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Government

Energy Star Program For Homes And Appliances Is On Trump's Chopping Block (npr.org) 253

Appliance manufacturers and home builders are in Washington, D.C., today to celebrate a popular energy efficiency program, even as it's slated for elimination in President Trump's proposed budget. NPR adds: You probably know the program's little blue label with the star -- the Environmental Protection Agency says 90 percent of U.S. households do. [...] The 25-year-old Energy Star program appears to be targeted simply because it's run by the federal government. It's one of 50 EPA programs that would be axed under Trump's budget plan, which would shrink the agency's funding by more than 30 percent. Critics of Energy Star say the government should get involved in the marketplace only when absolutely necessary. But that argument doesn't hold sway for the program's legions of supporters, which span nonprofits, companies and trade groups.

Comment Scott Adams disagrees (Score 2) 144

Scott Adams would like a word with you:

Kahan found that increased scientific literacy actually had a small negative effect: The conservative-leaning respondents who knew the most about science thought climate change posed the least risk. Scientific literacy, it seemed, increased polarization. In a later study, Kahan added a twist: He asked respondents what climate scientists believed. Respondents who knew more about science generally, regardless of political leaning, were better able to identify the scientific consensus—in other words, the polarization disappeared. Yet, when the same people were asked for their own opinions about climate change, the polarization returned. It showed that even when people understand the scientific consensus, they may not accept it.”

Notice how the author slips in his unsupported interpretation of the data: Greater knowledge about science causes more polarization.

Well, maybe. That’s a reasonable hypothesis, but it seems incomplete. Here’s another hypothesis that fits the same observed data: The people who know the most about science don’t think complex climate prediction models are credible science, and they are right.

In fact, there's more incentive to lie about climate science than cancer research: More immediate funding is at stake, more groupthink applies, it will be decades before others can prove you wrong, and unlike falsified cancer research, people won't die because you misdirected searcher.

And as for saying "the fraud was in the review process, not the work itself," that's like saying "Well, Anthony Weiner was only caught sexting. He never actually cheated." The odds that the fraud we've caught is the only fraud committed by those willing to commit fraud would seem pretty low...

Comment Re:It's not his arrest that is a priority (Score 1, Troll) 369

Making an example out of Assange won't help anything though, there will just be someone else stepping up. Assange is not the problem, you are.

There's an old proverb: "When everyone you meet is an asshole, it means that you're not beating up all the assholes fast enough and if only you can speed it up, everyone else will eventually become convinced that you must be one of the good guys."

I know it doesn't sound eloquent, though.

Comment Re:hmmm, yes (Score 1) 218

I heard that some people were installing patches from some dude named "Microsoft" and that company got caught red-handed, writing and distributing malware. (They wrote Windows to work directly contrary to the interests of the user. For example, they went to extra trouble to make it not be installable on modern hardware.)

Installing unaudited software written by people you don't know may sound crazy, but the vast majority of users routinely do something far worse: they install software written by people they do know, where they know that the author is the user's adversary.

Comment This industry is trying hard to flip me (Score 1) 52

So.. in the past I have advocated in favor of "smart TVs" because even if you don't use the features, they're basically "free" (as in beer). Some processing power is already going to be there anyway, and it's not like the chips are expensive. The price of Raspberry Pi should give you a good idea of the most it could possibly cost, and even that is a pretty pessimistic estimate.

But that position was based on the assumption that "utterly and completely worthless to me" was the lower bound of what the user would get out of it.

If the software is going to be hostile, such that the value of a smart TV over a dumb TV might actually be negative, then I have to retract my thumbs-up.

Comment Re:Missed opportunity (Score 1) 191

Google missed an opportunity here. They should have programmed it to respond with something like "something almost but not completely unlike a hamburger" or gone with kickback money from McD's and said something like "a pale imitation of McDonald's quarter pounder" or even "hamburger royale".

Google was just quoting Wikipedia and it was swiftly edited:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/ind...

AI

AI Programs Exhibit Racial and Gender Biases, Research Reveals (theguardian.com) 384

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: An artificial intelligence tool that has revolutionized the ability of computers to interpret everyday language has been shown to exhibit striking gender and racial biases. The findings raise the specter of existing social inequalities and prejudices being reinforced in new and unpredictable ways as an increasing number of decisions affecting our everyday lives are ceded to automatons. In the past few years, the ability of programs such as Google Translate to interpret language has improved dramatically. These gains have been thanks to new machine learning techniques and the availability of vast amounts of online text data, on which the algorithms can be trained. However, as machines are getting closer to acquiring human-like language abilities, they are also absorbing the deeply ingrained biases concealed within the patterns of language use, the latest research reveals. Joanna Bryson, a computer scientist at the University of Bath and a co-author, warned that AI has the potential to reinforce existing biases because, unlike humans, algorithms may be unequipped to consciously counteract learned biases. The research, published in the journal Science, focuses on a machine learning tool known as "word embedding," which is already transforming the way computers interpret speech and text.

Comment Re:Self-Driving? Yes. Shared? No. (Score 1) 168

I just don't see self-driving long term tipping the scale in favor of renting more than it is today.

I think it comes down to this: Robot drivers are a nice feature for owned cars, but I don't think it expands the attractiveness of ownership as much as it expands the attractiveness of sharing.

