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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

PeterM from Berkeley Technological progress is NOT linear (439 comments)

People drive technology and the number of people has been going up exponentially, so techincal prograss is NOT linear.

And the whole point of "singularity" is that once we create an intelligence smarter than us, it will (in theory) in turn create an intelligence smarter and faster than it, and so on. That's not linear progress.

--PM

2 days ago
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Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

PeterM from Berkeley Representation by lottery (204 comments)

>I am pretty sure this is how we will (if ever) get a good government, too. The government has to be "us" not "them" yet almost none of us are willing to let it be "me."

How about representation by lottery? Every eligible adult (I guess I mean everyone except those currently serving a prison sentence) is entered into a lottery. The winners go serve in state or federal legislatures as representatives.

They are beholden to NO ONE to get "elected", so don't show up corrupted. And they're far more representative a sample of the population. You'd get homeless people, teachers, blue collar workers, not just the rich privileged bastards we have now. Decriminalizing marijuana would already be accomplished nationwide under this scheme.

My one fear is that the state/federal bureaucracy would end up all-powerful, because the legislators would be unskilled enough to push back vs. the bureaucracy.

--PM

about two weeks ago
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Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

PeterM from Berkeley How about rotating the boss hat? (204 comments)

Have a culture of rotating people in and out of management to "lower" positions. Like department heads at universities, the job lasts a year or two then you're back as a normal faculty.

I rotated in and out of a money management job, now I'm back doing technical stuff. As a result I have a very good understanding of that end of the business as well as the techical end.

--PM

about two weeks ago
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Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy

PeterM from Berkeley How do you get good people to step up? (204 comments)

Many people don't want to manage other people. It's a tough job, often thankless, and in the words of a co-worker who quit being a boss and went back to technical work, it's like managing a bunch of four-year-olds who can't get along.

If you want good bosses, step up to the plate and make the sacrifice and do the job. Also, be a good employee, good employees can attract good bosses.

Also, in a random digression, I don't think a good technical boss necessarily HAS to be good technically. S/he just has to be able to listen effectively to the people who ARE good technically--which is something s/he should be doing even if s/he IS good technically. A boss who doesn't listen is in my opinion worse than a boss who is ignorant, knows it, and respects the experts s/he supervises.

--PeterM

about two weeks ago
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Scotland Builds Power Farms of the Future Under the Sea

PeterM from Berkeley That Scientific American figure doesn't help (216 comments)

You point to that figure and say that solar panels are terrible for the environment. Yes, apparently solar panels need more silver (and other metals) than other generation techniques, however, that doesn't mean that an ABSOLUTELY LARGE amount of silver is going to have to be provided.

Most power generation techniques don't need silver barely at all, so "relative to the current mix",yes, solar is going to need lots. That DOES NOT necessarily mean that supplying that amount of silver is going to cause widespread environmental degradation in the same way that coal DOES.

Also, solar power, once in place, doesn't require megatonnes of fuel like coal, oil, and gas do. (In that order, I guess.)

That figure doesn't DIRECTLY give insight into what energy mix is best for the environment, you can't have any hope of that unless you also compare fuel inputs per kwh generated as well, and other factors.

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

PeterM from Berkeley Re:The middle/low classes have taken real harm (551 comments)

Cool! You got my point! Not only the middle class and lower class would have more disposable income and less trouble affording things, the extra economic activity would enrich the 1% too.

And yes, absolutely the middle class and lower classes would spend more money if they had it. That's part of the argument. GIving money to the rich dosen't generate demand in the economy very much.

And all by letting the middle class/lower class have a greater share of corporate productivity.

In fact, I would argue that the 1% hogging all the wealth to the top has a similar damaging effect to the economy as deflation. We should combat it just as vigorously.

Bravo!

--PM

about three weeks ago
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In this year's US mid-term elections ...

PeterM from Berkeley The middle/low classes have taken real harm (551 comments)

If the workforce in this country (the lower and middle classes) got the same fraction of corporate income that they got BEFORE Reagan, everyone would be making DOUBLE in real income per hour than they do now (except perhaps the upper class.)

Imagine what it would DO to the world economy to have a middle/low class in the US that had double the purchasing power, or, maybe 5x the disposable income.

For one thing, affording health care would probably not be so much of an issue for many US people. However, by hogging all the productivity gains up to the upper class, the virtuous cycle has been broken and the economy is largely stagnating. Ironically, this limits the absolute wealth of the upper class.

--PM

about three weeks ago
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How Google Can Get the Flu Right

PeterM from Berkeley But the flu IS a big deal (31 comments)

You're often sick for a week, pretty commonly you get a secondary bacterial infection (like pneumonia or a sinus infection), and then you're sick for more than a week, and you might well be left with a lingering cough.

And BTW, "throw up a couple times" is NOT that common a flu symptom, though it CAN happen with flu. Typical symptoms are:
body aches
fever/chills
coughing
runny nose, sore throat, headach, pain around eyes

Vomiting/diarrhea is more common amongst children.

--PM

about three weeks ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

PeterM from Berkeley Valid point (432 comments)

Which is why i think GMO's ought to be done by universities and governments for the public benefit, not by corporations for profit, and one of the goals should be genetic diversity for exactly the reason you state.

Also, I'm uncomfortable with a corporation having so much influence over the world's food supply.

Last, the profit motive would compel a company to attempt to sweep problems under the rug more than publicly funded development would.

So, I'm pro-GMO, but I think it should be done by the public for the public.

--PM

about three weeks ago
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Black Swan Author: Genetically Modified Organisms Risk Global Ruin

PeterM from Berkeley I think you nailed it there (432 comments)

I think the proposition that NOT using GMOs risks global catastrophe might have more odds in its favor than using GMOs.

Consider:
Bananas, citrus, chocolate, coffee are all threatened by pathogens or climate change. There are some credible pathogen threats to wheat as well.

In the case of citrus, the ONLY (**ONLY**) resistant variety to citrus greening disease, out of ALL the citrus varieties on the plant, is a GMO variety that has genes from spinach spliced in.

So we have a case of, worldwide collapse of citrus production, OR GMO citrus.

I think I'll take the GMO citrus, thank you very much. If I were a Florida planter, and I weren't worried about anti-GMO hysteria, I'd be replacing my citrus orchards (as they die) with GMO plants.

As I referred to above, similar threats are either now or are poised to decimate bananas, coffee, chocolate, and wheat, though I'm not so sure that the naturally resistant variety situation is so dire in those cases.

Best,

-PeterM

about a month ago
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Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

PeterM from Berkeley Re:Jurisdiction be damned (463 comments)

Why said anything about lawlessness? What *law* would stop a bunch of CDC experts from showing up at the hospital and saying to the admins, "Here we are, this is a very serious situation, and we've brought X and Y and Z resources to help. Let us help you please."

I *know* that if I'm a hospital admin, and there are these guys in my office offering that class of help, I'm not going to be saying "no".

So what laws would be broken, exactly? If the CDC offered that level of help (quite legally) and the hospital (also legally) told them to go take a hike, we'd know EXACTLY who to blame. Furthermore, the CDC would be on the spot in force able to cope with the screw up.

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

PeterM from Berkeley The flu might kill more people this year (463 comments)

But by next year Ebola,if not brought under control, will be one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

PeterM from Berkeley What economy have YOU been in? (463 comments)

People are lining up to get ANY job. The 1% isn't leaving as many crumbs for the poor and middle class as they used to!

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

PeterM from Berkeley Jurisdiction be damned (463 comments)

The CDC should have been all over the hospital jurisdiction or no jursdiction. People's lives are on the line.

It's quite evident that in the US there are people who can handle ebola. These people were not in Texas, and the stupid hospital admins did not realize that they needed the help. Regardless of that, it's been demonstrated that help has to be forced upon any hospital handling Ebola whether they like it or not.

