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Comment Re:I have no fear of AI, but fear AI weapons (Score 1) 289 289

Well, robbery would be a bit tougher than general mayhem. In the foreseeable future you'd probably need a human in the loop, for example to confirm that the victim actually complied with the order to "put ALL the money in the bag." Still that would remove the perpetrator from the scene of the crime. If there were an open or hackable wi-fi access point nearby it'd be tricky to hunt him down.

This kind of remote controlled drone mediated crime is very feasible now. It wouldn't take much technical savvy to figure out how to mount a shotgun shell on a quadcopter and fly it to a particular victim (if you have one). That's a lot less sophisticated than stuff terrorists do already; anyone with moderate technical aptitude could do it with off-the-shelf components. I'm sure we'll see our first non-state-actor controlled drone assassination in the next couple of years. Or maybe a hacktivist will detonate a party popper on the President or something like that.

Within our lifetime it'll surely be feasible for ordinary hackers to build autonomous systems that could fly into a general area and hunt down a particular victim using facial recognition. People have experimented with facial recognition with SBCs like the Raspberry Pi already.

You can forbid states from doing this all you want, but as technology advances the technology to do this won't be exotic. It'll be commonplace stuff used for work and even recreation.

Comment Re:Same likely holds true... (Score 1) 250 250

The same thing could likely be said of all obtrusive advertising: it is a nuisance not a benefit.

They aren't exactly the same, because interstitial ads aren't just obtrustive, they're interfering. You can't simply mentally resolve to ignore them; if you want to continue you've got to either follow the ad or find a way to dismiss it. This presents the user with a Hobson's Choice: physically respond to the ad, or go back.

A lot depends on how motivated you are to get at the content. If it's something you've clicked out of idle curiosity, you'll back away. If it's something you really want to see you'll fight your way through. Since so much traffic on the Internet is driven by idle curiosity, the 69% figure doesn't surprise me at all. What would be interesting is to disaggregate that figure by types of target content.

Comment call a wahmbulance (Score 0) 270 270

Oh, cry me a river. Drone operators no longer have an unlimited right to invade people's privacy and endanger their safety. Sorry dude, but the airspace is common property and it's sensible to regulate its use for the common good. Either that, or we can have drone wars, where people who don't want your drones in the skies fly their own to take them down.

Comment Re:There's Very Few Things (Score 3, Insightful) 80 80

You are conflating a world that is becoming warmer with a world that just *is* warmer. It may be true (I take no position) that a world that is 4-5 C warmer is better for certain classes of poor people (e.g., subsistence farmers). But a world that is changing rapidly is a calimity to poor people tied to the land, especially in a modern world with national boundaries and private property where you just can't pick up and move like our paleolithic ancestors would have.

Comment Re:Works for me - whatever that is worth (Score 2, Insightful) 136 136

Seems like people running mailing lists need to take a look at how spam filters work, rather than mail providers changing anything.

No, you're backwards. It's up to spam filter developers to understand how mailing lists work and not falsely flag legitimate traffic. If your filter breaks a mailing list, your filter is broken.

Comment Re:If it's not _real_ bacon? (Score 1) 174 174

This guy is entitled to use the word "plant" as he will, but it doesn't agree with modern systematics. For example he calls "kelp" a plant, but it is taxonomically closer to the parasite that causes malaria than it is to land plants.

"Macroalgae" is a multi-phyletic category, including eukaryotes of the Archaeplastida group that includes red algae and green algae and the land plants that evolved from green algae, and of the super-group Chromalveolata that includes red tides, brown algae (such as kelp or Plasmodium). Green algae and land plants are grouped together under the kingdom "Plantae" in modern taxonomies.

So "seaweed" as a category includes organisms which are (cladistically speaking) closely related to land plants (green algae like sea grapes or sea lettuce), middling-related (red algae like nori or carageenan) and not very closely related at all (brown algae like kombu/kelp). Of course all organisms are presumably related to some degree.

The seaweed in question is a kind of dulse, a red algae. It's more closely related to land plants than a brown algae like kelp would be, but less related than sea lettuce. Red algae are specifically not included in the Kingdom Plantae. However, layman are free to call whatever they want a plant, even if it's in fact something else entirely, the way they call any small arthropod a "bug", even through true bugs are one of the 75,000 species in the order Hemiptera (out of over a million insect species).

Comment Re:If it's not _real_ bacon? (Score 1) 174 174

Technically it's not a plant. Its a macroalgae and thus belongs to an entirely distinct taxonomic kingdom from plants and animals. Of course halakhically it probably counts as a plant because Jewish law isn't based on modern scientific concepts.

Many years ago some of my wife's friends inhabited a kosher apartment near her engineering school that had been passed down through generations of orthodox students. A dispute arose over whether a particular bowl was glass or pottery. Finally they called in their buddy the material science major for a scientific ruling. "It's neither," he said. "It's ceramic." Which was technically accurate, but irrelevant to the question of whether it could be kashered.

