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Comment Re:Why should he need a license? (Score 1) 705

The burden should be on the engineers to include proper identification/credentials with their works rather than requiring that all petitions include a disclaimer that they are *not* engineered by a professional. It seems really silly that the board would just assume a work to be completed by an engineer unless specifically told otherwise.

Comment Re:Non-human intelligences (Score 1) 785

I'm sure there were human slaves working on plantations in the U.S. that didn't totally mind their situations. But, those people were still bought and sold like property and not given a real choice in the matter, so they were still slaves.

Perhaps you're saying that slavery is sometimes okay, even human slavery. I might agree with that actually, but I'm sure there are a lot of people that wouldn't.

Comment Re:Non-human intelligences (Score 1) 785

Human slavery isn't wrong due to the slave's species. Human slavery is wrong due to a number of attributes that humans typically possess. Most, if not all, of those attributes are associated with properties of consciousness like being self-aware, having intentions, etc.

If it is discovered that dolphins possess the properties of consciousness that make human slavery wrong, then, yes, imprisoning dolphins and forcing them to entertain audiences is almost exactly like human slavery of the past.

Comment Re:Ridiculous... (Score 1) 832

You did pay for the extra cores, but you paid for "locked" cores. I'm not sure I'm too fond of the whole locked-cores notion, but I don't necessarily see anything intrinsically wrong with it.

I mean, I don't think they're going to mislead you into believing that you're paying for 4 usable cores only to reveal at boot time that 3 of the 4 are locked. They're going to advertise to you that you're getting 1 functioning core and you'd pay for the hardware with the understanding that you were getting a single functional core (and not more).

It sounds like, for you, there's just something about locked functionality you don't like, even if the price you paid was a fair one based upon the non-locked functionality. But, for most average computer users this is probably a non-issue. It might even be helpful for someone who doesn't have the money now to pay for a feature they may want down the road.

Comment Re:I tried this a few times (Score 2, Interesting) 253

I've never really understood this argument. Surely using technology to stay in contact with distant family members at least improves the situation?

And imagine that 500 years from now we have extremely sophisticated androids or 3-D holograms (to the point that they are nearly indistinguishable from humans) which can be controlled (perhaps via a direct brain link) by a remote person. Will you still just throw your arms up and claim that the "social problem" just can't be solved by technology?

I agree that the whole interacting-with-family-via-laptop-at-Christmas thing seems difficult, but I don't think the lack of effectiveness is simply a result of trying to use technology to solve the problem.

Comment Re:Wait, let me get this right... (Score 1) 764

PCs don't tend to "break" after 2-3 years if common sense is used when browsing the web. 90% of the "broken" PCs I have been asked to look at were totally bogged down with malware.

For that reason, I think your car analogy is flawed. A clunker doesn't become feasible if the owner simply refrains from doing Stupid Thing X (unlike the PC scenario).

A better analogy might be in the selection of a manual transmission car vs. an automatic transmission car. The manual transmission will offer extra control but, yes, you will break something if you don't know what the hell you're doing.

Comment Re:The hell? (Score 1) 429

Have you ever studied the ethics of eating animal meat? It's actually an interesting topic that raises a number of questions.

Firstly, there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with eating meat, independent of how the meat was acquired. Say that you find a cow (or some other animal) that has already died of natural causes. Most of us don't find anything morally wrong with eating that dead animal. (We may hold reservations due to sanitation-type concerns, but that's another matter.)

The real moral dilemma relates specifically to "killing an animal for the purposes of consuming its flesh". The GP poster was right-on in his comparison of animals to people with severe mental disabilities. This point represents THE most compelling argument (that I have heard) against killing animals to eat them. I'll try to explain what that argument is.

There surely exist people in the world who are so severely mentally disabled that they hold no more capacity for abilities related to reasoning, perception, and learning than would some of the more intelligent animals (e.g. chimps or elephants). Assuming that one does not think it morally acceptable to kill and consume these severely mentally disabled people, the question is "what makes these severely mentally disabled people different from animals in that it is okay to kill and consume the animals, but not kill and consume these severely mentally disabled people?"

In answering the question, some people will have a tendency to go down the path of "humans are just different than animals...they're special." We may then inquire as to what it is that makes humans special. If the response is something along the lines of "humans have increased mental capabilities", we will likely point out that the original question specifically referred to humans with severe mental disabilities, and these humans cannot therefore be understood as distinct from animals in that regard.

Someone may attempt to maintain, on religious grounds, that "humans have souls and animals do not; that is what makes humans special". If that is your line of reasoning, you may stop reading here and return when you have compelling empirical evidence that supports humans having souls while animals do not.

