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Comment: Re:Funny, that spin... (Score 3, Insightful) 344

by hey! (#49765025) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

Spin, sure, but it's a waay bigger minority than I expected. I'd even say even shockingly large.

The genius of Asimov's three laws is that he started by laying out rules that on the face of it rule out the old "robot run amok" stories. He then would write, if not a "run amok" story, one where the implications aren't what you'd expect. I think the implications of an AI that surpasses natural human intelligence are beyond human intelligence to predict, even if we attempt to build strict rules into that AI.

One thing I do believe is that such a development would fundamentally alter human society, provided that the AI was comparably versatile to human intelligence. It's no big deal if an AI is smarter than people at chess; if it's smarter than people at everyday things, plus engineering, business, art and literature, then people will have to reassess the value of human life. Or maybe ask the AI what would give their lives meaning.

Comment: Re:Truth be told... (Score 4, Interesting) 134

by hey! (#49764209) Attached to: Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed

Dear moderators: "Troll" is not a synonym for "I disagree with this".

That said, I disagree with this.

We've known since the investigation of 9/11 that suicide bombers are not necessarily dead-enders except in the literal sense. Economic powerlessness might play a role in the political phenomenon of extremist violence, but it is not a necessary element of the profile of a professional extremist. These people often come from privileged backgrounds and display average to above average job aptitude.

Mohammed Atta's life story makes interesting reading. He was born to privileged parents; at the insistence of his emotionally distant father he wasn't allowed to socialize with other kids his age, and had a lifelong difficulty with relating to his peers. At university he did OK but below the high expectations of his parents. He went to graduate school in urban planning where his thesis was on how impersonal modern high rise buildings ruined the historic old neighborhoods of the Muslim world.

That much is factual; as to why he became an extremist while countless others like him did not, we can only speculate. I imagine that once he decided modernity was the source of his personal dissatisfactions Al Qaeda would be attractive to him. Al Qaeda training provided structure which made interacting with his new "peers" easier than ever before. And martyrdom promised relief from the dissatisfactions of a life spent conscious of his own mediocrity. Altogether he was a miserable and twisted man -- but not economically miserable.

Comment: Most guys here are missing the point. (Score 1) 287

by hey! (#49763589) Attached to: Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

And that point is encapsulated in a single adverb: still. "Still" is what makes this news; it wouldn't have been news twenty or thirty years ago.

I am old enough to remember when genital equipment was considered employment destiny. When my wife went to oceanography graduate school the sysadmins of the school minicomputers were all female. The all-male faculty called them -- I kid you not -- "Data Dollies". Data dolly was considered a good job for a technically inclined woman because it paid well for an entry level job, involved computers, and was an easy job to hand off when you quit to marry the professor you'd snagged. Plus they'd have a hard time getting work in industry. Clearly that was a transitional moment because there were a substantial minority of women graduate students in the program, but *no* female professors, much less senior administrators.

But given the strong cohort of women in that class, it is surprising the thirty years later there is still a lingering perception in this country that science isn't for women. But maybe it shouldn't be surprising. Change doesn't happen instantaneously, nor does it necessarily ever become complete. When I was in college the notion that women had to become full time homemakers was still predominant -- not among students, but of people over thirty or so, practically everyone in positions of hiring and authority. That attitude seems weird and foreign to a young person today; I expect it's hard for a young person to grasp how pervasive and indeed how genuinely oppressive that belief was. It's a bit like the difference between the way I experience watching Mad Men and the way my kids do. I actually *recognize* that world where smoking was everywhere, big shots drank during office hours, and "womanizing" was a word people actually used without irony. It was fading fast, but still there. To my kids it's like an alien civilization in Doctor Who. So yes, the news that many Americans see science as a profession that somehow belongs to men is a bit like discovering a Silurian in the closet.

The women of my generation fought hard to establish a beachhead in male dominated professions, and if they're sometimes a bit snippy about it, well they earned the right. It wasn't easy to be an oddball among your peers and freak to your parents, teachers and and people in authority generally. And this was at a time when there was no such thing as geek chic to offset the disadvantages being an oddball. Being a geek was bad, period.

Now that cadre of pioneering women is at or approaching the apex of their careers. They're still a minority in their age cohort, but they left a wide open hole in their wake for the next generation. It's taken awhile for that hole to fill up because when opportunities open for a group they go for more high-profile professions (47% of medical students are women, as are 48% of law students). But in another generation I am sure the view that science belongs to one sex or another will be a truly fringe belief.

Comment: Re:Whistleblower (Score 1) 379

"Accidentally" isn't certain here. If I was part of something that was wrong and I wanted it to be known, I would very well "accidentally" leak it too.

Except I don't see how that applies in this case. Stay or leave -- it's not the bank's call. But if politicians are putting leaving the EU on the table, even as an empty gesture, then naturally the bank has to start thinking about contingency plans. That's just common sense, even if you think the very idea of leaving the EU is mad.

It's also common sense to keep that on the DL to prevent misguided overreaction to what is after all still a hypothetical scenario. The Bank of England a central bank and so people must be constantly scrutinizing it hoping to glean inside information on future monetary policy. That's to say nothing of having to deal with the conspiracy theory nutters.

Comment: Re:Yes to Brexit (Score 3, Interesting) 379

There is a saying that goes "share your wealth with us or we will share our poverty with you". The whole point of the EU is that the stronger members bring up the poorer members so that they don't dissolve into financial chaos which tends to have other inconvenient outputs.

That's actually the problem with the EU. Poverty doesn't go away just because you reduce trade barriers. If it did, NAFTA would've turned Mexico into a shining beacon of democracy. You need political and legal reform to disperse the conditions that are causing the poverty.

The EU does take some steps towards this - e.g. harmonizing product standards. But for the most part the EU countries are insisting on political independence. That's like trying to hitch up a bunch of horses of different athletic ability to a single wagon under the premise that the faster horses will bring the slower horses up to speed. What really ends up happening is the slower horses end up getting dragged along, and the faster horses end up having to work harder (e.g. Germany and Greece). You need to condition the horses until they're of similar fitness (i.e. political reform until they're of similar economic strength) before you think about hitching them all to the same wagon.

The U.S. tried what is basically the EU approach in the 1700s when it first won independence from Britain. Mostly because of the bad aftertaste of the overreaching British Monarchy, each state wanted to govern itself as if they were separate countries. That lasted about a decade before it became obvious it wasn't working, and a stronger central government was needed if there was to be a union.

Comment: Re:Non-profit revenue streams (Score 1) 527

Mozilla (as of their 2013 financial report) had $250 million in net assets, and during the year received $306 million in 'royalties' and spent $295 million ($200mm on software development, $45mm on branding/marketing, and $30mm on general admin).

The Wikimedia Foundation (as of their 2014 financial report) had $54 million in net assets, and during the year received $50 million in donations/support and spent $46 million ($20mm on salaries, $20 mm on other, $5 mm on grants/awards. Only $3mm spent on hosting and service expenses).

There is no reason that these entities require that kind of cash flow, and need to spend that much money. Non-profit =/= money spent efficiently or effectively, and the people running these entities have managed to get themselves a very sweet deal by controlling what should in all rights be a community-led structure, and dipping their greedy snout in the stream of cash flow.

For those reasons alone, I refuse to support either of them. It is greed and control writ large.

Sources:
https://static.mozilla.com/moc...
https://upload.wikimedia.org/w...

Comment: Re:It's about money. (Score 1) 289

by Steve Hamlin (#49736177) Attached to: North Carolina Still Wants To Block Municipal Broadband

Constitutionally, States are a separate legal political entity than the federal government, with their own constitutional perogatives that the federal government can't abrogate. The federal republic is made up of independent States.

Conversely, municipalities are creations of the State, don't have their own independence from the State, exist at the pleasure of the State, and the State can legislate what municipalities can and cannot do (or even whether they exist). The State is not made up of independent municipalities.

Comment: Re:Tolls? (Score 4, Insightful) 825

by hey! (#49736133) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Well, with electronic toll-paying that could work, but it would still shift the burden from low MPG to high MPG cars.

The great thing about a gas tax is that it's a simple way to kill two birds with one stone: encouraging higher mileage and paying for infrastructure. The problem is that not everyone agrees that both birds are important. Two-birders think that high mileage vehicles should be discouraged because of externalized costs -- pollution mainly, but also space required in parking lots, greater risk to other road users etc. One-birders don't care about externalities but understand that the roads and bridges need to be repaired. Zero-birders are just idiots.

I'm a two-birder myself, so raising the gas tax is a no-brainer. I'd also issue everyone a flat rebate per driver, because in fact I'm a three-birder: I'm concerned about the effect of a regressive tax on the working poor who have no options but to drive to their jobs.

But I'm also a realist. There are a lot of one-birders out there and the roads need repair. It's also politically easier in one-birder territory to sell something as a fee rather than as a tax, even though from my perspective that's an irrelevant difference if you're raising the same revenue either way.

Comment: Re:I wonder how long... (Score 3, Insightful) 50

Well, they're already opting to have damaged natural joints like hips and knees replaced. That's a case of upgrading from natural to artificial to gain function. As the performance of artificial limbs increase, it might become an increasingly commonplace treatment for older people, just like knee or hip replacement.

If we project that trend forward for twenty or thirty years I wouldn't be surprised at all to see artificial legs that outperform natural legs for the purposes of walking or even running. But I don't think people with normal abilities will be trading in their limbs just to be able walk a little longer, run a little faster, or carry more weight. That won't happen until the replacement is subjectively indistinguishable from the real thing; until you can feel the grass under your toes.

I'm comfortable predicting locomotion parity in the next fifty years, but I wouldn't care to speculate on when we'll see sensory parity.

Comment: Once more into the breech, dear friends. (Score 3, Insightful) 100

by hey! (#49735075) Attached to: US Levels Espionage Charges Against 6 Chinese Nationals

I have no problem with going after people who steal trade secrets, anything more than I have a problem with going after people who steal nuclear secrets. The only thing is that the FBI has a long history of racist paranoia about Chinese scientists, from Quan Xuesen in the early 50s to Wen Ho Lee in the 90s.

Rhwew may well of a legitimate case against these guys and if they do I hope they nail the bastards. But I'm not jumping to any conclusions based on FBI say-so.

Comment: Re:beat that straw man, beat it hard (Score 1) 150

by hey! (#49735011) Attached to: Survey: 2/3 of Public Sector Workers Wouldn't Report a Security Breach

You're the one worried about passwords that can be broken in 25 years; that's a non-issue. The issue is security that works well enough for long enough and is workable for the users. Impressive sounding, inflated requirements means something else has to give: price, performance, or usability.

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