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

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?

Comment: What about drone squadron commanders? (Score 1) 298 298

Are the drone squadron commanding officers burning out too? It seems likely that they share the same high stress and poor prospects for promotion as their pilots. You have to wonder then, how far up the chain of command does this problem extend? And therefore, will we have to auotmate not only the pilots, but the next two higher levels of command as well, perhaps up to base commander?

Of course, if we do, the command to take each kill shot will have to be fully automated, since no colonel-level commander will have enough time to call all the shots across multiple squadrons and dozens of drones.

How far up the chain will robots go?

Comment: The Future of Top Gear: HBO or Film (Score 2) 662 662

The best outcome for everyone (but the BBC) is for all three hosts to go to another network and set up shop there. Call the new show anyhthing you like. The magic of Top Gear lies in the hosts, not the network. And Lord Knows, not the BBC.

Top Gear is the most popular TV show in history, with over 350 million viewers worldwide. There is no way in hell the show will fade away. Or the cast. There is no way Clarkson can be replaced, successfully. Fair or not, many viewers would see May and Hammond as traitors. The two will quickly realize they would be insane to stay, especially given their other (much more lucrative) options. So they will go too, probably to rejoin Clarkson at a network of their choosing, where they have *much* better support and artistic freedom. And hot food.

Clarkson was paid a measly $1.5M/year by the BBC. He can make more money per *episode* at a real network. It's plain from his recent shenanigans that Clarkson has been eager to rewrite his contract with the BBC for some time now. The only question is how soon Hammond and May follow Clarkson's example and head for greener pastures.

Bet on it.

Comment: Constitutional Amendment (Score 1) 239 239

The 4th and 5th amendments are not enough to assure personal freedom from search in the digital & wireless age. Only an amendment to the constitution that spells out this freedom can prevent it's continued abuse.

We must decide how much freedom we want to give up in order for law enforcement to investigate / prevent terrorism. We could draw a line between the enforcement agencies, preventing trickle down of personal info that is unrelated to terrorism. Or we could outlaw the gathering of this info entirely. But only a definitive constitutional amendment can compel all authorities and future presidential administrations to stay within boundaries that are sufficiently clearly marked to prevent routine abuses.

Comment: Mercury and Atomic Browser (Score 4, Informative) 223 223

Both browsers are cheap and will block most ads. I've used Atomic for the past several years as my primary browser on my iPhone 4 and 5s, iPad 3, and iPad Mini retina, and it has worked very well on all. The browser is very configurable and makes much better use of small real estate than Safari. It's very rare that Atomic has let me down or that I have to fall back to using Safari or Chrome (maybe twice a year?).

I've used Mercury less than Atomic, but only because Atomic has worked well. The little I have used Mercury, I've had no complaints.

Alas there's precious little company support or user community for Atomic. If Mercury turns out to be better for this, I might be willing to switch.

Comment: Re:Anyone else concerned? (Score 1) 164 164

Yes, absolutely I'm concerned. The radiologist got it wrong in assessing the tumor to have grown. That's so important to a cancer patient as to be an unpardonable sin.

But given the hodgepodge of modern medical testing, it's not terribly surprising. Clinical CT or MR images often have low resolution or voxels that are anisotropic (usually, longer head-to-toe than side-to-side). When comparing two images with differing resolutions, voxel shapes, or subject poses, two images can be difficult to compare.

That said, recommending surgery based on a mistaken read of an image is something I would *definitely* be concerned about. But that's why we get second opinions.

Comment: Caches, threading, SIMD/GPUs, and floating point (Score 1) 180 180

I haven't seen the article or video. But for 99% of developers, I'd say the only CPU-level changes since the 8086 that matter are caches, support for threading and SIMD, and the rise of external GPUs.

Out-of-order scheduling, branch prediction, VM infrastructure like TLBs, and even multiple cores don't alter the programmer's API significantly. (To the developer/compiler, multicore primitives appear no different than a threading library. The CPU still guarantees microinstruction execution order.)

Some of the compiler optimization switches have become more complex, and perhaps a few coding idioms are now deprecated/encouraged so that compilers better understand what you intend (so you don't make their job unnecessarily harder).

But overall, almost all developer techniques don't benefit from changes to CPU microarchitecture after 1990, aside from caches, SIMD, and GPUs.

And of course, ever since the 80486 (1989), all CPUs support floating point instructions.

Comment: Re:Streisand Effect and Mohammad cartoons (Score 2) 512 512

If there had been a major outcry from Muslims, how would you know? Are you attuned to their media?

Do you imagine most Muslims belong to sopme sort of large collective whose spokesman appears before media outlets to make official pronouncements? AFAIK, they don't. Aside from Catholics and the Pope, neither do Christians.

What's more, do you imagine that Muslims speak with one voice on most issues? When's the last time Christians agreed on anything?

I know a few muslims in the US. They tend not to be that outspoken about their beliefs, probably out of fear of intolerance. Like yours.

('Archangel Michael'? Really? How old are you?)

Comment: Re:Tim Cook is an MBA (Score 5, Interesting) 598 598

There's a wonderful article "The Case Against Credentialism" by James Fallows in the The Atlantic (1985) which reads as if it were written today:

It assesses professional degrees like MBAs as being inherently worth next to nothing, essentially serving a broken agenda in which our highly credentialed leaders know everything about form but nothing about function. Maybe virtual expertise is enough to govern a virtual world?

Too bad the US political parties didn't read this prior to the 2000 election. Maybe the would have fielded worthier candidates (and staff), and the US could have saved about a million lives and a few trillion bucks). Such is the cost of driving under the influence, I guess.

Comment: Re: Well duh (Score 1) 420 420

A bullpen makes a lot of sense to me. If coworkers doing exactly the kind of work I do were colocated, we'd all learn quickly what forms of interaction were productive and preferred, so we could avoid getting on each others' nerves. I used to work in a suite containing only team members. We all preferred it greatly to our present cubicle farm.

The principal problem with open offices are the disturbances arising from non-team members, especially the rude few who won't consider the harm their noise inflicts on neighbors.

This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.