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Comment: Waa! Without 4K video, I can't get an education! (Score 1) 289

by Dr. Spork (#48209675) Attached to: Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?
Sorry, there are many legitimate worries about digital divide stuff, and there are even more about ISP business practices. But this red herring about your education being compromised because your video link is only 1080p, that's just stupid. Why not worry that rich people's cars accelerate faster than poor people's cars? Is that causing a "kinetic divide" that we now have to worry about? The difference between the "poor" 171/122 Mbit/s connection and the gigabit connections will basically turn out to be just as unimportant to society. Let's focus on solving the real social problems, which are still many.

Comment: So on OSX you can't choose the system font? (Score 4, Interesting) 369

by Dr. Spork (#48180243) Attached to: Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday
I don't often use OSX, but I'm a little mortified that the system font is dictated by the whims of Apple, instead of being selectable by the user. When I install Windows, one of the first things I do is to change the system fonts. In KDE I used to, but now I'm happy with the defaults. But it never occurred to me that there might be a modern OS that doesn't give you this option!

Comment: Re:Here are your odds (Score 2) 349

by Dr. Spork (#48173975) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real
Make it 2050 and I'll offer you $10 instead of $1. Nothing gets commercialized in 10 years, not even the soundest of science. It took more than 50 years to commercialize the laser after Einstein figured out stimulated emission. Cold fusion isn't even theoretically sketched out. Of course it won't be commercial in 10 years, but neither will anything else that is not in the prototype stage today.

Comment: I hate this strategy of justifying exploitation! (Score 4, Insightful) 164

by Dr. Spork (#48162245) Attached to: For Game Developers, It's About the Labor of Love

I think it's too easy to justify grueling jobs with bad work conditions and inadequate compensation by saying "Oh but the people who take them do the work out of loooove!" We do the same thing with teachers: Their jobs suck, their hours suck, their pay sucks, they deal with absurd bullshit, but all that is ok because allegedly, "they loooove kids and receive intrinsic rewards from their work."

We don't think this way about accountants or dentists. We don't expect them to loooove replacing fillings or mastering actuarial tables. We pay them so that their jobs are worthwhile even without the love. And I wish we would apply this standard to all jobs. A coding job where you produce games should be compensated like a coding jobs where you produce financial software, or anything else.

Comment: Re:You're making a baby, not a D&D character! (Score 1) 366

by Dr. Spork (#48161993) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon
I guess I'm saying that for personal flourishing in the real world, CHA, WIS and CON are the traits that matter most. And as parents, that's what we want - or should want - for our kids, right? INT has been shown to be negatively correlated with happiness. I would still hope that my kids get a high INT, STR and DEX, but I'd be happy to let the dice fall where they may. But if I could affect only a subset of their traits, as with this zygote selection method, I would focus on the traits that give them a happy temperament, CHA, WIS and CON.

Comment: Re:You're making a baby, not a D&D character! (Score 1) 366

by Dr. Spork (#48161919) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

With genetic selection you can max them all out.

Not really. Remember, this is a process where you create lots of zygotes, test them all, and implant the ones with the most desired trait combinations. It's limited by how many eggs can be extracted from the mother - maybe a few dozen? This is not a process where you're splicing genes, or doing any other kind of trait engineering. This is just zygote trait prioritizing. You'll be choosing from a very finite set of "natural" (randomly generated) offspring.

Comment: Re:What's the big deal with intelligence? (Score 1) 366

by Dr. Spork (#48161801) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

I think you underestimate how easy it will be to mechanize "intelligence" work. A hint: The cost of running code is falling at Moore's exponential, the cost of hardware is basically stable. Janitorial work requires hardware, intelligence work is just running code. Picking stocks, searching law precedents, designing bridges, and many other smart-person jobs, are already being done by computers. Yes, I wouldn't want my kids to end up in a profession from which humans will disappear, but if she ended up a chef or a real estate agent - just picking jobs that don't require a ton of raw brainpower - I would be a proud father. What matters is that she's happy, and that depends a lot on her genes, as it turns out.

Maybe it's because my wife and I are both academics, but when it comes to the intelligence of my kids, I'd be happy to let the dice fall where they may. But because we both have some serious melancholy in our families, the intervention that I would find most tempting is the one that will prevent these dispositions from manifesting themselves in our kids. I don't think that a high intelligence improves a life anywhere near as much as a sunny temperament, and I would never prioritize the genes that predispose for the former over the latter, if my kids couldn't have both.

Comment: You're making a baby, not a D&D character! (Score 1) 366

by Dr. Spork (#48158857) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon
I'm sure that Slashdot is full of munchkins who always try to max out the stats of their characters, but please, don't bring that attitude with you when you're designing a baby. If you want the best for your kids - and I hope you do - you should basically do the opposite of what you would do for D&D - prioritize charisma, wisdom and health (CON). Don't worry so much about STR, DEX and INT. All of these traits have genetic correlates.

Comment: What's the big deal with intelligence? (Score 4, Insightful) 366

by Dr. Spork (#48158645) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

If I were to choose a child from a huge batch of zygotes, I'd want the one that's generally disposed to be happy - easy going, social, even tempered, and not too fussy growing up. But apparently, geneticists aren't working on identifying the genetic correlates of those traits, even though we know that they are just as heritable as intelligence.

I don't think that I'll have kids, but if I did, the thing I'd want most is that they grow up happy. I would work hard to make sure they grow up in an environment that encourages it. But genetics contributes a lot to happiness outcomes, and if I were offered well-tested genetic help, I wouldn't refuse it. Maxing out their intelligence would not be at all high on my list of priorities. Is this a weird attitude? I thought it was a kind of typical parent attitude, but apparently, geneticists have different ideas.

Comment: Re:Only 700? (Score 1) 68

by Dr. Spork (#48081685) Attached to: Nearly 700 Genetic Factors Found To Influence Human Adult Height
Remember that these were the most obvious 700, the ones that are visible even in a smallish study (250,000 subjects). And these only got us 20% of the way to explaining the genetic components of height. I doubt that the next 700 we find will get us anywhere close to another 20%, because the genes left undiscovered have effects that are so small that they were invisible to this study. Somehow, the remaining 80% of the genetic contribution to height is made up of such genes. That means many thousands of genes are involved. Remember also that there are fewer than 100,000 genes in the human genome.

Comment: Call it a "Driving Plane" not a "Flying Car" (Score 4, Interesting) 203

by Dr. Spork (#48080501) Attached to: A Production-Ready Flying Car Is Coming This Month
Somehow it sounds cool to have a flying car, but kinda stupid to have a driving plane. This was an observation made by Tyler Cowen on his blog. It's a good point. It reminds me of a survey of priests that emphatically showed priests are ok with praying while smoking, but not with smoking while praying.

Comment: There is an easy workaround (Score 5, Interesting) 577

by Dr. Spork (#48042589) Attached to: Will Windows 10 Finally Address OS Decay?
When I install Windows, I work hard to set up everything exactly as I like on install day. Then I make a backup of the OS partition - which has only programs, no photos, videos, etc. - using Acronis TrueImage. Then I proceed as normal, and when something gets screwed up, I just restore from backup. This completely undoes any effects of winrot, and the system immediately feels like it was installed that day. What I usually do then is update my applications and settings, and immediately make a new backup. A full restore takes about 4 minutes, and a backup with max compression takes something like 12. I find this so convenient that I use no antivirus. When I start to suspect that I may have installed malware, I just restore from a backup, and four minutes later, my system is perfect. I've been doing this since Win2K days, and if this method weren't available to me, I wouldn't be using Windows.

Comment: Re:Not so.... (Score 2) 517

by Dr. Spork (#48010687) Attached to: Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit
That's a useful chart, but it shows that the growth of coal in Germany is far larger than the total portion of solar. So if you want to call that growth a "fluctuation," you should call the contribution of solar a "rounding error" or something. What I learned from the chart is that in Germany, the burning of household trash produces twice as much power as solar, and this is growing much faster than solar. I bet it's also costing the customers far less and provides other benefits, like municipal hot water. So yes, Germany is having a bit of a trash burning revolution, and I applaud this. The solar thing though, I don't think that's going so well for Germany.

The study of non-linear physics is like the study of non-elephant biology.