigerator.

Wrangham’s findings have significant consequences for dieters.

If Nash likes his porterhouse steak bloody, for example, he will likely be consuming several hundred calories less than if he has it well-done.

Yet the FDA’s methods for creating a nutrition label do not for the most part account for the differences between raw and cooked food, or pureed versus whole, let alone the structure of plant versus animal cells. A steak is a steak, as far as the FDA is concerned.

Industrial food processing, which subjects foods to extremely high temperatures and pressures, might be freeing up even more calories.

Comment Re:those fucking plastic bottles (Score 1) 376

Hey. don't pick on Duke Energy. NC is something like second or third in the nation in terms of total solar installation, and Duke Power is installing them pretty much everywhere. It is getting difficult to drive a hundred miles on major roads without seeing at least one solar farm off to the side of the road.

You are mistaken if you think that solar energy somehow costs the big electrical power companies profits. Quite the contrary, quite the contrary. PRIVATE solar rooftops might one day cost them profits, but solar that they install themselves makes them money. It is cheaper and easier to finance incremental installations of solar than it is to permission, finance, and build pretty much anything else.

Submission + - So Begins The Era of Cheap Space (bloomberg.com)

pacopico writes: Elon Musk and SpaceX kicked off the New Space era with low-cost, reusable rockets. But now there's something just as dramatic brewing with really, really cheap rockets and really, really cheap satellites. Bloomberg has just profiled Peter Beck, a self-taught rocket engineer from New Zealand, who has built a $5 million rocket that will be taking cubesats from Planet Labs and others to space in the next few weeks. The story talks about a new type of computing shell being built around the Earth and all the players trying to fill it up.

Submission + - The White House has zero science advisors (cbsnews.com)

DogDude writes: "The science division of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) was unstaffed as of Friday as the three remaining employees departed this week, sources tell CBS News."
"On Friday afternoon, Eleanor Celeste, the assistant director for biomedical and forensic sciences at the OSTP, tweeted, "Science division out. Mic drop" before leaving the office for the last time."science division out. mic drop.

Submission + - The End of Moore's Law. What's Next?

Paul Fernhout writes: R. Stanley Williams, of Hewlett Packard Labs, wrote a report exploring the end of Moore's Law. The summary says:"The end of Moore's law could be the best thing that has happened in computing since the beginning of Moore's law. Confronting the end of an epoch should enable a new era of creativity by encouraging computer scientists to invent biologically inspired devices, circuits, and architectures implemented using recently emerging technologies."

This idea is also looked at in a broader shorter article by Curt Hopkins also with HP Labs.

Submission + - Not a Good Look for Connecticut Higher Ed (the-american-interest.com)

schwit1 writes: Connecticut has passed a law protecting colleges against lawsuits alleging that they failed to provide students with a valuable education in exchange for their hefty tuition charges. . . .

But surely the services that colleges offer are so obviously worthwhile that such lawsuits should fall flat on their faceright? On the contrary, the courts are in many cases ruling for the plaintiffs in such cases, suggesting that those who argue college is often a ripoff are not so far off the mark.

But instead of doing something to make sure that colleges do provide value for money, the State of Connecticut has apparently concluded that the only way to protect college revenues from pesky lawsuits is to make it illegal for consumers to sue them on those grounds. Another sign that things are not well in American higher ed.

Comment And even deeper is the great irony... (Score 1) 103

From my essay: http://www.pdfernhout.net/reco...
"Likewise, even United States three-letter agencies like the NSA and the CIA, as well as their foreign counterparts, are becoming ironic institutions in many ways. Despite probably having more computing power per square foot than any other place in the world, they seem not to have thought much about the implications of all that computer power and organized information to transform the world into a place of abundance for all. Cheap computing makes possible just about cheap everything else, as does the ability to make better designs through shared computing. ...
    There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all.
    So, while in the past, we had "nothing to fear but fear itself", the thing to fear these days is ironcially ... irony. :-)"

Thanks for the interesting link to the harvardpolitics site.

Submission + - Artificially intelligent painters invent new styles of art (newscientist.com)

Dthief writes: Now and then, a painter like Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso comes along and turns the art world on its head. They invent new aesthetic styles, forging movements such as impressionism or abstract expressionism. But could the next big shake-up be the work of a machine?

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