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Comment Re: So much for the singularity (Score 1) 129

Seems to me like he keeps pushing the dates for his predictions ever forward in time as they fail to materialize. e.g. his prediction that "Cybernetic chauffeurs" can drive cars for humans and can be retrofitted into existing cars. They work by communicating with other vehicles and with sensors embedded along the roads. by the early 2000s decade is one example. Not to mention that this is not exactly a new idea... people have been talking about this for decades before his 1990s book. It doesn't take a genius that it will eventually come to pass.

Comment Re:Margins (Score 1) 89

It's been like a decade since the first iPhone was released. Even a "cheap smartphone" has much better h/w specs than an iPhone 4S. You can get an Android phone with similar hardware specs to a top end iPhone for nearly half the price. Unless you are one of those persons who cares more about the box than what's inside you don't buy Apple... The S7 has way superior hardware specs where it counts.

Much like the PC market had Compaq, HP, Dell, and Intergraph workstations at one point, of course the S7 is more expensive. But that's the thing. There's a model for every price point and it has better hardware for $ spent.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 506

It is true there was a lot of material aid provided to the USSR by the other Allies in WWII. This was particularly critical with regards to supplies and supply chains like you said. There's even an anecdote about how an US General asked Stalin which of the fine weapons produced by the US he wanted. I think Stalin said something like that he wanted all the trucks they could spare to his amazement.

Russia basically tried every single tank design done in the interbellum. When they designed the T-34 and KV-1 it had lessons learned from all of these designs plus the actual war experience from the Battle of Khalin Gol, the Spanish Civil War, and the War with Finland, like you guys said. So the emphasis on the diesel engines because of fires. Heavier armor and more firepower. More mobility. Yes I agree, like I said on my original post too, a lot of it was based on Western licensed production or Western derived designs. This is particularly obvious in engine design and the Christie suspension (which was actually not used by the US Army but got licensed to Great Britain and the USSR). Soviet aircraft production also had several issues in the initial years because aluminum supplies were rather scarce. A lot of the hydropower stations to generate electricity for aluminum production were bombed. So the Russians put an emphasis on lightweight fighters, twin engine bombers, and ground attack aircraft since they had limited resources to spare. At this they proved quite capable.

Still they did manage to make their own unique integrated high-quality designs which even proved capable of rapid evolution as the requirements increased as the war advanced. The T-34 and KV-1 actually had great specs when they came out and scared the hell out of the Germans during Operation Barbarossa. It was only organizational and production issues that decreased their impact. They eventually needed redesigns to compensate, Germans improved their tank armor and gun e.g. in the Tiger. Yet USSR engineers proved capable of rapid evolution into the T-34-85 and the IS-2 which were even usable in the Korean War years later.

There is no doubt Western allied support was critical in making sure the USSR had better chances of winning the war. But even Britain, which was "the" major power at the onset of WWII, needed supplies from the US and Canada while they had their own infrastructure bombed by the Luftwaffe. So it's not like this was a problem specific to the USSR alone among the allies.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 506

They did more than that. During the NEP they electrified the whole Soviet Union. They also built houses for every family in Russia after WWII. Supposedly, according to people who lived through it, it wasn't that bad to live in the post WWII period in the Soviet Union. But then again that was after a civil war, the Stalinist purges, and WWII. So I guess there were low standards back then.

Comment Re:Question (Score 4, Insightful) 506

No centralized, planned economy has ever outperformed a free market, capitalist one. Ever.

You would be wrong. There are several examples of this happening. One case would be the War Communism period of the USSR. They had double digit growth rates that outperformed every other economy in the world. How else do you think a country which was known for most of its population being indentured serfs not so long ago came go to being the power that produced the most tanks in WWII even while it was being bombed in the process? Not to mention that arguably the T-34 and KV-1 were among the most advanced tank designs in WWII when they went into active service (gun, armor, engine, suspension, etc).

The problem is that the planned economy works well when its about playing catch up with other economies or doing specific near-term projects. But do anything long term or fuzzy and it fails. I pointed out cybernetics research. Stalin was actively against it (on principle and in practice) and it was one of the reasons why the computer industry in the Soviet Union fell behind the West both in terms of technology and productivity. The fact is you can't plan and add equations for unknown factors. It's one thing to optimize an already existing system. It is quite another to design the next generation system.

To a large degree the successes of the War Communism period were based on mass producing technology licensed from the West or directly derived from it. So unlike what Marxist said central planning actually works best to quickly grow backwards, agrarian even, economies rather than improving advanced economies.

Planning fails in the medium-long term even discounting the other issues inherent in a Communist system.

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