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Comment Re:The Inevitable Future (Score 3, Informative) 109

Advances in military technology trickle down to civilian life all the time. Radar, computers, jet engines, satellites, the list goes on. (Oh, and the Internet, which I already mentioned below.) Battlefield medicine has made huge advances too, which are applicable to injuries that have nothing to do with warfare. The big area where I think there has been too little transfer is rocketry, where federal regulations severely restrict employment and the availability of technology.

I don't view any of this as an actual justification for military spending - I'm firmly in the camp that believes the US should be like Switzerland with nukes. But it's simply ignorant of history to claim that military research never benefits anyone but the military.

Comment Re:Screw DARPA ... (Score 3, Insightful) 109

nor is today's government the same as the pasts

No, it's arguably less corrupt and violent than the governments that funded the early development of DARPA and the Internet. It's unquestionably building fewer weapons of mass destruction, anyway. I realize most of the people posting here weren't even born when the Vietnam war or the Cuban missile crisis or the Nixon administration were happening, but could you try reading some history occasionally?

The main issue, as far as I can see, is that technological advances have made certain types of malfeasance more accessible to those in power. Thus we have vastly more targeted assassinations (drone strikes) and surveillance (NSA) than we did in, say, 1970. On the other hand, in 1970 we were bombing Vietnam (and Cambodia) on a scale vastly more destructive than anything we've done to Iraq or Afghanistan, and Hoover was still in charge of the FBI. I realize that using this as a reference point for evaluating our current government is grading on a curve, but I fail to see how aiding DARPA in 2013 is any worse than aiding it in the development of the Internet.

Comment Re:The Inevitable Future (Score 5, Interesting) 109

Sooner or later some evil person is going to figure out a way to biologically/mechanically enhance a human being into a "supersoldier," in a way that will compromise the long term health or well being of he human being.

Or, alternately, some decent person will figure out a way to biologically/mechanically enhance a human being in a way that removes physical disabilities and/or existing physiological limitations, and amplifies intelligence to the point where we can effortlessly accomplish in a day what once took a week or more. It's not just military mad scientists who daydream about brain-computer interfaces and other forms of human enhancement; these technologies have potential far beyond warfare. I know I'm not the only person who has fantasized about what life would be like if I could have instant recall of any information available on the network, while running along 50km of undeveloped coastline. Instead, I'm sitting on in my Aeron in front of the computer, looking out the window as a beautiful day passes by, and wishing I could run for more than five minutes without shooting pains in my legs and lungs. So, honestly, I hope DARPA hurries up with this.

Comment Re:Unintended positive consequences - fewer sequel (Score 1) 381

Worse then that, in other industries when the product isn't up to quality, you return it and get your money back. In the game industry on the other side refunds are generally not only not given, the industry is also putting in all kinds of locks to prevent you from executing your right to sell the game used.

Comment Re:The real question (Score 3, Insightful) 545

The truth is the US is a country with low upwards mobility, and is totally in denial about it.

Part of the reason for this is that in just about every society across recorded history, the degree of upwards mobility was much worse. We tend not to see this because it's much easier to compare our situation to other modern societies (i.e. European welfare states) or hypothetical utopias than to a past we never experienced. I don't want to idealize the American system, because it does have warts, but even the poor in America have vastly more opportunities (and wealth, and freedom, and political rights) than most people who have ever lived. That doesn't mean that we can't do better, just that a sense of perspective is helpful.

Comment Re: What happened to MNG? (Score 2) 246

MNG is not the correct solution, it's a solution looking for a problem. It's feature bloated and designed without any kind of thought put into how tools for it would work. It has support for sprites, tiling, fading, magnification, loops and a bunch of other stuff, none of which maps very well into the tools people actually use to produce animations. It's not so much an animated image format, but a language to write animations in.

The proper solution is video, WebM or whatever. Which makes no assumptions about how you structure your animation and instead simply tries to compress the resulting image sequence as best as possible. Or in case you actually need structured animation, you can use SVG which providers a much richer tool set then MNG and is full programmability via Javascirpt.

Comment Re:What would they store? (Score 1) 147

What would they store?

Everything. When you have Terabytes of storages you stop thinking about storing photos, you store a non-stop video stream of everything. A 'photo' will just be a bookmark into that video stream. It means high quality lifelogging will be practical.

Games are another thing, some modern games already take up 20GB and sooner or later they will find their way to smartphones and tablets. It would be possible to stream them instead of storing them on the phone, but so far there aren't really many games that do that and even those that do tend to have GBs of cache on the HDD.

Comment Re:He's right, of course. (Score 4, Insightful) 481

I can think of a dozen better ways to spend that money, but other rich fucks have those already. If he wants to do good, how about paying taxes, reparations for the companies that he destroyed, jail time for the politicians that he bought, etc.

Fine, what are the dozen other better ways to spend the money than trying to cure diseases that afflict millions? Paying taxes instead is simply going to perpetuate our military-industrial complex and bloated entitlement programs. I honestly don't care if Bill Gates is doing this work out of the goodness of his heart or just because he's an egotist; I care about whether it actually does some good. It won't excuse the awful mess that is Microsoft Windows, but if he really does help end malaria, he'll have improved vastly more lives than he ever destroyed (and frankly I'm skeptical that anyone's life was "destroyed" by his business practices; some people simply didn't get rich. boo-hoo.).

Now mod me to oblivion. For some reason Slashdot just can't not drink this cool-aid.

Trite statements like this just make you look like a self-absorbed douche. At least two-thirds of the comments on this story so far are anti-Gates, so you're not exactly speaking truth to power here.

Comment Re:Well Duh: Open Source is better (Score 1) 160

Sounds insanely inefficient to me. Maybe there needs to be some competition to remove the inefficiencies. i.e. no, or at least highly restricted, patent monopolies.

I think you're missing the fundamental point of patents. If there is no temporary monopoly on a novel drug, what is to prevent a bunch of bottom-feeders from simply copying it and selling it at a tenth of the price? It's far easier to copy someone else than to come up with something genuinely new, especially with a product that's so ridiculously easy to reverse engineer. On the other hand, just because one company has a drug that treats heart disease, does not prevent another company from making an entirely different drug to treat heart disease. (Unless it's one of those sleazy cases like Ariad Pharmaceuticals and their NF-kappaB patent, which basically prevented anyone from developing drugs that altered that pathway. Fortunately, the courts eventually nixed this.)

Comment Re:Well Duh: Open Source is better (Score 1) 160

The pure research is mostly done off of NIH or DOE grants. The only drug-money research is the attempt to add an extra protein here, or swap an atom there to make it patentable, and then get the analogue through human trials,

Drugs discovered using NIH or DOE grants are usually already patentable if they don't fail one of the other tests. But these only account for about 25% of new drugs; the remainder are genuinely discovered by drug companies. That doesn't mean that the drug companies don't benefit in other ways from public research - most of what we know about the mechanisms of disease and the biochemistry of individual proteins comes from academics. But there's a huge leap from "we know this protein causes cancer" to "we have a drug to stop cancer".

In any case, even when academics do find a promising drug, the human trials are usually still vastly more expensive than the basic research. And in many cases there is still a great deal of trial and error necessary to come up with a drug that has the desired functional and pharmacological properties.

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Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten