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Comment: Re:I read the list of applications (Score 1) 84

by Capt.Albatross (#47518455) Attached to: 'Optical Fiber' Made Out of Thin Air

The paper makes it clear that this is about remote sensing, and more about getting the response back from the remote location than getting the probe beam to it.

The list of other potential uses seems to have been added by the linked article's author, who does not seem to have asked himself why, if you are sending guide beams to the destination, can't you just modulate them?

The word 'weapon' does not appear in the paper, and the researchers do not seem to have attempted to guide powerful beams by this method. Given that the guide beams can create this channel, perhaps attempting to send an equally or more powerful beam through that channel would dissipate it.

Comment: Re:Wrong Control Variable? (Score 1) 584

From the last paragraph of the article:
"The study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East Germans, for example."

In other words, the study failed to control for the value each participant placed on the monetary gain from cheating, rendering it of little value.

Nevertheless, this conclusion didn't dissuade the Economist from ignoring it in the very next sentence:
"All the same, when it comes to ethics, a capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one."

Comment: Creativity is Useless Without Knowledge (Score 1) 507

by Capt.Albatross (#47468179) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

It is far from clear that studying the arts in college will improve your creativity, let alone whether it will do so to a greater extent than some other field. On the other hand, studying can definitely expand your knowledge, and the right sort of knowledge will allow you to apply your creativity. For example, an understanding of technology will not necessarily guarantee a lifetime job in engineering, but if we assume that technology will be important in the foreseeable future, then that knowledge will, in general (and other things being equal), put you in a better position than someone whose education consisted of watching and discussing old movies.

Two rules of thumb (and nothing more): study things that are important, and not too narrowly (at least to start with.)

Comment: Non-Explanation (Score 1) 58

The apparent discrepancy of the total volume of large boulders being greater than that of the visible craters they have supposedly come from is not resolved by the BNE. In the paper, this paradox is only mentioned in passing, and no definite resolution is offered. No-one seems to have ruled out the possibility that there are additional craters beneath the rubble, or that the excess includes remnants of the impactors. Perhaps there is an assumption that, absent the BNE, the boulders formed by early impacts should now be buried.

Comment: Re:Not convinced (Score 4, Interesting) 176

I believe the tradeoff of CLI is between working more efficiently (by typing commands and not having to use your mouse too often to interrupt your flow)
and a steeper learning curve (learn commands and their params, config file locations and their syntax etc.).

For me, the primary benefit of a CLI, when presented by a decent shell, is the flexibility and power of being able to write and run tiny programs whenever it helps.

A CLI not backed by a decent shell is miserable, as was demonstrated by ms-dos.

Comment: Re:Observations and measurements disagree (Score 1) 188

by Capt.Albatross (#47316109) Attached to: The Higgs Boson Should Have Crushed the Universe

See, this is what I thought as well. The Higgs was well predicted and made sense in the standard model, and our measurements at the LHC seem to back up what physicists were speculating. On the other hand, BICEP2 is a much newer result and there's considerable controversy about whether it's a real result or a mistake.

So why would you automatically jump to the conclusion that the HIGGS was the problem?

The last paragraph of the Royal Astronomical Society press release seems to be agreeing with you, suggesting that an error in the BICEP2 result (or, rather, its interpretation) is the most likely explanation:

        "If BICEP2 is shown to be correct, it tells us that there has to be interesting new particle physics beyond the standard model" Hogan said.

IIRC, the BICEP2 result, if interpreted as resulting from inflation, indicates a surprisingly strong inflation event. The above quote suggests that inflation with the strength suggested by other measurements (e.g. the level of inhomogeneity in the CMB?) would not create this problem.

Comment: This Could be Fun... (Score 1) 142

by Capt.Albatross (#47282637) Attached to: Mozilla Working On a New Website Comment System

"The most ambitious aim of the project is to create a feature that would efficiently highlight the most relevant and pertinent reader comments on an article, perhaps through word-recognition software."

The object of the game is to get a complete load of bollocks accepted as the most relevant and pertinent reader comment on as many articles as possible. Extra points for the front page and headline articles.

Comment: Re:Core competency (Score 1) 142

by Capt.Albatross (#47282569) Attached to: Mozilla Working On a New Website Comment System

Web browser maker decides to create a disqus competitor, instead of working on their web browser.

It probably has something to do with the money:

"The two-year development project will be funded by a $3.89 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Miami-based philanthropic organization that specializes in media and the arts."

Comment: Re:but that's the problem with the turing test... (Score 1) 309

First, that the "natural language" requirement was gamed. It deliberately simulated someone for whom English is not their first language, in order to cover its inability to actually hold a good English conversation. Fail.

Agreed. It is easier to trick someone when he wants to believe, and the organizer of this event comes across as a gullible media whore in his eagerness to claim that the Turing test had been passed.

Second, that we have learned over time that the Turing test doesn't really mean much of anything. We are capable of creating a machine that holds its own in limited conversation, but in the process we have learned that it has little to do with "AI".

For its time, it was a pretty good stab at the issue, and one that implicitly recognized that intelligence is a generalized skill. It is a better measure than using chess-playing or mathematical theorem-generating. The fundamental problem with these alternative measures, and others like them, is that they are based on the fallacy that just because humans use their intelligence to perform them, they necessarily require intelligence.

As there was nothing remotely resembling AI when Turing formulated the test, it is not surprising that he overlooked the degree to which ordinary conversation can be manipulated, and also the amount of effort people would put into doing so. I imagine he thought of his test as a scientific experiment, not a competition.

Comment: Are they the same thing? (Score 2) 230

by Capt.Albatross (#47099285) Attached to: The Flaw Lurking In Every Deep Neural Net

While I share your view that expecting the mind to be explained as a single neural network (in the Comp. Sci. sense) is probably simplistic, I don't think modeling it as multiple neural nets and a voter fixes the problem. I am not quite sure about this, but isn't a collection of neural nets and a voter equivalent to a single neural net? Or, to put it a slightly different way, for any model that consists of multiple neural nets and a voter, there is a single neural net that is functionally identical? I am assuming the voter is there to pick the most common classification by the component networks.

Comment: Baber: Error-Free Software (Score 1) 352

by Capt.Albatross (#47008227) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Should Every Programmer Read?

Error-Free Software: Know-how and Know-why of Program Correctness by Robert L Baber, published by Wiley, ISBN 0 471 93016 4

This slim volume is by far the most readable and practical introduction to formal verification that I have seen.

Don't be put off by its somewhat overstated title.

I believe it is important for every professional programmer to have some understanding of how to construct a proof of correctness of code, even if they never use it professionally, as it will expand their understanding of programming. In my case, knowing what it would take to prove a program correct has changed the way I program, in ways that I hope improves the reliability of what I write.

Comment: Re:Panglossian Nonsense ---What are you on? (Score 1) 582

by Capt.Albatross (#46779199) Attached to: How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

Have you heard of an old cliche that goes "learn from your mistakes". By your logic, no errors can ever be made and learned from.

What we have here is a failure to learn from previous mistakes - this bug violates a number of basic principles in the development of secure software, and most of those principles were derived from hard experience.

I will agree that there is one thing to be learned here: The phrase "with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow" is simplistic wishful thinking, and potentially dangerous if mistaken for a realistic verification policy.

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don't recognize them.