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Comment Ya, kinda? But not really... (Score 4, Insightful) 262

It's nice to think that simply spreading good ideas is good enough... but it's not and it never has been. You know how many Black slaves in America had the "idea" of freedom? What about the number of women who surely liked the "idea" of universal suffrage? And how many workers had the "idea" of working less per week for a guaranteed wage?

Ideas are great, but in a representative system ("government") CHANGE only comes when people imbued with sufficient power make the effort to evolve an idea into policy. Even if today's politicians/leaders don't like an idea and get removed from office, someone is going to have to take a leadership position to make changes to the official way things are done.

"With so much focus in politics, the world is in danger of forgetting that so much of what really changes the future happens outside completely of politics. It happens inside the mind of dreamers, designers, inventors, technologists, entrepreneurs,"

No. Your personal interpretation and your world view change *internally* with ideas. How you and others are physically affected relies on what "ideas" politicians have and put forth as policy. Politics, however fatiguing, is not unimportant.

Comment And here's why: (Score 1) 364

First, the definition of "college" has changed. It used to mean a 2-4 year, brick-and-mortar school for obtaining a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or doctorate. Now, it effectively means that any institution *or company* with an accreditation giving classes for people outside of the K-12 system. Your profit-profit, distance learning companies have facilitated a massive portion of this debt and provided a proportionally small ability for the debtors to actually pay the debt off.

Second, and happily, more people are actually going to college, so with any amount of individual debt, the numerical increase in students will increase the amount of total debt.

Third, prior to the recession of the mid-2000s, major universities saw themselves as competing for undergraduate students. Why? Because those students can bring in an almost-unlimited amount of Federal student loan money. My own university leased out massive amounts of land to a company to build beautiful (read: expensive) student housing to attract more and more undergraduates instead of historically standard (read: sufficient and cheap) student housing. So, colleges and universities expanded because they had a new influx of students and the government was willing to lend them whatever amount necessary for their education. And prices went up... QUICK.

In my first year at a major public research university in California in 2000, my annual tuition and fees cost $4,057. (That doesn't include things like books, housing, transportation, etc.) The cost in 1996 was $4,050. When I graduated, the annual tuition and fees and increased to $7,475-- an 84% increase in just a few years. This year, at the very same campus, tuition and fees cost $15,166 per year. That's almost a 375% increase over 17 years and it has everything to do with the unlimited access to federal student loans.

Lastly, consider that my numbers are just for tuition and fees. Housing costs skyrocketed in the same time. As did the cost of textbooks as well as has (for better or worse) the standard of living which includes smartphones and data plans.

Comment I've watched a lot of nuke films... (Score 1) 62

... but a lot of these seem different. I can't help but think that they were held back because of how terrifying the imagery is. Some in particular (https://goo.gl/PviFuq , https://goo.gl/cl1QlR) look like the bomb is creating a sun on Earth which then begins to destroy the Earth. If these videos were available in the 70's, 80's, or 90s, I think nuclear disarmament would have been a much more attainable goal because the severity of the risk would have been even more understood.

Comment No Reason to Trust the Programming (Score 1) 202

I don't trust autonomous vehicles because I don't have any reason to. I don't trust Google's or Apple's or Tesla's autonomous vehicles because we in the public (even us nerds) haven't seen enough data to trust them. While someone cited a stat earlier in the conversation like "a human has had to take control once in 5,000 miles", that's not enough. Where were those 5,000 miles? At what speed? What was the other traffic like? Were these 5,000 miles of continually changing conditions or 5,000 of crawling rush hour traffic in San Francisco over a year of testing?

We have learned over the years that when someone proposes a major risk-based endeavor, there always needs some sort of third-party verifier of relative safety. (The CPSC, NTSB, NITSA, PCI, etc.) And those who complain about "hindering innovation" put their own profitability ahead of the safety of their customers. Do we have ANY third-party organization like this yet to test the safety/reaction capability of autonomous vehicles in a controlled environment? Do they have a standardized testing facility?

I don't think we do.

I think everyone who has been working on this tech have selected/developed their own facilities, tests, and standards. And to a certain extent, that's to be expected. But look at all the RECENT times when tech innovation has out-paced regulation: Uber ("disruptive", but massive amounts of illegal practices), Dot Com Boom (pump and dump!), IoT (zombie refrigerators!), Always-On Entertainment Tech (CIA...).

There is no need to rush autonomous vehicles except to build venture capital (investment gambling) and bring in profit. Some people say it's directly related to sustainability, but we can't even settle on a single EV plug standard or EVSE payment system (because the same people say these vehicle will be pure-electric).

And I say this as someone who actually works in sustainability and transportation!

Comment Re:Science discourages reproducing (Score 1) 331

> Honestly, I think grad student projects should be almost entirely reproducing other results.

I'd say half their time. In fact, their first half. If you want to be allowed 4 years to work on your own creation, you need to do 4 years of replicability studies and publish the findings. As academia adapts to more stringent standards of replicability, the 50% concept can be reduced, but this needs to be a multi-generational thing.

