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Comment Re:To be fair, a pretty easy run (Score 1) 244

You know, this is a detail I hadn't thought of before.

There will still be trucks making deliveries during the day, but the bulk would be fine going at off-peak hours. For safety or fuel-efficiency or whatever. They still need someone to load and unload still, so it's not like all the logistics are freed up.

But you know what this means? The poor people that still drive their own cars are going to see bumper-to-bumper semi-trucks all the damn time at 2am when the bars get out.

Comment Not super surprising (Score 1) 53

Remember that the bulk of humanity resides in China and India. "The west" is a minority on planet Earth. And iPhone apps are a low cost thing. The smartphone itself is kinda expensive, but they're so useful that they're pretty ubiquitous, even in poorer locale. China's been "waking up", modernizing, constructing, and growing at breakneck rates for a couple decades now.

Also remember that if China and India start consuming at the rate that the median American does, global warming and climate change will go through the roof.

Comment Re:Let's not forget... (Score 1) 99

Yes. And that's a very good thing to do. A useful act of conservation.

But it helps to actually see some of it in action to know what you're looking for in the barely legible terabytes of genetic code. It only takes a couple of mantis shrimp to punch a hole in a few aquarium tanks to let scientists know that hey, maybe we should take a look at how they can get their pincers to accelerate at 10,400 g's.

While the mantis shrimp is fairly well known with it's 8 families all with their own genus's and species, the reefs are just chock-full of these sort of things.

Oh, and the raw base pair in DNA isn't the grand sum of genetic information. There's also how it coils around and how the grooves form. There's a concern that we'd lose something without knowing what it is we're supposed to be recording. So physical samples are better. And that takes size, space, tracking, which all sums up into a lot of cost.

Comment Re:Coral Bleaching (Score 2) 99

Because this reef is not bleaching due to cold water, excess sunlight, or disease. It's bleaching due to warm water and the article points that out.

It's like a news story about a man getting stabbed (which can be fatal), and someone pointing out that parenthesized information and stressing that diabetes can also kill people. That's true, but it makes them a troll.

Comment Re:Let's not forget... (Score 3, Informative) 99

...But the great barrier reef isn't a geological feature. Reefs aren't formed by geological processes.

You could likewise say that as a astronomical feature, the GBR is relatively new only being 20,000 years old while it's closest star is formed 4.6 billion years ago.

It's ecological. The coral is living stuff. The fish and plants which make up the ecosystem are all alive. They are not rocks waiting for the tectonic plates to move them around. It's like a forest or a rain jungle. They certainly operate on larger timescales than people are used to thinking about, but they are not geological or astronomical.

Reefs are most certainly tied to geological features. They need shallow water at the right temperature. And change that and they'll die off. Just as much as if you somehow stop all the rain, the forests in California will all burn down.

On an evolutionary timescale, the GBR has been around a long time and it's fostered some amazing specialists which have unique and possibly useful genetic traits. As we're right on the cusp of understanding the genetic code and reaping that useful insight and millennia of real-world testing and application, it'd be a shame to lose it.

Of course it's not permanent and eternal. Nothing is. The sun will burn out and blow up eventually.

Comment Re:All joking aside (Score 1) 282

Do we start sending signals to it and waiting 190 years to see if something comes back?


carry on with improving life here?


Because if that signal is some advanced civilization, it means nothing practical beyond, "Hey look, life in other parts of the universe! Wow!"

What if they've been sending us instructions on how to make fusion power for the last 1000 years and we've just have been listening closely? We would know where to look and listen. And that's not trivial if you need to position a telescope 550 AU from the sun to get a crisp image.

Comment Ok, it's down, but those are weird reasons (Score 2) 232

It's still #2. And twice the index score of #3.

mobile app development. ... The constraint that C object code should remain small and fast doesn't help here.

Huh? That seems like exactly the sort of area where small and fast would help immensely.

I still find it infuriating when I want to have half a second for this clunky program on my phone to do it's thing.

Moreover the C programming language doesn't evolve like the other big languages such as Java, C++ and C#. There is a "new" C11 standard available but this contains only minor changes.

The language being stable is a good thing. A shining feature. Unless you enjoy all your skills turning to dust as you have to adapt to an ever changing platform. Who likes to build a house on shifting sand?

Yet another reason why C is getting into trouble is that there is no big company promoting the language. Oracle supports Java, Microsoft supports C++, C# and TypeScript, Google supports Java, Python, Go, Dart and JavaScript, Apple promotes Swift and Objective-C, etc. but none of them supports C publicly.

