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Comment Re:Stop using cars at all. (Score 1) 100

Which precisely describes the opposite of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens.

Nobody is saying you ought to be forced to take the streetcar from Mayberry to Petticoat Junction. From Monmarte to the Bastile -- transit makes more sense than driving, especially if you factor in time for parking.

Comment The studies show programmers hire daycare (Score 0) 351

What the studies show, overwhelmingly, is that as a culture moves from being based in manufacturing to electronics and then information technology, the new programmers and database administrators hire daycare teachers, home care aids for their parents, hair dressers, and many other low-skilled jobs that arw better than the unskilled jobs picking cotton. Specifically, for every job lost, about five are created, and they aren't all high-tech, needing a lot of education. Factory workers change their own oil, database administrators HIRE someone to change their oil.

Comment For the Bank of Russia it's not even pocket change (Score 2) 52

It's just numbers on a spreadsheet. The Bank of Russia is Russia's central bank and there is literally no amount of money you can steal from a central bank that will harm it. That's because they're the people who issue the fiat in "fiat currency".

The harm is to the economy as a whole, in the form of inflation. In this case we're talking about the release of thirty one million spurious extra bucks into a two trillion dollar economy. Just a tiny bit of inflation, diluted to homeopathic concentrations and applied to everyone who uses rubles.

Of course the bank has to pursue this because it undermines confidence in the system, but this is as close to a victimless crime as any illegal way of obtaining thirty-one million dollars can be.

Comment I find this kind of depressing. (Score 1) 131

I'm all for things that go boom. I love weird, clever little gadgets. I admire a clever and subtle subversion of a system, even when I don't condone its use.

But geez; this thing is not exactly elegant. It uses a fairly basic circuit to exploit the completely unsurprising fact that the interface isn't designed to handle high voltages.

Comment Re:Not much. I do look at data which may upset you (Score 3, Interesting) 257

Attempting to simplify the crises in Syria by pointing at climate change seriously under states all other factors. Hell, one of your own links (the usda one) clearly shows that Syria has been able to meet its needs IF allowed via imports

The USDA link shows no such thing; it shows Syria eating up its reserves as it fails to import enough wheat to make up the shortfall. Yes, Assad underwrote the price of bread, but there wasn't enough subsidized bread to meet demand, forcing people to buy non-subsidized bread which increased in price six-fold. The net bread expenditure went up by 20% in a country where many people spend half their income on food.

I'm not a reductionist; situations like this have multiple important factors. The Assad/Islamist thing had been simmering for decades -- generations really. Had that situation been different, the climate shock might not have destabilized the country. In point of fact bread prices were an issue throughout the Middle East and a major factor in the Arab Spring. Syria was arguably better positioned than most other Arab countries, but the stress of having 5% of your population displaced on top of the deep and old fault lines broke the country apart.

This is precisely how climate shock is going to work. It won't be like the proverbial frog in a pot of boiling water; it'll be formerly rare occurrences happening more frequently and stressing vulnerable populations. Take sea level rise; cities won't drown slpowly, but what was once a hundred year flood will become twenty year flood. That will stress coastal cities, and the results depend on how stable and wealthy a particular city is.

For example were sea level to rise almost a meter by 2100 (as is now within the scope of mainstream positions), the very wealthy coastal city I live in would go the Venice route and build a tidal barrier, which would conservatively cost at least ten billion dollars. Chittagong Bengladesh, however, will be screwed. My city has twice the GDP of Bengladesh as a whole even though it has 3% of the population.

Comment Re:So much for public charging locations (Score 1) 131

Fortunately, it's not designed as a passthough USB device, and it appears to be activated with a button. So, it seems sort of unlikely that it would be abused like that en masse, at least not without significant modification, which raises the bar quite a bit for malicious sorts.

I think a bigger danger is someone leaving the device lying around with a label printed "top secret" or "do not view", and letting natural human curiosity do the rest. That's still an expensive "prank" to play at $50 a pop, with no benefit to the users, so it seems unlikely to be widespread.

Comment You're missing some things (Score 1) 351

> Another effect is that in the past when jobs got automated away, there were still many low skilled jobs for the majority of the people.

It's not that there were *still* jobs. When electricity became readily available, machines started doing many jobs that previously had been done by humans, and that same automation that took over some jobs created many, many more jobs. There were a LOT of low to medium-skill jobs created by popularity lf electrical machines. I'd bet the MAJORITY of people currently working for less than $20/hour are doing jobs where they use electrical machines - automation created their job.

Later, electronics automated many jobs, and created many more. Then computers automated many jobs , most secretarial work, bookkeeping, etc. At the same time, the availability of computers created many new jobs. It's not that there were still jobs "left over", most of us do jobs that didn't exist 200 years ago; our jobs were CREATED by automation. What do you do in your job? I bet your job is to supervise and control some machine that automatically does the hard part for you.

