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Comment: Diary entry from 2150 (Score 1) 440

by Sloppy (#48610355) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

Told kid about nano-cam dust today. He's only 4 years old, so he didn't know about them yet, and I'm trying to teach him basic hygiene. I explained for that for nearly a a hundred years we have all lived in an environment where other peoples' cameras are always in our homes. We track them in, on our shoes. The AC intake blows them in. The servers the cameras send video too, aren't owned by people who are practicing subterfuge. It's not like they snuck "spy" dust onto our porches in the hopes we'd track them in. It just happens; it's an inevitable consequence of the stuff blowing around everywhere.

My great grandparents complained about it. They thought they had a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes, because nanotech was new. They didn't see the dust, so they didn't know it was there. In the absence of sensual confirmation, the default expectation (at least to the layman) was that it wasn't there. That was naive, but my grandparents didn't work with nanotech or even use consumer models themselves, so perhaps their ignorance could be forgiven. (Just as my own ignorance of hyperspace can perhaps be forgiven, since I'm not a miner.)

My grandparents, though, grew up with the stuff, though it was still a bit expensive, so it wasn't totally ubiquitous yet. By their time, almost everyone at least knew about it, and if in a gathering of any five people you were to say "nobody sees me inside my home," chances were there would have been a few guffaws and someone would likely point out that the statement was likely incorrect. Sometimes the stuff got innocently tracked into your house, and sometimes it was manipulated into getting there, through subterfuge. The law and social norms lagged, though, and people debated privacy a lot.

By the time their children (my parents) grew up, though, it was all over. Everyone knew about nano-cam dust, and unless you did a rad-flash a few minutes earlier, fucking in your own bed was just as public as doing it in Times Square.

And now my kid knows too. It's just something everyone is expected to know about and deal with. If I were to write a story about it, I think I would set the story in the time of my grandparents, back when society was truly conflicted and in the midst of change. I bet those were interesting times.

Comment: Why not ask who are in charge of defining words? (Score 1) 173

by Sloppy (#48602939) Attached to: The GPLv2 Goes To Court

If you were going to ask a "someone" how they meant to define "derived work", you would ask Congress, not the author(s) of one out of a million contracts which happen to make use of that term.

You're right that it's upsetting that (mostly) people who don't really work with copyright would end up answering it, but that's the nature of law, or at least until you start electing[/appointing/etc] authors. (Cynic: or until those people start funding election campaigns.)

It's only after you have determined that something is a derived work, that you go study licenses. Until that point, licenses are irrelevant.

Comment: Re:Worried about society (Score 1) 181

by Sloppy (#48531271) Attached to: Do you worry about the singularity?

Do you have some kind of problem with trouble?

If people didn't get into trouble, we wouldn't even be talking about robots, yet. We'd be posting on Slashdot, stuff like "sucks that I didn't find enough berries today, and the area is running out of meaty squirrels, so I'll probably be moving along soon." You think you want to be a factory or farm slave for the rest of your life, but you don't even get to do that, until after you've already figured out that you don't want it.

Comment: Re:Strong AI = child (Score 1) 574

by Sloppy (#48508899) Attached to: Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

There is no fundamental difference between creating a strong AI and having a child.

I disagree, though some of it depends on exactly how you create the AI. A child is a machine optimized for serving the "interests" of its genes (half of which it copied from you), and even in the near-future of say "Gattaca" you don't really have much say in how the child works. Even if AIs were grown in a biological analog, the initial inputs would be totally different than anything else in Earth history, much less arbitrary (from our idealist viewpoint) than what goes into making up a person. Even if you set them up to evolve in a biological manner, where the inputs eventually drifted, their "genes" certainly wouldn't be anything like oldschool life genes, much less human. Perhaps you'd get some interesting convergence, but that's not the same thing.

To see the potential of AI, you really need to think like a god, not a biologist. Or possibly somewhere in between the two. Imagine what life on Earth would be like if the creationists were right, and you'll get an analogy of how AIs might end up. (Better yet, think like HPL's elder things, and consider the shoggoth.) Whatever they have in common with previous life would be remarkable exceptions, and most of it would be new and alien-like. I think they're be more alien than "real" (biological) aliens.

Maybe think of AIs as (initially!) part of humanity's extended phenotype, like a spider's web is to a spider, or a dam is to a beaver. Could you convince a spider that a web is like its child, the new spiderdom of the future? I don't think a web that can "do things" would make your argument to the spider any stronger.

I'm not saying you should freak out, but They Will Not Be Humanity.

And most of what I'm saying is from taking a fairly extreme biological view. I wonder if that's kind of outdated, and AIs are going to be even less like life, than predicted in previous decades.

Comment: Re:Lucky for Stripe (Score 1) 353

by Sloppy (#48313805) Attached to: Online Payment Firm Stripe Boots 3D Gun Designer Cody Wilson's Companies

Luckily for Stripe, they're not beholden to some government definition of what they, as a corporation, decide NOT to process transactions for.

Or perhaps they got a call from someone with the government, explaining that they are beholden (says someone, as they metaphorically caress their sidearm) to certain informal definitions, which is what persuaded this seemingly-for-profit company to decide to live without whatever transaction fees they might have gained from doing this business.

We sure have been seeing a lot of .. voluntary cooperation .. from payment-processing companies when it comes to various "gray" markets. It's almost as though somebody wants to get more people interested in Bitcoin.

Comment: Re:Sigh! (Score 3, Insightful) 173

by Sloppy (#48208305) Attached to: Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

I shouldn't have to remind you of the things in the modern world that depends on real-time instructions from software.

You are not one of those things! You GIVE orders to computers, not take! The computer is supposed to be your bitch. Thirty years ago people worried about Terminators, and now I find out that all Skynet has to do, is nicely tell people to jump off cliffs. I can't wait until Google Surgeon, when everyone thinks they should just blindly do what they're told, preferably with impatience and in real time.

Google Surgeon [speaking slowly]: "Snip the art--"

Doctor: [snip] "Yeahyeah doesanyoneknowhow tospeedupthisthing'sspeech?"

Google Surgeon: "--ery, but first, clamp off the blood supply so the patient doesn't bleed to death."

Comment: Re:More changes I don't want ... (Score -1, Flamebait) 173

by Sloppy (#48206627) Attached to: Google Announces Inbox, a New Take On Email Organization

It is positively dangerous when you have to go round a roundabout twice for it to catch up! (In a 40 ton rig).

WTF? How can a mapping program possibly be dangerous or time-sensitive?

(Please don't tell me you are one of those MORONS who relies on software for real-time instructions, instead of having your own plan that was possibly originally aided by software. If you're a moron, then it's not the software that's dangerous; it's that some even bigger, stupider moron allowed you to drive a 40 ton vehicle (or even a 1 ton vehicle) on roads that might have other people within a quarter mile.)

All I can think of, is that the slowness is somehow keeping you from being able to review your route before you it's time for you to leave, so that you end up driving faster to catch up.

Comment: Re:So in other words . . . (Score 4, Insightful) 46

by Sloppy (#48159553) Attached to: Microsoft's JavaScript Engine Gets Two-Tiered Compilation

You say it dismissively, but the big thing lately is that Microsoft can play catch-up and is really trying to do it. Did you ever think you'd see the day? Starting around MSIE 9 they made huge strides toward becoming fairly normal, rather remaining forever obsolete, as a weird, special, anachronistic case. You never would have heard anyone say this in 2009 or 2004 but it now looks like a fresh Windows install might be able to surf the web, right out-of-the-box.

It used to be that if someone had problems and you found out their browser was .. well, they didn't know, but they said they just "clicked the internet" .. you'd tell 'em they need to get a browser, any reasonably modern browser. But I rebooted to do some testing just yesterday, and MSIE 11 does not suck. Seriously, I found more problems with Safari on Windows, than I did with MSIE.

Today's web browsers, in general, are pretty damn good. Even Microsoft can do this now.

Comment: Re:credibility of article is doubtful (Score 2) 571

by Sloppy (#48149715) Attached to: Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

From a certain point of view, they are huge.

I once read (*) that the full gamma burst from a thermonuclear explosion takes several seconds. (Whereas from a fission bomb, it's mostly over in a fraction of a second; the bigger-yield fusion bombs create a lot of temporary unstable shit that gives off more gamma rays as it decays over several seconds.) This led to me developing a nuclear war survival trick, which I will now share with everyone on Slashdot, even though I haven't tested (**) it yet:

If there's a sudden blinding flash in the sky, quickly try to estimate: does it look like a big one? If so, then dive for cover, preferably behind something big and solid, like a boulder or something like that. HTH.

(*) Wish I could cite a reference, but I'm lazy.

(**) If my trick is no good or based on misunderstood physics, you can make fun of me after the next nuclear war.

I've never been canoeing before, but I imagine there must be just a few simple heuristics you have to remember... Yes, don't fall out, and don't hit rocks.