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Honest question out of curiosity, since you seem genuine and open to discussion…

I agree with all of your points about Waymo vs. Uber-like ridesharing—the average Uber ride is so much less safe that it’s hard to argue for.

But I also agree with your aside about the growing isolation of society—the longer term implications of every event, meal, and errand being separated by autonomous journeys are staggering.

So the question is, how do the societal isolation factors play into your decision making? (Honest question, not a gotcha, I’m curious how others think about these tradeoffs.)

If you're already inclined towards isolation, like I am sometimes, driverless taxies will help with that. But if you're inclined towards going out and doing things, which I also am sometimes, there are few incentives more alluring than a fast and cheap way to get from point A to point B. If labor and gasoline are removed from the equation there's no reason rides can't be ridiculously cheap, and spending $20 on a round trip instead of $80 lowers one of the biggest barriers for going out (at least in urban areas and/or when drinking/drugs are involved).

Cheaper, safer and more effective transportation seems likely to increase mobility and decrease isolation.

I can spend more times at my friend's place, maybe have a beer or two without having to worry about driving back - so I think it encourages socialisation

I'm not sure if you mean about Waymo/self-driving cars or more broadly, but I'll assume you mean cars. Let me first say I'd love to create a list of all of the long-term pros and cons of self-driving cars because I'd be far better-equipped to answer, but my off-the-cuff thought: this technology, if it survives, will make it easier, safer, less stressful and less costly for people to transit, and will also make almost every place more livable (the impacts will be more profound in urban areas than rural, but both will benefit). That sounds like a great way to increase interactivity, not lessen it.

Uber sometimes offers a service called UberPool where you share the car with another passenger in order to save money right? Couldn't Waymo do the same?

Didn't Uber start branded as a "ride sharing" app where the app helped you find someone to car pool into work with?

I suspect an underlying issue with socialising is faith in humanity. It's hard to have faith in humanity in the modern world when every front appears to be telling you otherwise. If you don't have faith in humanity, then you're limited to only interacting with those: "you have to" and "are vetted".

That was Lyft. Uber started as an easier/cheaper way to call for a ride in a “black car”.

They could in theory yeah. I’m not sure if Uber still offers it, but I think its uptake is so low (anecdotally from people I know) that it’s effectively not a solution to societal isolation, because it doesn’t end up being used.

I thought it was pretty well used pre-covid, especially when the rides were sometimes 50% of a regular ride.

At least I personally used it a lot, and knew several people that did.

How is that different than if you were driving yourself?

Well, I’d say it’s different in a similar way that Uber’s are different from driving yourself. For physical trips it’s similar, but lower barrier to entry, so you do it more. And for deliveries it’s a much lower barrier because you don’t drive at all.

Plastics don’t sequester additional carbon. You literally have to pump oil out of the ground, where it was already sequestered naturally, to create plastics in the first place.

Yeah, but we are pumping oil anyways and there's all the money in the world against stopping it.

If we convert some of that pumped oil into a plastic that won't be burned but landfilled then we prevented some release of CO2.

If we use the plastic for packaging (instead of glass or metal) we saved energy (which translates today to CO2) and we saved fuel by transporting lighter packaging.

Plastic is pretty much the best thing that happened to humanity in relation to CO2 emissions.

Too bad we want to get rid of it because we find it unsightly, because we fail to properly sequester it at its end of life.

Unfortunately your logic is incredibly naive… it ignores the fact that (a) the money behind pumping oil is partly due to the plastics industry itself, (b) that creating plastic already burns fuels and releases emissions, and (c) that plastics are horrible for our ecosystems for reasons other than pure carbon emissions accounting.

It’s sad to see someone having been on HN for so long having such a myopic view of things.

I totally agree with (c) and believe it should be addressed. Plastics need to be collected when they become garbage and reused as building material and if not possible stored properly for next hundred or few hundred years. We need to create proper incentives for that. Reduction of plastic use should of course be encouraged but not at the cost of functionality. So peeled bananas in plastics should be banned, but juice bottles shouldn't be glass.

As for (a) plastic uses up about 6% of oil we dig up so political influence of plastic manufacturers is probably roughly proportional. That explains why we have paper straws while oil extraction and burning continues and increases completely unrestricted. Plastics are just the easiest political target.

And as for (b) making plastic takes less energy than making glass or metal for the same purpose, plastics also are lighter so produce less emissions in transport so if we magically waved away all the plastics our emissions would rise by many percent, not fall. And we can't just not use packaging because the we would waste even more food which would also cause emissions.

It's like with ethanol for cars. In theory it was supposed to save emissions. In practise it caused greater emissions due to land use change for the purpose of growing corn to make methanol.

Probably half of the things we do (my wild guess) to help the environment or emissions specifically actually increases emissions in the end.

It's sad to see that even on HN there is huge representation of mainstream simplistic views that don't recognize complexities of the world and the need for carefulness to not make things worse.

Lol you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

(a) The massive plastic producers are multinational oil companies, and they see it as a growing industry to capitalize on, so they are extremely influential lobbyists for maintaining plastic production.

(b) Anything that makes shipping lighter, cheaper, and generally more viable will result in much more shipping and thus much greater emissions, not less. This is always the problem with efficiency-driven arguments. (But it takes understanding the complexity of systems to understand this.)

(c) Of course the ecosystemic outcomes are devastating, and we still barely have the knowledge to understand the full impact.

Here’s a quick article if you want to educate yourself a bit more, I’m not going to keep replying: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/may/18/twenty-f...

(a) It's a developing market for them. They happily make investment there taking a slice of this pie. It's quite interesting that they do it despite all the media narration against plastic. I'm guessing they know that all the narration won't significantly impact actual volume of plastics sold. Maybe they already planned narration change. Maybe to something closer to reality of plastics impact on climat change?

(b) People won't reduce shipping when you make it more fuel intensive. They will just use more fuel. As long as the demand is there capitalism will mold everything to fullfill it. And the demand is already there.

(c) what could realistically be done is forcing plastic manufacturers foot the bill for cleanup. For example to be allowed to sell 1kg of plastics they should collect and recycle or landfill 1kg of plastic from the environment. To sell one kg of new plastic you need to buy 1kg of plastic waste. With full scruitany of the government paid for by special tax on plastic producers.

Thanks for the link. I'll read it even though I doubt I find anything new in there. It's basically mainstream narration at this point. Which means people with money paid for promoting it because it serves their profits. It's basically a smokescreen for the most profitable and harmful activity to peacefully continue.

Sounds much closer to an apologist than an optimist if you ask me.

Although more charitably, a future apologist—who maybe has good intentions, but hasn’t stepped back to gain context and realized that their projection is at odds with the systemic incentives in play.

I’ve never heard puberty described as making kids “a lot less social”, so not sure where you’re getting that from. A source would help your argument.

There's no source I'd believe on this. Kids don't become shy when they turn 13.

The word wasn't "shy", they were "less social".

Hide in room, grunt when asked questions, moody, "disrespectful to their elders", that kind of thing is all "less social".

Although I can think of one specific context where I would say "shy" for a bit: suddenly developing a new axis of emotional drives (lust) that they have to learn to navigate socially.

I see what you’re saying, but this was an anecdote by the 7th grader in relation to their peers. Sure puberty makes teenagers not want to interact with their parents, but I’ve never heard it make them not want to interact with their classmates—usually the opposite.

Yes, and on top of that, they're shy now.

That's not "less social" as much as "less social with specific people".

I’d tend to agree with you, it doesn’t track to anything I’ve heard either.

As someone who happened to hit that inflection point at the summer after high school I consider my cohort extremely lucky.

Some would argue that trying to eliminate self or manual checkouts from groceries stores is letting the perfect be the enemy of good.

I agree, it’s kind of mind blowing when simple things like this are discovered—very humbling. (If the research can be trusted ofc.)

> Now, with our obsessive encyclopedic documentation, it's unlikely that future generations will forget our ways of life.

I’m not so sure. One, due to increasing reliance on bits for that documentation. But also two, because we already find it incredibly hard to truly imagine the ways of the world just a few generations back.

This is really interesting research. It’s fascinating to hear about how these experiments are designed in the first place.

If anyone is interested in this topic, I highly, highly recommend the book “Ways of Being” by James Bridle. [0]

It covers such a diverse range of ideas about intelligence, including neural network–style intelligences, that I think pretty much everyone would find something of interest.

One of the takeaways is that these intelligence-seeking experiments have been poorly designed for so long, that they tend to reveal way more about the humans running the experiment than the animals being researched. And part of that is due to how uncomfortable we are with admitting that animals have completely different (not better or worse) ways of being and thinking than us.

It makes you aware of the limitations of our hierarchy-and-comparison-based concepts. For example, even a simple phrase from this article:

> Although spiders can’t literally count one-two-three, the research suggests some jumping spiders have a sense of numbers roughly equivalent to that of 1-year-old humans.

The experiment doesn’t really prove that spiders can’t count, and surely if they did count it wouldn’t be by speaking out loud like we do. Saying that their faculties are equivalent to 1-year olds only really serves to diminish them. Not that I’m blaming the author, it’s just so easy to accidentally slip into these very limited ways of thinking.

[0]: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/58772732

As soon as it mentioned intelligent spiders I was thinking "Children of Time" by Adrian Tchaikovsky https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25499718-children-of-tim...

> The experiment doesn’t really prove that spiders can’t count

There is very easy to prove spiders can count. They can tell bigger object from smaller, so they have some concept of measure and comparison. They can tell 10 is bigger than 2 and so on.

The rest is only how precisely they can count.

Douglas Adams was right, the mice are experimenting on us

> very few civil legal disputes go to court

This is much more often going to be true because the dispute was never made in the first place, because of the risk it would entail to a low wage worker. They cannot afford—for reasons of time, money, health, education—to even threaten to take an employer to court.

Your argument sounds logical, but is unfortunately unaware of how real world pressures distort systems for recourse.

I’m aware that they are very useful as an empty threat.

However, the reality here is not likely that a sandwich shop employee would have to “threaten to take an employer to court”.

The most likely scenario is that the hiring manager doesn’t even realize that boilerplate is in their employment agreement. The second most likely is that the employer grumbles about the employee leaving and that’s as far as it goes.

Beautiful project, thanks for sharing.

How are you liking Recurse?

(Also I didn’t see Trouble in the SF list, in case you’re looking for places to add.)

Thank you!

Recurse is amazing. Truly an amazing gathering of accomplished, interesting and curious folks. It’s an amazing community and setting - if you can swing the 6 or 12 weeks, and especially if you can come to the physical space in downtown Brooklyn, I would very much recommend it.

Lots of Recursers end up on the HN homepage these days - from https://jvns.ca to https://jakelazaroff.com ‘s series on CRDTs. I think there’s a connection between the Recurse and HN communities, and an appreciation of what Recursers tend to gravite towards (personal projects that are meaningful to its creators, and are typically about explaining, exploring or building something new).

Feel free to email me to talk more about it.

As for Trouble, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll be adding it, on top of all of the other places that people have been mentioning.

This article and lots of the commenters are falling into the same trap that happens in every article about San Francisco. It states:

> In 2018, the city created a pooper scooper team, each member of which received annual compensation of about $211,000 that year.

The implication of a $211K salary sounds too ridiculous to be true. And instead of assuming that it is therefore false, people freak out. If you look up an actual article from the time [1], you'll see that the claim is already not true purely by the numbers:

> workers make more than $184,000 a year in salary and benefits

And if you dig in further you'll see that "and benefits" is a huge caveat:

> Employees of San Francisco's "Poop Patrol" are set to earn $71,760 a year, plus an additional $112,918 in benefits, such as healthcare and retirement savings, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

That $112K in benefits includes health care benefits (which are mandated for city workers, which is a good thing). And health care—if you've been paying attention—is completely fucked in the US, so any attempt at pricing it is going to sound ridiculous. The workers don't actually see any of that money.

If you take the $72K in salary, you'll see that it is below average for San Francisco:

> On average, a San Francisco resident earns about $96,677 a year, nearly double the median household income in the US.

And "below average" is what you'd probably assume a sanitation worker makes. So a huge amount of outrage over nothing.

Which would personally lead me to flag this story, rather than trust any of the other numbers its quoting.

[1]: https://www.businessinsider.com/san-francisco-poop-patrol-em...

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