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Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 1) 237

One measure point is: how much money does the administration safe, buy not checking and observing regulations, but simply handing out the money.

Except as a sibling post of mine pointed out, that's not what Ontario is doing. They're means testing the hell out of it. The income is reduced $1 for every $2 earned.

The next interesting thing is to see what the receivers of the money are actually doing. Getting a part time job, trying education they can pay themselves instead of useless forced education by the administration etc. p.p. Moving house, not moving house, being more healthy or spending more on booze ...

People behave radically differently when they think they have an indefinite source of income vs an income with a concrete end date. My example of graduate school precisely echoes what you said: "education that can pay themselves instead of useless forced education". There are other examples much less salubrious. Politicians come to mind. Having a definite end date to their public salaries drives all kinds of unsavory behavior.[1]

Those differences are so extreme that any UBI "pilot" with an end date isn't UBI at all. UBI has no end date, by definition. A system with an end date, especially one so close, is just a short term grant system. It is nothing like a UBI. And we already know what limited grants do, because there are a lot of them available.

[1] Something worth considering. Our political systems might improve with a UBI. The current choice is between poverty and being reelected, a lot of the time. If the choice is less extreme, politicians might behave a little better.

Comment Not in Canada... (Score 3, Informative) 237

They already did a basic income experiment back when Prime Minister Trudeau was called Pierre.

In short... Most everyone kept working or didn't start working as early but stayed in school longer.
Also, hospitalizations went down, particularly for mental health problems.

But if you want a real Twilight Zone mindfuck - look up Nixon's basic income experiment.
Run by Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
Granted... they saw it as a way to eliminate social programs instead of to expand them. But even they found that there was no change to "work ethic" - everyone still kept working.
Apparently, being "at or just above the poverty line" is simply not enough for most people.

Comment Re:Unintended consequences (Score 5, Interesting) 237

With that said, if they do this pilot correctly it will yield very interesting data.

Pilots like this are useless. They have no predictive power because an actual universal basic income is qualitatively different from an "income you and a few of your neighbors will get for less than a handful of years and then it goes away." We already know what people do in circumstances like that. It's called graduate school.

For the timid politicians among us, I have bad news. UBI is untestable. You can't pretend to have it for a while and then discontinue it. But it doesn't matter. No country is ever going to just decide to have an actual UBI. When it happens, it will have happened organically, by easy stages over the course of decades. Social Security and the equivalents around the world are the beginning of that. The amazing ease with which a person qualifies for disability nowadays is another part of that. That's probably how the US will deal with all the unemployed truckers in 20 years' time. You were a trucker? Ok, now that robots do that job, you're "disabled." Because of the kidney damage you suffered due to all the vibration. Wink wink, nudge nudge, sign here.

What will happen is gradual, targeted expansions of social security/welfare that slowly absorbs sections of the population that are unemployable (just as they already do), and then gradually the means testing of those groups will go away, and in 60 years, if there is still such a thing as the developed world, it will have UBI. The rabid libertarians among us see this coming and are having screaming meamies about it because they think people who used to work in factories who then went to work in construction who then went to work driving trucks who now have nowhere to go should definitely die in the street because they can't become software developers. Not a straw man. I've had a person literally say that to my face within the past year, using the actual phrase "die in the street." A person who self-identifies as Christian, by the way, and who attends church every single Sunday. Yes, these are real people who do exist and do think that way.

I believe Marxism is inevitable, but Karl Marx was way ahead of his time, just as this silly "pilot" is. Capitalism is a reasonable system for dealing with scarcity. It does not deal at all well with super-abundance. Marxism deals well with super-abundance, but except for the idle rich, we do not have super-abundance. I believe it's possible that we will sometime before the end of the century, but I strongly expect it will be much nearer the end of the century than the beginning. And "pilots" like this are a waste of time.

Comment Re:This reminds me of the nuclear boy scout story. (Score 1) 162

Actually, I meant what I said.

Intelligence is a generalized measure of capacity, but actual intellectual performance depends strongly upon motivation. Thus, an obsessed person with an IQ of 100 can sometimes accomplish feats that would elude people with significantly higher IQ. It's a mistake to underestimate the potential intellectual performance of someone because he is relatively dumb.

It's perfectly possible to have high intelligence across every category, including social intelligence, and still be foolish.

While this may be true, I think it is impossible to anticipate someone's actual social reasoning performance from any measure of social reasoning capacity to any useful degree.

Comment Agreemsg (Score 1) 135

It's more of a flying motorcycle, except without any of the advantages of a motorcycle. Presumably the advantages of being able to fly outweigh them, but if you're only allowed to operate over water, you'd probably be better served by a boat. It's a toy. The only time it seems like it would have any actual utility is if you live in some place where you're not allowed to move quickly on the water, but they'd still allow you to operate one of these. Which I suppose could exist... somewhere?


