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Comment Re:Weirdly specific statement (Score 1) 25

The significance of this is Elon Musk, who is the self-driving Uber of billionaires and is the hero of our times.

Well, I knew Steve Jobs well enough, and have met a few civilian astronauts and a bunch of other rich people. None of the others seem to have done so much for the long-term future of the human race as Musk has in leading the path to more affordable spaceflight.

Comment Re:Sixty Years Ago... (Score 1) 25

Well, it beats making them into the world's most complicated airplanes as with the space shuttle. SpaceX has proven that they can do vertical landings of the first stage intact onto both land and a seagoing barge; after a trip out of the atmosphere and to about 1/5 of orbital velocity but not into orbit. They plan to do a parachute-less vertical landing of the Dragon capsule after a heat-shield re-entry. That turns out to be far less expensive and complicated than a space plane. It does turn out we need a lifting body for much larger vehicles. It still doesn't have to be a plane, though.

We don't need wings.

Comment Re:Democrats too (Score 1) 74

Point to a real technology and describe an actual scenario where the Russian military benefits, and then explain how the Russian benefit A) is a serious NATO concern, and B) wasn't going to happen anyway sooner rather than later.

Challenge accepted.

You're misdirecting the reader away from the important point. It's #17 in the Rules of disinformation.

The real point is that corporate cash flowed to the politician in return for favours.

A lot of the analysis of HRC as SoS shows that these decisions benefited companies while at the same time made the country less safe (by enriching and/or strengthening a potential enemy), did not benefit the people of the US in any way, and gave Hillary more cash to work with.

The point was cash => politician => favors, not the details of any one deal.

Which was the actual point.

Comment Democrats too (Score 5, Informative) 74

[Republicans are] all owned by corporations and do their bidding.

Have you been avoiding the news recently?

Google Clinton and "pay for play", or Clinton and "foundation", or Clinton and "Wikileaks". (Or just wait a week or so for that last one.)

Here's cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from corporations benefiting from selling Uranium to Russia.

Here's cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from corporations benefiting from selling dual use technology (private and military uses) to Russia.

Here's $17 million that disappeared from the Clinton Foundation.

We've complained for years that the political elite is owned by the corporations, and that there's no difference between having a D or R after a candidate's name.

Don't blame corruption on just the Republicans, it's not intellectually honest and distracts people from the true problems.

Comment Luddites, beware! (Score 2) 60

Sheesh. And here I thought it would take 5 years for self-driving vehicles to become common.

By my previous estimate, around 5 million jobs in the US alone could be replaced or severely curtailed by self-driving vehicles (about 3.5 million jobs are driving tractor-trailers). I now think that's a low estimate, considering delivery vehicles, taxis, US mail, school busses, and so on.

The first self-driving tractor trailer hit the road about 18 months ago. Yes, they probably won't work in snow. Yes, they probably won't work in some situations, such as finding and backing into the loading dock. You'll still need humans for those situations.

But for the vast majority of cases, they will work for the long-haul across the US. (If you've ever driven across the US at night, you know that the highways are a never-ending chain of tractor trailers in the right-hand lane.) They don't need down time, they don't get tired, they don't get distracted, they can work 24/7. They can learn from each others' mistakes. They don't need salary or benefits.

This is demonstrably better from a safety and cost point of view, and it takes away a lot of tedious work from humans--giving them more free time--but it'll wreck our current economic system.

We currently have about 170 million workers, and sitting at about 10% unemployment. This one technological advance could push that up to 15%. Economically speaking, 10% unemployment is the beginning of the "this is bad, we should do something" level. We only recently dropped below that number from the great(-est) depression.

(How we deal with illegal immigrants is another big chunk of potential workers that could affect unemployment. Not to make this a partisan argument, but if we *do* have amnesty, it should be done in a layered, progressive fashion with an eye on unemployment so as not to tank the economy. Refugees are too few in number to affect unemployment.)

Comment Capitalism! (Score 4, Interesting) 165

the real tragedy here is not the crash, but the fact that 38000 cubic meters of a very rare gas used for everything from advanced medical diagnostics to research into superconductors and even nuclear fusion is squandered into a single aircraft that cant be bothered to run through a computational fluid thermodynamics simulation before enjoying public humiliation.

im sure it sounds callous, but i hope this thing takes a life next time because clearly no ones thought through the ramifications of such a wasteful endeavour.

Hypothetically speaking, suppose someone offered you a job at that company (and you lived near enough for an easy commute, and so on) for $100,00/yr. Would you take it?

Or would you refuse, knowing that the helium could be put to better use in other ways?

Now suppose you own an MRI company. Do you spend part of your profits purchasing stores of Helium for future use, or do you pocket the profits (or give it to shareholders) and hope that societal pressure will fix the problem sometime in the future?

Or that governments will step in and do something about the Helium supply?

Welcome to capitalism.

Comment Is this such a hard problem? (Score 2) 146

I was helping a startup in the next town over, who had a package that FedEx couldn't deliver, so I agreed to drive over to the local FedEx office to get the package.

While I was there, the person at the counter pointed out that the delivery person couldn't find the address, and I explained how to go into the parking lot, down and around the building, to the front door of the startup.

It was indeed a weird situation where you can't see the front door from the road, and you had to know beforehand where to go to make deliveries.

The point here is, the FedEx person at the counter typed in my instructions in the "notes" section of their database and then assured me that further deliveries should go through OK.

Will it *really* be that hard to do something similar with self-driving cars? By which I mean, report an error to the company along with the correct data, or manually direct the car to the correct destination and note the error, and similar work around.

I'm not sure this is a terribly important issue. I mean, it sure *seems* like there's a simple solution and the problem will quickly be self-correcting.

Comment Other admirable traits (Score 4, Insightful) 174

I seriously admire Bill for the passion he has for helping the world's most vulnerable -- and in that vein I'm surprised to see his stockpile of cash going UP and not down...

I seriously admire his talent for amassing huge sums of money by breaking the law, and getting away with a slap on the wrist.

I don't have that level of chutzpah - I'd have always been afraid of getting caught. He must have had a different upbringing from mine.

Comment Go one better! (Score 1) 174

Don't hate the ultra-rich person, hate the world that created them.

I can go one better!

These ultra-rich persons only exist in a universe that allows matter to interact.

Don't hate the world that created the ultra rich, hate the universe that creates such worlds!

(Not that I'm not trying to deflect blame or anything. I'm sure you weren't either.)

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