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Comment: Re:von Neumann probes (Score 1) 377

Possible. I think unlikely, but certainly possible. By your comment I take you to mean that designing such a payload is difficult if not impossible regardless of your technology level. I would counter-argue that life itself shows how such a system is at least theoretically possible. All that it's really missing is a much more effective error detection and elimination system. Otherwise life obviously self replicates, is extremely hardy, and can store/move a vast amount of information, more than enough to build itself and several subsequent generations of more advanced machines plus the instructions needed to drive it all.

Comment: Re: Science, bitches, that's *how* it works! (Score 1) 191

by MozeeToby (#48638097) Attached to: Quantum Physics Just Got Less Complicated

One of the great scientific minds of the modern era can say it far better than me.

"John, when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."

Isaac Asimov - The Relativity of Wrong

Comment: Re:von Neumann probes (Score 1) 377

We're talking hyper advanced self-replicating probes. The actual payload getting transferred could be on the order of grams. With a little ingenuity, we could launch a few grams to .05c right now if we really wanted to, it just wouldn't do any good because we don't have any way of making a useful payload that small.

Comment: Re:As with all space missions: (Score 4, Informative) 198

by MozeeToby (#48618613) Attached to: NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

Hi there. This is wrong. Just... incredibly wrong.

People had known the earth was round for hundreds if not thousands of years before Columbus. They had even done the math and experiments to figure out it's size (and gotten pretty close to being right about it). You can't actually navigate long distances on Earth without that knowledge. So what made Columbus special? He did the math wrong and thought the earth was 1/3 the size it actually is. That's also why he thought he was in the Indies in spite of having traveled a fraction the distance it actually would take.

The reason no one had ever tried to make the trip before wasn't that they thought they would fall off, it was that they thought they would run out of supplies and die. Which is exactly what would have happened to Columbus if there hadn't been a massive continent for him to run into.

Comment: Re:As with all space missions: (Score 1) 198

by MozeeToby (#48617249) Attached to: NASA Study Proposes Airships, Cloud Cities For Venus Exploration

mainly because the airship is a pretty damn big single point of failure

How so? I assume the envelope would be divided into separate cells and the pressures and temperatures involved mean that the actual pressure difference between inside and outside the envelope is basically nill. In other words, if something springs a leak you'll have quit a bit of time to get it repaired, your lifting gas will escape at the rate of diffusion.

they'll effectively be cooped up inside of the craft the same as if they're traversing open space.

Except the craft can be much, much more capable because the environment is much friendlier to human life than open space. Given enough power, you could even work towards pulling breathing (and lifting for that matter) gasses and water out of the atmosphere, not directly but by processing the CO2 and acids.

Comment: Re:Don't foget (Score 1) 186

by MozeeToby (#48564085) Attached to: NetHack: Still One of the Greatest Games Ever Written

Rogue is too random. It's at least theoretically possible to win any random game of Nethack (assuming default options of course... never could bring myself to write "elbereth" everywhere), many (most?) games of Rogue are unwinnable, there simply aren't enough decisions to be made to overcome the random number gods.

Comment: Re:Senator John McCain (Score 3, Interesting) 772

by MozeeToby (#48559501) Attached to: CIA Lied Over Brutal Interrogations

I still remember a GOP debate during the primaries. The moderator asked for a show of hands, who would approve torture to save american lives. The camera slowly pans past all the candidates with their hands up. And then there's John McCain on the end with what can only be described as a horrified expression. I felt sorry for the guy that day, there in front of him were some of his closest colleagues and presumably a few friends saying that the torture the Vietcong did to him was not only justifiable but in fact justified from the perpetrators point of view.

Comment: Re:No, it's not even possible (Score 3, Insightful) 181

by MozeeToby (#48517419) Attached to: Do you worry about the singularity?

That it took 90,000 of the best processors slaved together for 40 minutes to simulate the computational power of the human brain for 1 sec?

That makes a ratio of 216,000,000 : 1, on a processor to human brain ratio. That isn't really fair, since a modern processor will use much less energy than the human brain but lets roll with it anyway. That seems insurmountable, but only because it's difficult to appreciate just how much faster and more powerful processors are today than they were even half a decade ago.

That ratio puts us about 11 "doubling" periods away from being able to use a 90,000 cpu cluster to simulate a mind in real time. Historically, the doubling period has been 18-24 months, so that puts it about 20 years away from large scale institutions being able to simulate a facsimile of a human mind. 17 doublings (~30 years) after that, a single processor would have the ability to simulate a human brain.

Now, there's a lot to be argued about there. There's absolutely no guarantee that processor improvement will continue at historical levels (and lots of obvious and less obvious arguments against it). But then again, chip designers have approached "impossible" barriers to improvement many times in the past and have simply changed tacks to go around them. There's no guarantee that the current simulations are at all accurate, perhaps chemical or even quantum processes significantly drive human thought for instance. But then again, 50 years is a long time to perfect the simulations.

Comment: Re:we ARE different (Score 1) 355

by MozeeToby (#48507957) Attached to: James Watson's Nobel Prize Goes On Auction This Week

Oh god I hate weighing in on the wrong side of this argument but I can't let this one lie. (For the record, I'm assuming based on what you are responding to that you're being sarcastic, if you're not... well, so it goes). Yes, natural selection can work in about 100 years. Natural selection can work in about 100s if the environment changed the right way. Do note, natural selection is only a single part of evolution, and for lasting, long term changes to occur requires, among other things, mutations. Those kinds of changes take dozens of generations. Simply changing the rate of expression of a gene in the gene pool is as simple as removing the genes you don't like, which can happen very, very rapidly.

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming