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Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 1) 328

The problem still remains that "over-abundance" will only apply to labor. It won't apply to capacity nor to raw resources. We'll have lots of humans with not enough to do, whereas Marxism remains a "classical" economic system which still thinks in terms of scarcity of labor.

I don't think the future is Communist, but neither do I think it is strictly capitalist. I think we're still going to have a fundamentally consumer society, still at its core free market, it's just that labor will no longer be an issue. It will mean adjusting precisely how it is that society as a whole profits from the means of production. And remember that Marxism was always more than merely an economic theory, but was fundamentally a socio-political theory. It was innovative in that it viewed economics as the very core, but it proposed a good deal more than simply "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs", and involved revolution, dictatorship and what really does amount to a sort of single party state (because, after all, who needs more than one political movement when Marxism is perfect).

In the end, I expect we'll probably see a shift towards capital gains taxes, higher resource rents, transactional taxes (ie. taxes on the purchase or sale of bonds and shares) and other such mechanisms, and while lots of corporate interests will kick up a mighty storm, but there's little choice in the matter. At some point, robots will do a great deal of the work.

Comment Re: where does all this money come from? (Score 1, Insightful) 331

Just because people pay you for your services doesn't mean you create more than you consume. Perhaps you have some sort of serious illness, which means your health insurance provider may be paying you more than you are paying them. Perhaps you have enough write offs to heavily reduce your actual taxable income, meaning others are actually paying more tax than you.

But do you really pay enough money in taxes that it covers the building of the road past your house, pay for the wages and equipment of the firefighters who may have to put out your fire? There's an entire infrastructure out there that is paid for by the economic output of an entire society, and the idea that somehow anyone, even a billionaire, can claim responsibility for a significant fraction of it is absurd.

Comment Re: Ontario, largest subnational debtor on the pla (Score 1) 331

It's called taxes. We can debate which taxes would be best, but presumably if someone is making something, whether it be with human beings, robots or some combination, they also have sales, which means there are any number of financial transactions which can be taxed. Pick your poison; corporate taxes, capital gains taxes, excise taxes, etc. etc. etc. In the end, money is just a means of counting value.

Comment Re:This reminds me of the nuclear boy scout story. (Score 1) 173

Actually, I meant what I said.

Intelligence is a generalized measure of capacity, but actual intellectual performance depends strongly upon motivation. Thus, an obsessed person with an IQ of 100 can sometimes accomplish feats that would elude people with significantly higher IQ. It's a mistake to underestimate the potential intellectual performance of someone because he is relatively dumb.

It's perfectly possible to have high intelligence across every category, including social intelligence, and still be foolish.

While this may be true, I think it is impossible to anticipate someone's actual social reasoning performance from any measure of social reasoning capacity to any useful degree.

Comment Re:It has its uses (Score 1) 375

At some point, the complexity of the task the program is executing requires complex code.

This is a more profound statement than it appears at first. I'd say that the minimal complexity of the code necessary to accomplish a task defines the complexity of the task itself.

As for GOTO the issue isn't GOTO per se, but implicitly building other control structures like loops using GOTO as a primitive -- a legacy of the very earliest machine languages in which you implemented algorithms using a very limited instruction set. The flexibility of GOTO makes it a good choice if you have only a few control structures to work with; but that same flexibility imposes the cognitive load of figuring out what the original programmer (possibly yourself) meant.

But even if more structured (i.e., limited) control structures available, there are problems where GOTO is the natural way to express them. State machines for example. I've seen them implemented with long if-then-elseif chains or case conditional constructs, but that's just thoughtless programming that obscures what is going on. A state machine is much more clearly implemented with GOTOs, although tail recursion can be a reasonable alternative.

Comment This reminds me of the nuclear boy scout story. (Score 3, Insightful) 173

You know, the one where a kid figured out how to refine thorium by reading the Golden Book of Chemistry and turned his mother's garden shed into a Superfund site.

The moral of the story is that even a stupid human being can be pretty smart. Particularly a sufficiently motivated stupid person.

Of course it also helps that intelligence comes in different flavors. Some people are good at spatial reasoning, others are good at verbal reasoning. But we often overlook social reasoning because it's not part of the traditional IQ tests. I think another reason that Social IQ testing hasn't caught on is that there is good reason to believe that social reasoning ability isn't fixed. Changes in attitude can strongly impair or enhance an individual's ability to process social information.

Which leads to the flip side of the stupid people being able to be smart: even smart people can be stupid, particularly in making social judgments.

Comment Re:FSF = not practical (Score 5, Insightful) 152

But it's still hard to take Stallman seriously because he doesn't provide practical solutions to these problems.

Actually he does: opt out. It won't kill you to only buy entertainment which is DRM-free. So you can't stream the latest episode of Game of Thrones; if you have access to a library you have more alternative ways to entertain your imagination than you'll ever have time to use.

The problem is not being able to buy what the people around them are buying is just too radical for most people.

This is not a practical or tolerable solution for 99% of the population.

This is not anticipated to be tolerable by 99% of the population. They don't actually know, because they'll never try it. Stallman seems to be happy enough without Netflix. But Stallman is a nut. Why is he a nut? Because he's happy enough without Netflix. It's circular reasoning; for all you know you're a nut too, you just don't know it.

This is how powerful corporations control people: by manipulating their unexamined assumptions of what they can tolerably live with. They don't need police power, because people will police themselves.

In a sense this is nothing new, they're just manipulating a longstanding fact about human nature: people are very bad at predicting how things will affect their future happiness. I've recently developed an interest in the old Greek and Roman philosophers called the Stoics. They reasoned more or less thus: if happiness is having all your wants satisfied, the surest path to happiness is to want less. But even they realized that nobody can really adequately regulate their own desires. The best you can achieve is a kind of skepticism about what would otherwise be unchallenged assumptions about what you need. But even though it falls short, it goes a long way toward freeing you from self-afflicted dissatisfaction.

Comment Re:What's changed? (Score 5, Interesting) 278

The problem is that social media reduces us to the way we present ourselves. While that certainly is part of who we are, it's not the whole story.

One of the most popular maxims of ancient Greek philosophers was "know thyself", and the reason they considered it important is that it turns out to be a lot harder than it sounds. You think you know yourself, but chances people who spend a lot of time in close physical proximity to you understand you in ways you don't.

But online your identity is mediated by how you present yourself. This is not only inevitably somewhat dishonest (in ways that may be more obvious to others than to yourself), even when you are trying to be honest you at best are presenting who you think you are.

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