* You install a squat toilet
* It's cleaned by flooding the entire
toilet area with water, which once
turned off all washes down into the
* No toilet paper, you clean yourself
You might be able to build a squat toilet where the feet rested on a ramp (i.e. raised at the heel side), though I suspect most Americans would still refuse to use it.
Many of those I saw were pretty disgusting, and my travel companion reported that it also applied to the toilets for the opposite sex.
If you have so many homeless people, maybe you should solve that problem first?
Solving homelessness isn't an on/off switch; people are still going to need a toilet while homelessness is being "fixed".
(It's a problem with saying why not solve X instead? You end up with neither fixed, and everybody loses. I mean, why solve homelessness when there are hungry kids that need feeding? And so the cycle continues.)
As an aside, I'm not convinced that it's homeless people per se that are the problem; it's people with issues that abuse public toilets, whether through drugs, alcohol or being a general malcontent, and "the homeless" get blamed as convenient name.
It's not like corporate headquarters are invulnerably to toilet abuse, least of all from the execs.
Hence my comment - if you're worried about homeless people in your precious toilet, you (as a city/society) have bigger problems than public toilets.
...it can actually be cheaper in the end to give homeless
people homes than to keep them homeless.
"The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions" - http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/04/...
That's not necessarily the best source - it just happened to be towards the top of the following SERP, which finds quite a few articles: https://www.google.com/search?q=give+homeless+homes
And there are other choices besides "diarrhea floors" and coin payment; in train stations, for example, they could simply charge a fee to the train company to pay for the permanent staff, which could then (very slightly) increase the price of tickets to accommodate it.
b) In the few locations with particularly bad problems, isn't that really telling us that e.g. the problem is not something which can be solved by technology as opposed to, say, funding mental health programs?
while useful, they usually are quite smelly though.
They're free to use, not drug dealer proof, and close at night. I'd say they work well, but they're rather ugly.
Then they charge you to pee.
Create a problem. Charge for the solution. Genius.
The toilets in my hometown (Warwick) were closed. There used to be some on the castle walls at the top of Smith Street (near the East Gate) but they were closed. Also I think the public toilets in the main square (by the Rose and Crown?? where Woolworths used to be) are shut too.
And I don't even know of any public toilets in the town I am living in now (perhaps because I always just go home)
What does "time to get to work" even mean here? Doing what?
Also, more practically, ideas for this kind of venture can come from anywhere. Maybe someone reading this has a brilliant idea for improving city life, but doesn't have the money or entrepreneurial ability to make it happen. Maybe some startup has a great product in this area, and could really benefit from a partnership with a company with Google's resources. Maybe some city government wants to commission a project to track and optimize their energy usage, I don't know. Why would you intentionally work in isolation when there are potentially great ideas out there?
And it is unlikely that the goal of the post was to solicit ideas given that it didn't solicit any ideas.
And I don't agree, one of the company's stated purposes is "incubating urban technologies". They aren't actively asking for any idea out there, but they clearly intend to interact with other startups and inventors at some point, and the only way to make that happen is to get your name out there.
And again, what is the downside? If there isn't any, then "because we wanted to" is a good enough reason.
They have not announced a product yet, only a research area.
Is it only me or does HN take all announcements cynically?
Given that most announcements turn out not to be worth the space they take on server HDD, it's hardly surprising.
Sometimes the first challenge is to figure that out.
Sometimes it makes sense to note the problem in the early stages.
I think its kinda cool that Google is exploring this.
All the things the US Government should have been doing
Of course you realize that there's debate about whether government makes this scenario more or less likely.
Any day now some guy or gal will visit my home to hook up my Google Fiber. How can that be if if Time Warner Cable has a natural monopoly? Oops, I should say that TWC, AT&T, DIRECTV and Dish have an oligopoly. Before you protest that I lump guys who launch satellites together with guys who hang wire on poles, remember in a dynamic world supposed natural monopolies are not safe from substitutes.
(and your example is a bad one - here in my area of NYC, Time Warner absolutely does have a monopoly, I have no other providers to choose from. So it makes sens that someone regulates them.)
That isn't the case. Verizon have rolled out FIOS to areas in the city, but have decided to stop doing so.
You have to ask, why does TWC have a monopoly in NYC? Did the market create it? Does the market protect it? Why do you think Google Fiber is skipping big markets like NYC in favor of KC, Austin (where I live) and Provo? I hear it said that it's too much work to lay infrastructure in Manhattan. Sure it's a lot of work, but as I watch them boring through the hard limestone up and down my street for the last 9 months -- it takes a whole day for a machine the size of truck to bore a hole from one house to the next -- to reach a maybe 1000 subscribers, I cannot imagine it's less work per subscriber here than a big dense city. No, they are avoiding the big markets because of webs of regulation and bureaucracy which protect incumbents like TWC.
If you want to seriously consider alternatives to the status quo or at least be able to capably debate those like myself who do propose total privatization of roads, I'd point you to Walter Block's The Privatization of Roads and Highways.
free PDF/epub here: https://mises.org/library/privatization-roads-and-highways
I don't think that it would make sense to just multiply the roads we already have. For privatization of roads to exist, the gov't would have to give up its monopoly on their provision first, but the problem is much deeper than just this one unlikelihood.
You mention that if TWC/Comcast/etc. are given state-granted monopolies, why not, of course, ought they not be regulated? If I have a broken knee, why not get a doctor to fix it?
If I have a broken knee and it became this way because of the widespread acceptance of a legal order where nobody is punished for brandishing tire irons and kneecapping, the problem, then, really lies with this legal order. As an anarchist libertarian, I hope that one day governments worldwide will be abolished and until such time will work toward solutions for the problems to come from the inevitable insurrection of the "great" Western democracies.
My position is so unpopular, and so many people now are unable to consider that maybe democracy isn't such a great thing or that gov't shouldn't have its paws on healthcare, education, etc. I certainly don't suggest a step backwards toward feudalism or some sort of dictatorship, but you ought to keep in mind that besides the US, democracy before WW1 was only in 2 European countries.
I really do share the sentiments of those indoctrinated by statism, to want to see peace and prosperity, children be educated, the elderly having healthcare and so on, I just disagree with the technical (legal and economic) approach.
If one can overcome the idea that government MUST do X/Y/Z in order for civil order to be maintained or a good/service to be provided (and these ideas are often easily disproven by historical examples), then it can at least be a fun thought experiment.
So, to answer your question on multiplying roads we'll imagine that somehow the US gov't has been abolished. All the roads now would have a legal status of being unowned. Private companies could branch off roads but not just swoop in and toss up roadblocks or tollbooths. The reason here, and similar logic applies to public parks and other municipal monopolies, is that citizens have been granted easement rights to travel the roads.
Assuming the citizen is not a criminal member of the political elite, there's no reason to be able to take away these easement rights to travel. Companies could begin a very slow process of homesteading or coming to own the previously public roads by making improvements, patrolling for drunk drivers, etc.
For a road company to succeed, given that they can't just extract tolls from easement rightsholders, they'd have to add some value like as mentioned with fixing potholes, you'd probably see some expansions like the original ideas for I-70 in Baltimore, then there would probably be some bundling in with auto insurers and DRO's ("dispute resolution organizations", which could be for- or non-profit police and judges basically).
Government evolved from much worse scenarios. What's to stop me from building a militia and taking over a town? Taking your house and wife? I've got overwhelming force and I say they're mine.
I said this was a thought experiment to sort of isolate this one issue. It's how we (praxeologists of law) might give suggestions to the polycentric legal system rising from a previously state-ruled region.
You might not have this misunderstanding but many do. Anarchy simply means a lack of rulers. It doesn't necessarily entail chaos and it certainly doesn't mean a lack of law.
Anarchist libertarianism or anarcho-capitalism is distinguished from early leftist-"anarchism" by two main characteristics.
The former is radically and uncompromisingly for free markets and anti-state, with a focus on sound legal theory (a combination of a set of static legal grundnorms, viz. the praxeological aspect or a set of laws reasonably suited to all humans, with room for free variation among groups/cultures understanding that personal ideology will shape jurisprudence).
The latter—leftist-"anarchists" as you'll probably see protesting the next Gx Summit or depicted on the TV—make varieties of socialist or communistic ideological proposals which results in a total lack of consistent legal theory. As an ideology, "an-cap" is relatively new and our body of attendant legal writings already dwarves theirs. Where leftist-"anarchism" has been tried, it's failed to maintain civil order and the "leaders" have been nigh-indistinguishable from other despots.
>There would be a vacuum and a brutal rush to reappropriate resources according to rules other than property rights, which ceased to exist along with the government.
You'll probably get that anyhow if you are so unlucky to live in a country that implodes and it is more likely that most people will just go on following the status quo than you and others being so swayed by my words and we see an orderly unwinding of your gov't.
Throughout civilized history, from tribalism to today, we've seen paradigm changes. What's next when democracy fails? Ideology and law can both be seen broadly as "technologies". A few of us are working on a backup plan. Most people who are even interested involve themselves in electoral politics and/or try to use the web for "smart gov't".
>What's to stop me from building a militia and taking over a town? Taking your house and wife? I've got overwhelming force and I say they're mine.
The simple answer is that feuding is expensive, even more so of a drain without a mass of people to extract wealth from to fund wars.
Really though, if you were concerned with these objections you'd realize you already live in such conditions and become a libertarian anarchist! You live in a state (geographic monopoly on law, arbitration and the use of violence).
Democracy is an insidious advancement in ideological technology because it gave the populace the idea that "anyone can be king". The US was a noble experiment but I consider it a failure. You have a massive drain on standards of living from bureaucracy and regulations, meanwhile the political elite is not much different than in previous paradigms.
Why take houses by brute force when you have everyone in them convinced that X/Y/Z must be provided by gov't, and that gov't needs it's "revenues"?
Polycentric legal orders similar to what we propose have maintained civil order longer than the US has existed so far. It was just after WW2 that the dollar upended the pound sterling as the world's reserve currency and there was a sudden huge rise in prices and chaos in Britain.
It will be an interesting chapter in history for how long the US maintains its global hegemony. Why not, with half of world military spending or whatever doesn't the US just start picking off little countries here and there like you say? Well they sort of actually do by proxy wars and "economic warfare".
At a basic level, governments are in a state of anarchy amongst themselves though. Why might it not work at other levels? I'm convinced that we can have what's promised by states but under-delivered by abolishing them. A lot of those suffering the sort of Stockholm syndrome concomitant with statism see what I am saying as crazy but I'm unconcerned.
This is one tactic on bringing about libertarian anarchy and many who in debate will say they oppose it actually are helping bring it about. If you want a more in depth answer to your actual questions see here perhaps. A DRO is a startup too ambitiously frightening for today's YC, but it actually funds many who feed into said tactic. Legal praxeology is just a hobby for myself and I doubt I'll live to see my dream of a free society, so I am working on a large global health problem which again is part of the tactic.
With the EM spectrum for instance, the unlicensed 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands have been pretty useful. Google actually tried to get the 700 MHz spectrum (in the 2008 auction) licensed in a way that would probably benefit consumers quite a bit, though I'm not sure how well that worked. It's odd that Google had to do that when it's ostensibly the government's job to ensure good use of this limited natural resource, but I think the idea was good.
It worked well except for the fact that they were allowed to form monopolies/oligopolies after expanding into new markets.
Consider another scenario: A country has cities A, B and C. Assume that the govt doesn't do infrastructure like building roads. So a private company comes in and builds road between A and B because there is a net profit for them. One problem is obviously, now everyone must pay to use this road. If you are poor and can't pay then you can't use that road even if you need it go to hospital or send your kids to school or start your new business. Again, the result is that lack of infrastructure puts poor people at the severe disadvantage from making progress.
Further, private companies may decide never to build any road between B and C because their analysis shows C only has 1000 people and they can never recover their cost. Now, you can argue that 1000 people needs to suffer for making a bad choice about where to live and should not expect other people to pay up. However if you go in that line of thought, I bet most of the cities would never could have been connected. The crux of the issue is we as humans are only good at finding "local optimums" and it's impossible to see for us what could be "global optimum". What that means in nutshell is that we need to allow possibilities even though it may look venture of loss and foolishness because sometime those possibilities are what leads to huge outcomes.
The role of government is to provide for the infrastructure a society needs to prosper. Roads are a primary part of that infrastructure. If I could see how fast and conveniently goods and people are moving within a country, state, I could tell you how developed it is. I believe this has always been true. The old nations which had better ways of moving goods also had great power to some extent.
Other parts of this basic infrastructure the government should provide include: a legal system, protection, education and healthcare. Perhaps beyond this the government can keep clear and let private markets handle.
It doesn't match my experience. In almost seven years at Google I've worked on amazingly interesting projects - from hardware to user-facing products.
I've never once, in my entire time, had any level of management tell me that I should be worrying about selling ads or monetizing my projects. The consistent message has been "build great products".
So the notion that 99% (or really any majority) of developers at Google "drive the ad hive" is completely untrue - at least in my experience.
I'm a new hire, and I got assigned to somewhere that doesn't align with my interests, at all... other than the fact that it's "not front end."
Hoping switching is as easy as everyone says!
*Unless you're an acqui-hire, and then Google once again rocks because you get both the perks and the interesting work.
If I am in Gmail, it pops up the menu (but at the bottom, and not where the hamburger is). Chrome pops the menu up.
Maps opens the side bar.
YouTube pops the menu up.
Drive opens the menu.
So it works for some but not for others. Perhaps you could enforce consistency or follow your own guidelines etc.? Go crack the whip.
And I guess they think that the three dot menu is ugly or something.
I'm a new hire, and I've been given the choice of working on one of two teams, neither of which particularly align with my interests.
Right now, they seem to be playing arbitrage with engineering talent. They buy up engineers with large salaries and fancy perks. Those people, who now span almost every industry, are then used on projects like these. This has nothing to do with Google's core business or any branch of it at all.
It seems like Google is designing all sorts of products outside of its core competency (medicine, cars, now this?) with the hopes of either spinning it off, selling to the highest bidder, or...? I can't see shareholders liking Google trying to enter every market in the world.
For example, the self-driving cars are a genuine passion of Page's as I understand it, and came about from his relationship with Thrun. They really do want to make the world a better place by preventing thousands of deaths and many more injuries a year, among other benefits.
I don't think that is hopelessly naive of me. These are youngish, bright billionaire geeks who have made a lot of people very good money. They can do things just because, at least while the gravy flows.
That doesn't mean that these projects are not good strategic business, just that they can be risky since the organization is prepared to tolerate a loss.
Maybe the shareholders aren't investing in an advertising company and app store, but they're investing in the company that succeeds to a higher degree than it fails.
But maybe they like Google's brand power and unique company ethos?
How many other companies worth $350Bn+ with 50k+ employees have Google's operating style?
I think the actual problem is that very few other companies know how to make appropriate use of engineers.
"Robert, you said this sprint that you would move the logo image 2 pixels to the left. Can you PLEASE come to the morning stand-up, listen to 26 people report their status, and then tell us if you have any roadblocks? kthx."
I don't think shareholders of Google should be concerned about this; they should stick to being interested in ARPU, CPC trends, etc.
Also one criteria of choosing projects for X - is projects in areas where there's little competition. Once you start from that point, maybe the analysis framework of "core competencies" is less useful.
That could happen. It happened to IBM and HP, both of which were once product companies.
Have they ever done this? Or even shown any interest to sell a business unit they own?
Let's get serious. This initiative is not about toilets, smart flushing and homeless.
I'm fine with it as long as I don't have to have anything always connected to internet, sync data in the cloud and be forced to agree/manage/monitor gazillions of privacy changes, terms and conditions where companies decide to update and change their data protection acts, the ways the share, store and manipulate my data.
Maybe we should firmly keep big technology companies, already in tune with the NSA friends, get closer to our families and private lives. The last thing I'd want is Google, Bloomberg, IBM, Facebook and Cisco circulating all my activities (toilet flushes including) for the sake of my children, future nephews and my neighbours to NSA, have my own cars or my own house lock me out because Palantir discovered about my passion for Moroccan tea or my kid flies a Chinese quadcopter in the backyard.
Sometimes I have to increase the size of the page to ease my reading. This is what I get:
And I can't even scroll to the right! Is there something wrong with my chrome configuration (maybe a plugin not playing nice)? Or can someone else repro this on their mac?
At least that seems the general theme at Google.
Am I missing something? That first link you provided: http://i.imgur.com/URR2MJK.png
The text I circled in red looks very similar to the 3 things you mentioned and looks like exactly like the kinds of issues sidewalkinc.com would be tackling.
"They" in that sentence might be referring to Google?
People move into a few big cities because companies companies like Google congregate there, ultimately creating problems such as skyrocketing rents, congestion, declining real living standards, homelessness.
Google holds an obvious solution in its hand. By altering their way of working they could support remote working, creating clusters of specialized work forces and communities online rather than in a narrow physical location.
(Shameless Plug) You can read a bit more about the research in the TED talk here: http://santafe.edu/research/cities-scaling-and-sustainabilit...
Our research group (started by Geoffrey West & Luis Bettencourt) is also trying to understand (and help address) the issues of growing cities in the developing world, where the biggest issue are slums: http://santafe.edu/research/informal-settlements/
And it's not a panacea: the car-oriented nature of suburban life is environmentally pretty terrible (not to mention that detached single-family dwellings are less efficient to climate control, and more expensive to provide services to for municipalities). And suburban life brings with it the long commute, the length of which is a better predictor of happiness (negatively, of course) than almost any other demographic factor, including income, marital status, house size, or any of the other things people think make their hour and change in a car every day worth it.
Actually in big cities like New York, Google's office doesn't make a dent - most Googlers can just take the subway. The Mountain View office is only 4 times bigger, but because Mountain View wants to be a suburb and not a city, it now enjoys gridlocked roads every day.
Unless you find a cost-efficient way to decentralize all of this, people will be attracted to each other.
While one of the reasons I live in Manhattan is because the job market is very good, I also enjoy it precisely because there is diversity. I can walk down the street or take the train and see hundreds of people working hundreds of different jobs in dozens of industries. That's why people are moving to cities - they're exciting. There's things to do and people to meet.
Re-read the sentence again.
> By altering their way of working they could support remote working, creating clusters of specialized work forces and communities online rather than in a narrow physical location.
The concept is that if you encourage remote working via online workplaces, you can solve the "big city" issue for a percentage of the population by allowing them to live further away from the densely populated areas "because of work".
But then again some of us really don't like to work all alone in our house, in the middle of nowhere. If I'm spending 8 hours per day working for my employer I might as well socialize while doing that, not living life like a hermit.
Reducing the pressure for people who don't really want to be there to move into cities should improve life for everybody.
All systems destroy. Destruction is a natural phenomenon. The difference is that capitalism creates more than it destroys, and (empirically) creates more than any other economic system.
> Greed destroys.
On greed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWsx1X8PV_A
No personal attacks on Hacker News, please.
Nice to see Google finally joining the rest of the tech industry ;-) I have to assume this was prompted by the sort of standards work Nest were doing, and the sort of impact that Google Maps is having on traffic.
Is the best solution a frontal attack? Or could it be moving away from existing cities?
Could one design a new city from scratch?
Yes, but the result is Milton Keynes.
One proposal is Arcosanti, an urban laboratory focused on innovative design, community, and environmental accountability. https://arcosanti.org/
Isn't Google better off just running and maintaining those other projects they killed?
I am not saying these are bad but from an investor point of view only a small number of them make sense.