There may still be those who will maintain that "humans are just special, period" while unable to provide any reason for this assertion. This kind of reasoning (or "non-reasoning") is very similar to thought processes used in attempts to justify discrimination against individuals of a certain race, religion, age, etc. But in our case, instead of racism, perhaps it would be called "speciesism". The definition of "speciesism" would be something along the lines of "discriminating against a member of a species for no reason other than the fact that they belong to the species". Like racism, there is no rational basis for "speciesism", so we will not adopt speciesism-based ideas for the purposes of a rational conversation. (Note that, just like with race, there are times when it is rational to discriminate between different species. I am referring specifically to cases of unjustified discrimination -- making a distinction between two things without reason.)

So where has this taken us? It isn't clear that there is a relevant difference between severely mentally disabled people and animals such that it's morally okay to kill and eat one, but not the other. There are really 3 options here:

1. Determine what the morally significant difference is between an animal and a severely mentally disabled person such that it is acceptable to kill and eat one but not the other.
2. Hold the belief that killing to eat either severely mentally disabled people or animals is morally wrong.
3. Hold the belief that killing to eat either severely mentally disabled people or animals is morally acceptable.

Comment Re:A right not a privilege (Score 1) 311

I think it would be helpful here to make a distinction between negative and positive rights.

When you say that someone has the right to travel between point A and point B, I think what you mean is that the person has a negative right to travel between point A and point B against "the government"/"society". All this really means is that "the government"/"society" would be (prima facie) wrong to commit some action that would hinder someone's journey.

Does requiring a permit to drive an automobile hinder one's journey to travel between point A and point B? I would argue that it does, yes (and most people would probably agree). But we think this is okay because other people have a positive right to live, which implies a negative right on us to refrain from killing people. (And if blind people were driving, they'd probably be killing people!) We tend to think that the right to live (and not be hit by a car) is a more stringent right than the right to drive.

Now, there are two ways to interpret the GP's claim:

(1) Citizens have a positive right to internet access against the government and ISPs.

(2) Citizens have a negative right to internet access against the government and ISPs.

Statement (1) would imply that the government/ISPs should be required to provide everyone internet access.

Statement (2) would imply that the government/ISPs would be wrong to take action preventing a citizen from accessing the internet.

Judging from the content of the article in question, my guess is that the GP meant statement (2). If this is the case, then, in this context, the question becomes, "is the negative right that copyright holders have over basically everyone (to refrain from illegally acquiring the material) more stringent than a person's negative right to have internet access against their ISP (the ISP shouldn't take action to remove a paying customer's internet access)?"

I don't think the answer to this question is clear (not to me, at least). Importantly (and this is probably my main point), the internet access situation is notably different than the driving situation -- one doesn't say a whole lot about the other.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 5, Insightful) 1376

One of my favorite philosophy professors once mentioned something like this: I propose that there are invisible dogs everywhere around us all the time. As we move around, the dogs move out of our way. The dogs are silent and possess numerous other qualities that prevent us from ever detecting them.

Now I may ask someone, "do you believe that these invisible dogs exist?"

If someone were to respond "no" would you conclude that this person holds a belief that lacks any evidence? Would you insist that they, instead, "withhold judgement" with regard to the invisible dog issue? There is a potential entire realm of "there exists an undetectable entity E" claims that could be made, invisible dogs and supernatural creatures being examples.

But do we really lack evidence that these entities do not exist? Isn't lacking evidence that something exists evidence in itself that the thing doesn't exist? Maybe not empirical evidence, but that's another question.

Alternatively, perhaps in the invisible dog case the conclusion will be that it is not possible for there to be any evidence demonstrating either existence or lack of existence. It's still not completely clear to me that the rational course of action in that case is to "suspend judgement" rather than choosing to believe in the non-existence.

Comment Re:Yup (Score 1) 436

An IP address doesn't necessarily map to a single point (device) in space-time.

Consider Anycast routing (commonly used for DNS) in which multiple, usually geographically distant, devices serve as the end-point for a single IP address. Sure, this isn't a common practice for typical internet users (I can't even imagine why a typical internet user's IP address would be subject to Anycast routing), but the concept and possibility exist nonetheless.

Comment Re:Good, but (Score 1) 544

If you want to see epic, multi-ship space battles, then stick to Star Wars. It is pretty widely understood that Star Trek was developed around Gene Roddenberry's positive outlook of humanity's future. For most of us (and probably Gene Roddenberry), that means no mindless slaughter.

Yes, there will always be that "evil" species bent on destroying humanity, leaving us with no choice but fighting back. And while the action scenes do provide some amount of entertainment, Star Trek is novel due exactly to the realization that endless fighting and explosions get old.

Star Trek is all about the exploration of space, and more than that, the exploration of humanity.

Space is to place as eternity is to time. -- Joseph Joubert