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Comment: Would the abandoned spectrum be useful for data? (Score 1) 283

by Dr. Spork (#49502229) Attached to: Norway Will Switch Off FM Radio In 2017
If Norway does the right thing and opens up the FM spectrum for people and personal their short range transmitters, maybe we'll find something more useful to do with the FM bands. And since Norway are doing this first, they have a special opportunity to set a good precedent.

Comment: Re:Taller men get more girls the world over (Score 5, Insightful) 298

I doubt that this is right. It's just a misconception to say that in a first-world society, fertility is pretty much the same thing as attractiveness. It's not. In fact, the people who are broadly judged to be most desirable - the people with Ph.D's, sixpack abs and fancy jobs - have fewer children that the average. A much stronger driver of first-world fertility in a place like NL is: Who's sloppy with their birth control, who's impulsive enough to think things like "Yeah, I should just have the baby!", who's someone that thinks that having a child is going to fix the problems in their relationship, etc.

For these fertility increasers to be correlated with height is just weird and hard to explain, but it's obviously real, so there much be some mechanism. But that mechanism is not as simple as "Taller men get more girls".

Comment: What's up with the unseparated gas-break pedal? (Score 1) 477

I'll make one prediction right now: No car of the future, clever or dumb, will be accelerated and decelerated with a single pedal oval, the right half of which does the former and the left half does the latter. We might all think that's completely obvious, but look at the interior photo of the prototype. Even Steve Jobs would think it's suicidal.

Comment: We didn't need this space station, either! (Score 1) 152

by Dr. Spork (#49363017) Attached to: Russia Wants To Work With NASA On a New Space Station
The ISS was a huge waste of NASA money, costing as much as all of NASA's "space exploration activities" combined (source:). This prevented, killed and neutered many missions that would have produced genuine science. It was simply a mistake. So hooray, let's make a bigger one!

Comment: Re:Need the ISS (Score 1) 152

by Dr. Spork (#49362979) Attached to: Russia Wants To Work With NASA On a New Space Station
Do you really think there are going to be humans in LEO turning bolts with hand-held wrenches, and that's how the Mars ship will be built? Did you not notice that even in the safety of Earth's factories, humans aren't really doing that kind of stuff anymore? By the time we get around to building a Mars ship, I doubt our automated manufacturing machines will be worse than now, and unlike humans, these machines can actually be designed to perform optimally in space.

Comment: In Finland, teacher spots are hyper-competitive (Score 5, Informative) 213

by Dr. Spork (#49317935) Attached to: Finland's Education System Supersedes "Subjects" With "Topics"
Check out these facts about Finnish teachers, and weep (if you're American) (source):

Becoming a teacher in Finland is as competitive as getting into an Ivy League school, and Finland offers no other route into the profession. So, there is no Teach for Finland. To teach in Finland requires a five-year master's degree in education. Admission to a teacher preparation program includes a national entrance exam and a personal interview. Only one of every 10 applicants is accepted into a teacher preparation program in Finland; competition to become a primary school teacher is even tougher, with 1,789 applicants for only 120 spots, for example, at the University of Helsinki in 2011-12. Only eight universities offer teacher preparation programs in Finland, which allows the country to ensure consistency from program to program. Contrast that with Minnesota which has about the same population as Finland (5.2 million) but about 30 colleges that offer teacher preparation programs.

I also remember reading that about 90% of Finnish teachers graduated in the top quintile of their class. In the US, that figure is more like 4%. American students of education typically get the worst SAT and GRE scores of all the majors. We cannot ignore these facts when we're comparing educational systems. In the US it's easier to get into med school than it is for a smart Finn to get into teacher school. The quality of the people who make it through means that pretty much every innovation they try is bound to produce satisfactory results, because highly their best and brightest are in charge.

Comment: Re:What's the point of the NSA knowing everything? (Score 1) 569

... I doubt that these are the needles they [the NSA] are seeking.

Yeah, but why not? This sort of thing obviously undercuts national security by tying up our cops, making them complicit in some asshole's prank, and causing potentially deadly danger. And compared to the effort and expense of mobilizing and deploying a freaking SWAT team, it is a comparative trifle for the NSA to answer a call from the cops asking for the malicious report to be traced to its source.

Comment: Scarier than humans being beaten at chess (Score 1) 90

by Dr. Spork (#49293731) Attached to: Google: Our New System For Recognizing Faces Is the Best

Facial recognition and object recognition was always thought of in the AI community as a "pattern interpretation" skill, and we suspected that human brains have special magic gears for "effortlessly" succeeding at these sorts of tasks, while AI coders struggled to emulate our success.

Now we're seriously talking about computers already being better at these tasks than we are. This is one of those milestones in AI research when we have to cross off another item from the list of "things that keep AIs from matching or exceeding human intelligence". For now, there are still many items on that list, but I wonder which ones will be crossed of next, and how soon.

Comment: The strategy against Assange has worked (Score 1) 169

by Dr. Spork (#49250239) Attached to: Swedish Authorities Offer To Question Assange In London
When Assange went to hide in the Ecuadoran embassy, he had the world's attention. But now looking back, it looks like he basically put himself in prison, and not in the heroic way. If the US had grabbed him, tried him in some kangaroo court and imprisoned him, he'd stay relevant as a sort of journalistic martyr. But his embassy self-imprisonment left him just as isolated, while also looking vaguely like a fugitive instead of a martyr. Basically, he's been rendered irrelevant, without anything actually being done to him, apart from some sketchy accusation from two Swedish women. If this was some political chess match, Assange lost to a far superior opponent. I wouldn't be surprised if they just let him walk now. Either way Wikileaks has been killed without its killers having done anything that looks like a heavy-handed suppression of journalism.

"If you own a machine, you are in turn owned by it, and spend your time serving it..." -- Marion Zimmer Bradley, _The Forbidden Tower_