Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: Re:No More Blacksmiths, CRT Repairmen, John Henrys (Score 1) 254

by SuricouRaven (#49135003) Attached to: 5 White Collar Jobs Robots Already Have Taken

Part of the issue here is that history provides no guide. There have been times in the past that show simularities, like the industrial revolution, but they are no more than simularities - computers is a fundamentally new technology, and so it is hard to estimate the impact of an event that has never before occured.

importantly, many of these new jobs do not scale with population. If the population doubles then you need twice as many farmers growing food, twice as many people at production lines to make their clothing, twice as many doctors to keep them healthy - but you do not need twice as many programmers to make their apps. The labor cost of digital creation is the same no matter how many people eventually benefit from it. That imposes a limit on how many developers are needed to maintain the robots of the 'new economy.' The only jobs there that scale with population are tech support and hardware maintenance.

Comment: Re:amazing (Score 1) 279

by SuricouRaven (#49120485) Attached to: Intel Moving Forward With 10nm, Will Switch Away From Silicon For 7nm

I'm expecting a future area to be neural networks trained on supercomputers, and then written into hardware chips (FPGA-like) for reduced size and power consumption.

Not a strong AI thing, but it might lead to visual-coprocessors for robots and vehicles that can tell the difference between a child running into the road and an empty plastic bag blowing past, or a web filter that can look at an image and determine if it's porn.

Comment: Re:safety (Score 1) 110

by SuricouRaven (#49113333) Attached to: Mars One Does Not Renew Contracts For Robotic Missions

Perhaps we shouldn't look at everything in terms of financial return on investment. There are lots of non-financial reasons to set up a manned mission - the advancement in technology such a venture would bring, taking the first step towards the more distant goal of a perminent settlement, the cultural impact as a new generation are inspired towards science and engineering much as the moon landing inspired their grandparents. It's a money pit, yes - but not everything in life is about money. Man did not go to the moon to seek wealth: That mission was driven by dreams for the future, patriotic international rivalry and (more cynically) the chance to develop a few military technologies on the way. There is your reason for a manned mission to mars. Not money. Plus you'd get some science from it too - rovers can barely scrape the surface, literally.

The technology isn't there to start such a mission yet - launch costs are too high, mars-suitable landing technologies are still not well tested, and essential technologies still unrefined. This is not the time to go to mars, but it is the time to start developing the means to go in future.

Comment: Re:safety (Score 1) 110

by SuricouRaven (#49107919) Attached to: Mars One Does Not Renew Contracts For Robotic Missions

All very good points except #4. Life itsself is a suicide mission. Many people would be willing to cut decades off their life to advance scientific knowledge and establish a foothold for humanity on another world - remember the alternative is to simply die at a later date, a lone statistic, soon to be forgotten and having achieved nothing of note. Death is inevitable, but it doesn't have to be for nothing.

If I thought Mars One has a snowball's hope in Hell of actually getting there, I'd even be tempted myself. I'm good here for another seventy years, perhaps. Seventy years of ordinary menial life, or ten years pioneering and constructing the first long-term settlements on another world, and seeing the first wave of idealistic hopefuls come to start new lives beneath the radiation shields I helped to build, sustained by the machines I set up and maintained, bringing the promise of a new civilization and a safety net against the possibility of global disaster back on the old world? There would be no shortage of volunteers, and some of them will even be qualified in science and engineering.

I don't think Mars One has any hope of pulling this off. Maybe China will some day - they have the long-term commitment to a project like that, and are on their way to becoming the world's number-one economy.

Comment: Re:Mars one has now (Score 1) 110

by SuricouRaven (#49107867) Attached to: Mars One Does Not Renew Contracts For Robotic Missions

Thanks to quantum mechanics, there is never a true zero in physical probability. It's always possible the entire planet might tunnel over to a new orbit - it's just ridiculously unlikely. To the point where you can start talking about 'average googolyears between events.' But not zero.

Comment: Re:The best trick (Score 1) 257

by SuricouRaven (#49105635) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Parental Content Control For Free OSs?

Teachers use the internet to shut up the troublemakers by letting them play flash games in class. There have been some conflicts in the school I work at over it - IT blocks a website while a student is playing a game, the student kicks up a big fuss, the teacher complains that IT are intruding upon classroom management.

From the teachers' perspective, they aren't getting that one student to do their work anyway - so it's better to keep them quietly wasting their own time than clowning around and distracting the entire class.

Even bytes get lonely for a little bit.