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Comment Re:Don't forget prisons (Score 1) 444

Think of the children!! We can't just release male inmates all willy-nilly. One might commit a crime. We need to build more prisons and simply lock up more women.

Statistically, children in single parent households are more likely to commit crimes. Many of the men who are locked up have children. Therefore, those children are likely living in single parent households and are more likely to commit crimes.

We solve two problems at once by arresting the mothers - we bring the prisons into proper gender equality, and surely we reduce the likelihood that these children become criminals.


Comment Re:Bias? Or reality? (Score 5, Insightful) 444

The article gives little indication on how the program is run, other than that it is "point based", and that tutorials and testing materials are available online for purchase.

This, unfortunately, biases the program towards those who have the resources available to spend on their child, regardless of race. There's mention of some sort of "selection criteria" prior to being tested, so some bias could definitely be introduced there, but in the end, the tests themselves (provided they're valid and administered properly) should provide valid results.

That being said, the kid in the story is 8 years old. At that age, kids will show up all over the place on testing depending on how things are going at home. It mentioned that his dad never gets to see him because he's always either working or finishing his degree. It's unfortunate, but it's a catch-22 - the father sounds for all intents and purposes like he's doing a great job improving things for his family, but this is bound to have an impact in the short term on the kid.

I realize I'm a horrible human being for saying so, but perhaps this isn't so much a sign that the Gifted and Talented program is biased, but rather that a program intended to nurture talented individuals will, by necessity, be biased towards those individuals who by virtue of their environment are allowed to develop more talents.

We have a separate program where we take kids who have the potential to have talents but haven't yet realized them and attempt to nurture them into actual skills...it's called school.


Only Self-Awareness Can Keep Drones Out of Do Not Fly Zones 165

szczys writes: Chris Anderson is on the bleeding edge of the drone world, having founded 3D Robotics (drone manufacturer) and DIY Drones (enthusiast site). He takes on the issue of people flying drones where they shouldn't, and concludes that making drones self aware is the best solution. This isn't the "robots are trying to kill you" type of self awareness. Instead, it considers drone type, operator, and location, to establish if all those factors equate to a safe flight area. This is an important issue — in the last few months, there have been several stories about drones in places they should not have been. This included incidents like disrupting the efforts of airborne firefighting and interfering with a police manhunt.

Comment Re:Cue the Kneejerk (Score 1) 244

I don't disagree with your points. While I wouldn't consider myself purely utilitarian, I also don't believe that we'll ever truly satisfy everyone. In light of that, and given that there are far too many unknowns to account for, I would argue that we need to take what reasonable precautions we can while making an effort to move towards addressing those unknowns. I'm merely arguing that there are some risks that need to be taken, carefully, and that it's okay if one of the things we learn is that we shouldn't take that same risk in the future.

You mention the hypothermia experiments as an example of useful but morally objectionable research. What if those participants were willing (and we didn't have the implicit end point of their demise)? What about the Minnesota starvation experiment? There's very useful research that we could do, using individuals who value the potential benefit as greater than the risk, but that we choose not to on moral grounds.

There's a bit of a disconnect where people get idolized for signing up to die on Mars, but we demonize other attempts to kill people for science.

Comment Cue the Kneejerk (Score 4, Insightful) 244

I'm not sure how I feel about this research...and that's pretty much why I'm all for this. We don't understand enough to be able to say whether or not this should be happening, and this is the best way we know how to move forward. This is something that doesn't directly harm anyone, and we have no reason to believe that any sort of consciousness exists in it. This should be an obvious win-win that could potentially benefit everyone.

Certainly, this is going to trigger all kinds of knee-jerk responses from a lot of folks. I get that, but those are also the kinds of responses that are regularly made in the absence of any solid understanding of what's going on. That's why we had limited stem cell research for so long. This isn't mad scientist war crimes type stuff. This is the best way to study the human brain without actually stealing one from an unwilling donor.

I don't know how we reconcile the fact that some people have a religious objection to messing with the parts that we're made of and the fact that there's huge benefits to be gained, but we can't dicker around and make everyone happy. Sometimes we just need to get stuff done so that we can say "Just be happy with your cure for ALS."

Comment Re:And yet... (Score 2) 663

Sure that are lots of other factors, but 1st order effect *has* to be energy in = energy out.


There are absolutely myriad factors affecting things - genetics, gut flora, etc...and they *do* matter. But I'm tired of hearing people try to shift things away from the most important aspect, which is the overall thermodynamics. Genetics affecting how efficient you are at absorbing energy from food doesn't change that - it just means that you have less/more that you need to eat. This may be unfortunate for the taste buds, but won't adversely affect the nutritional content.

I experienced the parent's anecdote as well. I woke up one day and decided to lose weight, so I started counting every Calorie. I've lost about 25kg over 5 months. It sucked, but I didn't modify anything about the nature of my diet except the quantities.

In space, no one can hear you fart.