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posted by janrinok on Monday May 13, @11:26PM   Printer-friendly
from the But-Could-We-Handle-It dept.

As early as 1900, civil engineer John Elfreth Watkins predicted that by 2000 we would have such now-commonplace innovations as color photography, wireless telephones, and home televisions (and even TV dinners), among other things. Personally, I'm not really impressed -- my great-great-grandfather predicted we'd all eat meat from factories by now, and use the cows for transport instead -- and he wasn't even an engineer.

But anyway. Based on that little factoid, a bunch of engineers has started ERVA, the Engineering Research Visionary Alliance.

In a guest article on IEEE Spectrum, they claim that engineering these days means tinkering a bit on the edges. That's wrong. What we need -- dammit -- are bold visions of how to rebuild about everything. Engineers today need a different attitude: the mindset of the futurist.

Engineers are not simply crucial problem-solvers; they have long proven to be proactive architects of the future. For example, Nobel-winning physicists discovered the science behind the sensors that make modern photography possible. Engineers ran with the discovery, developing technology that NASA could use to send back clear pictures from space, giving us glimpses of universes far beyond our line of sight. The same tech enables you to snap photos with your cellphone.

[...] Futuristic thinking pushes the boundaries of what we can currently imagine and conceive. In an era of systemic crises, there is a seemingly paradoxical but accurate truth: It has become impractical to think too pragmatically. It is especially counterintuitive to engineers, as we are biased toward observable, systematic thinking. But it is a limitation we have overcome through visionary exploits of the past—and one we must overcome now, when the world needs us.

[...] Some examples of challenges we have addressed—and the subsequent comprehensive reports on recommended research direction for visionary, futuristic thinking—are:

  • The Role of Engineering to Address Climate Change. Our first visioning event considered how engineers can help mitigate the effects of rising global temperatures and better reduce carbon emissions. We envisioned how we could use artificial intelligence and other new technologies, including some revolutionary sensors, to proactively assess weather and water security events, decarbonize without disruptions to our energy supply, and slow the pace of warming.
  • Engineering R&D Solutions for Unhackable Infrastructure. We considered a future in which humans and computing systems were connected using trustworthy systems, with engineering solutions to self-identity threats and secure systems before they become compromised. Solutions for unhackable infrastructure should be inherent rather than bolted-on, integrated across connected channels, and activated from the system level to wearables. Actions must be taken now to ensure trustworthiness at every level so that the human element is at the forefront of future information infrastructure.
  • Engineering Materials for a Sustainable Future. In our most recent report, we discussed a future in which the most ubiquitous, noncircular materials in our world—concrete, chemicals, and single-use packaging—are created using sustainable materials. We embraced the use of organic and reusable materials, examining what it is likely to take to shift production, storage, and transportation in the process. Again, engineers are required to move beyond current solutions and to push the boundaries of what is possible.

So there you have it, young man -- the world needs you to solve its problems: and they have an open call for proposals. Go for it!


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, @11:39PM (24 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 13, @11:39PM (#1356863)

    No corporation would hire them.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:02AM (18 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:02AM (#1356865)

      Also, where are these engineers going to come from? Full text of this short paper:
      "Engineering Intangibles: Technical Employment in the US Service Economy" John A. Alic
      https://www.researchgate.net/publication/356839403_Engineering_Intangibles_Technical_Employment_in_the_US_Service_Economy [researchgate.net]
      From the abstract--

      Engineering occupations coevolved with industries producing material outputs: mining, construction, manufacturing. Yet wealthy economies have long been moving toward intangible services, the products of industries including finance, wholesale and retail trade, entertainment, travel and transportation, health care, and also the public sector (including, e.g., much of education). For the United States the shift is evident in statistical data going back well over a century and services now account for nearly 90 percent of all employment. The job share is lower for engineers, but even so the majority work for service-producing entities.

      • (Score: 3, Funny) by khallow on Tuesday May 14, @02:36AM (17 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @02:36AM (#1356878) Journal

        Engineering occupations coevolved with industries producing material outputs: mining, construction, manufacturing. Yet wealthy economies have long been moving toward intangible services, the products of industries including finance, wholesale and retail trade, entertainment, travel and transportation, health care, and also the public sector (including, e.g., much of education). For the United States the shift is evident in statistical data going back well over a century and services now account for nearly 90 percent of all employment. The job share is lower for engineers, but even so the majority work for service-producing entities.

