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Comment Utopia spoiled by competition (Score 1) 736

Ok, maybe that was harsh.

Every wonder why there is more and more un/underemployment? It's because we can do more with less. By eliminating rote jobs we gain efficiency. The utopian ideal envisioned in the 60s is that we would all be working 10-15 hour work weeks by the 90s through automation and computer technology making things more efficient.

What they completely missed is that a human will trade roughly 2000 hours per year of their life to make enough money for food and shelter. Computers and robots don't really matter, it's just that each human can produce more stuff for those 2000 hours. There is no need to let them work less or pay them any more. You just need fewer of them.

Which is an obstacle trivially removed by a bit of well understood government regulation. And if the 60's economy had kept going through today, we would probably have that already.

But a funny thing happened on the way to a worker utopia: Foreign competition became a real threat, for the first time since WWII. Instead of a clamoring to reduce working hours, there was a clamoring to free businesses from regulation so they could compete more effectively with whatever nation seemed ready to eat or lunch.

Without government controls businesses do whatever they think is more profitable and it just cheaper to pay fewer people to work 40 hour weeks than it is to pay more people to work less. Benefits and infrastructure costs scale with employees, not the number of hours they work. It's even better if you can scare them into working more than 40 hour weeks while still only paying them for 40 hour weeks.

The exception is low paid hourly workers, where it is cheapest to limit hours to part time so you can dispense with paying any benefits at all. Now since these positions are almost always service roles with no foreign competition, you might think that something could be done with such travesties. But no such luck. Government controls would ruin us all. After all, if we paid pizza delivery guys more then the Chinese would take over the pizza business. Or maybe it is because other businesses would become uncompetitive if the cost of pizza went up.

Comment Mostly open but the exceptions are critical (Score 2) 222

Almost everything I use is open source except for some electronic design tools. However, these tools are kind of important since electronic design is how I make a living. They have no remotely viable open source alternatives and in some cases, no open source alternatives at all.

Comment Re:Erroneous claims by the inventor of the net? (Score 0) 195

I'm surprised that the inventor of The Internet would make such erroneous claims.

Of all places, Slashdot really ought not to fall victim to such an erroneous meme.

What Al Gore actually said: "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

"In all fairness, it's something Gore had worked on a long time. Gore is not the Father of the Internet, but in all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet."
- Newt Gingrich, 2000

He didn't do that either. Al Gore was involved in the creation of NREN, the successor to Arpanet and NSFnet and the immediate predecessor to the commercialized Internet we have today. But the Internet already existed and had for several years, dating no later than 1983, with the creation of a gateway between Arpanet and CSnet.

Comment Re:How about deaths per mile traveled? (Score 1) 322

This chart is nearly useless, as it doesn't account for the average distance traveled per country.

Not necessarily useless, just the answer to a different question. You are focused on "how safe are the roads?" but this chart is about "how safe are the people?".
Driving less is as valid a means of reducing risk of road fatality as making safer roads. Maybe if the US had better public transportation and less urban sprawl there would be fewer traffic fatalities.

Comment Might not work for healthy people (Score 5, Insightful) 492

From TFA:

Previous studies on mice lacking Rev-ErbA showed decreased skeletal muscles, metabolic rate, and running capacity. Such mice appeared fated by their genetics to live as couch potatoes.

When Burris' group administered SR9009 to these mice to activate the Rev-Erb protein, the results were remarkable. The metabolic rate in the skeletal muscles of the mice increased significantly. The treated mice were not allowed to exercise, but despite this they developed the ability to run about 50 percent further before being stopped by exhaustion.

So they created some broken mice and then treated them with a drug that reversed what they broke. And, what do you know? The effects were reversed too.

I'd like to see a followup on unmodified mice to see if they also benefit. If Rev-ErbA is already present and active at normal levels, the drug may not do anything.

Comment Re:Wrong, it's a trade-off (Score 2) 625

Can you explain how two thirty year old adults are able to form a zero year old baby?

Yes, actually. It's a combination of limited cell division and selection.

Men produce huge numbers of sperm. Sperm with damaged dna tend not to win the race to the egg.

Women produce far fewer eggs but they do it early in life before much damage can accumulate.

If the zygote does end up with damaged DNA, it usually aborts spontaneous. In fact, about 70% of conceptions abort spontaneously.

So any fetus that survives these trials is generally in good shape at birth. If that baby is female, eggs are then quickly produced for the next generation before much new genetic rot can take place.

