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Comment Re:Keychain abuse (Score 1) 142

Yes; of course it does.
When you log into a system, you expect to use the system. All the data in the system becomes human-readable, and of course non-encrypted.

That's what happens when you encrypt a full disk at once, yes. This is a useful tool for protecting from stolen drives, and it might even be what the author was thinking of when they mentioned "encryption". And just like the author said, it would have been inadequate to prevent this kind of attack.

But that's not the only way to implement encryption, and it's not the way that people are calling for here. Whether or not the disk is encrypted, individual files can be encrypted too. Thus, even when disk-level encryption is undone (so that the user can access the system), the file-level encryption is still in place. This is, at a bare minimum, what should have been in place here; there are ways to do even better, but this would have stopped the attack in question.

Comment A solution in search of a problem (Score 2) 126

"Efficient downloading" is a nonissue. Existing compression, concatenation, and minification techniques yield file sizes that a binary format will have a great deal of trouble beating at all, and even when it does, the savings will be no more than a few bytes at best.

"Efficient parsing" is a nonissue. This has been true for decades. Browsers simply do not spend enough time parsing JavaScript for it to ever become an issue. This is sorely misguided premature optimization at best.

"Language choice" is a nonissue. Emscripten and its kin have already solved the problem of compiling other languages to JavaScript. These languages will still have to be compiled to the bytecode, and gain no benefit from doing so.

"High performance" is a nonissue. This is what asm.js is for, and indeed, the existing polyfill uses asm.js to achieve its performance gains. This is a newer solution than those for the previous problems, but either way, the problem is solved.

"A standard runtime specification" is a nonissue. We already have one of those. It's called ECMAScript.

There is no point to this. All it does is comply with buzzwords and kowtow to JavaScript-haters. And make closed-source Web applications that much closer to feasible, I guess, but no one would consider that a benefit, right?

Comment Keychain abuse (Score 3, Insightful) 142

The article's author makes it sound like logging into the system would have automatically unlocked the encrypted files, or at least have allowed a logged-in user to get at the keys without authenticating further.

I suppose an encryption scheme could be implemented that way, and as just as the article suggests, that would have been useless. But an encryption doesn't need to be implemented that way, shouldn't be implemented that way, and is in fact harder to implement that way. It would provide protection against stolen hard drives, but that's not the main model of threat for things like this, and a proper policy would protect against that equally well while handling additional threats.

It's a simple policy: some things do not go in your freaking keychain. Important data like this, if it must be encrypted with a password, should require that password to be entered manually, every time. Yes, it is less convenient, but some things are too important to afford shortcuts.

Comment Limits? (Score 1) 35

Is one molecule truly the limit? Certainly it is as long as we view the various components of electronics as discrete objects: you can split a molecule, but this results in smaller molecules (of different types, but molecules all the same), so miniaturization becomes a race to see who can make the smallest molecules act as the different kinds of components.

But the integrated circuit allowed for many components to be combined into a single discrete object. Does physics allow for the possibility of doing this on a molecular scale: a "molecular integrated circuit", where individual atoms within a molecule act as components that affect how charge flows through the molecule's chemical bonds?

Obviously, our technology is not at the point where such a thing could be created. It may very well require molecules to be assembled atom-by-atom. What I'm asking is physics as we currently understand it allows for the possibility of such a molecule.

Comment Re:That's great news! (Score 1) 517

Two equal candidates, but one who overcame greater adversity to reach that point, suggesting they have greater inherent potential.

Part of the point of an egalitarian system is the idea that inherent potential is not a thing. Not to any significant degree, at any rate. This argument runs directly counter to the underlying philosophy on which your basic thesis depends.

Comment Re:Affirmative Action is not the same as sexism (Score 1) 517

That's ~51% at birth. It doesn't stay that way for all that long, due to another factor that hasn't been completely explained: women tend to live a bit longer than men do. This phenomenon spent most of history being masked by the fact that childbirth is much more dangerous in humans than in most species: until around the turn of the 20th century, it was the #1 cause of death among women in most cultures, and that skewed female life expectancy much lower than today. In the modern developed world, childbirth is a much safer process; it's still not completely devoid of dangers, but as it has receded as a killer of women, their life expectancy has not only caught up to men's but actually eclipsed it. There are places in the developing world where this process hasn't yet completed, but even there we can see improvements along similar lines.

The end result is that the population spends most of the human lifespan close to 50/50. At the high end of the age range it skews female, though this doesn't become significant until quite late in life.

Comment Re:That's great news! (Score 1) 517

If two people have the exact same accomplishments, except one is from sex/race subjected to discrimination, then isn't there a good chance that the disadvantaged person would have done more if not subjected to said disadvantage?

Is there a chance? Of course there is.

