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Comment Magical thinking (Score 1) 540

You're dodging.

To your 1): Autonomous vehicles are probably adequate for 90% of situations right now in 2016. 90% is -way- low for broad deployment, but far better than you suggest. You should take a look at the current videos of the Tesla self-driving demo runs. Maneuvers around pedestrians are not fluid an humanlike, which is a problem. But they are pretty safe. I stand by my WAG of 5 years for broad adoption; half a sigfig is fine for squabbling on the internet.

To your 2): You're just whistling in the dark. 3.5 million truck drivers is a steady state, already taking into account additions and departures. We agree that "the transition will be completed"; but I claim it will complete with the result of probably 2.5 million fewer low-skill well-paying stable jobs than before.

The question is not "Will this transition occur", but rather "What is the human impact of the transition, and how can we account for it?".

-ALL- of our jobs are on this block. If you think you're immune because you're a knowledge worker, you've got your head in the sand.

Comment Cost of goods tends to zero... (Score 2) 540

You're right in an economic theory sense. Ask, though: As these changes happen incrementally, to whom does the profit accrue?

Hint: It's not to the truck driver who used to haul the goods.

This is the problem of automation. As we get superbly efficient, it becomes possible to feed the whole world, and administer that process, with a tiny fraction of the population. So: How do we administer giving food to all the people whose labor is not necessary? We've been finding makework for them, for the last half century. Second assistant managers of HR, associate vice president for diversity issues.

We need to find a theory, under which it is not demeaning that people get fed, even though their skills have no net value to society.

This is a bloody hard thing for a libertarian to confront (waves hands)

Comment It's not silly. (Score 5, Insightful) 540

If you want to try out your analysis of silly, start by trying to answer "What employment sector can absorb the 3.5 million truck drivers who will be replaced with automated vehicles?". Apply your own biases for how quickly this will have to happen; I'm wild guessing ~5-7 years, starting ~5 years from now.

Then add a million bus and taxi drivers, and then add the job count you ascribe to the edges of trucking (convenience stores and such that cater to them) ... These are essentially unskilled jobs. All you need is a certain threshold of reliability and discipline; for that, you get a good, heretofore stable, career.

Comment Re:Comparison, please (Score 3, Interesting) 132

The Neumann thruster is all about saving launch capacity. Most of the ion thrusters we have now work with e.g. Xenon gas; you have to loft their fuel, and your engine mass budget has to include the material handling for the propellant; tanks, valves, etc.

The idea of the neumann thruster is that your reaction mass comes from a simple sold puck which is gradually ionized; so you immediately win on a bunch of hardware you don't have to lift.

And then, you can use as reaction mass the sorts of stuff which is already up there in orbit. Got some excess second stage, which you've lofted to orbit at ruinous cost? Instead of dropping it back into the atmosphere to burn up, melt it into a puck at the focus of some mirrors, and then use it as reaction mass for a few years.

Space junk turned into valuable fuel. Big win. .... IF it works.

Comment Re:Hedge (Score 2) 238

why would they then turn around and be hypocrites by ruining the very reason they're moving intro infrastucture to begin with?

Run like a reformer. Rule like an incumbent.

Not saying that's what they've got in mind, but that's why you'd betray the principles you espoused while trying to gain power.

Comment Re:3D printers suck (Score 1) 129

1) You can't get something CNC for that.

2) Harbor freight (1.5K mill linked to below) doesn't sell tools, they sell tool _kits_. If you're not prepared to disassemble, align, and otherwise fix all the stuff they busted, you're screwed. I'm a half-owner of one, I know.

3) Tool pathing is still expensive / highly skilled. At your price point, you can't just turn a 3D model into a path that a mill can make.

4) Design constraints are different for the two. You can't mill internal voids.

None of which is to say I think the current batch of filament deposition printers are adequate... I've got one of them too, at our Hackerspace in Gainesville. Once they get the plastic printers sufficiently precise that they can turn out e.g. kitchen appliance replacement parts, we'll have gotten somewhere serious.

But your combo requires a bunch of skill to operate, and skill-less object production is kind of the point.

Comment Re:Hmmm... Makerbot? (Score 1) 120

Makerbot's got way worse resolution, and is a bloody bear to calibrate.

The newer version appears to be better than the one we bought and built, but so far all the depositional printers I've messed with seem good for building other printer parts and little toys.

This laser-based one has far better precision and resolution.

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