Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 502

> Any intuitive jump a human can 'miraculously' do that seems illogical can be done by the genetic algorithm on a sufficiently large dataset with a certain (not huge) amount of initial randomness and bad answers to recombine

Is this something that is actually and literally proven? Like specifically over all general problems, and specifically with genetic algos?

Comment It's hard to even understand what's in Star Trek (Score 1) 502

Roddenberry wanted a post capitalistic society with no currency. That's what he wrote, and the few things that did revolve around scarcity economics were things that weren't subject to straight economic deals. Dilithium was rare enough that an unlimited supply couldn't be put on every ship, so if something happened they would need to acquire more unexpectedly, but it wasn't just traded on the NYSE.

The "problem" (from an analysis perspective) is that Roddenberry didn't go on record with enough details. He would sometimes come down on a story that involved economics, but not always, and didn't lay it out in an explicit "this is how their system works" setup. This is fair- he's positing a warp drive, transporters, invisibility cloaks, and several types of lasers and states of matter, it's by no means impossible that an advanced society would have solved economics by some method as well, and it's unfair to expect him to deliver a detailed economic model for a post scarcity society - it's interesting to claim that one could exist, and write stories in that world.

So when people in this thread point out various inconsistencies, or point to specific times where "federation credits" were used, or whatever, the fact is that the ramifications of those plot elements were not considered by all the writers, and often not really "meant" to describe a coherent system.

But here's what we do see consistently:

We see that there are some private citizens who have their own ships, and some that simply work jobs that aren't well respected or all that interesting.
We see that the Federation has a lot of ships, but they aren't war ships, and they aren't preposterous in numbers normally.
We see that the majority of Earth and other core worlds doesn't own starships. We also don't see flying cars or privately owned skiffs or whatever.
We see that there's some mechanism for gearing up for wars- the Federation absolutely has to fight wars at times.
We see that energy is thrown around trivially in most cases, but not in all cases.
We never see anyone going hungry if they are anywhere near functioning civilization.
We don't see anyone rebelling or fighting the Federation in a way that we can really sympathize with. The closest we get to understanding their position is mindless revenge, and mostly it's useless external conquest.
We don't see signs of over or under population.

It stands to reason that there's some manner of rationing going on- stuff isn't infinite. It stands to reason that almost everyone is ok with the state of affairs, and that they feel represented or are otherwise ok with stuff. If we go with Roddenberry's "there's no money" position- and I think that's fair, because that was one of his overriding design concerns- we're left with some kind of command economy that leaves some amount of resource distrribution as discretionary, and has enough resources that this finite limit is totally reasonable for essentially everyone. No one is busy *championing* a different form of government- there's no group of capitalists in Newest York or whatever claiming that the Federation will do better if it only really puts the squeeze on people, or something.

Now, for him to claim that this space computer communism is effective would require diving into all manner of crap, and that's what this thread is about. So I'll answer the question:

Yes, it could work, but not without a serious understanding of how individual and group psychology works. Not without a serious understanding of what motivates people. I don't think we really have that, because most of the studies in these areas are set up to fight battles politically, not uncover truth- and certainly not to figure out what's going on for any reason other than maybe advertising to people more effectively. Everyone we see in Star Trek ranges from highly talented and trained to ludicrously talented and heroically experienced- is education really that good? Is it really that capable? In the real world, people don't just seek money to acquire power over others, or whatever else, they use money as a way to improve the world around them, or get laid, or help their children, or whatever. Star Trek plots don't normally ever touch on this stuff in detail, because they would need to flesh out an alien and complex economic system and social values structures to tell the story, and those aren't the stories they want to tell anyway.

We're as far from understanding how a Star Trek science-fictional economy works as we are from understanding all the other science fiction in Star Trek.

Comment Re:Very Probably Wrong (Score 4, Insightful) 260

> Show a person from 715 the world of 1215, and your 500 years will not have covered much.

We say that, but is it *really* true? I mean, it's not medieval historians saying this normally, is my point, it's technological futurists. How many monarchs worldwide can you name between 715 AD and 1215 AD? Is your conclusion that they probably had about the same kings over that time period, because you aren't an expert on them?

Plenty of places in the world went from the bronze age to the iron age in that time. If you had a sword from 715 AD, it would have changed dramatically by 1215 AD. The 1215 AD sword would, in Europe have gained the cruciform pommel and benefited from much better metallurgy. Gunpowder would have gone from being invented in China with not many uses, to have changed the face of warfare and would have just been around the time the Mongols were using it as a seige weapon. Windmills would have gone from being an absolute rarity, and horizontal in nature, to a modern vertical form and much more common. The population would have doubled.

The other piece of the analysis is that you are sort of only counting the top of technology. So if a huge tech growth happens in South America, but doesn't top what China did a hundred years prior, that doesn't get counted right.

Anyway, I don't dispute that a lot of change, usually including technology, has happened in small periods throughout history. But I would dispute that the past was as unchanging as it appears from our vantage points.

Comment Re:Is this really an issue? (Score 1) 317

No advertising is acceptable. I will block all ads. You should too.

Speculating on how some particular pattern recognition versus spam war will go down is not easy. Certainly, the advertisers are doing all they can to force their bullshit into the eyes of those that don't want it, but ultimately, your PC, your rules.

Comment Re:Is this really an issue? (Score 1) 317

I agree with your points, but maybe not your conclusion. The computer user DOES determine what displays, because he will determine which programs are running. While an advertiser could absolutely push ads through the current blocking schemes (at relatively great cost), the amount of effort needed to remove that on the end users side will ultimately be feasible and worthwhile. The advertiser needs to get a return on investment, so any of his workarounds will be met with both user hostility and sophisticated solutions that will be disseminated rapidly.

Comment Hey APK, add this to your list... (Score 1) 317

I'm sure everyone has seen APK ("crazy hosts guy") flooding pretty much any topic on this.

There's ups and downs to host based blocking. But one upside that I hadn't considered until reading the Mozilla statement is that the existing web browsers have a lot of pull- if these "guidelines" become enforced, then ublock origin would be removed from the firefox store. You probably won't see this until chrome and firefox can both do it at about the same time, but it definitely looks like we are seeing a slow moving attempt to try to stop actual adblockers from running.

A hosts method isn't subject to this kind of "guideline". In general, an external binary / firewall isn't.

Anyway, interesting. We may need to explore executable options in the future. This seems yet another push for "acceptable ads" being shoved in everyone's face.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 203

Your post calls it to mind, so I'll bring up a side rant I have about self driving anything, that never seems to have a place to go.

Pretend we, after massive investment and development, have self driving cars that work well and work almost everywhere.

Suddenly, Professor Light or whoever comes up with a new type of vehicle. What this is exactly doesn't matter, but the self driving cars don't understand it at all- they think it's a pedestrian when they should think it's a vehicle, and it's a technical challenge.

No matter how great Professor Light's MegaVehicle X is, now it won't sell. It's now up to him to somehow solve the problem for all the self driving cars- and of course, they aren't in the market for the new vehicle, and they are established as fuck, so the new better vehicle simply never is allowed on the roads.

If this seems a bit too sketchy, pretend that no one had invented motorcycles or bicycles or semis, and that all the development made assumptions based around that. The moment you try to add those to a real street with fully human drivers, it's fine- but do that with self driving cars and you'll be begging congress for a trial in Nevada and trying to convince investors that you can make the four competing driving systems recognize what a motorcycle is, and that the market will be people who don't want to own a full car. And then you have to get people who make cars for a living to support that.

The self driving car thing will paralyze the ability to innovate a goddamned thing in the transportation sector.

Comment Re:In fact a new version often is how it should be (Score 1) 262

If you bought a product because you wanted it to be the best in that line, then the upgrade rate is definitely a consideration. It's not particularly rational, but remember that these products are also status symbols and in some cases jewelry, so at the very least being *predictable* is a boon for consumers.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan