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Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 2) 152

by Michael Woodhams (#48800243) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

A minor nit-pick: I think you mean "chemical rocket".

Probably the most common rockets are liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen. Neither are fossil fuels. Solid rockets could contain oil-derived plastics in their fuel, I don't know enough to say how often this is so. SpaceX uses kerosene/liquid oxygen which does use fossil fuel, although I expect it wouldn't be hard to substitute a suitable biofuel if they really wanted to.

Comment: Re:Great to see (Score 5, Interesting) 152

by Michael Woodhams (#48799757) Attached to: Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

Since 1969 there have been people living on Earth who have visited another world. It would be a terrible failure of humanity if one day this was no longer true. I am not fond of the Chinese government, but if they send people to the moon, I'll be enthusiastically cheering them on.

Comment: Re:Rock paper scissors (Score 1) 340

If game theory mathematicians say they've got a strategy which provably can't be beaten, I'll believe them until someone finds a flaw in their method. Mathematicians are notoriously picky about what constitutes a 'proof'. I'm sure they are quite aware of the possibility of an opponent which knows their strategy and adapts to it. (Note that in the rock paper scissors example, knowing the perfect strategy does not let you beat it.)

The article does not specify whether the strategy is deterministic or probabilistic. I expect the latter: sometimes its big lookup table will say "in this situation, raise 15% of the time, fold 85% of the time."

Comment: Rock paper scissors (Score 4, Insightful) 340

by Michael Woodhams (#48771147) Attached to: Researchers "Solve" Texas Hold'Em, Create Perfect Robotic Player

You can better understand what is going on by considering the much simpler game Rock paper scissors. 'Perfect' here basically means the strategy gives you the best possible worst case.

For RPS, the perfect strategy (using the term in the same sense as it is used for the poker bot) is to play completely randomly. There is no way to gain an edge over this strategy, no counter-strategy which will give you more than 50% chance of winning, even if you know your opponent's strategy. (In this case, there is also no strategy which will give you less than 50% chance of winning against the 'perfect' strategy.)

For the poker bot, there is no strategy that will give you greater than 50% chance of winning against it in a two player game. If you know its strategy perfectly (but of course you don't know its cards) the best you can do is to equal that 50% chance (which is what happens if it plays itself.) Unlike RPS, you can can lose to the perfect poker bot by playing poorly. Also, as noted in the article, the perfect poker bot always plays as if it were playing against perfect opposition. A good human player will fleece you faster then the perfect bot, because the human player will notice your peculiar imperfections and exploit them, choosing to play in a way which would be suboptimal against a perfect opponent, but superior against you.

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Comment: Re:And the scientific evidence for this conclusion (Score 1) 391

> First, there is no reason to believe that we can built robots that can reproduce themselves.

What? This is exactly the technology humans are trying to reach! We're already a significant way down this path!!

> Second, there is no evidence that we or anyone else can build intelligent machines, as the original story seems to presuppose.

Nature did it. We can do it.

> Third, biological organisms are so many orders of magnitude more efficient and flexible than machines that it barely makes sense to put them into the same qualitative category "form of life".

This whole conversation is about extrapolating on the cosmic scale. If you look at the path robotics has taken in the last century it does, as pointed out, actually support the premise of this article.

> Hint: A human consumes only about 2.9 kilowatt hours per day, the equivalent of 1-2 light bulbs ...

Not relevant. Once machines are replicating and repairing themselves they'll do exactly what we do and find other sources of energy.

Frankly I agree with you that it's hard to picture Transformers inhabiting the universe, but OP did make a really good point that extrapolation isn't even in the ballpark of refuting this clown. Honestly I'm shocked he didn't come back with that XKCD cartoon.

Comment: Meh. (Score 3, Insightful) 880

by Guppy06 (#48597951) Attached to: Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

It's not the World Trade Center, and it's not Bali. It's a single cafe and a maximum possible body count than your typical school shooting in the US (which can hardly hold the news media's attention for more than a week any more).

This news wouldn't have made it out of Australia (if even NSW) if it weren't for the Islamic bogeyman angle.

Moneyliness is next to Godliness. -- Andries van Dam