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Comment Re:WRONG! DO IT AGAIN! (Score 1) 145

I hate ads a lot...

I also hate ads, and not just because they are jarring to view. I hate them because they encourage broadcasting to the lowest common denominator viewer. Companies act as if ad revenue has to continually increase or something is wrong. They continually try to widen out their audience in a bit to increase ad revenue until we get TLC and The History Channel showing horrible formulaic reality TV shows that most viewers who have a half a brain and a soul find repugnant. I watch Netflix because I find many of the shows don't insult my intelligence. Not all of the shows mind you, but some.

Submission + - The backlash against self-driving cars officially begins (

Paul Fernhout writes: "An organization that advocates for professional drivers has urged New York to ban self-driving cars from the state's roads for 50 years. The Upstate Transportation Association fears that self-driving cars will eliminate thousands of jobs and damage the local economy."

Comment Re: Great strides (Score 5, Informative) 129

ULA, the launch consortium of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, got $1 billion dollars per year just to maintain "launch readiness". Then they charged $400 million or so for each launch. SpaceX charges about $130 million for cargo launches to the space station. Oh, and do you really think that Boeing or Lockheed Martin paid fully for the development of the Delta or Atlas rockets? SpaceX is providing an essential service for a fraction of the cost of "competitors". The Musk "government subsidy" meme has been a laughable piece of propaganda put forward by Musks competitors, who are themselves recipients of FAR MORE government largesse than Musk could ever hope for. For all I know, repeaters of this meme are in fact getting paid by ULA, GM, Ford, Exxon, or any number of competitors who are likely to lose billions to Musk's companies.

Comment Evolutionary Selection for people and AIs (Score 1) 74

Brilliant points about evolution shaping morality -- thanks for making them aberglas. Two other things to consider -- other evolutionary processes and our direction going into the singularity.

There are several evolutionary processes besides conventional natural selection (including just random drift). Even just natural selection includes seemingly weird things like "sexual selection" that shape a Peacock's tail because Pehens think big tails are sexy proof of health and strength because they are so hard to survive with. For an AI equivalent of a Peaock's tails, that might lead to AIs thinking other AIs are sexy that do some costly action like either help humans do everything ( e.g. the "With Folded Hands" dystopia) or alternatively just stomp on huge numbers of humans (e.g. Terminator). There can also be different selective pressures at different levels of grouping (EO Wilson has written some on this recently, but the idae goes back decades).

If we are heading into one or more technological singularities, something to contemplate is that our moral direction into the singularity might have something to do with how we transition beyond the singularity. So, while it is no guarantee, is is plausible that if we get our own moral situation in order as soon as possible (increased compassion, increased collaboration, etc.) we may have a happier singularity. One can worry about the vast amounts of money (billions, soon trillions of dollars?) being poured into creating financial AIs that maximize short terms gains by competitive means, socializing costs and risks while privatizing gains. So, twenty million is better than nothing, but it is a drop in the bucket.

Another tangent on evolution and thinking -- what will the evolution of religions mean for AIs?

Two new funny new AI fictional series maybe of interest in thinking about what is possible:
* EarthCent Ambassador Series (with the alien Stryx AI)
* Old Guy Cybertank Series (mostly about human-derived military AI; series authored by a neuroscience researcher)

The late James P. Hogan wrote several stories involving AIs that were quite thought provoking -- especially his early "The Two Faces of Tomorrow". And of course the late Iain Banks' Culture Series is also interesting for its AIs, especially "Excession".

Comment Re:Then LG prada (Score 1) 35

From what I understand, Steve Jobs led a small group of engineers in designing the iPhone. It sounds like this was part of it; they apparently had competing teams of engineers trying to build a phone. The reason why the initial iPhone was so feature incomplete (e.g. no copy/paste) was that it was designed by such a small engineering team. I think Steve Job's greatest strengths as a CEO were (a) the ability to know what kind of a device he wanted, (b) the ability to know what was actually possible (possibly because of what he had seen elsewhere) and (c) the ability to say "NO that's it again". I don't think that having CEO's delegating grand strategic decisions leads to good results. The CEO must have a semblance of big picture knowledge.

