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Comment Google = deep pockets, drivers = shallow (Score 1) 937

Most financial responsibility laws specify a very low (say $50,000) liability coverage requirement. That is about 100 times less than what you can get if you are killed in an airline crash.

If a self-driving car kills you and you can sue Google (or whoever), your heirs will get several million dollar dollars, instead of $50,000. In other words, until a self driving car has an error-rate 100 times lower than humans, they won't be made.

Comment Is Wolfram willing to make it free? (Score 1) 168

Stephen Wolfram is a brilliant businessman who has made a fortune charging what the market will bear for Mathematica and Alpha. Will that model break-down with the Wolfram programming language? I think it will. PARCplace tried to sell Smalltalk for awhile and the language stagnated until Alan Kay was able to get Squeak going. I can't imagine anything becoming as popular as Python or C++ if it costs thousands of dollars to get into the game.

Perhaps Wolfram will patent some of his ideas and then they will catch on 20 years later.

Comment mp3s from a record company are better than rips (Score 1) 215

... because the record company can pay a mastering engineer to do the job right, adjusting the encoding parameters in wide variety of ways on a note-by-note basis.

For an example, compare a rip of a Beatles CD to what you can buy in the iTunes store. The iTunes version sounds much, much better, exactly what Apple Records (and Apple Computer) want for you.

While record companies want your money, they also want you to get the best possible product for your money. The Moral Right of the Artist.

Comment Inertia and Stigmatic Devaluation of Property (Score 1) 390

Prostitution was legal here in San Francisco up until the early part of the 20th Century. Then we had an earthquake. This was taken by many as a sign from God that He did not approve of what was taking place here. (Plate tectonics had not caught on at this time).

Prostitution was banned, as were eventually drugs & alcohol, creating the present balance of hypocrisy.

Attempts to repeal this recently have failed. There are 3 reasons:

1) Some people view the prohibition of commercial sex as immoral and believe that legal intervention is moral. They have no problems citing the indirect effects of their prohibition as evidence for their argument.

2) This group is joined by people for whom "prostitution is against the law" is accepted as being part of the common law tradition. "If its against the law, then its bad, so we better keep it that way." (It isn't against the law in most places now, and has only been prohibited in some places for the past 100 or so years).

3) Much larger than 1) and 2) are people who think "if we make this legal, then there will be naked women standing in dim-lit red windows, offering themselves for sale", and people who would otherwise buy my house for $500,000, will only give me $350,000 for it. (Perhaps too sophisticated) - Hookers would be standing in front of my house and the neighborhood would go to hell.

Craigslist advertising, in effect, creates a "virtual stroll" that doesn't cause a real-world neighborhood impact. It is, in effect a tentative cure to the "NIMBY problem".

So we have a law that was created from illogical reasons, justified for illogical reasons, that we are afraid to repeal for illogical reasons.

What is really weird is that since humans dread being shamed for making mistakes, it is hard to get an wrongly convicted person out of prison or to repeal a law with no sensible rationale.

Legalizing prostitution requires a lot of people to admit they are wrong.

If this law was based on sound logic, it would be easy to change. It isn't, so it won't - the only hope is to invent new forms of sex work that end-around it.

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