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Comment: The writer doesn't get the Singularity either (Score 1) 446

*sigh* Someone doesn't understand the Singularity theory. Based on the title i'm guessing it's the professor, but since i can't actually read the article at work it's possible it's the Slashdot editor who conflated lack of AI with lack of Singularity.

The basic premise of the Singularity is that over historic time periods the rate of knowledge acquisition of the human race has increased at a geometric rate.

The reason this has happened is because acquiring knowledge allows us to develop tools that allows us to build upon the pre-existing knowledge to make new discovers that allow better tools, and so on. (Although it's far from a perfect simulation, anyone who's ever played Civilization or any similar strategy game should know that process by heart.)

There are two possible outcomes to this progression, either we hit some rate limiting factor sometime in the "near" future, or the rate of knowledge acquisition over time will approach a mathematical singularity, at which point we will be discovering things so fast that our current minds can not comprehend what will happen. Obviously proponents of the Singularity believe that it is the second possibility that will happen.

However the theory of the Singularity makes no prescriptions about _how_ we will obtain that rate of knowledge. Certainly Artificial Intelligence is one such way. However direct augmentation of our brains is another possibility. Whether that will be via cybernetic implants, biomedical alterations, genetic tinkering, or something else we haven't, and possibly can't, think of is impossible to say at this point.

Up until now of course tools have allowed us to indirectly augment out brains. Writing lets us record information. The internet lets us retrieve information. Now Watson helps us interpret that information. Yes Watson isn't doing anything, Watson is just a tool we use. But tools that help us accomplish things we couldn't before are exactly what moves us along the path towards the Singularity.

As has been pointed out, there was just recently news about replicating a worm's mind in a mechanical body. Yes it's very interesting, but no, it isn't a perfect recreation of an actual brain. But maybe when that paper gets scanned into Watson 2.0 it will make some connection to some other paper on artificial neurons or some such and Watson will let the authors know that they really ought to talk to each other. And boom, we're suddenly creating real artificial minds. Or maybe something else happens. The whole point is we don't know what the next step will be, we're just observing a trend.

If you want to argue against the Singularity you can't just pick a hole in the prospects for AI. You need to explain why the current trend in knowledge acquisition won't continue.
Businesses

As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines 495

Posted by timothy
from the gee-that's-a-lot-of-cash-on-the-table dept.
reifman writes Amazon's hiring so quickly in Seattle that it's on pace to employ 45,000 people or seven percent of the city. But, 75% of these hires are male. While Seattle women earned 86 cents per dollar earned by men in 2012, today, they make only 78 cents per dollar. In "Amageddon: Seattle's Increasingly Obvious Future", I review these and other surprising facts about Amazon's growing impact on the city: we're the fastest growing — now larger than Boston, we have the fastest rising rents, the fourth worst traffic, we're only twelfth in public transit, we're the fifth whitest and getting whiter, we're experiencing record levels of property crime and the amount of office space under construction has nearly doubled to 3.2 million square feet in the past year.
Government

Sweden Considers Adding "Sexism" Ratings To Video Games 641

Posted by samzenpus
from the including-everyone dept.
An anonymous reader writes A government-funded agency in Sweden is considering creating special labels for video games based on whether or not the games' portrayals of women are sexist. From the article: "Avoiding sexism and gender stereotypes in video games produced in Sweden will become a key goal for the association, which has been given a 272,000 kronor ($36,672) grant by Sweden's government-funded innovation agency, Vinnova. Inspired by the Bechdel test, which looks at whether fictional films or books feature at least two women talking about a topic other than men, Dataspelsbranchen will work with several game developers to analyze how Swedish video games portray female characters and gender issues.

Comment: Re:Who cares about the lander? (Score 2) 337

by Daetrin (#48390711) Attached to: Philae's Batteries Have Drained; Comet Lander Sleeps
So sarcasm aside, it sounds like you're annoyed that people got diverted from talking about the science to discuss the politics of a shirt? In fact you were so concerned about the issue you decided to write a post diverting us from talking about the science to discuss the politics of discussing the politics of a shirt. After all, it's of dire importance we raise awareness about people trying to raise awareness about the shirt since none of the people complaining about it were kind enough to complain about it here first where we would be aware of it.