Robots don't make ownership more attractive to many people who would otherwise not have bought a car. How many people are thinking, "I'd buy a car if they drove themselves, but they don't, so I'm going to get around some other way"? Maybe some people, but I don't think many. Most people who own cars are willing to drive them; they might prefer to read a novel on that desert roadtrip, but having-to-drive isn't a deal-killer. So your new customers are people who are willing, but unable. Is that a lot?

But how many people are thinking "I'd take a robot taxi, but it doesn't exist yet, so I'm going to get around some other way"? More, I think. If you can take the driver out of the comparison, the two cases of car rental and a taxi hire, just sort of blend together into unified case. I think that new thing can serve situations where people currently settle for solutions where they aren't really happy, turning more Nos into Yesses. And I also think those situations where people aren't happy, aren't very extreme; if the shared car scenario where just a little better, it would make a big difference. I know that Uber/Lyft tipped a lot of people who were not taking taxis all the time.

Comment Re:Simple math... (Score 1) 339

Ok, excellent example.

You're pretty smart, right? So tell me: are you confident that you are getting the best-possible deal on insurance? Do you understand all the ways the companies compete (and don't) and exactly how high you should have your deductible be, to get the "best" premiums vs risk mitigation? Have you actually read your whole policy, and researched every term that you thought might have a technical meaning other than its superficial meaning?

And are you tuning it every year, as the insured object depreciates?

Maybe you've got this nailed, but you'd be exceptional. Getting some aspect of this sub-optimally, wouldn't signify to me that you're stupid. You might be lazy, you might have enough income that you don't give a fuck about an extra $20/year, etc.

Now if someone else points at a guy who has a $100 deductible on his car, and says "we're idiots," you're gonna say something like, "Hey, I don't have all my shit perfectly together, but that fuckwit isn't representative of us all!" and that's really all I meant to say about gambling. If you had to gamble, you'd probably get it about as right as you get your insurance.

And you probably get your bullshit-detecting about as well, very roughly. That you miss sometimes, doesn't mean you're an idiot. We're not idiots; we're just in zero-sum competitions with people who are experts in their fields.

Comment Then maybe Democrats should change policies (Score 1, Insightful) 341

Maybe if Democrats weren't relentlessly pushing for bigger government and SJW victimhood identity politics they could compete with Republicans.

But they chose a relentless drive for power and pushing the culture war over policies Americans actually want. Democrats deliberately pushed "blue dogs" out of the party so progressives could control it to-to-bottom. Democrats backed Bloomberg on civilian disarmament, backed Soros and Steyer on funding #BlackLivesmatter, insisted a man changing his name magically made him a woman, and then wonder why ordinary Americans no longer vote for them.

And really, where are Republicans stopping Democrats in such paradisaical deep blue enclaves like Chicago and Detroit?

The Internet

Tennessee Could Give Taxpayers America's Fastest Internet For Free, But It Gave Comcast and AT&T $45 Million Instead (vice.com) 341

Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to some of the fastest internet speeds in the United States, offering city dwellers Gbps and 10 Gpbs connections. Instead of voting to expand those connections to the rural areas surrounding the city, which have dial up, satellite, or no internet whatsoever, Tennessee's legislature voted to give Comcast and AT&T a $45 million taxpayer handout. Motherboard reports: The situation is slightly convoluted and thoroughly infuriating. EPB -- a power and communications company owned by the Chattanooga government -- offers 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gpbs internet connections. A Tennessee law that was lobbied for by the telecom industry makes it illegal for EPB to expand out into surrounding areas, which are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers. For the last several years, EPB has been fighting to repeal that state law, and even petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to try to get the law overturned. This year, the Tennessee state legislature was finally considering a bill that would have let EPB expand its coverage (without providing it any special tax breaks or grants; EPB is profitable and doesn't rely on taxpayer money). Rather than pass that bill, Tennessee has just passed the "Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017," which gives private telecom companies -- in this case, probably AT&T and Comcast -- $45 million of taxpayer money over the next three years to build internet infrastructure to rural areas.
The Internet

Tennessee Could Give Taxpayers America's Fastest Internet For Free, But It Gave Comcast and AT&T $45 Million Instead (vice.com) 341

Chattanooga, Tennessee is home to some of the fastest internet speeds in the United States, offering city dwellers Gbps and 10 Gpbs connections. Instead of voting to expand those connections to the rural areas surrounding the city, which have dial up, satellite, or no internet whatsoever, Tennessee's legislature voted to give Comcast and AT&T a $45 million taxpayer handout. Motherboard reports: The situation is slightly convoluted and thoroughly infuriating. EPB -- a power and communications company owned by the Chattanooga government -- offers 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gpbs internet connections. A Tennessee law that was lobbied for by the telecom industry makes it illegal for EPB to expand out into surrounding areas, which are unserved or underserved by current broadband providers. For the last several years, EPB has been fighting to repeal that state law, and even petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to try to get the law overturned. This year, the Tennessee state legislature was finally considering a bill that would have let EPB expand its coverage (without providing it any special tax breaks or grants; EPB is profitable and doesn't rely on taxpayer money). Rather than pass that bill, Tennessee has just passed the "Broadband Accessibility Act of 2017," which gives private telecom companies -- in this case, probably AT&T and Comcast -- $45 million of taxpayer money over the next three years to build internet infrastructure to rural areas.

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