Also kind of a good thing. Because it's "Oracle, where tech goes to die". And Microsoft, where they keep bloody changing everything because some minor boss somewhere gets a bonus if he can convince 9% of the MS developer base to register with SilverLight tools, or how Sharepoint is "the next big thing". And frankly, I was surprised that every Go project wasn't mandated to direct their users to go sign up for google+.

C is punk. Fuck corporate.

It's portable as all fucking get-out. Low enough that you can make it smokin' fast. And it doesn't play any games with magical crap you can't see. The code is truth in advertising (unless you fuck around with macros like an idiot), and that makes it easier to debug. And everything as C APIs, so if there's a library out there you want you can typically go hook into it. Every bloody language has weird quirks and nuances you just have to be aware of. The tools that help you use the language are where it's at. MVS, while run by Satan, is actually pretty decent. But the classic C tools of makefiles, gcc or clang, and vim are powerhouses of usability that have been refined for decades. It's not the best if you want to talk to browsers. Javascript is the defacto standard there. And it's not the best if you just want to make yet another GUI button clicker for clueless suit. And Bash or whatever script of choice glues together the solutions of yesterday. But C is what you whip out for the hard cases for real meaningful programming. And certainly for anything critical like life support, satellites, weapon platforms, or kernels.

Comment Re:low-danger volunteer selection bias (Score 1) 176

Except that there is also selection bias when it comes to real Astronauts. Indeed, they do NOT want a random sampling. That would be pretty terrible.

The experiment isn't perfect. Ideally, we'd also have a set of ~10 groups all going at once. But it's close enough to be useful. And a sample size of one still tells us something. And I imagine anything they ran into within the last year and documented will be referenced by psychologists in various papers for decades to come.

Comment Re:Too Happy (Score 3, Interesting) 282

Well... ok. Let's look at the black-lining of this happy puffy cloud.

1. Self-Driving Cars: Truckers and cabbies are all going to lose their job. It'll be a big wave of unemployment for a sector of the populace that was already wasn't doing well. A lot of disenfranchised people with not much to lose is a worry.

2. Clean Energy: (this ones harder... ok, got it). It's a step towards these clean-energy eco-nuts outlawing coal. You'll have to.... (No that doesn't make any sense... AH) The more people that switch to distributed power generation, the less support the power grid will have. It benefits from economy of scale, but chip away at that and have half the populous stop paying, and you have problems for a public utility. The first to go with be mandates for rural electrification. Farmers will be cut off. Without the power lines being subsidized, communication lines won't be able to piggyback. (It's a stretch, but it's something)

3. Virtual and Augmented Reality: You know how kids these days barely look up from their phones? Get ready to have blind-deaf (sadly not mute) meatbags ignoring you with twice the power. Kids wandering into streets chasing their pokemon. If they can overlay their own better reality, they'll disconnect from your reality. Oh, and this.

4. Drones and Flying Cars: With a camera on there, now it's feasible and cost effective to operate a panopticon where the FBI or anyone else with $200 are always watching.
  Flying cars are one of those classic tropes for letdowns. In reality, it's just more expensive to operate a plane. I know a pilot with a shitty commute and there's an airstrip RIGHT next to work, but he still drives simply because he can't justify the cost of a plane. Automate the pilot license requirement, and rich people probably will fly everywhere. Let's hope the budget for road maintenance is still approved.

5. Artificial Intelligence: Remember those truckers? Get ready for whole swaths of office workers to go away. It's not like everyone from HR will get laid off. But none of them will touch paychecks and there will just be two to handle sensitivity training. Generalist doctors, the sort that diagnose you when something is wrong, could probably be replaced by Watson right now. The only barrier is who do you sue when it screws up.

6. Pocket Supercomputers for Everyone: Uhh... something something, company leash you can't run away from, tracking you everywhere, the crushing disappointment that we gave everyone super-computers with the grand sum of human knowledge at their finger tips and the ability to instantly communicate with anyone anywhere (and have the language translated for you) and they only use it to look at pictures of cats.

7. Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains: Yay, a secret money to buy cocaine online with! And as for business-minded uses of blockchain technology... I'm still not sure how that's any different than running a co-opt.

8. High-Quality Online Education: It's been there for a couple decades and people are still pretty stupid and uneducated.

9. Better Food through Science: (This one is also hard) ...I got nothing. Maybe something about soil degradation?

10. Computerized Medicine: Robo surgeons are going to get hacked and then they're going to hack you.

11. A New Space Age: (I could probably find something negative about this, but I really like space. SPAAAAAAAACE!)

Ok, I ran out of steam at the end. Too much pessimism is as bad as too much optimism.

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