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What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

istartedi What should happen (343 comments)

What should happen is a graceful transition from the scarcity-driven model to a virtually non-scarce model. We could start by issuing shares in public companies to the poor (financed by taxes), with the restraint that they aren't allowed to sell shares. They would receive dividends each month in addition to welfare. Eventually they might receive enough so that traditional welfare isn't required. As robots replaced workers, more and more people would end up on this kind of "dole" but it would be less and less onerous, and less and less of a stigma.

Eventually, you end up with almost everybody living off investment income. You still have a free market since there are no restrictions on *buying* new shares--you are only barred from selling your dole account. It's just that the market employment become less important.

That's just the financial aspect of the transition, with a very simple sort of social justice thrown in. It could be lousy or great, depending on a lot of societal factors. I think it's just important to realize that a gradual transition is possible without going to war over words like "socialism", "communism", "libertarianism", "fascism" or whatever -ism du jour is getting blow-hard pundit panties in a bunch.

3 hours ago
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Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower

istartedi How much coding was involved? (212 comments)

How much coding was involved? I'm not aware of the mechanics of the break-in. It could have been pure social engineering. It could have been a mole. That doesn't involve any coding. It could have been spotting a vulnerability. People who do that usually do some coding, but such attacks involve a lot of analysis of existing code as opposed to creating new code. The actual attack may require code; but it's usually not a lot. So. "Coding" as the "super-power" behind the attack? Meh.

yesterday
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11 Trillion Gallons of Water Needed To End California Drought

istartedi Re:Classic pricing problem (322 comments)

You left out a biggy: 5. Don't punish conservation.

How do some CA utilities punish water conservation? It goes like this: A. drought hits. B. utility requests conservation. C. Good citizens comply. D. Because utility revenue is proportional to usage, utility has less revenue. E. Utility has to raise rates. F. Good citizen who complied is a chump. He ends up paying more because he did a good deed.

3 days ago
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The Personal Computer Revolution Behind the Iron Curtain

istartedi Re:Wait, how is this possible? (115 comments)

Command economies like the USSR, Cuba, and DPRK work poorly in general; but they can concentrate their efforts to excel in specific areas. Thus, the USSR could beat the US in the early days of the space race; but couldn't supply consumer goods very well. Cuba also still operates much like the USSR, with similar problems in daily living. OTOH, they produce a lot of doctors and send them all over the world. Their command economy actually focuses on this. It almost makes you want to like their government. Almost. It isn't hard to see through all that, and if they simply taxed a more efficient market economy they could probably send even more doctors. DPRK? I'm not sure if they excel in anything. Even their feared nuke program is kind of a joke. AFAIK it's just a really sucky command economy; but it wouldn't surprise me if they produced a hand-full of really fantastic pocket watches every year. When you control the output of an entire nation, you can easily direct it disproportionately in one area at the expense of many other things.

5 days ago
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Waze Causing Anger Among LA Residents

istartedi Re:Move to a gated community (594 comments)

In certain parts of Montgomery County, MD I recall they placed DO NOT ENTER signs on streets that were obvious short-cuts. They were usually qualified with rush-hour times. In other words, the signs made them into temporary one-way streets that were against the short-cut direction. That's probably the most cost-effective and least annoying solution. The threat of a moving violation was enough to keep most offenders in check. Local residents are only mildly inconvenienced by having to circle the block. I suppose they could have put "except local traffic", but I think they wanted to keep it simple.

5 days ago
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3D Printer?

istartedi Probably won't own anytime soon. (173 comments)

I probably won't own a 3d printer anytime soon; but that doesn't mean never. Let's face it. Sometimes subtractive techniques are better. Something like a 3-d printed rifle is mostly a "because we can" exercise. The best parts for something like that will probably always be milled. I hedged my answer with "probably" because I can see using 3-d printing techniques for non-critical trim parts on some hobby item or household good I might want. 3-d printed window curtain slider...sure, why not? The reasons for not printing such items now are 1. Any affordable printer I've seen shows visible voxelation in the finished product. 2. I don't already have one, so the TCO still favors going to a store and buying parts which are better than anything I could print myself.

These problems might be solved by people that love 3d printing and play with it all the time. I'm just not one of them.

about a week ago
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Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

istartedi Re:I was actually going to add... (465 comments)

I'm a "spanner" myself. WW2 parents, Gen-X peers. This happens when your WW2 parents don't have you until they hit their 40s. Thus, you skip the entire generation and have some anomalous things going on, such as all your cousins being *adults* while you're growing up. Silly me, aren't cousins always adults? Nope. For most people, those are aunts and uncles, and aunts and uncles aren't so old.

I've run into a few other people with the same "span" and it's always interesting. In some ways, I can relate to boomers more than I do to my peers.

By now, we should have some Millenial "spanners" too--people who skipped Gex-X and grew up with adult Boomer cousins. I have no idea what that'd be like... but maybe we'd both have the common ability to understand that to some extend, all of this generation bullshit isn't really that damned important. People are people, and while analyzing cohorts isn't an entirely worthless concept, it needs to be kept in its place..

about a week ago
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Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

istartedi Re:Fire all the officers? (515 comments)

It's hard to find people willing to be shot at who actually take the job to protect and serve the public. So these jagoffs are filling the gap.

Actually it isn't that hard. It's called the military. People are willing to go into places much rougher than the typical American city for far less pay. Put the cops on the same pay rate as GIs, and it will actually be easier to get cops than it will be to get soldiers. Why? Because it'd be the same deal as the military except you can drive home each night.

about a week ago
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Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

istartedi Re:Fire all the officers? (515 comments)

And get new ones. What's so difficult about that?

Union. Unions that funded the campaigns of anybody who might be able to do that. Unions that negotiated the rules that say you can't do that, with the guy they funded sitting on the other side of the table. In short, corruption through-and-through, stinking to high heaven. The only real fix may be to for a citizens militia to seize the apparatus of power, and that's not something into which we should go lightly. In short yet again, the same causes that lead to the first revolution, and to various civil disturbances. The biggest of these was the Civil War, but there have been many other smaller ones. You may or may not have been taught about them by your teachers, who belong to similar unions.

about a week ago
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Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications

istartedi Re:WTF is going on in USA (379 comments)

When I looked that up, it said undefined. Is that what you wanted to say? I was kind of thinking it'd be a symbol for a bomb or a mushroom cloud or something.

about two weeks ago
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Preferred Type of Game?

istartedi Head games (171 comments)

A significant number of people you meet love to play head games. They'll probably never admit it though.

about two weeks ago
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French Publishers Prepare Lawsuit Against Adblock Plus

istartedi It sounds like they got greedy and corrupt (698 comments)

As an end-user, I expect my ad blocking to block ads. If they sell out and let some ads in for a fee, why would I use it? I don't know anything about French law; but this sounds a lot like the Yelp problem, except they're shaking people down to let their ads in instead of shaking them down for good reviews.

about two weeks ago
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Man Caught Trying To Sell Plans For New Aircraft Carrier

istartedi Re:Vulnerability (388 comments)

If Egypt has womp rats, we're in trouble.

about two weeks ago
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Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts

istartedi 12 years old? (197 comments)

12 year old software? No way. We need to fix that. There's no way we're going to Mars without rounded corners, infinite scrolling,and a tiled UI. If we don't launch in beta, all the other countries will think we're not hip. We won't get seated on the Trilby committee at the UN. Get some interns and fresh grads on this project, pronto.

about two weeks ago
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Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies

istartedi Re:TFA title is "Fear and Promise" (461 comments)

the local power company wants to charge out the ass to solar customers that are grid-tied, basically to make it as expensive as if you're buying power from them, and they want to pay jack and shit (and jack left town) for power that you sell back to them.

Of course this will vary by situation, but why not use the grid for things that need it, and use solar for things that don't?

For example, you might power an air conditioner totally with solar. That could be one of the biggest energy consumers in your house. The air conditioner could just be connected directly to the solar. The power company doesn't even have to know. From their PoV, it's just this guy that doesn't use much. Let the power company have the crumbs, like night-time lighting and the fridge, which don't work well with just solar.

about two weeks ago
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Why Elon Musk's Batteries Frighten Electric Companies

istartedi Anti-trust? (461 comments)

IANAL, but how does this not come under anti-trust? 1. They have a monopoly. 2. It harmed the consumer.

Microsoft got raked over the coals by government and the Slashdot court of public opinion for doing far less.

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Electronics-Induced Inattentiveness?

istartedi Re:tl;dr (312 comments)

UR2 ADD.

about two weeks ago
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Gangnam Style Surpasses YouTube's 32-bit View Counter

istartedi Re:numbering (164 comments)

Billions and billions served. I remember when McDonald's changed that. It was sad. It was also like they were saying that they were too lazy to keep track of their hamburgers any more. It made me wonder what else they were too lazy to keep track of. Billions and billions of rodent hairs?

about two weeks ago

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istartedi hasn't submitted any stories.

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istartedi istartedi writes  |  more than 2 years ago

Stop Obama's plan to sell FNMA foreclosures to private investors in bulk. These properties should be made available to all regardless of political or social affiliation.

It's understood that putting the properties on the market en masse could have negative impacts due to supply/demand fundemantals.

Here is a suggested course of action that addresses that issue FAIRLY:

1. Charter a corporation to hold, repair, and rent the properties, with the understanding that they will not be sold into the market for a fixed period of time, and thereafter only a fixed percentage per annum may be sold (e.g., 5 years of holding and no more than 5% of holdings per year sold thereafter).

2. The corporation must be publicly traded so that it will be subject to the full transparency required of any other corporation, and so that anyone who wishes may invest, regardless of who they know or donated to.

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The Microsoft Antivirus

istartedi istartedi writes  |  more than 12 years ago

This article is a continuation of a thread that played out rather long, and was in danger of being archived before I was done with it.

Ogerman's words appear with emphasis, and mine in regular text.

I'm sorry, but you're way off here. I would consider myself one of the so-called 'zealots' that you refer to. However, my vision is not some imaginary socialist utopia where everybody blindly works for the good of all and is magically rewarded. GPL is a tool to ensure that control of the technology we embrace remains in our hands rather than being controlled primarily by business interests. Retaining control allows us (developers) to operate in a market with few barriers--a purely capitalist market.

That is one of the great myths of the Free Software movement. Copylefting software actually gives developers *less* control not more. How? Because developers no longer have money, and as people on /. love to point out, "he who has the gold makes the rules". So what if Linux is GPL'd? The suits at RedHat and IBM are still going to make most of the decisions about what areas of development get funded. At it's very best, the GPL does nothing to break the grip of the suits. If we get to the point where code under non-copylefted licenses is not available, it will be impossible for anyone to override the status quo, and the people who are most likely to do that are small developers in the garage, not the suits.

OK, lets assume that happens--for example, the Open Source community comes up with a beautifully written office suite that effectively drives all proprietary ones out of the market. How is this bad? All it means is the wheel will never again need re-invented and perhaps finally a true industry standard will emerge. There's still plenty of room for innovation--new features to the existing codebase.. contributed by anyone who pleases. Where is this scenario bad? It's sure as heck a more optimal outcome for thepublic interest. And if you've really got that great of an idea on how to re-think the whole concept of an "office suite" then sure, it's your right to go proprietary.

The harm to consumers would be similar to the harm done by any other type of monopoly--the lack of choice. It isn't necessary to standardize the software; only the file format. What happens if a customer doesn't like the one-size-fits-all look and feel of this office suite? Very few customers are capable of making code changes, and at the consumer level nobody can afford to hire a programmer. They will simply have to wait for someone in the community to make the change. I'm happy to see you saying "it's your right to go proprietary" in the last sentance. There's hope yet. However, consider the huge barrier now faced by someone who wishes to topple a GPL'd monopoly.

Toppling MSFT would be far easier. In fact, Be Inc. might have had a chance of toppling MSFT were it not for Free Software. Apple competes with MSFT by verticly integrating hardware and software. MSFT is not nearly as impregnable as people make it out to be.

To topple a proprietary monopoly, you can start by providing an inferior product at a lower price. Then, you can feed the revenue back into R&D until your product matches or exceeds the monopolist product in quality and/or price. Yes, nobody has done this in direct competition with MSFT. OS/2 had a shot. I think OS/2 was doomed by crappy marketing for the most part. Back in Win3.x and '95 days, I remember seeing OS/2 ads and coming away not really knowing what it was. OS/2 Warp? That sounded like some kind of ad-on that I didn't really need. If only IBM had said "run 32-bit Windows and DOS applications for half the price of Windows95". If only there had been an "OS/2 compatable" sticker on software boxes (maybe there was) I might have been sold.

However, to topple a GPL'd monopoly is entirely different. You have to either verticly integrate to subsidize the software (like the Intel compiler) or keep plowing massive ammounts of money into your R&D until you have a better product. Nobody will pay for the inferior early versions. If you do get to the point where you have a better product, you have to charge more for it to recoup development costs. That's why the Intel compiler is several hundred dollars; and that's even with a subsidy from chip sales. Can you imagine something as good as the Intel compiler being written by a pure software company?

As stated earlier, I would not take it to that extreme--outlawing proprietary. But on the other hand, if Open Source wins by nature and market forces, then so be it.

Good to know. FWIW, I don't think most people in the OSS/FS movements want to outlaw proprietary; it's just a core group of RMS et.al. that worry me. A /. poll on this might yield interesting results.

Nothing you have said thus far suggests any way in which copylefted software could cause social problems, but if you can provide a solid example, I'm all ears. Decreasing the size of the software industry due to increased efficiency of open development does not count, however, because this type of change is seen throughout all history and in all industries and is not a social problem. (compare: robotics replacing factory workers, etc.)

Of course I can't cite an example in software because like I said, the industry and the FS movement are both just babies. I see parallels to the communist revolution, and less extremely, to the public school system. If copyleft wins in a free market, I see poor people waiting for new features, while the rich pay premiums for software that already has the desired features. If copyleft wins by legal coup, I see a black market for proprietary software, with mafia coders moving in to add features and threatening to break your leg if you tell anybody.

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