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Slashdot Asks: Do We Need To Plan For a Future Without Jobs And Should We Resort To Universal Basic Income? ( 886

Andy Stern (former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which today represents close to 2 million workers in the United States and Canada) has spent his career organizing workers. He has a warning for all of us: our jobs are really, really doomed. Stern adds that one of the only way outs of this is a universal basic income. Stern has been arguing about the need for a universal basic income (UBI) for more than a year now. Stern pointed out that people with college degrees are not making anywhere near the kind of progress that their parents made, and that it's not their fault. He adds: The possibility that you can end up with job security and retirement attached to it is statistically diminishing over time. The American dream doesn't have to be dead, but it is dying. All the resources and assets are available to make it real. It's just that we have a huge distribution problem. Unions and the government used to play an important part at the top of the market, but this is less true today. The market completely distributes toward those at the top. Unions simply aren't as effective in terms of their impact on the economy, and government has been somewhat on the sidelines in recent years.Making a case for the need of universal basic income, he adds:A universal basic income is essentially giving every single working-age American a check every month, much like we do with social security for elderly people. It's an unconditional stipend, as it were. The reason it's necessary is we're now learning through lots of reputable research that technological change is accelerating, and that this process will continue to displace workers and terminate careers. A significant number of tasks now performed by humans will be performed by machines and artificial intelligence. He warned that we could very well see five million jobs eliminated by the end of the decade because of technology. He elaborates: It looks like the Hunger Games. It's more of what we're beginning to see now: an enclave of extremely successful people at the center and then everyone else on the margins. There will be fewer opportunities in a hollowed out and increasingly zero-sum economy. If capital trumps labor, the people who own will keep getting wealthier and the people who supply labor will become less necessary. And this is exactly what AI and robotics and software are now doing: substituting capital for labor.What's your thoughts on this? Do you think in the next two-three decades to come we will have significantly fewer jobs than we do now?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Should An Open Source Hardware Project Support Clones? 117

Long-time Slashdot reader Ichijo has a question about "(not quite) open source hardware": One hardware project that calls itself "open source" doesn't want to make its hardware design source files publicly available because doing so would, in their words, "make it very trivial for e.g Chinese companies to start producing cheap clones... we'd be getting support requests for hardware we had no idea of the quality of." This answer was in response to a request by a user who wants to use the design in his own projects.

Have any other open source hardware projects run into support issues from people owning cheap "clones"? Have clones been produced even without the hardware design source files?

Leave your answers in the comments. Should an open source hardware project support clones?

Slashdot Asks: The Washington Post Says It Publishes Something Every Minute -- How Much Is Too Much? ( 87

Media outlets are increasingly vying for your attention. But they are also feeding Google's algorithm. Some of them churn hundreds of news articles every day, hoping to offer a diverse range of articles to their readers, and also increase their "search space." The Washington Post is currently running a promotional offer -- letting people get a six-month digital subscription for $10 (pretty good if you ask me). But the Washington Post also mentions that is now publishes a new piece of content every minute. That's like 1,440 articles, videos and other forms of content in one single day. This raises a question: how much content is too much content? How many stories can a person possibly find time to read in a day? Do you feel that perhaps outlets should cut down on the number of things they publish? Or are you happy with the way things are?

Ask Slashdot: Is My IoT Device Part of a Botnet? 279

As our DVRs, cameras, and routers join the Internet of Things, long-time Slashdot reader galgon wonders if he's already been compromised: There has been a number of stories of IoT devices becoming part of botnets and being used in distributed denial of service attacks. If these devices are seemingly working correctly to the user, how would they ever know the device was compromised? Is there anything the average user can do to detect when they have a misbehaving device on their network?
I'm curious how many Slashdot readers are even using IoT devices -- so leave your best answers in the comments. How would you know if your IoT device is part of a botnet?
Open Source

Ask Slashdot: Who's Building The Open Source Version of Siri? ( 186

We're moving to a world of voice interactions processed by AI. Now Long-time Slashdot reader jernst asks, "Will we ever be able to do that without going through somebody's proprietary silo like Amazon's or Apple's?" A decade ago, we in the free and open-source community could build our own versions of pretty much any proprietary software system out there, and we did... But is this still true...? Where are the free and/or open-source versions of Siri, Alexa and so forth?

The trouble, of course, is not so much the code, but in the training. The best speech recognition code isn't going to be competitive unless it has been trained with about as many millions of hours of example speech as the closed engines from Apple, Google and so forth have been. How can we do that? The same problem exists with AI. There's plenty of open-source AI code, but how good is it unless it gets training and retraining with gigantic data sets?