        The obvious rebuttal here is that there's greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries. And I think it's telling how much opposition there is to engineering-heavy services like high frequency trading or gig economy networks. A lot of people aren't fans of futurists.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by c0lo on Tuesday May 14, @08:41AM (13 children)

          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @08:41AM (#1356910) Journal

          engineering-heavy services like high frequency trading or gig economy networks

          Would you be so kind to develop how HFT and gig economy networks are engineering heavy?
          IDK, something on the line of what percentage of the entire engineering population are involved into those?

          --
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
          • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Tuesday May 14, @12:13PM (12 children)

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @12:13PM (#1356920) Journal

            Would you be so kind to develop how HFT and gig economy networks are engineering heavy?

            This shouldn't be that hard for you. HFT, for example, requires novel computer architecture capable of making and supporting HFT trade and sophisticated math to support decision-making at microsecond speeds. That requires engineering to build. Gig economy doesn't work without sophisticated communication networks and computer systems capable of matching commodity service needs to providers. Stock markets and taxis, for example, predate even the telephone, and require surprisingly little in the way of engineering to support the original historical systems.

            IDK, something on the line of what percentage of the entire engineering population are involved into those?

            Why speak of "percentage" when you should be speaking of numbers? How many engineers would it take to conduct voice trade out of coffee houses as the earlier London stock brokers did? You might need a few engineers to design horse drawn carriages, but today's world of cars, cell phones, and the very particular infrastructure needs of ride hailing services need a lot more engineers.

            • (Score: 3, Touché) by c0lo on Tuesday May 14, @03:07PM (9 children)

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @03:07PM (#1356934) Journal

              HFT, for example, requires novel computer architecture capable of making and supporting HFT trade

              [Citation needed] on "requires novel computer architecture".

              Gig economy doesn't work without sophisticated communication networks and computer systems capable of matching commodity service needs to providers.

              You mean... the Internet, using cell comms as data carrier and general purpose computers? The ones are just consumed as only one particular case by the gig economy?
              What contribution brought in that gig economy to the creation of those "sophisticated communication networks and computer systems".

              Why speak of "percentage" when you should be speaking of numbers?

              Why should I be speaking of numbers? Aren't percentages numbers too? Where are those numbers that you speak of and what relevance do you attach to them?
              Because all I'm seeing so far is lotsa handwaving and handwaving does not an "obvious rebuttal" make

              --
              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday May 15, @04:30AM (8 children)

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 15, @04:30AM (#1357000) Journal

                [khallow:] HFT, for example, requires novel computer architecture capable of making and supporting HFT trade

                [Citation needed] on "requires novel computer architecture".

                Why? It's pretty obvious that microsecond level trading requires computer architecture that doesn't grow on trees. And any improvements in that won't come from stuff that already exists.

                [khallow:] Gig economy doesn't work without sophisticated communication networks and computer systems capable of matching commodity service needs to providers.

                [AC:] You mean... the Internet, using cell comms as data carrier and general purpose computers? The ones are just consumed as only one particular case by the gig economy?

                I see three items on your list that require a lot of engineers. And that doesn't count the infrastructure specific to gig economy.

                [khallow:] Why speak of "percentage" when you should be speaking of numbers?

                Why should I be speaking of numbers? Aren't percentages numbers too? Where are those numbers that you speak of and what relevance do you attach to them?

                For starters, engineers aren't a commodity like say wheat. Double the amount of wheat and you double the number of people you can feed. Double the number of engineers in a world with a lot of engineers and you get a bunch of former engineers. It all depends on the problems. If you're just throwing more engineers at figuring out how to shave weight from car floor mats, you won't get a lot of benefit from those extra engineers. If you're developing new ways to trade or communicate, then you'll get a lot more from your engineers.

                • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday May 15, @08:25AM (7 children)

                  by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 15, @08:25AM (#1357009) Journal

                  Why? It's pretty obvious that microsecond level trading requires computer architecture that doesn't grow on trees.

                  Really? Are you sure? Like technologies that hit the market in 1985 [wikipedia.org]?

                  I guess they may look like black magic to a statistician, but they are pretty common in today technology. My 2yo Anycubic resin printer (which I paid about $400 two years ago and sells now for $180 [anycubic.com]) employs one. Even toy traffic light systems [eimtechnology.com] use them and students make their EE project assignment using them [google.com].

                  Very much like myself when using my 3d printer, the traders don't need to know how they are programmed. Companies that sell shovels to traders [wikipedia.org] may be engineering-driven (and a small niche market), but the HFT-ers - who actually... ummm... "provide the service" (to whom?) - are definitely not in the "engineering-heavy services" ballpark.

                  [khallow:] The obvious rebuttal here is that there's greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries.
                  ...
                  [khallow:] Why speak of "percentage" when you should be speaking of numbers?
                  ...
                  [col0:] Where are those numbers that you speak of and what relevance do you attach to them?

                  [khallow:] For starters, engineers aren't a commodity like say wheat. Double the amount of wheat and you double the number of people you can feed. Double the number of engineers in a world with a lot of engineers and you get a bunch of former engineers.

                  Numbers, khallow, show me the numbers supporting our assertion of "there's greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries". Prove that legendary "in large part" with numbers, otherwise you don't have a rebuttal, much less an obvious one.

                  --
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
                  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday May 15, @01:09PM (6 children)

                    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 15, @01:09PM (#1357028) Journal

                    Like technologies that hit the market in 1985?

                    Is that technology that hit the market in 1985 the same now? I could see it for car floor mats. Not for electronic components subject to Moore's law for two or more decades. It's an absurd argument to make.

                    Companies that sell shovels to traders may be engineering-driven

                    Engineers needed as advertised.

                    Numbers, khallow, show me the numbers supporting our assertion of "there's greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries".

                    Indeed. Percentages do not show this. If we need twice as many engineers now as we did in say, 1970, then we indeed have greater demand for engineers, but the world's population increased by much more than that so the potential supply would have increased even faster.

                    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday May 15, @02:33PM (5 children)

                      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 15, @02:33PM (#1357042) Journal

                      Indeed. Percentages do not show this.

                      Are you gonna cite for me some numbers, any numbers that you like, to support your claim of "there's greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries" or should we stop wasting time and relegate the claim to unsupported/likely handwaving?

                      --
                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
                      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday May 16, @03:57AM (4 children)

                        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 16, @03:57AM (#1357143) Journal

                        Are you gonna cite for me some numbers, any numbers that you like, to support your claim of "there's greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries" or should we stop wasting time and relegate the claim to unsupported/likely handwaving?

                        There are 2000 engineers [pragmaticengineer.com] employed by Uber. Not a one of these jobs would exist in the absence of the gig economy. At a glance, the total employment by Uber is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30k employees. So 1 in 15 of Uber workers are explicitly engineers.

                        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Thursday May 16, @05:23AM (3 children)

                          by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 16, @05:23AM (#1357154) Journal

                          See? It wasn't that hard.
                          And it allows us to put the things in perspective, like:
                          * General Motors had, in 2021, 10 times more and was planning to hire 165% of total number of Uber engineers in 3 months [wardsauto.com]. This makes me thing that "large" in "greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries" is a bit exaggerated.
                          * If "1 in 15" qualifies for "engineering heavy" (see the "engineering-heavy services like ... gig economy networks" claim), what term is used to describe a "1 engineer in 3 employees" business? For example, the embattled Boeing has more than 57,000 engineers worldwide [boeing.com] and approximately 145,000 employees [boeing.com] and would probably benefit from a larger number of engineers to work out its quality problems.

                          --
                          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
                          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday May 16, @05:53AM (2 children)

                            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 16, @05:53AM (#1357157) Journal

                            See? It wasn't that hard.

                            May I roll my eyes now?

                            General Motors had, in 2021, 10 times more and was planning to hire 165% of total number of Uber engineers in 3 months [wardsauto.com]. This makes me thing that "large" in "greater demand for engineers now in large part due to those service-producing industries" is a bit exaggerated.

                            Exaggerated compared to what?

                            * If "1 in 15" qualifies for "engineering heavy" (see the "engineering-heavy services like ... gig economy networks" claim), what term is used to describe a "1 engineer in 3 employees" business? For example, the embattled Boeing has more than 57,000 engineers worldwide [boeing.com] and approximately 145,000 employees [boeing.com] and would probably benefit from a larger number of engineers to work out its quality problems.

                            You have a great ability to bring up non sequiturs. I find no actual dispute of anything I've written. So what that there are non-gig economy businesses with lots of engineers?

                            • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday May 16, @06:40AM (1 child)

                              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 16, @06:40AM (#1357166) Journal

                              See? It wasn't that hard.

                              May I roll my eyes now?

                              Do you think rolling your eyes helps support your claims more than citations?

                              Exaggerated compared to what?

                              I was thinking you want to look at absolute values rather than rely on comparisons and percentages. What made you change your mind?

                              So what that there are non-gig economy businesses with lots of engineers?

                              It was a question, khallow. Like, if you call 1/15 as heavy, what do you call 1/3?

                              --
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
                              • (Score: 0, Redundant) by khallow on Wednesday May 22, @04:48AM

                                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 22, @04:48AM (#1357761) Journal
                                I've taken some time away from this, but well, I think this is a ridiculous conversation.

                                Do you think rolling your eyes helps support your claims more than citations?

                                Here, yes. Because my eyes at least get some exercise. I think this displays the pointlessness of empty demands for citations.

                                I was thinking you want to look at absolute values rather than rely on comparisons and percentages. What made you change your mind?

                                2000 engineers > zero. And there are a bunch of other gig economy businesses out there.

                                It was a question, khallow. Like, if you call 1/15 as heavy, what do you call 1/3?

                                Engineer heavy. No reason here to come up with a new label.

            • (Score: 2) by quietus on Tuesday May 14, @03:59PM (1 child)

              by quietus (6328) on Tuesday May 14, @03:59PM (#1356938) Journal

              requires novel computer architecture

              Are you sure? The slowest link in HFT is getting your orders to the central stock exchange [servers] i.e. the network link -- which is why people pay crazy amounts to get their servers as physically close to the stock exchange servers.

              sophisticated math

              Again, are you sure? I thought HFT is about reacting on minuscule trade differences, not about enacting some sophisticated strategy.

              microsecond speeds

              Heh. You jest -- nanoseconds [cisco.com] is/was the name of the game.

              • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday May 15, @05:02AM

                by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 15, @05:02AM (#1357002) Journal

                Are you sure? The slowest link in HFT is getting your orders to the central stock exchange [servers] i.e. the network link -- which is why people pay crazy amounts to get their servers as physically close to the stock exchange servers.

                One of the tells that you've stumbled on a hot engineering field: having to design your system around the speed of light.

                [khallow:] sophisticated math

                [quietus:] Again, are you sure? I thought HFT is about reacting on minuscule trade differences, not about enacting some sophisticated strategy.

                When you buy stuff are you just reacting on minuscule trade differences? There's a huge variety of reasons and strategies for trade even among those who make their bread and butter from trade. For example, that HFT trader, Walmart, Maersk, and Steam are all traders with very different environments, approaches, and scope. We're not yet talking about sophisticated math, though I would argue that there's a surprising amount of it in the above examples (for example, network and queueing theory). My point though is that treating HFT as if it were only a very particular form of trading - namely, arbitrage trade where one trades on minute, near 100% sure things - ignores that there's a huge space of strategies just like there is for overall trade. For example, an early market was trading faster than the big players in a market. A typical scheme is that a big player makes a large transaction, buy or sell, in a stock over half a dozen markets, but that these trades execute over a period of time rather than hitting the markets simultaneously (which is a popular counter these days). The HFT agent figures out that the big trade is happening and reacts to the trade faster than the big player's orders can propagate in the market - pulling orders and making trades in the same direction before the big player's bids get to the more remote markets.

                BTW this happens because one can't get physically close to multiple stock exchanges distributed across the world at the same time. Putting your trader as close to the central stock exchange queue as possible doesn't help you when most of your stock doesn't trading on the central exchange (such as when you trade outside of exchange hours).

                Heh. You jest -- nanoseconds [cisco.com] is/was the name of the game.

                Even if you were to communicate via an evacuated tunnel or neutrinos between Hong Kong and New York City, you can't communicate faster than roughly 22 ms. That's 22 million nanoseconds. Certain games have many names depending on what you're trying to play.

        • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Wednesday May 15, @02:40PM (2 children)

          by ChrisMaple (6964) on Wednesday May 15, @02:40PM (#1357045)

          High frequency trading is one of those burdens on civilization wherein it is possible to make a living without providing a benefit. Indeed, by reducing the profit of the ultimate buyer or seller, it makes things worse. Creating new computer designs for HFT only is a way to waste the human lives involved in creating the designs.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday May 16, @06:04AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 16, @06:04AM (#1357159) Journal

            High frequency trading is one of those burdens on civilization wherein it is possible to make a living without providing a benefit.

            I imagine you've already heard that HFT provides liquidity to markets. That would be providing a benefit.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Thursday May 16, @11:00AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 16, @11:00AM (#1357190) Journal

            Creating new computer designs for HFT only is a way to waste the human lives involved in creating the designs.

            Why would one want to create a new computer design for this?
            The bottleneck is no longer in the speed of the HTC side, it's in the systems used by the specific stock markets and the comms (already alleviated by colocating the HTC with the stock market computers).

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
    • (Score: 2) by RS3 on Tuesday May 14, @02:17AM (1 child)

      by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday May 14, @02:17AM (#1356877)

      No corporation would hire them.

      Refinement: few if any current business culture HR departments will hire them.

      The "NSF Engineering Research Visioning Alliance" need to radically revise HR departments, programs, training, etc. They are the gatekeepers.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by RS3 on Tuesday May 14, @02:49AM

        by RS3 (6367) on Tuesday May 14, @02:49AM (#1356883)

        Augmenting: much (most?) of the problem is caused by short-term profit greed. HR departments are part of that whole machine.

        By the very definition, "visionary" means long-term. Sure, corporations say they want it, but they want someone else to pay for it.

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:49PM (#1356923)

      We're in the age of bullshit Leadership visioneers. That's where all the resources are going. Engineers are supposed to be yes-men peons who serve the Great Man's vision. Yuck. No wonder there are no self-respecting engineers doing real engineering work, they're either half-assing it making TankMobiles for MuskyBoy or hard passing on the whole job thing.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by crafoo on Tuesday May 14, @02:42PM (1 child)

      by crafoo (6639) on Tuesday May 14, @02:42PM (#1356930)

      more specifically, engineers and scientists were displaced by lawyers and MBAs in corporate and government power structures.

      if you want people with a futurist vision that's great. but we actually have these people already. what we will require is the raw corporate and political power to make that vision a reality.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, @01:38AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, @01:38AM (#1356978)

        It seems they think real innovation is setting up legal structures to farm humans. All the gig companies do it - AirBnb, Uber, Food delivery - they externalize costs and exploit a bit of work out of people, but planning on high turnover banking on fresh meat coming in.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:00AM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:00AM (#1356864)

    We have Musk making such bold predictions.

    The Zuckerfuck guy espousing the Metaverse and VR

    Amazon's head as working on a space-faring investment

    What other ones do we not hear about, every day?

    ---

    Compare. What were the "engineers" before? Were they employees in Thomas Jefferson's company, or were they Thomas Jefferson, the owner of the company? Could any of Jefferson's employees *afford* to make world-changing investments, discoveries, etc? or is that just Jefferson having enough play money to fund inventions, the time to tinker day after day at one thing (stories of Musk sitting at a desk researching stainless steel as a spacecraft material), and the interest to do it?

    It seems like we're not lacking people with vision, but mostly people with LOTS of money. Wealth is being accumulated to fewer and fewer, and that's the biggest piece.

    That, and it's basically illegal. Chemistry in your basement? Good luck with that. A 1M volt vandergraff generator? Your neighbors will probably report you.

    That, and such discoveries now-adays seem to be at the nano-scale (quantum dots, galium-nitride transistors) rather than at the macro level (combination of different components to make $Hey_Cool).

    But we do have it still. Just like "then", they're the rich, elite class. It's also more varied than just "tech". When's the last time you looked into wind-powered container ships?

    • (Score: 0, Troll) by khallow on Tuesday May 14, @02:38AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @02:38AM (#1356879) Journal

      It seems like we're not lacking people with vision, but mostly people with LOTS of money. Wealth is being accumulated to fewer and fewer, and that's the biggest piece.

      Are you trying to accumulate wealth so that you can be a person of vision? Or is this a problem someone else needs to do?

    • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Tuesday May 14, @05:29AM (2 children)

      by darkfeline (1030) on Tuesday May 14, @05:29AM (#1356894) Homepage

      > It seems like we're not lacking people with vision, but mostly people with LOTS of money.

      That's a very silly yet common misconception. Money is useless. Money represents a debt to society for value provided, which shall be paid back in kind in the future. The more money you have, the more value you provided to society which has not been paid back. Only an idiot would have lots of money; you want to spend it as fast as possible, especially given the idiotic inflation policies of modern monetary management.

      Everyone having lots of money is pointless; just ask Zimbabwe how much good having a lot of money did for them.

      --
      Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @04:51PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @04:51PM (#1356942)

        > Only an idiot would have lots of money; you want to spend it as fast as possible ...

        Gee thanks (sarcasm), I guess I'm an idiot now? Long ago I decided to not have children (multiple reasons) and this has the knock-on effect of no adult kids to take care of me in old age. I hope you'll excuse my excessive saving for my older years, when I'm likely to have to pay for the support that older folks need.

        After witnessing how poorly this works in the USA with the current system of residential care (nursing homes, etc), I'm angling for enough in savings to afford (if needed) 24 hour home care, with trained aides that I can pick and choose. Current cost in my area approaches $200,000 per year--three full time people. And, in a house that I own, with suitable access included.

        Inflation is dealt with pretty easily (if not perfectly) by conservative investing.

        Not planning on relying on the USA social security and related "safety net" programs, or health insurance. While I've paid in, and I'd like to get something back out, I'm not counting on it.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Wednesday May 15, @05:04AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 15, @05:04AM (#1357003) Journal

          Gee thanks (sarcasm), I guess I'm an idiot now?

          Who knew, right?

          Long ago I decided to not have children (multiple reasons) and this has the knock-on effect of no adult kids to take care of me in old age. I hope you'll excuse my excessive saving for my older years, when I'm likely to have to pay for the support that older folks need.

          Are you saving by say, stuffing your mattress with currency? Or via investments? One is money, the other is not.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by c0lo on Tuesday May 14, @08:43AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @08:43AM (#1356911) Journal

      Chemistry in your basement?

      I don't have a basement, you insensitive clod.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
    • (Score: 2) by quietus on Tuesday May 14, @04:57PM

      by quietus (6328) on Tuesday May 14, @04:57PM (#1356943) Journal

      Look at the first video on this page [ieee.org]. Are you claiming that a decent engineer cannot make this, at home, with OpenCAD, a 3D printer, a CNC mill and some embedded programming?

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @02:44AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @02:44AM (#1356880)
    As I've said elsewhere:
    People are a foundation for civilization. So being able to producing decent people is as important if not more important as being able to produce decent concrete, steel, etc.

    A bridge is not built using just steel and concrete alone, but with people. If you have crap people, even if the steel and concrete are good, the bridge might never be built even if a lot is spent on it.

    You can also keep adding more laws to deal with bad behavior from humans (gun control, knife control, anti-littering, etc) . But everyone knows that fixing problems/defects after "release" costs way more.

    So maybe the Government or some organization should look into how to provide good science based advice on raising children properly and actually raise more children properly. Some people who breed don't care; but there are likely many parents who actually want to do a good job, but don't know how to. Or what they do know is worse than what could be with modern knowledge and science.

    What to do when a child misbehaves in various ways. How to educate/condition/train/brainwash them and when appropriate to use these methods.

    The Government/organizations could start with orphanages. If the orphans raised are far better quality than average - lower crime, higher health, income, papers published, industry awards etc; then maybe more parents will be willing to be trained to raise their children similarly.

    There is a danger of producing humans who have "lost their heart" of course. And since I tend to be a heartless person, I'd leave it to the experts to figure out what to do to avoid such stuff.

    A goal is to produce humans who realize or are conditioned or brainwashed[1] to know/think there's just so much more fun and productive stuff that they can do with their freedoms than using their freedom to amuse themselves by pissing on a wall or to stab someone randomly or smash a mailbox.

    [1] Some people are too stupid to realize the Earth isn't flat even if you provide evidence it isn't. So for such types of people you might have to brainwash them when young, so that they at least believe the right thing for more of their productive lives than the wrong thing, even if they're not smart enough to realize the right thing. Like training/conditioning a dog to do the right stuff even though it's not smart enough to know why etc.
    • (Score: 2) by lentilla on Wednesday May 15, @11:38AM

      by lentilla (1770) on Wednesday May 15, @11:38AM (#1357021)

      So maybe the Government or some organization should look into how to provide good science based advice on raising children properly

      I like it!

      Except that libraries have entire shelves of books devoted to the topic. (The developed world already sends children to school so that can learn to read and process information as adults.) Parents can join parent's groups or talk with other parents. The problem is not the lack of available information on the topic - it's the lack of interest.

      You'd think that in raising children; arguably the most important and enduring calling for humanity; parents would go that extra mile. But no, only some do - and that's why you see such a bifurcation - good parents have good children and good grandchildren and the other end of the spectrum have no hope.

      Maybe governments could look further into marketing these ideas? I suspect that it would be a case of diminishing returns, many government already do outreach - preaching to the choir if you will - those that will, will - those that won't, won't.

      The Government/organizations could start with orphanages.

      A recipe for failure, that idea. Since the advent of reliable birth control and access to abortion the majority of children in orphanages will be permanently damaged due to prenatal exposure to drugs and/or alcohol. Or dumped later. Damaged - not beyond compassion - but very often beyond repair.

      Sad to say, improving humanity's lot is in the hands of the descendants of "good parents" and additionally their ability to curtail to ability of the dross to cause problems. Or put bluntly, the future of humanity is in finding a way to keep the idiots occupied whilst the smart people get on with it. (I can't believe I just argued for bread-and-circuses.)

    • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Wednesday May 15, @02:48PM

      by ChrisMaple (6964) on Wednesday May 15, @02:48PM (#1357047)

      The more government is allowed to educate children, the more the children will be taught to support those currently controlling the government.

      I think that you should check the definition of brainwashing before you promote its use. The concept involves torture.

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday May 16, @04:10AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 16, @04:10AM (#1357145) Journal

      So maybe the Government or some organization should look into how to provide good science based advice on raising children properly and actually raise more children properly. Some people who breed don't care; but there are likely many parents who actually want to do a good job, but don't know how to. Or what they do know is worse than what could be with modern knowledge and science.

