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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.

Comment: Re:Not enough eyes (Score 1) 582

by Capt.Albatross (#46766521) Attached to: How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

So, the "with many eyes all bugs are shallow" notion fails. There were not enough eyes on the OpenSSL library, which is why nobody discovered the bug.

Except that someone did discover the bug...

The 'many eyes' principle (aka Linus' Law) states "with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow". This claims a good deal more than simply that bugs are likely to be found eventually. Given the seriousness of this bug and the length of time taken to expose it, any claim that 'many eyes' worked in this case depends on a useless definition of 'worked'.

Maybe the similar errors would and are being missed in the Windows and Mac implementations.

That is quite likely, but irrelevant. This severity and duration of the OpenSSL bug are not mitigated by the hypothetical (or even real) failings of closed-source vendors.

The open source community should move beyond this self-serving aphorism and adopt a more engineering-like approach to the correctness of critical software. Fortunately, I think the people actually doing the development are well aware of this.

Comment: Panglossian Nonsense (Score 1) 582

by Capt.Albatross (#46765901) Attached to: How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

...Chalk it up to valuable experience...

According to this sort of argument, nothing bad ever happens. The Air France 447 crash will improve pilot training, the Boston Marathon bombing will improve race security...

This point of view gives us no insight in to how to improve things. It belongs in the 'not even wrong' category.

"No matter where you go, there you are..." -- Buckaroo Banzai