Comment Renewables & efficiency cheaper since the 1970 (Score 2) 117

if you account for externalities like pollution, risk, defense, and so on. See Amory Lovins' research. That has been an economic tragedy from market failure of the last few decades. Markets don't work well when people don't pay the true price up front but can instead privatize benefits for themselves and socialize costs to other people. For example, some companies in the Midwest got cheaper electricity from coal, but I can't eat fish around where I live because they are contaminated with mercury from Midwestern coal pollution.

More evidence:
"A new report from the International Monetary Fund says global use of fossil fuels costs taxpayers and consumers $5.3 trillion year. Thatâ(TM)s trillion â" with a T. "
"The report's co-author, IMF economist David Coady tells host Steve Curwood how they calculated fossil fuels subsidies worldwide annually cost taxpayers and consumers $5.3 trillion."

The cost in human lives from wars in the Middle East over oil profits is another enormous part of this as is the consequences to geopolitics. How do you factor in the risk of (ironic) nuclear war over oil profits into the cost of oil? See also: (lowball) (highball)

Comment Apple's Problem: Shallow Business School Thinking (Score 1, Interesting) 293

Tim Cook is a business school type thinker. He is an accountant. He makes his business decisions as a pure profit maximization game, increasing profit margins and eeking out as much money from the market as he can. The problem with this type of thinking is that it ignores the subtle realities of the Apple computer market. Macs specifically have been perceived by many as "professional" machines. Graphical designers have used OSX because it has been a reliable and relatively trouble-free platform on which to create. Software developers have often used Macbooks to develop on because OSX is a fairly polished Unix platform (though they likely often use virtual machines). Myself, I have enjoyed using Macs because of features such as the outstanding integration of the pdf format into OSX. I often use Preview's ability to take vector based snippets of a pdf file. Doing this on other operating systems is impractical, but on OSX you just draw a box around a pdf graph, choose "copy", and then "New PDF from Clipboard". In other OS environments, you can only copy a bitmap version, but on OSX, you get the actual vector version.

Most users probably don't use this pdf feature. However I find it essential. Under current management, because few users make use of OSX advanced pdf features, it might be seen as something that can be neglected or removed. If they removed it, then I would lose much of my enthusiasm for OSX. And my enthusiasm matters, because I often pass that enthusiasm onto my students. In 2007 my enthusiasm for OSX resulted in at least 20 new Macbook purchases that I am directly aware of. As OSX shifts to MacOS and seems to go towards merging with iOS, I find my enthusiasm begin to wane.

As Apple continues to assert more and more control over how I use my machine, on the apps that I install and the settings I can change, I find I am becoming increasingly against the agenda of Apple. I believe that our computers should be Turing Complete, that we should have full control over our devices. My students are more likely to hear me grumble about my Mac than to wax poetic about its unique capabilities. Tim Cook doesn't seem to realize the importance of users like me. In my own localized way I had an outsized contribution to Apple's explosive growth in 2007-2010; I see 200+ students every year, and my enthusiasms and views rub off on many of them. Apple's seeming assumption that they can ignore the tails of the bell curve of their user base is short-sighted and in my opinion will eventually compromise Apple's valuable brand image.

Comment Re:I agree Apple is losing its' panache (Score 2, Insightful) 230

Its disappointing to watch Apple sh1t all over it self. OS X has been going down hill since 10.9, now the hardware is getting the same treatment.

That's what happens when your company is run by a "management professional" bean counter like Tim Cook. No imagination. He only sees his company through revenue and profit graphs.

Submission + - Inside Amazon's clickworker platform (

Paul Fernhout writes: Hope Reese and Nick Heath at TechRepublic ask: "Internet platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk let companies break jobs into smaller tasks and offer them to people across the globe. But, do they democratize work or exploit the disempowered?"

The article says: "Just over half of Turkers earn below the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, according to a Pew Research Center study."

The article quotes people who believe: "it will become increasingly common for computer systems to orchestrate labor".

That trend was also was the beginning of Marshall Brain's "Manna" short story...

Comment The story of Hugh Pine (Score 1) 143
"Hugh Pine, a porcupine genius, works with his human friends to save his less intelligent fellow porcupines from the deadly dangers of the road."

Anyone who saw the video version of this on CBS Storybreak might remember the refrain: "Looks like it's gonna be a hot day today":

More seriously, ecological and evolutionary theory (including island biography) shows how the size of a habitat and how habitats are connected affects the distribution and genetics of organisms in habitats, so habitat fragmentation has consequences.

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