Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Escrow? (Score 1) 251

It has an escrow functionality, with an arbiter chosen by consensus between the buyer and the seller. The buyer and the seller can both provide the tracking number to the arbiter, and the arbiter decides who gets the funds: the buyer (effectively reversing the transaction) or the seller (completing it).

Comment Re:Non-human intelligences (Score 1) 785

I never meant it in the terms of skin colour, but using "blacks" and "whites" as substitutes of africoid and caucasoid unintentially created that side effect.

Race is not arbitary and socially constructed. The idea isn't that "black" is only Black in the US and "White" in Brazil, it's that black and white have a distinction no matter where you are in the world.

The most modern genetic tests CAN tell you whether someone is Caucasoidal or Africoidal, though not in the sense of "He's from Europe."

Someone's Ancestry and DNA IS a large role in their race - even someone of africoidal descent in America is still looked at the same way if they were fresh of the boat.

Just because one sub-set of the species is more varied than the other doesn't mean it doesn't have traits that seperate them from the others. There is a science behind determining someone's ancestry, and it has been proven to be quite accurate.

Go back a ways and you'll find that Jews were considered "not white", and that you could detect one based on physical characteristics. Now most sane people don't consider being Jewish to mean being different racially. Back then people would have said "Oh, everyone knows there's a difference between Jews and white people, they have a distinction no matter where you are in the world." They would have told you that modern skull-feeling techniques could unambiguously tell the "difference".

My point about Brazil is that if I get a Brazilian, an American and someone else into a room, the Brazilian and American could well disagree as to whether the other person is white or not. What race are they really? If "race" were a physically relevant idea, you should be able to pin it down exactly for everyone. But you can't.

Times change, and so do racial boundaries. Eastern Europeans, for one, used to be "not white". Now they are. Native Americans used to be "black" or "indian". This really confused the Spanish, because if they were black they could be slaves, but if they fit in the "asian" category they might be worth trying to convert to Christianity. Eventually they settled on Asian.

Anyway, possibly the single biggest problem with notions of race is that EVERYONE is descended from Africans. We're all African, it's just a matter of how far back you need to go to see it. 99.99% of the human genome came from Africa.

Comment Re:Non-human intelligences (Score 4, Informative) 785

Do dolphins try to escape captivity? It's something humans do if they're where they don't want to be, so if it happens we might be able to conclude something about what the dolphins want.

Secondly: You're wrong about race. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Race is entirely arbitrary and socially constructed. Brazilians, for example, tend to delineate race differently from Americans. So someone might be thought of as "black" in the US but as "white" in Brazil. Has anything changed about them? No. (getting this second hand from a very good anthropology professor, here).

If you try to delineate race based on skin color, you quickly run into problems. Some people of Asiatic descent have very dark skin; some Africans have light skin. The San people- African- often have epicanthic eye folds (think "asian eyes"), but they're not Asian. And on and on, with any combination of characteristics. Even the most modern genetic tests can't tell you someone's race (otherwise, Americans and Brazilians would agree on what race someone is, every time). Yes, you can make very good guesses about someone's ancestry with DNA markers, but that's not race.

"all blacks have similar features" is simply, again, wrong. It's not a matter of interpretation. People of African descent are actually more varied than everyone else, because only a relatively few humans made it out of Africa in the initial emigration. Africans are the most genetically diverse, because they didn't lose the genes that didn't come along for the ride out of Africa.

Comment Re:I have a much more ambitious vision (Score 1) 1073

No group has never been exposed to the outside world, not least because all humans on all continents except for Africa descend from humans who came from somewhere else, who in turn descend from humans who came from Africa. And there aren't any Africans who have been isolated since Homo sapiens became Homo sapiens, that's for sure.

It's not a new idea, I have a feeling it's actually very old- like giving an infant to a deaf-mute shepherd and seeing if it comes up with a language. I can't pin down which old philosopher wrote it.

Comment Re:The things that must never be said... (Score 1) 571

We worked out how to cultivate crops in the past couple of thousand years. We've gotten really good at it. If global warming happens, it would probably screw up our current agricultural methods and be really quite painful. Not overall fatal, but painful and expensive. The poor and hungry will be poorer and hungrier (and some deader).

Comment Re:Artificial Brains? (Score 1) 320

> It certainly allows for information to be transmitted faster then 'c'. See what Einstein called "Spooky Action at a Distance."

Einstein, so far as I know, didn't like the idea of quantum entanglement (hence the SPOOKY part), and thought it was probably impossible. He proposed the EPR paradox to try and show that quantum theory was inconsistent. He hated the idea of quantum information traveling faster than light. It turns out that he was wrong- entanglement happens- but you can't transmit classical information via entanglement.

>Your confusion is assuming Fate and Free Will are mutually exclusive.
I didn't say anything about that; how does this follow from saying "nothing travels faster than light"?

> a) You are assuming that Causality is some sort of "Law", and
Well, yes. Sort of. If you can travel faster than light, you can travel back in time (or send information back in time). If you can do that, you can break causality. Eg: the grandfather paradox. This is the paradox generated with the Tachyon pistol thought experiment I referenced earlier. If I can send a signal faster then light, then it will arrive before it was sent. What if I fire a deadly tachyon pistol at my own head? I'll be dead before I pulled the trigger! That makes no sense- if I'm dead, who pulled the trigger? There's no "law" saying nonsensical things can't happen, but life would sure get interesting if we worked out FTL communication.

> b) You and/or the author doesn't seem to be aware of, or understand the concept of time lines,
Furthermore, Time is not absolute, it is relative. FTL doesn't break causality.

A time line? I could tell you what a "world-line" is (in the context of special relativity), it's the path of an object, describing every time and space coordinate where it's present. Time indeed isn't absolute, you can (for example) dilate time if you move faster. But this is special relativity again, which requires nothing to travel faster than c... so it's not much help to your case.

Here's what I mean by a paradox. If I can measure someone's intuitive reaction to a stimulus before it happens, what happens if I set up the following test protocol?
1. If subject appears to be intuiting stimulus A, computer shows stimulus B.
2. If subject appears to be intuiting stimulus B, computer shows stimulus A.

Subject intuits stimulus A. What does the computer show? If it shows B, then the subject's intuition was wrong. If it shows A, then the subject must have intuited stimulus B, which (s)he didn't.

As to the Einstein quote: I find it odd that you're using "intuition" to mean knowing things before they happen. Wiktionary defines it a Immediate cognition without the use of conscious rational processes. It's immediate cognition, not "precognition". So I find it hard to believe that Einstein took intuition to mean uncanny pre-knowledge of future events.

Comment Re:Artificial Brains? (Score 1) 320

Here's the problem: you're fundamentally wrong about quantum entanglement. It doesn't allow for instantaneous communication, even in the laboratory (let alone in our brains, but I'll leave that be). Even if our brains are utilizing vast amounts of entanglement that we just haven't noticed yet, they cannot possibly use entanglement for instantaneous communication. If they could, causality would be violated. See: Tachyon Pistols Thought Experiment. Talk to a physicist who knows a bit of relativity (better yet, one who teaches Special Relativity in an introductory course) and I'm sure they'll be happy to explain it in a bit more detail.

How, out of curiosity, do you propose that the brains have become entangled?

Comment Re:What we do/don't need in Calculus. (Score 1) 1153

Things that most people do need:

Geography. If we're going to invade someone, we ought to know where the hell the country is. Not "oooh, it's THE MIDDLE EAST. Somewhere east. In the middle."
History. Eg: Hey look, there have been huge economic booms and busts in the past. Hmm, I wonder if housing prices will climb forever?
Politics & Government : What does the Constitution say? What does it not say? How is it interpreted? What does "federalism" mean? How much does the US government spend on what?
Religion: What do people of other religions actually believe? Where do those beliefs come from? Eg: What exactly is the difference between Sunni and Shi'a Islam?

All of these seem practical to me. If you can't understand what's happening in the world, you don't know how to react to it.

Slashdot Top Deals

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.