Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×

Comment Re: The Republicans want to make everyone work (Score 5, Insightful) 1127


No, you have to fund UBI by taxing productive assets - that's the whole point: ensure everyone in society is getting the benefits of productive assets, not just the owners of the productive assets. The only way to do that without wholesale socialism (state ownership of productive assets) is by taxing the productive assets.

Simply creating money like you suggest, without tying that money creation to increased production, is a textbook case for triggering runaway inflation.

Comment Re: That radar really worked well in florida eh el (Score 1) 166

Any articles? I couldn't seem to find anything other than this one that says crashes are reduced by 38%, but there were no cost figures.

That said, I don't think it's a buggy-whip problem: 14B Euro per year might be correct, but I don't think it's a win for society in monetary terms - I'd question the assertion that the return on investment is greater than one.

For example, the mandate in the US for rear back-up camera costs society about $25 million per life saved, because it's a couple hundred bucks times several million cars, to save only a couple hundred lives - which is on the order of billions. Given US GDP per-capita is only about $53k, society is losing money there - 80 years times $53k is only about $4.25M, so society is paying at least 5 times the average monetary value of a life* to save one. Now I used something close to life expectancy; it's worse if you only consider working-age years (which is what, 50 years or so?).

It is indeed sad when accidents cost lives, but we passed the point in vehicle safety where the incremental cost of accidents avoided exceeds the losses of the accidents themselves (in aggregate of course - there may be individual accidents which cost more).

*It's sadly harsh, but society has to think of things on economic cost at this scale. Put another way: nobody sensible would pay $100 for an insurance policy that only pays out $20, but that's kind of what mandated automobile safety features does these days.

Comment Re:Not a surprise... (Score 1) 269

If there's excess demand, prices go up encouraging more buildout of supply (unless that's being blocked by government). If supply exceeds demand, prices go down encouraging the shutdown of less-efficient or unnecessary production.

That only works on a long-term sense, not on an hour-by-hour or day-by-day scale. Electricity price changes or gasoline price changes on the spot market don't do anything for "encouraging buildout of more supply".

There is also the pesky asymmetry in most (all?) industries where existing plants can be idled much faster than new capacity can be constructed. If corn prices jump, you can't decide to produce some extra corn this week. The profit made due to short-term price spikes is often not reinvested in new production, because the barrier to entry is too high for new participants to invest given the "normal" prices, so the price spikes truly are often just a windfall to producers. Most econ courses won't cover that important feature of real markets.

So the problem isn't really "inefficient production" in isolation - it's "inefficient balancing of production and storage to be robust to expected (and unexpected!) sudden changes in production or demand."

Comment Re: That radar really worked well in florida eh el (Score 1) 166

The latter is also going to become mandatory for all new cars in the USA and EU in 2022.

Ugh, really? I am concerned about all these things that just add failure modes (will the car only operate in limp-home mode if there is a problem with the auto-brake system?), raise barriers to entry for new vehicle companies, and remove incentives for people to have situational awareness (couple with failure modes - if people are used to auto brake, so don't pay attention, then there is a problem with auto brake, what happens?).

That last one is probably the most concerning to me - people these days have so little situational awareness as it is...

Comment Re:That radar really worked well in florida eh elo (Score 3, Interesting) 166

..the tech was in beta...

This kind of thing - at the very least the finger pointing surrounding it - is why until now nobody put "beta" heavy machinery in the hands of the general public.

The general public should never be assumed to use things as designed - not all product liability lawsuits are as frivolous as they are sometimes portrayed.

I would probably find Tesla negligent just on the grounds that they are assuming people won't abuse (or even simply misuse!) the feature. Waivers notwithstanding - it would be interesting to see those in court, because I guarantee just about everyone who signed one would have to say "I just signed it to get the shiny, I don't know what it said" if they were being honest. This means there is no evidence of expectation in the general public that these things are "beta".

Put another way: you can call something "beta" all you want in theory, but if you're selling it to the general public, it ain't in practice.

Comment Re:TRANSLATION (Score 1) 360

I read it more as "Google to train 2M programmers in India to program Android", not "Google to train 2M people in India who don't know how to program at all, to program Android."

Very important difference - and training a programmer in another language / library / toolkit should be pretty trivial.

The question I have is - why 2M? What's special about that number? Is there a task (or set of tasks) that really needs 2M people to achieve, or is this just "let's pick a big number"?

Comment Re:old wisdom (Score 1) 387

Eh, I think the GP has it correct: the important thing is knowing when the mathematical solution is physical and when it isn't. Take for instance the simple problem of computing the area of a walkway around a pool with a certain perimeter. One of the formulations is a quadratic equation with one positive and one negative solution for the are. Clearly "negative area" has no physical interpretation (you can't build it), so you ignore that result.

The whole "use a complex number for AC circuit analysis, and then throw out the imaginary part" has always bugged me - where does it "go"?

So for some problems, you do ignore a mathematical possibility. In others, they are acceptable. Your example of QM showing "ridiculous be correct" is interesting because it shows how there are indeed places where we don't know what mathematical results are sensible and which aren't. But I agree that simply assuming that all mathematical results are physical is naive.

Comment Re:Union played hardball and lost (Score 4, Insightful) 474

Less than that, even. You forgot the 7+% for employer's part of FICA and Medicare. You forgot whatever unemployment insurance costs in the states of operation. You forgot whatever the employer's portion of various health insurance or other benefits. Taking the general rule of thumb that employer costs are 1.25 to 1.5 times the salary, That $6.3M is only 120 to 144 jobs at $35k- so significantly fewer than your estimate even.

I think most of the complaints about executive salaries aren't really because that money could be used to pay employees more or pay more employees, because those numbers don't really add up; I think the complaint is more just in order of magnitude - 10 times might be palatable, but someone making 100 times the salary of another means that person earns effectively an entire lifetime of the lower salary in a single year.

Comment Re:Naturally, that means you budget (Score 1) 622

I guess I left out a few words there - "individuals are no longer owners of their transportation capital." So maybe yeah their financial costs are lower and they have invested in financial instruments or whatever, but they are now at the mercy of the vehicle pool - that is the "something important" which was exchanged for the lower cost.

Comment Re:Naturally, that means you budget (Score 1) 622

People either are never taught or choose to ignore the idea that you should never borrow to pay for a depreciating asset unless that asset helps you be more productive than you would be without it by a margin greater than the financing cost.

So financing a car that doesn't make you more productive than a car that doesn't require financing is a silly financial move.

I don't count "autonomous cars as a subscription" as a meaningful improvement either; it means individuals are no longer owners of capital and are therefore giving up something important. Unless we make it so that somehow nobody owns those things, the ownership situation is worse. And saying everyone owns something (e.g., through a co-op or something) has other economic and logistic issues, the least of which is the base-load / peak-load issue.

Consider - if your system has no unused ("wasted") capacity, it is extraordinarily susceptible to shocks. Unused capacity is sometimes worth the extra material costs.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Here comes Mr. Bill's dog." -- Narrator, Saturday Night Live