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Comment: Re:"Obama pledged to end the controversial program (Score 2) 66

by StevenMaurer (#49154889) Attached to: NSA Spying Wins Another Rubber Stamp

Senator and Candidate Obama railed against "warrantless wiretapping" and pledged he'd end such activities were he elected.

"Wiretapping" - Definition: Listening to the actual conversation being made, not looking up who called who and when, which has always been subject to judicial subpoenas without the need for a warrant. Hell, in that old 1995 movie "Clueless", Alicia Silverstone's character is shown helping her lawyer dad go through call sheets of who called who in a civil lawsuit. This sort of stuff always has been so common that it was put in a rom-com.

Here's the thing. Law is very much like coding. The specifics matter.

Comment: Re: Cost savings (Score 1) 103

by JanneM (#49144065) Attached to: Argonne National Laboratory Shuts Down Online Ask a Scientist Program

It is ridiculous of course. It is also a common attitude among PI's toward their postdocs and students, especially in high-profile, high-pressure labs.

This letter from a PI to a worker made the rounds a few years ago. The PI claimed later it was a joke. It doesn't read like a joke, and the exact same attidude is not uncommon at all:

http://www.chemistry-blog.com/...

Comment: Re:I live in the Netherlands (Score 1) 263

by JanneM (#49134991) Attached to: I ride a bike ...

I used to ride every day. But my place of work changed, so now I walk and take the train instead. Around home we generally walk as well, so my bike sits unused for months on end.

Walking is also good exercize of course, but it does limit the range of places to go. I should fix up the bike and start using it again come spring.

Comment: Re:Black Mirror (Score 5, Insightful) 251

by JanneM (#49134869) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

Automation changes the source of production from workers to machines. And that separates the source of production from the source of consumption.

To put it simply, robots produce wealth but does not consume it. Humans consume wealth, but (in this possible future) can no longer produce it. Robots have owners of course, but even if you ignore what happens to the majority of people, a few extremely wealthy people can not possibly make up for the consumption shortfall. Ten-thousand people with 10k each vastly outconsume (by necessity) a single person worth 100M.

So, if the entities making wealth and those using wealth become separate, you need a way to transfer wealth from one to the other. If not, you will see a slow-moving economic collapse, as lack of demand and cost-cutting automation drive each other down.

A basic income, generated from a tax on production (transaction tax, energy tax, direct tax on machinery) is one way, and has the benefit of being simple, straightforward and having low administrative overhead.

Comment: Re:Sounds pretty awesome... (Score 2) 131

by JanneM (#49133731) Attached to: Developers Disclose Schematics For 50-1000 MHz Software-Defined Transceiver

That said, I spend several years of my life helping to get rid of the Morse Code test for radio hams, so that smart folks like you could just take technical tests to get the license.

I'm currently assembling a Softrock Ensemble receiver just to play with SDR. I'm starting to become interested in more than passive receiving â" but a major part of my curiousity is about Morse, not voice. I can talk to anybody over the net after all, while Morse code communication feels like a very different kind of thing.

Comment: Re:Politics? (Score 4, Insightful) 103

by JanneM (#49133663) Attached to: Argonne National Laboratory Shuts Down Online Ask a Scientist Program

[...] and rather than cutting the least important program, they cut the most visible program, in an attempt to get their funding restored.

Honestly, though, a qestion-answer service for school children probably does rank among the least important programs for a research lab. I very much doubt this is part of their written remit (as opposed to communicate their actual research to the public), and the people spending time at work answering the questions certainly get zero professional recognition for it.

It does sound like a very nice, fun service. And I do agree that this kind of outreach is important. But if this is not part of what their funders want them to do, then it should come as no surprise if it's among the first things to go when money becomes tight.

You want this kind of thing to continue? Make sure there's funding (and paid time) earmarked for doing it. In fact, that may be a good idea in general: add a small fraction (.1% or even less) to any research grant over a certain size for general science outreach. If it's part of your funding, that also removes the career obstacles toward doing outreach we too often have now.

Comment: Re:amazing (Score 4, Interesting) 279

by JanneM (#49117441) Attached to: Intel Moving Forward With 10nm, Will Switch Away From Silicon For 7nm

I'm talking about the silicon chips doing the things that our brain can do, such as designing the next intel chip.

The major stumbling block isn't processor speed or capacity. It's that we don't know how to architect such a system in the first place.

And if you think about it, a lot of the "smart" things we want to automate really don't need anything like human-level or human-like intelligence. A car with the smarts of a mouse would do great as an autonomous vehicle. Real mice manage to navigate around a much more difficult, unpredictable and dangerous environment, using a far more complex and tricky locomotion system, after all.

Comment: Isn't slashdot's reaction interesting... (Score -1, Flamebait) 65

by StevenMaurer (#49081187) Attached to: 'Babar' Malware Attributed To France

Post something about the NSA spying, and the article attracts screaming spittle-flecked screeds declaring it THE WORST EVER!! NAZI NAZI NAZI NAZI!!!1!!!1!.

Something about France's SIGINT services doing the exact same thing? A bunch of "surrender" jokes.

This proves that all the whining about the NSA has little to do with actual worries (as if anyone in the government actually cares about their porn viewing habits), and more to do with overwrought anti-Americanism.

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