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Comment Re:Why animals can't be given human rights. (Score 1) 122 122

I tend to weigh on the side that sentient animals should receive protections similar to the protections we give to children or to adults deemed legally incompetent. That means they can't exercise many of the rights that we recognize adult humans have, but neither can they be wantonly exploited, physically or psychologically harmed.

There are already animal cruelty laws that could be amended to grant better protection from human-on-animal neglect and abuse. The problem with giving them rights is that they'd apply to animal-on-animal action or environmental harm. You wouldn't let a child assault another child, would you? But it would be crazy if we were equally compelled to intervene if a gorilla assaults another gorilla. And we wouldn't let kids hunger or thirst or freeze to death, yet that happens to animals in nature all the time. Not doing them harm is way different from being responsible for their well-being.

Comment Re:The Segway problem (Score 1) 37 37

The hapless Segway would have been hero technology had it first been marketed to those handicapped who can stand but not walk. It would be intermediate tech between fully mobile and chairs, which take you out of the eye-contact world of the normally upright.

And who exactly might that be? Anyone with a bad hip or knee wouldn't want to stand any significant amount of time. Nor the morbidly obese. And those with balance or support problems probably can't use a Segway at all, they'd still need their walker. Amputees would still prefer prosthetics that cloak their handicap better. Sure they're faster and less tiresome, but I can't really think of any condition where you're unable to stand/walk short distances and still able to use a Segway.

Comment What a load of bullcrap (Score 1) 78 78

Compassion and empathy is an indication that while I have a life to live, I care about yours too. Computers and robots already exist solely to serve me, whether they can beat me at chess or not doesn't give them any life of their own. If you're already a doormat, there's no point in saying please walk all over me. For the same reason I've never felt the need to say please to a computer, though I might occasionally call on a higher power for it to please work. And you will know it's a load of circuits, unless you like to live a self-delusion you'll know there's no feeling behind it. Faking it will just get creepy, like HAL 9000: "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that" instead of "Permission denied."

Let's review a few of the inventions that have replaced work already like the washing machine or the dishwasher. If I had a person to do my laundry, I mean literally scrub it like in ye olde days I'd treat them nicely. The washing machine I turn a few knobs and it works or I curse it because I have to call a plumber. I won't thank my car for driving itself, nor for a robot being my housekeeper, chef, waiter, butler, gardener, delivery boy or whatever else work they can get it just becomes a piece of machinery that we expect to work. I've already outsourced my vacuuming to a slightly intelligent robot, the main thing is it's functional.

Comment Re:It's shocking- read it (Score 1) 411 411

Well, I note most of these involve Cortana - Windows 10's digital assistant. If you want your OS to be your personal assistant it's going to be tough if it doesn't know anything about you. If you feel this is more like a Microsoft stalker, I'm sure there's an off switch.

Comment Re:In the US. (Score 1) 775 775

Again, this works in the US with big suburbs where everyone has a parking lot with an electric outlet. In other countries (like good old Europe), where most people live in apartments and there is just no way you can plug your car at night, it doesn't work.

Apartment buildings and fixed parking spots are far from mutually exclusive, either through a parking cellar or dedicated garages/parking spots. Granted, Norway is a cold country where a garage may be more useful than down south but by household:

58% have a garage or carport
25% have a private parking spot
17% have no parking

Of the last 17% only 38% have a car, so in practice it's only 6.5% that don't have a fixed spot for their car. And that probably includes people that have rented a parking spot nearby, in practice few wants to be nomads trying to find free street parking every day. Of course you would have to get an electrician to mount an outlet, but beyond that it's not really a problem.

Comment Re:And the NSA? (Score 1) 213 213

Actually, they probably included a few big wrenches to assemble some of the rack systems, so they probably have the tools to break even 1024 bit encryption.

When you say "1024-bit encryption" you're talking about RSA, which is a completely different problem. 1024-bit RSA are too small to be used today and should be replaced.

2048-bit RSA keys, however, are roughly equivalent in security against brute force to a 112-bit symmetric key, and will be secure against anyone for quite some time. 3072-bit RSA keys are equivalent to a 128-bit symmetric key. Excascale, even yottascale, computers won't touch them.

But everyone really should be moving away from RSA anyway. ECC is better in virtually every respect. To get 128-bit security (meaning equivalency to 128-bit symmetric key), you only need a 256-bit EC key.

Comment Re:How do they fare in colder climates? (Score 1) 775 775

Range suffers a bit, not so much because the batteries are affected by cold, but because you use some juice to heat the cabin. As far as performance on snow, they're great. Their center of gravity is low, front wheel drive and the power applied to the wheels is finely controllable.

I drive my Nissan LEAF to the ski resort almost every morning during the winter.

Comment Re:Doubtful (Score 1) 775 775

What complicates this is that whether or not an electric car is cheaper depends heavily on your driving -- and whether or not an electric car is feasible depends on your driving. TOC also depends on the cost of fuel and electricity. When I ran the numbers for myself a few years ago my break-even for a Nissan LEAF was three years, with the federal and state tax credits, or eight years without. That was without taking into consideration the difference in maintenance costs since I didn't know how to estimate them. I did not, however, predict the drop in gas prices. I haven't re-run the numbers, but I expect the lower price of gasoline would push those break-even points out 2-3 years.

Comment Re:settled cannon for about a decade now (Score 1) 79 79

Part of me wonders if this is deliberate. No graphics drivers that are useful, no games. No games, no Linux desktop.

Why? AMD has no stake or interest in what OS you game on, they're just looking to sell their hardware. They get no benefit from enabling or pushing a migration to Linux unless they can steal customers from nVidia/Intel that way, which seems highly unlikely. You don't need a conspiracy to explain why companies don't do things that don't benefit them.

Comment Re:And the NSA? (Score 1) 213 213

Probably none at all. If you want to break today's encryption/hashing algorithms you would probably be using ASICs if not those then FPGAs with GPU compute being your last choice.

ASICs, FPGAs and GPUs are all utterly, utterly inadequate to attack today's encryption and hashing algorithms. Unless you have not only tens of billions of dollars but also don't mind waiting millions of years. http://tech.slashdot.org/comme....

Comment Re:And the NSA? (Score 1) 213 213

For that, you would be using custom ASIC hardware, and lots of it.

No, for that you just laugh at the guy asking you to do it, and look for ways to steal the key, rather than brute forcing it. Even if an ASIC solution gets to way beyond exascale, say to yottascale (10^6 times faster than exascale), you're still looking at on the order of a million years to recover a single 128-bit AES key, on average.

Brute force is not how you attack modern cryptosystems. More detail: http://tech.slashdot.org/comme...

Comment Re:And the NSA? (Score 3, Informative) 213 213

What would the existence of an exascale supercomputer mean for today's popular encryption/hashing algorithms?

Nothing, nothing at all.

Suppose, for example that your exascale computer could do exa-AES-ops... 10^18 AES encryptions per second. It would take that computer 1.7E20 seconds to brute force half of the AES-128 key space. That's 5.4E12 years, to achieve a 50% chance of recovering a single key.

And if that weren't the case, you could always step up to 192 or 256-bit keys. In "Applied Cryptography", in the chapter on key length, Bruce Schneier analyzed thermodynamic limitations on brute force key search. He calculated the amount of energy required for a perfectly efficient computer to merely increment a counter through all of its values. That's not to actually do anything useful like perform an AES operation and a comparison to test a particular key, but merely to count through all possible keys. Such a computer, running at the ambient temperature of the universe, would consume 4.4E-6 ergs to set or clear a single bit. Consuming the entire output of our star for a year, and cycling through the states in an order chosen to minimize bit flips rather than just counting sequentially, would provide enough energy for this computer to count through 2^187. The entire output of the sun for 32 years gets us up to 2^192. To run a perfectly-efficient computer through 2^256 states, you'd need to capture all of the energy from approximately 137 billion supernovae[*]. To brute force a 256-bit key you'd need to not only change your counter to each value, you'd then need to perform an AES operation.

Raw computing power is not and never will be the way to break modern crypto systems[**]. To break them you need to either exploit unknown weaknesses in the algorithms (which means you have to be smarter than the world's academic cryptographers), or exploit defects in the implementation (e.g. side channel attacks) or find other ways to get the keys -- attack the key management. The last option is always the best, though implementation defects are also quite productive. Neither of them benefit significantly from having massive computational resources available.

[*] Schneier didn't take into account reversible computing in his calculation. A cleverly-constructed perfectly-efficient computer could make use of reversible circuits everywhere they can work, and a carefully-constructed algorithm could make use of as much reversibility as possible. With that, it might be feasible to lower the energy requirements significantly, maybe even several orders of magnitude (though that would be tough). We're still talking energy requirements involving the total energy output of many supernovae.

[**] Another possibility is to change the question entirely by creating computers that don't operate sequentially, but instead test all possible answers at once. Quantum computers. Their practical application to the complex messiness of block ciphers is questionable, though the mathematical simplicity of public key encryption is easy to implement on QCs. Assuming we ever manage to build them on the necessary scale. If we do, we can expect an intense new focus on protocols built around symmetric cryptography, I expect.

He who is content with his lot probably has a lot.