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Comment Re:Worst thing that could happen? Hardly (Score 1) 270

I think the biggest threat is indeed somebody figuring this out as a business model. You could build a whole company around using various data breeches (+ publicly available data) on social networking sites to build entire profiles on people. Then companies pay you to screen their applicants for you. Banks use it to "adjust" credit ratings. Insurance companies use it to decide who to cover, and who to deny coverage.

The problem of privacy is not keeping the data from getting out there, it is keeping the data from being gathered and used in the wrong context.

I think this would be illegal in the EU of course, not so sure about the US.

Comment Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (Score 1) 283

Splitting hairs here. Nobody can afford to pay licenses for software patents. Any one sufficiently large piece of software is covered by tens or hundreds or patents. The only way you can afford to license them all, is if you're prepared to publish at a loss.

So, because you can't negotiate proper licenses, you shouldn't have to pay for anything? That's like saying that the price of a CD is too high, so I shouldn't have to pay for any music, anywhere.

If we would truly negotiate for and license every single patent major software products violate, the software industry would grind to a halt. The patent system is ill-suited for the software industry as a whole. And from all possible ways to handle software patents, the US in particular has chosen about the worst one.

Whether it is obvious or not is beside the point.

I thought it was central, because if the invention is obvious, then you've got a justification for claiming any patent is invalid and therefore using it without paying isn't infringement of a valid patent.

But, okay - given an invention that is novel and not obvious, what's your justification for still not paying for a license?

Software patents shouldn't exist in the first place, is what I was getting at.

They demonstrably (seriously, there have been studies) slow down invention in the software space. So why put up with them?

Except that there haven't been studies... There's been sort of meta studies based on ancillary data to sort of argue in a roundabout fashion that patents slow down software innovation, but not any actual studies, because software has been patentable in some form for as long as software has existed. It'd be like a study purporting to claim that due to the economics of fossil fuels, using electricity from any grid that includes non-renewable sources slows down innovation in the software space. Uh, okay... There's no real data, and it's mostly hypothesis, and you certainly can't compare it to anything since there isn't a society out there that doesn't do it, so we'll take it with a grain of salt.

At the very least, litigation is costing major software companies more than they are actually gaining from licensing. We do have something to compare to btw, an entire software industry with much less patent proliferation up until the early 80s.

But we can also ask ourselves: how many software patents really apply to inventions that would otherwise would not have been worth coming up with? You think nobody would've gone through the trouble of coming up with MP3 had software patents not existed? Software design is not the same as drug design, and simply shouldn't be judged under the same rules.

Patents are not there to make you rich. They're there to promote innovation. They're clearly not necessary, and so most likely to be an impediment instead. Which studies do back up, no matter what you seem to think.

Comment Re:About the software patent-- IBTT (Score 1) 283

If the first guy publishes, then the second guy doesn't have to waste his time working on the same thing.

No, now he not only wasted the time he spent trying to solve the problem, but now he has to waste more time trying to come up with a different solution because the one he was working toward is patented, meaning he can't fucking use it.

Only if he can't afford a license. If he can, then he doesn't have to waste any time.

Splitting hairs here. Nobody can afford to pay licenses for software patents. Any one sufficiently large piece of software is covered by tens or hundreds or patents. The only way you can afford to license them all, is if you're prepared to publish at a loss.

Patents do NOT reduce "wasted effort." In many cases, they increase it, due to now having to find a way of going around the patent, instead of using the obvious solution in the first place.

You still haven't proven it's an "obvious" solution, so we can ignore that argument as moot. And yes, the patent does reduce the wasted effort of the second guy re-inventing the first solution - a term which, I notice, you quietly tiptoed away from. Shiat, using a solution is easy. I can use Microsoft Word without ever having to write a line of code. But we're not talking about using a solution... we're talking about inventing the solution, a process which may take months and months of [drumroll] wasted effort.

Whether it is obvious or not is beside the point. I can guarantee you that it didn't take months to develop, since Carmack had a game engine to write and economical incentive not to spend half of his development time on a single light performance improvement. This is always the problem of software patents: 99% of the time, coming up with the 'invention' was cheaper than the actual process of getting the patent. And in the remaining 1%, somebody had an economic incentive to come up with the solution anyway (the one thing patents are supposed to be there to encourage).

They demonstrably (seriously, there have been studies) slow down invention in the software space. So why put up with them?

Comment Re:Giampaolo Giuliani (Score 1) 185

What is interesting is that the seismologists on trial appear to have called a special open session to basically discredit Giuliani (a laboratory tech) and calm the public. There wasn't a hesitation to report an impending earthquake, there was a statement of "many small tremors = no big earthquake = nothing to worry about" followed by an urging to go drink some wine. This caused many to ignore their routine (if a small tremor happens, the family sleeps outside or in a car). The break from routine (prompted by the statement of safety) cost many their families and/or lives as they slept inside "medieval" buildings that were not "anti-seismic".

Those comments at the press conference were made by Bernardo De Bernardinis, a government official. The meeting between the scientists was also not open to the public. You're probably aware of this but your retelling of the story makes it sound like the seismologists were directly involved, while apparently only one of them was even at the press conference, which was held before the scientific meeting.

It sounds to me like a pretty clear-cut case against De Bernardinis, but as I read it the seismologists were unwitting (and unwilling) accomplices.

Comment Re:Load of crap (Score 1) 308

2015 sounds ridiculously close, but I can imagine "assisted" driving systems becoming popular by then. Say, sensors that detect when you're about to rear-end the car in front of you and slam the brakes for you (with a much better chance of avoiding accident due to reaction times). Stuff like this will slowly start to automate our driving experience. 30% driverless by 2015 though? That would require some mad acceleration in research.

Comment Re:Waiting for government to do the same... (Score 1) 223

Politicians expect universities to supplement their grants by attempting to commercialise research, usually in the form of some sort of public/private partnership (either an existing player or more roundabout by establishing new spin-offs). This includes applying for patents etc.

It would be nice if all that research could be freely available to everyone, but that'd mean greatly increasing the science budget, whereas most politicians seem to think it's the first place they should look for cuts. This is what you get when you vote for small (US) or efficient (EU) government.

Comment Re:The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Score 1) 507

My point was that majority consensus is not necessarily the truth and by using your style of debate (shouting down and denigrating anyone who opposed your particular point of view), you are making people feel that there is something "fishy". If the science was so convincing it could stand by itself, there would be no reason to doubt it or name call opponents. Evolution is convincing to me (I can see it and understand it). Climate change is convincing to me - it has been happening for millenia and will continue to happen - humans influence it of course - but what precise impact humans have on it, that is still not settled.

This is just ridiculous. Evolution sounds convincing to you, so you accept it, but man-made global warming does not, so you do not. That's certainly one way to look at the world, but it's not a very sensible one. There are only two logical options here: you either accept what the experts say, or you become one yourself. You're clearly not interested in doing either so here's a third way: just shut up because you have no idea what you're talking about.

Comment Re:When will they add per-tab processes? (Score 1) 441

Hopefully never. Opera doesn't use per-tab processes either. Why?

1) It scales horribly. Open 400 tabs in Opera. Now try in Chrome. GOOD LUCK!
2) It's not 1:1. After so many tabs Chrome starts grouping them under a process so your machine doesn't explode.

Your #1 and #2 are a bit contradictory. I've just opened 400 tabs in Chrome. what was it supposed to prove? (haven't tried Opera, but then I prefer browsers with render engines that actually work)

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 1070

I'm pretty sure we're talking about two different bumps in food price inflation. AFAIK the latest bump (the one that caused the arab spring) is not driven in such a large part by biofuels. I might be wrong of course but the fact of the matter is that the EU has already changed its policies, and it was one of the main drivers behind the demand spike.

Anyway the article is obviously crap and I doubt food is really the problem. Sure, food prices jumped and will remain high, but there's nothing to suggest we can't feed the 9 billion people we're apparently going to max out at. The problem is that our energy budget just isn't big enough for the kind of living standards that everyone is aspiring to. Those that say we need to limit economic growth to solve that issue though, are completely misunderstanding what economic growth entails.

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