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Comment Re:Is anybody surprised? (Score 1) 147

But the thing is this is all digital: it can be data-mined easily. You're not going around to businesses collecting receipts, or having to even mangle data so it can be correlated from different sources. Everything's in the same format, and easily analyzable by computer.

Part of the difficulty of normal forensic accounting is that the data formats suck. But for pure tracking purposes, BitCoin is a dream - all the data is owned by everyone all the time as a nature of the protocol, so you can build social graphs and run correlation functions as much as you want.

Comment Re: Is anybody surprised? (Score 1) 147

It isn't. But it is a crime to knowingly accept money gained through criminal activity, and to launder it for the purpose of obfuscating that fact. So anyone running "BitCoin laundry" is doing exactly that - providing a service where they deliberately blind themselves to possible criminal activities of people asking for the service.

A big part of financial regulations is that once you hit a certain size and scope of operation, you have to demonstrate you take reasonable measures to identify that the money you are handling is legally obtained (at least if you want to operate independently - I imagine you could get away with such an operation by turning all the data over to the government of who sends money in).

Comment Re:Is anybody surprised? (Score 1) 147

It gets secure only when you start approaching numbers the size of those uses in cryptography, which itself is numbers similar in size to those used for the data cryptography of the BitCoin protocol. At which point you're generating another problem: all those transactions are making the block-chain get longer and longer...

Comment Re:Commercial Spaceflight (Score 1) 152

This all kind of hinges on the cost to LEO I suspect. Given the prices people pay for space tourism, I have been wondering what sort of improvements might make Lunar orbit tourism a thing instead. It's only a 3-day ride, and I suspect passage around the dark side of the moon would still be an incredible thing given that, what, about 30 people maximum have ever been there?

Comment Re:The really sad thing... (Score 1) 152

With enough money and a few years lead time, I suspect the Falcon-9 could probably get us orbiting the moon, and that there's enough talent in private space to also supply a suitable landing vehicle for a spacewalk.

The real trick is to plan to do something which gets us enough buy-in that we actually go there, and do something which keeps us in-space as a permanent - and ideally profitable (or break-even) endeavour.

Comment Re:Where will this end? (Score 0) 986

Seriously? There are already at least 2 published standards that can be used with little concern over being cracked any time soon when used properly. Theres absolutely no indication that SMIME or PGP are broken when using the proper algorithm and key sizes.

I think the point is that encryption is useless against someone that can say, "give us the key or we'll dissappear you."

Yeah that Snowden guy - totally dead now don't you know?

Bradley Manning? Also dead. They killed him last week I think.

Wait, neither of those people, who are guilty of really serious breaches are dead? That's just them trying to lull you into a false sense of security!

Comment Re:Where will this end? (Score 1) 986

Or you know: just share GPG keys and do it that way?

The idea that it was ever remotely possible to talk to people without leaving some trace of it is a bit of absurd fiction perpetrated by the early internet when it was always possible, but no one cared to do it because the only people talking were university students in the US.

Or maybe spend less time worrying about what the elected government will do to you, and more about what all those armies of large companies and advertisers who have always had your data and have kind of a big vested interest in manipulating the legal debate of the nation?

Comment Re:Not happy with this (Score 1) 93

More importantly, if you can do this with natural upwellings, its the same sort of infrastructure and engineering requirements as you'd need to tap geothermal vents for power directly (which is destructive, but the vents are temporary - i.e. decadal - things anyway so provided we did keep it low in proportion of vents, it would be sustainable).

Comment Re:A partial success (Score 2) 73

Didn't NASA have reaction wheels go on another probe as well? The one we're sending to explore Ceres I think had reaction wheel issues as well and had to be reconfigured to run its mission on thrusters as well.

It certainly seems like this is probably going to be a big engineering challenge into the future since super-steady stargazing probes are hardly going out of fashion. Though I suppose the better issue is "can we make some of this stuff replaceable/repairable cost effectively?"

Comment Re:Competition, not regulation (Score 1) 637

Citation needed.

Well no, I explained why - it dilutes the risk pool. But take a glance over the history of insurance article on wikipedia and notice that the trend at every conceivable juncture was to expand the risk pool (but to try and drop bad risks). Architects of social welfare schemes obviously realized that when you are still responsible for a bad risk, the best answer is to include everyone.

the best possible insurance scheme for a country is single-payer, where everyone is part of the same risk pool

If this were really true, why stop at insurance industry? Why not leverage the awesome economy of scale by getting rid of the petty competition between Coca-Cola and Pepsi? Ford and GM? This was, actually, attempted already — to miserable results.

The numbers speak for themselves: the overhead of Medicare is about 6%. The overhead of a private health insurance company is closer to 20%. The insurance industry - particularly medical insurance - does not work like any other product. It's non-optional for the users, they have no negotiating power at the time they need it, and everyone will need it. Which means you can't simply boot people off of it consequence free since doing so usually kills them.

You are right in that size does matter for insurance companies. But only to a point. A company with 200 mln customers is not appreciably more efficient, than one with 100 mln. Having such companies compete with each other is much better for all the 300 mln, than to force them all into a single 300 mln-customer monopoly — governed charlie rangels and nansy pelosies to boot.

Competition requires innovation, innovation has to operate within the constraints of physical reality. Insurance is not a technological enterprise by and large, there's no new inventions which mean someone can gain a competitive advantage - you can't sink money into R&D and come up with a cheaper, better product. The only things you can do are figure out new ways to drop people from insurance - ideally after they need it. Which is exactly what US health insurance companies have been innovating on.

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