Well speech is free, and it's not like we can't discuss both issues (or all three issues?) And I am glad you care enough about justice in these kinds of social issues to fight for your beliefs!
Stats

Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism 350

Posted by timothy
from the believe-the-worst dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: A editorial with 24,000 Facebook shares highlights the differences in public reaction to two nearly identical breastfeeding photos, one showing a black woman and one showing a white woman, each breastfeeding an infant. The editorial decries the outrage provoked by the black woman's photo compared to the mild reaction elicited by the white woman's photo, and attributes the difference to racism. I tried an experiment using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to test that theory. Read on to see the kind of results Bennett found.

Comment: Re:Gendered Bigotry Against Men (Score 1) 834

by LionKimbro (#48362063) Attached to: How To End Online Harassment

I DID read the article. YOU didn't read my valid points. Here is the appropriate bit:

You have been taught that it is normal and acceptable. You have been taught that you are tough, that you don't feel, or that you can "handle their feelings." You have been told that because the bigotry isn't violently expressed, that it doesn't matter, or it can't be labeled and responded to. You have been taught that you are professional, that you are competent, that you can handle yourself. That you are a MAN, so bigotry against you as a man should just roll off your back. You have been taught that OTHER MEN are the problem, and to not take it personally.

So far, all I'm getting is crickets from you, about these "valid points."

One of the myriad ways that our society says, "Them's the shakes, what can you do," is to just get silent and stupid and say, "Yeah... You have a valid point." BUT NOTHING HAPPENS.

Comment: Gendered Bigotry Against Men (Score 1) 834

by LionKimbro (#48360853) Attached to: How To End Online Harassment

The article said this, in large letters:

"Gendered bigotry against women is widely considered to be "in bounds" by Internet commenters (whether they openly acknowledge it or not)."

Why add the phrase "against women?" It's clear from the inclusion of "against women" that the writer doesn't give a shit about gendered bigotry against men.

In my day to day reading of Facebook, I see EVER SINGLE DAY, gendered bigotry against men. I hate it. I hate seeing it. I DEFINITELY don't want boys exposed to this, and I think the only reasonable response for self-respecting men is to hate seeing it as well.

You have been taught that it is normal and acceptable. You have been taught that you are tough, that you don't feel, or that you can "handle their feelings." You have been told that because the bigotry isn't violently expressed, that it doesn't matter, or it can't be labeled and responded to. You have been taught that you are professional, that you are competent, that you can handle yourself. That you are a MAN, so bigotry against you as a man should just roll off your back. You have been taught that OTHER MEN are the problem, and to not take it personally.

Well, FUCK. THAT.

I don't want to be in relationships any longer, where it is considered acceptable to demean men. When one party in a relationship is allowed to constantly criticize and complain about the other party, but not the other way around, in a relationship that was supposed to uphold ideals like equality, respect, and love -- that everything falls apart. I don't want to live in a society that refuses to help men in times of struggle and need, because it holds men in contempt. The entire social apparatus converges in the attack on the character of the other party.

Men, our society gives you FOUR options:
1. You can go ballistic and on the offensive.
2. You can "hold it in," and silently die inside.
3. You can flee.
4. You can turn on other men, and play "Men are evil. But I am not THAT GUY."

Let me tell you about #4: It works great, until YOU are the guy who is breaking down, until YOU are the guy who needs help, from a wife that physically attacks you, until YOU are the guy who is homeless, until YOU are the one who is falsely accused of rape or assault or harassment. And if not YOU, then a friend of yours, or your son.

I want YOU to complain and step up and shove back, when people tell you that you must take shit, just because you're a man, or that men as a group must take shit, just because they are men. When you see gendered bigotry against men, I want you to refuse it, toss it back, say something. Don't just "hold it in," and don't go on the offensive either. Don't run away, and don't deflect onto other men. Rather, stand your ground, and say: NO.

If you see statistics that are lies about men, or insinuating against men -- including pay/wage gap or "1 in 4" that are not true. If you see contempt for men as a class expressed. If you see mothers favored over fathers. If you see violence against men considered "OK." (I'm not talking about video games.) If you see anything implying that it is okay for women to trick a man into paying child support, or tricking a man into being a parent. If you see anything suggesting that paternity fraud is OK. If you see eye rolls expressed about men or the value of mens' feelings. ESPECIALLY the eye rolls, and ESPECIALLY men's feelings. If you see "man up" or "be a gentlemen" used to control men. If you see anything making light of people attacking men physically (non-consensually). When you see ANY OF THESE BEHAVIORS, you tell people that it is UNACCEPTABLE.

Communications

How To End Online Harassment 834

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
Presto Vivace sends this excerpt from an article at the Kernel, titled 'With Gamergate, it's not enough to ignore the trolls.' Gendered bigotry against women is widely considered to be "in bounds" by Internet commenters (whether they openly acknowledge it or not), and subsequently a demographic that comprises half of the total human population has to worry about receiving rape threats, death threats, and the harassment of angry mobs simply for expressing their opinions. This needs to stop, and while it's impossible to prevent all forms of harassment from occurring online, we can start by creating a culture that shames individuals who cross the bounds of decency.

We can start by stating the obvious: It is never appropriate to use slurs, metaphors, graphic negative imagery, or any other kind of language that plays on someone's gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion. Not only is such language inappropriate regardless of one's passion on a given subject, but any valid arguments that existed independently of such rhetoric should have been initially presented without it. Once a poster crosses this line, they should lose all credibility.

Similarly, it is never acceptable to dox, harass, post nude pictures, or in any other way violate someone's privacy due to disagreement with their opinions. While most people would probably agree with this in theory, far too many are willing to access and distribute this humiliating (and often illegal) content. Instead of simply viewing stories of doxing, slut-shaming, and other forms of online intimidation as an unfortunate by-product of the digital age, we should boycott all sites that publish these materials.

Comment: This really is a serious problem (Score 4, Funny) 264

by Daetrin (#48326709) Attached to: We Are Running Out of Sand
Sand has a lot of uses but it's non-renewable. There's no way (yet) to manufacture it. If you mine the beaches you ruin the environment and end up with eyesores. The same thing happens if you go to your local desert and mine there. It is possible to strip mine a desert, take all the sand and sandstone, and then put a layer of sand back on top. That leaves the landscape looking mostly the same, albeit a bit lower in elevation than it was before, but it takes a _lot_ of work. I've heard of people doing massive underwater operations to strip mine the seabed of sand so that none of the easily visible above-water environments are damaged.

...wait, we are talking about Minecraft, right?

Comment: Re:Well (Score 1) 594

by Daetrin (#48301429) Attached to: Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For
Saying "if X were [easier/better/safer/whatever] we would already be doing X" is vastly overestimating human intelligence and insightfulness. We often fail to recognize the true value of certain inventions or techniques until well after their invention, and often choose to use non-optimal methods for what seemed like good reasons at the time.

A tongue-in-cheek but still insightful article about the subject (#1 and #3 are particularly relevant to this discussion.)
http://www.cracked.com/article...

Comment: Re:That's the part that "counts" (groan) (Score 4, Interesting) 443

by demachina (#48258217) Attached to: Antares Rocket Explodes On Launch

Pretty sure NASA has blown more on Constellation, Orion and SLS, launchers to no where that never launch, than SpaceX has spent on successful development of 2 new rockets and Dragon1, and will probably spend on Falcon Heavy, Dragon 2 and their reusable program.

NASA's problem is not insufficient funding. Its inefficiency, bureaucratic bloat, corrupt contractors, and the inability to build or do much of anything in the vacinity of its manned space program. JPL and a few others places are doing fine but they are an exception to the rule.

Some people at Orbital probably do need to be sacked for trying to use 40+ year old Russian engines, the engines are actually that old not just the design. Some people at NASA probably should be sacked for buying in to a contractor proposing such a flawed concept.

Comment: That seems odd (Score 2) 154

by Daetrin (#48161239) Attached to: Scientists Find Rats Aren't Smarter Than Mice, and That's Important
"You might think that mice and rats would be basically the same when it comes to these kinds of things" [About training the two species]

It doesn't seem like it makes much sense to believe that rats and mice are different enough for one species to be measurably smarter than the other, but not to also believe that they're different enough to have different behavior patterns and responses to various stimuli.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.

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