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Comment We have no idea what "superintelligent" means. (Score 2) 160 160

When faced with a tricky question, one think you have to ask yourself is 'Does this question actually make any sense?' For example you could ask "Can anything get colder than absolute zero?" and the simplistic answer is "no"; but it might be better to say the question itself makes no sense, like asking "What is north of the North Pole"?

I think when we're talking about "superintelligence" it's a linguistic construct that sounds to us like it makes sense, but I don't think we have any precise idea of what we're talking about. What *exactly* do we mean when we say "superintelligent computer" -- if computers today are not already there? After all, they already work on bigger problems than we can. But as Geist notes there are diminishing returns on many problems which are inherently intractable; so there is no physical possibility of "God-like intelligence" as a result of simply making computers merely bigger and faster. In any case it's hard to conjure an existential threat out of computers that can, say, determine that two very large regular expressions match exactly the same input.

Someone who has an IQ of 150 is not 1.5x times as smart as an average person with an IQ of 100. General intelligence doesn't work that way. In fact I think IQ is a pretty unreliable way to rank people by "smartness" when you're well away from the mean -- say over 160 (i.e. four standard deviations) or so. Yes you can rank people in that range by *score*, but that ranking is meaningless. And without a meaningful way to rank two set members by some property, it makes no sense to talk about "increasing" that property.

We can imagine building an AI which is intelligent in the same way people are. Let's say it has an IQ of 100. We fiddle with it and the IQ goes up to 160. That's a clear success, so we fiddle with it some more and the IQ score goes up to 200. That's a more dubious result. Beyond that we make changes, but since we're talking about a machine built to handle questions that are beyond our grasp, we don't know whether we're making actually the machine smarter or just messing it up. This is still true if we leave the changes up to the computer itself.

So the whole issue is just "begging the question"; it's badly framed because we don't know what "God-like" or "super-" intelligence *is*. Here's I think a better framing: will we become dependent upon systems whose complexity has grown to the point where we can neither understand nor control them in any meaningful way? I think this describes the concerns about "superintelligent" computers without recourse to words we don't know the meaning of. And I think it's a real concern. In a sense we've been here before as a species. Empires need information processing to function, so before computers humanity developed bureaucracies, which are a kind of human operated information processing machine. And eventually the administration of a large empire have always lost coherence, leading to the empire falling apart. The only difference is that a complex AI system could continue to run well after human society collapsed.

Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 1) 147 147

The overriding principle in any encounter between vehicles should be safety; after that efficiency. A cyclist should make way for a motorist to pass , but *only when doing so poses no hazard*. The biggest hazard presented by operation of any kind of vehicle is unpredictability. For a bike this is swerving in and out of a lane a car presents the greatest danger to himself and others on the road.

The correct, safe, and courteous thing to do is look for the earliest opportunity where it is safe to make enough room for the car to pass, move to the side, then signal the driver it is OK to pass. Note this doesn't mean *instantaneously* moving to the side, which might lead to an equally precipitous move *back* into the lane.

Bikes are just one of the many things you need to deal with in the city, and if the ten or fifteen seconds you're waiting to put the accelerator down is making you late for where you're going then you probably should leave a few minutes earlier, because in city driving if it's not one thing it'll be another. In any case if you look at the video the driver was not being significantly delayed by the cyclist, and even if that is so that is no excuse for driving in an unsafe manner, although in his defense he probably doesn't know how to handle the encounter with the cyclist correctly.

The cyclist of course ought to know how to handle an encounter with a car though, and for that reason it's up to the cyclist to manage an encounter with a car to the greatest degree possible. He should have more experience and a lot more situational awareness. I this case the cyclist's mistake was that he was sorta-kinda to one side in the lane, leaving enough room so the driver thought he was supposed to squeeze past him. The cyclist ought to have clearly claimed the entire lane, acknowledging the presence of the car; that way when he moves to the side it's a clear to the driver it's time to pass.

Comment Re:Red Herring (Score 1) 303 303

Is there no equivalent to Transition, Equinox, and Experian in Europe?

No company in the US that's in the business of offering up (legitimate) credit is just going to randomly google your name and see if anything comes up. They're going to pull a credit report from one or more of the three credit bureaus. In many cases, they're not even going to look at the details if your FICO score is good.

Considering that the finance industry... and even some individual banks... in Europe predates the *existance* of the United States, I have a hard time believing that they don't have some system in place for judging credit-worthiness that's much more sophisticated than: "Google the person's name".

Comment Re:This won't end well.... (Score 1) 170 170

Well, no one with any sense in IT goes anywhere near this close to the bleeding edge. This thing as all things similarly new should be relegated for testing and experimentation.

Although my own personal opinion is that I feel sorry for Windows users...

Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 2) 147 147

The motorist in the video committed a crime -- several actually. But the cyclist committed an indiscretion by chasing down the motorist to give him a piece of his mind. That's not illegal, it's just a very bad idea.

Many years ago I heard an interviewer ask the great race driver Jackie Stewart what it takes to be a great driver. He said that a driver ought to be emotionless. I think this is very true for any kind of driving -- or cycling. Never prolong your reaction to anything that anyone does on the road beyond the split second it takes to deal with it. Let your attention move on to the next thing. Never direct it to a driver because of something he *did*. Keep focused on what's happening now.

Comment Re:Luxury car market (Score 2) 215 215

A lot of luxury cars really aren't that high-performance. They might have bigger engines sometimes, but they also usually weigh more so it doesn't make them much faster than a Camry. What you're getting for your money is the brand cachet, more features, nicer amenities, and a higher quality interior. The interior is probably the most noticeable difference; go sit in a $60,000 Mercedes and then compare it to some $20k regular car. There's all kinds of corners cut in the cheaper cars; crappier materials, a cardboard-like headliner, cheaper plastics, hard plastics in places, no leather, etc. In the luxury car, the seating is usually all leather (and nicer grades than the cheaper cars that have it as an option), the plastics are higher quality, there's no hard plastic where you can easily touch it, the carpet is higher quality, etc. All that stuff adds up. Plus, the luxury car will have more amenities: more and nicer overhead lights for passengers, lights you can individually turn on and off for all the seats, auto up/down windows on all doors, separate HVAC/ventilation controls for the rear seats, heated seats both in front and in the rear, etc. Finally, take a look at a luxury car like that after it's 5 years old, or even 10 years old, and compare it to a more pedestrian car of the same age. The luxury car will frequently look almost new inside, whereas the cheaper car will have things falling apart, even if it was taken care of just as well; the plastics won't age as well, there'll be more rattles, etc.

Comment Re:HAHAHAHA! (Score 1) 215 215

If they'd build SkyTran, then a lot of people wouldn't need either manually-driven or automated cars to get to work, or anyplace else if they don't need to haul a bunch of kids or cargo. SkyTran isn't that complicated because it's confined to suspended rails, so it doesn't have to worry about other traffic (the system knows where all the cars are, and extra safety systems keep track of cars in front and behind on the same rail), there's no intersections, no worries about kids running out into traffic (since they're elevated well above the street), etc. Plus, since there's no intersections and the cars can go 50-100mph in the city nonstop, you can get to your destination far faster than any driverless car could.

For highway driving of trucks and other vehicles, automated is the way to go as that's a lot simpler than city streets.

% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis

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