Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: The Killbots Is A Coming. (Score 1) 2

It is hard to imagine the developed world will willingly give up the one technology that could end terrorism in failed nation states. The potential is here to vastly reduce civilian casualties while taking out terrorist commanders. Imagine a small drone with only a few conventional small arms rounds. It sits unattended in some unobserved location charging its batteries with solar cells, and constantly monitoring conversations and scanning faces. When a baddie is found it pops up, a kill shot to the head and flies off or self-destructs. We’ll make these things by the tens of thousands and individually they will be cheap.

Maybe there will be a human in the loop – maybe not – depends on how good the face recognition and voice recognition software is and how much political heat our leaders are willing to take. But if the kill ratios are good and civilian causalities are down autonomous operation will become the norm.

Perhaps this all seems dystopian, and in many ways it will be. Eventually the technology may be used for political assassination in first world countries as well. War could well become a thing that only leaders fear as their will be no foot soldiers to kill enmass (they’ll be replaced with robots). Military leaders and politicians will be the only high value targets and perhaps command and control bunkers.

These are not weapons that non-state actors will be able to develop (to any sophisticated degree). There is no chance we will take a pass on them.

Comment: Well, aren’t you a glass half empty type. (Score 4, Insightful) 191

by DumbSwede (#49029263) Attached to: Apple Invests $848 Million Into Solar Farm

Ecologically speaking I think you could describe the desert areas of the world as biologically under-productive, true they have a unique ecology, but they are largely unthreatened because they are hostile environments (so little development historically). Now here is the thing, you can probably make these areas more bio-productive with these types of solar energy initiatives thus enabling more wild animals in total to inhabit the planet (and actually strengthen the web of life). The reason I say more bio-productive is because the heat, lack or water, and lack of shade prevent lots a plant growth. Direct sunlight is not needed for plant growth, most plants only utilize 2% of direct sunlight for growth. With large swaths of shade, there will be more plant growth because ground temperatures will be lower and more water can be maintained by what plants choose to live in the sheltered areas. While the areas may seem shady by contrast, they likely will have more than enough scattered/indirect light for plant growth. With more plant growth, more wildlife.

You have to pick your battles. Does converting deserts to energy production do the environment and biosphere less damage than business as usual? Sure it changes the environment, but to resist all change, because it alters the biosphere in someway, is not a war you are going to win. Trying to keep the Earth totally as it once was is more a religious crusade than a practical goal.

Comment: FBRs and Hoping for Answers (Score 1) 333

I for one hope we get the answer to this poll soon. There is an astronomical phenomenon recently in the news called Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). Most astrophysicists think these are probably neutron stars collapsing into black holes or other exotic stellar phenomenon, but there is also speculation they are beacon signals from extragalactic civilizations. Of course Pulsars were called LGMs at for “Little Green Men” at first.

FBRs are probably not Benford Beasons, but it seems likely to me our first detection of ETI will be from non-continuous sources and will slowly build to the certainty they are ETI-signals only after much additional study, hypothesis, and building of specialized instruments to study them.

It will be interesting to see how the general public reacts as the certainty slowly builds.

Comment: Our Money You Like, Us -- Not So Much (Score 1) 179

by DumbSwede (#48820359) Attached to: Marriot Back-Pedals On Wireless Blocking

I’m always amazed and disgusted that higher end hotel chains charge for things like Wi-Fi while cheaper players give it away for free. Similarly it seems only fast food restaurants even offer Wi-Fi and free at that. This has always seemed backwards to me. Why do the people charging more nickel and dime to death for every little extra thing? Evidently since they start with a less cost sensitive clientele so they think (rightly it seems) they can get away with it. I may have answered my own question, but it still seems wrong and unaccommodating. When you get your low cost room from, the big players still let you know they really don’t care to be very accommodating to you.

Comment: So much anger (Score 4, Interesting) 202

by DumbSwede (#48812987) Attached to: Obama Planning New Rules For Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions

This seems like a reasonable goal. Methane is natural gas, why not capture and use it? Lots of places still flair tons of it off as part of the oil extraction process – so it may no longer be methane, but it is still carbon in the atmosphere with no useful purpose other than to make oil drilling easier.

Let’s face it Obama could cure cancer and a sizeable portion of the population led by Fox News would accuse him of putting doctors out of work. Natural gas is putting coal workers out of work, but the right blames Obama. Strange I though mining coals was dirty and dangerous and led to black lung. To the right those are all positive things because it shows what a strong work-ethic coal miners have.

How about we really try to make the future cleaner and safer and not scream so much about jobs. If jobs are going away in one sector the answer is to retrain and educate to work in new safer better sectors. Last century’s jobs will not keep our economy afloat in the information age.

I’ll probably get burned on mod points for saying this, but at least half these anger posts are probably some repressed prejudice and bigotry. Obama hasn’t been the greatest president ever – so evidently everyone made a mistake voting a black man to office. The economy is better; we have fewer troops fighting and no new wars. But the right is convinced it would have done 10x better. They sure screwed the pooch the administration before – lord help me how did they make so many gains in the midterms?

It slowly got safe to point to Obama’s failings at which point the mob turned. Early after the first election you could be accused of being a bigot for criticizing the president at all. Now the pendulum has swung the other way and the bigots have ample cover to yell criticism. Of course I will get angry replies that it is all about the jobs and the economy and our foreign policy – and you may well believe it. But really it just galls to have a black man in power, especially if he threatens anything that whites see as fair play and ethnics see as white privilege.

Comment: This is the solution how? (Score 2, Insightful) 66

by DumbSwede (#48803519) Attached to: South Africa Begins Ambitious Tablets In Schools Pilot Project

And how would this in any way address the “Irish Coffee” problem?

If anything I could see this exacerbating the problem. Rich white kids are probably more computer literate than poorer black peers – going full on digital will amplify the difference.

Do it if it improves education in general (a big if). I know that tablets and online education are the future, but one that never quite arrives in the correct form. Content is key whether it is online or in a book. Handing out hardware doesn’t solve the content problem.

Comment: Agreed (Score 1, Informative) 258

by DumbSwede (#48796181) Attached to: AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines

Why spend precious resources on perpetuating this evolutionary dead end?

There are many that would take your statement as nihilistic (and perhaps it is), but I agree. Eventually machines will transcend us. Maybe they will take us along. If not, the future belongs to them anyway. Maybe they will be more moral than us. Maybe morals are figments of our imagination and no use to our mechanical children. If there is a God, then they are his children too – if not then they are more rightful the future anyway.

They will undoubtedly be able to think in meta ways about morality. Our fears and concerns will seem more than childish to them. We cannot conceive what they will conceive and we should not stay in their way.

Comment: Re:The Full List (Score 1) 249

by DumbSwede (#48792537) Attached to: Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

Perhaps there is some bragging in my post. That said I don’t think I’ve earned your vitriol. Do you have children? Do you think teachers should be crafting the children’s personalities? I am ambivalent on this question, I don’t have a good answer. Some children dearly need this guidance outside the home, but when does it become some kind of State sponsored indoctrination?

I see a lot of rage about teaching to the test, but what about locations that when not given the stick to push students forward will do nothing instead? Again the good schools with the good parents will turn out the good students. I won’t give you the list of activities, but we pay a fair amount of money for outside of school learning activities. Is this unfair to the poor how can’t do likewise -- or are not motivated enough to find subsidized versions?

We do the best we can for our daughter because she is our daughter – and she is turning out so great I literally have tears in my eyes as I type this. I can’t fix the world, but I can prepare her to do the best she can in it.

Comment: The Full List (Score 3, Interesting) 249

by DumbSwede (#48792323) Attached to: Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?

The full list:

  • Zest
  • Grit
  • Optimism
  • Self-Control
  • Gratitude
  • Social Intelligence
  • Curiosity

I read through the description for each. At first I thought maybe this stuff was all a little too touchy-feely, but the descriptions seem reasonable. My main quibble is these should be things parents are instilling in their kids not the educators. I want Educators to focus on presenting knowledge, not crafting personalities. That said, so many children lack good guidance at home it is tempting to throw this in with the educator’s responsibilities as well.

As the parent of a Straight ‘A’ gifted child I can say for a fact Hard Work is the most important factor. Call this Grit if you want. Also IQ is not static. Working hard at any age WILL raise your IQ. There are those that say it varies by at most 10 points, but I know both for myself and my daughter it is over 20 points higher than both our first testings.

Comment: Yeah, but dig a little deeper... (Score 1) 490

by DumbSwede (#48777027) Attached to: In Paris, Terrorists Kill 2 More, Take At Least 7 Hostages

A nice list and all, but I will repost my reply that I made to the article itself in disqus

The list of condemnation is nice,
however I don’t think it speaks to uniform outrage by the Muslim

Take item 27.

27. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham:

Such actions are a continuation of radical waves and
physical aggressions which have spread throughout the world in the
past decade, and incorrect policies and double standards in
confronting extremism and violence have unfortunately given way to a
spreading of such undertakings.

I don’t see this as condemnation, but
rather blame the west.

Many of the examples are strong
condemnation, but others seem as though they are cut short of getting
to the how-the-west-is-also-at-fault part which were probably omitted
cause that would weaken the author's point.

Yes many Muslims condemn this, but
were these acts committed in the service of other faiths the
condemnation would be near universal by those faiths.

This is also currious from the second entry:

2. Ahmadiyya
Muslim Community USA Spokesperson Qasim: ...

This is not about religion. This is about political power, this is
about uneducated, ignorant youth who are being manipulated by clerics
and extremists.

How many other religions have clerics or holy men advocating extreme
violence? Seems not to be that unusual a thing in the world of
Islam. So the moderates tell us their religion is misrepresented by
extremists and yet there seem to be enough clerics Imams, holy men,
to egg them to action. This number should be virtually zero – when
was the last time you heard the Pope calling for the murder of
Muslims? As far as I know Iran has not distanced itself all that far
from Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling the the death of Salman
Rushdie – their best effort would be a statement in 1998 promising
to "neither support nor hinder assassination operations on
Rushdie" which is the policy to this day, and it only came about
because they wanted to restore diplomatic relations with Britian.

That Britain would accept this wording is pathetic as well.

I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning. -- Plato