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Comment Re:Not shared by him doesn't mean a thing (Score 1) 220

There are currently a million people who have Top Secret or above security clearance. That means, one million people who may be sharing secrets with a foreign power if they are bribed or blackmailed into doing so. Do you really trust the vetting to have managed to find a million incorruptible people in the USA?

Comment Re:My spider sense in tingling.... (Score 1) 634

The cost is embodied in the regulation, but the regulation is (in most cases) really just codifying the cost. You can't bring a drug to market until you've first done trials that it doesn't have any serious negative effects (or, at least, that you know what they are and can disclose them), and then until you've demonstrated that it actually works. This is expensive to do, because it involves doing controlled scientific experiments on groups of human subjects.

The fact that it's expensive means that it's not possible to explore all of them and so profit-motivated companies pick the ones that will give the most return on financial investment, which may or may not be the same ones that will save the most lives, or cause the greatest overall improvements in the standard of living.

Comment Not shared by him doesn't mean a thing (Score 5, Insightful) 220

The important thing to remember is that if it was so easy for him to get these documents, then that also means that there are about a million other people with the same clearance level as him who would find it equally easy. What's the betting that none of those are Chinese agents? Especially given how many Russian agents we've learned were working for the NSA and CIA during the cold war.

People focus on Snowden's disclosure as if it's possibly giving information to America's enemies (or, at least, not-so-friendly friends), but any of them that doesn't have a completely inept intelligence agency of their own will already have the information he's released. It was only secret from the people to whom these agencies should be accountable.

Comment Re:Abolutely Shameful (Score 2) 466

My main complaint is the seat backs. They seem to be the exact opposite of the shape of an ergonomic chair, so they push forward at the base (restricting leg room) and then have no support for the lower back. You could easily make the seats thinner and more comfortable, if you took a quick look at the shape of a human before designing them.

Comment Re:Bullshit we won't notice (Score 3, Insightful) 466

without pushing the seatback back (which I never like doing if there is someone behind me, I think airlines should remove that option)

Why? If the person in front of me in a flight pushes their seat back, then it moves the bottom forward very slightly, so I get about half a centimetre of knee room, and it moves the (small) screen of the in-flight entertainment system closer to my eyes. The seats are designed not to be made more uncomfortable when the person in front of you leans back...

Comment Re:My spider sense in tingling.... (Score 1) 634

Universities do a lot of early work on various kinds of treatments, but the big cost is doing the big trials needed for getting FDA approval. That's out of the budget of most universities, and even if they come up with a revolutionary cure someone still needs to do that work before it can become widely available.

Comment Re:Or we could (Score 1) 634

The UK can't run out of GBP, but can run out of purchasing power. If the government keeps printing money, then the value of the money goes down (which is great for exports, for a while, but it makes buying things made abroad difficult). Unless all of the medical supplies, everything that doctors buy, and all of the raw materials for making them is produced in the UK, that's not a sustainable strategy.

Comment Re:My spider sense in tingling.... (Score 4, Informative) 634

You might want to check the renewal terms. Prior to ACA, it was entirely legal to charge someone for insurance, then refuse to renew their insurance (or jack up the price to make it unaffordable) after the first year where they make claims for something that is likely to require ongoing treatment. And then they have a preexisting condition, so they couldn't get insurance from anyone else either.

Comment Re:My spider sense in tingling.... (Score 3, Interesting) 634

You (and other posters in this thread) are making several assumptions that are not necessarily warranted:
  • That the person needing the care will negotiate for it at the time when they need it
  • That the person needing the care will negotiate individually, and not via some collective bargaining mechanism

The second point is why socialised health care and insurance companies have advantages over individuals in negotiating for care. An individual probably won't need to go to hospital in any given year, and very few of the ones that will need to can predict what treatment they will need in advance. In contrast, you can statistically work out roughly how many people in a country will need what kinds of treatment, with quite high accuracy. Negotiating to pay for them all together puts you in a much stronger bargaining position.

The big problem with this debate is that it conflates a whole range of choices in a single socialised medicine vs private medicine debate. In reality, there are a lot of points on the spectrum, depending on:

  • Are hospitals owned and doctors employed by central government, local government, or private enterprise?
  • Are medical services bought individually, as a private collective, at a local government level, or nationally?
  • What mechanism is in place for judging the quality of care and for the payer to select between providers?
  • Is payment by individuals based on need, ability to pay, or something in the middle?

The question of what role the free market plays is complex. Obviously, you can't have people who have just suffered a heart attack shopping around for the best value ambulance to take them to the best value hospital. But you can have, for example, a central government buying medical services for all citizens (which typically counts as socialised medicine in these debates), but having different medical centres competing for the business, especially if they're allowed to take private patients as well so that they can stay in business when they don't have the majority of the government contract.

Comment Re:What are the current options? (Score 2) 114

VirtualBox is open source. Having a lot of Oracle contributors doesn't make much difference. Oracle may decide to make a closed fork, but the builds for FreeBSD and in most Linux distros' package systems are from the open source tree, so they'll keep being supported even if Oracle decides to do something evil.

Comment Re:Now it gets worse. (Score 2) 999

And does cutting government services help the poor? The rich can typically opt out of them: send their children to private schools, buy private security, pay someone to take their rubbish away, drink bottled water, go abroad for heath care, and even use stock and currency markets so that they're not reliant on a single government's currency.

Comment Re:Thank goodness (Score 4, Insightful) 999

For society as a whole, we single payer countries tend to see better results. But per person, the healthcare in the US is the best. Assuming you have a good health insurance plan.

The last sentence here is the important one. And it means that, if you are either wealthy, or have a good job and no preexisting conditions (especially the kind that would stop you working for a bit) then you're better off in the USA. Or, to put it more cynically, US health insurance is a great deal, right up until the point where you need to make a claim.

Comment Re:Just use RSA (Score 1) 105

Luckily, it's not too difficult to build a CPU which performs fully homomorphic operations. The math isn't even beyond high-school level (it's about on par with RSA). The primary issue right now is speed.

The primary issue with homomorphic encryption is speed, in the same way that the primary issue with running Quake 4 on EDSAC is speed. No one has come up with a general-purpose homomorphic encryption scheme that doesn't also come with a slowdown that is so many orders of magnitude that you would get faster results doing the work on your mobile phone than in Amazon's cloud with homomorphic encryption. There are some special-purpose schemes for simple database queries, but each primitive operation you need (at least) doubles the total dataset size (and insertion / deletion times).

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