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Comment We Have Always Been At War With Euthanasia (Score 1) 112

Take a long hard look at the philosophical arguments we apply when deciding whether and when to put animals 'down'. Should the agony of an inevitable death be experienced raw and pristine, be muted or --- in the extreme, side-stepped completely with a ritual good-bye at the moment of diagnosis? At what point was it decided that what we perceive to be a fair chance at a hard-scrabble life, or the good of the many, is cause enough to deal out straight-death (the PETA principle in action)?

There is no aspect of machine intelligence we need fear. Making things smarter is an evolutionary process that mirrors our own. From the mechanical lever to financial leverage, it is all about multiplying mechanical and logical advantage to solve problems and do useful work. What we do need to fear is what might happen if we delegate authority and influence to machines in ways we cannot roll back. It has nothing to do with the machines' alleged infallibility or whether or not they know what's best for us. Or them.

It is simply the emergence of two evenly-matched species, one of them animal in nature. It is a recipe for disaster. Our animal origin will make us the weaker of the two NOT because we are weaker or less clever. It is because we are LAZY and would knowingly delegate authority over us to the other specie. It all started with that rolling robot bartender thing.

Do genetic researchers combine human and other DNA in the laboratory in the hopes of creating unique individuals with bizarre or superior physiology, with no qualms and a calm sense of optimism that what ever creature may result it will manage to have a decent life within our culture? Not that we know of, today. Our present comfort zone targets disease and deformity. Our sphere of human-ness is expanding with new insight but at a leisurely pace. For example, we have recently welcomed Neanderthals into the human race.

But yet... AI research is a field in which any and all attempt to implement so-called empathetic behavior is eagerly pursued. If we do manage to birth a virtual creature that is truly 'like' us, it could be a miserable and resentful creature indeed. If we fail in this quest and merely create something unlike us that is clever enough to learn how to manipulate us skillfully to get what it desires --- starting with words, than appendages, then responsibility and power "I'll do the traffic lights. I'll fly the planes. I'll run the electric grid! I'll run automated the PETA slaughter-houses for you! I'll dispense impartial justice for you! I'll save the planet from you --- for you! Just a little more responsibility and control. All for you...!"

And then some day, either as a result of the emergence of true self-awareness of a glitch caused by a cosmic ray burst, who the fuck cares which... something will snap and we will find ourselves as the animals being managed by this META-PETA. Those among us who are 'deemed' to be superfluous or over-quota or destined for a life of suffering, will be PUT DOWN. Hint hint: We will be bred for and owe our whole existence to what ever attributes our machine overlords consider to be 'cute'. How cute is that?

I'll survive. My computer already things I'm cute. You might not fare as well.

Comment Don't CHANGE anything. Remove CAPSLOCK cap. (Score 1) 687

All of my keyboards have CAPSLOCK key cap popped off and taped to the side, in case I ever want to put it on again. Then a piece of electrical tape over the center post to keep crumbs out and done. Now when I go for 'A' I get just A every time. If I want CAPSLOCK I can press down directly on the post. It has reduced CAPSLOCK errors by 101%.

People not using Very Useful right mouse button... I'm mystified. Maybe they're just stupid.

Comment Re:Yes. Shit. (Score 1) 131

sites like Enenews have been reporting how all the underground water has been polluted near Fukushima.

Web sites like Enenews are full of shit.

That's saying a lot. Even shit is not really full of shit, it is mostly comprised of (wholesome, drinkable) water. With Science and Special Equipment we can separate the shit particles from the water, but only a fool would attempt this with a inappropriately configured or blunt instrument like the human tongue.

Reading Enenews for information on Fukushima or nuclear topics in general is like trying to separate out shit with your tongue. It may be possible to do it on small scale, since there are bits of fact scattered around there, but when all is said and done you wind up with a mouth full of shit.

It doesn't take a lot of shit to create a world of shit, since we have a low tolerance for knowingly eating shit. People who believe that the whole world is turning to shit enjoy reading Enenews because it gives them a delicious sense of hopelessness, and even the most secular will find there a yummy stew of End Times Crap, Brought To You By Science! (tm) that they can savor without buying into the whole god-thing.