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life

PeterM from Berkeley Re:5 minute charge (395 comments)

Right you are, I miscalculated. Thanks for catching it.
I actually did kWm instead of kWh. (Kilowatt minutes).

about a month and a half ago
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Battery Breakthrough: Researchers Claim 70% Charge In 2 Minutes, 20-Year Life

PeterM from Berkeley Re:5 minute charge (395 comments)

That's 141 A at 120V (DC). It's about the sum total of the power that could go into my house at any given moment.

Not really a 'direct connection to a power plant' required.

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

PeterM from Berkeley Perspective? (421 comments)

Yes, right NOW Ebola isn't a common way to die. Only 8k cases.

WHO projections of an uncontrolled Ebola epidemic have the number of cases up into the millions next year.

So apparently Ebola can become one of the top ten causes of death worldwide within 1 year. It has already overtaken terrorist attacks. In a month or so, it will have overtaken lightning deaths (60k per year worldwide).

I just hope that we can do better than 'uncontrolled'. So far it has not been a happy trend.

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

PeterM from Berkeley Re:No worse than AIDS, are you kidding? (421 comments)

OK, in Texas, we have 1 health care worker infected per 1 patient, so far, and the sick health care worker was aware of the ebola and trying hard not to get it.

In Spain, we have 1 health care worker infected per 1 patient, also aware of ebola and trying hard not to get it.

On the postive side, the West has managed to treat 3 others without any more health care workers getting sick.

So in the West, the score is maybe 5 patients and 2 health care workers sick so far.

I would call that alarming. But wait, it gets worse.

In Africa, health care workers are 5% of the cases overall.
http://time.com/3502002/ebola-...

Presumably they are doing their best not to get infected too.

We need to do better, far better, in protecting health care workers both in the West (where we are doing poorly) and in Africa, where we are doing VERY poorly.

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

PeterM from Berkeley No worse than AIDS, are you kidding? (421 comments)

AIDS doesn't cause contagious blood, spit, diarrhea, and vomit to go everywhere. Ebola does.

AIDS doesn't infect health care workers who are treating patients unless there's a needlestick or sexual contact. Ebola does, with alarming frequency. Even if you DO have sex with someone with AIDS, it's not 100% that you'll get AIDS.

AIDS can't be spread by sneezing or coughing. It's possible Ebola *is*.

In terms of contagiousness, Ebola seems 10x worse. It's like saying "smallpox is no worse than chickenpox". Maybe if you put them both on a logarithmic plot and back up 50 feet!

--PM

about a month and a half ago
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Z Machine Makes Progress Toward Nuclear Fusion

PeterM from Berkeley Jupiter needs 100x more mass to be a star (151 comments)

I looked it up, an M8 class star (the lightest I could find) is about 1.99e29 kg of mass, jupiter is 1.9e27 kg, so it missed being a star by 100x.

So, it is TWO orders of magnitude from being a star, right in the middle of your range.

--PM

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Magnetic monopoles observed as emergent property

PeterM from Berkeley PeterM from Berkeley writes  |  more than 5 years ago

PeterM from Berkeley writes " This brief from Science Daily reports the claimed detection of magnetic monopoles an emergent property in a crystalline lattice of Dysprosium Titanate at temperatures between .6K and 2K. According to the article, these magnetic monopoles interact similarly to electrically charged particles. These are not isolated magnetic monopoles in the same sense that electrons are isolated, mobile charges: instead these monopoles appear at the end of tubes of magnetic flux called "Dirac strings". These were theorized in 1931 by Dirac, but have only just now been observed."
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First ever application of string theory

PeterM from Berkeley PeterM from Berkeley writes  |  more than 5 years ago

PeterM from Berkeley writes "Scientists are claiming to have made the first practical application of string theory to the problem of high temperature superconductivity, a physical phenomenon no one has previously been able to explain. This brief from Science Daily presents an overview of an article published in Science. String theory has come under fire for producing no testable predictions. This would represent a first application of string theory to a practical problem and one where other theories have provided no explanation."

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