Comment It was a BlackHat / DEFCON publicity stunt (Score 2) 26 26

Hackaday is pretty much spot on:

There's always posturing for PR before BlackHat and DEFCON. This was to get the researcher's name on people's radar.

Many a competent unix sysadmin could come up with something similar.

What's hilarious is that despite how easy it would be to make something like this, the "researcher" just bought a yagi antenna and posed for a picture. They didn't even bother to point the yagi antenna towards the ground, for that matter.

Comment Re:Europe has also had wire transfers (Score 1) 294 294

>It's 2015. Why does transferring money in the US take more than a minute and a few cents? I transfer money via ACH all the time for $1 per transaction.

Manual wires are different, and have a lot of costs associated with them. There are people involved, not just data being pushed.

Comment Physics called... (Score 2) 549 549

It's preferable for the car that is struck to not release its brakes. Basic physics. The more the struck car moves, the more injuries from the passengers in it. Also, the struck car moves and hits another car, etc.

The struck car's momentum is what mitigates the impact for its occupants. Ideal would be deploying a system to keep the struck car from moving at all. Mercedes has a braking system they've been testing that would probably do the job. It's basically an airbag on the bottom of the car, with a very high friction surface.

Comment Europe has also had wire transfers (Score 4, Interesting) 294 294

Wire transfers are extremely common in Europe; virtually instantaneous, cheap, etc. Customers can do them themselves, person to person.

Here in the US? Anywhere from a day to WEEKS for absolutely no legitimate reason. You generally need a teller or branch manager to do it. At least $5; $40 if the transaction ends up going through the Fed.

It's 2015. Why does transferring money in the US take more than a minute and a few cents?

Comment Re:bumblebees have range? (Score 5, Informative) 225 225

I thought bumblebees are everywhere except maybe the desert?

Bombus sonorus -- the Sonoran Bumblebee -- is a common North American desert species.

To answer your question every critter has it's range. Even you do. Visited Antarctica recently? Or Mars?

If you were a bumblebee you'd have a range of about a quarter of a kilometer from your nest. In rare instances you might go as far as 800m distant. And therein you can see why climate change poses an adaptation challenge to bumblebees.

Bumblebee colonies die every winter. The old queen perishes and the new queens hibernate until the spring then disperse to a new nest site. So you can see that the species can only relocate northward at a fraction of a kilometer per year -- although it may have better luck moving vertically -- to higher altitudes where a convenient mountain is handy.

Species that adapt well to climate change either have individuals with large ranges, or they hitch a ride on critters that travel long distance. For example mosquito species have lifetime ranges on the order of 2-3 km, but the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus), which breeds in small containers of water, usually spends its life within 100m or so of where it hatches. The Tiger Mosquito species was introduced to the US at Houston in 1985 and fifteen years later it was found all over the United States. How is this possible if an individual lives its entire life within a 100m radius of its hatching place? I went to a presentation at CDC Fort Collins where their arthropod borne disease doyen plotted out the spread of Ae albopictus and showed it followed the route of the US Interstate Highway system. Eggs and pregnant individuals hitched a ride. That's because cars and trucks provide things that mosquitoes are attracted to: people to bite and tiny pools of water trapped in spare tires or crevices of the machine for egg-laying. Note that Ae albopictus larvae are known to arrive in the US in a shipments of that "lucky bamboo" you can buy in Chinatown; those stalks hold maybe 20-30 ml of water. It takes a "container" with only a tablespoon or two of water to transport viable larvae.

Now back to bumblebees. Because bumblebee colonies are small (typically 50 individuals to 50,000 for honeybees) and temporary, bumblebees don't stockpile honey. So unlike honeybees humans have no reason to transport them deliberately. Likewise cars and trucks aren't attractive to bumblebees so it's rare that a new queen will get an accidental ride north with a human. So bumblebees are poorly adapted to a rapidly changing climate.

Comment Re:I get a call EVERY DAY from cardmember services (Score 1) 215 215

It's a scam that's been shut down, but it's impossible to put a nail in its coffin because it's not one company doing it. The FTC tracked down a bunch of companies at the start of this year and forced them to fork over $700,000 in compensation, and it didn't even make a dent in the volume of calls.

"Cardholder service" scams are low success rate, high volume affairs which require only a small number of people to run and thus are easy to shut down and start up again under a different corporate entity. The only way to stop them is to make all low success rate, high volume telemarketing businesses intrinsically unprofitable, and the only way to do that is to charge for all calls.

This can be a nominal amount that wouldn't interfere with normal calls, it just has to be enough to deter calls that have very little chance of accomplishing anything useful. Ten minutes of a US minimum wage employee's time will cost a company $1.20, so let's set the level of pain at less than 1/10 that: every time a call is connected, $0.10 should be deducted from the caller's account and credited to the recipient's account. That way parties that call each other equally will tend to come out even.

"There is such a fine line between genius and stupidity." - David St. Hubbins, "Spinal Tap"