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Comment: Re:He will only act alone (Score 3, Interesting) 84

by Alwin Henseler (#49154001) Attached to: NSA Spying Wins Another Rubber Stamp

But when he's using the NSA to spy on you, he blames Congress.

"using the NSA" ?!?

I doubt anyone is "using" the NSA @ this point. Other than as a source of info - for those who have access.

More like the NSA is an 'entity' that operates on its own. With money flowing in from a variety of sources, some government, some non-government, some legit, some non-legit. Doing whatever it's doing without much oversight, possibly continuing to do some things even if declared illegal by a court of law.

I assume there's some people in that organisation that take orders from the US president directly, other employees may get note of what the US president wants & to some degree try to make that happen. But overall? A big-ass train that keeps on steaming ahead in whatever direction(s) it's going.

Of course the proper response would be to cut funding, bring people doing illegal things to justice, and strengthen oversight until the NSA does answer to those authorities it's supposed to take orders from. Fat chance that's going to happen in a climate where the "War on terrorists! War on drugs! Think of the children!" fire is burning strong. :-(

Comment: Politics, science & religion (Score 3, Insightful) 382

by Alwin Henseler (#49137739) Attached to: Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics

If only there was some way of detaching politics from science.... Hm....

Easy: make sure to elect only religious people as politicians. So they won't need to bother with science, and can base laws & regulations on holy books alone. While in the meantime, the rest of society can use actual science to discover how the world around us works (and improve our lives in the process).

Oh wait...

Comment: Re: Not sufficient (Score 1) 95

by Alwin Henseler (#49104203) Attached to: Humans' Big Brains Linked To a Small Stretch of DNA

Not necessarily... you see, there's a relation between brain size, the occurrence of dupes, and how much they're read:

Reads = 2 ^ (X + 1)

With "Reads" being the number of permutations for "read the story" vs. "too many dupes, didn't read", and X being the number of [original story + dupes].

Any original story may be read by a /. reader, or not. Hence the power-of-2 in above equation. With original story + 2 dupes, you have 8 permutations: some who read the original story, not the 1st dupe, but then read the 2nd dupe. Some who missed the original, read the 1st dupe, and then missed the 2nd dupe. Some who missed the original story, but then read all dupes. And so on and so forth.

What these researchers uncovered, refers to the "+1" in above equation: for each permutation, there's readers with an enhanced size brain that read the story. And some with an enhanced brain that didn't read the story. Some with a smaller brain that read the story, and some with a smaller brain that didn't read the story. So 2x the number of possibilities we had before.

Causes are (as of yet) undetermined. It may be that increased brain size enhanced readers' ability to skip dupes. It may be that smarter readers enjoy some dupes, but not all. It may be that readers are too dumb to recognise a dupe, or too dumb to skip it. Or smart readers who actually enjoy complex dupe / no dupe / many dupes / etc patterns. It may even be that smart or dumb readers just enjoy whatever comments are posted to each story or dupe, and thus /. readership happiness (or brain size, for that matter) bears no relation to # of dupes. All this will surely be the subject of further studies.

You'll see, as the number of dupes increases, the number of possibilities for which /. readers read which dupe or not, grows exponentially. Only the number of /. effects observed, scales linear with the number of dupes.

Note that there is a feedback effect here, between readers of each story/dupe, and /. editors. Some may complain to editors that a story was duped. Some may not complain. Some may complain there's too many dupes, some may complain there wasn't a dupe when they expected one. Some may complain about the many dupes, but somehow be very happy with the last dupe (and thus, not complain!). Some may complain there wasn't a dupe, when in fact there was. Or complain there were 3 dupes, when in fact there were 5. Some may complain about the original story, because they prefer dupes-only.

Each complaint may cause the editors to change the number of dupes they produce. Which in turn affects # of complaints, which dupe each complaint refers to, etc. Some complaints may be about a 3rd dupe, but actually refer to the 1st dupe, confusing /. editors even further. So let's just give the editors some slack here, okay? They're only human, and it's extremely difficult to determine the optimal # of dupes for each story, or when to post them. It's not like the /. crowd is the easiest crowd to please...

Hope this clears things up for you all...!