      Why would it be in government's interests to do that well when they can instead shape the next generation to be more loyal minions? And as a replier noted, libraries already do this more than adequately.

      My take, having passed those years some time ago, that way too much attention is paid to raising children and not enough to empowering adults.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Se5a on Tuesday May 14, @02:49AM (2 children)

    by Se5a (20629) on Tuesday May 14, @02:49AM (#1356881)

    Those that try get vilified

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:56PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, @12:56PM (#1356925)

      No, there's just no resources for diligent hard working scientists and engineers. The modern ideology is client-focused neoliberalism - which means selling science and engineering services to make widgets to tickle a billionaire's fancy. We as a society have no collective sense any more - we're splintered into entrepreneur fiefdoms led by loud obnoxious salesmen who scoop the profit and move onto the next grift opportunity.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by quietus on Tuesday May 14, @05:02PM

        by quietus (6328) on Tuesday May 14, @05:02PM (#1356944) Journal

        What (practical) thing would be important for society right now/in 10 years time, you think?

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Thexalon on Tuesday May 14, @02:49AM (5 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday May 14, @02:49AM (#1356882)

    Imagining the future is easy, and fun, and exciting. Bold visions, broad strokes, wonderful technologies that are coming in 5, 10, 25 years tops. A sense of optimism fills the audience, and the seats at TED are filled. Books get sold, more speaking gigs are booked, and so forth.

    Then reality hits: The reason the technology in question hasn't happened yet has nothing to do with somebody imagining it might, and everything to do with it being impossible under all known laws of physics. And sure, maybe one day we might break the bounds of those known laws of physics, but generally speaking the time frames that futurists are talking in don't have time for decades of complex pure research.

    Conveniently, however, nobody goes back and reads through all the predictions that the futurists made to see how accurate they were, which guarantees that the grift keeps on going. Also, in my experience, the enthusiasm for futurist predictions is inversely related to how much the audience knows about the area the futurist is trying to transform (which is why they have such an easy time hooking politicians and venture capitalists).

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 2) by SomeRandomGeek on Tuesday May 14, @03:59PM

      by SomeRandomGeek (856) on Tuesday May 14, @03:59PM (#1356939)

      I both agree and disagree. While some of the technologies of the futurists don't arrive because they are technically impossible, most don't arrive because somebody doesn't want them. Sustainable energy is a useful example. Sure, some technology needed to be invented. But the research funding wasn't going into inventing sustainable energy technologies. It was going into ways to drill petroleum from ever deeper and less accessible sources. Because the companies in the energy business didn't see any profit in shaking up the status quo. Meanwhile, energy consumers basically said "Give me the cheapest energy today. I don't care about anything except price today."
      So, I agree that engineering vision is not going to solve anything. But not because engineers couldn't deliver on their vision. It's Because people don't actually want a better future. They want a better present.

      Oooh! While writing this post, I suddenly had a vision of a better future where you could highlight the word "its" and the spell checker would tell you which version is possessive and which version is plural.

    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday May 14, @04:29PM (3 children)

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Tuesday May 14, @04:29PM (#1356941) Journal

      Failed predictions are legion. In transportation, there's flying cars, self-driving cars, and even flywheel powered cars. It bleeds over into conspiracy theories, such as the supposed existence of 90 mpg carburetors and other tremendous fuel saving technologies Big Oil deliberately suppressed. One thing many of these predictions show is blinkered thinking. Although other means of transportation were considered, such as jets able to reach suborbital altitudes where they could go fast enough to cross the Pacific in a mere 90 minutes, there was not much recognition that in a few decades, electronic communication would prove able to greatly reduce travel needs and wants. A year ago, I visited Disneyworld in Orlando, and what struck me most about the place was all the emphasis on transportation. Had a very 1960s futurism feel to it. SF has a lot of fantastical travel that amounts to quick, sometimes instantaneous teleportation, which is overused. For instance, instead of beaming the infamous Star Trek Red Shirts down to check out an unknown and possibly dangerous place, and of course die of the dangers, why didn't they send a freaking drone? Even better, could learn a great deal more by more thorough scanning from orbit. In the future, scanning might be a whole lot more capable, yet we think of our feet first, not our eyes and ears. We love travel, that's why we fixate on it.

      I have a few predictions. First, medical science. No, we will not have figured out how to make ourselves immortal. We won't have smart pills either. No, I am thinking that the causes of some of our current afflictions such as the obesity epidemic and all these food allergies will be well understood, and those health problems pretty much cured and a thing of the past. Hope also that mental health problems are far more treatable. But also, that society will be friendlier and fairer, thus removing much strife that is one of the biggest drivers of illness, both mental and physical.

