Friday, November 14, 2014

Is this intelligence? And more science...

Commencing our weekend science roundup -- leaving comets (!) for another time.... 

artificial-intelligence-dangerOn io9... fast becoming the "it" site for open and hungry minds... George Dvorsky's column takes on some big picture stuff.  

In a recent posting, he interviewed me about artificial intelligence (AI) and how we can get into a good mental state to take on the many issues involved: Are We Overthinking the Dangers of Artificial Intelligence?
== Genes for longevity? ==

George goes on in another article to explore " “supercentenarians” living past 110. Superficially, it would seem that there is a genetic component to longevity, since centenarians do not differ that much from the general population in lifestyle choices and their relatives also live longer than average.  Researchers: “mapped the genomes of 17 supercentenarians (16 women and one man). Now, that may not sound like a large sample pool, but keep in mind that there are only 74 super-c's alive today, with 22 in the United States. These 17 samples were compared to those of 34 people aged 21 to 79.”

“From this small sample size, we were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity.”  On the other hand: “It is not surprising that a highly complex trait such as longevity is not explained by a single Mendelian gene”

==Should we uplift?==
In a recent piece for New Scientistsome doubt is cast on the “genius of the sea” status of dolphins. I am not surprised. Although I portray descendants of today’s Tursiops dolphins piloting spaceships -- dazzling civilization with poetry and wisdom — I have never been one of those romantics who proclaimed them to be our equals presently, in any meaningful interpretation of “sapience.” That doesn’t mean they aren’t special! (Or that we should not bend our wills mightily toward saving the whole planetary habitat; see EARTH.)
What impresses me most about dolphins is their capacity for non-kin altruism, which is nearly as great as ours, and perhaps more consistent. And their stunning eagerness to learn new things, with a level of curiosity that seems to exceed adult chimpanzees by some distance. Those traits — and anecdotal impressions from some researchers — lead me to think that we would get many Tursiops volunteers, if we could somehow offer them a choice, whether to undertake the long and difficult path of uplift. A path that might lead to those brilliant partners and critics, who would accompany us to the stars.

uplift-sapienceShould We Engineer Animals to be Smarter? See this BBC Future article by Tim Maughan about animal uplifting, featuring myself and George Dvorsky. I've been in this field a long time and my views are actually fairly nuanced. I am not convinced we should do this thing. Indeed, some arguments against uplift (e.g. the pain of transition) I deem to be more valid than others (e.g. other species have their "own intelligences" -- that's true, in a sense, but those fallow populations would be left alone.) 
Here are some of my own insights on the matter: Will We Uplift Other Animals to Sapience? and Are Animals Intelligent ...Enough?

BonoboTwo books that peer into the minds of animals: 

The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates, by primatologist Frans de Waal, explores the biological origins of ethical behavior in primate communities, such as the bonobos -- arguing that morality originates, not in religion, but rather as a product of evolution -- and an instinct for fairness and altruism.

Another interesting concept... Hope they send me a copy to review. “Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know.” Cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz takes a look at the canine world, exploring how dogs perceive the world around them, each other, and what dogs might think of that other quirky animal -- their human owners:

inside-dog"Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draws a picture of what it might be like to be a dog. What’s it like to be able to smell not just every bit of open food in the house but also to smell sadness in humans, or even the passage of time? How does a tiny dog manage to play successfully with a Great Dane? What is it like to hear the bodily vibrations of insects or the hum of a fluorescent light? Why must a person on a bicycle be chased? What’s it like to use your mouth as a hand? In short, what is it like for a dog to experience life from two feet off the ground…” reads the summary on Amazon.

Of course I smelled at the oblique Grouch Marx connection, in the title.
==On the Fringes of Life==
Scientists have created a crystalline material that can pull all the oxygen out of room with just a spoonful. (Probably a spectacular exaggeration.) And it can release that oxygen when and where it's needed. Will this lead to the gill-masks that I portrayed both in EXISTENCE and the uplift novels? 

life-deathFascinating: The ever-regenerating hydra: All you would-be immortals! Watch this interesting animation in which Robert Krulwich shows us the animal that refuses to die! Ah, but then, when you penetrate the mystery, it turns out to be a PATTERN that never dies. But is it the same individual?
Precise brain stimulation techniques are now available for the realization of non-invasive computer-brain interfaces (CBI). This appears to mean that computer-mediated brain-to-brain communications are in the offing.
Mammals can’t regenerate lost limbs like salamanders can, but they can repair large sections of their ribs.  BTW see my short story about organ regeneration leading to something very very weird, in last month's ANALOG Magazine.
Replace colonoscopies with Yogurt? Scientists are developing synthetic molecules that can be introduced into the body via yogurt, and will interact with cancer in a way that produces telltale biomarkers. These molecules can then be detected easily when passed in urine.
More on how curiosity can be learned... and it then helps learning!

Dweebcast is one of these joyfully-geeky mini-shows that celebrate tech optimism. In this episode they ask me: "Hey, where are the hoverboards we were promised in Back to the Future?" 
==Physics and Technology Updates== 
As reported in Science Daily: “Researchers twist four radio beams together to achieve high data transmission speeds. The researchers reached data transmission rates of 32 gigabits per second across 2.5 meters of free space in a basement lab. For reference, 32 gigabits per second is fast enough to transmit more than 10 hour-and-a-half-long HD movies in one second and is 30 times faster than LTE wireless.”
Engineers have printed an ant-sized radio onto a silicon chip that costs pennies to make and draws power from the information it receives. This brings to life the ubiquitous smart dust potential that author Vernor Vinge prognosticated in fiction, more than a decade ago.
Printable solar panels? Kewl. But I have a sci fi reason for watching this tech. There will come a day when we learn how to make solar panels so simply that it could be a Cottage Craft, like blacksmithing, even after (if) civilization falls. Imagine if we ever experience a truly major fail… but simple craftsmen can provide villages with panels like roofing tiles that provide electricity. From then on, the utter baseline state of humanity will never again be caves or log cabin misery. There would always be light and basic electronics. And a limit to how far we could ever fall again.

imagesA fascinating experiment is being concocted for Fermilab, to place two 400m Michelson interferometers side-by-side and see if their random quantum positional jitters correlate with each other. If they do, then they will have used this Holometer to reveal “holographic noise” at the Planck scale that communicates in a quantum way across space-time… a link not only between the two interferometers, but also between the two realms of physics that (so-far) have not meshed well. For more details, see The Fermilab Holometer Proposal. 
Aren’t you proud to be a member of such a civilization?  Oughta be.
Graphene “paint” may be the most durable and corrosion resistant coating ever.
One of two British explorer ships, from the infamous-mysterious Franklin Expedition that vanished in the Arctic more than 160 years ago, has been found, in vivid sonar images. 
Here’s a cool (and necessary) notion.  The conceptualized 3D Re-Printer allows its user to feed used plastic items, which they would normally discard as trash, into the top of the machine. They machine will then grind the plastic up into a powder like material. At this point, the printer melts that powder, and extrudes it in molten form. Though it will take years to perfect it to the extent we saw in Back to the Future, where Doc Brown dumps anything at all into the Mr. Fusion.
Neat stuff: blasting incoming missiles and drones out of the sky with a high-energy laser, carried aboard a rugged truck. The see-saw of attack-defense just took another swing. It's a sci fi world. Now let's produce science fiction the (accurately) predicts something better than dystopias.
== Plus a reminder ==
Peter Ward is not optimistic. The changes we are wreaking on Earth go far beyond a few degrees of warming. Or even ocean acidification, which is clear and irrefutable (denialist-cultists always yell Squirrel and change the subject). Ward shows that the dead Black Sea and dying Mediterranean and Caribbean are only the beginning.
Green-sky-wardIn “Under a Green Sky” he shows parallels with the Permian Triassic extinction, in which hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas fizzed into the atmosphere, killing far more life than that measly dinosaur-asteroid. It is part and parcel to the steady acidification of the oceans, which is a clear fact and caused by human generated CO2. 

One thing is certain, you denialist-cultists who obstructed even moderate-compromise (TWODA) measures - sensible, moderate steps we could take, just in case all the smart people actually turn out to be right - none of you will have a place on any life arks.  


ZarPaulus said...

The Re-Printer unfortunately would have some problems dealing with all the assorted plastics that are used in everyday products.

I mean, it turned out that half the problems I had with my RepRap were that I was using PLA with the ABS settings.

Jumper said...

The oxygen storage research.

John's Secret Identity™ said...

As I sat listening to the deafening silence of my car's starter this morning, it occurred to me it would be handy at such times to have a windshield sun screen with solar panels to charge the car battery, or better yet, have them built into the roof & hood. But then again, a vehicle with such advanced features would probably just turn off the damn map light automatically to make up for having masked it's being on by keeping the dome light on for a few needless seconds after I closed the door and headed in for the night.

locumranch said...

David changed topics so quickly that he missed the lasting legacy of the Philae Lander -- bad manners over a tacky shirt -- proving once again that our society values appearance over merit and/or science:

It's just our modern way of saying 'Thank you & APOLIGISE, you bastard', for such greatness earns the rewards of Coriolanus, meaning that the hero/scientist who saves us from ourselves will earn our enmity forever.


Patricia Mathews said...

How does a tiny dog play nicely with a Great Dane? David, have you EVER known one who had any idea what size he was? I've had friends with Chihuahuas, Dachshunds, etc, and they certainly didn't.

David Brin said...

Patricia, little dogs know they are small. They fret about coyotes. I have known some who were very very ANGRY about being small.

gpalmer said...

Thanks for all the book recommendations and links!

I had seen news blurbs on humans regenerating livers but have never heard of rib regeneration.

The concept of uplift is also intriguing -- although I think (just as we overestimate the potential for artificial intelligence to run amok) we overestimate human potential for accomplishing this task. There have been some pretty good advances in mapping the human brain but we can't seem to very solid footing on AI that performs complex contextual analysis.

Paul451 said...

Yeah, the three plastics that are most compatible with 3D printers (ABS, PLA and nylon) aren't commonly used in recyclable commercial packaging and therefore aren't identified separately (all three are just lumped into number 7, along with a bunch of others.)

The 3D Re-Printer is really more about recycling your own failed efforts than it is about recycling ordinary plastic garbage.

John's Secret Identity,
In hot climates, a solar powered A/C would be handy when the car is parked outside.

[I read somewhere that the cost of installing sun canopies in shopping centre car-parks would be recouped in a few years of fuel-savings of cars not running their A/Cs so hard. (Works even better if the canopies are solar panels.) But there's no way to link the two concepts through normal market mechanisms. You'd need a special fuel tax funding a car-park sun canopy subsidy.]

"for such greatness earns the rewards of Coriolanus"

Errr, what reward should Coriolanus have received? He withheld food from the poor with arrogant contempt. When he later loses an election he throws an epic tantrum and joins city's main enemy with the aim of smashing his own city out of pure spite, only backing down when his entire family begs him to (thus betraying his new allies.)

Jumper said...

I find it improper and offensive for a space scientist to have worn that shirt. Why he didn't wear this one instead bothers me:

"I'm not really certain that the internet wants women to shut up and die so much as they want everyone to shut up and die"

Paul451 said...

Another gift from Rosetta. Comet song. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's magnetic field.

(Download the track and play with the timing if you don't want to ever sleep again.)

David Brin said...

gpalmer no one said uplift would be easy. Frankly, I think we need a tad more wisdom, in tandem with more technology, before attempting it, Wisdom both to do it humbly&well... and to overcome today's fashion of hating-all-human-ambition.

The latter plague infests both the far-left and the Entire Right. I have hopes that flicks like INTERSTELLAR will make a difference.

daddyoyo said...

David, apropos of your interview by George Dvorsky on AI, have you seen and what do you think of the new TV series Extant? Season 1 certainly seems to have picked up on your idea of an extended childhood as a better method towards the goal of human-like AI and the Luddites in the show sure don't get an overly sympathetic treatment.

David Brin said...

We've been recording Extant but haven't gotten to it yet. Hopeful!

Alex Tolley said...

“From this small sample size, we were unable to find rare protein-altering variants significantly associated with extreme longevity.” On the other hand: “It is not surprising that a highly complex trait such as longevity is not explained by a single Mendelian gene”

The null hypothesis should be that longevity is just a distribution and that these examples are just at the upper tail of that distribution, with no special "longevity" attributes or genotype.

Alex Tolley said...

Education for the masses, recommended by Adam Smith, only started once the top layers of nobility were removed, both in Periclean Athens and in the early US.

What about public education in Germany, that preceded that in the US, and also influenced the US?

Alex Tolley said...

But someone also must develop cheap sail-or-ion propelled freighters, automated Mars water drill-distillers, in-situ propellant production, closed cycle processes for turning local ores into advanced machinery, and above all - advanced and reliable closed cycle life support.

Absolutely. I am pleased to see that an idea that a colleague and I published in JBIS about water based spacecraft is slowly gaining ground. We settled on electro-thermal (microwave) engines (ISP ~ 900) but other options are possible. Water can be used as propellant and is widely available in te solar system with minimal processing. It can be part of the hull offering micro-meteoroid and radiation shielding, recycled for bathing and as an emergency O2 supply. If Phobos or Deimos have water, then we have a supply that reduces mass by refueling.

Laurent Weppe said...

"What about public education in Germany, that preceded that in the US, and also influenced the US?"

Well, aristocracy in bismarckian Germany accounted for around 1/1.000th of the population instead of 2-3% like in pre-revolutionary France: managing the prussian-then-german economy and bureaucracy demanded such a large workforce that even after giving leadership positions to every members of the aristocracy, lots of seats remained to be filled meritocratically and as a result, old dynasties did not oppose vibrant public schools (too much), and enough competent people reached the ranks of the elite to fix the numerous blunders done by the aristos.

That did not stop the system from self-destroying (and taking the rest of Europe alongside with it) in the end, though.

Alex Tolley said...

@laurent Britain has < 5% aristocrats but also has a strong (still) publicly funded education system. So I'm not buying that the size of the aristocratic class impacted education. If extreme wealth disparity was a factor, we would see a decline in schooling during the gilded age. Is there any such evidence? In the UK, factory owners often schooled the children of workers (That maybe the equivalent of free cafeterias and transport by Google, but it doesn't suggest that powerful interests wanted an ignorant population).

Nobility in Britain:
History of English education:

Laurent Weppe said...

@Alex Tolley

Britain had an colonial empire it used to fund its upper-class' lifestyle, and was constantly short on smart administrators/businessmen/officers to administrate/maintain it, so the same logic happens here: the nobility had monopolized only a fraction of elite positions, leaving enough opportunities for ambitious upstarts, while the gargantuan task of keeping the very system that sustained them running on a day to day basis demanded that a lot of smart people worked tirelessly (and were therefore properly compensated) to ensure that things ran smoothly.

So long as you were a white Briton (the british empire was a not much of a boon for colonized Indians and Africans, to stay politely euphemistic), lots of opportunities were made available to you.

The situation we are nowadays is different in the sense that while our technology-driven civilization needs more than ever before an educated population to function properly, a catastrophically high ratio of members of the upper-class has started to severely overestimate automation's failsafes to the point were they're convinced that they don't need an educated populace anymore and that they can afford to sabotage education without putting the very system that keeps them (and everyone else) alive at risk.

locumranch said...

Perhaps it is just the work-related compassion fatigue talking, but I find the very idea of "supercentenarians” to be extremely distasteful, also the height of narcissism, as if the World, Universe & Everything in it existed only to perpetuate our debased culture of personal immortality.

Through my ER, I see a constant parade of increasingly elderly entitled-demanders who claim every life-extending intervention and (above all) subservience from a 'replaceable' (but shrinking) pool of underpaid & overworked healthcare provider units as their God-Given Right despite consequential environmental, economic & cultural degradation.

Would it be as it once was when our decrepit, dependent and backward-looking elderly had the good graces to relinquish political control, leave their resources to the younger generation and shuffle off this mortal coil with uncompromising dignity, instead of consuming every available resource, their own young & the very globe itself in order to create a cushy geriatric paradise in Tokyo, the Mediterranean or Boca Raton.

The statistics are terrifying, the median age in Japan (48+), Europe (45+), Australia (39+), China/PRC (37+) and the USA (37+), so much so that the much younger Third world (20-) can either choose to become our bottom-wiping slaves (and/or 'caretakers') or our bemused destroyers who (through inaction) allow our culture of selfish, grasping narcissism to perish from this earth.

I, for one, do not wish to live forever, nor do I wish to 'end' The History of which I am a part, nor do I desire to curse my children with my eternal presence.


David Brin said...

Also, de Tocqueville commented on high levels of American education while Germany consisted of mostly rustic Junkers lords and peasants/

David Brin said...

Health care is naturally rationed. The Eurpoean method is to do state-centered calculations of net quality years gained by any procedure. Which emphasizes children and the young because their expectation outcome product is much higher.

The Fox-ites spun that as "granny-killing death committees" so it's no-go over here. Instead, we rationed care by allowing insurance companies to eject anyone who did not have a good lawyer.

Now, Obamacare has changed that. Now there is no rationing in the US at all. Except insurance companies saying "we don't cover that... try this." Astonishingly, costs HAVE stopped rising as fast.

Alex Tolley said...

@Laurent - to be clear, you aren't actually saying that a top-heavy nobility was crushing education, but rather that it was growth of opportunities that needed filling that stimulated education. Today, if we are entering the "Great Stagnation", then lack of growth opportunities will eventually undermine educational needs. Of course this will happen only after the insane competition for jobs, and expensive education to chase them, has ended.

Different causes.

locumranch said...

Obamacare & its current successes are exercises in cost shifting:

(1) Insurance costs appear contained because the financial healthcare burden has been shifted from third-party (and/or government) payers to patients, providers & employers;

(2) Increased out-of-pocket insurance deductibles (which are analogous to poll taxes) limit medical access & represent de facto healthcare rationing;

(2) Reduced profitability at healthcare institutions (hospitals) encourages rationing in the form of treatment, admission & length-of-stay guidelines, leading to a revolving-door US hospital readmission rate of greater than 30%; and

(3) Declining reimbursement to physician providers has led to reductions in multispecialty physician availability (especially in primary care), a surge in high-cost ER utilization & an improper reliance on poorly-trained physician extenders.

The above trends have not yet gained public recognition for three reasons: First, there has been a concurrent shift away from investment, meaning that the US healthcare system as-a-whole has begun consuming capital (human & financial) to cover routine operating expenses; second, almost 50% of all inpatient medical expenses are still covered by Medicare until the planned draconian SGR cuts are instituted (soon); and, third, the poor economy has forced many Baby Boomers to delay retirement.

Finally, it is important to note that this healthcare analysis is purely informational, not being meant as an indictment of either the current US Obama administration or the national healthcare concept as a whole. The system is broken, perhaps irretrievably, and you can expect US healthcare problems to snowball (gain momentum) in an exponential fashion as the US (and most of the First World) is overrun by its elderly & the last of the Baby Boomers 'shrug' and go with the flow.

Ask Tacitus where he stands; I'm gone in 5 years; and, after us, comes the deluge known as World War 'E' (as in 'Elderly).


Laurent Weppe said...

"de Tocqueville commented on high levels of American education while Germany consisted of mostly rustic Junkers lords and peasants"

Germany was hardly unified in Tocqueville's days, but the prussian system from which even today's Germany public education is descended was already taking form.


"to be clear, you aren't actually saying that a top-heavy nobility was crushing education, but rather that it was growth of opportunities that needed filling that stimulated education"

No: what I'm saying is that the high number of opportunities that needed filling deterred top-heavy nobility from crushing education. And the fact is, we are most certainly not entering a "great stagnation" when it comes to the number of people needed to maintain the system in working order.

In fact, it should not be a surprise that the neo-reactionaries against which this very blog's owner love to rant so much (it's ok, they vastly deserve it) come from the IT sector: the idea that an handful of coding wiz-kids might be able to program algorithms so well crafted that they'll be able to fix the system with no help is a quintessential IT fantasy which can be easily adopted by patricians who don't like the fact that they have to share the Planet with the plebs.

Robert said...

Here's the thing to consider about health care in the United States: It is something that only the very rich and the very poor can afford. The very rich have the money for it. The very poor have Medicare and other government programs... and are so poor that any extra charges will never be repaid.

The middle class, even those with insurance, are in a nasty little situation where you don't go for treatment when you're sick until you get really sick. If your job lacks vacation and/or sick days (and there are many jobs that do, especially for the self-employed) you can't afford time to see a doctor or dentist. If your insurance doesn't like the doctors or dentists in your area and hits you with a fee to see them, you are stuck with extra charges to see those local medical personnel... or someone you dislike... or someone far away that you might not be able to reach because of work or a lack of transportation.

And the ability of insurance companies to insist on copays has resulted in a middle class that is forced increasingly to cut corners. Is that doctor or dentist appointment as important as saving up for your child's college? Or making an insurance payment or paying rent or electricity? More and more middle class households are living paycheck to paycheck and in doing so medical care, even mostly-funded, becomes a luxury. One that most can't really afford.

