Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

×

Comment: Re:Is aggression really survival+ for tech. societ (Score 3, Insightful) 532

by Prune (#49096889) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression
Aggression is likely to be outward-facing. This makes evolutionary sense, and is even how humans have been organized throughout their biological evolution, until the last few thousand years. Aggression within a tribe of foragers is limited compared to aggression towards members of other tribes. This makes sense, as you're more likely to share genes with those in your tribe; the effect is thus just the selfish gene at work, and is mediated through emotional connection to those with whom the tribesman has a personal relationship with (as opposed to an impersonal one) -- which is essentially the everyone in the tribe to some extent. Modern civilization, however, forces us in an artificial environment where we affect the lives of, and are affected by, people with whom we have no personal relationship and often have never met. Evolution hasn't caught up, since this state of affairs has only been around since after agriculture allowed high population density and hierarchical society 10K years ago.

So what about aliens? It's likely that any advanced civilization would have had to overcome or suppress inward-facing aggression in order to remove a significant threat to its own existence, and that could be done through various means such as artificial selection, genetic engineering, tyranny, changing the substrate of the mind from a biological brain to a more easily modifiable artificial information processing artifacts, etc. But such a civilization is still faced with another threat to its longevity. In a universe with accelerating expansion (such as ours), there is only a finite amount of energy and matter within a given Hubble volume that can be used to do work (in the physics sense), for things such as supporting life processes (this is because the expansion of space itself is not limited by the speed of light, and only gravitationally bound portions of the universe -- such as our local group of galaxies -- won't be blown apart; everything beyond will eventually be forever out of reach).

Given this, advanced galactic civilizations are competing for limited resources (energy usable for work). In the very distant future, that would lead to conflict as most available resources are either allocated or contested, and few are left unclaimed. At that point, immense numbers of lives would be destroyed by the losers. It's more ethical and efficient to instead destroy competitors when they're as few in number as possible. This is why sterilizer probes have been suggested as the most likely policy of any advanced spacefaring/colonizing civilization. An advanced civilization has little incentive to suppress outward aggression. Sterilizer probes are self-replicating artifacts sent out to eliminate any life they encounter other than their original creators.

The argument against us sending out sterilizer probes as soon as nanotechnology or biotechnology is advanced enough is that our civilization will be perceived as an aggressor and more likely to be punished. The problem with this argument is that cooperation in game theory problems such as prisoner's dilemma works well as a solution in general only if there are sufficiently many rounds (and even then, only in specific circumstances; see the article that was discussed on Slashdot just a few days ago: http://science.slashdot.org/st...).

Comment: Re:Hopefully this will be Harper's death knell (Score 1) 116

by Prune (#49091531) Attached to: The Disastrous Privacy Consequences of Canada's Anti-Terrorism Bill
I don't think so, Tim.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted an online survey among 1509 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists

-- http://angusreid.org/wp-conten...

Spend some time around the forum in question, and you'll realize it's hardly representative of the general Canadian population.

Comment: Re:Mod parent down (Score 1) 210

by Prune (#49077439) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Stephen Wolfram a Question

neural nets do appear to be insufficient to reproduce consciousness

As in the case of his other arguments, most disagree with this. In any case, I suggest looking not to physics when trying to explain consciousness, but neuroscience. This is from one of the top neuroscientists: http://www.amazon.com/Self-Com... Specifically in terms of physics, similar arguments that the basics of physics and consciousness are intertwined are destroyed in this paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/...

Comment: Finitism (Score 1) 210

by Prune (#49075941) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Stephen Wolfram a Question
Since entropy in a region of finite extent and energy is bounded, it would appear that arbitrary precision real numbers are not physically realizable (otherwise, you would be able to store infinite information in a real-valued physical quantity, violating the bound). Unless one is a mathematical platonist (a religious position), that means real numbers don't exist. So why is it considered acceptable, other than for historic and/or wishful thinking reasons, to think about real numbers in a more serious manner than thinking about magical fairies, and it's still allowed to have much of mathematics relying on the assumption that uncountable infinities are a sensible concept? Mathematical thinking about real numbers directly maps to a finite physical process through said thought's neural correlates, and so is akin to a delusion. Where am I going wrong here?

Comment: Mod parent down (Score 2, Interesting) 210

by Prune (#49075751) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Stephen Wolfram a Question
In his younger years, Penrose was brilliant and made great contributions to mathematical physics. But virtually every serious physicist looks down on Orch-OR, and the only reason you don't hear the word "crackpot" being thrown around too much. His arguments for even needing such a proposal were discredited a good way back before he even hooked up with Hameroff, when he wrote Emperor's New Mind and Shadows of the Mind. A combination of wishful thinking for a non-computational basis for reality that allows human minds to escape Godelian limits, and, I dare say, senility, is what's really going on here. Quantum mechanics and quantum field theory are computable theories, and adding in thermodynamics gives you even stronger results (Bekenstein bound); virtually everyone but Penrose/Hameroff accepts that any 'final' TOE will be quantum in nature. It's sad to see Penrose giving keynote addresses with the likes of Deepak Chopra (http://www.edgemagazine.net/2014/04/consciousness-conference/), who also was one of the reviewers of Penrose/Hameroff's 2013 paper (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1571064513001188 scroll down for Chopra). Are you fucking kidding me?

Comment: Mod parent down (Score 2) 755

by Prune (#49063583) Attached to: Removing Libsystemd0 From a Live-running Debian System

Why the fuck do you want to round a *sound mixer* inside your *kernel space* ?! Do you run your video decoder and webbrowser there too ?

Because musicians also use computers, and latency -- which is higher if you're going through user space -- is a big no-no. While some latency is acceptable, any trained musician will easily hear 5 ms latency if he's recording, especially with voice. Since FIR filters and the hardware audio chain already add latency, there's really no room for the mixer to add much. Pro audio is actually a major application for real-time Linux kernels: https://wiki.archlinux.org/ind... And saying "but only musicians need this" would totally miss the point that almost everyone starts as hobbyists and amateurs, and the capability should be there already, especially because it's not a big problem to have it -- in-kernel mixing has been available for a long time and works fine.

Committees have become so important nowadays that subcommittees have to be appointed to do the work.

Working...