Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment Re:Undermining Faith in the Election (Score 1) 731

Read John Perkins' book "Confessions of an Economic Hitman".


His followup book "Hoodwinked" reports that the predatory nature of the bad actors from "Confessions" was so successful that many of those techniques are being used closer to home.

Look at some of the comments in this Slashdot article to see how well it works.

This society is being worked over, "big time".

Comment Re:JavaScript (Score 1) 295

RISC-V still hasn't yet designated different parts of their NOP space for trapping and non-trapping NOPs, so extension is going to be difficult, and the RISC-V Foundation still doesn't have a process for introducing extensions for review and standardisation. This is why the ARM ecosystem is so valuable and the MIPS ecosystem is a wasteland.

I remember ARM's earlier work, which had the very same difficulties you describe for MIPS architectures. Every implementer had a separate memory protection/paging architecture, every one had a different interrupt routing architecture. What a grinding mess that was... They wised up *just in time* (IMHO), establishing core ("Cortex") functionality which is required for all implementers. That stabilized the ARM ecosystem enough to allow it to grow dramatically.

If the implementers of RISC-V are wise, they would establish and agree on functional (powerful, effective) support structures such that it's possible for developers to implement kernels and OSes around it.

Given Softbank's purchase of ARM, I am watching their actions very closely. All of the embedded devices used in my company and many others are Cortex-M3, -M4F, and the many -A series processors. Softbank is in a position to increase their IP licensing fees for immediate profit, screw over the entire embedded marketplace, and would end up, after much consternation in the embedded world, ceding the market to competitive low-end X86 and one of the lesser-known architectures (MIPS: Microchip's choice for PIC32. Irony... :-) ). This is a good place to mention RISC-V *if* they are smart about portability.

Comment Re:Geeky magazine subscription (Score 1) 204

Mod up parent.

My father did me the favor of "leaving his Scientific American" mags around the house and a bored kid started looking at them.

At first it was very abstract and conceptual. It must have stuck, though. I will be 60 next month and still read every issue cover to cover and with special emphasis on quantum mechanics and cosmology.

Also: My uncle's gift of "Mathematics: A Human Endeavor", an introductory college text, probably "math for humanities students", but at 12 it opened the world.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 468

I watched an old Twilight Zone episode on Netflix the other day (1966) which was about a factory where all the workers were being replaced by a computer and robotic system. They have been saying the same thing for 50 years. How many jobs today were not even imagined in 1966?

There are lots of new jobs, most of which are either beyond the capabilities of the people being displaced or which require several (5 or more) years of retraining during which time the displaced worker is starting over, earning nowhere near a sustainable income.

Comment Re: Extrapolation? (Score 1) 540

In today's libertarian paradise

I'll note such a thing doesn't exist.

You note correctly. In my US-centric view, which is where the big jobs question is being asked, people whose careers are being replaced are out of luck. And I am frustrated that here in the US especially, the people who are hit hardest by economic dislocation have the least resources to recover. The source of my frustration is that the benefits of technological development and world trade are shared broadly, while the costs are concentrated on those least able to find viable work in the new economy.

it's entirely possible to pay big bucks for entry into school

Education definitely is not a libertarian paradise. As to the rest of your US-centric criticism, where is the acknowledgement of the US government's decades old role as driver of inflating education costs at several times the rate of monetary inflation? That most definitely is not libertarian policy.

Libertarian philosophy is *explicitly* to "keep government out of the way", limiting government's role basically to defense and police work. Over the last 40 years, while demand for quality education has become strongly inelastic (it's necessary for individual economic survival, we'll pay through the nose to get it), the libertarians in our society have successfully reduced education funding at all levels, with college and grad school seeing the largest shift from public funding to students and families.

Libertarians in the US tend to be strict constructionists, and since education is not mentioned in the US Constitution, they believe it does not belong in the hands of federal government Cato Institute article. The states' management of education funding is inconsistent at best, and with the rise of "center-right" politics in the US, the states are reducing their funding too.

Thus my argument that the people who are dislocated by technological change rarely have the resources to restart at mid-life. Getting education is expensive, changing from skilled trade work to intellectual work is very difficult, and income while starting over is insufficient to cover expenses typical to a worker in mid-life.

It's late now, so I don't have the time to do a proper search for references... But I am pretty sure I've read that a high quality education policy tends to have a high return on public investment, particularly when it's properly managed.

Comment Re: Extrapolation? (Score 1) 540

The people who have dedicated large pieces of their lives learning to be effective in the jobs being shifted to automation have been, are, and will continue to be, fucked.

The TOTAL number of jobs may be only slightly reduced or even increased (though again usually somewhere else...), but the people whose careers are destroyed have no hope of recovery. So your argument is bullshit. Our society doesn't do a goddamned thing to mitigate the destruction that is focused on the people who have nowhere to turn.

I believe that those of us with privileged IQs and who learn for a living do not understand the flatly gut-wrenching transition from journeyman/master craftsman in a trade (machining, driving; choose a skill formerly limited to humans) to pre-junior apprentice intern. Interns *sometimes* make a minor stipend... The ex-tradesman is near or past middle age with children heading into college, a mortgage, car payment, medical costs, etc.

In today's libertarian paradise, it's entirely possible to pay big bucks for entry into school. There is no room for someone whose cost of living exceeds the pay of early stage career development. Those who don't have the wherewithal to pay up are "obviously slackers unwilling to invest properly in their own futures".

I have worked in high-tech places and in very low-tech places (trying to bring tech to improve business processes, etc.). Generally, a small fraction of the younger workers are prepared for the inevitable changes, but once past a certain age, that flexibility goes out the window as family and financial commitments place extremely tight restrictions on a worker's choices.

My family moved to an area near southeastern Ohio in 1972, and the community there was *already* depressed due to reduction in coal employment. That was before much of the current explosion in technology came along to make a bad situation into a complete disaster for the community.

Comment Re:Closures? (Score 1) 497

Sounds like a PDP-8.

I made the mistake of coding "JMS" instead of "JMP" in a disk boot routine exactly *once*, teaching an important lesson... Three days later, I had recovered most of the files on the RK-05.

The IBM 360 instruction set didn't have a hardware stack but the SAVE macro served well in its place.

Async (the select/poll model) and multithreading both have their place, the toolkit should match the application.

For the embedded world, I've discovered that run-to-completion "tasking" is so much easier these days, when the average microcontroller's clock speed is >= 120 MHz. The ARM Cortex world has such friendly exception handling that we simulate foreground/background "tasking" with ISRs.

Comment Re:2 more I've seen (Score 2) 497

Scaled floating point, unless you're working with an IBM Z series (does Power8 have decimal float?).

Every modern processor has fast floating point; a double can store and express 53 significant bits, so express the floats in pennies. Or if not in USA, the smallest denomination in the money system you use. Server class machines probably do long doubles.

("Every" includes all Raspberry Pi models, the Odroids, Banana PIs, Orange Pis, etc.; essentially every X86 since 1991, Every Power since about 2003 and all ARM since Cortex-A.) I haven't kept up with MIPS. Even the microcontroller world has single-precision floating point hardware in wide deployment: We use Kinetis parts (ST's parts have Cortex-M4F too), so easy 32-bit ints and floats is the order of the day. A reasonably structured interrupt service function (no assembly required, BTW) executes to completion in 1 microsec... It has truly changed the nature of our deeply embedded work.

The result: Use a commonly available toolkit competently.

Comment Re:That was kind of the point (Score 1) 457

Good points, I agree. Too bad reality does not and can never measure up.

What makes the book a piece of fiction rather than "serious commentary" is the idea in the book that leaders of society could be worthy of respect, wielding their authority responsibly. What I've found in way too many years in Corporate America is that we see all of the authority and none of the responsibility.

Thus, a nicely thought-provoking read is left behind in my childhood, overrun by reality.

Comment Re:Awesome satire. (Score 4, Insightful) 457

Being of the "get off my lawn" age, I respond:

Authority must be earned, and upon being properly earned, respected.

Starship Troopers was an important part of my educational reading (not school assigned, but I learned much from it nonetheless...).

I learned to despise what passes for authority in the real human world, because they are utterly devoid of the sense of responsibility that Heinlein's officers and leaders showed in their actions and words. The contrast between Heinlein's descriptions of leaders and what we see today in authority figures could not be more clear.

Heinlein's leaders as described in Starship Troopers generally respected those they commanded, and were not on the take. There is no valid comparison of today's dipshit thieves and Heinlein's world.

Anyone linking what passes for authority today with Heinlein's story is bound to confuse the "wielding power" we see today, which is at best Feudalist and at worst Fascist, with respect-worthy leadership.

I am not sure whether a movie made today could possibly accurately reflect the leadership and social commitment philosophy in the book.

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 1) 917

Your point about it going to everybody is a good one, and is the way social security managed to get past the conservative politicians in its day.

My question revolves around how society decides on the size of the allotment, balancing the temptation to demand endless increases in UBI against productivity.

How do we make it reasonably valuable while preventing it from becoming a political bribe to buy votes? In a comment below someone offered the suggestion that one can accept UBI or vote but not both. That would lead to serious, and IMHO, destructive divisions.

In conversations with like-minded coworkers, we thought about dividing a certain fraction of GDP, offset by various costs of government operations, split evenly among all citizens (including their children). In our thought experiments, we figured it might be enough to ensure that changing that fraction would require something like 90% consensus in the voting population (I cannot imagine the number ever decreasing). We were optimistic that level of consensus would be so difficult to achieve that it would offset the temptation to raise UBI excessively.

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 5, Insightful) 917

Uh, Bernie was pushing Socialism hard and were it not for the entrenched and dirty DNC and the Clinton Machine, he would now be the candidate of the Democratic party.

As a Bernie supporter, I would like to respectfully disagree, with the following argument: When Bernie began his challenge, he was nearly unknown to the general voting population. I think that the Democratic Establishment was planning on an essentially uncontested primary season, conserving resources to prepare for what they were certain would be a ugly, expensive general election campaign. They almost certainly failed (*really* failed) to understand the power of so many people that were left out of the conversation during and after the Clinton Triangulation era. (I also Obama arrived with such a delicate economy that his hands were tied...)

I think that if Bernie had gotten going 2 months (or better, 6 months) earlier in the run-up to the primary, the actions of the party and likely the results of the primary would have been totally different.

Finally, while think Hillary is too centrist, she has remained standing in the face of attacks that would demotivate nearly everyone else, and to the best of my knowledge is a walking encyclopedia of policy. I am not sure Bernie really had the connections or the policy background. It seems like he has a very attractive philosophy which I had hoped would lead to greater detailed policy objectives and plans.

Comment Re:Holy flamebait batman! (Score 2) 917

I am all for UBI if it can be implemented intelligently.

The money quote:

Remove loopholes and incentivize productivity as much as possible.

Is that possible? Philosophically, I am attracted to the concept but have a concern that the UBI would be the topic of ugly political (or worse, violent) struggle: Those on UBI want bigger UBI, those whose work (or those whose AIs work) want smaller UBI. It seems fraught with subjectivity.

Some rational way to balance those two forces must exist or a society implementing UBI would ultimately fail.

Slashdot Top Deals

When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four. -- S. Johnson