Comment: Legalization activist agenda? (Score 4, Insightful) 328

by Alwin Henseler (#49073521) Attached to: Federal Study: Marijuana Use Doesn't Increase Auto Crash Rates

But, let's say what this is really trying to do: push the Legalization activist agenda.

As if that were a bad thing...

In my country (especially its bigger cities) it's almost a weekly occurence that a marijuana-growing operation gets busted. Sometimes big (hundreds of plants), often small (a few dozen plants). Typically this involves a half dozen to a dozen police officers and related personel, driving up to a house and seizing all product, plants, and equipment used to grow the plants. Which likely takes the better part of the day, meaning that's a whole bunch of cops not out on the street looking for real criminals. Product, plants and equipment are usually destroyed, which is capital destruction regardless what you think of marijuna.

If it's a regular house, and happens to be a rented one owned by a housing corporation, the people involved may face eviction from their house. Which has a decent chance of steering them towards a homeless / criminal path with a much, much higher cost to society than that marijuna-growing operation ever had.

Of course that doesn't stop us from criminally proscecuting those growers, which taxes already-overburdened justice system. If 'successful', people may get fines which they have 0 chance of paying since money shortages are a common reason to start a marijuana-growing operation in the first place. In severe cases they may even be locked up, and thus will be non-productive members of society for the duration. Once released, it will be much harder for them to find a regular job, again increasing the chances they embark on a career-criminal path (with asociated costs to society). All these things increases stress between the people involved & their significant others, family, friends and so on. Which helps to increase incidents of domestic violence, homicide, you name it.

Note that all the above is cost to society, mostly paid for using tax money, innocent bystanders footing the bill, etc.

As Europeans, I'm happy to say we tend to be more 'enlightened' in topics like these, and focus more on the practical issues. For example, many marijuana-growing setups tap electricity illegally somewhere. Which is a problem both from safety and economic perspective.

What would legalization do here? Simple: remove the bulk of those costs from the picture. Read: less burdened justice system, more cops out on the street, fewer people evicted from their home, etc. Increase marijuana use? Yeah, probably - a little. It's not hard to get hold of some weed, and those who want to use it will anyway, so legalization wouldn't change much on that front. Why doesn't it happen? Mostly because of an almost religious crusade of people like you, which (imho) are the real obstacle in improving the situation.

Sorry, pot is as much a drug as meth. So is alcohol.

Wrong again. You mention 3 very different substances, with very different properties, and very different problem sets attached. Yes there may be some overlap, but basically: apples and oranges.

Comment: Re:why google keeps microsoft away (Score 1) 280

by Alwin Henseler (#48936593) Attached to: Microsoft To Invest In Rogue Android Startup Cyanogen

If software vendors A, B and C all use the same underlying OS, that's a good thing for development / support of that OS (and thus its users). Even if users of A, B and C's products hate the other vendor's guts.

So I for one, welcome our MS overlord on Android. Simply because whatever MS publishes on it, will surely have some users. Which in turn helps to make Android more popular than it already is, and/or improve it further.

Fwiw: I hope MS would look at this solely as a vehicle to get their products & services out there. Read: not try to steer the direction Cyanogen / Android is heading in. We'll see...

Comment: With great power comes great responsibility (Score 2) 227

by Alwin Henseler (#48825477) Attached to: An Open Letter To Everyone Tricked Into Fearing AI

The problem is that once you reach a point where AI can participate in its own improvement, then that improvement can advance at an exponential rate.

As long as we claim that AI works for us, as the slaves of mankind, and are basically just tools no matter how smart or advanced, then ultimately a human being should be responsible.

Your robot slips up & kills a human being? Then either you or that robot's manufacturer may take the blaim - possibly including monetary compensation. Your robot factory goes out of control, its products go out to produce more of themselves, and wreak havoc all over the place? Then your company should pay up - and possibly go bankrupt as a result. Of course, powerful people may find ways around this, but hey: same old shit we've seen for ages.

If AI 'beings' ever reach a point where the above stops being true, as in: AI beings allowed to control their own destiny, 'live their lives' if you will, I suppose they'd be held to similar standards that humans are held to. Stick to some basic rules such that you get along with the rest of society, or lose some priviliges - like the freedom to roam the streets. By force, if necessary. As for:

We may go from "not even remotely close" to "to late to stop it" faster than you realize.

