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Comment: Re:Metadata (Score 1) 286

by Trepidity (#49130247) Attached to: Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course

That is actually what "metadata" means in the current privacy debate. The NSA was claiming their snooping wasn't such a big deal because they were only collecting "metadata", which meant basically logs of senders/recipients (or phone callers/callees) along with things like message size (call duration), etc. I think it's reasonable to point out that GPG does nothing to stop this kind of dragnet collection, though it's also true that it's not "useless" as a result.

Comment: Re:Please tell me this is satire (Score 4, Informative) 301

by Trepidity (#49127641) Attached to: Use Astrology To Save Britain's Health System, Says MP

I could see that in a proportional-representation system. If 10% of the population is really into homeopathy, they could vote for a party that represents those interests. But the UK has a first-past-the-post system, like the US, meaning members are elected by getting the most votes in a specific district. Is Tredinnick's district really majority in favor of astrology being funded by the NHS? My guess is no, and that he's elected despite this issue, not because of it. Incumbents are very hard to knock off, especially outside of marginal districts (his district is a Conservative stronghold, and the UK has no party primaries), so he keeps winning regardless of whether his district's residents think astrology is useful or not.

Comment: Re:It is not about technology (Score 1) 182

by Trepidity (#49101261) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can Technology Improve the Judicial System?

The American tradition of liberty is not one of unrestricted direct democracy, aka mob rule, but of an ordered republic with checks and balances and structural limits on what can be accomplished via elections. At the Founding, judges were not elected; that is a recent (20th-century) innovation in some state and local court systems, not traditionally part of the American approach to the justice system. Juries were selected from amongst one's peers, and judges were appointed for life tenures, from among those learned in the law.

Comment: Re:no longer need to hire someone with a doctorate (Score 2) 93

by Trepidity (#49094577) Attached to: How Machine Learning Ate Microsoft

More likely, there will be a basic set of functionality that can be used by Mr Below Average coder to generate a bunch of spurious correlations.

I don't think getting the machine learning to "work" is going to be the hard part, in the literal sense of the code running and generating stuff. But if you have no understanding of statistics, the conclusions you draw are likely to be invalid.

Comment: Re:WTF? (Score 1) 493

A lot of math grading has a subjective element. At least when I was in school, you usually had to show your work on math problems, and could get partial credit. For example if you correctly analyzed a word problem, set up the equations correctly, and then made an adding error at the end, you'd get some points despite the wrong final answer. Continues at higher levels, e.g. when doing proofs.

It's possible to reduce some sources of bias by using grading rubrics, specifying precisely what you'll get points for (X points for setting up the equations, etc...). Some people dislike rubrics because they're very mechanical, but in some cases that can be an advantage, since it removes the judgment around "ah well they got it 90% right"... without points assigned in advance, the assessment that someone got it "90%" vs. "70%" right can be influenced in large part by the teacher's prior belief about whether the student understands the material.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (10) Sorry, but that's too useful.