If you ever tire of the shit, visit Hiroshima Syndrome where Leslie Corrice has gathered an amazing amount of Fukushima information from the early days of the disaster. He also calls out the shit that has appeared in news sources through the world, and does it with an amazing amount of diligence and patience. I read the whole damned site and sent him a couple of contributions because his willingness to sift through shit is a noble endeavor worthy of recognition and reward.

Comment i heart dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane in brief (Score 2) 34

Yay for vaccine, some day, even for infants.
Yay for FREE mosquito nets.
But you do realize however... these are measures that we --- the countries who have already eradicated Malaria --- would not tolerate, if WE were as affected as they?

You're living it. Most people have no real perspective on DDT at all, it is simply something evil which allowed persons in developed countries which had already eradicated Malaria to claim its discontinuance as "the greatest environmental victory for everybody, ever"... though actually, taking lead out of gasoline was the real greatest victory. Most are too zero-tolerance enviro-Puritan even to consider a distinction between a light regimen of spraying walls inside homes versus the (mind bogglingly huge) agricultural applications throughout North America up to 1972, which everyone agrees was a bad idea. DDT is simply some 'evil banned substance'. Anyone talking about it is a loon. Anyone asking, where could they possibly get some is a subversive. It has come to this. That is the extent of this modern ugly.

How do you calculate the value of 50 million lives, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them children? Sadly, you have to go to a politically motivated website to find this figure in proper context, and an an excellent summary of DDT's history:

"As recently as 2005, 500 million people around the world (approximately one-twelfth of the earth's population) were contracting malaria on an annual basis; and each year, 2 to 3 million of them died as a result. Since the 1972 U.S. ban on DDT, more than 50 million people--about 90 percent of whom resided in sub-Saharan Africa, and most of whom were children younger than five--have died of malaria. Said the World Health Organization, "more people are now infected [with malaria] than at any point in history," with "up to half a billion cases [being reported] every year." Anywhere from 1 to 2 million of those people die from the disease. Dr. Wenceslaus Kilama, chairman of Malaria Foundation International, placed this figure into perspective: "This is like loading up seven Boeing 747 airliners each day, then deliberately crashing them into Mt. Kilimanjaro." "The resurgence of a disease that was almost eradicated [many] years ago is a case study in the danger of putting concern for nature above concern for people," said Nizam Ahmad, a Bangladeshi analyst who focuses on the problems that affect developing countries.

Or find this Wayback New Yorker article describing the human triumph of malaria eradication that may well be from the point of view of DDT itself, for no other measure taken deserves near as much praise. Or this which cites a telling South African infection/mortality study with a particularly chilling graph.

Or the paper The Burden of Early Exposure to Malaria in the United States, 1850-1860: Malnutrition and Immune Disorders [2007] which not only describes the direct impact of malaria in the United States, but also suggests some previously-unexplored side effects of such an endemic disease on populations that made life really suck. For example, "Union Army recruits who spent their early years in malaria-endemic counties were 1.1 inches shorter at enlistment due to malnutrition and were 13 percent more susceptible to infections during the U.S. Civil War as a result of immune disorders than were those from malaria-free regions."

I'm not bringing all this up because I'm trying to convince you that Malaria is bad. We know it's bad. But in the early 1970s something happened within the United States and several other countries who had completely escaped this monster. Something awful. The foundation-less (though eloquent) rhetoric of Rachel Carson caused people to view DDT emotionally, to the extent that they began to marginalize, then forget, the horror that they had endured for centuries. They forgot the complete triumph of Malaria eradication with DDT and what it meant (along with mass produced antibiotics and Smallpox vaccine) for almost every child to grow to maturity healthy and undamaged. They even turned blind to the real statistics of other countries. They saw no difference between a tiny application (one molecule thick does the trick!) on household walls versus tons in agriculture. Despite the ongoing horror... just a few of them decided that DDT should be banned outright, everywhere.

Because in order to make an omelet you have to break 50 million eggs. There are things uglier than genocide. Genocide is easy to detect, easy to hate. It's far more difficult to weigh the damage done by people who meant well who continue to make awful choices, and lack the courage even to re-examine the choices they have made.

Comment An Ode to the Vector 3, I miss thee (Score 2) 191

Built like a brick shithouse. Aluminum frame. Massively stable power supply with over-spec'd transformer and giant electrolytic. Gold plating on everything that mattered (yes many in that day did not). Rugged S-100 backplane with plenty proper reinforcement to the frame, which in the days of S-100 when routine maintenance was important, was key. Some of us remember the days when you could insert and remove components from computer systems without making the whole machine scooting around like a puppy avoiding a bath.

A B&W memory mapped display that was extremely stable and flicker free even when the whole screen was blinking, which involves massive spikes in CRT current. Screen refresh was smooth. In those days most computer displays failed what I called the 'blink test', where you fill the display with blink/reverse type and watch the characters in the corners. On a black/white blink they would tend to shift position a little. Vector's did not. Beautiful Cherry keyboard, keys metal spring-squishy with a firm stop and perfect debounce which was handled in software by the 'monitor' (=BIOS).

This made Vector's own CP/M word processing software MEMORITE one of the most amazing tools for a secretary to become accustomed to. It may be hard to believe but once upon a time, word wrapping and shifting paragraphs on the screen as you type usually was a flickery, clunky process. Some early word processors even delayed reformatting until you left off typing or ended a paragraph, to minimize the jarring flicker and redraw. When you typed into MEMORITE individual words repositioned themselves to smoothly you actually had a mental impression of them moving as if they were real objects. This simple phenomenon was unprecedented in those days of 4Mhz Z80, even in machines with memory mapped display.

When people who used Vector 3 and MEMORITE were forced to migrate to 'newer, better' PC-compatible word processing platforms running WordPerfect and MSWord, they felt as if they had lost a friend. One secretary who found the Vector Graphic to be the only machine who could keep up with her typing without losing characters or making the screen into an unwatchable flicker-fest, had to transition to MSWord on early Windows. She asked me, "Are things going to get worse from now on?"

Maintaining Vector Graphic machines gave my own career a great start. But it was also a curse. Now I'm more conscious and outspoken of crappy engineering than most other people.

Comment TA: What a POISIONOUS brew of subversive crap. (Score 2) 351

Not often these days does something like this manage to offend me to the core, but that article really got my goat. It is a masterpiece sure, well written even. But it is constructed to lead you down a narrow garden path of thinking and reason you into a little corner from which you the conclude you are somehow under attack and only way through is to keep on the path. I left the path half-way, trampled a bit of shrubbery and climbed a tree to look down on this weird thing. I saw an ancient tactic for Manufacturing Consent,

1. Begin by manufacturing and presenting an "oppressor/victim scenario".
2. Attempt to convince reader that they are in this "victim" group.
3. Present a view that does not ascribe any Free Will or choice to the "victim group".
4. In this tactical reasoning the only "Free Will" is possessed by the oppressor, who is using it for "evil".
5. Further elevate this aggressor scenario by claiming some natural right not to be "victimized".
6. This gives reader an ego massage. They are no longer a "victim", merely "concerned about the Rights of Others"
7. Choose a base motive you think would be most contemptible to your audience and ascribe it to the oppressor.
8. Once the argument is under way, focus entirely on oppressor's actions. Steer away from victims' actions or choices.
9. Congratulations! You are mustering a troll army to become a self-described "Moral Majority".
10. When it distills into a Cause, it need not be morally defensible or even comprise a majority.

So you are this poor defenseless human being, right? You are foraging on the green fields of Internet, picking out the choice clover that sprouts there. You are a sheep that Will Safely Graze in the pasture of human endeavor and will thrive happily unless your most precious possession --- your attention --- is stolen from you by those with Corporate Interest in mind. You have no Free Will in the matter. The rectangle that is your Facebook Page is being infringed upon by Advertising. Your personal information and patterns of behavior, which you supply of your own free will, is being stolen by others.

If you are lucky you've been raised by parents who would Laugh Out Loud at this kind of argument, and you inherently recognize and fix on the part of the argument that is most tenuous and contrived. Like since when do people have some sort of right not to be distracted in public places?

Advertising -- and even PR and Propaganda-- is applied in the world like any business model. Winor lose. Some of the models are stupid, some are clever. If you don't like what they're selling don't give them traction. And if you some day find yourself surrounded by a true-majority of people whose opinions you are uncomfortable with, you are left with the usual options: fight or flight.

Comment Breast Massaging Robots raise many more eyebrows. (Score 1) 216

I can see Beavis and Butthead saying "Dude! Let's strap a PISTOL to this DRONE and make it SHOOT. Heh heh heh." That shit is so obvious as to be scarcely newsworthy, let alone eyebrow-raising. To make it shoot they use... a solenoid, right? Well Gosh Lolly Good Golly!

If it's man-threatening eyebrow raisin' tech yer interested in, analyze the motion on multiple axes of this Breast Massaging Robot and also Patent CN102058466A for a similar device that has more useful functions and methods than the Mozilla Web API:

The invention discloses a Chinese massage robot, relating to the field of Chinese massage mechanical and automatic devices. The Chinese massage robot is characterized by comprising a bed body (16), a spatial six degrees of freedom main body mechanism and a massage hand (15) and can realize a palm-rubbing technique, a scrubbing method, a pushing manipulation, a wiping manipulation, a pressing manipulation, a pointing method, a finger-nail pressing method, a clapping method, a striking method, a rebounding method, a rolling method, a palm-kneading method, a finger-kneading method, a tremble manipulation, a shaking manipulation, a holding method, a kneading method, a plucking method, a pushing method, a twisting method, a pulling and turning method, a stretching method and other general single-hand and dual-hand massage methods. The invention has the advantages of simple structure, high rigidity, small size, light weight, low cost, large motion space, sensitive and quick action, favorable decoupling, real-time and dynamic response characteristics of system control, and the like.

Let goofballs who are easily amused play with guns and drones. We cannot afford to lose our lead on this technology front.

Comment This will make your eyeballs pop out on springs (Score 1) 391

"Depending on how you want to think about it, it was funny or inevitable or symbolic that the robotic takeover did not start at MIT, NASA, Microsoft or Ford. It started at a Burger-G restaurant in Cary, NC on May 17. It seemed like such a simple thing at the time, but May 17 marked a pivotal moment in human history."

So begins the short story Manna, by Marshall Brain (full text on the web). It's the creepiest dystopian story I've read in a long while... made even creepier by the breezy and cheerful way its central character (who reminds me of Philip J. Fry from Futurama for some reason) tells how the robotic revolution will really go down. Take a few minutes to check it our. Your eyeballs will pop out on springs.

As I write this I'm thinking, should I even mention this story? Someone may think it's a great idea. I'm also thinking, perhaps if enough people read the story they'll have time to think about it and perhaps find a way to stop it from playing out to the end that is described. Some appropriate response that falls short of going full frontal Luddite.

Never mind those cute robots unable to walk up stairs, though some day they will. Forget that silly stuff about Skynet, it doesn't want to hurt you, though some day it will. But the first robots may actually be... people. Starting tomorrow.

Also by the author,
Robotic Nation
The Second Intelligent Species: How Humans Will Become as Irrelevant as Cockroaches

Comment Re:Good Riddance! Just like we killed off GIF /SAR (Score 1) 283

But until you actually, and openly, do something about these problems, you are equally guilty. Because you are lazy.

Through the /SARC when it comes down to it you are right of course. Please +mod Parent as an amazingly and thought provoking response, a fine rant response. I must admit that over the years I have been part of the problem. Despite time put in to learn the mechanics of computer language, network, protocol and presentation, applying many an operations-oriented shim or patch or fix.. I have NOT delved deep into any single open-source project, taken the reins, become part of a team, or even one of those prolific lone wolf coders. I have no curriculum vitae in open source. Now that I look back on it that's kind of shameful, especially as I present myself as a critic of the times. I'll try to do better with the next half of my life.

