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Comment There's some big philosophical differences. (Score 4, Insightful) 243

Evil, outside of special pleading for a particular belief system, is usually framed in terms of actively choosing the harm of others (even if it is masked in deniability). There's some very important meaning in 'don't be evil' that I always liked. Even if some evil is deemed unavoidable by sheer weight of circumstances in life, the general policy should still be to avoid it if at all doable, by any philosophy I'd respect..

"Do the right thing", however, is utterly subjective. Genocide can be seen as the right thing, by a great many, many belief systems, as could complete elimination of all other belief systems. Complete stagnation lies down most 'pure' roads. Utter evil, the complete willingness to harm others at a whim, is constantly 'justified' in the name of most ideals taken in isolation.

I suppose that's a problem with business groups though - the more people involved, the more push to 'optimize' towards some ideal that gets so important, that 'evil' is no longer a limitation. All groups do evil, because there are people involved, but most businesses seem to become blind to their own evil as they grow, until they specialize in mostly doing that evil. Well, until those outside the group start reacting to their actions, then they seem to asymptotically bounce against, and push out the ethical line.

Fortunately, the end result isn't so horrible, by most standards, basically ever measurable aspect of culture has reliably improved over time, from freedom, to intelligence scales, to health and others - but it's just interesting how groups specialize and play such strange roles.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Re:I find this mostly true, some mixed causation.. (Score 0) 86

>>Definitely seemed a physical thing rather than a physical one.

Meant phyical rather than a mental one. I must reiterate - I am rather sleepy today - still can't get a nap going, and am now in that stage of the day where it's better to wait for night at this point. Thus, slashdot.

Ryan Fenton

Comment I find this mostly true, some mixed causation... (Score 0) 86

Most of the colds I've encountered have made it significantly more difficult to sleep. That's actually why I'm home today - taking a rare sick day for an otherwise symtomless cold that just left me 'static-y' without letting me really sleep. No nagging mental troubles, no troubles previous nights, no cough, no caffeine or diet issues I could tell - just a steady heartbeat/mental state that wouldn't actually trigger a proper dream state all night. Had earplugs, sleeping mask, and a nice zen state to dismiss any stray distractions - just resulted in a lightly relaxed trip to dawn. Definitely seemed a physical thing rather than a physical one

I can definitely picture a virus/bacteria amongst trillions in a body focusing on this approach in order to create a niche to reproduce in. Just got to trigger/immitate one signal pathway, and boom, whole body is weakened, and the body is all too happy to play 'security theater' in order to be careful.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Expect a LOT more of this stuff... (Score 5, Interesting) 381

Due to a new technique called "CRISPR-Cas9", there's been a whole lot of rapid development on the gene-identification front, and likely to be an explosion of new ones in coming months/years.

It's definitely being used here: Linky.

Likely lots of half/false leads will also come out of all this too, but thanks to all this, we're getting a lot further into exploring the whole nature/nurture beyond simple debating points, and I think it's all amazing and interesting.

Ryan Fenton

Comment That's mostly just the US. (Score 1, Insightful) 786

In most places outside the US, science isn't accepted as something that can be so casually threatened by special interests working against all objectively observable sources of information.

I've been following the wider skeptical movement here in the US for a while now. Perhaps earlier on (over a decade ago), challenges to the scientific consensus on things like global warming had some legitimacy as a real movement - but by now, it really is just a shill movement. Every existing doubt remaining is NOT in terms of the science being wrong, but rather which implication of the science is most correct. Yes, you can always find a theory or person willing to speculate in any direction you want - but nothing that still constitutes a challenge to the science of global warming anymore. It's observed from space, observed from dozens of major lines of evidence, observed from all known history we can trace, observed from watching other planets, and passes every known line of meta-analysis that uses an actual scientific process.

It's only here in the US (or perhaps OPEC nations) that none of that really ends up mattering to what a person at random gets to hear. Don't get me wrong - nowhere is science really reported without a million biases, just the same as no scientist or agency perfect - but we really do distort our science reporting with a huge amount of false controversy. It's just painful to see how much of that twisted interpretation of so much science so heavily represented in so many of these slashdot stories.

And so often,l it's from the libertarian side, which also weirds me out - again, I come in as a close follower of the skeptical movement (got a JREF card in my wallet), which is filled to the brim with libertarian ideals. It weirds me out, because in order to have a meaningfully free society, it seems absurd that the overwhelming push is to close off so much from objective observable truth, and to use the constant barrage of logical fallacies so rampant in the global warming denial popularizers toolset.

Honestly, just follow more lines of evidence, in just about any direction you want - the pattern of global warming, and it's predictable (if chaotic at some scales) effects are as much a science as anything I've seen. The studies themselves come from all sorts of people - but they all get to the same places in wonderfully surprising ways, and the overall picture is rather resilient by this point. Skepticism should mean looking for truth, eliminating where we're lying to ourselves, and at this point, the only folks consistently lying have been the folks in steadfast and unobserving denial.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Makes sense... (Score 0) 63

Still low compared to college dorm/cheap apartment ratio of about 10 years ago - those folks are spreading out, and spreading expectations.

We sometimes see ideas spreading 'virally', but really, largely shared ideas are often established generationally - the 'viral' ideas are usually just those ideas exposing and exploiting those slowly growing generational ideas that have been growing as people's desires and needs shift.

Wifi is an expression of this expanding set of generations desire to be ever connected to faster information and resources through computers.

It's a neat time to have grown up in - and I don't think we've fully imagined all the places we can go with it.

It's sort of a 'real' version of the previous generation's largescale exploration of meditation, medication and spirituality, only made consistent, shareable, but oddly balkanized. For instance, there's still awesome music involved in all of it, but more sort of everyone's flavor of the month, and seemingly fewer universal classics than previous generations.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Cause/Effect? (Score 3, Interesting) 63

Sounds like generalized damage to white blood cells they're detecting. It's my understanding that "cancers" of a sort kind of exist in pockets in most everyone - they're just not the sort that get aggressive and kill people, because those mutant pockets just don't break enough of the rules of good cell conduct yet to count as a notable risk.

My big issue with the methodology is that when anyone has already detectable active cancer, they usually are on chemo, or too sick to stop the progress... both of which will cause generalized damage to the body's defenses. If they can reliably distinguish the kinds of damage though, that would be a nice development.

Even as it is stated, sounds useful to help distinguish some symptoms from cancer perhaps - but it seems this could also correlate with radiation damage or other generalized damage too. Cool study all the same - perhaps may help lead to cheaper or more automated screening at some level.

Ryan Fenton

Comment That's what I'm talkin' about! (Score 3, Informative) 79

That's science right there - all our best evidence indicates that this can be feasible, and this seems the least effort to try it. Nice plan to at least see how far we can get, before we have to revise and replan. We're testing just the principles we want to test, using established functionality where we aren't testing.

That's far more 'magical' to me, than promising another set of boots in places that won't be feasible without exactly these kinds of experiments happening first. More rovers - more measurements!

When we need to spend the big resources to send people off this gravity well, lets have it make sense, perhaps set up a semblance of an workable environment first. We can barely make earth-based closed etiologies last for long - it would be a sad excuse for a 'backup' with our current level of development. We absolutely CAN expand into the galaxy/universe - but we've still got a few mountains of puzzle pieces left unsorted still, in my particular opinion.

Ryan Fenton

Comment No accounting for taste. (Score 5, Insightful) 215

While the unlocked graphics style is certainly better for screenshots, it suffers the problem of highlighting close things, while highly blurring anything at a distance. While more 'realistic', if I were testing the game, I'd definitely suggest disabling this 'feature' by default, as it really can hamper gameplay and discovery. Skyrim EMB mods frequently enter into this territory, and it can be troublesome there too.

The headlight effects are pretty cool though.