      Next, information. Copyright is obsolete, and will have finally been replaced by better systems. Perhaps music performance as we know it now will be gone, replaced by much more automation, though I dunno about that. Orchestras have hung on pretty well. The public library will convert from a place that houses books into a more of a social center, and instead of them all having rules against talking, they encourage talking.

      Here's a few other odd little changes I think may come to pass. Seamless clothing. Weaving will no longer be limited to flat pieces of cloth that must be stitched together. We won't wash clothes as often, because they will be better at staying clean longer. For the kitchen, I think we'll be seeing sea shell inspired plates that combine the cleanliness of ceramics with the toughness and resistance to breakage of plastic. I had thought a robotic dishwasher could be much superior to our current brainlessly mechanized methods, but what if instead these plates can be pulsed clean in a few seconds by applying a bit of electric current, AC, to repel everything on the plate, and you wouldn't need a dishwasher as we know them now? Just tilt the plate, turn on the electricity, and watch as everything slides off. And maybe, it wouldn't slide off into a sink, but instead be dumped onto a compost heap?

      Back to transportation for a moment. I suspect we'll go for a whole lot of urban renewal in which cars are deprioritized from their current central role. Hard to guess just how. Denser housing, probably. Make more use of the 3rd dimension by having lots more pedestrian tunnels and bridges, maybe, if the expense of that isn't prohibitive.

      Also on home life, more plants, less mowing. No need to use a mower when there are plenty of herbivores happy to eat all that lush vegetation. Maybe a more comfortable attitude towards more diverse wildlife in our cities, new tech and knowledge well able to prevent them from becoming a nuisance or menace to us. On that, perhaps we'll be able to not just tame but domesticate just about any animal.

      In sum, I am thinking of more subtle changes, not the flashy, powerful stuff such as all these billionaire owned private companies doing space exploration.

      • (Score: 2) by quietus on Tuesday May 14, @05:21PM (1 child)

        by quietus (6328) on Tuesday May 14, @05:21PM (#1356947) Journal

        No modpoints currently, but ++interesting.

        If I may add my own thought(s): terraforming -- not on Mars, but here on Earth. Arid regions cover about 45% of Earth's land surface. Imagine that we could turn half of that into a carbon sink. Also: you mention cars: what if we'd put our focus on bikes and public transportation: what kind of human environment would that create?

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Tuesday May 14, @06:27PM

          by bzipitidoo (4388) on Tuesday May 14, @06:27PM (#1356948) Journal

          One of the weird things about that is that if water can be brought in, arid regions can be the most productive, because there is very little cloud cover. Full sunshine is the best condition for plant growth.

          Yes, you're right, there's a lot of hype about terraforming Mars, when all along, anything that could work there would work on Earth too, and a whole lot better and easier. Irrigating the Sahara is orders of magnitude easier than growing crops on Mars.

      • (Score: 2) by ChrisMaple on Wednesday May 15, @03:04PM

        by ChrisMaple (6964) on Wednesday May 15, @03:04PM (#1357049)

        Seamless clothing.

        Socks. Knitting generally allows freeform clothing, although it might not be easily mechanizable.

        We won't wash clothes as often, because they will be better at staying clean longer.

        We already have Scotchgard, although depending on an organofluorine may not be wise.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by jb on Tuesday May 14, @03:41AM (1 child)

    by jb (338) on Tuesday May 14, @03:41AM (#1356886)

    As early as 1900, civil engineer John Elfreth Watkins predicted that by 2000 we would have such now-commonplace innovations as color photography, wireless telephones, and home televisions (and even TV dinners), among other things.

    A civil engineer. Yet "color photography" lay in the realm of chemical engineering and everything else listed (except perhaps "TV dinners", but I wouldn't count those as any sort of progress) lay in the realm on electrical engineering. None of his predictions had anything to do with civil engineering.

    Can't help but wonder how much further into the future his predictions could have reached if he'd made some within his own discipline...

    • (Score: 4, Funny) by c0lo on Tuesday May 14, @08:51AM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @08:51AM (#1356913) Journal

      Can't help but wonder how much further into the future his predictions could have reached if he'd made some within his own discipline...

      Oh, come on! He wasn't a nowadays CEO/billionaire, he was an engineer who had the decency to abstain from making predictions he knew as impossible in the knowledge/practice area he was acting professionally.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
  • (Score: 5, Touché) by c0lo on Tuesday May 14, @08:56AM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 14, @08:56AM (#1356914) Journal

    Young man, solve the problems that we, the old men, keep creating.
    Don't forget those student loans (we want your money) but don't bother even dreaming of your own home, you won't afford it.

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
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