And even with that data, Siri gets trained with a massive farm of GPUs running 24/7 -- but how can the open source community replicate that? "Who has a plan, and where can I sign up to it?" asks jernst. So leave your best answers in the comments. Who's building the open source version of Siri?
Hardware Hacking

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Build Your Own Vacuum Tubes? 275

Could you beat wireless headphones by creating your own DIY home audio system? Two weeks ago one Slashdot commenter argued, "to have good audio that is truly yours and something to be proud of, you need to make your own vacuum tube amplifier and then use it to power real electrostatic headphones over a wire." And now long-time Slashdot reader mallyn is stepping up to the challenge: I want to try to make my own vacuum tubes. Is there anyone here who has tried DIY vacuum tubes (or valves, to you Europeans)? I need help getting started -- how to put together the vacuum plumbing system; how to make a glass lathe; what metals to use for the elements (grid, plate, etc). If this is not the correct forum, can anyone please gently shove me into the correct direction? It needs to be online as my physical location (Bellingham, Washington) is too far away from the university labs where this type of work is likely to be done.
Slashdot's covered the "tubes vs. transistors" debate before, but has anyone actually tried to homebrew their own? Leave your best answers in the comments. How do you build your own vacuum tubes?

Ask Slashdot: Why Aren't Techies Improving The World? 537

Slashdot reader marmot7 isn't impressed by "the latest app that solves some made up problem. I'm impressed by apps that solve real problems..." I don't feel that developers, sys admins, finance people, even policy wonks focus on the problems that we need to solve to have a healthy functioning society. It seems like it's mostly about short-term gain and not much about making the world better. That may be just the way the market works.

Is it that there's no profit to be made in solving the most important problems? I'm puzzled by that as I would think that a good solution to an important problem could find some funding from somewhere but maybe government, for example, won't take investment risks in that way?

Is there a systematic bias that channels technology workers into more profitable careers? (Or stunning counter-examples that show technology workers are making the world a better place?) Leave your answers in the comments. Why aren't geeks doing more to improve the world?

Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Technology Books and Novels? 175

It can be a nonfiction book, or a fictional narrative where technology plays a key role. I recently started to read 'The Rise of the Robots' by Martin Ford. It talks about how robots are threatening mass unemployment more than they ever did before. I also found Andrew Blum's 'Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet' quite insightful. I would like to read 'The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers'.

What are some of your favorite tech-centric books? And which book are you currently reading, or recently finished?

Ask Slashdot: Would You Fire Your CEO? ( 205

As America celebrates a national holiday honoring organized labor, long-time Slashdot reader itwbennett shares this story about the modern workplace: Three years ago, talent management and human resources company Haufe U.S. created a workplace democracy in which C-level leadership is elected by the employees for a one-year term. In an interview with CIO, Kelly Max, who is currently serving as Haufe's CEO, explains how the company got to this point and what they've learned from the experience.

"If you're going to talk about how your employees 'own' the company, if you're going to tout how they all have a voice, why not go all the way and see what happens? Because why not? You already have people working for and with you who elect you every day, who either agree or disagree with you and follow you, so we wanted to make it very transparent," says Max.

This raises an inevitable question for Slashdot readers: would your own organization work as a democracy? So leave your answers here in the comments. Would your company's employees fire your CEO?
Data Storage

Ask Slashdot: What's The Best Way To Backup Large Amounts Of Personal Data? ( 366

An anonymous Slashdot reader has "approximately two terabytes of photos, currently sitting on two 4-terabyte 'Intel Rapid Storage' RAID 1 disks." But now they're considering three alternatives after moving to a new PC: a) Keep these exactly as they are... The current configuration is OK, but it's a pain if a RAID re-sync is needed as it takes a long time to check four terabytes.

b) Move to "Storage Spaces". I've not used Storage Spaces before, but reports seem to show it's good... It's a Good Thing that the disks are 100% identical and removable and readable separately. Downside? Unknown territory.

c) Break the RAID, and set up the second disk as a file-copied backup... [This] would lose a (small) amount of resilience, but wouldn't suffer from the RAID-sync issues, ideally a Mac-like "TimeMachine" backup would handle file histories.

Any recommendations?

This is also a good time to share your experiences with Storage Spaces, so leave your answers in the comments. What's the best way to backup large amounts of personal data?

