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Comment: Re:Turing test not passed. (Score 1) 261

by nine-times (#47424239) Attached to: The Lovelace Test Is Better Than the Turing Test At Detecting AI

I think more to the point, at least as far as I understood it, the Turing test was not meant to be a real test for whether an AI was actually intelligent.

The point of the test was essentially this: If a machine becomes able to imitate intelligence well enough that we can't tell the difference, then we may as well treat it as actual intelligence. As much anything, Turing was making a philosophical point from a pragmatic point of view. It doesn't make sense to ask whether a machine is "actually intelligent", but only whether it's capable of behaving as though it has intelligence.

So it's not really about fooling a certain specific percentage of people, or having the test go on for a specific point of time. Those are just issues of how you might hypothetically conduct an actual test, but what you're testing for is whether the effects of the machine "intelligence" have reached a level of being indistinguishable from human intelligence.

So really, the point was to have something like a "blind taste test". You say you can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, but if I pour Coke and Pepsi into identically glasses, can you tell the difference? If not, then maybe you shouldn't express a preference. Similarly, if I can put a series of questions to a person and a computer, and no matter what questions I ask, I can't tell the human's responses from the computer's responses, then maybe we shouldn't think that the computer is less intelligent than the human.

Comment: Re:haven't we learned from the last 25 exploits? (Score 1) 68

by dgatwood (#47420303) Attached to: 'Rosetta Flash' Attack Leverages JSONP Callbacks To Steal Credentials

How does one embed "JavaScript URLs" in CSS?

Very easily, and because so few people know it is possible, it's a rather nasty vector for cross-site scripting attacks.

Also you seem to have no idea about where the web is headed or have heard about responsive design and SPA.

I'm well aware of responsive design. I think it's an abomination, because all it does is make it take two page loads to view your site instead of one, by ensuring that I have to first load your broken mobile site, then click the "full version" link. Every single freaking time I end up on a "responsive" mobile version of a website, I find myself locked out of features that I regularly use, and end up having to switch to the full desktop version of the site.

If you need much more than a couple lines of JavaScript and a custom stylesheet to support mobile devices, it invariably means that your site is badly designed (too complex) to begin with, and as soon as you release the mobile version of your site, you're almost certainly going to make me hate your guts and curse your name.

And SPA is even worse. If your site loads significantly faster as a web app, there's something wrong with your site. 99% of the time, most of the resources should be shared across pages, and only the text of the page should be changing. There's usually not an appreciable difference between the "load the full page" case and the "load the body of the page" case from a performance perspective unless something is very, very wrong. There are exceptions, such as storefronts that use precisely the same page layout for every page, but these are exceptions, not the rule, and even then, the extra savings in initial page load time just result in a customer sitting there wondering why there's no data on the page, and thinking your site is broken. The real problem is that every web engineer thinks their site is the exception to this rule, but most of those engineers are wrong.

More to the point, if I'm accessing your site often enough to care about performance, I'm going to download your native app instead of using your mobile site, because it will always be much, much more functional, with fewer limitations, more features, and better performance. If I'm going to your website, it's either because I don't care about performance or, more commonly, it is because your native app is missing features that are only on the full version of your site. Giving me a mobile version won't help with the second case, and the first case is largely unimportant for everybody but the site designers who are trying desperately to shave off a few bytes from their data bill.

BTW, it's possible to do a manifested web app (giving you all the advantages of heavy-duty caching of shared content) without using JavaScript for all your navigation. You just specify the base path of the content directory as an external URL (I forget the details) in the web app manifest. This approach is much, much more user-friendly than a SPA in my experience.

Comment: Re:Already Happened (Score 3, Insightful) 83

Yeah, I'm a bit confused because I thought this had become common practice. For a few years now, I've seen a bunch of games where you get some special content (a different outfit, or starting the game with some bonus or special gear) when you pre-order from a specific store. Since it's different "special content" for different stores, you'd have to buy multiple copies of the game to get all of the content. Then, after some period of time, the game releases all of the special gear as "DLC", and then it's also is included in the GoTY edition (or whatever they feel like calling the edition that includes all the updates and DLC).

Is there a difference between that and what we're talking about? I'm not sure I really see the problem. These bit of "special content" are usually kind of stupid, like maybe you start with a extra bit of body armor and some shotgun shells or something.

Plus, honestly, I usually wait until the "extra special edition" is on sale on Steam before I buy games these days. Not that I would expect everyone to wait, but it's kind of great. I avoid the hype machine and get to see what people think after the hype has died down, you get all the DLC, additional content, and bug fixes all at once, and you get it for 40% off or something.

Comment: Re:Property Tax? (Score 1) 76

But the cost of providing those services isn't the same. First, the probability of a forest fire is roughly proportional to the area of land, because lightning doesn't care.

You are missing a key point. the land does not disappear if one person owns 50 acres or if 50 people own 1 acre each right next to each other. It is still there and still costs the same. Like you said, lightning doesn't care.

No, you are missing a key point. If it costs a million dollars to protect a city block that contains 50 homes, the cost per home is $20,000 per home. If it costs a million dollars to protect a city block that contains only one home, the cost per home is a million bucks. It is only fair that a homeowner in the second block should pay more, because the cost of defending his or her home is 50 times as much as the cost of defending a home in the first block. The more people that bear the burden, the less the burden for each person. This is just common sense.

Also, from a fire management perspective, the land does disappear if nobody builds on it. So that first house in a rural area imposes a much bigger burden on the system than subsequent homes. Unless there are homes that could eventually be at risk, modern fire management policies typically recommend letting forest fires burn themselves out. The reason fires get out of control is that we've spent decades over-managing forest fires, and we really need to stop doing that, or else they're just going to be worse the next time around.

Not really. Expensive homes are more likely to have high dollar security systems, cameras, and serial numbers recorded. Middle class homes would be a more probable target. Slums of course are still there as opportunity remains and according to the data, people with income of 7.500 or less are victims of theft and violent crimes like assault more than people with incomes over 75k.

Serial numbers don't make much difference if the person pawns it before you detect the theft. And security cameras don't help if the burglar knows they exist, because they'll just wear a mask to hide their faces, and park their car a block away or cover their plate.

Even things like utilities cost more for larger pieces of land, because the utility companies have to run their cables past your property to get to the next potential customer, and the longer your property is, the more it costs to do so. They only get one customer per property, so larger properties effectively raise the installation cost for everyone on your block.

They must do it different where you live. In my neck of the woods, the utility company will come a maximum of 25 feet into the property for their demarcation point. Anything after that and it is up to the property owner to run.

I'm talking about the length of the property, not the depth. And even for the depth, that's only true if there isn't a street behind you. Otherwise, at some point, they're going to have to make at least one run the entire depth of the piece of land to connect over to the next street. The cost to wire an area is proportional to the area. There's just no way to get around that. :-)

Only if you start with incorrect assumptions in the first place. But please tell me, how likely is it that someone would have a million dollar home on 50 acres of land with a falling down shack that someone thinks is stuffed full of goodies? The falling down shack is more likely on less expensive property or maintained. You see, rich people don't like looking at the trash we regular people have to put up with. The shack would likely either be repaired, removed, or replaced before it appears falling down.

Come again? As I said, house fires are inversely proportional to the cost of the home, which is precisely what you said while arguing with me....

Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 668

I think that the examples you cite are bad decisions on Microsoft's part, not because of what they did, but because they simply did it too soon.

I'm not saying that you can't drop backwards compatibility. It just seems like Microsoft sometimes screws up compatibility with older versions of their software to force you onto the upgrade treadmill, which is what was originally being discussed.

Comment: Re:haven't we learned from the last 25 exploits? (Score 1) 68

by dgatwood (#47415511) Attached to: 'Rosetta Flash' Attack Leverages JSONP Callbacks To Steal Credentials

Nobody minds CSS much, so long as you don't allow embedding JavaScript URLs in it (which, unfortunately, browsers do).

The problem is not JavaScript, per se, so much as the fact that it is massively overused, breaking links, breaking back buttons, etc. Your documentation viewing experience does not demand a web app. It might benefit from some intelligent links that do special stuff if JS is enabled, but if you cannot make your site work with JS disabled, you're abusing JavaScript.

There are exceptions, mind you—sites where the core functionality is unavoidably tied to JavaScript (e.g. Google Docs). And I can even accept JavaScript for other content on that site that isn't tied to JavaScript, because after all, you can't avoid JS on such a site. The farther you get away from that scenario, the more annoying it is. And even on those sites, I expect the developers to have taken the time to ensure a good user experience—effort that, sadly, most web developers don't put in.

And yes, I've developed some pretty complex sites that use lots of JS code, but I've always made sure that at least the basic stuff doesn't require it, to the maximum extent practical.

Comment: Today, I would never have learned programming (Score 5, Insightful) 540

by jw3 (#47414751) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

I got my first computer in 1986; I was 13, and it was a ZX Spectrum with a build-in BASIC interpreter. When you switched on, you could start away programming. In fact, the computer came with a little book with programming examples and little games. I spend countless hours typing in listings that I found in newspapers. To even load a simple game you had to enter a command.

Since then, I learned C, tcsh, C++, bash, Perl, much later also Python and R. It was a step by step process, and I would never have started it (and became what I am now, that is, computational biologist) if not for this one computer with the BASIC interpreter.

I have kids now, and they have Android tablets. The sheer power, their parameters and their capabilities are overwhelming. I don't know how many instances of a ZX Spectrum emulator I could run on one of these, a thousand?

But even though they run on a system that is related to the system I am using every day, I would not know how to write a program for them to save my life. In theory, I know how I would approach it, I even set up once an Eclipse environment once, but I never got to even start a Hello world program. If I were 13, I would not even know that I can write a program myself.

It is amazing, but I think that actually, my kids will have a much harder time to learn programming than I had, and they will get much less fun in return...

Comment: Re:Windows 7 end of life... (Score 1) 668

BTW, when has MS ever created incompatibilities with old versions for no reason? I assume you're talking old versions of software?

I don't remember what I had in mind when writing that, but the first thing that comes to mind is Microsoft Office formats. There were a few years where they would release a new version of Office with incompatible versions of their Office file formats, which meant that if one person in the company upgraded, every file they touched suddenly became unreadable in older versions. That was a few years ago, but they've gotten so much flack for it that they've stabilized the formats after Office 2007.

IIRC they did similar shenanigans at some point with WMA/WMV files, where they released a new version of Windows Media Player that automatically used the new version of their codec, which was unsupported on older versions of Windows Media Player. That would be fine, since Windows Media Player was free, except that they didn't allow you to install the new version of Windows Media Player on older versions of Windows. They've done similar things with DirectX and IE.

+ - Business Lessons from Mario and Donkey Kong

Submitted by Esther Schindler
Esther Schindler (16185) writes "As of July 9, it’s been 23 years since Mario and the bellicose King Kong clone appeared in gaming arcades and then spread to our home consoles like kudzu. Since Donkey Kong (the first Mario game) appeared, writes Carol Pinschefsky, we’ve go-carted, golfed, and liberated oppressed princesses in over 250 games. You know what else we did when were saving a damsel in distress from a large, barrel-tossing ape? We learned some honest-to-goodness business lessons.

Yes, it's silly and funny. And then you think, "Wait. That's good advice!""

Comment: Re:A better list than expected (Score 4, Funny) 275

by nine-times (#47408179) Attached to: The World's Best Living Programmers

It doesn't happen very often anymore, but for many years I kept hearing people say things like, "The story of Bill Gates shows what's so great about our country. The guy started out poor, he had absolutely nothing, but he was pretty much the best programmer in the world. Using nothing but his programming skills, he managed to become the richest guy in the world. It's a great success story."

Yeah, Bill Gates got rich by being a brilliant programmer, and Steve Jobs got rich by being a really nice guy. Meanwhile, Ballmer just skated by on his good looks, social graces, and beautiful head of hair.

Comment: Re:They failed to realize... (Score 1) 245

Even if they used it now, I'm not sure they'd sue. It would make them look pretty crappy. As it is, they got a request to use their logo on a statue of a murdered child, and they were like, "Eh... we'd rather not." It's really not that hard to understand why DC wouldn't want to be strongly linked to child abuse and murder in such a potentially long-lasting medium, given the choice. How much trouble they'd go through to stop it, though, is another issue.

Part of the question, I'd imagine, is whether they're denying the use of the logo via copyright protection or trademark protection. I'm not sure it makes sense for them to claim trademark protection here, but if so, there are some legal requirements for them to protect their trademark, so they might need to at least send a cease and desist letter. I'm not a lawyer, but that's my understanding.

Comment: Re:Management is becoming obsolete (Score 1) 159

by Ash-Fox (#47401631) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

but they can't determine that Billy Bob had a rough 4th of July weekend, and it would be best to have him do his paperwork today instead of working on the electrical junction box that has water damage.

If my scheduling system can take this recommendation into account, why wouldn't the AI be capable of doing it?

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI

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