No Longer a Dream: Silicon Valley Takes On the Flying Car ( 135

Last year, Bloomberg reported that Google co-founder Larry Page had put money in two "flying car" companies. One of those companies, Kitty Hawk, has published the first video of its prototype aircraft. From a report on The Verge: The company describes the Kitty Hawk Flyer as an "all-electric aircraft" that is designed to operate over water and doesn't require a pilot's license to fly. Kitty Hawk promises people will be able to learn to fly the Flyer "in minutes." A consumer version will be available by the end of this year, the company says. The video is part commercial and part test footage, starting with a lakeside conversation between friends about using the Flyer to meet up before switching to what The New York Times says are shots of an aerospace engineer operating the craft in Northern California.

Comment Re:It has its uses (Score 1) 356

At some point, the complexity of the task the program is executing requires complex code.

This is a more profound statement than it appears at first. I'd say that the minimal complexity of the code necessary to accomplish a task defines the complexity of the task itself.

As for GOTO the issue isn't GOTO per se, but implicitly building other control structures like loops using GOTO as a primitive -- a legacy of the very earliest machine languages in which you implemented algorithms using a very limited instruction set. The flexibility of GOTO makes it a good choice if you have only a few control structures to work with; but that same flexibility imposes the cognitive load of figuring out what the original programmer (possibly yourself) meant.

But even if more structured (i.e., limited) control structures available, there are problems where GOTO is the natural way to express them. State machines for example. I've seen them implemented with long if-then-elseif chains or case conditional constructs, but that's just thoughtless programming that obscures what is going on. A state machine is much more clearly implemented with GOTOs, although tail recursion can be a reasonable alternative.

Comment This reminds me of the nuclear boy scout story. (Score 3, Insightful) 162

You know, the one where a kid figured out how to refine thorium by reading the Golden Book of Chemistry and turned his mother's garden shed into a Superfund site.

The moral of the story is that even a stupid human being can be pretty smart. Particularly a sufficiently motivated stupid person.

Of course it also helps that intelligence comes in different flavors. Some people are good at spatial reasoning, others are good at verbal reasoning. But we often overlook social reasoning because it's not part of the traditional IQ tests. I think another reason that Social IQ testing hasn't caught on is that there is good reason to believe that social reasoning ability isn't fixed. Changes in attitude can strongly impair or enhance an individual's ability to process social information.

Which leads to the flip side of the stupid people being able to be smart: even smart people can be stupid, particularly in making social judgments.

Comment Re:FSF = not practical (Score 4, Insightful) 148

But it's still hard to take Stallman seriously because he doesn't provide practical solutions to these problems.

Actually he does: opt out. It won't kill you to only buy entertainment which is DRM-free. So you can't stream the latest episode of Game of Thrones; if you have access to a library you have more alternative ways to entertain your imagination than you'll ever have time to use.

The problem is not being able to buy what the people around them are buying is just too radical for most people.

This is not a practical or tolerable solution for 99% of the population.

This is not anticipated to be tolerable by 99% of the population. They don't actually know, because they'll never try it. Stallman seems to be happy enough without Netflix. But Stallman is a nut. Why is he a nut? Because he's happy enough without Netflix. It's circular reasoning; for all you know you're a nut too, you just don't know it.

This is how powerful corporations control people: by manipulating their unexamined assumptions of what they can tolerably live with. They don't need police power, because people will police themselves.

In a sense this is nothing new, they're just manipulating a longstanding fact about human nature: people are very bad at predicting how things will affect their future happiness. I've recently developed an interest in the old Greek and Roman philosophers called the Stoics. They reasoned more or less thus: if happiness is having all your wants satisfied, the surest path to happiness is to want less. But even they realized that nobody can really adequately regulate their own desires. The best you can achieve is a kind of skepticism about what would otherwise be unchallenged assumptions about what you need. But even though it falls short, it goes a long way toward freeing you from self-afflicted dissatisfaction.

Comment Well ... there's your problem! (Score 1) 612

In 2014 Python and Java were the two most commonly-taught languages at America's top universities, according to an analysis published by the Communications of the ACM.

My first language was BASIC, because I learned it myself for an extra credit math problem using these things called 'computer manuals' every computer room had in the 70s. My second language was FORTRAN, because I learned it myself after I discovered that going to college was a complete waste of money when I could teach myself FORTRAN in a week for the cost of a book instead of paying someone else to do it.

37 years later, I'm still learning languages by myself from books and now the Internet because going to college to learn programming is a complete waste of money and time for smart people.

Mediocre people need it because they have to have that little piece of paper that says they know how to pass tests in order to get a job. And people that have been there lie about it to justify their waste of time and money.

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