Comment Re:Space Elevator (Score 4, Informative) 82

Comment Re:Define consciousness please (Score 1) 151

Consciousness is defined as, roughly, conscious personal experience.

Bingo! Consciousness is defined in terms of itself.

We *know* we have conscious experience.

Actually. No. We think we have conscious experience. We believe this. We don't know it. We don't even really know what it means to say that we do.

Consciousness is nothing more than a place holder for a reason to believe that we are special. It is that something that we are supposed to have that makes us different from everything else. As our machines gain more and more similar behavior, the definition of consciousness will be tightened more and more to exclude them.

Comment Re:Next thing you know... (Score 1) 372

So let me get this straight. These people are commuting out of the city they live in to go to work on company supplied buses and this is causing the city to loose money? It would be no different if they drove themselves to work. These people may be even less likely to live in the city if they had to drive themselves everyday. In which case the city would get nothing from them.

These part time residents compete with full time residents for housing. Rents go up and sales go down because people who would live and work in the City and spend more money there are forced out. Maybe they don't even work in SF, collectively nudging jobs and business elsewhere because working in San Francisco isn't nearly as desirable if you can't live there.

Comment Too early to call (Score 2) 159

A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Thus, the recession is technically over.

Which doesn't mean it can't come back later.

It seems to me that if you need two consecutive quarters of negative growth to call it recession, you should also need two consecutive quarters of positive growth to call it an expansion or recovery

One quarter of weak growth doesn't really tell you anything.

Comment Re:Apparently people accept garbage. (Score 2) 279

I am looking at this poll, and people have stuck in their minds that wait times are acceptable. I don't know of anything besides webpages that load up fast with 10Mbps-25Mbps that people say is what they need.

I think the problem is the word "require". Require means what is needed to do what I am already doing. Anything that needs more than I can currently get is something I don't do. Hence, it can't "required". When I can get more bandwidth, I'm sure I will find a use for it and I won't want to go back to what I have now. For many people "how much bandwidth do you require?" is really just "how much bandwidth do you currently have?"

The exceptions would be
1) Those who, for whatever reason, can no longer get the bandwidth they once had.
2) Those in the process of upgrading because a new and important application is not fitting into what they have.
3) A few people with money to burn and access to high bandwidth who only use the Internet for Facebook and cat pictures.

An ambiguous but common scenario is where people's expectations are set by the bandwidth they get on their phones. Even though their wired Internet has higher bandwidth, they don't really use it.

Comment Re:very unfeasible (Score 1) 533

Rail is far more efficient. The track itself is cheap, the major cost is actually buying the land. There is very little friction resistance as well.

That's actually a problem past a certain speed. At least in the U.S., they don't allow trains to travel at high speeds in populated areas because they can't usefully stop if somebody walks across the rail. They can't stop because there is very little friction possible. With a closed tube, you don't have that risk, so you can shoot through downtown L.A. doing 250 MPH.

So put up a chain link/plexiglass fence around it. Or better yet, worry less about drunks. Build the fence for cows anyway though.

In populated areas, the residents will look at the fence as an eyesore and file endless lawsuits to stop it. If you elevate, they will still file endless lawsuits. The only way to satisfy the nimbys is to build it underground. This costs a fortune but it would be exact same for Hyperloop.

Hyperloop doesn't solve any of the land use issues. It just removes the option to lay simple track on bare ground. Going down the unpopulated parts of the I5 corridor is the easy part for both Hyperloop and High Speed Rail. It just ignores the difficulties of getting in and out of cities. For instance, I5 doesn't even go to San Francisco and finding an acceptable connection from the the Central Valley to the Bay Area has been probably *the* biggest land use problem for High Speed Rail.

Comment Re:the real problem (Score 1) 418

My biggest issue is when people tell me that I can't use Google Maps as my GPS. I'm NOT going to buy a Garmin device! My 4" tablet is my GPS!

It wouldn't help anyway. The exception is only for navigation systems built into the car. An add-on gps, even if dedicated to the task is still illegal to use while driving in California.

Comment Re:I hope there's an easy social integration disab (Score 1) 365

With there being such an extensible UI, you can just create your own preferences button and dialog and share it with the rest of the world.

And next time you want to go into the city, you can learn all the skills required to construct a train or motor vehicle from scratch, and then you can share them with the rest of the world.

Don't be ridiculous. We're all about automation. Instead of providing a working but rather inflexible rail system, we will provide you with a fantastic machine that will quickly build any kind of train you can imagine as long as you can describe it accurately using our custom variant of lisp.

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