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Comment: Re:your observations are spot on (Score 1) 323

In-depth knowledge is easier to test for than general skills, so it could be that they're asking you the questions that are easiest to formulate, not the ones that are the most important. Another reason could be that it is easier to judge the competence of someone below your own level than to judge the competence of someone who is better at something than yourself; by asking you about subjects that they have mastered they feel sure they can judge your response accurately.

Comment: Re:Physicalist nil-whits at work again (Score 2) 226

by MtHuurne (#48945103) Attached to: There Is No "You" In a Parallel Universe

It is possible to create extremely complex systems by combining very simple building blocks. A game like chess has rules you can explain to a child but takes a lifetime to master. Fractals are complex images computed by repeatedly applying a simple mathematical function. People can be complex even if they are built from nothing but physics.

You're assuming that if people consist of nothing but physics, that physics would be able to explain people. In other words, that the properties of the building blocks would explain all properties of a complex system. I think that is not the case, certainly not in practice and perhaps not even in theory.

First of all, deriving the properties of the whole from the properties of the components could be too difficult for people to perform in practice. Half a century of AI research might sound like a lot, but it is really far from an exhaustive search. Even a much simpler problem like computer chess hasn't been fully solved; it took half a century just to get chess algorithms at the same level as human players, but they're still far from perfect.

Second practical problem is that tiny variations in the configuration of building blocks can have big impacts on the system as a whole. For example, weather systems are chaotic. In a computer program, changing a single instruction among millions can have big consequences. So studying physics would at best give you the ability to predict how an unconfigured brain works (like an embryo's?), not an arbitrary brain that has formed lots of connections based on the experiences of the person in question.

A reason to doubt deriving all behavior is possible in theory is that there are unprovable statements in math. So even if you know all the rules, for non-trivial rulesets (such as arithmetic) you cannot prove all the consequences of those rules.

Comment: Re:Huh? (Score 1) 134

by MtHuurne (#48782007) Attached to: For the First Time In 3 Years, Investments In Renewable Energy Increased

Peak oil is the moment when the maximum production rate is reached. If you say there is no such thing as peak oil, that means you're predicting the production rate will forever increase. Even if that would be possible on the supply side (which I sincerely doubt), the demand for oil will decrease when the price increases, leading to lower production.

We're not running out of oil, we're running out of cheap oil. As oil gets more expensive, people will find ways to use less oil: other fuels, renewable energy, better home insulation, fuel efficient cars, less air travel etc. We already saw the demand for oil drop when the economic crisis hit, showing that there is flexibility in the demand.

Comment: Microsoft is adapting to a new role (Score 3, Interesting) 421

by MtHuurne (#48644189) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is an Open Source<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET Up To the Job?

I think Microsoft is adapting to being one of several vendors instead of being a dominant force. They have to play better with others because they don't have the market power they had 10 years ago.

As for .Net, I used it briefly some years ago and wasn't impressed. Compared to Java, they decided that exceptions don't need to be declared, so you have to look up in the documentation which exceptions you have to handle. However, the documentation doesn't list all exceptions that can be thrown. So I have no idea how one would do proper error handling in .Net.

Another thing that bothered me is that the documentation consists mostly of examples. However, if I read documentation I don't want a code fragment to copy-paste, I want to read the specification for a particular method. In particular, how it handles edge cases. That information was usually missing. Of course you can test the behavior, but there is no guarantee the next release will have the same behavior if the behavior was never documented. All in all, it didn't feel like a good platform for writing reliable applications.

Comment: Re:Political nonsense (Score 1) 395

by MtHuurne (#48481903) Attached to: France Wants To Get Rid of Diesel Fuel

I'm all for electric and the end of burning fuel to drive around but you have to ask the question of WHERE that electricity is coming from to charge up your car?
Is the problem just being shifted?

In France, a lot of electricity comes from nuclear power plants, so in terms of CO2 reduction switching to electric driving would help. But that transition is going to take a while; it's unrealistic to expect everyone who now drives a diesel to buy an electric as their next car.

As far as I know, and this seems to be supported by your links, modern diesels don't pollute more than modern petrol cars. So if this would be about reducing pollution, they should crack down on old and poorly maintained diesels.

I don't know about France, but in the Netherlands students get free (but limited) public transport use, so very few students drive a car. That keeps a lot of old and poorly maintained cars off the road.

Comment: Incorrect statement about Dutch health care system (Score 1) 231

by MtHuurne (#48408313) Attached to: The Dutch Village Where Everyone Has Dementia

In Holland, everyone pays into the state health care system during their working years, with the money then disbursed to pay for later-in-life expenses

The Dutch health care system never worked like that. They might be confused with the pension system, where people save for their generation's retirement. While heavily regulated, the pension system is not run by the state.

The Dutch health care system is actually a lot like Obamacare, with private insurance companies which are not allowed to turn down people who apply. The system was redesigned in 2006: before that, people with low to moderate salaries were insured via their employer, while now all people pick and pay their own insurer. The increased competition in the new system hasn't stopped medical costs from rising though.

Comment: Cheap way to score political points (Score 1) 489

by MtHuurne (#48183061) Attached to: In UK, Internet Trolls Could Face Two Years In Jail

Asking for heavier penalties is a simple way for a politician to make it appear they're doing something about an issue without actually solving it. In terms of deterrence, I think a 6-month sentence should be enough: online harassers are not thinking "it's only 6 months," they're thinking "I'm anonymous, they'll never catch me."

Comment: Re:PETA won't be happy until all animals are extin (Score 4, Informative) 367

In the particular case of dogs, I'd argue that having contact with humans is their natural way of living. Over ten thousand years of contact with humans has shaped the species. There is no way you can consider any dog to be not exposed to humans: it's in their genes.

Comment: Re:NPAPI plugins won't work at all in Chrome anywa (Score 1) 129

by MtHuurne (#47904705) Attached to: Chrome For Mac Drops 32-bit Build

As far as I know, NPAPI plugins can't be sandboxed effectively. So they are indeed security risks. You could argue whether it is Google or the end user that should decide what risks to take with plugins, but given how easily people click "Yes" without even reading the question, I don't really blame them for not leaving this to the end user.

As for an open web, what did plugins ever do to open the web? The most popular plug-in is Flash, which is proprietary. Silverlight is proprietary; it has an open source clone that never actually worked when I tried. Java is open source but Java Applets are pretty much obsolete today.

I do share the concern that Chrome is becoming too dominant. Moving to PPAPI plugins would not be a step forward, but phasing out plugins altogether would be.

The degree of technical confidence is inversely proportional to the level of management.