> That and the scale of automation is much greater today than in the past.

It was in the late 1800s to mid 1900s that most jobs were automated in the sense that a machine does the actual "hands on" work while the human supervises and controls it. In the farmer's field, the combine lifts the harvest from the soil, while the farmer sits at the controls. The pilot sits and waits in case the autopilot needs to be switched to a new route. Workers at the dam and power plant watch screens, ready to push the button which causes the system to open and close gates thousands of feet away, if the system determines that it's safe to do so based on all sensor inputs. Very few workers use their muscles today. Rather, they monitor, control, and R&D tyre machines that do the real work. The pace of that transition peaked around 1941.

The most recent peak was 75 years ago, but this has been happening since the invention of the wheel. The3 availability of wheels meant that machines could be built to do things. That eliminated many jobs and created many more.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 351

Economy does not work that way, sorry. Hawking should read from a real economist, like Milton Friedman.

Although I generally respect economists within their domain of expertise, they do have a habit of blithely extrapolating from their models to the unknowable, or even the impossible. For example once I was at a symposium on limits to the Earth's carrying capacity. A physicist pointed out that since life is eventually sustained by solar energy, there are at least thermodynamic limits to the number of people you can support on a single planet. The economist on the panel contradicted him, claiming that the carrying capacity of the Earth was infinite. His justification was that all past attempts to put a Malthusian limit on population growth had run afoul of human innovation.

Now he's correct about summarizing the situation *thus far*, but that's only from a few centuries of economic experience that covers an insignificant fraction between the status quo and infinite population.

Now the real problem with futurism, aside from simply getting things wrong (e.g., the counter-intuitive link between higher wealth and lower birth rate), is judging precisely when something that's bound to happen is going happen. If we *do* continue to increase population, eventually we will reach the point where we won't be able to grow it any farther. But we won't know the precise moment we're going to hit the wall until we actually do.

Likewise unless you take a mystical view of thought, eventually computers are going to get better at it than we are. And when that day comes, we'll be obsolete as thought-workers. However we're very far from that now. What I think will happen is that the nature of work will change so rapidly people will find employment to be unstable. I believe what we'll see increasing levels of intractable structural unemployment: square pegs trying to fit themselves into round holes because the square holes have been filled in.

Comment Re:Milton Frieldman? (Score 1) 351

So.......we just had an article on Slashdot that showed there are more jobs in America now, at the end of the Obama administration, than there ever have been in the entire history of the US. More people working.

First, I'm not about to claim that Trump is going to improve anything for the common man. Having a populist revolt that emplaces a Billionare cabinet...

Yes, Obama got more people to work than anyone else ever. However, middle-class well-being has not correspondingly increased (meaning wages aren't great for a lot of those jobs) and the disparity between the most rich and everyone else has become much larger.

I haven't researched AI job reduction, but I think we could be no more than two decades away from the point where much menial labor is robotic and where professional drivers are for the most part replaced with machines.

Comment The very same technology that did the old jobs (Score 1) 351

> What you call the information sector was only enabled by technology simultaneously becoming available.

Yes, the technology called "electricity" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Next, the technology called "electronics" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new , higher-paying jobs.

Yes, the technology called "computing" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Before any of that, the technology called the "steam engine" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Before that, the technology called the "wheel" took over some old jobs and created a bunch of new, higher-paying jobs.

Comment Many true statements, just like 1816, 1916, 1966 (Score 1) 351

> a) not everyone has the ability, skill or desire to just jump into programming

And 200 years ago, not everyone had the ability, skill, or desire to move to the city and just jump into manufacturing. 50 years ago not everyone had the ability, skill, or desire to just jump into operating the new electronic machines.

> b) programming can be automated too

Farming was automated, manufacturing was automated. When manufacturing was automated, we got consistent, controllable quality. Maybe as programming is automated we'll gain the ability to have consistent, predictable quality in software. That would be awesome.

> You also gloss over that all of the farmers who were cast aside by automation were absorbed into the very factories

That's quite the point. When people no longer had to pick the cotton (making raw cotton less expensive), they could instead work making things with the cotton, a higher paying job. When the looms were automated (making textile products less expensive), people moved again to higher paying jobs. As the factories were automated, even less skilled people moved into office jobs - data entry, secretaries, customer service, etc. As secretarial, data entry, etc. was automated (making data-centered tasks less expensive), the entire information economy was created.

It goes back far beyond 250 years ago, too. The invention potter's wheel meant fewer people needed to be working on creating pottery, heck the wheel itself meant far fewer people were needed for MOST jobs. The result of that, always for thousands of years, is that the output of those tasks becomes less expensive, having been produced by machine. That allows people to do cool new stuff with it - the material is cheaply available and they have the time to do something new with it.

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Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers write in BASIC after reaching puberty.