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Comment: Re:How important is that at this point? (Score 1) 150

by swillden (#48030139) Attached to: Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks

Both Windows (7) and Linux (Ubuntu 14 and Crunchbang). The problem with the UI isn't with window managers or other technical parts; it's the design of the UI. The way an excessive amount of buttons are seemingly randomly slapped together in a toolbar.

Meh. I don't think it's that random and in any case I have no trouble whatsoever with finding the buttons I need on any platform.

The way dialogs and popups don't follow platform styling.

Who cares? Okay, so it's prettier if it follows the platform styling, but the style has no impact on usability.

The way it defaults to a multi-window environment.

This is only a problem if you lack a good window manager with proper focus-follows-mouse behavior. On Linux, I prefer the multi-window environment. It's much more flexible, especially if your workflow includes needing to interact frequently with other apps.

Comment: Re:free will is not a religious idea (Score 1) 88

"no" is the answer, if you use legal definitions of 'free will' (or concepts similar to in practice)


ook, we're just going to have to agree to disagree about how actually feasable what you describe really's just so far out really is, from an engineering and psychology perspective, about as likely as humans being able to travel across the whole universe and through time

Nonsense. There is a fundamental difference between something that is barred by the laws of physics and something that is perfectly possible, but just beyond our current ability. Oh, it's possible that we'll discover new physics that make supralight and time travel possible (it's even possible that the same discovery will enable both), but it's more likely, I think, that both are simply disallowed by the laws of nature.

Construction of brains, however, is incontrovertibly not barred by any physical laws... because it's done many times every day.

if what you describe ever really is even on the horizon and we see that it may be done, then, IMHO, we can have a reason to have this debate for real

I don't think it's far off at all. I suspect that we'll understand and be able to construct artificial intelligence before we can replicate a human brain, but I don't think either is more than 100 years away.

idk if humans would even still be 'human' in an evolutionary sense by the time we could do what you describe

It's perfectly conceivable that we'll have achieved sufficient mastery of genetic engineering to begin modifying ourselves in non-trivial ways by then, so you may be right. But this, also, is not so far away.

Comment: Re:I have an idea (Score 1) 146

by swillden (#48027703) Attached to: Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X

This sounds needlessly complicated. Let's just each do what we can for others in, say, seven hours on four days of every week, and leave the rest to our leisure.

So... you're suggesting that we apply the open source notion of "everyone works on what interests them" to all productive labor? While I'm a big fan of open source, that approach has real and obvious problems. Are you going to volunteer to maintain the sewage treatment plants?

Comment: Re:How important is that at this point? (Score 1) 150

by swillden (#48027457) Attached to: Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks

I can just about manage to get things done in GIMP, but it's not a pleasure; the UI is an utter mess.

On what platform?

I find that GIMP's UI is just fine with a proper window manager. On OS X it's very painful, though, and I would expect the same on Windows (dunno, I haven't used Windows in about 15 years).

Comment: Re:It's sad (Score 1) 383

Actually, they made it COVERT. They have other ways of finding your real name. Like, say, automatically parsing your emails. Or buying your name from the telco which provides your phone service.

You're assuming that getting your real name for their own use was ever Google's goal. I see no justification for that assumption. Even if you assume that Google cares to know your real name, those other options aren't new.

Comment: Re:It's true (Score 1) 256

by swillden (#48022353) Attached to: Former GM Product Czar: Tesla a "Fringe Brand"

It's a fringe brand in that Ferrari is a fringe brand.

Yes, but I think BMW and Mercedes are better comparisons, at least with respect to price range.

I don't think most people wouldn't want one but I don't know a soul who has one. Very few have seen them.

I know several people who have Teslas, but no one with a Ferrari. I've not only seen, but test-driven a Tesla, but not a Ferrari. In fact, assuming you're not in a state that is making Tesla's life hard, getting a Tesla test drive is easy. A Ferrari, not so much.

Comment: Re:Google is pretty good here (Score 1) 42

by swillden (#48020919) Attached to: EU Gives Google Privacy Policy Suggestions About Data Protection

"Hey Joe, you bought those slippers for your wife yesterday, and we've passed this information to the following companies: Nike, Kmart, and Nike has bought an ad to show you a pair of women's tennis shoes at $99.95 tomorrow night when you're reading CNN, Kmart has bought your online purchasing history for the last two weeks, which includes the groceries you bought, the 50m of rope you got last sunday, and the timings of your drive home every monday. Kink has subscribed to your google account update feed, which includes realtime alerts any time you buy bondage related products in the next 6 months, because we told them about the 50m of rope and the average amount you spend monthly on non-essentials."

Google doesn't give any of your information to any advertisers, so a statement of this sort would be empty.

I think it would be really good for everyone, including Google, if Google could find a way to make this point clear to everyone. Google sells ad placement, not user information. Advertisers don't get to control who sees their ads; they don't even have much capability to target specific demographics. Instead, they rely on Google to do the targeting which works well because (a) Google is better at it then advertisers would be anyway, (b) advertisers don't pay except when the user clicks (speaking of adwords here; there's also a smaller display ads business which works differently, but without giving advertisers more information or control) and (c) Google provides advertisers with great tools to determine their return on advertising investment. (c) is really what has made Google the powerhouse in this space: by allowing advertisers to see exactly how effective their ad campaigns are or are not, Google solved one of the oldest problems in advertising, the "I know half of my advertising budget is working, I just don't know which half" problem.

(Disclaimer: I work for Google but I am speaking for myself.)

Comment: Re:free will is not a religious idea (Score 1) 88

i hope we can agree that the whole singularity notion that because of some unscientific conjecture about processor speed that 'ai' is predictable is nonsense...

I agree that processor speed has little if anything to do with it. It's clearly about software. If it were about speed only, then we should, right now, be able to build an artificial intelligence that runs very slowly. Perhaps it would think at a millionth of the speed of a human brain, but the processes of creative thinking would still be recognizable as such. Then we could know that we just need a computer a million times faster to match a human brain, and that further performance improvements would surpass the human brain.

But we don't know how to create an AI running at any speed, because we don't understand how intelligence works.

look, even in this far-flung, completely fictional but theoretically possible scenario, the Commander Data is so complex that in the fictional narrative, the character is depicted as being impossible to re-create...virtually impossible anyway

Yes, that is clearly fiction: If we have the knowledge necessary to create intelligence, there's no reason at all to suppose that we will only be able to do it once. That would imply that we didn't really know how we did it. Technological advances almost never precede the understanding of their function. It's the other way around. In fact, that is the reason AI research in the past has traditionally failed: We hoped that we could create intelligence prior to actually understanding how it works. my point you have to reach beyond any possible logic to pure fiction, where it all kind of breaks down

You're assuming your own conclusion, AKA begging the question. You're assuming that AI could only exist in pure fiction, and using that assumption to argue that AI could only exist in pure fiction.

i have to admit that theoretically the human mind works and is a system and therefore can (and this is very far-flung...pure conjecture) be constructed

Yes, the human mind works and is a system... but why is it such a far-flung conjecture to assume it can be constructed? It is constructed, every day, via reproducible physical processes. It is not a "far-flung" conjecture to consider that it could be constructed via a different mechanism, or from different materials, on the contrary it is a "far-flung" conjecture to suppose that it cannot, because that would imply that in some way human brains violate the laws of physics, or at least rely on some physical processes that are impossibly specific.

For example -- and note that I'm not implying that this is the best, or most efficient way to accomplish it, in fact I'm quite certain it is not -- imagine a traditional computer running a fully-detailed simulation of a human brain. This simulation is an exact replica of a real human brain, and simulates every neuron, every chemical reaction, etc. It even simulates the quantum uncertainty effects at the finest level of detail.

Why would that simulation not evince "free will" (whatever that is)? Even if it did so with agonizing slowness. Unless you can conjecture some reason why it would not be able to think, then you must suppose that thinking machines can take on other forms. Further, there's no reason to expect that the "hardware" of brains, the specific structure of neurons and neurotransmitters, is inherently required to carry out thought. Information processing can be carried out in a bewildering variety of ways, all of which produce exactly the same results. This means that we should also be able to create thought by implementing the same information flows in other physical systems, without resorting to simulating the physical system of the brain.

Unless, of course, there is some element of human thought, or free will, or whatever you'd like to call it, that indeed does not derive from physics. Something supernatural.

Comment: Re:Some realistic space battles in literature (Score 1) 428

by swillden (#48016365) Attached to: The Physics of Space Battles

David Weber's approach for the Honor Harrington series is pretty good.

In order to make somewhat realistic space battles interesting (or even possible), he postulates "inertial sump" technology as well as gravitic drives which combined make possible ship accelerations measured in 100s of gravities, and missile accelerations measured in tens of thousands of gravities. Even with those incredible accelerations, he makes the point that the tactical opportunities provided by being able to navigate in three dimensions make it very hard to make an enemy fight if decides to run. So a great deal of strategy goes into manipulating an enemy into a position where he can't run (e.g. because he has to defend a fixed objective) or getting him to build a vector that brings him inevitably into range of your force because his maximum acceleration on any vector isn't enough to clear your missile range. Oh, and at the incredible speeds obtained (up to ~0.5c; inadequate "particle shielding" generally prevents higher velocities), passing engagements are over incredibly quickly, so you really need to match vectors fairly closely to have any sort of a slugging match.

The result is reasonably realistic, and also makes for interesting, dramatic battles. Only "reasonably" realistic, though, because Weber never explores the full implications of the gravitic technology. If you think too hard about the implications of those, you quickly realize that the fictional society is utterly ignoring 99% of the potential of either their gravitics or their power plants, or both. In that it's something like the transporters and food replicators of Star Trek, though not quite as severe. But ignoring that, Weber's physics are believable and set the stage for entertaining drama.

For fans of sail-age nautical warfare, Weber also manages to construct a scenario where many of the dynamics of wet-navy combat carry over, including, at the beginning at least, the use of the "line of battle", except that in 3D it becomes a "wall of battle". So rather than "ships of the line", you have "ships of the wall". Anyway, it all comes together pretty well.

Oh, and he tells a good story, too.

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.