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Comment: A plan for Bennett (Score 3, Interesting) 148

by Okian Warrior (#48469329) Attached to: Clarificiation on the IP Address Security in Dropbox Case

If Bennett is so completely unwanted on this blog, why don't we do something about it?

In the manner of the fine people at 4chan, suppose we referred to Bennett in the past tense - as if he had passed away. Make all of our responses polite and sincere, but with the assumption that he is no longer with us.

Here's the kicker: the internet works by consensus. If there's an abundance of commentary referring to him in the past tense, it'll get picked up and echoed everywhere, possibly by Wikipedia. I don't know what the full ramifications would be, but hopefully it will play hob with his attempts to get traction on the net. Anyone who googles for him by name or things he has said will get the impression that he's unavailable for comment, interviews, and possibly employment.

Of course, we need to give Bennett fair warning, so I propose the following:

Starting with the next Bennett Haselton article on Slashdot that's more than 2 short paragraphs, we start referring to Bennett in the past tense - as if he had passed away. We're going to start a new internet meme.

Pleading, complaining, and asking has had no effect and we've certainly done due diligence.

It's time to take action.

Comment: Re:It was an almost impossible case to prosecute (Score 2) 1088

by Okian Warrior (#48454925) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

We the public don't yet know all the facts. [...]

If it went to trial, we *would* know all the facts.

A grand jury doesn't determine guilt or innocence, it only decides whether a trial should happen.

[...] that would have been the case regardless of the races of each person involved.

Apropos of nothing, if there was strong statistical evidence that this statement was flat-out wrong, would you change your opinion?

Comment: I'm glad there is rioting. (Score 1) 1088

by Okian Warrior (#48454893) Attached to: Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

(Note: The decision(*) was handed down 2 hours ago and already there's rioting.)

I recently posted about a fire inspector reacting to a problem in the most dickish way possible.

The responses were surprising and enlightening. On the topic of his actions, each and every one of the respondents felt that the inspector reacted appropriately, that he in fact had to react in the most extreme manner possible, and that it was the right thing to do(**).

If you agree with this position, then it's OK for police to shoot an unarmed black man in Ferguson Missouri, or a black man purchasing a gun off the shelf at WalMart, or a 12-year old boy in Ohio playing with a toy gun.

The police have a dangerous job - they put their lives on the line every single day (just ask one), and they simply can't take the chance that a black man might be dangerous.

No. That's completely wrong, and it comes from police and other government agencies "doubling down" on their mistakes. Something bad happens, someone in authority shouts "it was the correct thing to do!", and it's echoed all over the press and on the net by people who repeat what they hear without thinking it through.

When the department says that the most dickish possible way is the right response they are alienating the people. It might avoid getting the cop thrown off the force, but in the future the department may actually *need* the support or cooperation of the people in order to do their job. This is short-term smart and long-term stupid.

We have schools teaching teenagers how to react to cops, and the take-away message is that cops only hurt people - they are a danger to be avoided

The "broken window" theory of crime can also be applied to the police. If we let them get away with these sorts of abuses, everyone in a position of authority will know that it's OK to act in the most dickish way possible.

I understand how rules exist to prevent the "worst possible scenario" from happening, but do we *always* have to act as if the worst possible scenario is happening right here, right now? Should cops always shoot a suspect who has a gun in hand? Would a more nuanced approach better?

I'm glad there's rioting. This crap needs to stop.

(*) For non-merikan readers, a grand jury does not assign guilt or innocence, it only determines whether a trial should happen. Basically, it tries to determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial. Also, it's heavily rigged *against* the defendant.

(**) There are at least 3 alternative actions the fire marshal could have taken that would have solved his problem without alienating all the con goers, the business, and the hotel. I don't expect anyone in his local area would help if his office needed public support for something, such as "please help us by sending us your video tape of incident".

+ - Activists Discover Evidence of St. Petersburg's River of Poop ->

Submitted by Okian Warrior
Okian Warrior (537106) writes "Two weeks ago, a group of St. Petersburg ecologists conducted a test in Novoye Devyatkino, a suburb about 12 miles outside the city, of the local sewer system. In a study they titled “Feces Travel,” the activists dropped ten miniaturized, waterproofed GPS-tracking units down the toilet of a single apartment home and began mapping the devices’ signals.