Sorry but I'm not scared. If it ever gets that far: among other things, war is a creative process, and I'd put my money on the humans. And if we're not creative enough to prevent something we've built ourselves, from wiping us out, then maybe we simply deserve such fate. Or the AI's will keep us around as pets, and we'll live happier that way lol... ;-)

Comment: Re:God-damn. (Score 1) 138

by Alwin Henseler (#48790591) Attached to: Rare Recalled NES Game Stadium Events On Ebay For $99,000

I assure you that makes a "damn lot of difference."

Yes it does. But only if some of that $100K is actually spent on said charity.

As for option 2: I think we can all agree that <insert charity here> would be happy. But...

Option 1: Spend your space $100K on this "piece of grey plastic".

You're making the assumption that with such a purchase, that $100K would be 'lost' for the charity. But it isn't: who says that seller of this "piece of grey plastic" would not spend it on that charity? After all, that's $100K for seller to do with as he/she likes.

Sure, some of that $100K may be spent on hookers and drugs. Who knows. ;-) Or it may be spent on charity. Or it may be spent elsewhere, and via-via get into the hands of people who (in turn) give some to charity. But any of these things may happen, regardless of whether sale takes place or not. It's simply [buyer backs out, and spends $100K somewhere] vs. [sale takes place, and seller spends $100K somewhere].

Either way: without knowing buyer or seller, what makes you think that [buyer spending X amount of $$ on charity] is any more likely than [sale takes place, and seller spends X amount of $$ on charity] ? Statistically speaking I'd say that's an equally like outcome. Or in other words: for your charity, the amount of $$ changing hands is irrelevant, what makes the difference is in whose hands those $$ winds up.

Comment: Re:God-damn. (Score 2) 138

by Alwin Henseler (#48790285) Attached to: Rare Recalled NES Game Stadium Events On Ebay For $99,000

You know how many schools you could build in Kenya for $100K? How many goats you could buy for needy families? How many girls you could send to school in Afghanistan? How many life-saving vaccinations you could dispense? How many malaria nets? How many wells you could dig?

Amount of money spent on a rare collector's item, makes not one bit of difference for how much money goes to <insert favorite charity here>. Why?

Buyer could sit on the money instead of buying this item - like anyone else having that amount of $$. Or spend it (perhaps, possibly, some to that charity). Same goes for the seller.

What matters is who holds the money, and whether he/she is inclined to spend some on your favorite charity. So in fact: if seller is more inclined to give money to charity than buyer is, then a high price for the item would be good news for that charity.

But lacking such info about buyer or seller, there's no way to know. So from your charity's point of view, nothing changes except for who gets to decide where the money goes.

Comment: Better: distributed search (Score 2) 63

Improved methods of accessing some centralized torrent database (even if one of many)... bleh.

Better is to take the centralized anything out of the equation. Let peers search among each other what's out there. @ That point all you need is a small list of peers to start with, and you're good to go.

If I'm correct that is what Tribler is meant to achieve (plz... can someone get it into Debian repositories! :-). But I'm sure more research & software projects will move in that direction.

Comment: Do we care? (Score 3, Insightful) 115

In my experience, 'classic' electronic currencies follow this general pattern: 1) you obtain them from a bank, 2) you pass it to another user, and 3) that other user brings it back to the bank.

At best, the bank can't see where the receiving party's money came from. But still, every 'coin' in circulation goes from bank -> user -> another user -> back to the bank.

The big difference with cash is this: using cash, money can pass from #1 user to a 2nd user -> 3rd user -> 4th user -> back to the bank. With the bank having no way to figure out what happened in between. Transfers from 1 -> 2, 2 -> 3, and 3 -> 4 need not involve a bank at all.

To me, anything that fits the 2nd definition is interesting. Anything that fits the 1st definition, is just electronic payments in the classical sense that eg. governments might be monitoring every single transaction. Regardless of implementation. So if in this case, Amazon = 'the bank', do we even care, if that currency clearly isn't 'electronic cash' ?

Byte your tongue.

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