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Comment: In other news - water wet (Score 1) 123

by Doghouse13 (#48409493) Attached to: Electric Shock Study Suggests We'd Rather Hurt Ourselves Than Others

"It is hailed as the first hard evidence of altruism for the young field of behavioral economics."

Altruism is one of those things that, according to how strongly you define it - weakly, merely something with no obvious reward, or strongly, as something that has genuinely no benefit - either MUST, or CANNOT (as a general trait), exist.

The bottom line is that man has evolved as a social species. In that word "social" is the numb of the whole thing, because it describes a type of behaviour in which individuals sometimes behave in ways that forego immediate personal benefit for the benefit of their social grouping (and what is that but altruism, in its weaker definition?). And it's also clear that such social behaviour doesn't have to take place at the reasoned, "if I do this then..." level; social behaviour is found in very many animal species, most of whom are certainly not capable of thinking through the future consequences of the choices facing them. They simply behave in the way they've evolved to behave - which includes the weak "altruistic" behaviour that benefits the group as a whole.

Altruism in its stronger definition, by contrast, has to be behaviour that not only doesn't benefit the individual but doesn't benefit the larger social grouping either (because benefits to the group are likely to benefit to the individual too, if only indirectly - an obvious example would be a sterile bee stinging, and dying, to defend the hive that is its own, indirect genetic future). Such acts may occur from time to time in individuals, but the tendency to perform them is unlikely to hang around, let alone spread, as general behaviour within the group, because (by definition) it has no benefit to either the group or the individual - they serve no purpose. Other, more profitable modes of behaviour will win out instead.

The sort of behaviour in the experiment described is social behaviour. If it's suggested that it's also evidence of altruism if the weaker type - well, well done for finding an example, but no big deal. It had to be there to find.

Comment: Does it? No. (Score 1) 67

by Doghouse13 (#48350397) Attached to: Does Watson Have the Answer To Big Blue's Uncertain Future?
IBM's problems are not about products; they're about the way it's run. The only thing that could help IBM right now would be a complete change of senior management, and a seismic shift from the "share price at all costs" attitude that has dragged it down from one of the best companies in the world to the dysfunctional mess it is today.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 986

Because there's no such thing as a well-designed experiment for this sort of thing. You don't design experiments to test a machine; you design them to test the underlying science, and to attempt to (in)validate hypotheses. If he doesn't explain exactly the mechanism by which he purports to achieve his results, so that others can independently attempt to reproduce it and isolate the underlying science, there's nothing to test that couldn't in principle be a con achieved by some obscure means that hasn't taken into account.

Comment: Re:He tried patenting it... (Score 1) 986

Also from FTFA: "ExtremeTech now reports". Frankly, that's on a par with, "In tests, nine out of ten dog-owners reported..." And about as reliable.

Until and unless he explains precisely how his mechanism works, and allows independent scientists to attempt replicate his results, no-one with an ounce of sense is going to take him seriously. A "magic box" that supposedly does something that goes against current scientific understanding isn't going to get him anywhere - there are far too many ways that sort of thing can be a con. And "protecting his secrets" isn't a valid argument - if his box actually works, the underlying science isn't patentable anyway.

Comment: Re:Anarchy??? (Score 3, Funny) 302

Um. You mean "Tilting against windmills". It was Don Quixote who was doing the tilting, not the windmills.

(To "tilt", in this context, is an archaic verb meaning to joust with a lance. Knights on horseback, and all that.)

"Tilting AT windmills". Darn it. First rule of internet pedantry - any pedantic post will inevitably contain at least one howling error that isn't spotted until the post has been irretrievably committed....

Comment: There is no "Should we?" involved. We will. (Score 1) 120

by Doghouse13 (#47903977) Attached to: The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading
If recent history teaches anything about technology, it's that if something is technically possible - and it seems highly improbable that automated lip-reading isn't - someone WILL do it. Further that, if it's not actually illegal to do so, someone will make it commercially available in the civil domain. And that if it's made illegal in the civil domain, that's very unlikely to stop the security community, in all its sundry forms, from weaponising it (sorry, my Orwellian paranoia is on clearly overdrive; that should, of course, have been "deploying and using it for the overall good of society"). And even if it's illegal in some jurisdictions, it won't be illegal worldwide anyway.

Comment: Flights of fancy/tasy? (Score 1) 28

by Doghouse13 (#47895977) Attached to: Hidden Archeology of Stonehenge Revealed In New Geophysical Map
OK - not an archaeologist here. But the new picture seems to be dangerously close to a wish-fulfilment fantasy based on 'expert' interpretation of patterns in the data - and I'd be interested to know just how universally accepted amongst other experts that interpretation is. Because if I learned one thing from watching "Time Team", it was how often the experts' interpretation of geophys data turned out to be quite different to what was found when the site was actually dug...

Comment: Re:photons are not particles (Score 1) 129

by Doghouse13 (#47895887) Attached to: Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

Your comment sounded kinda insightful, apart from your use of a made up word 'scenarii'.

I mean - do you mean, as opposed to your own made-up word, 'kinda'? Or your made-up phrase, 'made up', come to that?

(Ob pedantry: Actually, of course, as language seems to be hard-wired into people, but the actual words clearly aren't, every word we ever write or say is ultimately 'made-up' - it's just that groups of people who speak the 'same' language tend to be more-or-less in agreement on what words to use. 'Scenarii' is an abnormal plural that's almost certainly down to a misunderstanding of the singular word's origins; but it's clear what it means, and if enough people start using it, it will gain enough traction to be seen as 'correct'.)

((How the heck does something like the parent get up-voted 'Insightful'?))

Comment: Discretion, always (Score 1) 246

by Doghouse13 (#47592457) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: IT Personnel As Ostriches?

Think three times before talking about, or using, anything that you learn accidentally in the course of doing your job.

You'll undoubtedly take note of office politics (although you don't necessarily talk to others about the detail, or how you came about it); office politics may well affect how you go about your job anyway, and it often helps to know where the potential traps and difficulties are, so that you can attempt to step around them.

You never, under (almost) any circumstances, discuss anything confidential that you came upon by accident and weren't entitled to know, if you do so, you are likely to find yourself looking for a new job very quickly - and quite right, too. The only exception I can think of to that would be if you were to come across something that the law or your employer would expect you to bring to an appropriate person's attention, where not doing so could land you in serious trouble if it subsequently came out that you hadn't done so. If unsure, consider covering yourself by questioning it, confidentially but in writing. Escalate, with care and tact, if not happy with the reply. And understand that, in doing so, you're not so much doing so doing so out of duty, as covering your own position.

(Putting things in writing is a good policy anyway, for almost all aspects of almost any job - NEVER assume that people will choose to remember things the way that you do, or that "nice" people won't attempt to hang you out to dry at a later date, if it serves their purpose. When you agree something verbally with someone, if it's even remotely important, drop them a note confirming YOUR understanding of what was agreed.)

Comment: "So what?" (Score 2) 84

by Doghouse13 (#47588095) Attached to: Driverless Buses Ruled Out For London, For Now

Yes, and the buggy-whip makers won't be pleased, either.

That argument does not pass the "So what?" test, and never has. Technology advances, and society changes; it's why we're not still all running around dressed in skins, hunting down our food with rocks. When it does, some types of job inevitably become less-sought, or even redundant. If that job's what you do, or me, that's just tough; the world doesn't owe anyone a living. If your job goes away, you go look for another. Yes, there's a social argument for cushioning the transition, if things are moving so fast that lots of people are going to find themselves out of work in the same place at the same time - but that's rarely what actually happens.

When I left you, I was but the pupil. Now, I am the master. - Darth Vader