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Comment Re:Threshold (Score 1) 402

Or, maybe we could all just work fewer hours per week. Which would leave more time for, you know, living.

And that's not the first time we'd take such a step. I mean, before the industrial revolution it was common to work long hours and work on Saturday. Now many people only work 35 - 40 hours a week. We also reduced unemployment by prohibiting child labour.

Comment Re:Threshold (Score 1) 402

There will always be a need for manual labor,

Really? Seems to me like that will be the first thing to go, or indeed has already gone in many cases. We have a fraction of the farmers we used to have. The shipping container eliminated a huge number of longshoremen jobs. The housing trades could very easily go away if we start building homes in factories on any sort of scale. And so on.

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 84

What I care about is whether their service is efficient and affordable. Why again do I care about where they get their energy from?

Well most people have at least some standards for the methodology a company uses to service you. For example, I can't imagine too many people would order from a company--no matter how efficient and affordable--if their service required them to execute a puppy for every packaged shipped.

So the questions becomes, "where is the line between where the means and ends matter for customers?" Judging by the fact that we still eat mangrove-destroying shrimp by the truckload, and buy diamonds that fuel genocidal wars, I'm willing to bet that the line does indeed tend towards the side of, "don't give a f**k about the means" for a lot of people.

But just because you're on the "don't give a f**k" side of the line when it comes to Amazon's energy sources doesn't mean a lot of people aren't on the other side of the line.

Comment Re:Not a simple "photovoltaic coat of paint". (Score 1) 277

There are advantages to pre-fabricated surfaces mass produced in a factory and quickly laid on site. The fact that they can put solar PV in the surface is just a bonus to reduce total cost of ownership.

The problem is this thing you call "a bonus" (adding a PV panel into the pre-fab surface) is not a small feat at all. In the current state of affairs (technology available in this decade), it will require a tremendous amount of engineering, cost a tons of money, will require an enormous amount of compromises in order to pull of...

Not only that, but a road made of panels (solar or not) is going to suck for driving. Has OP ever actually looked at a road? The surface is not actually flat. There're all sorts of dips and rolls and such to go with the terrain. Asphalt/concrete goes with the flow and provides a smooth transition over all of these features. Panels will mean joints. That might be fine in a parking lot, but it's going to be hella crappy at 30 km/h+.

Comment Re:What benefit are we missing? (Score 1) 277

That's a fallacy. It's not an either-or proposition. The road has to exist for other reasons. It needs a surface for vehicles to drive on.

What you are saying is basically the same as this: I installed solar panels on my house. Sure, I could have put them on the roof, but the siding on my walls has to exist for other reasons, so it made sense to use the solar panels as siding?

Comment Twitter as a protocol (Score 5, Interesting) 284

I say this as a non-user, so I acknowledge that I might be ignorant on the subject. But...

I never understood how/why Twitter (or really any messaging platform/app) is a business. I mean, tweeting does actually seem like a useful tool for certain communication needs, but I don't understand why it's handled through a single service. Why isn't the tweet simply a protocol, like email? People would then just build different clients/apps/platforms that utilize that protocol, just like we do with email.

Comment Re:How about ditchdiggers displaced by backhoes? (Score 1) 635

Sure. And the pain for the replaced workers was probably pretty high, but in each case it was a small part of the economy, and changes were relatively gradual in the grand scheme of things.

I think we're on the cusp of an unpresidented [sic, lol] change right now. We're not talking about replacing one part of one industry at a time, we're facing the elimination of a huge amount of manual labour. And beyond that, we're facing the replacement of a whole swath of "intellectual" tasks. Sure, there will probably still be jobs at the top. But we don't need to lose all jobs before it becomes a huge factor in society. US unemployment peaked at 10% in 2009, and that was pretty much economic armageddon. Automation could easily cause a similar rate or higher.

And I should add that none of this is necessarily a bad thing. Society has always adapted, and I'm sure we will again. But we will make the transition a whole lot more pleasant if we think about it ahead of time and plan for it.

Comment Re:Back to reality (Score 1) 635

But the reality is that we are no closer to "AI" than we were in 1960. And the robots that might displace workers are incredibly lame. Robots are good for some tasks, like assembly line welding, but useless for other tasks like assembling Ikea furniture.

I've said this on other posts about automation... The statement that "robots can't do job 'x'" is always based on the assumption that the job/system will continue to be set up as it is now, for human workers. Yeah, a robot is going to suck at ripping apart a cardboard box, taking all the little hardware out of a plastic bag, and manipulating the tiny little allan wrench they give you. But that's because IKEA assembly is designed for humans. With automation, labour costs disappear, so instead of building furniture in Eastern Europe and designing for cheap shipping, maybe IKEA sets up regional factories and instead designs for robot assembly.

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