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Comment Re:They did it to themselves (Score 2) 210

Farming hardware - tractors, harvesters, etc - has traditionally been *very* reliable and long-lived. In other words, what you might call "overbuilt". They have a hard time comprehending why their computers don't last longer than 3-4 years. I have to try to explain modern economics to them.

Is there perhaps a larger moral to be learned from this? Is there something about farm equipment -- or FARMERS -- that's different?

Just a thought, but farming is one job that actually requires long-term financial planning. I've known a surprising number of people who appear to live "paycheck-to-paycheck." Even smart people with advanced degrees -- some of them with advanced math skills. But they simply can't manage money enough to not spend basically everything that's in their bank account before the next paycheck comes in.

And our modern systems of credit make this possible. Decades ago, loans were rare; a large percentage of people saved up even for big purchases (cars, etc.) rather than taking out credit. But today everything is split up into convenient monthly chunks, spread out over a pay period or two.

Farmers can't plan like that. They plant stuff one season and won't see profit until the end of the year. And droughts and pests and unusual hot/cold spells occur, and this year's crops don't live up. So, as a farmer, you MUST have to still think in terms of saving for "hard times" and in a multi-year budget span, or you'll likely go backrupt in just a few years. (Admittedly, this is something I heard a couple decades ago from old farmers; I don't know what the business is like these days where small family-owned farms have become such a rarity.)

So -- coming back to the parent's example: is it coincidence that farming equipment has maintained standards for durability as farmers have to plan for decades of expenses to justify a purchase for a large piece of equipment? While meanwhile most of American society happily accepts lower prices in exchange for junk products with shorter lifespans? -- the same people who carry balances on credit cards with ridiculous interest rates?

The unfortunate trend is that even the old "reliable" manufacturers of things like appliances seem to have bought into the "planned obsolesence" ideology, so even if you parents had an appliance that lasted for 20, 30, or even 40+ years, it may be likely that the same brand product will only last 5 years for you... even if they are still charging a premium price for their "brand reputation." I personally would happily pay a much higher cost for something if I know it's worth it in terms of durability in the long-run, but I find it harder and harder to find product lines that I trust enough to take a chance on the higher expense.

Comment Re:/. editors: why do you maintain this shit hole? (Score 1) 882

Donald Trump broke this place.

Just wondering -- is Trump responsible for the ever more invasive ads here? Because it's over the top now. Beyond the pale. I started my migration to SoylentNews about 6 months ago. I've still be checking in here periodically, but if these ads don't stop, I'm DONE with Slashdot. I know everyone says that, but the ads now are simply unacceptable.

(And yeah, I can and do run adblockers, but I sometimes view the site without them... this is terrible.)

Comment Re:Lifestyle disease (Score 1) 151

When I read the reports I *never* got the idea that they were recommending refined flours, sugar, or other similar sources of sugar or starch. The closest I can come is a recommendation for baked potatoes...which is still sort of valid, though now we (or at least I) worry more about the starch.

Here's a story from Luise Light, who was a leading nutritionist at the USDA when the "Food Pyramid" was originally adopted. After the nutritionists submitted their recommended guidelines to the Secretary of Agriculture, here's what happened:

When our version of the Food Guide came back to us revised, we were shocked to find that it was vastly different from the one we had developed. As I later discovered, the wholesale changes made to the guide by the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture were calculated to win the acceptance of the food industry. For instance, the Ag Secretaryâ(TM)s office altered wording to emphasize processed foods over fresh and whole foods, to downplay lean meats and low-fat dairy choices because the meat and milk lobbies believed itâ(TM)d hurt sales of full-fat products; it also hugely increased the servings of wheat and other grains to make the wheat growers happy. The meat lobby got the final word on the color of the saturated fat/cholesterol guideline which was changed from red to purple because meat producers worried that using red to signify âoebadâ fat would be linked to red meat in consumersâ(TM) minds.

Where we, the USDA nutritionists, called for a base of 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day, it was replaced with a paltry 2-3 servings (changed to 5-7 servings a couple of years later because an anti-cancer campaign by another government agency, the National Cancer Institute, forced the USDA to adopt the higher standard). Our recommendation of 3-4 daily servings of whole-grain breads and cereals was changed to a whopping 6-11 servings forming the base of the Food Pyramid as a concession to the processed wheat and corn industries. Moreover, my nutritionist group had placed baked goods made with white flour â" including crackers, sweets and other low-nutrient foods laden with sugars and fats â" at the peak of the pyramid, recommending that they be eaten sparingly. To our alarm, in the âoerevisedâ Food Guide, they were now made part of the Pyramidâ(TM)s base.

Light's account of this has appeared elsewhere in lots of sources. Although we probably can't verify every one of her personal memories, it seems clear that the nutritional guidelines WERE deliberately altered to emphasize processed foods, including starches and sugars... granted, part of the alternations weren't really about encouragement, but rather removing warnings against them. But still -- it's pretty much "smoking gun" evidence against what you said.

(BTW -- apologies for the all the crappy characters showing up. I used to edit stuff I pasted in to conform to Slashdot's archaic encoding standards... but since they are now barraging me with invasive ads, I can't be bothered to respect this site anymore and will likely be leaving permanently anyway...)

Comment Re:Obama is to blame (Score 1) 882

You apparently feel no blame at all should fall on anyone but Trump, even though Trump didn't come into the picture until recently and the shooter has been falling for years. Yet you twist the truth to blame Trump for a tragedy much longer in the making - sick man, you are as sick as the shooter or heading that way.

And yet, from your previous post, you "apparently feel no blame at all should fall on anyone but Obama." I quote:

What triggers this shooting was a vet who couldn't get assistance from the VA []. After eight years, that is on Obama - as is Obama and supporters stirring racial tension and giving focus to a violent angry drunk man.

Look -- I feel like I have to say this on the internet every other day now, but events can have multiple causes. They certainly always have various factors that have to be in place for them to come to pass.

I frankly don't know this man. I haven't researched his story in detail. And I certainly don't feel that *I* have any business pontificating on the internet about what "triggered" this event.

In legal terms, this is generally known as the "proximate cause," something more immediate in the chain of causality. For all I know, this guy could have been ultimately set off because somebody gave him the green Jell-O instead of the red Jell-O in the lunchline that day.

Anyhow, YES, if this guy was denied proper care from the VA because of some shortfalls under Obama, SOME of the causality may be blamed on Obama (or, probably more likely, on various underlings who made poor decisions too).

On the other hand, Donald Trump has spent nearly the past 2 years creating a climate of xenophobia and hatred against immigrants in his rhetoric. GP wants to blame this entirely on Trump, but I'm sure that's not the case. On the other hand, you seem to want to shift the blame entirely AWAY from Trump and focus on a potentially more remote cause. (And note -- even if this guy was denied VA care, do you have specific proof that it was an Obama policy that denied him that care? Did Barack Obama personally reject a request from him for care? Or was this part of a chain of causality that actually makes more sense to blame someone who made poor decisions at a lower level?)

I really don't know. But I do know that Trump tries to get attention every day. He seems to thrive on "speaking" (tweeting) directly to the "people." If some of his anti-immigration rhetoric was heard by this guy, could it have had some significant impact?Maybe, as the news story you cite says, "this wasn't who he normally was," but a combination of mental problems AND pervasive news stories on immigrants as enemies in the conservative media... maybe that was something?

Again, I certainly don't have all the facts. But can we all just take a step back here and CALM THE [BLEEP] DOWN!?! Stop trying to find the one person to blame for anything. As I mentioned above, Obama was not the single person in charge of every decision at the VA. And Trump is certainly has been created by plenty of other supporters egging him on and encouraging him to continue his rhetoric.

