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Comment Re: Please, No Exponential Algorithms! (Score 1) 218

If universities didn't charge for school up front with fixed tuition costs guaranteed by government, but instead worked out agreements with student where students all pay 10% of income for set number of years after leaving school, it would completely flip the education system from paper mill to skills society needs in numbers the job market supports. Then it would allow for industries, be it software or journalism to define needs. Universities would have to focused on teaching what is needed/useful, not what is comfortable/easy for professors or simply fun for students. In such a model good teaching programs and involved students win ... While poor professors, useless degree programs fail, which is what you want. It's really interesting to me how poorly educated college graduates are today, it isn't just that they don't know things. It is that they believe things that are no longer true or only worked that way in theory. It's awesome when students fail to understand that some applications differ greatly from conceptual models they were preached.

In that case your optimisation goal is not skill, or what society needs, it's x-year (discounted) earning potential. In other words, you don't optimise actual skills, you optimise marketability. And you prefer short-lived technologies to deeper understanding. You'd also completely gut long term basic research.

A university should teach universal skills and knowledge. General problem solving, not Java Enterprise Edition 3.1415 or SharePoint 2.71. Relational models, not Oracle. Emacs and make, not Eclipse or Visual Studio. ;-)

Comment Re: Good luck getting contracts! (Score 1) 234

It does. But at the moment, getting 5% or even 7% for a small time investor seems to be unlikely. And the compound interest effect is contributing less if, realistically, your income increases over time as you get experience and promotions - you're able to safe less in your early career, with lower pay and (often) higher expenses.

Comment Re: Good luck getting contracts! (Score 1) 234

In other words you have a %2.6 chance of being a millionaire in the U.S vs a %1 in France.

Note quite. If you work both hard and at least a little smart in the US you are almost sure to become a millionaire by retirement. It would take less than 10% of median income in retirement savings over a 45 year career to reach millionaire status (in 2017 dollars). Either way for it to be nearly 3x harder to become a millionaire, which is by no means rich for a someone in the developed world, in France vs the USA is a serious problem.

Well, that seems to be dubious math to me. According to this article, median personal income was about US$ 32000/year in 2005, and has mostly gone down since then. 10% of that is US$ 32000, and summed over 45 years, gives you US$ 144000, or US$ 856000 short of the first million. You need a very good return on investment to make up that gap (and that ignores inflation).

Moreover, the basic comparison is skewed. In the US, you mostly rely on your own accumulated funds for retirement. Social security is not a big contributor for high-earners. In France, state pensions kick in at age 62, and you get full benefits after 41 years of employment or at age 67, whichever comes first. State pensions are a significant part of retirement funding, but don't show up as personal wealth. And, IIRC, basic health insurance is free for pensioners - another factual and tangible benefit not accounted for by just looking at personal wealth.

Comment Re:expert? (Score 1) 366

I'm WAY more interested in the real work boston dynamics and others are doing in the feild of robots. I'm WAY more interested in the technology breakthroughs david sodenburg is claiming with liquid metal batteries. The EM drive is definately tickling my fancy right now as well.

I don't know why these kinds of stories pop up. I half figure the editors love science and technology the way I do...these complete tabloid toilet trash stories though about emotions and social issues are really annoying me. None of it has anything to do with hard engineering science or even point to new ideas or possibilities it's just an emotional wank/opinion fest with no content.

It's a bit naive to think that a world with robots will be just like our world, only with robots, or that a world with much better batteries will be just like our world, only with better batteries. The human and social implications and moral questions of technology are just as hard, and just as important, and just as interesting as the pure science and technology. Science Fiction learned that in the 60s.

Better robots will destroy more manufacturing jobs. Better AI will destroy more simple office jobs. To quote from Luna: New Moon: The financialised economy didn't need workers and mechanisation was driving the middle class into a race to the bottom.

Alternatively, these techniques will create wealth for all and help us liberate human creativity, as e.g. in Ian M. Bank's Culture. But thinking about which trajectory we are on is anything but boring.

Comment Re:So overpopulation is not an issue? (Score 1) 120

A fair number of posters here despise women, and view anyone who advocates for female empowerment as an SJW who needs to be derided, trolled, threatened with rape, or any other mechanism possible to silence anyone with a vagina.

I have a hard time coming up with somebody less fitting the SJW stereotype than Hitchens. But I'm quite sure he would adopt the term with aplomb.

Comment Re: human race wiped out? (Score 3, Insightful) 364

If we succeed in destroying ourselves as a species on Earth, it will probably be with a nuclear war. But even that is a situation that essentially peaked in the 1980's, and nations have taken steps to back-pedal from it since then.

Well, climate change and nuclear war are not necessarily independent. With Himalaya glaciers shrinking, water supply for India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and even China will become a lot less stable. There are 3 billion people in these countries, and 3 of the 4 states already have nuclear weapons. If they start to seriously compete for limited water resources, things may easily become very ugly. There is a reason why China is in Tibet, and why India and Pakistan are fighting a slow war over what currently is an extremely inhospitable ice desert.

And what do you think will happen to the stability of the region if a few tens of millions of (mostly Muslim) Bangladeshis will be forced to flee into India because sea level rise is going to flood significant parts of the Bengal delta, one of the most fertile and most densely populated areas of the planet?

Comment Re:Costs $150 per bbl to drill in Arctic (Score 5, Insightful) 338

The key to keeping the price of energy low is to always be ready to increase production. Putting it off for five years would put us five years behind the curve. Look for Obama's order to be replaced by late 2017.

The key to keeping the perceived price of energy low is to externalise a large part of the cost - e.g. the health costs of particulate emissions from burning coal and petrol, the cost of nuclear wast processing and insurance against nuclear accidents, the cost of military intervention to keep oil-rich regions under control, and yes, the cost of climate change. We should really find a way to internalise these costs, so that the consumer price of energy reflects the real cost to society, and we avoid a tragedy of the commons.

Well-operating markets are great tools for optimisation. But in order for them to serve the community, we must set them up to work appropriately. Otherwise the market will gladly optimise the destruction of "free" shared resources.

Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 1) 534

Powell counted 69406 to 4

Bullshit. There aren't that many climate researchers in the world. And Stephan, I have a bit of hate for you right now for making me read this stupid piece of shit just so I could refute your argument. Here's the problem right in the methodology:

To find the number of recent articles that reject AGW, I used the following method: [...]

Notice that the author does not actually count climate research papers, doesn't actually find authors who refute or affirm AGW or other climate change theory, and doesn't actually count climate researchers. Waste of my time.

You do understand that by casting a wide net, Powell increases the chance of finding sceptical papers, right?

As for the number of climate scientists, we can do a simple Fermi approximation. There are apparently around 40000 universities in the world (which jibes nicely with a bit over 400 universities for approximately 80 million inhabitants in Germany). Going with the German sample, about 1/4 to 3/4 of these are research universities (depending on your definition) - so call it 20000. Assuming that half of these do climate research and that the average research group has 10 people, we are at 100000 climate scientists just at universities - without counting NASA (which spends approximately US$ 2e9 on Earth sciences - that should pay about 10000 people alone) or NOAA (with a nearly US$ 5e9 budget - another 25000 people) or Max Planck Institutes in Germany or JAXA in Japan, or any of the corresponding organisations in other states. Now neither NASA not NOAA is all scientists, but it should be clear that 69000 is not an implausible number of climate scientists.

Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 1) 534

I first wanted to say thank you for holding your scientific position here in the face of ignorant objections.

AthanasiusKircher, this sort of research is as profoundly unscientific as it comes (including the stuff you quote from Cook et al). And your comments are just as bad. For example, consensus about what? Notice that the alleged 97% consensus is relatively accurate when the claim is that there is global warming. It goes down once you add that the global warming is human-induced. And then it goes down much further when the claim is that the impact is catastrophic or severe over the next 50 to 100 years to 41%. 41% is a bit less than 97%, right? I suspect you will find similar divided opinion on the matter of whether immediate mitigation efforts are required right now. James L. Powell's 99.99% paper is ridiculous and you can see that just by looking through the methodology. It doesn't measure what it claims to measure. You can't get more damning than that. Yet once again, we have these slashdot posts talking about scientific positions and holding the line in the face of "ignorant objections".

You may not like Powell, but he is entirely clear about his methodologies, about how he measures what he measures, and about what data he used. You can certainly disagree with his conclusion, but if you want to be taken serious, you should actually do the work of re-doing the analysis with the same transparency and provide a clear argument for your different interpretation (if it still differs - "Powell is totally wrong, the consensus is only 99.3%" ;--).

I think we are now into infinite regression territory. Everybody who is scientifically literate and looks at the primary literature (and by than I don't mean propaganda blogs) can easily determine the prevailing position. And with a bit of experience in reviewing it's also easy to see the quality (rare) and scope (narrow) of the very few disagreeing publications. But that apparently is not good enough, and we get nit-picking from people who don't like the consensus. What we don't see are significant publications providing alternative explanations.

So now we have meta-analyses, where people go to great length to analyse papers, to count positions, to interview scientists, and to publish their findings in the peer-reviewed literature. But that apparently is not good enough either, and we get nit-picking from people who don't like the consensus. What we don't see are significant academic publications showing that there is indeed no consensus - the best we get is the occasional opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal or the 17 year old fraudulent Oregon Petition.

What's next? Meta-meta studies? Meta-meta-meta-studies? As far as I can tell, the opposition to the consensus is largely immune to rational arguments - "global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese" is one of the more prominent stupidities in this field.

Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 4, Informative) 534

The latest analysis among actually publishing scientists [] (by James Powell []) finds "above 99.99%", or what he calls "virtual unanimity".

In other words, a crap study. There aren't that many climate researchers in the world to maintain a 10,000 to 1 ratio over the publishing skeptics by probably two orders of magnitude.

Powell counted 69406 to 4, and apparently the referees and editors at the Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society agreed. The full paper including the methodology is online, as are the data sets.

Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 1) 534

Former climate sceptic Richard Muller [] got funded by the Koch brothers, and, with his team, did a completely independent reconstruction of the temperature record of the last.

He wasn't a skeptic: that was propaganda and you fell for it.

Global Warming Bombshell (by Richard Muller) sure sounds very sceptical about the Hockey Stick.

Comment Re:There is a legitimate dispute (Score 5, Informative) 534

But disproving an establish theory is real science, and real science has no place in this debate! All we need is Al Gore.

97%? You must mean 97% of a cherry picked group of 74 people, quite a few of whom lack actual backgrounds in climate or meteorological science.

Well, there are several sources for the ca. 97%, but they seem to have been too conservative (in the non-political sense of the term). The latest analysis among actually publishing scientists (by James Powell) finds "above 99.99%", or what he calls "virtual unanimity". The fact that several studies with different methodologies all find support in the high 95+% is a nice example of consilience, and that usually is takes as very strong evidence for a fact.

Of course an alternative explanation is that all the scientists, all the editors, and all the scientific organisations are conspiring to keep THE TRUTH from us, with only a small number of heroic conservative think tanks and fossil fuel companies desperately trying to defend it. You take your pick...

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