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Comment Re:income tax levels = an auto opt out (Score 1) 506

This really doesn't work if you try to fund it from income tax. Wealth != income.

That's really only relevant if you are just sitting on a pile of cash stuffed into a mattress. However typically wealth earns income if you have it anywhere but a mattress and in Canada even 50% of all capital gains is included, and taxed, as income. While you could just live of savings wile earning no money that would be a really stupid thing to do because unless the tax rate hits 100% you are always better off earning that income from wealth and paying taxes on it.

Comment Medieval Guild Structure (Score 1) 664

Is the imbecile who sent the fine won't be fired.

It's not really that imbecile's fault - indeed they might not even agree with the law but still feel they have a duty to enforce it. The problem here is the legal protections engineers have managed to get in place to protect their jobs. If you want to see a really appalling example of this just look to Canada where engineering is operated like a medieval guild where everything is regulated; only existing guild members are allowed to train you and in some provinces making something like an electronic circuit means that you have to be a guild member. It's pathetic to see this in the modern world...and also really annoying if you are a physicist and equally if not actually far better qualified for some of the "protected" jobs - particularly when one of those jobs is teaching engineers physics!

Comment Bad data from poor implementation (Score 4, Interesting) 506

With that said, if they do this pilot correctly it will yield very interesting data.

I very much doubt it will because it is implemented in a way which directly undermines the arguments for universal basic income which is normally taken to mean that everyone gets a fixed income regardless of circumstances. Instead this project reduces that income at the rate of $1 for every $2 earned. Unlike the real deal this provides a reasonably strong motivation NOT to take low paying jobs since you only get a benefit of half the wage you earn. It also means that you now have to start means testing people to see how much they earn which requires bureaucracy and officials and incurs expense.

The whole point of basic income is to cut the administration expense because everyone gets it regardless while also preventing the disincentive to work of typical unemployment schemes by clawing back money when people get even a low paying job. The Ontario scheme fails to achieve either aim and so seems unlikely to work or provide any data about whether such type of schemes could work.

Comment That's the ideal...the reality is different (Score 1) 266

Capitalism is based on the idea that both sides agree to exchange what is promised, not merely something someone else thinks is close enough.

In reality though capitalism is based on the exchange of something which one side can persuade a court is good enough...which is one of the big problems with capitalism because typically one side can afford far more lawyers than the other. In this case what they provided was so far from what they promised that even an army of lawyers could not win the argument that it was good enough but note that they only got 30%, not 50%, of child care and there was zero compensation for the emotional damage to the family.

Comment Re:Not really a Good Result (Score 1) 178

The next machine doesn't necessarily have to be bigger.

It will if you want to exceed LHC energies. A muon collider would be a very interesting machine though. At one point I know they were worrying about such high neutrino intensities that it would pose a radiation hazard...which is a problem because neutrinos interact so rarely that they pass through the earth so it would be impossible to shield such a source.

Comment Re:Not really a Good Result (Score 1) 178

I mean confirming the Higgs does exactly what?

It confirms the presence of a new, fundamental field in nature which is all around us. The last time that happened it was the EM field and that discovery has lead to a huge number of applications. You are absolutely right that manipulating the higgs field at the moment requires a huge amount of effort but in the mid-19th century manipulating EM fields was not so easy either (although still a lot easier than the higgs).

Comment Re:Not really a Good Result (Score 1) 178

If you can't predict it will be valuable, don't fund it all at. Burden of proof is on the person asking for money that there will be some ROI.

That's not really how fundamental science works. It usually takes 50+ years to become useful but knowing exactly which bits will be the useful ones or how they will become useful is completely impossible to predict. However in order to be useful at all you do have to discover something so generally we make funding decisions based on how likely an experiment is to make a discovery which will advance our knowledge.

Comment Fundamental Physics Takes 50+ Years to be Applied (Score 1) 178

Particle physics is becoming more distant from daily life as time passes.

That's not really true. Fundamental physics' applications are generally typically 50+ years away. Early particle detector technology and understanding is only just now becoming useful in medical physics with hadron therapy as well as detector technology being used in medical physics.

Go back to the development of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century and it was ~50 years before this was applied to materials and led to the understanding of the transistor and integrated circuits. Even further back and Faraday's law of EM induction from 1831 did not lead to electrical generators and power in homes until the 1880's and Maxwell's equations in 1864 did not lead to regular, useful radio transmissions until the first world war.

I'll grant it is hard to see how e.g. the higgs boson will lead to a higher quality of life in 50+ years time but likewise I doubt Maxwell foresaw the rise of radio nor did Schrodinger et al foresee the development of modern information technology.

Comment Not really a Good Result (Score 4, Insightful) 178

Lack of "innovation" (i.e. new physics) is in itself a already good result.

Not really. Lack of new physics means that we have no explanations for the myriad of things which need new fundamental physics to explain sch as what is Dark Matter? and why is the Higgs boson so much lighter than the scale of quantum gravity? By the end of this run in 2018 we will have covered about half the phase space that the LHC can reach and the high luminosity LHC upgrade will provide the other half...over the next ~15-20 years because increasing luminosity is not as good as increasing energy.

This is not good news because it may mean that new physics is beyond the reach of the LHC and whether the world can afford to build a new, even bigger machine is far from certain. However we have zero control of the result - either the universe works in a way where there is new physics in reach of the LHC or it does not. So not seeing anything is far from a failure...but that does not make it a good result. Indeed I have always referred to it as the LHC nightmare scenario: we find the Higgs and absolutely nothing else which leaves a lot of unanswered questions and no certainty that we will be able to build a machine to find the answers.

Comment Better Solution (Score 1) 98

If you really want to solve the textbook crisis, solve the debt crisis in education and allow discharge of student debt in bankruptcy at the same time as you investigate the publishers for any type of RICO or antitrust activity.

Neither of these solutions work. If you can discharge a student loan through bankruptcy then no lender will offer them without a guarantee from the government and that will be really expensive. So if you go this way why not just have the government cover the tuition costs with grants which it recoups by charging a higher tax rate on higher incomes? It worked this way in the UK for decades before the government got stupid and massively increased enrolment beyond what society needed and taxes could support.

As for text book publishers they are not guilty of breaking any laws they are just exploiting an unusual economic model where the person choosing is not the person paying: their customers are professors, not students, but the students are the ones footing the bill. The solution is for professors to write their own texts and use either the open source model or the cheap, online publishing model. I've done this myself for a first year physics coursee - students can get the PDFs for free on the course website or they can get a hard copy from CreateSpace for US$4.74(with code)+postage which is about a quarter of the price the university bookstore would charge for it as a coursepack. About ~10% get hard copies and the rest just use the free PDFs - which without the annoying DRM/apps of publisher etextbooks are very widely adopted.

Comment Uncanny Valley for AI (Score 1) 68

A self driving car system where I have to pay attention while doing nothing is the worst aspect of these features.

This is the "uncanny valley" for AI. Just as we find a simulated human which is not quite right off-putting so too a car which is smart but not quite smart enough to be actually useful is extremely irritating. What I want is one of two binary states: either I drive or the AI drives. I do NOT want an AI which thinks it knows how I should drive - who wants an artificial back seat driver?

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