The worst middle-finger-to-the-audience has to be the mouse handling though - it's not just mouse smoothing or mouse acceleration, but a particularly nasty form of negative acceleration from capping out the maximum allowed mouse speed, presumably to match controller max speeds. This limitation is a pain in the ass if you're expecting any kind of free or accurate mouse control. I cannot imagine any tester not making this a 'show stopper' bug - it's really, REALLY bad from what I've heard/seen/tried, and can't be fixed so far (lots of half-fixes out there though).

Ryan Fenton

Comment What?! (Score 5, Interesting) 186

I'm typing this on a monitor with 3840x2160 resolution, at 60hz right now. I posted about it weeks ago:


It's like $600 when on sale, and it works superb for coding and playing games. Skyrim/Saints Row 4 plays fine on a GTX 660 at 4k resolution, you just disable any AA (not needed), but enable vsync (tearing is more visible at 4k, so just use that). Perhaps that's just me - but things seem fine at 4k res on a medium-cost graphics card.

A few generations of video cards, and everything will be > 60-FPS smooth again anyway (partially thanks to consoles again), so I don't really need to wait for a dynamic frame smoothing algorithm implementation to enjoy having a giant screen for coding now.

I don't see any reason why you'd want to wait - it's as cheap as two decent monitors, and if you're slightly near-sighted like me, it's just really great. See my previous post for a review link and an image of all the PC Ultima games on screen at once.

Ryan Fenton

Comment "Brain signals" (Score 3, Interesting) 41

This has always bothered me with the current state of neuroscience: The whole point of nerves/brain matter is to communicate/remember/transform information, but we're still relying on crude external cues like heat/bloodflow/electrical activity to tell us "somethings happening", and that's pretty much it. It always bothers me when I hear the term "brain signals".

Nerves should be able to query their neighbors about their state, and the state of other nerves - otherwise, they wouldn't really be able to form something like a mind (as in, "the mind is what the brain does"). Why still can't we find a way to just "ask" the nerves what their state is?

Even in our simulations, we just represent nerves as nodes that grow associations - but those associations are useless, unless they can be traversed in queries by the system, to gather inputs, and send outputs at all levels.

Are we getting anywhere close to a stage where we can communicate with nerves to use that same communication system that logically must exist for it to function? Seems like even with limitations, that would be a LOT more useful than analogously inferring from traffic levels what the function of buildings in a city are, like we're doing now.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Hasn't this happened a bunch of times? (Score 5, Interesting) 432

Just googling a few seconds brought me to:

This article about cleverbot., which also eeked out enough votes to 'pass' a turing test.

It's all sounds just like Eliza, just put into a character with enough human limitations that you'd expect it not to string together phrases well, or keep to one topic more than a sentence.

I'd interpret it basically as an automated DJ sound board with generic text instead of movie quotes - you can certainly string a lot of folks along with even really bad ones, but that speaks more to pareidolia than anything else.

I'd classify this stage of AI closer to "parlour trick" than "might as well be human" that a lot of people think of when they hear Turing test - but that's also part of the test, to see what we consider to be human.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Samsung UD590 is nice... (Score 5, Interesting) 207

I got it recently, and it's got 4k at 60FPS, in a 28" size - great for programming.

Review link

Just to try it, I was able to get all the single-player PC Ultima games running in about half the screen real estate:


It's around $600 when its on sale, so I think it just about matches the model slashvertised here.

Ryan Fenton

Comment Aperture Science (Score 3, Interesting) 92

We do what we must - because we can!

Neat design - always liked the kind of foil origami that goes into satellite construction. Designs like this are great, because they compete well against heavier designs to create a de-facto specialized GIANT EYE IN SPACE. They're also seem a little, ahem, short-sighted in the sense that they may not last long against various sources of degradation, but as proof of concept, this is great science!

It's always cool to see the science get done, for the people who are still alive!

Ryan Fenton

Mommy, what happens to your files when you die?