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Comment: Re:RFCs are not laws (Score 2) 45 45

The market not IETF process decides which protocols will continue to be used going forward.

The market loves when we have formal documents laid down by the Formal Documents People confirming what we've been telling our bosses for years. I would bet large sums of money that some tech, somewhere, just walked out of a meeting happy because he finally has permission to deprecate a long-broken system.

Comment: Re:There are ideas. Here's one. (Score 3, Informative) 199 199

by "some ideas" you mean "some theory".

Yes, of course. What else did you think I meant? It's an idea. It's not a certainty. I'm not sure what your point is. Care to elaborate?

When I say "no idea" I mean literally we have no demonstrable understanding of any one single cognitive function of the brain. Any brain

You might have meant that, but writing "no idea" didn't (and still doesn't) actually say that. The statement was made that we have no ideas. We do, in fact, have ideas.That was the assertion, and that is my answer.

Human brains? We've got nothing.

Human brains are not what are at issue here, but even so, that statement is incorrect. We have made progress at the small scale (see Numenta's work) and there are multiple ideas out there that presently have significant merit. Personally, as someone working in the field and conversant with a lot of what's going on in the technical sense, I have a fairly high level of confidence that we're much closer than the popular narrative would have us believe. Am I right? We will see. :)

Comment: Human visual processing... not so great. (Score 2) 199 199

Understanding how humans store and recognize images primarily is not a barrier to AI. It's not memory or image recognition that's the hill to climb; The fundamental algorithmic/methodological challenges are thinking, along with conceptual storage, development and manipulation (these things incorporate memory use, but aren't a storage problem per se.) Hardware needs to be able to handle amounts of ram and long term, high speed storage that can serve as a practical basis for the rest as well. Right now, we're getting close, but it'll be a few more years yet before anything really smart can be instantiated. That's even if we were to figure out precisely how to do it right now.

It is possible -- though I consider it doubtful -- that we would implement human style vision neurology in hardware for an AI, but frankly our abilities are so poor compared to what can be accomplished I really don't see why we'd cripple an AI that way. It'd be abusive. "We could have made your visual recall incredibly acute, but... instead you're like us, and really don't have much more than a general idea what was in a scene after you have seen it." [AI nukes silicon valley] (Mods: that's humor. HUMOR.]

Also, check out Numenta's work.

Of course, understanding how humans store and recognize images is (very) important to our understanding of human physiology and disease, and it's wonderful that we're working on it.

Comment: Re:Ascent, not ascension (Score 1) 300 300

You are confusing "ascension" with "right ascension". Just plain "ascension" (not capitalized) is pretty much a synonym for "ascent".

A few dictionaries define "ascension" as an astronomical term referring to the rising of the star above the horizon -- in other words the increasing of altitude in the alt/azimuth coordinate system -- but this definition doesn't appear in lists of astronomical terms so either this usage is uncommon or obsolete.

Comment: Re: Coral dies all the time (Score 3, Interesting) 101 101

"Adds heat" is a woefully inadequate simplification of whether or not it's an issue to be concerned with. When temperature goes up, other things change as a result of the relevant phsyics. For instance, the evap/precip cycle accelerates, carrying more warm air and moisture up, and more cool air and moisture down. CO2 in the upper atmosphere reduces radiation by a factor, but more heat up there, more often, increases radiation. More CO2 almost universally implies conditions better for plants. More and healthier plants means more of all sorts of things and less of others.

Dire predictions: Warming moves the zone(s) within which plants and animals flourish north. There's plenty of room to go, a great deal of northern area is frozen wasteland at this point. More CO2 is good for plants. People might have to move. They do that all the tiime. Coastlines may change and infrastructure may need to maintained, adapted, moved or replaced. That happens all the time. Currently estimated timescale for sea level changes: inches per year. Totally yawn-worthy.

In short, the issue is complex beyond any possible "on noes, warming" assessment -- hysteria is entirely uncalled for.

Science is a method. When facing something new, it involves formulating a hypothesis, testing that to validate or disprove it, and then drawing conclusions. We have not seen and do not know what happens when CO2 increases by large amounts due to our production of it. In the historical record, CO2 increases trail warming, not lead it -- which is another way of saying that historically speaking, CO2 increases herald cooling, so that is not any kind of adequate confirmation of the idea that human-caused CO2 increases will lead to significant climactic warming. Doesn't mean it won't -- it just means that this is a new thing and that drawing conclusions either requires flawless modeling that takes everything significant to the process into account (which we don't have... not only in re natural processes, but in re unanticipated technology), or actually seeing what happens. Without one of those - which again, we don't have -- it's not settled science. It is unvalidated hypothesis.

o Yes, we should be trying to figure this out.
o No, we have not figured it out.

When will we know when we have figured this out? When we have a model that accurately predicts climate change as known to have occurred in the historical record.

PS: coral does not "die when you touch it." I have multiple coral reef tanks. I touch my corals (hard ones and soft ones) all the time to move them around, frag (subdivide and transplant) them, brush them when I'm reaching for something else. I cut colonies of soft corals with a razor in order to divide them into more than one instance and place them in multiple places and/or share them with other coral reef owners. Certainly doesn't kill them (doesn't even seem to hurt them.) For hard corals, you break them into separate instances (frag them) with tools that are basically smallish hammers and chisels. You even do this out of the water. Again, doesn't kill them. They don't die because they were bothered or touched. I've never, ever seen that happen. Some of them don't react at all or very much, but the most I've ever seen them do is pull away or retract, dependably to return to their original extension and condition within minutes of the disturbance that caused it ending. Fish touch them all the time as well. Doesn't hurt a thing.

The things that I have seen be directly and immediately detrimental to corals are Ph changes, temperature changes, salinity changes, very large and sudden changes in lighting, and the actions they engage WRT each other (chemical warfare among corals has to be seen to be believed. They are nasty to each other at times.)

Climate change panic bores me. Climate change dismissal bores me. But, like a lot of other induced hysteria, it's a major component of pop culture and the media's slavish devotion to fanning same, so I have to actually work to avoid both. :)

Comment: Re:Do not react AT ALL (Score 2) 369 369

First of all, Sir Tim is British, and second of all the First Amendment refers to government regulation of speech. It does not compel a private organization to employ or associate with an individual whose speech it feels reflects poorly on them.

This is not a legal issue, it's a moral issue. It's morally wrong to empower a social media lynch mob without performing a reasonable inquiry into the facts.

Comment: Re:It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 299 299

I don't claim to know anything beyond what I've read in the news, which of course doesn't qualify me as an expert. But I'm fairly confident the fact that you find the accommodations made to Hawaiian religious beliefs annoying has no bearing on whether those beliefs are sincere.

I agree that there's no way to satisfy some of these people. That doesn't make them liars or bad, it just means their interests in this situation cannot be reconciled with yours. It happens sometimes. As much as I believe in looking for win-win solutions, there are occasionally situations where one side or the other has to lose.

And you won't ever get everyone on the other side to agree because that never happens. There are even Catholics who think the Pope isn't as Catholic as they are. So as soon as there were any questions raised about the religious dimension of this project it became inevitable that if they ever built this thing it would be in the face of protests. And as long as the project's leaders think what they're doing is right they should do it and take their PR lumps on the chin. But imputing, without any evidence, false and hypocritical motivations to the protesters actually undoes the work done to make this project possible. That actually *is* disrespecting native religious beliefs.

Comment: It's not about telescopes. (Score 1) 299 299

There is nobody for whom the summit of Mauna Kea is their "backyard", so this isn't NIMBY. There are sincere religious and political reasons for opposing this.

Imagine yourself in their position. If a conspicuous structure on the summit of Mauna Kea offended your religious sensibilities when the first one went up, then you're not going to feel less strongly about the thirteenth or fourteenth to go up. Likewise spreading the development to a second, pristine sacred site wouldn't placate you.

The position that nobody's religious views should ever matter is one most people wouldn't agree with, but at least it's a principled position. Claiming (without proof) that views that stand in the way of something you want are insincere and should be disregarded strikes me as dishonest.

Comment: Re:These kinds of press releases are useless (Score 1) 244 244

From the abstract:
Surely you can understand that much without getting your panties in a twist.

Please re-read the first sentence of my post.

Even so a single paper still isn't enough for a layman to conclude anything from. That's why laymen are so misinformed on science. Even when a news account accurately describes a study or experiment, it's still misleading. Just because an experiment produces a result doesn't mean that result represents the bulk of evidence, or that that the conclusions won't be shot full of holes in a few months.

Comment: Re:A small part of me (Score 1) 588 588

In terms of corporate handouts, how could you possibly surpass making every living American an obligate consumer of a for-profit industry?

In that case what you're talking about is more of an industry handout than a corporate handout. Anybody with enough capital to run an insurance company is free to compete for the "obligate consumer's" business.

Contrast this to various weapons systems of dubious usefulness that are funded for political reasons. As American taxpayers we're all "obligate consumers" of those things, but we don't have any say whatsoever in whose pockets our dollars land.

Comment: These kinds of press releases are useless (Score 1) 244 244

You need the full article -- the abstract at the very least -- to make any sense of a study. Press releases are written by PR flacks who dumb down the science to the point where it is meaningless, as in this case. What you need to make sense of an experiment are details and context, neither of which the PR release in question provide. This is the problem with PR -- it's not a discipline that's meant to help you grasp complexity; it's about coming away with a simple, carefully chosen message.

Even if you have a whole article you have to proceed with caution. Interesting science tends to be about open questions; cutting edge topics tend to produce a diversity of opinion and contradictory evidence. What you need to read if you want to go to the horse's mouth in science is to read some literature review papers, like this one, which summarize the current state of research and the open questions at the time of writing. In fact you should probably read a recent review paper before you try to make sense of any individual paper. Having skimmed the review paper, it looks like the experiment we're discussing is attempting to explain a long-known experimental effect in terms of gut biota, which is a hot research field right now.

If all you had to make dietary decisions was the press release, you'd probably think, "Well, I'd better cut down on fat and sugar in my diet." The problem I have with that is that "fat" is a vast category of chemicals with wildly different physiological effects. Avoiding all fat because of this study would be like avoiding all acids because of a study of aspirin poisoning -- acids including all proteins and most vitamins.

What makes more sense is to consider all the proposed mechanisms, namely: chronic oxidative stress, inflammation, insulin resistance, and now disturbed gut flora. It's feasible to devise a lifestyle and diet which reduces *all* these things, which in turn would also improve our chances against other things like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cardiovascular disease. But so far as I know nobody's really put all that together yet. Science deals mainly in diseases, leaving health to the quacks.

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