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Comment: Re:Watson is not AI (Score 1) 161

by MikeTheGreat (#47660313) Attached to: New Watson-Style AI Called Viv Seeks To Be the First 'Global Brain'

Back in college I had a professor who said that he was glad he didn't work in AI. Asked to explain further, he said that the definition of "intelligent" is pretty much "a machine can't do it", so as soon as you've got a program that can do something everyone else immediately says "Huh! I always thought that needed intelligence. I guess not!" He then illustrated his opinion by saying that it had previously been thought that you needed intelligence to take the derivative of something, until someone wrote a program to do it.

Obviously, it was an informal, off-the-cuff, and mostly tongue-in-cheek comment, but there's definitely some truth there too.

Comment: Why Slashvertisments always hit Betteridge's law? (Score 1) 164

by MikeTheGreat (#46919435) Attached to: Is Montana the Next Big Data Hub?

Whenever someone Slashvertises something on /. with a post whose title is a question then (at least) one of us always brings up Betteridge's Law Of Headlines. If not directly, then indirectly (like this).

So why do they keep doing it? I gotta believe that if someone's paying for it that at least one customer would follow up with the results at least one time (and send feedback to whichever company/-ies slashvertise for them)

(Yes, my subject should be "Why do Slashvertisements...", but I ran out of characters :) )

Comment: Why was this ever a good idea? (Score 1) 338

by MikeTheGreat (#46875209) Attached to: How the USPS Killed Digital Mail

Can someone help me understand why anyone ever thought the 'digitize your mail' thing is a good idea? I mean, if you want to send/receive digital messages, you've already got a cornucopia of options - email, IM, Facebook messages, etc, etc, etc. You can 'scan' stuff yourself by snapping pix with your smartphone, etc. So if you want digital transmission of information you've got that right now, today, without having to go through the extra step of writing/printing it all out on paper and then going to the post office.

Conversely, if I've chosen USPS it's because I don't want stuff digitized. When my young kid makes something Amazingly Awesome for the grandparents I want that physical object delivered to them. Sure, it's an 8.5" x 11" piece of paper with (mostly) scribbles on it, but when the grandparents see that my kid has finally learned how to write their names out it'll melt their hearts, then go straight onto the fridge door.

Even people posting here seem to be mostly talking about ways to remove junk snail mail, not the Incredible Awesomeness of Outbox.

So, remind me again - how is this anything other than a terrible plan that died a well-deserved death?

Ok, I feel better now :)

But on a serious note - I would really love some insight about why transforming the USPS into the world's largest scanning service seems like a good idea.

Comment: Re:relations (Score 4, Funny) 247

by MikeTheGreat (#46836801) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Books for a Comp Sci Graduate Student?

"Having visited with me and my wife recently, the girlfriend of an ex-student of mine (now taking an M.Sc. in pure CS) asked me to suggest useful books for her boyfriend: '..

This brings to mind the ever-classic::

Dark Helmet: Before you die there is something you should know about us, Lone Star.
Lone Starr: What?
Dark Helmet: I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.
Lone Starr: What's that make us?
Dark Helmet: Absolutely nothing! Which is what you are about to become.

Comment: +2.... Flamebait? (Score 1) 137

by MikeTheGreat (#46808421) Attached to: Joss Whedon Releases New Film On Demand

As of right now (12:23pm PST, 4/21/2014) the parent post is showing +2.... Flamebait.

I've been here a while but never seen a negative word attached to a positive score (it's always been +3 Informative, or +4 Insightful, or +2 Funny, or whatever). I don't think that my personal 'score adjusters' would give anything enough points to boost a -1 or 0 up to a +2.

I'm assuming it got mod'd up with a couple different modifiers (one insightful, one interesting, etc), then mod'd down with only Flamebait (and so Flamebait is the most common modifier), but I'm curious (1) if anyone else is seeing this and (2) does anyone have a better explanation about the score/modifier?


The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper 183

Posted by timothy
from the let's-not-blow-this-out-of-proportion dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Joel Werner writes in Slate that when Citicorp Center was built in 1977 it was, at 59 stories, the seventh-tallest building in the world but no one figured out until after it was built that although the chief structural engineer, William LeMessurier, had properly accounted for perpendicular winds, the building was particularly vulnerable to quartering winds — in part due to cost-saving changes made to the original plan by the contractor. "According to LeMessurier, in 1978 an undergraduate architecture student contacted him with a bold claim about LeMessurier's building: that Citicorp Center could blow over in the wind," writes Werner. "LeMessurier realized that a major storm could cause a blackout and render the tuned mass damper inoperable. Without the tuned mass damper, LeMessurier calculated that a storm powerful enough to take out the building hit New York every 16 years." In other words, for every year Citicorp Center was standing, there was about a 1-in-16 chance that it would collapse." (Read on for more.)

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr