Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


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: Re:One thing for sure (Score 0) 512

by John Allsup (#49142847) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion
Put another way, there is, with logical certainty, no qualitative improvement in survival strategy beyond something like the following:

You take Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.  You trust in God.  When God tells you to fuck, you fucking fuck who God
tells you to fuck when, and only when, God, and God alone, tells you to fuck, and you fuck who, and only who, God tells you
you can fuck.  If you are unsure about who Jesus is, who God is, what Christ and Saviour mean in this context, there is no
better method to find out than reading a decent Bible, and you even have a number of translations to choose from.

Lfe is crazy, there is fuck all we can do about it, but we need a surefire method of stopping us questioning this logically certain fact,
which requires nothing stronger to prove than the fact that, in Lisp, if you have 100 words to play with, you cannot make a 101-element
linked list even if the manual suggest you can, and that real world evidence suggests with at least 99% confidence that the 'can
I have another one' routine always works.  You can do the same argument on any computer with an actually finite number of cells availble.  The
observable universe, by the way, is capable of represenign a computer, but is also finite in extent.

Comment: Re:One thing for sure (Score 0) 512

by John Allsup (#49142761) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion
That is equivalent, in the absence of semantics, to counting to 14 and knowing to stop.  If a computer can't do that, it is certainly not worthy of the adjective intelligent.  Likewise, the Apostles creed is a slightly longer counting exercise, requiring you to give appropriate meanings to words as you read them, subject to never reusing a word anywhere.  Any computational capable device that doesn't pass such silly sanity checks should be switched off, taken outside and hacked to death with a chainsaw.  The Bible takes that principle and the question of assigning a sensible meaning reliably to any sensible way of reading verses, and uses the principle of forcing a computer to actually count, well past the point of taking the piss.  From the point of a Christian with a PhD in models of Peano Arithmetic, which is part of that branch of mathematics, mathematical logic, which practically gave birth to the modern notion of computation, that superseding the old school victorian model consising of a human being bored so heavily by rigorous schooling that he'd rather commit suicide than make a mistake.  Turing was such a person, faced with an education system that still hadn't got is point, I had to resort to taking the piss with my degree just to stay sane.  Seriously, the first use of the Bible is as a sanity check.  If you take the English Standard Version of the Bible, try to read it, try to find any semblence of sense, fail, and still consider yourself capable of reading English, you have basically proved yourself insane past the point that any reasonable non-Christian is going to care.  The non-Christian will see you as a worthless piece of shit that should be put out of its misery: the true Christian will take one extra step prior to execution, and that is the step of exhaustively verifying that there is genuinely no plausible chance of redemption.  That's the bit Christianity adds to your life.  It means that when it comes down to the question 'that piece if shit village idiot you fired, who then jumped off a bridge and killed himself, are you absolutely logically certain you needed to'.  Faced with someome who even pauses to consider 'yes' as an acceptable answer, whilst my faith in Christ and the Gospel will have no issue, my faith in the Bible may be marred by the suspicion that 'thou shalt not kill' indeed is missing a bit of small print.  Does this make sense? (That last question does include yes as a safe answer, btw.)

Comment: Why Permission Matters (Score 0) 303

by John Allsup (#49134941) Attached to: Reddit Imposes Ban On Sexual Content Posted Without Permission
If you do a single thing to me without permission, then in a crisis I simply cannot allow myself to trust you. If in that crisis I have to execute someone to save a friend, your life will be in danger.  Thus it is best to always ask permission!  And with regards to permission, if I give you one of my internet passwords, you may consider that permission to use it.  As an example, see and email me to ask what to put at the end of the URL so that the if(test()) { showpage(); } else die(horribly()); line in the PHP script will not commit computational suicide.  Use the address for this purpose, and include a URL that at least points to slashdot, preferably this article, or this comment as proof you
have read and understood this.  You have my permission to try the passwords you find anywhere you like, since I've checked to my satisfaction that they no longer work.

Comment: If I accidently tread on a book (Score 1) 253

Then it will generally still work, will probably be cheap to replace, and in case it is damaged, it will still be at least nearly perfectly usable.  In the case of my android tablet that I used to use for this, I made the mistake of leaving in on the floor next to the power socket whilst on charge (short power cable and all that), was enthusiastically showing a friend round my toy collection (toy=laptop/workstation/synth/etc) and accidently put my chairleg down on my android tablet.  It still boots but touchscreen functionality doesn't work and, being a cheap tablet, usb otg didn't work properly anyway, so its now unusable.  If it were a real book, it wouldn't even have broken!  That's why I do not trust e-readers for books that are even remotely important: they are just too fragile and, even though I'm careful 99% of the time, there is that issue of the remaining 1% where even the most careful human doesn't have his (or her) brain engaged properly and is temporarily a complete klutz. Real paperware books are reasonably robust against issues of accidental clumsiness.  And robustness saves lives!  Seriously, suppose you're on the ISS and the only copy of the maintenance manual is accessible via an e-reader and you break it?

