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Comment Re:What's the real problem? (Score 1) 196

For security purposes, it's not unreasonable to suggest that Mr. Big Picture Strategy Guy not be given read/write access to everything he is expected to be planning; that makes his credentials unbelievably valuable to an attacker and if he is in the position of needing to twiddle individual configurations all the time the organization hasn't actually made him the Big Picture Strategy Guy; but widespread read access would be a much harder request to reasonably deny: Anyone who is supposed to be strategizing needs to be able to see the world; and forcing him to wait 48 hours and work from a secondhand report compiled by minions every time he has a question about what the world looks like now is going to waste a lot of everybody's time.

Unless his mandate is strictly "Design us a new system so we can forklift upgrade this whole goddamn place!"(which would be deeply satisfying; but legacy infrastructure never dies that easily); expecting him to work in a black box is unrealistic; but he doesn't necessarily need(or even want to be stuck with) the ability to actually commit his proposed changes to every last widget out there.

Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

I live in the Netherlands, and while some of the things you describe happen here too, education is improving here. Not because of improved teaching methods, although there have been some innovations like interactive schoolboards and the use of the internet for finding information, but mostly because we set minimal levels of the skills teachers need to have. And still there is always a call for better, faster and radically different education. But nobody ever seems to care about why this is necessary and what good education is. Also, new methods that are tried out are not eveluated and our governments don't have long-term visions about education. Our current gouvernment doesn't have any vision about any subject, and therefore reacts to any stimulans (like accidents, disasters but also good things) with unnecessary new laws. What our education system needs most at the moment is a government that does nothing about it.

Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 2) 44

Well, I think that the standards for driving tests could use some modification; but I was actually aiming at exactly the opposite point: There isn't any particular reason to believe that we need to, or will, demand that machines that control vehicles be submitted to some sort of profound understanding and formal verification, given that we accept black-box testing(and pretty shoddy testing at that) for human operators.

The initial ,lobbying might be a fairly ghastly pain; but I see no reason why there would be any long-term resistance to complex systems(neural network or otherwise) that are effectively beyond human understanding; so long as they pass black box tests of their abilities. I say this both because that's what we do when dealing with people; and because, in practice, even today's tech is complex enough that effectively nobody outside of very specialized software dev and test outfits knows what the hell is going on; and people basically accept that, because the alternative involves being restricted to radically simpler technology or radically more expensive tech support.

Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 1) 44

I certainly wouldn't want to be the one leading the charge to get this approved; but we currently let neural networks drive cars after a relatively pitiful 'black box' verification where we subject them to maybe 30 minutes, 45 at most, of approximately real-world stimuli and then evaluate their responses.

This arrangement does end up with ~30,000 fatalities a year; but seems to enjoy broad support.

Comment Re:The elephant in the room (Score 1) 174

Aside from the question(which is important; but not directly relevant to this post) of whether or not the pre-feminist situation was ethically tenable; I think that there are some complications that your description of the economic situation doesn't include.

Female labor force participation has never actually been particularly minimal: women(and children) were a staple of factor workforces from the start of the industrial revolution; and the 'piecework' and 'putting-out' distributed domestic production of various goods were also heavily dependent on women and children. Plus the effect of domestic labor that isn't counted as labor market participation; but which effectively replaces demand for some goods and services that would otherwise be produced by people in the labor market(if mom is cooking and mending at home, your consumption of new clothes and restaurant-prepared food is going to be more limited, as likely will be your demand for housecleaning services and the like).

It is true that women's labor market participation was often more tenuous and less protected('maternity leave' tended to be you getting fired); but between young women newly entering the labor market and mothers of older children re-entering it(sometimes with those children) it was still quite substantial. The single-income household(especially as a blue-collar phenomenon) was only ever on the table because of the period of relative strength enjoyed by organized labor(which was instrumental in raising the earning potential of male blue collar workers) and 'Progressive' reformers pushing against child labor, for mandatory universal education, and against the neglect of children whose parents had to go back to work while they were still very young.

Absent those changes, factory work would likely still be a family affair, as it definitely was earlier in its development; and single-income households would really only be even an option for the relatively wealthy and skilled and/or educated.

As for the annihilation of the blue-collar sole breadwinner; it is undeniable that it has occurred. However, it's worth looking at whether those jobs/wage levels were lost because of increased availability of female workers; or whether the causes were elsewhere and the increased female workforce participation was a compensatory measure to attempt to salvage overall household income: I'm open to discussion on the matter; but I'm inclined to go with the latter. Think of the sectors where the relatively high paying, largely male, blue collar work used to be. Did those sectors see a pattern of increased hiring of women and wages sliding with increased supply; or did they mostly just disappear with offshoring and outsourcing, or face substantial declines in real wage as the power of labor unions has withered?

Among poor and unskilled workers, the big shift hasn't been Rosie the riveter stealing your factory job, it has been the fact that (mostly lousy) 'pink collar' retail and service industry jobs can't really be offshored, while historically desirable blue-collar sectors have just been gutted. It's actually among the comparatively wealthy and well educated where women's employment gains have occurred through actually getting jobs in historically male fields; and those are the people who are more likely to see marriage and family formation as desirable(though likely to defer it because getting 'a good education' is a process that sure isn't getting any shorter).

Comment Re:Risk Tolerance not that High (Score 1) 95

There are lots of people who claim that the current education methods are 'archaic' and 'old fashioned' but I never heard any one of them claim why that is so. I have the impression that much of the drive to change education is just for the sake of change (and for the sake of money in the pockets of the producers of the books etc that go with it).

Comment Re:Doctor's diagnosis (Score 1) 587

It is one of the possible solvents for the serial dilution and 'succussion' thing that homeopaths do to produce their quack juice. Not as common as water; but it is an option that counts as 'homeopathic' if prepared according to the rest of the procedures.

Solubility doesn't matter much by the time you get to the end product, since basically anything is soluble enough in anything for concentrations in the 'modest probability that a single atom is present' range; but for the original solution and the first few dilutions, some materials just don't dissolve in water very well; but do nicely in alcohol.

Comment Re:why not laser projection overlay? (Score 1) 76

This could have just been device immaturity; but I played with one of those 'laser keyboard' gizmos back when they came out and, while this sensor would presumably help solve the fact that keypress registration was iffy and tactile feedback was utterly hopeless; it isn't in a position to deal with the fact that the laser overlay effect itself was(once you got past the OMG I Live In The Sci-Fi Future Now! effect) kind of lousy. Your hands cast shadows during use, and the keys being shadowed were projected distractingly all over your fingers, while the laser lines were a bit dim for bright light; but somewhat uncomfortable to look at in dim conditions, and you did a fair amount of looking because touch typing was not happening.

The cool factor was high; but the experience was fairly unpleasant.

Comment Re:Sorry, but slapping a keyboard overlay... (Score 1) 76

I agree(from my Model M) that you should never send some 'touch' nonsense to do a proper buckling spring keyswitch's job; but the technology behind this product actually sounds extraordinarily impressive, just not suited for beating keyswitches at what keyswitches do best.

Resistive sensors are not new; but have traditionally suffered from tepid pressure-level sensitivity, a very limited number of simultaneous touch points(the basic 'grid layout' ones often just register two touches as a single touch somewhere between those two points); and the ones that are actually good have been comparatively expensive and large enough to be packaged as discrete parts.

These guys claim that they can get 20,000 pressure sensors of adequate quality crammed into a small enough surface to provide comprehensive coverage, and cheaply enough that you'll be able to get one for $200. If that is so, they have a very, very, interesting entrant into the existing market for strain gauges, force sensitive resistors, and the like; with markedly higher resolution and comparatively low cost. Robotics will be all over this one.

Comment I wonder... (Score 1) 174

I'd be fascinated to know, though I admit that I'm not sure how you would disentangle this, how much of the success of this approach has to do with any particular twist on how the education is done(the introduction of the college classes option earlier in HS, curriculum restructuring and shuffling, etc.); vs. how much has to do with the fact that the corporate sponsor is(through the internships and preferential hiring) making the connection between achievement in school and tangible payoff particularly strong and evident.

I'd certainly be the first to agree that many kids are dumb, impulsive, and shortsighted(some grow out of it, some turn into adults with the same traits); and that some schools are just atrocious. However, while slavishly adhering to the 'rational actor' model can lead to absurd excesses best left to economists; it can sometimes be helpful to imagine, at least as test, that people might actually be behaving "rationally", at least in a local sense.

Thinking back on my own education, some of it was undeniably useful for basically anyone(literacy and basic mathematics), some of it was of no direct use but almost certainly good for the mind in ways that are broadly applicable(writing essays about works of literature or classical greek political events isn't terribly relevant; but knowing your way around a coherent thesis backed by a reasonably competent body of argument and evidence sure is handy); and some of it was probably included for reasons little better than 'because tradition'. However, my surroundings always made it abundantly clear that (in addition to being a social expectation) education had rewards. My parents had degrees and jobs that were only possible because of their education; our neighbors and family friends were almost entirely the same way, we watched older kids head off to college, to internships, to various jobs; even if some dickhead still asked "When are we ever going to need this?" during some aspect of calculus that annoyed him, nobody was in any serious doubt that, even if you thought that some of it was just hoop-jumping, education was obviously valuable.

Had I grown up in a worse environment, gone to lousier schools, I would have likely enjoyed worse teachers and facilities; but I also would have been substantially ignorant of, or unbelieving of, the value of education: both because a diploma from the local high school probably isn't all that valuable; and because I'd have relatively few references for people who had done the work and gone on to some sort of professional career thanks to that. Maybe my sheer virtuous love of learning or whatever would have seen me through; but I certainly wouldn't put too much faith in the possibility.

In this case, IBM is making it quite clear that "Do this schoolwork for 4-6 years, depending, and you will see internships and quite possibly a job offer". That's relatively concrete, relatively short-term, easy to understand. To the degree that students are rational actors, that would seem to be a pretty big difference between this program and a school where the payoff is less visible or simply not there.

Comment Re:The elephant in the room (Score 1) 174

While moral perceptions have (some) influence on people's behavior, it's important to remember that stable family formation has economic and social requirements; as well as behavioral/moral ones.

You can certainly run a relationship into the rocks, or never form one, for moral/behavioral reasons; but in order to have a successful family unit, especially over a time frame long enough to be relevant to childrearing outcomes, you usually have to meet some other requirements:

The labor market is a major factor: even among all the middle class professionals in the suburbs who expect their kids to go off to college as a matter of routine and presume that they will get married, we saw at least a delay(if not ultimately a disruption) of family formation during our recent economic downturn as all those un or underemployed kids came home because they couldn't find a job and afford a house or apartment. There are societies where multigenerational extended families have routinely lived in the same house; but ours isn't really one of them, so people who still live with mom and dad are less likely to be getting married or raising children, regardless of whether their moral preferences push them toward a steady monogamous relationship or a wild series of dubiously advised drunken hookups.

You also need spousal availability: If (as is the case among the poor, particularly the poor and black) you have a high incarceration rate; you have a substantial shortage of potential husbands. They are either actually in jail and unavailable, or carry the stigma, reduced earning potential, and logistical complications of a criminal record and possibly a set of parole conditions they have to adhere to. Even among those on the legal straight-and-narrow, the supply of blue-collar breadwinners has been pretty brutalized by the decline in manufacturing. If you are a traditionalist, that makes these men fairly poor 'man of the house' material. Even if you are not, somebody needs to pay the bills, and low-skill women may have more options in 'pink collar' and service sector jobs; but generally not ones that pay well enough to support a family without equal or greater income on the spouse's side as well.

Among the middle class and above, this has caused substantial delays in family formation(people basically don't start until they've both graduated from college and landed some sort of job); but in populations where earning potential starts lousy and stays lousy even deferral is less likely.

Then there is the possibility of 'feedback' effects on 'moral' or social norms: The acceptability of premarital sex, say, is a 'social'/'moral' question; but it is going to reflect the (economically determined) gap between age of something resembling sexual maturity and age of achieving the means necessary for household formation. If you can get a job out of high school that makes having a family a realistic option, a 'no sex before marriage' rule is (relatively) easy to maintain; little more than 'please try not to do anything too stupid in your early teens...' If you either cannot expect to ever afford family formation; or will need to finish your master's degree before you do so; that's a whole different demand. Moralists can moralize; but expecting people who can afford family formation at 25-30 to be as abstemious as those who can afford family formation at 16-20...just not realistic.

I'm certainly not one to ignore the influence of culture; but you can't ever take your eyes off the economic situation, especially when the moral questions you are considering involve some fairly expensive life choices(it may be a net benefit; but family formation is not cheap).

Comment Re:What does Science have to say about this? (Score 1) 587

Your point is an important one: in law, public schools are required to do whatever is necessary; but that certainly doesn't stop them from imposing a variety of procedural hurdles, attempting to pass off inadequate measures as being suitable, or just plain stalling. This is theoretically legally risky; but it's not as though there are any regulatory bodies with the time and interest to proactively hunt misconduct, so it's pretty much a question of how forceful the parents are. The ability of the district to demand some level of evidence is hardly unreasonable; but there are certainly ways to...creatively extend...the IEP process that are just plain cold-blooded. Some school districts are definitely better than others, and some people within a given school district are more sympathetic than others; but especially if the accommodation required is an expensive one, there is an institutional incentive to try to avoid it.

My focus was purely on the difference in legal obligation between a private institution that is merely required to not violate any specific laws about discrimination; and a public one which is required to accommodate all in-district students; so I did not mention how it plays out in practice; but what you say is true. There is a difference, and sometimes a large and appallingly bad-faith one, between having a legal obligation and upholding it.

This case is pretty unsympathetic, given its severely dubious medical basis and the large impact it would have on other students(though I do feel bad for the kid; his problem is unlikely to be RF related; but it probably isn't nonexistent, whatever it is); but that doesn't in any way imply that much stronger cases necessarily receive fair treatment.

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw