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Comment: Sounds intriguing to this R&Der (Score 2) 28

by RandCraw (#47784837) Attached to: IBM Opens Up Its Watson Supercomputer To Researchers

For any R&D company that has a lot of in-house raw data, the Watson Discovery Advisor is likley to generate a lot of interest.

Imagine you're an executive VP in R&D in a board meeting. You receive this challenge from the CEO who hates your guts: "Our R&D productivity continues to decline. What're you doing about this? How are you extracting every last bit of value from our data? Our major competitors are using tools like Watson. Why aren't we?" You damned well better have an answer.

I work for a Fortune 100 R&D company that is *very* interested in improving its R&D ROI. I know for a fact that any opportunity to reevaluate our data to derive additional value (e.g. new prospects) will set off bells among the C suiters. IMHO Watson, and especially Discovery Advisor, is the first system I've seen with that potential.

Of course, IBM is going to have to step up its game in loading and tagging all that data. I suspect that's where most of its new Watson staff will work. I suspect the most fruitful features in data are not readable in natural language (English). Much has been summarized in graphs, or lies in tables, or in addenda. Or it's buried deep in old screening results stored in flat files that were long ago archived to tape. And it's certainly not present in easy-to-access content like online research paper abstracts.

But all it takes is one or two significant new leads to make the millions you spent hiring Watson look like money *very* well spent. And personally, I think that scenario is entirely plausible.

Comment: The Seventh Wave of Computing has Ebbed (Score 1) 171

by RandCraw (#47468761) Attached to: Is the Software Renaissance Ending?

This pattern of ebb and flow in the tech world is nothing new. Every decade brings a computing novelty which invites revolutionaries who rethink the user experience. The universe seems to expand. All the developers get excited, jump on the bandwagon, and revel in the myriad possibilities -- for as long as the high lasts. Now the latest bandwagon has slowed and the Next Next Big Thing seems far far away...

1977 brought us the personal computer. 1984 was GUIs and WYSIWYG computing. 1988 was the network (and email and AOL and Usenet). 1994 was the web. 2008 was smartphones. 2010 was social computing. 2012 was The Cloud.

But 2014 is... dullsville. Sherlock is bored. Get used to it. This is the game that never ends.

Comment: Re:Abrupt transitions in optical flow? (Score 1) 78

I suspect most events like you describe probably would occur too quickly for conventional cameras to capture, but I see your point. It seems to me that kind of mition would have to take the form of a percussive force that arises without visible warning -- like the launch of an explosive powered bullet, and unlike the launch of a golfball being struck by a moving golf club that rapidly approached the stationary ball before making contact. And as you suggest, I doubt the firing of a bullet is the kind of motion seen most often in videos.

I suspect the vast majority of conventional motion sequences follow a path of 1) slow accel followed by slow decel (providing little clue as to directon of time), or 2) slow accel followed by fast decel (something that occurs often in forward moving time sequences, as a moving object is stopped suddenly by an impact). Thus path #2 is probably frequent enough and visible enough to be the anomaly that lets Freeman's group recognize the backward passage of time.

Comment: Abrupt transitions in optical flow? (Score 3, Informative) 78

Dr Freeman spoke about this work at CVPR this week. In the videos I saw he identified small markers of temporal transition as indicative of moving forward or backward. Those they labeled as backward appeared to recognize asymmetric movement -- as in gradual acceleration followed by sudden deceleration as uniquely forward flow (as when a hand swings down and strickes a table top) -- an asymmetry that cannot occur in reverse (as in sudden acceleration followed by gradual deceleration).

Dr Freeman did not propose this as the causal phenomenon in question, but that made the most sense to me in light of the motions he identified as evidence for backward motion.

Comment: Re:A Small Victory (Score 2) 173

by RandCraw (#47221871) Attached to: The Government Can No Longer Track Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant

FISA is strictly a federal warrant court. Local police and prosecutions don't use it. This ruling applies principally to local police conduct and evidence, secondarily to federal police conduct and evidence.

Yes, the FBI could still rely on FISA's rubber stamp. But county mounties can't. And it's the sheer number of the latter which pose the greater threat.

Comment: Re:Does a laser pointer have any noticeable effect (Score 1, Insightful) 264

Yep. Precisely how many planes has any laser brought down so far? Have lasers become a standard military weapon yet? If so I'd expect to see Al Caida and the Taliban routinely using laser pointers to crash US aircraft. But oddly enough, we don't...

Let's get real. Is a laser pointer a mile away going to disable both of a pilots eyes? AND both of a copilot's eyes? And how long were you blinded when a supermarket checkout scanner laser last caught your eye? Did you crash your shopping cart? Did you call in the FBI?

This mountain is such a molehill. It makes me wonder why the FBI is overselling this schtick so hard. It's easier than working for a living, I guess.

Comment: Rebound (Score 1) 154

by RandCraw (#47062091) Attached to: Agree or Disagree: We are in another tech bubble.

We're seeing an upswing in the tech economy because the world economy has been depressed since it was shot in the chest by Wall Street in 2008. Enough time has now passed (6 years) that the need to replenish neglected IT infrastructure has finally overcome the blind dumb fear of robotic C suiters. That and they're tired of listening to the shrieks of B suiters that they're sick of struggling along with only half the tech staff they really need.

(On a related note, last year's upswing in US stock values was due *not* to US economic growth but to investor flight from risk, away from stocks in developing countries and back into safe US blue chips.)

Comment: NSA understands NO only when you shout (Score 2) 284

by RandCraw (#47059079) Attached to: White House Pressures Legislators Into Gutting USA FREEDOM Act

Unless this law explicitly and forcefully disallows bulk warrantless data collection of the public, NSA's top creeps (like Clapper and Alexander) and unprincipled gov't lawyers (like John Yoo) most certainly will crush the Constitution underfoot at their earliest convenience.

Anything else is just rearranging deck chairs...

Comment: Re:Cybernetic man? (Score 1) 29

by RandCraw (#47049285) Attached to: How the Emerging Science of Proteotronics Will Change Electronics

Good point. Self destruction of errant (or sabotaged) mobile e-devices seems like a very good idea.

Maybe these bacteria could be programmed with a specific behavior, like follow a signal to travel to a specific part of the body, then measure something or deliver a payload. Then self-destruct.

Sounds like "Fantastic Voyage"...

Comment: Cybernetic man? (Score 2) 29

by RandCraw (#47046655) Attached to: How the Emerging Science of Proteotronics Will Change Electronics

If e-proteins can augment electronic devices biologically, can they also augment biological systems electronically? They seem like a natural interface between biological and electrical materials -- perfect for constructing a cyborg. Or if made small enough, they could bypass DNA to synthesize (or inhibit) the right proteins at just the right time, thereby curing disease.

You could basically rewire and/or reprogram any part of an organism at any level: subcellular (e.g. metabolic control networks), tissue, immune, neural, etc. You could add intelligent controls where there are none or override controls already present.

This kind of thing also seems an ideal medium for building junctions between nerves and muscles.

Comment: Strunk & White: The Elements of Style (Score 5, Interesting) 352

by RandCraw (#47004701) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Should Every Programmer Read?

The best preparation for becoming a good programmer (or scientist or engineer) is to learn how to organize your thoughts and then address only what is necessary and sufficient to accomplish a given task.

I know no book that teaches clarity of thought better than Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style". Clear writing and great coding share a common wellspring.

Comment: The fact is OK, but a link to the fact is not? (Score 1) 199

by RandCraw (#46990077) Attached to: EU Court of Justice Paves Way For "Right To Be Forgotten" Online

If someone wants to escape their past, they need to get a retraction of the DATA itself, not all links to the data.

In the case oif the spaniard who wanted his bankruptcy to go unnoticed, he needs to get the owner of that factoid to remove it. If the fact remains online, then it's most certainly *not* someone else's responsibility to route others around the minefield you've laid.

This ruling is censorship, pure and ugly.

Comment: Re:Unfortunately, no. (Score 1) 138

by RandCraw (#46955011) Attached to: The Struggle To Ban Killer Robots

1) Yes. The decision to fire the weapon and authorize lethal force is discrete and binary. That is indeed well defined. By launching it, arming it, and ordering it to engage the "enemy" you have made the decision to kill. Any human private who kills without prior authorization to engage is in violation of the rules of combat. Authorizing him/her to kill *is* the issue here.

2) ??? The technique of projecting force is irrelevant. It's the *authorization* of of autonomous dispatch of lethal force that's the issue.

3) Yes, of course requiring a human to authorize a kill certainly can be implemented. This isn't part of an arms race. It's just a new aspect of any military's "rules of engagement". It's no different from the Geneva Convention's rules on treatment of prisoners of war, or banning the use of chemical or biological (or nuclear) weapons.

Comment: Re:Machine logic (Score 1) 138

by RandCraw (#46954921) Attached to: The Struggle To Ban Killer Robots

Why is the cost of one of today's (dumb) Tomahawks relevant? It can't order itself to self destruct. And I can't believe any have ever been ordered (by a human) to self destruct, without *somebody* being busted several ranks.

What's more, an fully autonomous Tomahawk is going to cost a good deal more than $1.45 million. Nobody inferior to a colonel is going to pop that cork, and certainly not the missile itself.

No. That scenario still misfires.

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley