Why is it that the second amendment is the only part of the Bill of Rights that hasn't been badly weakened? People should be far more scared of things like loss of habeas corpus, corporate control of media, extrajudicial executions, unrestrained PAC donations and government snooping than a nonexistent threat to take their hunting rifles away.
It has been easy to build a quite lethal air-gun for at least 45 years, which is how long ago I built one. Not an automatic, of course, but made with parts from a hardware store that are still available today, for about the same price. The really specialized tools are a drill and a tap. With a 3D printer it should be possible to make a fully automatic one, about 80 caliber and firing 30 rounds a minute. Not much by military standards, and the dangerous range is only about a hundred feet.
But if you are concerned about dangerous things, just look up what they teach Marines in combat training. One hint: it is not about tea-time manners. And then after 3 or 4 years they send these folks back into society, and some fit in just fine, but some are damaged goods who don't fit so very fine. So how are they going to remove that training, which, by the way, is a lot more deadly than many legal firearms. And it gets worse, if you look at the special forces, and some of those other teams that we seldom hear about.
But the big thing that we need to be concerned about now is more subtle and much more dangerous. We are seeing a whole generation being trained to never concentrate and to never focus their attention on anything. People like that are ripe to be enslaved because they won't be able to focus long enough to realize that something has gone wrong. Think about it: As engineers, we know that to identify a problem and solve that problem requires concentration and focus. Those are the most fundamental things, even before our knowledge and insight. If we can't concentrate, we can't find a solution. Right?
When I was a kid 40+ years ago, we made things that would get us put in jail today. Zinc-sulfer-fueled rockets that if pointed at a house instead of into the air would go through a wall, home-made fireworks and explosives (a friend made a gram or so of nitroglycerine, and even we thought he was crazy), someone losing fingers... Now fast-forward another 40 years.
You *can't* control the technologies that we are unleashing. Never mind printing an illegal drug, consider what happens when anyone can print a virus. Pandora's box is already open, and it's not going to get closed. Now, how do we deal with it? Totalitarian states that control everything? Lessez-faire states that don't, and hope for the best? A return to a (nonexistent) more-genteel past? And how do you do it when technology moves at light speed, and politics moves at continental drift speed? For now, we just have to try to stay ahead of the curve creating the antibodies for the ills that technology is creating... but if anyone has a better answer, please let us all know!
"We need a social revolution" is a pretty general statement... can you be more specific? We need to turn insurance companies into nonprofits, charge a fee to make a stock transaction, provide free preventive health care for everyone, outlaw the teaching of "creation 'science'", draft qualified people into public offices (and disqualify them if they actually want the job), now THOSE are revolutionary ideas I could get behind... but do you have any in mind for technology?
Blog Doing Math in FPGAs Tom Burke 24 comments For a recent project, I explored doing "real" (that is, non-integer) math on a Spartan 3 FPGA. FPGAs, by their nature, do integer math. That is, there's no floating-point ...