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Comment Re:Year One Was Good (Score 1) 141

I know it's bad form to reply to my own post, but I couldn't post everything at once (lame filter). So here's the rest:

Motion controllers also allow for more immersive/intuitive controls, e.g. reloading a gun, throwing a grenade, or aiming a bow. Aiming a gun can be made close enough to real gun aiming that real-world skill enters the picture; most VR games with shooting have some degree of autoaim because most gamers are poor shots IRL.

VR hardware is improving in every way, as well. Third-party accessories for the Vive are allowing data to be wirelessly transmitted to and from the PC, and replacing the headstrap with a more comfortably-fitting one. Motion controller tech is iteratively improving, with 2nd-gen Vive controllers in the works, and Oculus' Touch controllers just came out. Third-party headsets utilizing the Vive's tracking hardware/software are coming, likely with improvements and cost reductions of their own. I'm personally waiting for the 2nd-gen hardware before I buy in, the cost is too high for me to justify buying something I know I'd want to replace within a year or so.

Comment Year One Was Good (Score 2) 141

Considering how brief and low-budget many of these apps are, it's not too surprising that only ~3% have made more than a quarter-million bucks. Many of the apps aren't even games, but 'experiences' that are either non-interactive, or are sandboxes with no rules/win condition. A VR game that lasts 5 hours is considered 'long' still, with ports of 2d games being nearly the only ones that are significantly longer. Recall that many early 2d games on the Atari or NES would only last an hour or so for a playthrough, if not for their difficulty.

AAA video games have been stuck in a rut for the past 12 or so years, I think due to the standardization of controllers. New controller features/more buttons drove much of the development of more sophisticated games. I recall first seeing a PSX controller and thinking "that's too many buttons! two on each shoulder?!" but now suspect that a few more might give the industry a shot in the arm; look at how overloaded the buttons are in e.g. the Dark Souls games, and how often a context-sensitive button gets the context wrong. The PS2 added analog face buttons but they were then removed a generation or two later since no games figured out how to use them in a compelling fashion, although the analog triggers remained (thanks, Dreamcast!). Recall what new ideas came out of early mobile games from touchscreen/gyroscope controls, e.g. Angry Birds and Zenbound.

VR makes gameplay that depends on depth perception a possibility; the 3ds was supposed to do this but it was too unstable (at first) and low-resolution to give accurate depth cues. Interacting with depth is made easier with the new generation of motion controllers, that are finally accurate enough to make it feel like your hands are in the game.

Most critics cite the high price of VR but it's been gradually coming down. You can get a Google Cardboard viewer for nearly free from multiple sources, and if you don't have a smartphone you can get a used old-model Galaxy S from ebay cheap, and combine it with a Gear VR. If you have a ps4 there's the $500 (all included) PS VR. Even the high-end PC-connected VR is getting cheaper; a year ago you'd need a ~$320 Geforce 970 graphics card plus a $600 Oculus Rift (assuming your PC is somewhat recent), but now a $170 Radeon RX 470 will suffice, and the Rift and Vive were $100 off (more or less) around Christmas. Rumor is the Vive's price will drop $100 or so later this year due to cheaper base stations/tracking chips. Windows Holographic headsets are coming out this year for $300, which connect to Windows PCs of course. In addition, multiple companies are working on all-in-one solutions, some of which will likely hit market this year, expected to be around $500.

Disclaimer: I've never actually tried VR, but am excited about it and follow the scene closely.

Comment Counterpoint (Score 1) 183

I made an account just to preorder a Nintendo Switch (for some reason they're abundant in Japan). After (shipping (from Japan to USA) + duties/customs/export taxes, currency conversion fees etc.) ~= $18 the total was a few bucks less than if I'd bought one at a store down the street (if they weren't all sold out of preorders, that is.) I imagine the weak Yen is responsible for this. Oh and I get it 3 days after it's released. And I pay no sales tax (although my state does have a Use Tax so I pay a bit regardless.)

Comment Not Sure How Post-Human-Worker Economy Will Work (Score 1) 387

I'm sure some kind of Universal Basic Income (UBI) or central planning/rationing system will be the endgame for our economy, once robots completely replace humans. However, I've been having trouble imagining a system that can easily scale to accommodate both 25% unemployment, and also (theoretical) 100% unemployment.

The primary problem is thus: under 100% automation and UBI, all goods/services are paid for with tax money. If a productivity/income tax on the robot/business that creates/sells a widget (respectively) equals less than 100% of the value of the widget, then private business will gradually siphon money from the human side of the economy, leading to deflation. OTOH, if tax equals 100% of the value then gross profit is impossible, making it impossible for the business to grow or pay off loans used to make it grow. As I see it, at this point, established businesses would have to be nationalized in order to avoid breaking the economy. Each person with a college degree could be given some resources to experiment with a pet project or two, but otherwise resources would be spent according to consumer demand. Give some nice bonus to those who have a successful new business/invention and then nationalize it; hey that sounds like how patents and copyright are supposed to work. However...

Central planning, nationalization and UBI aren't feasible/easy with 25% unemployment because ~25% of purchases will be with tax money, and so ~25% of GDP will need to go back into taxes. The 75% of employed people (and businesses) will pay 1/3 of their income on average, as tax (who wants to take bets that lobbying causes businesses to pay less than average). As the permanently unemployed increase in numbers, this portion paid as taxes will increase, encouraging people to quit their job and live off the UBI, leading to a runaway effect, even if automation isn't yet ready for 100% replacement of humans. There will be cases where there is a point where it is too expensive to hire a human yet there is no robot capable of doing their job. For example, if all your needs were taken care of with the UBI, would you work full time for $15k/year (2016 dollars) doing unpleasant drudgery if 75% of that were taken as tax?

I suppose one could say "well, as an economic revolution, of course there will be hard times during the transition" but who's going to vote for temporary hard times? People would rather hang on tight to the status quo, watching the inevitable train crash come straight towards them in slow motion. History bears this out, as explained e.g. in the novel Collapse.
I predict nothing will change until many years after the point at which a difficult change would have been less painful than trying to hang on.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 2) 157

It doesn't. A high-precision timer is used to execute a timing attack to infer what the cache contains; major browsers nixed their built-in javascript high-precision timers, but they managed to cobble together their own (from allowed javascript functions, presumably), which incidentally reintroduces old timing attacks like RowHammer. Browsers can fudge javascript timing, but the larger problem would remain. Presumably, microcode updates could fix this.

Comment Much Ado About Not Much (Score 2) 159

but could also be used for cosmetic enhancements and lead to permanent, heritable changes in the human species.

Excuse me if I'm failing to see this as a downside. Instead of repairing heritable diseases for one person, those fixes persist to their descendants as well? Sure in the short term, untested changes could lead to unknown side-effects, but that's obvious and wouldn't justify a broad ban on germline changes. Eventually/soon, germline gene editing will be cheaper than treating these diseases for even one individual, much less them and all their descendants; with socialized medicine, some countries will DEMAND gene editing, once it's cheaper. The moral panic reminds me of that surrounding in-vitro fertilization when it was novel. Remember, right now the standard practice is to do genetic testing on fetuses in the womb, and if any developmental problems are found, it's recommended the pregnancy be aborted; it's not like abortion is controversial or anything, right? To ensure I get modded to oblivion, I present this thought experiment: once inbreeding depression has been genetically eliminated, would people still consider inbreeding morally unacceptable?

Who really cares about 'cosmetic changes'? What's considered an 'enhancement' varies from culture to culture. If e.g. Japanese want to edit their genes to have wider eyelids rather than getting them surgically widened, sure why not. Is "you are tall because your parents were tall" more comforting than "you are tall because your parents wanted you to be tall"? Do we really want to revive the spectre of 'genetic purity'?

As for the rich being the only ones with access to this technology, leading to them becoming a master race that the unwashed masses can't compete with, that's nonsense. Consider how quickly the cost of genome sequencing has plummeted in the past 20 years; the same thing will happen with gene editing. Furthermore, consider how many parents in e.g. China are willing to do ANYTHING, including sacrifice their life (e.g. Foxconn suicides), for the sake of their children; many, many parents would be willing to save money for decades, so that before they died, they could afford gene editing for their children, assuring their offspring a better life. A MUCH more likely scenario is that gene editing is outright made illegal in a given country, so only the rich can leave the country to have it done elsewhere; this goes doubly for oppressive countries with restrictions on travel.

Comment Re:They Want Export Bans Lifted (Score 1) 217

Many of the highest-performing supercomputers (including China's most powerful) run on HPC cards made by video card companies (Nvidia/AMD). Considering the annual gains on performance of GPUs vs CPUs, this makes sense, and the FLOPS comparison makes the decision easy. Besides, Intel's most powerful chips are made in (IIRC) Germany and Malaysia, so I'm unsure how the USA would stop a European subsidiary from selling to China.

Comment Not Most Powerful Chips in 3-4 Years (Score 1) 217

3-4 years from now, competitors will already be on 5nm process, so Intel's finished 7nm plant won't be using the latest process. If production starts more on the 3-year side, they might be releasing 7nm chips a few months before AMD releases 5nm chips. Regardless, AMD will be on 7nm in 2 years, and if Ryzen is as competitive as rumors say, then Intel will be 1-2 years late. Assuming of course that this Fab 42 is Intel's first 7nm plant. They may end up using it to produce chipsets rather than 7nm CPUs that're being manufactured at another plant years earlier.

Comment Will or Could be Replaced? (Score 2) 369

I think my job (cashiering/customer service) COULD be replaced by a robot today, but won't actually be for around 20 years. My job involves many odd jobs and no one robot existing today could do all of them. I imagine this is true for many people in the service industry. However...

Many of the odd jobs assume a certain retail paradigm. Putting up paper signage. Reticketing items. Assessing what price to discount damaged items to. Getting items down for customers. Explaining policies. Helping customers find an item. Putting back misplaced items. etc.
If the store worked under a different paradigm, none of these odd jobs would be necessary. For example, use tablet to order on website while automated car drives you to store. When you arrive, a robot has picked all your chosen items and put them in a bag/box for you already. You inspect the things you're unsure about, pay, and go. VR/AR will allow for item inspection before you arrive, hastening the process. VR shelves/racks don't need multiple facings per item, so item browsing can be much quicker than in person, if you just want to look at what's available. Items can't be misplaced or damaged by stockers/customers.

The Amazon concept store is a nice idea, but some people have bad credit and can't get a credit card, or refuse to own a credit/debit card, or are unable to create a bank account for various reasons. In any case, they currently pay for everything in cash, and couldn't use such a store. If the Amazon concept store accepted cash, broke people could wander in and rob the place blind; some people are only deterred by humans. A technical anti-theft solution like sealing the doors if a cash customer tries to leave without paying wouldn't work, as they'd leave right behind a paying customer; sirens are a crappy deterrent.

Comment I For One Welcome our Eloi Overlords (Score 1) 311

A 'robots do all the work, humanity enjoys life of leisure' future sounds great but those in power have little interest in that happening. What powerful egotists would rather happen is 'capitalists own robot-run economy, unemployed masses lick their boots for scraps'. Of course you'd need a robotic security force to put down the inevitable rioting, although giving human security forces a taste of upper-class life has traditionally worked to instill loyalty; some capitalists would take the risk for the extra ego boost of knowing people died to protect them. Capitalists would set the laws ensuring they retain all economic and political power.

The base idea of capitalists as 'those who own the means of production' has become less relevant in a skill-based service economy, but as those skills are practicable and learnable by robots which can be owned, the idea will become increasingly relevant.

Comment Re:And in other news (Score 1) 191

it means that we are closer to the point where AI may pose an existential risk to humans, and that tipping point could occur with very little warning.

Hold your horses, there. If by 'existential risk' you mean 'Cylons nuking the colonies' then this poker AI has little to do with a general intelligence that would be capable of desiring to exterminate humanity.
Now if you meant 'industrial revolution that will leave all humans unemployable because AI does everything better' then you'd have a point. However, the thing with specialist systems is that they have to be recoded to be repurposed to other tasks. Eventually we may have AI that is able to learn a variety of tasks with no manual recoding (does Watson do this?) but until that's generally possible, humans will need to to code the AI for each individual task, and there are likely tasks out there arcane/broad/cheap enough that hiring brilliant software engineers to recode an AI to learn them isn't worth the cost.

Comment Additional Info (Score 4, Informative) 167

It has a 1280x720 6.2" capacitive touchscreen, and the battery will last ~3 hours when running typical games. Zelda is coming out on launch, 3/3, and same day on Wii U. It has 32GB internal storage, and the two SKUs differ only by joy-con color scheme. The storage is expandable by microSDXC cards, presumably eshop games can be directly installed onto them like the 3ds (unlike the Wii U.)
More detailed hardware specs (RAM?) have yet to be revealed, though. I'm particularly curious if it's more graphically powerful than the Wii U.

Comment Panasonic? Good (Score 0) 201

Headlines from the future:
"Today, Tesla's 'Gigafactory' battery production plant caught fire and then exploded. An initial investigation has traced it to the section of the plant utilized by Samsung to produce its batteries. An engineer has been quoted saying that the sector overheated due to being packed wall-to-wall to capacity; as little as 0.1mm air gap between the equipment and the walls could've prevented this catastrophe, but Samsung allowed 0mm."

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