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Comment: Re:von Neumann probes (Score 1) 372

A real head-scratching conundrum about the universe is explaining why it's not already overrun with self-replicating robots. Because if it's possible to send self-replicating interstellar probes, all it takes is one launch, plus a few million years, to get the galaxy overrun with them. So are they not possible? nobody's launched one yet? here, but not detected? The implications boggle the mind.

It may just take them a *long* time to reach every planet. They also may, for example, have a strategy of not visiting every planet as often as possible so as to conserve fuel. They may only visit a planet when it develops detectable signs of life, knowing they command sufficient resources to utterly destroy the existing life at that point regardless of the technological sophistication of the planet. Kind of like if the rest of the world were to decide to declare war on Molokini.

Comment: Amazon (Score 3, Interesting) 216

by Etherwalk (#48620093) Attached to: What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

Historically, being embraced by Microsoft has often been deadly...

True in the 80s and early 90s, but today Microsoft is pretty responsive to their partners and that role has more been taken on by Amazon. I hear Amazon basically data mines business partners who sell on their site to undercut prices on everything except for certain narrowly agreed products.

It's a good business model for Amazon's move to gather more market power, which will give them a near-monopoly in the end. They're definitely playing the long game. But it's not a good move for their partners.

Comment: Sales (Score 2, Informative) 216

by Etherwalk (#48620021) Attached to: What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

They are trying to leverage their IP to get more people to buy or subscribe to their products. There's nothing wrong with that; it actually helps developers.

The idea is that if you make it easy for developers to do good stuff on your platform, they are more likely to do good stuff on your platform. Then end-users who want the good stuff will buy the good stuff from the developer and the platform from you.

Comment: Re:Crimes Against Humanity (Score 1) 772

by Etherwalk (#48596229) Attached to: CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

It is a war crime and hence a crime against humanity. The customary punishment for those is a noose or a firing squad.

Actually, the customary punishment for most human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, is none. Nuremberg was a first, and only the defeated powers were prosecuted. (In a perfectly neutral world, allies would have been prosecuted for things like the fire-bombing of Dresden and the nuking of Nagasaki, and possibly the nuking of Hiroshima.)

Nuremberg was a first, the International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda were much more recent and were beginning some international movement toward accountability for war crimes, and the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court also took us closer, but we are *nowhere* near a place where there is a "customary punishment" for crimes against humanity.

Comment: Re:Hot Glue Guns (Score 1) 173

by Etherwalk (#48589415) Attached to: 3D Printer?

Consumers can buy any commercially available 3D printer out there, so define consumer 3D printer while you're at it.

Printer cost of under $1000. IE what the average consumer can spend on a personal printer.

The average consumer of 3D printers may be able to, the average consumer of personal printers in no way can afford to spend $1,000 on a printer.

Comment: Re: 2% is nothing (Score 1) 121

by Etherwalk (#48569693) Attached to: NASA Gets 2% Boost To Science Budget

http://pgpf.org/Chart-Archive/0053_defense-comparison
See the US Military budget is bigger than
China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and India combined, you see the glaring omission don't you, where the HELL IS NEW ZEALAND mentioned, Bloody hell we have seen Lord of the Rings, we KNOW how many Orcs there are.

Yes, but the US also does more with its military than those countries combined. It is also facing different cost balloon problems than some of them--e.g. China and Russia--and has a larger portion of its budget that is declassified. China with 1/3rd of the US Military budget has a good chance of approaching par with the US Military in the next two decades, if they run an efficient program.

Comment: Re:In the best scenario humans lose autonomy (Score 1) 417

by Etherwalk (#48569485) Attached to: AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us

Yes; I was saying the problems inherent with the zeroeth law arise in one of the best scenarios we could have, and it is fraught with problems. That does not mean that that is the scenario we will have; it is more likely we will not, or will have some AI that develops that way but more that does not.

Comment: In the best scenario humans lose autonomy (Score 1) 417

by Etherwalk (#48566647) Attached to: AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us

Even in the best scenario, the zeroeth law of robotics applies. Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, for example, both recognized how humans as a whole make terrible decisions for themselves and their society. A benevolent AI could take us a long way toward being a better world and still take away a lot of our freedom.

Comment: DOCSIS3 modem for Residential... (Score 4, Interesting) 291

by Etherwalk (#48562653) Attached to: Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

I had Comcast for residential service for two years not long ago (2010-2012), and they gave me no problem with using my own modem. (They did try to charge me for not returning it when I disconnected service, but corrected their error without a hassle.)

They also still list acceptable personal modems on their website:

http://mydeviceinfo.comcast.ne...

Comment: Crimes Against Humanity (Score 2) 772

by Etherwalk (#48559597) Attached to: CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

In the US, the powerful can be the most evil scum and commit the most heinous crimes against humanity and will have nothing to fear from "the law" at all.

To be clear, torture is a human rights violation against customary international law and treaty; it is not a crime against humanity unless it is part of widespread or systemic practice.

It is, however, widely practiced as a practical matter. Sometimes even by heads of state. This guy has personally tortured people, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R...

Comment: Law (Score 1) 268

Actually, there' something called "moral rights" in copyright law that allows the copyright holder to prevent you from, for example, buying an art book with a bunch of nice pictures in it, cutting out and framing all the pictures, and reselling the framed pictures.

I doubt that very much. Show me a case which broadly prohibits that - not some narrower interpretation tenuously connected. I don't care if the book publisher gets in trouble if I cut up the book, I signed no such agreement when I bought it off the discount rack at B&N.

No, you probably didn't, but it's a copyright law, not a contract. You are obligated to obey the law even if you didn't agree to it.

As to show you a case, the Ninth Circuit has held for Parent in a related fact-pattern, while the seventh circuit has sided more with you, so it depends where in the United States you are. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...

In addition, the parent was talking about moral rights, which are more of a European thing. So you'd have to check their law.

Comment: Antibiotics... (Score 1) 368

by Etherwalk (#48544861) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

consider that for a moment...only 90 years ago, the son of perhaps the most powerful and well connected man on the earth died from a blister. playing tennis.

No -- consider for a moment that we could be there again 90 years from now. Science fiction looks toward the future, and the current trend is that antibiotics are becoming useless.

Comment: Re:If I were SONY... (Score 1) 184

Is it actually being attacked by north korea? If i were to do this, i'd compromise somebody else's computer and attack from there. Jumping to conclusions is much more fun though.

True; all signs point to North Korea but it could be a false flag operation, or just someone they trained, for example. However, motive, opportunity, and skill fingerprint are pointing to them. While we are engineers trained to think in counterexamples and recognize the possibility that it was someone else, it seems highly unlikely.

That being said, I do think the "wait and see" from the UN Mission Rep from North Korea, despite seeming to implicate them, was more of an "I have no clue whether we did it or not."

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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