There's lots of blame to go around. But can we all just acknowledge that -- regardless of the proximate causality chain here -- the current climate of xenophobia is likely to result in increased violence against immigrants overall??

Comment Re:Drone has no passenger at all. Results, not err (Score 1) 245

> What error in judgement did they make that makes them liable?

That's not the legal, or fair, standard. The results of my actions are the results, whether I made an error in judgement or just got unlucky.

Actually, you probably will want to read up on tort law, specifically standards for negligence. In the most detailed legal analysis, there are a number of elements to proving negligence. Along the line, you must establish that a defendant had a "duty" to act in a certain way and then "breached" that duty in some way. But you also not only need to prove that the defendant's actions caused something, but that they were a direct and legally relevant cause of the harm. Events always have multiple causes -- a lot of tort law is about sorting out which causes are legally relevant and which aren't.

Example: if you run over a pedestrian because you were drinking a soda and not paying attention to the road, a plaintiff generally can't bring a successful action against the shop that sold you the soda. Yes, the fact that you were distracted due to the soda was a cause of the accident, but it wasn't a legally relevant cause, because you were the one driving poorly, and your choice of distraction isn't the fault of the soda shop.

On the other hand, if you run over a pedestrian because you were drinking a bottle of whiskey, and you had bought that bottle after walking into a liquor store noticeably drunk, and surveillance footage has you on camera saying, "Yes, I'm gonna drink this and I'm gonna be drivin' all over town tonight -- I'd do give a crap if I hit someone..." -- well, in that case, the pedestrian who was struck might actually have a case to sue the liquor store, because they sold a dangerous item to someone already in a state unable to handle it and someone declaring he was going to use it improperly.

We could just as easily create scenarios with your "log in the road" example too where one person bears primary legal responsibility, or another party, or both. The problem with accidents and driving is that, unlike most other tort cases, the pervasive and required "insurance" has led to default assumptions about where liability must lie in almost all scenarios. Thus, even in cases where a provable manufacturer defect was the primary cause of a crash, you'll frequently still see insurance companies of the drivers arguing over having to pay damages too. That's just not always the case in most other legal scenarios -- in some cases, the product manufacturer may be primarily liable and a suit against the user could NOT be successful (and would even be summarily dismissed by a court) depending on the assumptions of "normal" product use and what happened.

According to your legal theory of negligence, consumers in fact could NEVER sue product manufacturers, since the "results of your action are the results"... and you're apparently solely responsible for them, even if the product blows up unexpectedly on you -- it was your fault for using it in the first place.

Maybe such a thing will be sold some day. Right now, cruise control amd automatic braking aren't anywhere near what you've described.

Then the cars aren't actually "self-driving." Until a car has the ability to handle ALL reasonably foreseeable road conditions as well as (or better than) a human driver, it should not be sold as a "self-driving car." And note that "reasonably foreseeable" has to do with the legal issue again. Just like the soda shop can't reasonably foresee that you'd hold a soda cup up in front of your face for a full 10 seconds while driving before plowing into a pedestrian, there are likely going to be scenarios where people try to operate "self-driving cars" in situations that a car manufacturer might never consider. But there will also be plenty of conditions it WILL consider "reasonable," and if the car causes an accident in those circumstances, they should be held liable.

If UPS's truck rear-ends me on an ice-covered road, I'm going to sue UPS.

This is an incredibly bizarre argument right in the middle of what you claim to be basing on your strict direct proximate causation theory of negligence. Unless the UPS packages deliver themselves to the doorsteps of customers, surely the UPS truck has a guy in the truck. Why aren't you suing HIM, according to your theory of negligence?? What does UPS have to do with it? If that guy hadn't started up the truck and ordered it to go on its route, the hazard wouldn't have been created.