Ask Slashdot: Do You Still Use Optical Media? 385

The other day at an event, public relation officials were handing out press kit (it usually contains everything the company announced, photos from the event, and contact information of the company) to journalists. When I reached office and opened the kit, I found a CD in it. Which was weird because it's been two to three years since I had a computer with an optical drive. And all these years I didn't need one. Which brings up the question: Does your work require dealing with CDs and DVDs anymore? An anonymous reader asks the same question: I still use optical discs for various backup purposes, but recently I developed doubts as to the reliability of the media to last a reasonable amount of time. I have read a review on Amazon of the TDK DVDs, in which somebody described losing 8000 (sic!) DVDs of data after 4 years of storage. I promptly canceled my purchase of TDKs. So, do you still use opticals for back-up -- Blu-Rays, DVDs, CDs? -- and if so, how do you go about it?I do buy Blu-Ray discs of movies, though. So my life isn't optical disc free yet. What about yours?

Ask Slashdot: How Will You Handle Microsoft's New 'Cumulative' Windows Updates? ( 405

Microsoft's announced they'll discontinue "individual patches" for Windows 7 and 8.1 (as well as Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2). Instead they'll have monthly "cumulative" rollups of each month's patches, and while there will be a separate "security-only" bundle each month, "individual patches will no longer be available." This has one anonymous Slashdot reader asking what's the alternative: We've read about the changes coming to Windows Update in October 2016... But what happens when it's time to wipe and reload the OS? Or what about installing Windows on different hardware? Admittedly, there are useful non-security updates worth having, but plenty to avoid (e.g. telemetry).

How does one handle this challenge? Set up a personal WSUS box before October to sync all desired updates through October 2016? System images can work if you don't change primary hardware, but what if you do? Or should one just bend the knee to Microsoft...?

Should they use AutoPatcher? Switch to Linux? Or just disconnect their Windows boxes from the internet... Leave your answers in the comments. How do you plan to handle Microsoft's new 'cumulative' Windows Updates?

Ask Slashdot: Is KDE Dying? 515

A long-time loyal KDE user "always felt that it was the more complete and integrated of the many Linux desktop environments...thus having the most potential to win over new Linux converts." And while still using KDE exclusively without any major functional issues, now Slashdot reader fwells shares concerns about the future of desktop development, along with a personal opinion -- that KDE is becoming stale and stagnant:, once a fairly vibrant and active contributory site, has become a virtual ghost town... Various core KDE components and features are quite broken and have been so for some time... KDEPIM/KMail frankly seems targeted specifically at the poweruser, maintaining over many years its rather plain and arguably retro interface. The Konqueror web browser has been a virtual carcass for several years, yet it mysteriously remains an integral component...

So, back to my opening question... Is KDE Dying? Has innovation and development evaporated in a development world dominated by the mobile device? And, if so, can it be reinvigorated? Will the pendulum ever swing back? Can it? Should it?

The original submission has some additional thoughts on Windows 10 and desktop development -- but also specific complaints about KDE's Recent Items/Application Launcher History and the KDE theming engine (which "seems disjointed and rather non-intuitive".) The argument seems to be that KDE lacks curb appeal to fulfill that form-over-function preference of the larger community of users, so instead it's really retaining the practical appeal of "my 12 year old Chevy truck, feature rich for its time... Solid and reliable, but definitely starting to fade and certainly lacking some modern creature comforts."

So leave your own thoughts in the comments. Does desktop development need to be reinvigorated in a world focused on mobile devices -- and if so, what is its future? And is KDE slowly dying?

Ask Slashdot: Are There Secure Alternatives To Skype? ( 237

How can you make a truly secure phone call? An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: I have a Windows 8.1 phone and mostly use it for Skype calls and chats. A bit of browsing every now and then, and checking public transportation schedules... What can I do to be able to securely chat and place audio/video calls? What do you think is the best device to buy and what apps to use on it?
Skype for Windows Phone will stop working in 2017, and Skype's privacy was already suspect after Edward Snowden leaked evidence of Microsoft's secret collaboration with the NSA. But are there any good alternatives -- especially for a Windows Phone user? Leave your suggestions in the comments. What are the best secure alternatives to Skype?

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Deal With Unreasonable Companies? 159

New submitter Ash-Fox writes: I recently ran into troubles trying to get reasonable quality of support from an anti-virus vendor, where they are attempting to cop-out of providing any reasonable support and then refusing to offer refunds under the guise of their EULA does not allow it. However, their EULA does not implicitly say that they cannot provide refunds in other circumstances, as the support tries to imply, and further living in Europe (as is the anti-virus headquarters), this EULA for sales is only valid if that was provided as the terms of sales contract, which it was not. How do other Slashdotters look to address companies that behave poorly and seek to only provide at best their minimum legal requirements?

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