Given that wages have stagnated for the vast majority of people since 2008, while food costs, fuel costs, electricity costs, and more have risen... the net income of the middle class has declined. Obamacare might have reduced the rate that medical costs have gone up... but it's too late for many of the middle class. And given that if a family lost their jobs after the "global financial crisis" (ie, Depression of 2008) then even if they were able to find part-time work to squeeze off some sort of a living and keep their home... they probably stopped going to the doctor as a luxury expense. And after several years of not seeing a doctor... why are they going to start up again? Especially when times are still tough for most Americans?

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

Locumranch was asking my opinion, so I will give a limited reply. (I try to stay on topic and toggle the political switch off)

Briefly, I think the current projections for savings in the healthcare system are chimeras. An ineffectual Obamacare will morph into an extended Medicaid, which is not a bad thing really, and is what should have been tried first.

Another day I will happily share the renewal rate increases for my own insurance. Not pretty, my pretties, not pretty.

But regards supercentarians.... I think Super Centurians sounds cooler btw. I have found the elderly in general to be less demanding than most demographics when they are actually able to engage in a discussion. Alas, by the time they arrive in the ER it is often way too late for that. The biggest issues are institutional. Nursing homes dread the prospect of a death under their auspices - too much paperwork and scrutiny - and so they routinely shuttle elderly, comfort care only patients off to the ER because "they don't look right this morning". The diagnosis sometimes includes a real emergency, but more often is over medication or just sleeping in after a busy day yesterday. Even where there is a pneumonia or some such, we don't often get clear directives....should a demented person with no awareness be treated aggressively? Hey, if a 90 year old expresses a desire to go out with guns ablazin' I can justify ICU, intubation, helicopters. But too often the directives we get are mush. No CPR but treat aggressively. Whatever that really means.

If IvoryTowerMedica invents a serum tomorrow that will get us all to an age of 125 I, like locum, want nothing to do with it. Life is more than respiration. You have be be able to enjoy it on some level. I am pacing myself for age 80 and if I don't get done by then the things that I should accomplish, well that suggests I am, in the line from my favorite movie Bull Durham, a "Lollygagger".

Racin' you to the exit, Locum....


Alex Tolley said...

@locum - Your complaints about the changing US H/C system need to explain why the measures of outcomes, e.g. life expectancy, are so poor in the US, despite the supposed diversity of specialists. Some of that is due to the uninsured. That a nation as rich as the US cannot provide H/C everyone is appalling IMO. I am also aware that my Republican acquaintances don't believe that H/C should be provided to everyone either.

Both you and Tacitus2 are old enough to remember that the AMA fought against Medicare before it was signed into law in 1965. The arguments were not dissimilar to those locum is making now. There seems to be something very different in attitude between US physicians and those in other countries with "universal H/C".

Tacitus2 said...


I was 8 years old in 1965. Much of the nuance of the debate then got past me.

Life expectancy numbers are skewed by some touchy issues....deaths related to prematurity and homicide are concentrated in our lower socioeconomic groups. As of course are the early deaths related to substance abuse. Care deferred or not logistically available are naturally a big part of it as well.

Dumping more money into the system may not be sufficient. You can make care available but can you force people to show for appointments, or to not smoke, or to not get pregnant at 15, or not join gangs?

This is a hard topic for Americans to discuss, the stats are there but any discussion goes "hot" rather quickly.


David Brin said...

Tacitus I agree. The biggest flaw in Obamacare is that the Dems should have altered the GOP plan in one way. EVERY citizen under age 26 and over age 60 should have instantly been put under Medicare. That could have passed. It would have eased us into a Grand Shift. The Middle would have started asking… hey, why not us too?

locum leaves out several things. 1- checkups and preventive care are exempt from deductibles. And hence, the economic incentive is for the poor to fill that gap right away. It’s free and millions are doing it. And that alone is a huge triumph for Obamacare.

Yes there are deduictibles for other care. The theory is that that turns the patients into picky consumers, helping drive prices down. I am skeptical. Health care is non-fungible. Like most sensible people, I despise the Republican aid-to-insurance-companies plan called Obamacare. I’d prefer Canadian Health. But Obamacare is vastly better than the previous non-“system”. Period.

The revolving door is steeply penalized under Obamacare, with re-admissions leading to reduced payment. Hospitals are striving to solve this economically.

Your other comments are disturbing and interesting. I wish we had actual “politics” so that tweaks could be made, to address these issues. We do not.

David Brin said...

Continue here if you like...