On their website, the ecologists claim the trackers spilled out directly into the open-air waterways outside the building, without encountering even the most rudimentary sewage filtration. From Novoye Devyatkino, five of the devices reached the open waters of Neva Bay, where the units’ batteries appear to have died."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:tautology ontology (Score 1) 68

by Okian Warrior (#48444071) Attached to: Upgrading the Turing Test: Lovelace 2.0

'AI' is complex machines following instructions. That's what it is. The rest is people projecting their own emotions onto inanimate objects.

That is *great* phrasing - thank you. It's going into my notes and will probably make it into my writings (with attribution). Probably as a chapter heading.

The situation is not completely hopeless: there is a small number of people, myself included, who are working on actual AI. Most of the research is using programming to solve a (particular) problem.

Comment: Turing test is flawed (Score 1) 68

by Okian Warrior (#48441175) Attached to: Upgrading the Turing Test: Lovelace 2.0

The Turing Test has flaws.

Firstly, it requires a human-level of communication. One cannot use the it to determine whether a crow (for example, or cat or octopus) is intelligent since they cannot communicate at our level. Even though these creatures demonstrate a surprising level of intelligence. Watch this video and be astonished.

The extended video shows the crow taking the worm to it's nest, then returning to grab the hooked wire and taking that back to the nest! Can we use the Turing Test to determine whether the crow is intelligent?

Secondly, it conflates intelligence with human intelligence. There's no spectrum of measurement, no "ruler" which can be laid down to measure the level of intelligence in an entity, or to determine whether one entity is more (or less) intelligent than another. Are crows more intelligent than cats? Can the question be resolved using the test? Could the test be used to determine which of two humans is the more intelligent?

But most importantly, the Turing Test has no predictive value: it cannot be used to guide research or development of intelligence.

Consider trying to build a fizzbin, and whether you are successful will be determined by a yes/no decision from a jury of professionals. With no description of what a fizzbin actually is, how hard would it be?

Consider trying to deliver a package, given that you have a GPS system with a broken display. The GPS still works, and the LED will light when you are at the delivery address, but otherwise you have no idea where to go. The address could be in NYC or Tokyo, or anywhere else.

The fundamental problem with the Turing Test is that it doesn't define intelligence(**). Defining something as a test works in mathematics where there is no time or effort to make the axiom of choice on the set of all objects (ie - the universe), but intelligence isn't a purely mathematical concept. It's partly based on a real-world measurement (being: information), and as such is more closely akin to physics.

Instead of a fizzbin, consider trying to build a car. A car can be defined as a body, frame, 4 wheels, engine, and seats, and the purpose is to transport people from place to place (*). A wheel can be further described as a tire on a rim with brakes, a tire can be described as a loop of rubber with steel wires and a valve-stem, a valve-stem as a tube with a schrader valve, a schrader valve is... and so on.

This is a constructive definition: an object is made of simpler objects, each of which is composed of even simpler objects. Math is full of these (a field is a ring plus some stuff, a ring is a group plus some stuff, a group is a set plus some stuff... and so on.)

With the constructive definition, one could build a car directly; or at least, know how to make the attempt. You can determine whether something is a car; and if not, know what needs to be changed.

In my opinion (I'm an AI researcher) the Turing test and the Lovelace test have little value. The tests don't show where to look or how to proceed.

(*) A simplified definition to not lose sight of the position.

(**) This is an academic position. I am a great admirer of Alan Turing and his many brilliant results, including the Turing Test.

Comment: Quid-pro-quot for journalists (Score 1) 197

by Okian Warrior (#48422045) Attached to: Is a Moral Compass a Hindrance Or a Help For Startups?

What a load of bullshit. That sociopath prick running the company is a bully. Many people aren't going to use uber because of this sunshine. Take your astroturfing elsewhere.

That's an interesting response. You are supporting your position by emotional strength - essentially saying that the poster has to back down or you'll respond into a full-blown emotional outburst (see bully).

When I first heard about Uber's plans the first thing that came to mind is "there's no law against publishing public information".

We have fairly clear rules about what's illegal in terms of gathering and publishing data. The police have no qualms about publishing names and addresses, and sometimes courteously withhold that information for the rich and powerful while using it against low-income people.

The press has no qualms about publishing data that people want to keep private, so long as publishing it would sell papers. If someone simply wishes to live out of the public eye, it's a challenge and "Look! We've got the scoop on Satoshi Nakamoto! Find out who he *really* is and why he needs to hide! (Are your children safe?)

If no one takes action to expose the journalists, if there's no consequences for their actions, what keeps the journalists honest? What incentive does any journalist have for journalistic integrity?

This seems like a cromulent quid-pro-quot. So long as no laws are broken, I'm fine with it.

Comment: How to become world class (Score 1) 111

by Okian Warrior (#48412169) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Malcolm Gladwell a Question

Your book "Talent is Overrated" is misquoted and misinterpreted in many places, but seems to say that anyone can become a world-class expert with enough effort and time.

What should someone do to become a world-renowned expert?

Can you give us a plan or list of steps to take - something that's not garbled by news media reporting?

Can you clarify a summary of the books conclusions, so that others can embark on that journey?

Comment: Re:Confidence levels (Score 3, Insightful) 245

by Okian Warrior (#48403621) Attached to: Big Talk About Small Samples

Dude! News for nerds indeed. Try using this command in R: 1-pbinom(38,54,.50). You will find that the probability of getting 38 or more heads in 54 trials is approximately 0.0007481294. There are plenty of things wrong with the lump of stupid in the blog post above, but at least get the math right.

Part of explaining something is knowing your audience.

Telling someone to type a command in R doesn't explain *why* typing that command works, or what's going on in the background.

And yes, there's things wrong with the post, but Bennett is most definitely NOT A STATISTICIAN. You don't saturate a beginner with all the gory details - you start from the basics and work up.

Part of explaining something is knowing your audience. Practice explaining things to people and you, too, will figure that out.

Comment: Confidence levels (Score 4, Insightful) 245

by Okian Warrior (#48403071) Attached to: Big Talk About Small Samples

38 out of 54 survey-takers, or 70%

Bennett, try this experiment.

Make a program that flips 54 coins and notes the number of heads and the number of tails at each round. Then run this program for one million rounds.

When you're done, note the number of rounds the random generator saw 38 or more heads and frame this as a proportion; ie - "the random generator reached this level X% of the time".

Then compare your results with the random generator. If your results are unlikely to come from the random generator, then perhaps you have something.

Now, " unlikely" is an arbitrary measure with no compelling foundation (it's the wrong measure to determine the significance of a result(*)), but in scientific circles we use a "rule of thumb": results are considered significant when they are less likely than 95% of the random results.

Even at this level, we expect 1-in-20 studies to be due to random chance, but then follow-on studies should confirm or deny the findings (and 1-in-20x20 of *those* will be due to random chance as well).

If the results might lead to potentially catastrophic decisions we might use a higher level of significance; for example, 99% confidence when deciding whether a drug is safe. Physics uses an insanely high level of confidence.

Try that and get back to us - we await your next post with baited breath.

(*) The correct measure is the number of bits saved by compressing the original data by factoring out the result (glossing over some details).

Comment: It's still a fair point (Score 4, Insightful) 49

by Okian Warrior (#48387059) Attached to: Mathematics Great Alexander Grothendieck Dies At 86

[It's not insanity... ] Yes it is.... same as Howard Hughes

I dunno... long-term reading of this blog might result in the impression that life is a disheartening, unjust affair. It's full of rights violations by police and government agencies, feckless and obstructive politicians, corrupt and predatory corporations, and so on.

To read online news results, everything is lurid and emotional. For example, the nurse in Main [who was in contact with ebola] who didn't agree to a quarrantine was in a "standoff" with authorities, the Philae lander is "racing against time" (whatever *that* means), there's a tiger loose in Disneyland, and we need to be afraid of everything so that the government can justify their purchases and policies.

Is it that much of a stretch to believe that people will view the world through this skewed perspective?

Given what we know about human psychology - for example, that people will believe what they're told by default (viz. religion) - it makes perfectly rational sense that a small cadre would lose all hope in humanity and seek to avoid it.

I don't think these people can be legitimately called insane. They're not hurting anyone, they're not hurting themselves, and they're living their own lives.

What criteria would you apply to these people to designate them as "insane", and what behaviour would you change about them to fix it? (And how do measure such a change so that you can tell when they're no longer insane?)

Comment: Black list for authorities? (Score 1) 86

by Okian Warrior (#48370495) Attached to: After Silk Road 2.0 Shutdown, Rival Dark Net Markets Grow Quickly

There was a recent post asking how authorities might have breached the Tor network.

A related question to ask might be "what can we do to increase our network privacy/security"?

I've often wondered if a "government authority" blacklist would be worthwhile. For example, the City Police near where you live probably surf from a fixed IP address at that location. We could maintain a list of such addresses and allow websites to subscribe to the list.

If an address geolocates to within 50 miles of Washington DC (or Langley, VA; or Bluffdale, UT) it's probably not someone you want looking at your site.

Anyone with the slightest idea of how the internet works will realize that this scheme will be trivial to get around using any number of techniques, but the purpose isn't to make access *impossible*, it's to make access *harder*. It starts an arms race between government agencies and an army of determined hackers.

Suppose you're a government agent. You can't send a link over E-mail to your boss at the office because when he opens it the site will show different results. You have to do screenshots or make web page copies - it's much more work (and a more complicated evidence chain).

Suppose you're a government IT guy. You have to implement VPN connections to remote computers so that your agents can surf the net properly, and this is a ton more work for you to do, and it's insecure and might open up your internal network to hackers.

It starts a competition for resources. In addition to law enforcement, the government entities also have to spend time, effort, and money to get around the additional hurdle. If it costs us little to implement, and costs them a lot to get around, then it's effort well spent. And there's a multiplication factor: each and every government agency has to implement a solution to our one system.

In the manner of spam blacklists, we could allow people to nominate specific IP addresses as being "city hall in Tallahassee" with some confirmation protocols to ensure accuracy and that the list doesn't get spammed.

You could have your website either block the listed IP addresses, or show different content.

We could make it *much* harder for authorities to gather website evidence.

Comment: Statistical timed analysis (Score 4, Interesting) 135

by Okian Warrior (#48357013) Attached to: Tor Project Mulls How Feds Took Down Hidden Websites

As I understand the Tor process, every tine I fire up Tor it randomly chooses an exit node(*).

Suppose I am running some exit nodes (as the NSA is suspected of doing). If I want to find the location of a hidden service I just fire up Tor and access an onion website with a specific tempo. If one of my exit nodes shows traffic with that tempo, then I know that's the exit node for this onion connection and I can trace the exit connection(**).

If you access the site many times, eventually the statistical nature of the tempo (in your own exit node) will be apparent among the random noise of other traffic. If you do the process many times, eventually you'll find a strong statistical evidence for the target IP address.

How many Tor exit nodes does the FBI run? How much time can they put into discovering each site? Can tempo-based access be automated?

See here for more info. From a paper published in 2011 comes the quote:

In this thesis we tested three correlation algorithms. [...] We found that while the two previously-existing algorithms we tested both have problems that prevent them being used in certain cases, our algorithm works reliably on all types of data.

This would be my guess.

(*) For the onion protocol it's listed as a rendezvous point and there's some protocol negotiation, but it's essentially an exit node.

(**) Actually it's even simpler. Tor reports the IP address of your exit node - just keep starting Tor until the exit node is a system you control.

Comment: Re:The future of capitalism (Score 1) 108

I don't thing there's going to be any kind of fundamental change in capitalism. The only thing that's going to change is the method and who gets to benefit from it.

I disagree.

Wikileaks was effectively stopped when all credit card companies refused service. Defense distributed lost their payment processor ("Stripe").

The TOS for many online resellers restrict what you can and cannot sell - eBay won't let you sell booze or their empty, collectible containers, animals, or event tickets. (Why can't I resell my event ticket if I decide I'm not going to use it?) Amazon, even Craigslist have similar restrictions. You can't sell fart apps on the apple store.

This will also put a crimp in the way Corporate Law Enforcement operates. Instead of spending time tracking down the distributor of pirated works, they'll have to fall back to investigating murders, thefts, and assaults.

And then there's the economic upheaval which will happen when previously banned markets become easily accessible. Drugs come to mind, but this will also have an effect on easily-copied data streams such as games, movies, and books. Knowing that your movie will be immediately copied and that you will get no revenue *after* it's made, entertainment might have to switch to a kickstarter-style model. Stephen king proposes a new book, gets $100,000 in seed money, writes it and sets it free on the internet. That sort of thing.

These are just the first few things that come to mind. Some are speculative, but others are happening right now.

I'm pretty sure you're under-estimating the effect that secure untraceable commerce would have on the world.

That does not compute.

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