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Comment: Re:next 50 to 100 years? (Score 2) 453

by LionKimbro (#46956579) Attached to: Study: Earthlings Not Ready For Alien Encounters, Yet

FUTHERMORE. The size of the universe is unknown. Furthermore: By present estimates, the universe is near uniformly "flat." That means, you go to the edge of the visible universe on one side, and you do *not* wrap around "the other side." Rather, there's more universe past what we can see. If the universe were infinite in all directions, it'd be completely consistent with known measurements. If the universe is infinite in all directions, we can absolutely count on there being intelligent life way, way out there.

Comment: Technology & Humanity (Score 4, Insightful) 264

by LionKimbro (#46894473) Attached to: An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

Snippet of a recent conversation:

Friend: "...and people are even 3D printing houses!"

Me: (skeptical look)

Friend: "It'll work!"

Me: "I have no doubts that the technology will function just fine. But in this case, it's not the technology that's the problem. We could have cheap housing all over the place, presently, and solve a million housing problems. But the problem isn't the technology."

Friend: "Well what else would it be?"

I explained about Seattle City's law that you can only have 8 people living in a housing unit, regardless of the size, and that this is on the liberal end of things, as far as most cities go.

I explained about zoning, and restriction, and neighbors.

I explained that if you could snap your fingers and make floating or underground housing, for absolutely free, either above or below the city of Seattle, people would rage with anger and complain of crime, undesirables, unsightlys, and plummeting housing values.

The middle class stores most of its wealth in its houses, and so everybody has a gigantic freak-out if anything happens to cause housing prices to go down. We hold as a society the notion that a house is an investment vehicle, and will do anything in our collective power to make sure that housing prices go up, up, up, faster than the rate of inflation. We'll talk about "quality" and "community" and "clean neighborhoods," whatever it takes, to make sure that the next generation spends more on our houses than the generation that came before.

What use is a 3-D printer that can print houses with ease?

What use are robots that can programmatically generate great housing in a for-loop?

I mean, besides becoming "the enemy of all humankind" and having all federal, state, and local laws applied against you with every bit of scrutiny that can be mustered?

You "study the humanities" not so that you learn some kind of scientific truth about the human being. You study the humanities so that you aren't naive, and waste the investment everybody's put into you.

+ - Syria Completes Destruction of Chemical Weapon producing Equipments

Submitted by rtoz
rtoz (2530056) writes "Chemical weapons watchdog OPCW has declared that Syria has completed the Destruction Activities to Render Inoperable Chemical Weapons Production Facilities and Mixing/Filling Plants. This operation has been completed just one day before the deadline (1 November 2013) set by the OPCW Executive Council. The Joint OPCW-UN Mission has inspected 21 of the 23 sites declared by Syria, and 39 of the 41 facilities located at those sites. The two remaining sites were not visited due to safety and security concerns. But Syria declared those sites as abandoned and that the chemical weapons programme items they contained were moved to other declared sites, which were inspected."

Comment: No Repro, No Conclusion (Score 1) 327

A bunch of anti-vax types on my FB page were posting articles about how schoolchildren showed that plants that were grown with microwave water didn't grow, with side-by-side illustrations.

Snopes debunked it by repeating the experiment.

Until I see confirmations of the experiment, I am highly skeptical.

Comment: Re:Object Oriented programming may be too much (Score 2) 215

by LionKimbro (#42800291) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Programming / IT Jobs For Older, Retrained Workers?

I've been a professional programmer for ~15 years now; What you've said here strikes me as fairly odd.

Object Oriented Programming is nothing mystical. "Associate methods with your data structures by type." There's half of it. "Now inherit the methods in subtypes." There's the other half of it. We could talk about interfaces and polymorphism as well; It doesn't take long: "You can plug a lot of different things into the wall to get electricity, if we share the interface to the wall plug." People have been talking about that in different ways, for at least a thousand years.

Technical thought is broad and deep. Back in the early 80s, people were talking about "Structured Programming," (within the "procedural" world,) and they really hammered in the concepts of encapsulation and cohesion -- much before the popularity of OOP (itself derived from Alan Kay's ideas) in the 1990's. If there are deep ideas in Object Oriented programming, the deep ideas are ideas that share across technical domains of all kinds.

So I don't think "Object Orientated Programming" is any kind of real barrier.

Comment: Re:Human beings are not special... (Score 1) 544

by LionKimbro (#42280285) Attached to: Is Technology Eroding Employment?

What robots cannot be programmed to do, is answer the question of: "How do we want to live?"

You have assumed that humans have a specific purpose: propagating genes and having kids.

I don't see it that way. Yes, we have a sex drive, but there is no such encoding in the mind that says: "Your purpose is to breed."

I wake up in the morning; I have a million more desires than "just breed." Some of these desires include: I want to live in an enlightened society. I want clean air and water and plants and life. I want a society where people genuinely like one another and grow and learn and develop. More ambitiously, I'd like people to be able to live longer lives. I'd like people with self-discipline and care. I'd like people who want to do what is right, and feel confident that they can do it. Also sex: I want a world that is much more sexual.

But all together, this is a bit more than just, "just breed." We have hearts. In particular, YOU have a heart. You might be depressed in your outlook, but the fact remains. You have a heart.

You've said: "Human beings are not special." I don't see the point of your statement; What does it matter if human beings are special or not? I care more about the kind of life and world that you are wanting to make.

If you're disappointed with how things are going, that disappointment requires a sense that things could be some other way -- the "appointment" that has not been made.

Chrome

+ - IE And Firefox Gain, While Chrome Loses Users For Third Month In A Row 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "November 2012 wasn’t too crazy a month for browsers, but there were some notable milestones. It was the first full month of IE10 availability. Mozilla launched Firefox 17 and Google released Chrome 23. Between October and November, Internet Explorer gained an impressive 0.63 percentage points. Firefox meanwhile regained its recent losses, grabbing 0.45 percentage points, while Chrome fell a whopping 1.31 percentage points (more than in September and October combined). Safari gained 0.04 percentage points and even Opera managed to pick up 0.07 percentage points."

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - Bert Lantz

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