Is there a good chance? I'm not convinced that there is. A person's life is a complex thing, and the advantages and disadvantages we face interact in extremely complex and sometimes completely counterintuitive ways. For one candidate, things may very well work out as you say: without the disadvantage, the character could do better. Another candidate may use the relative freedom from disadvantage in other ways, unrelated to the task at hand, resulting in a candidate who is very different from the one in question, but not particularly better or worse. There is a third possibility: you seem to imply that those who actually don't face these sorts of disadvantages essentially rest on their laurels, but if they do, then we must also entertain the possibility that a currently-disadvantaged candidate, if he or she were not to have faced these disadvantages, may have done the same, resulting in a candidate who is once again not particularly better, and perhaps even worse.

There is no way to predict what a candidate might have done if they had not faced disadvantages. Because of this, the question has no meaning, and should not be considered in hiring decisions. We must act based on what is in front of us, not on what might have been.

Doesn't that in fact make the disadvantaged person the "better" candidate?

It might, in a parallel timeline where the disadvantage did not in fact apply. But we cannot gamble on parallel timelines; we can only go by what is real, in history as we know it. And by that history, you have two equal candidates.

Comment Re:That's great news! (Score 1) 517

Is it still sexism if it's correcting an existing sexist imbalance?

Absolutely. The ends do not justify the means.

The truth I think will be in whether biased hiring practices continue after there's a balanced gender distribution among the tenured faculty

To which the answer will inevitably be yes. This is the basic cycle of history.

until then the choices are (A) preferentially hire women, or (B) hire an equal mix and wait until all the existing faculty retires (probably at least a generation or two) for the gender mix to equalize.

Or (C) implement practices which do not bias based on gender, thus putting everyone on the same (i.e. equal) playing field, and allow an equal gender mix to emerge. Or not, which would indicate that further study into the problem is needed. Tainting the results with misguided engineering to achieve a desired aesthetic never ends well.

Comment Not a fact (Score 2) 140

Are you suggesting that the Famicom was based on a system that wasn't released until two years after its own release (1983 for the Famicom, 1985 for the VS. System)?

Or are you suggesting that Nintendo abandoned the home market after making the VS. System, despite having released not one but three arcade systems after it, (the Playchoice-10, the Super System, and the Triforce board)?

Comment Re:Ship of Theseus (Score 1) 294

I'd argue that the process you're talking about is more like the standard "uploading" process, minus the usual caveat about destroying the original. I agree with you that the process you describe process creates a copy that thinks it's the original. I also agree that destroying the original as part of the process seems arbitrary: why would copying someone's mind necessitate destroying the original?

But what I describe is a different process. Instead of copying the subject's mind into a machine, the user gradually learns to use the machine to supplement, or even outright replace, parts of his brain. There is only one mind, which works "across" both the brain and the machine simultaneously, rather than being cleanly "in" either location. Another poster mentions a prosthesis for specific brain functions; this is a good metaphor.

Transferring, then, becomes the process of working "across" both the brain and the machine, and increasing the machine usage to the point that the brain can be taken out of the loop. Assuming for the moment that this ever becomes possible, would that be a true transference, or still just a duplicate that thinks it's the original?

Comment Ship of Theseus (Score 1) 294

That holds if the preferred method of transfer is "uploading", yes. But what about a more gradual method?

Suppose that rather than wholesale uploading your brain, the process were to start with an implantable (or even wearable) computer that interfaces directly with the brain, perhaps providing extra sensory data or storage space. Over time, the mind learns to make this integration seamless, partly integrating with the device.

At this point, a second device is added to the mix, providing some additional functionality, and the person learns to integrate with this as well. The cycle repeats, adding more and more devices, and the person learns to integrate with them more deeply.

Eventually, one might learn to "inhabit" these devices: integrating so deeply that the brain itself becomes unnecessary, like a vestigial organ. The person might go back and forth on several occasions, to build confidence both in the procedure and to build confidence that no matter what "side" of the brain/computer divide you happen to be on at the time, you are still you. Depending on how the technology works, you might even be able to learn how to "transfer" from one set of devices to another, likely starting from similar principles, though the process could be accelerated.

At that point, the last step is simple: inhabit the devices and do not go back. Once your body is disconnected from the system, you're "in" for good.

I'm afraid I don't recall the story where this concept originated, but I thought it was intriguing as a description of an "uploading" process that did not involve making a copy. Does anyone know what it might be?

Comment Re:He is linking homeopathy to astrology (Score 2) 320

But let's be serious. The placebo effect is one of the most effective thing in medical problems. The problem with it is that if you don't believe in it, it no longer works. Building false theories that makes sense for most people is therefore a skill that can be much more effective than finding real cures.

Only by creating a system in which, in order to work properly, information must be hidden from the patient. This is unacceptable, full stop.

Comment Re:Shadow? (Score 1) 197

Maybe not with that exact filename, but I can't help but wonder if some people hear that "shadow passwords are more secure" and think this means that changing your password to "shadow" helps.

I mean, why that particular word? Is there another explanation for how it could be that popular? Other than hedgehogs with guns, I mean?

If God had not given us sticky tape, it would have been necessary to invent it.

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