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Comment Re:This is why we can't have nice things (Score 1) 223

Actually, there's considerable evidence that early humans routinely engaged in mass slaughter - start a stampede, guide it toward the top of a cliff, and harvest the meat and other useful parts from the bottom. Far easier than trying to kill animals much larger and faster than you directly.

The downside is that you end up killing a LOT more animals than you can use, but the problems with that aren't going to be noticeable in any one person's lifetime - at least not until the species is almost extinct. And even if people eventually noticed the problem, and their own culpability, cultural inertia is likely to have kept things going anyway. Just as it did when the Easter Islanders cut down the last of the trees their society depended on, or when modern humans keep dumping CO2 into the atmosphere at an ever-increasing rate.

Comment Re: Political implications for "Native Americans" (Score 1) 223

The fact that the genetic markers of earlier migrations seem to have vanished entirely is actually an argument *against* genocide. In any violent conflict there's almost always quite a lot of women claimed as prizes by the conquerors, and their genetics enter the new culture that way.

To complete absence of the earlier markers suggests either intentional genocide, which is very rare and unlikely to have swept across the entirety of two continents - a process that would almost certainly have taken many centuries, or more likely that the earlier immigrants had already died out before the new ones arrived.

Comment UBI and birth control (Score 1) 513

And so if you're offering a UBI, it would be rather foolish not to offer free birth control as well, don't you think? Heck, I could even see an argument in favor of getting some long-term form installed being a mandatory precondition before you can start collecting an adult UBI - no accidental reproduction by young people just starting out, and they can get it reversed later if and when they decide they want to have kids.

And if you want active disincentives to reproduction, only give a UBI to adults - sufficient to support children as well, but the expense will come out of your luxury and investment income.

Comment Reproductive disincentives (Score 1) 513

I'm not so sure. Practically everybody likes sex, but raising children has a much narrower appeal and comes with much greater long-term opportunity costs. And we're getting increasingly good at making sure the second only happens on purpose.

Also, one possible solution if you want to provide a further reproductive disincentive in the face of a UBI - only provide a UBI to adults. The cost of raising a child to adulthood then comes out of what would have otherwise gone to luxuries and investments.

Comment Re:Robots are good (Score 1) 287

A 94% top tax rate was once acceptable in the US, only about 70 years ago. Of course pretty much nobody paid it because the idea was not to have it paid, but to encourage large corporations to avoid showing huge profits by instead immediately reinvesting them in further development.

Comment Re:Robots are good (Score 2) 287

Unfortunately, it's looking like they may be able to replace many/most jobs within a handful of, and that's not "a long time" in political terms. Especially not when we're talking about requiring major changes in a centuries-old social legend ("doing for yourself") embedded in most aspects of our social system.

Comment Re: "Destroyed" is such a harsh term... (Score 1) 88

In my experience "bricked" refers fairly exclusively to a non-recoverable state - at least through "normal" means. E.g. you've borked the firmware badly enough that you can no longer install the updates that would repair it. Hence things like "unbrickable" motherboards that have a second back-up BIOS in case something goes wrong when updating the primary one.

Granted, often times there's internal diagnostic pins that can be accessed by sufficiently knowledgeable individuals with the right equipment in order to get things working again - but it's not something your average firmware-updating geek is going to be prepared for.

Comment Re:Open Source Books (Score 1) 123

Only if it's a collaborative project and one of the collaborators objects. I'm free to distribute only the binaries to my own program under the GPL - as the copyright holder *I'm* not bound by the license, only everyone else. It'd be a jerk move, but legally fine. In which case the GPL would pretty much just grant you rights to resource modification, decompiling, etc.

For a book, where the only "source code" could well be a typewritten or even hand-drawn manuscript, there could be considerable room for argument.

Still, I'd really hope they use something readily editable, kind of kills the long term benefit otherwise.

Comment Re:Open Source Books (Score 2) 123

That would be rather stupid, as I'd bet good money that some student would get it scanned within days and start distributing copies (which would be completely okay by the terms of the GPL) and the original printer would lose a ton of goodwill.

Moreover, "open source" typically implies "readily editable by those with the right tools" so that it can be rapidly enhanced through collaboration. Which for textbooks probably means LaTeX, though something more like a .doc file might also get used.

Comment Re: Two months ago "Couldn't keep up with demand" (Score 1) 120

I don't see why. As a rule, engineers don't build things, they *design* them. Once the design is fully complete and you have a production model fully built and tested, I suspect you need far fewer engineers to build the next hundred. If you have lots of orders for existing models, but few orders for new or heavily customized designs, then you need lots of assembly technicians and may well be hitting the limits of your production facilities, even while you have a bunch of much more expensive engineers sitting around with nothing much to do.

Now, if you expect custom orders to return in the near term, maybe even the mid term, then it probably makes sense to set those engineers working on "side projects" that don't directly effect the bottom line, just to retain their expertise - long term technology overhauls like speculative next-gen plane designs and other "busy work" that might prove valuable eventually, but whose primary purpose is just to retain talent. At some point though it becomes more cost effective to just fire them and hire new engineers when business picks up again. Especially if you have a list of poor performers, "problem individuals", and those whose retirement package is about to vest. Layoffs can be an excellent way to cull such especially costly individuals without the same level of legal scrutiny risked by individual firings.

Comment Re:They could have done better with the data (Score 1) 344

Actually, not true. Even just talking on a phone is still distracting, considerably more so than talking to a person in the car with you, who will tend to pace their conversation to the complexity of surrounding traffic and may even spot impending problems before you do. As I recall, the average person talking on a hands-free phone while driving is roughly as dangerous as if they had a couple drinks under their belt.

It's all about where your attention is focused. Attention is a severely limited resource and you're much less dangerous when it's focused on the car and surrounding area. The more you focus on someone who's not physically there, the less you have to pay attention to your surroundings. You don't suddenly grow more attention just because you need it.

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