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Comment Re:POE (Score 1) 686

I suspect most Slashdot responses on this topic don't arise from a sample that's uniformly distributed across its readership, much less the larger IT crowd.

For some curious reason, any gun-related discussion, even an indirect and abstract variant like 'the impact of electric guns', seem to elicit a big knee jerk response everywhere in America, no doubt drawing disproportionate interest from the substantial libertarian contingent at Slashdot Central.

Frequent sophomorism like this, I think, is a big reason why Slashdot has lost many readers to other venues like Hacker News, which somehow manages to avoid political minefield topics that quickly devolve into pointless Sturm und Drang. Like this one.

Comment A Constitutional Rat's Nest (Score 3, Interesting) 686

In 1789 "arms" meant a musket or a flint lock pistol that fired a miniball, at most twice a minute. I wonder, how far from that can you go and still claim the 2nd amendment applies?

An semi-auto assault rifle? Generally legal.
A fully-auto assault rifle? Generally not legal.
A grenade launcher? A guided missile? A booby trap bomb? Not legal in the US, today.

So there are limits to protected "arms", ill defined as they are. But If we finally had to update the 2nd amendment due to rising tech, things could get interesting.

If the 2nd Amendment is a civil right, what purpose do arms serve the citizen? If self defense, and since there are many more ways to defend one's home and family today than in 1789, should we amend the 2nd to emphasize the goal of self defense rather than allow it to advocate arms as a means to an end that's ill served by the tech advance of ever deadlier offensive weapons - pistols and rifles?

Given the huge difference between an 18th century musket and modern light arms, and the indifference of regulators to respond to that difference, it seems likely that the escalation of guns protected by the 2nd amendment is going to cross a line, and soon.

Comment Weight loss therapy that works and lasts (Score 1) 311

Effective and persistent weight loss therapy does exist. But it's very hard to implement and usually fails because the process is compound and complex, requiring multiple agents to coordinate and remain diligent, and the process ends only when the patient dies.

But the benefits of long term weight loss outweigh all other medical procedures. Combined.

Comment Agreed, BUT... (Score 1) 134

Yes, IMHO paper books are usually preferable, but ebooks have advantages since they:

- can be read in the dark (or poor lighting)
- can enlarge / change their font
- allow dictionary lookup of a word, effortlessly
- can share a bookmark across devices
- can be bought / downloaded instantly
- are usually cheaper than paper
- they don't destroy trees
- they don't cause my floors to sag under their weight

I expect to buy more of both indefinitely.

Comment Re:The hyperlink WAS the message (Score 1) 114

Apparently we agree that the increased need for web content findability was ill served by hypertext links alone.

My grander point was that the visibility and ubiquity of links served the wild wild west mentality of Web 1.0 and its aesthetic of maximum content visibility and its sense of freedom and "infinite content". That's not unlike the advent of Arts and Crafts as society's attempt to beautify the rise (and counter the dehumanization) of industrialization. Both movements sought to celebrate the winsomeness of tech, but couldn't survive the growth of tech for long.

And yes I used an analogy (a metaphor, actually). But EVERYTHING shared is analogy. Says Plato anyway, and who am I to gainsay an icon like Plato?

Comment The hyperlink WAS the message (Score 1) 114

The OP is channeling McLuhan. He's resurrected cool vs hot media all over again -- the cool aging hyperlink vs the hot social site or app or vendor supplied smartphone service. Inevitably media evolves.

In architectural terms, hyperlinks were akin to craftsman-style houses and mission-style furniture: the building's infrastructure was left exposed so the mechanisms of its construction were part of the art. But of course that lovely transparency limited the architect's range of artistic expression possible in that medium. When skyscrapers arrived on the scene, it was no longer feasible to expose the inner workings of such a behemoth in an aestheticly pleasing and accessible way. The internet is no different.

With the rise of audio and video and ephemeral mesaging content, the web's infrastructure had to grow up or stultify. None of us wants to dwell online by having to dig our way through the now nearly infinite morass of net content: new, aging, old, long dead, and better-it-had-never-lived. Organization of relevant from irrelevant is now essential.

But who's going to do this? A curated web made of hypertext is not gonna happen. Too expensive and too slow. So we get the next best thing -- a hosted web, where the hypertext disapears into the architecture. Corporations invest in building virtual communities to attract content providers and consumers. Like it or not, the web's architecture grows up, sheds its skin, and moves on.

Comment Re:So what's the solution? (Score 1) 351

A sensible response.

I think the author isn't proposing policy. He's making a point, and I think an increasingly valid one. All media is manipulative. Not just the ads. Broadcast content uses a continuum of malicious devices that suck up our dollars and shape our votes and our opinions. The more we're made aware that we are being manipulated, the better for our autonomy. And our sanity.

Is there a change in policy out there that could address this in a positive way? I don't know. But I'd love to have discussions with other interested motivated intelligent folks to see if anyone can propose a better way, because what we have now really sucks.

Comment Re:What Marketing is vs. What it should be. (Score 1) 351

Marketing has to be TRUE? Do you really believe this or are you just trolling?

There is no SHOULD in marketing. Nothing in law or theory requires marketing to be true or proper. As in the US judicial system, truth is irrelevant. There is only legal and illegal. Thus by law, marketing must be lawful, or at least not so over the top that it is called out for patently indefensible abuses and lose the case in court, whatever the legal reason.

Making broad assuptions about the presence of principles in a process whose sole objective is to manipulate people -- that isn't just absurd. It's insane.

Comment Re:combines two of my... (Score 1) 64

Much is left unsaid when making this claim. If your cancer is found before age 65, or if the cancer is not localized, you absolutely will want to treat. The "wait and see" approach applies mostly to men who are closer to 80 than 65.

Yes, early prostate cancer (e.g. Gleason 3) does advance slowly relative to other cancers. But we're *not* talking about 10 years here. If you hope to live more than perhaps another 5 years after diagnosis, you definitely will need to address the cancer somehow (surgery, radiation, or hormones).

IMHO, watchful waiting is overrated unless you're in late stage retirement. And PSA screening is badly underrated.

Comment Messy IEEE article (Score 5, Informative) 64

The original IEEE story is about the use of MRI when doing prostate cancer biopsies, not prostate cancer surgery, which is almost always the radical removal of the prostate -- something that would not be aided appreciably by MRI. (The visual field is already outstandingly clearly illuminated during a DaVinci robotic procedure. Seeing *within* the prostate would be unnecessary during removal.) Likewise, prostate surgeries for BPH (enlarged gland) won't warrant MR either, since the procedure is already well served by a simple camera attached to a trochar.

The article also fails to mention how economically feasible the use of MRI would be for biopsy, given the high cost of MR in general (perhaps 10x more than CT, which is perhaps 5X the cost of ultrasound, which is what's used now). In practice, it's more likely that advances in ultrasound (like doppler) will prove more useful and feasible for biopsy than will MR.

Comment Smorgasbord (Score 3, Interesting) 203

In the Pipeline (chemistry and pharma)
MathBabe (math and data mining)
Schneier on Security (crypto and computer security)
My Biased Coin (statistics)
Steve on Image Processing (image proc w/ Matlab)
Paul Graham (computing and Y Combinator)
Lessig Blog (intellectual property and cyber law)
The Volokh Conspiracy (politics)

Talking Points Memo (political)
Google Research Blog
KDD Nuggets (datamining)
R-Bloggers (R and datamining)

Comment AI Evolution will be Punctuated Equilibrium (Score 2) 367

Nice article. I disagree though that most AI researchers are motivated by the good that automation will do. They're not that naive. I think Oppenheimer had it right: scientists want to work on projects that are "technically sweet". AI is definitely that.

But I totally agree that the real world impact of AI will be like evolution -- following a pattern of punctuated equilibria where disruption arises in chuncks as each significant skill area is usurped by automation (like car/truck drivers, then call centers, then retail clerks, then jobs requiring physical skills).

That said, once the first skill area falls that requires substantial linguistic facility (like a call center), I see most white collar jobs tumbling like dominos soon thereafter. Once machines can converse using speech and perform the simple logical deductions/inferences that humans do, would anyone hire a human for an office job ever again?

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan