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Comment: Re: So, a design failure then. (Score 1) 138

by plover (#47923091) Attached to: Developing the First Law of Robotics

You missed the jokes:

1. Will Smith starred in a recent movie adaptation of "I, Robot". [Minor spoiler alert] His character is tormented by the fact that a robot (applying the three laws) chose to save him over a young girl in a drowning accident because the math for survival worked in his favor, not hers. If the robot had attempted to save the little girl instead, Will Smith's character would have died in the accident and there would have been no story; hence, a boring movie.

2. [Spoiled child alert] Will Smith has a real life young son, Jaden Smith, who is widely renowned as an absolutely terrible actor. But, since his daddy is a genuine Hollywood A-list movie star, he gets to appear in any movie he wants. If Jaden was in a boring movie and a robot saved him so he could keep acting, the movie would be even worse.

Comment: Re:So, a design failure then. (Score 1) 138

by plover (#47922195) Attached to: Developing the First Law of Robotics

I would grant that "fretting" was poetic license. Consider that the life-saving robot must continually evaluate all factors.

Let's say I was closer to a lava flow than you, but your path was on a slightly more direct course into it than mine, and the robot is located at the lava's edge midway between both of us. I will hit the lava in 30 seconds, but you will hit it in 20. The robot needs two seconds to have a high probability of saving someone, but one second is enough for a moderate chance. Factoring in the motion required, the chances of saving us both is high. As you are in more immediate peril than I, it should intercede on your behalf first, so the robot starts to move in your direction. Now, I change my course slightly so I will hit it in 15 seconds. The robot still has time to save us both, but the chances are slightly lower. It moves on a path to intercept me first. You then change your path so you will hit it in 10 seconds. The chances of saving us both is now only moderate, but still possible. So the robot alters its path again to save you first. Now, we both steer directly toward the lava, with only one second to intercept for either of us. The robot's continual path changing introduced so much delay it was no longer in a position to save either of us. We both die.

To the outside observer, it fretted, but the algorithm made continually logical decisions.

Comment: How important is your data? (Score 1) 256

by B5_geek (#47910789) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What To Do After Digitizing VHS Tapes?

If you really want to save your data:

Step 1: make a ZFS array and save your data there.
Step 2: copy the data to single hard-drives and store them in a different location then home.
Step 3: upload a copy to some online 'cloud storage' provider.

Use checksums/md5 hashes to determine data integrity.

Based on your budget pick any of the above 3. If you are paranoid, do all 3.

Comment: Re:NSA probably already has this technology (Score 1) 119

by plover (#47900169) Attached to: The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

Not at all useless. Simply decode all possible sequences and rank them, ranking the most self-consistent interpretation highest. You may also have other sources of data to help correlate the interpretation (there was an article earlier this year about measuring sound using the video footage of a mylar potato chip bag's vibrations.) Even if the room is crowded, it might be possible to identify a few isolated words from the audio recording of the conversation.

The next thing you do is throw away those conversations that you're not interested in. Regardless of whether the conversation resulted in "You punched a fish" or "You munched a dish", neither is going to have value when you're searching for criminal activity. But if your streams could be "I bought the ammo so we can rob the bank" or "I mopped the jam up sorry can you mop the tank?" one of those could be valuable.

99.999% of conversations are inane drivel. If this technology is applied, the number of false positives is going to rapidly overwhelm a system. More discrimination and correlation is going to be needed to actually produce intelligence from this data. But never think that data is worthless or unusable.


US Patent Office Seeking Consultant That Can Stamp Out Fraud By Patent Examiners 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the stamping-out-the-rot dept.
McGruber writes: A month after Slashdot discussed "Every Day Is Goof-Off-At-Work Day At the US Patent and Trademark Office," the USPTO issued a statement that it is "committed to taking any measures necessary" to stop employees who review patents from lying about their hours and getting overtime pay and bonuses for work they didn't do.

USPTO officials also told congressional investigators that they are seeking an outside consulting firm to advise them on how managers can improve their monitoring of more than 8,000 patent examiners. The Patent Examiners union responded to the original Washington Post report with a statement that includes this line: "If 'thousands' of USPTO employees were not doing their work, it would be impossible for this agency to be producing the best performance in recent memory and, perhaps, in its entire 224 year history."

In related news, USPTO Commissioner Deborah Cohn has announced plans to resign just months after a watchdog agency revealed that she had pressured staffers to hire the live-in boyfriend of an immediate family member over other, better-qualified applicants. When he finished 75th out of 76 applicants in the final round of screening, Cohn "intervened and created an additional position specifically for the applicant," wrote Inspector General Todd Zinser in a statement on the matter.

Comment: I will tolerate man for 120 years. (Score 1) 74

by hackus (#47899097) Attached to: Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

There is a reason why we die.

It is the very fact, human beings are essentially evil if left to their own devices.

The worst possible outcome is human beings living longer for no other reason except to continue our evil ways.

Something has to change, and it isn't found in simply changing our DNA.

Comment: Re:Cultural Differences (Score 1) 110

Is it ever okay to "grease" an official's palm?
If the payment is only intended and only results in an official carrying out his or her job duties a bit faster (without breaking any other rules), then it MAY be legal. If the payment speeds up the process by ignoring the local laws or regulatory process, then the payment is still an illegal bribe. So in addition to the FCPA, you must check written laws of the host country.

You can find many other sources, the case law around it is a bit nuanced, but basically if you're just trying to get stuff off someones desk that should be moving along under local law then you're probably ok. Congress obviously didn't mean to make it impossible for US based companies to do business around the world so the courts have to take that into account. Since most folks aren't lawyers practicing in that area of law corporate training tends to be very black and white on the issue (this also works to absolve the company if their employees tread into areas that are dark shades of grey).

Comment: Software answer (Score 3, Insightful) 237

by B5_geek (#47890803) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Advice On Building a Firewall With VPN Capabilities?

The hardware is easy:
Either get a router that you can add DD-WRT/tomato to or build your own PC.

Software answer:
OS = OpenBSD

BUT you are not asking the right questions.
VPN's only work when 2 ends connect. So what VPN server/client will the other end of your connection use? What are you actually trying to do? Does your work have a fat-connection that they will let you use? Are you planning on paying for VPN service from a 3rd party? Do you want to create a VPN between your home and your laptop while you travel?

If you want to build yourself a solid, dependable, 'solution' follow this guide:

Comment: Re:Cultural Differences (Score 1) 110

No, this is much more than the tip style bribery, in fact the foreign corrupt practices act specifically excludes payments to officials who are just doing their normal function (your tips to get paperwork moved), this was out and out corruption to get sweetheart deals. Nobody is paying one official $600k to get paperwork moved along, they're doing that to get millions in contracts with little oversight and hence tons of profit margin. Trust me, nobody in DOJ is going to upset powerful multinationals over some greased palms.

Comment: Re:Is this the new emulator story for Android devs (Score 1) 129

by afidel (#47889877) Attached to: Chrome OS Can Now Run Android Apps With No Porting Required

You can get a refurb 2013 Nexus 7 for less than $150, it will run 4.4.4 today and is guaranteed to get L. Asus MemoPad 7 is available for $124 new at and runs 4.4, though for a developer the Atom might not work (it depends on if you're using native code, though if you're going there you shoudl probably get a sample of the top x devices you plan to support)

Comment: Re:Why is this legal in the U.S.? (Score 2) 149

by plover (#47889677) Attached to: Direct Sales OK Baked Into Nevada's $1.3 Billion Incentive Deal With Tesla

Don't forget we used several trillion dollars to prop up our banks and financial firms when, through their own incompetence, our financial system went into meltdown. These folks then used the taxpayer money to give themselves bonuses for the great job they did AND have told us taxpayers to go pound sand any time it is mentioned they should thank us for protecting them.

The only thing I would disagree with in this statement is the word "incompetence." It seems to me that any banker who could walk away with millions in bonuses after all that theft is an extremely competent criminal.

Nothing is faster than the speed of light ... To prove this to yourself, try opening the refrigerator door before the light comes on.