And of course UPS DOES have something to do with it, because they deployed the truck fleet. So even if there is a closer proximate cause (the "driver" of the truck putting it on the road), there may also be a corporation behind that action that should assume some of the blame. That is EXACTLY the same legal argument (which you implicitly assumed to be the case) that argues for the self-driving truck company as liable. Just as UPS chose to deploy the fleet, so Tesla chose to market the trucks as "self-driving." Depending on whether UPS operated the trucks under specs or not, you may be able to successfully sue UPS or Tesla or both.

Bottom line: events have more than one cause, both in the real world and legally. Not all of them are legally the most important. And a guy sitting in the back seat of a "self-driving" car is generally not going to be as responsible as the company that marketed the car as "self-driving" to begin with. And car companies can't be allowed to get away with no liability with a 25-page statement saying, "Don't ever use this car under X, Y, Z, and 9583 other conditions" when that's not practical. If they are going to sell it as a "self-driving" car, it needs to be able to operate under a reasonable set of road conditions that can be foreseeable.

To take your example of icy roads, well, on a single trip, road conditions may change from clear to icy. A true "self-driving" car must be equipped with some mechanism to detect potentially unsafe road conditions and to warn the passenger that travel is no longer safe. If the passenger then chooses to override that mechanism and have the car continue driving anyway, there should be a clear warning that he is now legally responsible for any damages the car may cause while operating outside of parameters. Without such a detection or warning system, why should a passenger be liable in something marketed as a "self-driving" car? Part of the duty of drivers is to pay attention to road conditions. A "self-driving" car by definition needs to be able to detect that and adjust its behavior.

Comment Re:Beware the gig economy... (Score 1) 147

If most people swap jobs every few years, does it really make sense for employers to be responsible for their retirement savings?

I have to agree with you that the whole "mandatory retirement contribution" thing is pretty much just an annoyance for all concerned today. I understand the rationale for it (because most people are incapable of long-term planning), but it's a terrible idea for people who are in jobs for a short term and need to deal with all sorts of different retirement accounts spread out in various systems.

When I was younger, I took a few short-term jobs and once worked as a state employee for a couple years. In all of these I was required to make mandatory "contributions" out of my pay toward retirement accounts. Well, with the state employee system, I was told when I left that I didn't have enough years to qualify for a pension, so unless I returned to the system, my account would accrue interest for 5 years, after which it would become dormant. I could withdraw the money and put it in an IRA or something at any time, but by doing so, I would forfeit the years of experience I had accrued in the system.

Anyhow, at first I wanted to keep options open, so I didn't withdraw immediately. And then the interest rates the account was paying was pretty good compared to how things were going in the market at the time, so I figured I'd just withdraw after the 5 years. Well, after 5 years, I contacted them, and the money was GONE. Turns out they changed the policy since I was employed, and rather making accounts just dormant after 5 years, you were summarily deleted from the system, and all of your retirement money was forfeited and returned to the state pension pool.

Next, I had a very short-term gig (actually indirectly for a different state government) and was again required to contribute mandatory retirement. In this case, it was only a few hundred dollars, but they didn't really notify me of all the details, so I wasn't even aware of this balance or where it went. A couple years later, I had moved, but they decided to send my money to some 3rd-party account management service, which charged a $15/month fee to hold my money. I wasn't aware of any of this (because I had moved and wasn't even really aware that I was owed benefits) until the 3rd-party company finally located me and sent me a statement that this account was being closed, since my balance had fallen to $12 (all the rest had gone to fees), and they could no longer maintain it... so they literally sent me a check for $12 after taking all the rest of my retirement money.

I'm currently fighting to get another small amount out of such a 3rd-party company because of other retirement benefits I wasn't even made aware of for a short-term contractual position nearly a decade ago.

Cumulatively, all of the money I've lost isn't that much compared to my main retirement savings, but it's preposterous that people all the time are making forced contributions to retirement accounts for short-term employment -- sometimes where they're not even told clearly that they even are being given those benefits other than on an unclear line on a paystub -- and then having to jump through hoops to track down or keep that money, and then deal with the hassle of moving it to other accounts.

Comment Re:I hate euphemisms.... (Score 1) 147

This is easily mitigated these days: don't have a family. Now you only have to worry about making enough money for yourself, and saving enough for yourself on days you don't have any work.

I'm not sure if you're being serious or sarcastic. But if you're serious -- Even assuming you can personally save enough money to avoid begging on the street, you do realize that most people in the world have families whether they like it or not?? E.g., Parents, who might get ill and can't take care of themselves on their own, or even siblings who might end up out of work or whatever. Just because you don't have kids to feed doesn't mean you won't end up with any family obligations to help support. Such situations happen more commonly than you might think, and it can be a significant strain on people who have low incomes.

Comment Re:I hate euphemisms.... (Score 5, Insightful) 147

The "gig" economy is a bullshit attempt to glamorize and hide the real issue, which is a population outpacing the availability stable employment that provides necessary benefits.

In some cases, this is being driven by population vs. employment. But in many cases, simple greed is a major contributing factor. It's so much cheaper to operate a business with a bunch of part-time workers. Many businesses would prefer it, if they could get away with it.

Instability should never be viewed as a good thing.

Yeah, unfortunately most folks in the past couple generations never had to see what the "gig" economies of the past were actually like. Back when you'd go to your local town square or down to the docks or whatever, and stand in line waiting for some potential employer to choose you for work FOR THE DAY. And then you'd break your back doing labor for the day, make enough money to feed your kids, and you'd be off again begging for work the next morning. If you hurt your back or got sick or whatever, you and your family were screwed. End of story.

This was what employment was like for LOTS of people for millennia. Skilled workers like craftsmen could sometimes get more stable jobs, because their skills increased the productivity of the business and employers recognized that.

But for laborer jobs or other things you could likely be trained to do in an hour or two? Not so much. And that's what many modern "gig economy" employers are exploiting again -- can you drive a car? Fine: you're a part-time Uber driver. Be sure to show up on time and be pleasant enough to keep the high ratings, or you won't have a job tomorrow.

Lots of people today criticize unions (sometimes rightly) for corruption, etc. But what unions fought so hard for for a century or so was to finally get modern civilization out of that and recognize that even laborers and unskilled workers deserve to be treated with dignity in their jobs, rather than discarded at the end of the day.

But no more -- I'm frankly shocked at how many younger folks seem brainwashed by all the hooplah over the supposed benefits of the "gig economy." People who know anything about history, on the other hand, see this as exactly what it is: an opportunity for businesses to return to a model where they make greater profits and don't have any obligations to their workers beyond today.

Comment Re:All these words (Score 1) 104

The problem is that someone (I think intentionally) co-opted "fake news" to mean "biased reporting"- that's not originally what it meant at all and a lot of people are still using the term to mean something else. "Fake news" originally (as in a couple of months ago) meant completely fabricated stories.

You gotta understand free expression of language these days -- I guess they're just "free wielding" the term.

(Or, at least that's what I'm guessing these two words from TFS might mean when put in sequence. But from the summary, I still can't understand exactly what Zuckerberg's note was "wielding." Didn't know Slashdot was into actually spawning NEW eggcorns.)

Comment Re:Not accidentally! (Score 2) 118

Well, as other posts have already replied to you, the strict distinction you're trying to make here doesn't really hold in English. Both accidentally and inadvertently can easily apply to something that was trying to be avoided.

But I sense a problem with the headline too, and I think the real issue is -- why are the POTTERS mentioned at all? There's a kind of implication with the way the headline is worded that the potters "recorded" information, except they had no concept of what such recording might amount to or what that information might be. Really, the potters had no intentionality here at all.

This is even worse in the original NPR headline, which is "Iron Age Potters CAREFULLY Recorded Earth's Magnetic Field -- By Accident." That's more problematic from an English usage standpoint, because "carefully" implies they did something with care... specifically they "recorded" with care. But they didn't know they were recording anything, so how could they do it with care?

The more clear way to word all of this would of course be to take the potters out of it completely, since they weren't "recording" anything -- intentionally or unintentionally. They were making pottery. A better headline might just be "Strength of Earth's Magnetic Field Recorded in Structure of Iron Age Pottery" or something. Even better, leave "record" out of it entirely, since that usually implies intentionally preserving information to begin with -- maybe "Historical Variance in Earth's Magnetic Field Strength Measured Using Iron Age Pottery" or something.

Comment Re:Management doesn't know what it wants (Score 1) 158

Those that are quite horrifying. I'm thinking call center jobs or any such service level position. Ones where you are not measured by how well you resolve the customer's issue but how many calls you get through and how quickly you do it.

Yeah, exactly. And this is NOTHING new. A couple of decades I took a summer job in a collections department. It was a horrid job, but it paid reasonably well for a summer position. Our productivity was measured almost solely in the number of accounts we handled and the amount of money we brought in through collections. Whether we actually handled the accounts "well" wasn't really a factor (which led to gross inefficiencies and hoards of "problem accounts" that simply went more and more delinquent as they were passed off because nobody wanted to take the time to deal with them). I managed to figure out ways to make my own account handling more efficient, so I actually processed significantly more accounts than anyone else in the office.

Anyhow, after I had been there for a couple months, they decided we still weren't "efficient" enough and they weren't tracking us enough. (We spent more time filing in stupid useless spreadsheets tracking all the calls we did so that someone in management could monitor our "productivity" than we frequently did making calls.)

And so they instituted a policy that we had to "log in" to our phones while we were at our desks, and log out whenever we were on break or at lunch or whatever.

About two weeks after this policy started, one day I ended up skipping lunch because I was dealing with a particularly problematic account. But then I took a longer afternoon break to make up for it and was out for 18 or 19 minutes instead of 10 minutes -- I figured this wouldn't be a problem, since I had given up my 30-minute lunch break and effectively worked "for free" for 20 extra minutes that day.

The next day, I get called over to my boss's desk, where she had been instructed by company-wide memo to reprimand me, because my name ended up at the top of some list of people who took extra-long breaks. My boss was apologetic, since she knew I was more productive than anyone else in the department, but this is what management were wasting their time doing by sorting some spreadsheet column or whatever and looking only at how long somebody was out for a single break.

Anyhow, with only a few weeks in the summer left, I simply said, "Sorry, these are unacceptable working conditions -- I'll pack up my things and leave," and simply left the job on the spot. (There had been other similar crap leading up to this too.) Only time in my life that I did that, but I think it was entirely justified. Last I heard, the entire collections division ended up shut down and outsourced a few months later, probably because workers were spending twice as much time filling out spreadsheets and logging into phones to prove how "productive" they were rather than actually doing work. Idiots.

Comment Re:Fake news is real (Score 3, Insightful) 895

Both items were passed off as "news" by seemingly legitimate news organizations. Both items are fake news - literally fake.

You seem to not understand the difference between "fake" and "incorrect/erroneous" If you hand a bouncer a "fake ID" at a bar, it doesn't mean you accidentally handed them someone else's ID or maybe accidentally handed credentials that were expired or otherwise unacceptable to get into a bar. A "fake ID" implies that you KNOWINGLY manufactured a false ID (or had someone do it for you) with intent to pass it off as real.

Do you have evidence that the reporters in question actually INTENTIONALLY passed along false information? If not, they were not "fake news" according to the standard definition of the English word "fake."

And they offered corrections. Here's the detailed account from Time about the MLK bust. The reporter corrected his tweets as soon as he had recognized an error. That's NOT what actual "fake news" sites do -- because fake news sites KNOW their information is false when they MAKE IT UP, so they don't offer corrections.

As for the other incident, it's yet another example of poor reporting, but only because the Olympian gave an interview that IMPLIED a connection with Trump's immigration policies and only FOUR DAYS LATER tweeted that actually the incident occurred in December. Again, we should be critical for poor reporting here that then made an EXPLICIT connection with Trump, it should have fact-checked when the event actually occurred, but the Olympian in question was vague in her original interview and implied it had happened recently.

So, who exactly is at fault here? The Olympian was expressing concern over current immigration policies and made a vague reference to detention, which was only later clarified. Was she part of some massive media "conspiracy" to hide the truth until four days later? Or did she just innocently make reference in an interview to an unpleasant experience that occurred to her in immigration recently -- and some media articles misinterpreted her vague timeline?

I'm NOT going to excuse those media reporters who implied a Trump connection -- they made a serious journalistic error by not doing appropriate fact-checking. We should condemn their actions and poor journalism.

But once more detailed information became available, they corrected their stories -- once again, that's NOT the practice of "fake news."

There are various bad journalistic practices in the world. And we should condemn them, and even fire journalists sometimes for making truly egregious errors or showing unreasonable bias or whatever. BUT UNINTENTIONAL ERRORS ARE NOT "FAKE NEWS." Fake news is a separate problem -- and a serious one that we ignore by misusing the English word "fake" or redefining it to dilute its meaning.

Comment Re:Uber? (Score 2) 641

This is a very interesting and well thought-out post. Thank you.

Most posts here miss the point that almost every event has multiple contributing factors. Obviously the driver was drunk. That's probably the most major contributing factor. But could a car with unusual acceleration characteristics also be a contributing factor? Possibly. Heck, the car ran into a tree. Maybe somebody planted that tree there 40 years ago. Did that person contribute something to this accident? Yes, obviously... maybe if that tree hadn't been there, everything would be okay.

The issue isn't whether or not there were hundreds of contributing factors to an event, or whether any one of them could have prevented it ("Darn that tree planting guy!"), but rather which contributing factors may have displayed negligence and created a "hazard" -- either legally or morally.

I haven't driven a Tesla, so I don't know how it handles. Clearly there are a lot of Tesla drivers who like how they drive and don't see a problem with them. But the parent here has a valid point that at some point we may get to a place where accelerating power and handling in some cars become more hazardous for the average driver.

And that's about the only part of this story that's worthy of debate.

Should this story be on Slashdot? NO. NO. NO. Clearly, it is an attempt by the editors to play off of the libertarian sympathies of many people here who are still pissed at how Tesla has had to do battle with car dealership laws, etc., and whose ire has already been inflamed by ridiculous charges about how the media seems to be attacking Tesla whenever it can... and now here comes a grieving father who is lashing out at something that really COULD have contributed something to this crash (in addition to the alcohol, etc.).

Let's all just take a deep breath, acknowledge that we all would not want to be in a place where we are grieving for a child and if we were, we'd likely want to find "someone to blame" too. And then let's move on from the the TROLL NAMED BeauHD WHO POSTED THIS STORY HERE TO GET EVERYONE YELLING.

Comment Re:He does have a point... (Score 3, Interesting) 251

However, I'd like to see some discussion of his statement.
Would a better connection between humans and machines be beneficial?
What would be the benefits/ problems?
How could this be achieved?

To discuss something meaningfully, you need to have a freakin' clue how it might work. At this point in time, we don't. We don't know how the brain works. We don't have anything close to strong AI. The best interfaces we're looking at now are stuff like moving artificial limbs or whatever. To speculate on what might happen IF we could all of this would be sort of like walking up to Isaac Newton in the 18th century and saying, "Sir Isaac, what problems do you think will occur with the internet next year? What will the major benefits/problems be of new advances?" Even if you explained the basic idea of the internet to Newton, I doubt he'd have enough perspective to meaningfully debate what might happen.

But, having put forth that disclaimer, I'll just note a few complete speculations in response to Musk. First is that his argument seems premised on the idea that a faster interface from brain to world would be beneficial to humans. Maybe it would. OR maybe our brains are somewhat limited in maximum input/output in ways that we can't really understand yet because we've never tried what he's proposing. Typing is about the right "speed of thought" for me to create coherent text. I've tried dictating, and I need to pause, correct, and reword too much for it to be useful to me. That seems to be how my brain works... although if I really needed to, I probably could retrain myself to dictate better.

But what if you increased my potential output by 10-fold, 100-fold, a million-fold. Would that actually be useful for me to interact with the world better or faster? Or would it just result in gibberish because my brain literally can't adapt to working much faster than it already does in USEFUL output? Or maybe the plasticity of the adult brain isn't enough to adapt -- so we try hooking up infants from birth with these things. Maybe it works... or maybe it just drives them to be insane or to have other brain development that effectively renders them LESS functional than "normal" humans. Not saying this WILL happen, but it's a possibility when you're talking about an interface with absolutely NO IDEA on what specs might work. Human brains have spent millions of years evolving into what they are to work efficiently at the speeds they do. Just because you could theoretically hook up a device to increase input/output doesn't mean the brain can actually change and adapt enough to make use of the throughput meaningfully.

Also, I think it's important to note in a discussion like this that one of the PRIMARY hallmarks of human intelligence is FORGETTING. One of the things that makes humans so much better than machines is our ability for abstraction -- finding larger patterns so we don't have to parse the "stream of consciousness" directly all the time. And then we sleep, and our brains revisit the memories of things that we've evolved to assimilate as "important" data, while we forget millions of random little details of our day at the same time.

Effectively, we take a very TINY percentage of the "noise" that is input into our brains and actually remember it in any detail, mostly through complex pattern-matching that we're only even beginning to emulate in specific cases with computer algorithms. But the point is that there's only so much that we CAN assimilate into our brains -- and that goes not just for memories, but for new skills or whatever. (Think about when you've tried to learn a skill by "cramming" for a full day or two vs. when you've done practice for a few minutes/day over weeks or months. Your brain needs the "downtime" to assimilate new skills... increasing input or output seems unlikely to make that process faster.)

My speculation is that Musk's idea is rather pointless for somehow keeping humans "relevant" or whatever. IF we develop strong AI that can actually learn as well as humans do, the increased capacity and efficiency will potentially grow exponentially and render humans obsolete within a generation or two. Human/machine interfaces might provide some interesting advantages for humans, but I sincerely doubt we'd actually maintain an "edge" over pure machine intelligence once strong AI occurs. But who knows? Perhaps there is something special about biological systems that won't be replicated easily with circuits, so maybe a "hybrid" could still have a purpose. But to speculate on that would be even worse than Newton speculating on new developments of the internet.

Comment Re: Another Black Mirror episode (Score 1) 130

Kind of like the TIna Fey comments in an awards show setting against Bill Cosby years before serious accusations became public and widespread.

Just to note, the accusations WERE public and widespread back in 2004-2006 or so. It's just few people took them seriously... the "Cosby Show dad" mystique and years promoting kids Jell-O etc. seem to have protected him back then though. Tina Fey was one of many back then who DID pick up on it, but most of the media just forgot about it.

I don't remember that stuff in 2005 or whatever, but I distinctly remember when I myself discovered this stuff about Cosby when I somehow happened upon a story entitled something like, "How we all forgot out about how Bill Cosby is a rapist" -- and that was back in 2012, I think. And that was a couple years before it was plastered all over the news again -- but once I read about it somewhere, it was easy to find all sorts of stuff on it, even prior to when I was reading in 2012.

Tina Fey was reacting to something that was actually public knowledge and had been the subject of news stories at major media sites... it's just that the rest of the media didn't pick up on the "drumbeat" until a decade later.

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A motion to adjourn is always in order.