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Comment Google does something like this (Score 1) 128

Google does something like this, on a selective basis.

I think it started as something done only for special cases, but I know a few people who arranged it. One woman I know works three days per week instead of five, for 60% of her normal salary. She has also taken a large chunk of her 18-week maternity leave and uses it one day per week, so she actually works two days per week but gets paid for three, until the maternity leave runs out. Her husband has arranged a similar structure with his employer (not Google), working three days per week so one of them is always home with the kids. She's a fairly special case, though, because she's a freakishly brilliant software engineer who any smart company would bend over backwards to accommodate.

However, it's now been expanded to be made generally available to full-time employees. It requires management approval, but the descriptions I've seen make it clear that management is expected to agree unless there are specific reasons why it can't work. Salary, bonuses and stock are pro-rated based on the percentage of a normal schedule that is worked. Most commonly, people work 60% or 80% schedules (i.e. three or four days per week instead of five). Other benefits, such as health care, etc., are not pro-rated, but either provided or not, depending on the percentage of normal hours worked.

I could see myself going to a 60% work week in a few years, having a four-day weekend every week in exchange for a 40% pay cut.

Comment Re:Yep. (Score 1) 162

One part of your experience that rings false to me is the level of support required for Windows machines vs Macs. My experience is narrower than yours, because I'm a programmer not an IT support guy, but I do get used as an IT support guy by friends and family because, you know, I "do computers". With that caveat, my experience is that the single biggest thing I can do to reduce my support burden is to get them to trade in their Windows laptop for something else. The very best alternative is a Chromebook, then a Macbook. Installing Ubuntu instead of Windows is also a good support-reducer, but not as many have gone that route.

As far as mobile devices go, I do more Android support than iOS support, but I think that's mostly because all of my immediate family, and most of my extended family, uses Android. Plus the Apple users are a little less likely to come to me for help because they know I'm an Android guy (because I work on Android system development).

Comment Re:Sixty Years Ago... (Score 1) 17

Well, it beats making them into the world's most complicated airplanes as with the space shuttle. SpaceX has proven that they can do vertical landings of the first stage intact onto both land and a seagoing barge; after a trip out of the atmosphere and to about 1/5 of orbital velocity but not into orbit. They plan to do a parachute-less vertical landing of the Dragon capsule after a heat-shield re-entry. That turns out to be far less expensive and complicated than a space plane. It does turn out we need a lifting body for much larger vehicles. It still doesn't have to be a plane, though.

We don't need wings.

Comment Re:Followed by: (Score 1) 433

Ah, so you were born in 2009. Because anyone born earlier than that saw the racist stuff flying when he was running, before he said anything you'd consider racist or divisive.

I saw more than one "Nigger in Chief" bumper sticker. In person, not some staged photo. Yes, Obama started the race war, by not staying in "his place".

The whole drug war was spearheaded against civil rights by the Republicans because it was a racist program. And the anti-personal rights Republicans were all for stripping everyone in the country of their personal rights, so long as the cops used that power disproportionately against Black people. The fist drug war was even sold as such explicitly in Congress.

Comment Re:Insufficiently Realistic (Score 1) 265

Until the dolls literally spray genuine, authentic baby shit and vomit on you in the middle of the night, they are going to be inadequate to the task of dissuading girls from wanting to make babies.

If you can't actually fill them with a truly realistic substitute for unwanted infant fluids, they're worthless.

I don't think that has anything to do with it.

I've raised four kids (youngest is now 15, oldest is 23), and the bad parts of having children, and babies, really have nothing to do with the icky body fluids. I've changed more than a few "blowout" diapers, and even had a couple of kids puke into my mouth and that's really not the bad/difficult part of having and raising children. The bad/difficult part is the commitment required. Kids require very close to 24/7 effort for years, and a lower level of focus and attention for decades. They're financially expensive, emotionally and physically demanding and they require you to be able to deal with your life so you can also deal with theirs.

On the surface, caring for a robo-baby for a few months should be a reasonable approximation of that. Where it falls down is not the lack of body fluids, I think, but the knowledge that (a) it's only a grade, not a life and (b) it is only a few months. (a) means that if you screw it up, it's not so terrible, and (b) means that you know there's an end in sight. Both of those probably significantly reduce the impact.

The schools in my area do something similar, but they don't use a robot, they use a bag of flour. That's not as good in that it won't rat them out for failing to care for it, but it may have another advantage (besides the low cost): It's not cute. I wonder if the robo-babies don't backfire because they get girls thinking about how cool it would be to have a cute little baby all their own.

Comment Re:AI needs some improvement (Score 1) 54

I just won a game of Tic-Tac-Toe for the first time ever.

Since it's trivial to write an algorithm that plays optimally and since a player using an optimal strategy will never lose, Google clearly did not try to create an "AI" whose focus is winning. Instead, they appear to have created an algorithm that is a fairly decent novice player. Which, actually is a good deal harder than optimal play.

Well, maybe not. It wouldn't be too difficult to take an optimal play implementation and randomly cause it to choose a bad move. For example, if it's playing X you could have it select a move at random, rather than always taking a corner. And at each subsequent move you could give it a smallish chance of making a bad move. That approach might simulate a decent novice well enough.

Perhaps a better approach would be to use machine learning and have it learn from novice games, or even from well-played games, but leave it incompletely trained. That might make it more "human-like".

Comment Re:Fine them?!?! (Score 1) 171

Thanks, perhaps that was what they meant and I read too much into it.

In that case, I would completely agree, there needs to be a real deterrent to make it clear that this behaviour isn't acceptable, and it does need to be meaningful for rich people as well. Things like losing the right to drive and ultimately, if they continue to drive anyway, their freedom for some period of time, not just fining them 10% of this year's earnings or crushing their car.

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