Comment: Pandora PR Department Source Leak (artistimpress.) (Score 1) 303

by John Allsup (#49116899) Attached to: Pandora Pays Artists $0.001 Per Stream, Thinks This Is "Very Fair"
//... Top Secret internal document, do not copy!

#define AND " "

const  char * officialPolicyTowardsArtists = BENDTHEMOVERABARREL AND SHAFTTHEMUPTHEARSE;

//... p.s. be careful not to leak the above onto the internet

Comment: Javascript is the better language (Score 1) 318

by John Allsup (#49084923) Attached to: Java Vs. Node.js: Epic Battle For Dev Mindshare
At first it was the other way around, but: Java was always in a no-mans land: too low level to have the high level features of Js, too high level to have the power and speed of C/C++.  What is needed is a data-structure based language for low level programming that is accessible to Js so that Js code can create and manipulate low level programs and request their compilation.  Appropriate compilers then simply need to be made visible to Js in a natural way.  If you want a bytecode vm, implement it using the low level side of this, then control it from Js. Of course python3 style features should be worked in, and whilst v8 is great if you're on an x86 or x64 machine, a llvm or something based backend for other machines needs sorting out.  But then js is clearly the better language.  If you want type safety, you want something like Haskell, and that is a descendent of lisp, so is best represented as data structures again, not necessarily text.  Bridging the gap back to the programmer is the bit Lisp screwed up, and hopefully we can get it right this time around.

Comment: My hack to rm.c (Score 2) 329

by John Allsup (#48831483) Attached to: Steam For Linux Bug Wipes Out All of a User's Files
while ((c = ...


    if( x.interactive == RMI_NEVER && x.ignore_missing_files == true && x.recursive == true ) {
        char *mayi = getenv("RM_ALLOWRF");
        if(mayi && strcmp(mayi,"YES")) {
            printf("rm -rf allowed\n");
        } else {
            printf("rm -rf not allowed (set RM_ALOWRF=YES to enable)\n");


if (argc <= optind)

Comment: Re:It is simple (Score 1) 755

by John Allsup (#48704469) Attached to: Science Cannot Prove the Existence of God

I tend to start with accepting reality as shown by current science -- at least that that is a good approximation. Metaphysical stuff about the past is beyond experiment and the best we can do is extrapolate backwards from the present given a long list of assumptions.
The important thing is: how do we live in this reality? A consequence of our evolved nature, are a number of selfish and tribalistic traits -- we have not yet go to the point of seeing ourselves as part of one big organism called Life, and thus don't properly concern ourselves with the suffering of others in the same way we don't put our hand in a fire because we know it will hurt. Once you take that and start thinking it through, the natural consequences bear a great similarity to a lot of the teachings we find in various ancient spiritual teachings (Bible, Taoist and Indic stuff). Then you start to see what these ancient teachings are going on about, and how in the hands of those who were taught them formally but didn't understand as fully as the greats of the distant past, distorted understandings through centuries of Chinese whispers.

We need to see life and humanity as a whole, and ourselves as parts in that. We need to serve the whole primarily, not our individual selves, nor priorities personal success, or that of our genes or families or tribes etc. above that of the whole. If you try to give this whole an intuitively graspable personal nature (just like a child sees his teddy bear), so as to related to this whole on more than a dry intellectual level, you end up with concepts that look a lot like the ancient idea of the 'one true God'. Identifying our selves with this whole, just as you consider your arm you (if I hit your arm, you would naturally say I hit you) changes your perspective, and from that perspective ancient religious teachings have a clear (and important) message that is lost on most modern people, religious or otherwise.

Comment: Re:Established science CANNOT BE QUESTIONED! (Score 1) 719

by John Allsup (#48645793) Attached to: Skeptics Would Like Media To Stop Calling Science Deniers 'Skeptics'

The inspired free rational thinking of one generation becomes the dogma of a later generation. That's already happened with spiritual teachings in the form of what we call 'religion'. It is happening again with science. The cause is human nature and psychology (maintaining understanding is much harder than merely copying words and appearing charismatic and learned to a naive audience, and so evolutionary pressure tends to favour the latter as a strategy for being successful -- the only problem is when one of those pesky individuals who actually understands what the stuff is supposed to be about comes along and tries to explain it -- then they nail him to a lump of wood and build a new religion around his teachings.) Science needs to learn about its future from religion, because religion is what modern science will become unless people are far more careful than they are these days.

