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Comment Re:Who is Kurzweil? Why should I care? (Score 1) 192

I think life is probably fairly common. Intelligent life very likely much less so. Even on Earth, intelligence is a solution to the problem of survival used by only a small fraction of organisms, and even among the organisms that use intelligence as a solution, that intelligence doesn't have to be at the level exhibited by a rather small number of tool-using animals.

But it's going to be a long time before we figure out whether intelligence is rare or not. I don't think SETI is the answer, since incidental transmissions (like TV and radio) only propagate out a few light years before they become indistinguishable from ordinary background radio sources. No, I actually think we'll ultimately identify other civilizations through advancements in optical and radio telescopes which will betray tell-tale signatures like pollution in the atmospheres of Earth-like exoplanets. That's still many years away, but eventually we're going to build large scale space-based interferometer array that will be sensitive enough to image continents and oceans on exoplanets.

Comment Re:Slashvertisements (Score 1) 218

There seems at the moment about a 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 chance of Trump actually being elected. While he's showing better performance than expected in some states, it still seems that Hillary has the advantage. But there's a helluva lot of time until November, and who knows, maybe Trump will finally start acting like someone who wants to be President, as opposed to someone who wants to mount the most expensive comedy routine in history.

Comment Re:Who is Kurzweil? Why should I care? (Score 1) 192

I'm particularly troubled by these comparisons of DNA to source code. First of all, any programmer that would create code as sloppy and filled with junk sections would probably be canned. While the analogy works in simple terms, the way DNA and RNA encode and then transcribe that back into proteins is far far more complex than how a computer runs code. In some ways, DNA is far superior, because it tends to be a lot more fault tolerant, but in other ways it is much less efficient and tends to be much more error prone (which is a good thing, those transcription errors are one of the major ways in which life evolves).

Ultimately the analogy fails because cells are not computers. They do not function like computers. DNA could almost be more compared to something like a printing press, except that on occasion letters get inserted into the process, sometimes even entire sequences, and on other occasions letters go missing, not to mention the odd occasion where another press's sequence of letters get transferred.

It is a useful analogy for introducing certain concepts surrounding cellular activities and protein production, but it remains an analogy only at that basic level, and fails on the details.

Comment Re:Who is Kurzweil? Why should I care? (Score 1) 192

It doesn't keep me up. Even if we are cosmic accidents (and I happen to believe we are, though I suspect life, mainly unintelligent, is widespread throughout the universe). There's no "why" to the fact we are here, beyond explaining the biochemical origins of life and the peculiarities of hominoid evolution that lead to the rise of genus Homo. We are here, and that's what counts, and to my mind, the fact that we are the end result of a series of many probable and equally improbable events makes human life incredibly precious. Without some big sky god who can do it all again any time it wants to, it means if we wipe ourselves out, we may be wiping out something that is rather rare in the universe.

Comment What's the plan here? (Score 2) 178

So Verizon bought AOL, and now they're buying Yahoo. What's next? Are they going to buy Compuserve, Prodigy, Lycos, or Excite?

But really, what's the plan here? I find it a little frightening that Verizon's strategy seems to be to acquire whatever large content sources they can get their hands on. They (and Comcast) have given some indications that they'd like to leverage their control over infrastructure to push their own content and services.

Comment Re:well well well (Score 4, Insightful) 708

The US elections are ran and decided by the ultra-rich.

Sorry to sound confrontational, but that's bullshit. It just is. And ironically Donald Trump is the one that proves it.

Yes, his election to GOP nominee isn't an election for office, but he was detested and denigrated by pretty much every single Republican establishment "ultra rich" figure. He won because the Joe Sixpacks of the GOP - their wisdom in doing so is a separate discussion topic - actually voted for him more than anyone else. Despite all the best efforts of the "rich" and the "establishment" in the party, the demagogue with popular support ACTUALLY WON.

If the fact that the Republican Party - the REPUBLICAN FUCKING PARTY - can be taken over by popular votes against the fervent wishes of the Koch Brothers, the Bushes, the Cruz Evangelicals and everyone else who hated them, then nothing will. The rich did not get their way. And spare me any "false flag" bullshit. The Republican Powers That Be did not conspire to sink their own party. Joe and Jane Sixpack voted for somebody else, and they had to suck it up.

Saying that the rich own elections is a cop-out. Yes, the US is a democratic republic. Yes, the elections for the two highest offices in the land are mediated through an Electoral College. But by and large, the US is absolutely a functional democracy. It's easy to claim it's not because you don't like who got elected... but really you should think about the idea that the people in power are really there because 51% of the voting public wanted them there, even if they disagree with you. Not liking the results of democracy is its great hazard.

Comment Re:Always the same with Hillary... (Score 5, Insightful) 708

Because the press always lets her. Because anyone else would be gone after one or 2 times, but the Clintons keep getting a pass for scandal after scandal after scandal, always ensuring there will be yet another scandal in the seemingly endless list. Because the Democrats across the country lost so many elections in the past few years that there's no one else in the party with national stature who can mount a successful campaign. Because calling the other side "racist" is seen as an acceptable substitute for acting ethically or having any sort of thoughts on policy.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 499

This would be good for startup owners who no longer have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

I understand your intent but that fundamentally misunderstands the nature of startups and funding. Nobody is going to be able to create a startup they otherwise wouldn't have because they are getting a $10K UBI instead of working at a job. Start-ups cost money - usually a lot of it - because they need resources and people who require actual money to get paid for. (If your startup employees were going to work for less than $10K/year or UBI income anyway, then they didn't need this incentive.) Most software startups generally require - depending on scope - anywhere from $100K to $250K just to get started in the first year, and that is far beyond what UBI can provide. If your startup is in hardware, expect your first year to require an order of magnitude more startup funding.

The point being that UBI does nothing to encourage new startups. Entrepreneurs need capital - which (at least for non-billionaires, who are only a tiny percentage of investors in startups) arguably might be lessened if potential investors were paying the increased taxes necessary for the government to dole out UBIs.

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