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Comment Sure, Uber is evil. (Score 2) 246

It's an anti-social company that's a horrible place to work. Everybody knows that by now.

What nobody can know for sure is why an individual takes his life, or what circumstances would have to be different.

Take Google, which in several recent lists is the best company in America to work for. Google has just shy of 60,000 employees. Given the US suicide rate of 46/100,000, if Google were largely reflective of that you'd expect 28 suicides/year among Google employees. Of course (a) not all Google employees are Americans and (b) Google employees are economically better off than most people in their societies, so you'd expect there to be a lower rate of suicide. But it's safe to assume a dozen Google employees a year take their lives.

And if you look at them as individuals, you'd inevitably suspect work stress was involved, and if you'd look you'd probably find it -- because it's a chicken-or-egg thing. Suicide is a catastrophic loss of coping ability; when you head that way you will find trouble everywhere you turn.

When something like this happens to an individual, everyone feels the need to know why -- even strangers. But that's the one thing you can never know for certain. Now if suicide rates were high for Uber, then statistically you could determine to what degree you should be certain that Uber is a killing its employees with a bad work environment (or perhaps selecting at-risk employees).

I think its inevitable and understandable that this man's family blames Uber. And it's very likely that this will be yet another PR debacle for the company. But the skeptic in me says we just can't know whether Uber has any responsibility for the result.

Comment Marginal cost of Internet distribution: $0.09/GB (Score 1) 65

Unless a work includes material licensed under terms that require payment of residuals per copy, all the work involved in production, editing, and mastering is a sunk cost that was covered by the work's crowdfunding campaign. The marginal cost of distributing a copy of a work is the cost of transmitting it over the Internet, for which AWS charges 0.09 USD per GB.

Comment Music and film are essential in two senses (Score 1) 65

However, unless those works are also essential

They are "essential" in the same sense that a college textbook is "essential": a student in a music or film analysis class gets a 0 on his homework unless he buys a copy.

If you live in an area where all grocery stores play background music, music is also "essential" because a fraction of what you pay for food goes toward licensing background music, and food is essential.

Comment Re:It's true (Score 2) 246

Pixar was unique in Silicon Valley companies in that we had deadlines that could not move. The film had to be in theaters before Christmas, etc. I'd see employees families come to Pixar to have dinner with them. I took the technical director training but decided to stay in studio tools, first because Pixar needed better software more than they needed another TD, and second because of the crazy hours.

Comment Re:Yes but (Score 5, Interesting) 655

Thought experiment. Let's suppose you're a CIVIL engineer -- the type of engineer the regulations are intended to target. You're on vacation in Oregon, and you notice a serious structural fault in a bridge which means that it is in imminent danger of collapse.

Under this interpretation of the term "practice engineering" you wouldn't be able to tell anyone because you're not licensed to practice engineering in Oregon. In fact anyone who found an obvious fault -- say, a crack in the bridge -- would be forbidden to warn people not to use it until it had been looked at.

Which is ridiculous. Having and expressing an opinion, even a professionally informed opinion, isn't "practicing engineering". Practicing engineering means getting paid -- possibly in some form other than money. At the very least it means performing the kind of services for which engineers are normally paid.

A law which prevented people from expressing opinions wouldn't pass constitutional muster unless it was "narrowly tailored to serve a compelling public interest" -- that's the phrase the constitutional lawyers use when talking about laws regulating constitutionally protected activities. In this case the public interest is safety, which would be served by a law which prevented unqualified people from falsely convincing people that a structure was safe. But there is no compelling interest in preventing an engineer from warning the public about something he thinks is dangerous or even improper.

So if the law means what they claim it to mean, it's very likely unconstitutional.

Comment Is this "Nunews"? (Score 1) 179

When Wikipedia was proposed, I thought the original intent was that Wikipedia would be the drawing board for Nupedia articles maintained by professional writers. Is there a similar relationship between Wikinews and Wikitribune?

RTFA? I closed the CNN tab when an ad started playing audio.

Comment Re:AI killing industry (Score 1) 120

Except in a real movie, you wouldn't just take the audio stream straight from the algorithm; you'd have some kind of highly skilled specialist tweaking it to get the exact effect the director wanted.

A combination of art and science will eventually be able to produce completely convincing audio forgeries, very likely long before science alone will be able to.

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