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Comment: Re:I agree somewhat... (Score 1) 68

by Okian Warrior (#49828227) Attached to: Building Amazon a Better Warehouse Robot

the Darpa grand challenge led to Google's self-driving car, which is poised to put 3 million truck drivers out of work.

"Poised" my lily white ass.

You panting, drooling idiots who think this will be reality soon are deluding yourselves.

Google is on the cusp of having some demonstration technology which will be perpetually 10 years away due to legal issues, corner cases, and the myriad of ways in which it will almost work as an idea, but fail in practice.

Um... OK. Fair point.

If it's not Google, then how about Daimler Chrysler?

Can they do it? Or am I still a drooling, panting idiot?

Comment: Absolutely (Score 1) 68

by Okian Warrior (#49828209) Attached to: Building Amazon a Better Warehouse Robot

It won't happen next year, or even 5 years from now... but at some point... all those drivers, from taxis to trucks, will become unemployable through no fault of their own. They simply will not be able to compete with the cost of a robot.

Oh, I agree with you and that sentiment completely.

To be specific, take a look at Manna, by Marshall Brain. It's an easy read, and it shows in frighteningly clear steps the two different ways the economy can go.

I'm all for automation, and I've worked on automation projects before. By and large, automation takes away those jobs that humans don't really want to do. Boring, repetitive, dehumanizing things like crop harvesting or long-haul driving.

While I recognize that automated production is the way of the future, I'm not quite sure how to get there. If there were some clear path, I'd be advocating it.

The best I can come up with at the moment is to point out how we're going to be in tough straits when 3 million people find themselves without a job in the next 5 years (and 2 1/2 million after that when short-haul driving is mostly automated, automated drone delivery of packages and mail and such.)

Pointing out the problems might nudge us into rethinking how economics works. That's all I can think of at the moment.

Do you have any ideas on how we can be part of that transition?

Comment: I agree somewhat... (Score 2) 68

by Okian Warrior (#49828061) Attached to: Building Amazon a Better Warehouse Robot

The effect of 'contests' and 'rewards' is often a bunch of people coming up with an expensive one-off stunt that does exactly what is required for the prize money and nothing more, and does not really advance the state of the art. The various turing test contests are an example, as well as the Ansari X prize.

I agree with you, but not completely. For contrast, the Darpa grand challenge led to Google's self-driving car, which is poised to put 3 million truck drivers out of work.

The original grand challenge might actually be the problem - people looked at the success and tried to emulate it.

The differences might stem from problem specifications, or proper choice of problem. I remember the Darpa prize for building a machine to ascend the space elevator powered by a big searchlight at the bottom. The contest rules specifically required solar cells and electric motors, completely cutting out thermodynamic engines of various type (steam engines, stirling-cycle, other mechanical types). With so little room for innovation, it became a simple cutting-edge engineering chore.

Another prize involved a machine that can ride (and pilot) a tractor, dismount and walk into a building, find and turn a valve, and return. That doesn't quite fire the imagination as much as building a self-driving car, and the requirements are quite specific.

The Turing Test has no fundamental basis in theory, but it's led to some interesting algorithms like ELIZA, insights into human interaction (ie - that you don't actually have to be intelligent to keep up a conversation), and clarified the definition of AI a little.

So there's definitely value in having prizes, but I agree with you that it's not a 1-to-1 ratio of prize money to return.

Comment: Some videos (Score 2) 137

Robert Murray Wilson, talking about transparent superconductors he's developed.

Chris, from ClickSpring, talking about building a clock.

Myfordboy showing how to cast aluminum at home.

Kevin Karsch et. al. rendering synthetic objects into legacy photographs

It's no great effort to find interesting and informative videos on the net. If you have the time to tape someone talking, you have the time to seek out things that nerds might want to see.

Also, there's really no feedback from the slashdot submission process. If a video doesn't meet your requirements, it's impossible to tell *why* they don't meet them, so that submitters could modify their selection process.

But this is beside the point. I'm not suggesting that you show other peoples' videos, I'm suggesting that *you* use the medium properly when making your own videos.

These same points were made back when Slashdot started video'ing people, to no great effect. Vinegar is needed to catch your attention. You have the perfect opportunity to use "directed practice based on feedback" which would turn you into a world-class videographer in a couple of years.

viz: The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance

Seriously. You have access to high-end feedback you could leverage to improve your technique. You should use it.

Comment: Re:The videos are bad (Score 5, Insightful) 137

I agree with you 100%.

Ever wonder *why* these videos are bad?

It's because they don't use the medium properly. Videos of "people talking" adds nothing to the presentation of information.

Add the fact that the viewer can read and scan text much faster than the video talks, and the fact that most people don't present well in the first place (vocal disfluencies such as "ahh... um... you know..." and so forth) and it makes for a lousy experience.

For contrast, imagine an audio of the person talking while the video shows graphs and charts illustrating or bolstering the talking points, or showing the action being described (as in voiceover showing a 3-alarm fire in a datacenter), or showing an animation clarifying the speaker's voiced description.

Use video in the right way and people will love you for it.

...or continue with what you currently do.

(I need to point out that anyone can grab a camera and record someone talking for ten minutes. What makes Slashdot better than all the YouTube teenagers who do this for their HS project? You have the intent, time, and money to do this. Do it right, then learn to do it well.)

Comment: Care to explain that? (Score 2) 247

by Okian Warrior (#49825087) Attached to: Professional Russian Trolling Exposed

As with terrorism, this recent rise of "you disagree with me thus you must be a secret government paid sockpuppet" is by far more damaging than anything paid trolls could actually do by themselves.

I'm just pointing things out and asking the question. Your response seems to be "In my opinion, it's not so".

I posted specific examples so that people could discuss the issues and point out problems with the conclusion. Several, in fact.

You took the most vulnerable example and framed it in a "conspiracy theorist" context, and used it to frame the entire position.

That's fine, it's a good use of rhetoric, but it adds nothing new to the conversation other than "in my opinion...".

Would you care to formulate a response with examples and/or references that explain *why* raising the question is more damaging than anything the sock puppets could do?

Because looking at the chemical plant explosion hoax and Acorn hoax would indicate ro me that sock puppets can have an enormous negative effect on public opinion and government policy.

Acorn was brought down specifically to stop its voter registration drives, which is on its face an attack against the freedom of democracy.

It's really, *really* hard for me to see how "be careful of sock puppets" can rise to that level of damage.

Care to explain?

Comment: Don't forget slashdot (Score 4, Interesting) 247

by Okian Warrior (#49824083) Attached to: Professional Russian Trolling Exposed

It's just about time to drag the American organized political trolling on sites like reddit, twitter, and tumblr into the open too, right?

I've often wondered about certain comment threads on slashdot. Framing certain actions as "hijacking the conversation for propaganda purposes" seems to hit the Bayesian priors higher than just "a lot of people really feel that way".

The conversations attached to Uber articles are weird, not at all what one would expect.

The recent one about California raising the minimum wage was suspect: affecting roughly 2.4% of wage earners, you would expect posts like "has no effect because costs are passed on to consumers", "raising everyone's wages make costs rise to compensate", and so on to be roundly debunked by the first person to google some numbers.

It's worse around election time. In a presidential election year, about 6 weeks beforehand we start to get framing posts - some of which are quite insidious. "I agree with him on *that* issue, but everything else he stands for is batshit crazy". It seemed like every response to a Ron Paul was that way: his immediate position is OK, but it puts the "batshit crazy" idea into people's minds with no supporting evidence.

...and it's starting to happen for Rand Paul as well.

Then there's the visibility-massaging techniques: posting an opinion that's not *quite* right just to get people to respond so that text further down gets pushed below the fold where no one can see it. Posting a definition that's not *quite* right so that people argue the definition back and forth and avoid the core issues, and of course modding things down.

I sometimes monitor certain posts and see them modded down... only to see them modded up a few hours later. That indicates to me that there are people trying to promote an agenda with the moderation system, but get overruled by the general population.

In addition to participating in the conversation, take a step back and look at the overall context of the conversation some time. Instead of just responding, think about the reasoning behind *why* the person made the post that they did.

It is sometimes quite enlightening.

Comment: Re:Useful technique (Score 5, Funny) 498

Who do you recommend as an alternative? (And did they, by any chance, support the Patriot act?)

Bernie Sanders, who voted against the PATRIOT act and its reauthorization.

Voting against the Patriot act was a good thing, but everything else Bernie Sanders he stands for is just batshit crazy.

Comment: Useful technique (Score 5, Insightful) 498

So he did one thing you agree with. The rest of his profile is just bat shit crazy.

That's a useful technique - agreeing or conceding the immediate issue, while making nebulous unsupported statements about everything else. Look to see this for the next year or so. "I agree with him on this issue, but everything else is crazy".

...problem is, that "agreeing on this one issue" seems to happen a lot. Like, for most issues.

Who do you recommend as an alternative? (And did they, by any chance, support the Patriot act?)

Comment: Is this a win? I can't tell... (Score 4, Informative) 498

The Huffington Post was live updating the proceedings, and said this:

USA Freedom Act advances 77-17

In a stunning reversal from last week’s drama, the USA Freedom Act was passed by a vote of 77-17. The bill, which passed the House overwhelmingly several weeks ago will now move forward and is likely to receive a final vote on Tuesday.

The bill fell three votes short of the needed supermajority to advance last week but with the clock ticking on controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, supporters of NSA surveillance thought that the proposed reforms were better than letting the program expire entirely.

Rand Paul stated that the Freedom Act will likely get passed on Tuesday.

Wait... did we win or not? Isn't this just a 2-day repreive?

Comment: Darmok and Jalad... at Tanagra. (Score 3, Interesting) 59

On the other hand, if no new physics is discovered, could this be the Michelson–Morley experiment of the 2000s?

It could be "Shaka, when the walls fell!"

A valid question, and I like a well-turned metaphor ("it was a wine red sea"), but wasn't there a Star Trek episode essentially mocking that sort of usage?

When out president says something is "our Sputnik moment", the Tamarians would understand perfectly.

This could be "The river Temarc in winter!"

Comment: Re:if you dont want people (Score 1) 166

if you dont want people to know what you are doing.... dont post it online for the world to see! is it really that hard???

That's a nice, pithy saying, and true in all respects.

What if I want to post innocuous things, but don't want people to *misinterpret* what I'm saying?

Alternate: What if I want to post innocuous things, but don't want people to invent subtext where there is none?

Have you ever tried to write to a public audience? There's a reason why the President's "State of the Union" speech takes a lot of effort, and even then people bend the meanings of the words in extreme ways to justify bizarre interpretations.

Waiting to hear your pithy response.

Comment: Yes and no (Score 3, Informative) 47

by Okian Warrior (#49803059) Attached to: First Ultraviolet Quantum Dots Shine In an LED

Generally speaking, yes... so long as you are still within the effect range.

The germicidal effect comes from an absorption band in DNA. This is (like everything else) a bell curve, where the effect drops off either side of the peak.

This diagram is a good visual.

Note that commonly available UV emitters (including UV lasers and LEDs and the quantum dots mentioned in the article) are so far out of the effective range to be completely ineffective.

And anything that is effective is pretty dangerous to use, so be careful taking one apart.

Comment: About 264 nanometers (Score 4, Informative) 47

by Okian Warrior (#49803023) Attached to: First Ultraviolet Quantum Dots Shine In an LED

Peak effectiveness for sterilization is around 264 nanometers. DNA has a specific absorption at that wavelength, so light at this frequency destroys DNA.

This wavelength is in the UV-C band, which is the radiation blocked by the ozone layer, which is one reason people are concerned about ozone: it protects us from DNA-damaging radiation.

Mercury emits UV at around 254, which is close enough to the DNA absorption peak to have good effect. A fluorescent bulb without phosphor and UV-transparent glass will work.

The wavelengths cited in the post, 377nm, are too long for germicidal effect. If the work can be extended, it would result in much more efficient germicidal bulbs by generating wavelengths closer to optimal, and because quantum dots are generally very efficient.

You can get UV bulbs for your furnace that stick into the plenum and disinfect the air as it blows past. You might be able to run one of these from an inverter while hiking. Be sure to cover the bulb and be *very* careful not to look at it when it's on.

Comment: Soverign debt (Score -1, Troll) 742

I'd like to hear what the economists here think should be done about Greece.

"Soverign debt is not like personal debt!"

That's what the economists on this very blog say, when discussing US debt. It doesn't matter how far into debt the US is, anyone can see this by comparing our debt to our GDP: the latter number is really big, while the debt is really small.

See? You can't just say getting into debt is bad, because the two are entirely different.

I'd like to hear what the Slashdot economists think should be done about Greece.

What the world *really* needs is a good Automatic Bicycle Sharpener.