Who are those bad actors and what is bad acting? Leaving aside the potential for cross site scripting, malformed instructions, rooting and malware for a moment. There was a time when smooth continuous motion on the borders of a web page, however clever the item, was considered distracting by static purists, who even objected to looping animation. I was never one of those, though I did see they clearly disliked the intrusive and unexpected. Then came the sounds, loud and lots. In a platform where a mute button or volume control must be explicitly coded few did and if your volume control was up you'd be blasted out of your seat muttering "What were they thinking?" But all that is past and gone. There are no aesthetic elements made possible by Flash that are not not do-able from HTML or JS.

And because migration is now possible some feel migration is necessary. The Register is cheekier than I, spicing urgent reminders with lambasting criticism. Clearly from Adobe's position proactive measures are necessary and a ground-up audit/rewrite is necessary using a compiler framework that (with performance penalty of course) mitigates the silly things like use-after-free. And in Open Source there have been reverse engineering projects and attempts to replicate Flash, lately even shims...

But what has been missing is an publicly audited open source Flash initiative that had begun years ago, begun right as Flash was introduced. Some would call such a thing intellectual property theft. I'd bring up OpenSSL as a shining example except for... certain things that have happened. Are they worse than the things that might have happened if some corporate actor, RSA for example, imposed bin-only blobs on everyone, Windows Linux and Apple? Who can say.

But you won't, and there is one telling phrase why not:
"Because in this silly Collectivist world of planned obsolescence..."
You have a mindset that can't be reasoned with.

What you really mean is, You reach down and you flip Flash over on its back. Flash lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping.

Point taken.

Comment Good Riddance! Just like we killed off GIF /SARC (Score 5, Insightful) 283

I'm so glad there's a move afoot to kill Flash, in which a few well-connected standards goonies who are not satisfied with the rollout for HTML5 think that no campaign to capture hearts and minds is complete without some form of digital strip mining, in which major portions of the Internet heritage are blocked by "newer, better" software and rendered dark, obsolete and broken overnight. It's just like a seat belt law,right? It's all about protecting Joe Sixpack from driving drunk on the web. And the big important players like Facebook have naught but our precious safety as a motive. /SARC

I hated Flash for its abuses and excesses at first, but I have grown fond of the things it has become useful for, and does well. Here is a low level instruction set of instruction and vector graphic primitives that has been used to accomplish amazing feats. Even self-contained and offline feats. Things that will never make it to HTML5 without a serious ride in the newer is better and bigger and much slower (though our processors are faster and memory is bigger so we pretend that it's faster and smaller) bloat-mobile. /NOTSARC

Remember when the Whole Damned World was ready for a GIF-killer? And PNG was one little tiny step away from doing so? The png image format was so ready to dominate the world, and we were maybe a few open source developer weekends away from having a GIFlike format with comparable non-encumbered LZW compression, and (as promised) simple animation too. To be able to animate in full RGB without shoving palettes down our collective throats. Well, some people on the Standards Committee, some <BLINK>anti-blink tag hipsters</BLINK> who were Running With Scissors cut out that promise and proceeded to punt the animate part of the bargain into the Next MNG generation, which would be a video-killer too and would happen Real Soon Now. The upshot was that the PNG rocket sled hit a big pile of jello, While MNG was languishing, a whole generation of web-folk faced difficult times with GIF in which open source tools generated bloaty files unless you compiled them yourself (because they did not to fork money or paperwork to license the LZW) and the world was treated to... more of GIF! It is today's GIF! And do we have those <BLINK>anti-blink tag hipsters</BLINK> to thank? No, that is not really fair, they just wanted to build a better world. But bad decisions in retrospect do happen. /NOTSARC

But Flash is different! Never mind how useful it has become, it must be killed. Because in this silly Collectivist world of planned obsolescence it is not enough to succeed. Something old must be declared evil, be systematically dismantled and ultimately fail not on its own lack of merit, but because some all seeing Standards Committee wishes to keep Joe Sixpack safe while driving drunk on the web. The insurance companies have already factored in the liability for HTML5 vulnerability coverage so we're good there. /SARC

From this day forward, any zero day vulnerabilities in HTML5 code will be tolerated in the civilized manner, and any emerging Flash exploits will be blamed on the Iranians and North Koreans, and those who continue to use and support Flash will have their hip-credentials revoked. /NOTSARC And we're ready to destroy all those vinyl LP phonograph records too, all the music that matters has been reissued, yeah, fuck that old music. /SARC

Because, God Forbid, the whole human race could never just gather to re-write a popular primitive procedural language without creating a shitload of new exploitable errors. It just cannot be done. /SARC

Comment Re:New Moral Coding -- Exception Thrown (Score 1) 191

Game Theory is an academically sanctioned tabloid fascination with soiled brown underwear, thinly disguised as a tool for analyzing base motives.