Comment: When qualifications matter and learning doesn't (Score 1) 438

by John Allsup (#48355013) Attached to: The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

Ok. Let's think for a moment. What can a piece of paper with 2(i) in Physics do, on its own? Nothing, that's what.

What can a student capable of getting a 2(i) in Physics on their own merit do? Probably quite a bit.
What can a student capable of only getting a 3 in Physics on their own merit do? Probably less.

Exams are meant to test what a student has learned. If someone can't add up or multiply, having a first class maths degree to their name doesn't change that.

Judging people by qualifications is a shortcut to assessing their actual ability. But if qualifications are unreliable, and cheating makes them unreliable, then we have to revert to actually assessing what people can do, and ultimately by methods that are not written exams: rather the throw-em-in-the-deep-end sink-or-swim type tests. This takes more effort and resources, for no material gain. Hence everybody loses.

But cheating and corruption are the natural destination for a system which prizes exam results and pins career prospects on the back of them, rather than on genuine ability.

Comment: Bangs head against wall (Score 2) 222

by John Allsup (#47915841) Attached to: Schizophrenia Is Not a Single Disease

Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis and Schizophrenia for Dummies who know a little physics etc.

Life is generally in a good position when it has potential (like gravitational potential in the case of high ground) and the capacity to use it in a controlled fashion. That means balancing in a position that would otherwise be considered an unstable equilibrium in the sense of dynamical systems theory. Our bodies are at their most efficient when well balanced (just watch a good dancer to see this in action) and our brains are at their best when similarly balanced. If something disturbs the equilibrium, this disturbance and the required correction can be used to understand the disturbance. This is how stimulation affects us.

Now consider a simple example of a balancing physical object, but with no control mechanism: a spinning top. This has three states--spinning upright (when the gravitational potential is near its maximum), wobbling (when the gravitational potential is slightly lower, in which case it behaves erratically and gives up its energy randomly until...) finally we have the fallen over state. This is what medical people term depression. The simple solution is to get upright and balanced again, but this is hard in our modern overly complex society, and the result of trying to get up is often a lot of wobbling, which gets diagnosed as things like mania, psychosis and schizophrenia depending on how exactly this wobbling manifests itself. The key is to get balanced before you get pushed over, and that is hard when the medical mental health people seem to have the idea that you fix a wobbling spinning top by knocking it over and gluing it to the floor.

Trying to understand mental health in a 'sum of the parts' way is just dumb, but it is the obsession of the medical fraternity, and is to the extent that it is politically very difficult to suggest otherwise. How our genetic code creates us is an approach that misses the point that without the environmental context in which that genetic code develops, it won't develop, so you need to understand the environment as well (and that means understanding the entire world in complete detail, which is rather a long way the other side of impossible).

Viewed as an equilbrium seeking system, 'mental illnesses' like mania and schizophrenia are just seen as things like oscillations and resonant modes that are being excited by either an appropriate drive, or are resonating within the equilibrium seeking system. The biological stuff is just an implementation detail in much the way that transistors on a chip are implementation details of your python program that you are running that you can safely ignore in most cases. Medication is basically trying to solve a software problem by randomly pumping noise into the processor. A computer will crash instantly if you do this, but humans are rather more robust, and can survive for a long time in an unbalanced state. They are, however, rather unproductive in this state and won't tend to find life enjoyable. But they can survive for a long time, but can become desperate to get out of such states.

Comment: Eventually... (Score 1) 546

by John Allsup (#47822989) Attached to: Does Learning To Code Outweigh a Degree In Computer Science?

Imagine a world where coding is as ubiquitous as reading and writing is to us today. Bear in mind that centuries ago, reading and writing was about as ubiquitous as coding is today, and was at one point in time the preserve of the masses. Writing for machines and reading machine instructions will at some stage become part of our everyday literacy. The thing is, efficiency matters: in a competitive marketplace, for a given market niche, barring underhand business tactics, the more efficient (and effective) software will tend to do better. Eventually underhanded business tactics will become too inefficient relative to the state of the art, and will be destined to die out (as, in general, will self-serving greed, it too not being the most overall efficient use of resources). Maths is unavoidable, and computer science is an outgrowth of maths, and is the part relevant to modern digital computers. Furthermore, concepts and phenomena we see in computer science and artificial intelligence often have implications and applications well beyond digital computers once considered in mathematical generality. Long term, coding is not enough, but not being able to code when computers are as ubiquitous as they are today is as sensible as not being able to read or write, or do simple arithmetic.

If this is timesharing, give me my share right now.