Comment Re:Bubble (Score 1) 491

So very much this. I was talking with an MBA friend of mine who can't wait to get his 6-digits so he can wholly invest in property because "Every house appreciates in value!" I asked him, "Why does a house that degrades over time go up in value?"

He was stumped, but then came to terms with the response, "Well, people need homes. People build homes where people want to live (near large employment areas, beaches, etc.) and people want to buy there. Supply & demand drives up prices for the limited number of homes."

I respond, "So it's not that the actual value of the house or land goes up, it's that more people in the market need homes near where they work. Your goal is to buy those homes and make them pay more money than the value of the home so you can get money while not actually providing a product or improving on an existing product. Is that right?"

"Jeez, man. You make me sound like a real dick when you put it that way..."

And then we got back to work.

Comment Harsh Rental Practices (Score 5, Informative) 491

My wife and I make over $100k together and we can't yet afford a 2b/2ba condo in Orange County, CA within a 30 minute commute to work. That kind of place with a garage goes for ~$500k. Thus, if you don't want PMI, you need to have $100k in cash on hand PLUS financial buffer and moving costs. So we rent. We pay ~$1,845/mo for our 1b/1ba. And there's a catch-- lease renewal increases are around $50, but the increase is lower than the ~$90/mo annual market rental increase over the last few years. So, if you want to move, you're almost guaranteed to be moving into a more expensive apartment.

And there still isn't any inventory to buy. There are too many people buying to turn around and immediately rent out those places.

So, despite out income and despite our savings, we're staying put.

Comment 10 Years -- Because I'm Planning for It (Score 1) 369

I think my job will be doable by software within 10 years because, well, that's the way I'm trying to make it work.

My work is 40% statistical analysis, 25% interpersonal relations, 35% using creativity to make our product better. Analysis can be automated and I'm trying to make it so. The interpersonal relations almost always boils down to analysis, instruction, and maybe some testimonial. So, that's (again) automated math, referring to existing guides, and likely some interface to connect happy customers with people who are just interested. The creative improvement part is less about inventing genuinely new things and more about using known working solutions instead of attempting to create our own.

It's me and a 3 person team doing this work. Hopefully, in 10 years, the whole team's work will be done by one person making less money than me. (I work for a public institution, so I'm all about minimizing cost.) The only problem is finding the time to do the work to automate the job. That's the problem with understaffing-- you save money in the short-term at the cost of saving WAY more money in the long-term.

Comment Re:Thank you, Pres. Trump, for putting America fir (Score 4, Insightful) 221

Patriotism has never been a dirty word. Misuse of the words "patriot" and "patriotism", though, has stained the words to the point where they're immediately associated with something being covered up (see: USA PATRIOT Act).

Nationalism, though, has been a dirty word since the '40s when nationalism's big brother "Fascism" became a bit of an issue for people living in the countries immediately adjacent.

And the world's not insane. It's just that people disagree. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. If you want it to feel less "insane" spend some time understanding why people make the decisions they do. Once you understand, they're not so much "crazy" as they are in different circumstances.

Comment "Investors" Had No Clue What Is Possible TODAY (Score 1) 88

It kills me. There are so many vaporware projects out there that banked entirely on peoples' lack of understanding of where tech has advanced and where they hope it will be tomorrow.

When I saw the advertisement for this drone, my immediate thought was, "No. They don't have something that can do that. And they won't deliver something that can do that in a year." I'm not a pessimist. I just understand, like most Slashadotters, what is possible today vs. what is possible with Google's money vs. what is possible with a few guys' passion. There was no reason to believe that this project could be completed. Vaporware.

Same goes for Solar Roadways (http://www.solarroadways.com/). People LOVE the idea of our massive road and highway system generating massive amounts of energy from the sun. These people say they know how to make it happen and that they're starting to get funding and permission to test it. But, again, almost everyone on Slashdot can attest to the currently insurmountable issues of durability, transparency, friction, wiring, cost, etc. Vaporware.

Let's look at Google's recently cancelled "solar-powered, autonomous gliders beaming internet to the masses" idea. Who here thought that was going to come to fruition? Anyone? I sure hope not. Vaporware.

What annoys me most is that in-between vaporware and delivery. Where there's so much hype, rational demand, and funding but the obstacles are so huge, that we know the promises can't ever be met within the time-frame promised, but oooooh, we want to believe! I'm talking about genuine autonomous vehicles. The tech isn't here yet. We all see the potential. We know the tech will be here, but it's *not* here. Still the hype says, "The future is now! We're just working out some kinks and, oh, you know these silly lawmakers and safety experts!" People talk about autonomous vehicles flooding the American roads in the next couple years. And, really, it's just to get more investment capital. Within the next couple years, I know we'll see much more automated driver assist in vehicles (auto-braking, proximity alerts, etc.), but I have absolutely zero expectation of being able to, within the next couple years, hail a car, have it show up at my home, take me to an address I specify, and do so safely, affordably, without a driver, and without massive liability on me.

Comment Re:Browsers are fine (Score 1) 766

It's wrong in the same way that running your car's engine to the redline before every shift and then complaining that your car overheats is wrong. There is a correct and incorrect way to run any machine to get the intended results for the intended lifespan of the machine.

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