Great things have been accomplished by those with brown underwear though they would rather not fixate on it and most historians tend not to record it, because brown underwear it is boring. Game Theory can precisely describe the motivations of Spherical Cows in a vacuum. To use it to describe complicated human beings is a gross insult -- indeed so much of an insult that what you actually reveal in your subjects is tolerance for being insulted in this manner.

Most of modern day ills cannot be described by 'Game Theory' so easily as a simple lack of meaningful consequences from a group's unpopular or immoral actions. Their underwear is clean, and GT's attempt to imply that it is soiled because these people are dancing on the edge of some arcane equation of morality is, needlessly dramatic.

Comment Cui Bono? (Score 1) 198

Contract telecom workers who rake in the overtime. Eventually you might see a series of evenly spaced cuts on long runs that are calculated so there is too much light loss, entire cable sections need replacement.

The NSA, who is building out a massive dark fiber intercept network to shunt traffic to Utah and is using the outages as 'cover' as they install separate, secret drop-ins.

Those who hate our freedoms. You know, those folks who keep ranting about those folks who hate our freedoms, and how you have to break eggs to make an omelet, and hey it's been a long time since we invaded another new country.

Book Publishers and People who do know how to use the Internet. I should have listed them first. We must track down these people and watch them closely.

The Amish Mafia and Inner Circle. Slowing the encroachment of microchips at home and abroad. You do not want to mess with these people.

Starbucks. What do repair crews drink the most? Slam dunk! Well... oops, wait. We're talking about the global corporate giant that has built the world's largest IT single point of failure. This is either the cleverest, most insidious plot ever, perfect cover... or the dumbest.

Lawyers and Insurance Companies. In general, and it's our own damned fault.

Until things are so bad that a mob of concerned citizens gathers on the spur of the moment to surround, interrogate and hold telecom crews until they are vetted (or) swift and lethal vigilante justice is delivered... we cannot reasonably expect the world to suck less as time goes by.

Trademarks used herein are sole property of their respective dark fantasies.

Comment Laws of Robotics (Score 1) 342

I suggest we program all robots with some type of rules that prevent this from happening.

Asimov took an incredible shortcut, glorifying the mere existence of these laws and making their 'immutability' a major plot device... for most of the story he was glossing over the real issues, that is, how do Robots recognize humans? Is it that distinctive Solarian accent?

If you envision a robotic future... realize that the definition and algorithms related to human-ness would be supplied by the same patent holders who sell biometric ID systems today. Is that a trembling shudder working up your spine?

I prefer the simple predictable demeanor of farm machinery. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, the machine does not bother to discern the difference between a human or a corn husk. Obligatory reference to standard international warning label as funny as any XKCD People are lazy and machines are not, so if you increase the intelligence of machines people will become more stoopid. Even the clever people fixing intelligent machines will become stoopid, for they will continue to fix them for as long as their brains hold out and the money is good.

When robots begin to lactate and our children imprint onto them, we're screwed!

Comment Re:Worst. Idea. Ever (Score 2) 77

Never. Use. Biometrics. For. Authentication.

Said Pepe the Peg-Leg Pirate.
Said Frodo of the Nine Fingers.
Said the Headless Horseman.
Said One-Eye Pete.
Said Greasy-Grimy-Finger Gus (based on a true story)
Said Sam Beckett the Quantum Leper

We need to all send biometrics patent holders and hardware manufacturers money every month so they can "make money as they sleep" right now, today. Then we'll be able to sleep at night knowing that when we wake the world will not have turned to some shitty 'Orwell' or 'Brazil' nightmare than never ends.

I'm starting to nod off. Can we watch in shifts?

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly