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Comment: Re:Perfectly appropriate action for the FAA to tak (Score 2) 97

by jfengel (#47438001) Attached to: FAA Pressures Coldwell, Other Realtors To Stop Using Drone Footage

It's time for Congress to do a lot of things. But when was the last time Congress did anything at all? Has there been even a single non-trivial piece of legislation in the entire 113th? Was there any in the 112th?

The bar to legislation is fairly high and there's always a large set of voters prepared to punish their legislators for allowing anything through that would be seen as a victory for the other side or even as a compromise with them, regardless of the issue. Those Congressmen have been trained in a Pavlovian fashion to loudly denounce anything anybody tries to do.

So don't expect Congress to fix this, or anything else.

Comment: Re:And if it doesn't work? (Score 1) 242

by nine-times (#47433903) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Unattended Maintenance Windows?

No offense, but that's not a very sensible response. Your job may require off-hours work, but that depends largely on the needs of the company your supporting, and what you negotiate your job to be. Regardless, there's no reason why you shouldn't try to diminish the amount of off-hours work, and make it as painless as possible.

For example, let's say I have to do server updates similar to what this guy is describing, and my maintenance window is 5am-9am. The updates consist of running a few commands to kick the updates off, waiting for everything to download and install, rebooting, then checking to make sure everything was successful. Because the updates are large and the internet is slow, it sometimes takes 3 hours to perform the updates, but only 10 minutes to roll things back.

It's an exaggerated scenario, but given that basic outline, why wouldn't I just script the update process, and roll in at 8:30 with plenty of time to confirm success and roll things back if needed? What, I should still come in at 5am just because an Anonymous Coward on the Internet decided it was "part of the job"?

Comment: Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 200

Interesting.

Given MAD, it's hard to imagine another WWII-type scenario (though it would be a bad day if China invaded Taiwan). But I could foresee something like Afghanistan spreading to the entire Middle East, where they couldn't nuke us (at least, not more than a couple of times, not like Cold War-style "nuclear winter" barrages), and we'd be strongly pressured not to nuke them. But the theater would be so wide that we'd need vast, vast number of ground troops.

Comment: Re: Idiots (Score 1) 135

The US taxpayer gave away airwaves to broadcasters in exchange from free service. The broadcaster can recoup costs and make a profit through advertising. Cable companies pay because they collect all signals and transmit to everyone. Aero rents an antenna and a DVD and records specific shows. I think the SCOTUS only looked at present revenue, no the long term impact of limiting broadcaster viability in the age of the internet. I have the right to place an antenna anywhere and receive a personal signal or recording of the signal. If the broadcasters are not going to honor the original mandate, they should give our airwaves back.

On a related note, broadcaster have been increasingly ignoring the public service mandate, and our government has been complicit in this. Aero is just another example of the giveaway of public resources to the privileged few.

Comment: Re:Idiots (Score 1) 135

but rather a bunch of fire and brimstone nonsense about the signal-stealing piratepocalypse.

And I think you're implying this, but all of the pirateocalypse nonsense, whether it's regarding Aereo or Bittorrent-- all of it really comes down to "we want to maintain our current extremely profitable business model in the face of changing technology which renders it obsolete." Like record labels and news organizations and all the other forms of media and information-related industries, they will need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the Internet age.

Comment: Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 200

The closest we get to that is the airport, where rights have been considerably and visibly curtailed (as opposed to the comparatively invisible loss of rights due to government intrusion in electronic communications). People seem to have accepted that more or less gracefully: they bitch, but it's not seen as a massive imposition on most people's daily lives.

I don't know if we'd ever get to the point of rationing food. Even if we declared a full-scale war, technology means we grow a lot of surplus food in this country. Prices might rise, but I don't think we'd ever see "grow victory gardens" posters as we did in the last unlimited war.

Oil, however, would skyrocket, and technology might be severely curtailed. It would be interesting to see how people reacted to that. It's hard to say whether that would be a bigger factor than outrage at a draft of manpower. In Korea and Vietnam, a lot of the public seemed to take the draft with equanimity since it came without the kind of rationing we saw during World War II.

Comment: Re:Technically, it's not a "draft notice" (Score 1) 200

I recall some talk during the lead-up to the Afghan war about the potential for a draft. It wasn't clear at the time just how big that particular conflict would get. It wasn't impossible to imagine it turning into World War-sized scenario against a lot of Islamic countries. The resulting conflicts were small compared to that, but we had to scale up the military substantially and if they'd grown any bigger we'd have had to have a draft.

Now that women are allowed access to combat positions, it's going to be very hard to exempt them from a draft should one be necessary. I can't conceive of the legislature passing any such bill right now (I can't imagine this Congress passing any non-trivial bill, and I don't see that changing), but a wise legislature would want to do that ahead of need rather than after the fact. If women are going to be drafted, you'd need to start registering them now.

I sincerely hope that it's never necessary. And if a war of that scope does happen again, we'll probably be a lot less selective with our weapons of war. (Afghanistan and Iraq were fought house-to-house, because as bizarre as it sounds that was a way of reducing civilian casualties, at least compared to just flattening entire cities as was done in World War II.) So we may well not have a draft even in a bigger conflict. But I think that, while it's politically impossible, a really good pragmatic case could be made for starting to require Selective Service registration for everybody right now.

Comment: Re:Most humans couldn't pass that test (Score 1) 279

by jfengel (#47426033) Attached to: The Lovelace Test Is Better Than the Turing Test At Detecting AI

To me, this seems to cut to the heart of it. AI is commonly conceived of as trying to mimic human intelligence, while there are cognitive tasks that cats and even mice can do that prove too hard for computers. A cat can recognize a mouse with essentially 100% accuracy, from any angle, in an eyeblink. No computer would come close, and the program that came closest wouldn't be a general-purpose object matcher.

Vertebrate brains are pretty remarkable. Human brains are an amazing extra step on top of that. We don't know exactly what that is in part because we don't really understand the simpler vertebrate brains. IMHO, we won't have a good mimic for sapience until we've gotten it to first do sentience. We don't have to rigorously follow the evolutionary order, but it seems to me that conversation-based tests are rewarding the wrong features, and even if they get better by that definition they're not getting us any closer to the actual goals of understanding (and reproducing) intelligence.

Comment: Re:Repercussions? (Score 2) 107

They have shown that they can not be trusted. They must lose the power to do this.

Pull someones certificates or kill some CA. Someone needs to suffer because of this.

What happens now is that there's an investigation. Depending on the outcome the CA may be revoked for good, or merely forced to reissue lots of certificates. The deciding factor is the reason for the screwup - for instance they may have got hacked, rather than been actively corrupt. In that case Microsoft will have to decide if they have patched things up enough to continue as part of their root store program or whether to pull the plug. I doubt many people have certs issued by this CA so the damage would be relatively minimal.

Unfortunately you can't just kill any CA that screws up. For one, if the CA was widely used it'd be disrupted. For another, nothing is unhackable, especially when you get the NSA involved. Expecting CA's to be able to reliably fight off professional hackers from dozens of governments and never ever fail is likely an impossible standard to ever meet.

Hard decisions ahead for browser and OS makers for sure ...

Comment: Uh... I don't get it (Score 1) 27

by jfengel (#47425133) Attached to: The Video Game That Maps the Galaxy

I did read the fine article, but I'm afraid I just don't get what's going on here. Are the players contributing something in some kind of crowd-sourced "Yes, that blob is a star, and its center is here" kind of way? Or are they using players' computers as a distributed processing system?

It's nifty either way, but I don't the New Yorker's audience has the same kinds of questions about the technology that I do. Can anybody in this audience (more like me) help me out?

Them as has, gets.

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