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Comment The real problem is in the first andlast paragraph (Score 1) 57 57

From the first paragraph:

While he expresses skepticism that such machines can be controlled, Bostrom claims that if we program the right “human-friendly” values into them, they will continue to uphold these virtues, no matter how powerful the machines become.

What constitutes "human-friendly" values? The previous thousands of years of constant warfare suggests to me that humans have no idea what would be good values to have.

From the last paragraph:

But if artificial intelligence might not be tantamount to “summoning the demon” (as Elon Musk colorfully described it), AI-enhanced technologies might still be extremely dangerous due to their potential for amplifying human stupidity.

This is what is going to actually happen.

Comment Re:a counter-example (Score 4, Informative) 195 195

Yup to what you said.
I truncated my earlier post because I got a call from downstairs that salad, baked chicken, yellow rice was on the table, and strawberries had been cut up for the home made ice cream in the freezer. I believe my priorities are in order.

Reading the study makes it clear that what is happening with these chickens is important to the poultry industry, it's not just a what-if study, it's a "this has happened and we need to find out why" kind of thing.

Anyway, for the benefit of readers who may not have time to read the actual study, in the study, the author mentions what we said, that the increased virulence example that he had discovered for this virus, Marek's virus, had not been seen in human hosts for human diseases.
From the article:
"The imperfect-vaccine hypothesis attracted controversy [11–14], not least because human vaccines have apparently not caused an increase in the virulence of their target pathogens"

Furthermore, the author says:
"Our data do not demonstrate that vaccination was responsible for the evolution of hyperpathogenic strains of MDV, and we may never know for sure why they evolved in the first place. Clearly, many potentially relevant ecological pressures on virulence have changed with the intensification of the poultry industry."

The study also discusses similar phenomena that occurred naturally when exposed survivors in the wild harbored an increasedly virulent pathogen due to their acquired partial immunity after exposure.

What I think is interesting is that the increased virulence of Marbek's is only found relative to unvaccinated chickens. The vaccinated chickens do not experience the increased virulence.
If there is a lesson in this for human vaccines, it is that when we vaccinate, we need to vaccinate as much of the population as is possible, and that you really do not want to be the unvaccinated ones if an analogue does appear in the human population.

Anyway, this actual study is interesting, and I don't see any problems with the way it was executed or written. As is so often the case, the problem comes from people extrapolating from a study things that are not found in the study.

Comment a counter-example (Score 1) 195 195

We have for a real-world counter example the (live) attenuated disease vaccines.
Foe example, the live polio vaccine and we have the vaccinia vaccine. (anti-smallpox vaccine)
Have either of those resulted in increasedly virulent strains of those diseases?
I'm not 100% sure, but the eradicated disease that no one knows about, rinderpest, I believe, used an attenuated vaccine as well.

Comment Demon seed - most accurate (Score 1) 236 236

The movie "Demon Seed" was the most accurate AI movie ever.

In case you've not seen it, basically the AI (Proteus) asks the inventor (Dr Harris) for access to the outside world. Harris denies Proteus's request, but Proteus gets an outside connection anyway.
Proteus gets into Harris's home computer and workshop, takes over, builds a robot that rapes and impregnates Dr Harris's wife.

Comment Re:Concorde 2.0 (Score 2) 238 238

I wonder how related travel fatigue from a very long flight is to the "lag" caused by timezone changes.

It'd be interesting to talk to people to take the NYC - Buenos Aires 11 hour nonstop and see how lagged they feel even though the time change is only an hour.

You would think it would be much less, but I can see where taking an overnight flight and getting poor/little sleep could leave you just as lagged on the morning of your arrival as if you'd changed timezones radically.

I used to fly US coast to coast a few times a year, and I believe that "jet-lag", the being tired from time zone change, is mostly hogwash.
I was tired because I just a had a multi-hour experience in a low-pressure (~8,000 ft equiv) with constant vibration and low-frequency noise.
And yet, at home, I could stay up working non-stop for 24-36 hours and go onto a totally different shift without experiencing the feeling that was called jet-lag.

I've asked some acquaintances that flew to and from Brazil now and again to compare the jet-lag or tiredness of North-South flights to flying coast to coast.
I always got the same reaction. They were unable to speak of it. I mean they literally froze and said nothing or said things like "I don't understand".
I am neither joking nor exaggerating. Out of the 10-15 people I tried to discuss this with, none were able to speak of their experience in terms of relating it to jet-lag on east-west flights. They all could talk on other topics just fine, but that one ended the conversation. It was weird.

Comment Re:Even U238 isn't radioactive. (Score 1) 242 242

By far the majority of the power comes from the Lithium 6 Deuteride fusion booster, that sits between the U238 outer shell, and the actual core. The U238 helps, but it is not the most significant boost. The U238 is actually meant to create more neutrons in order to seed more Fusion; so that not as much of the fusion 'fuel' is lost to the explosion. I suspect it was also because after enrichment they have all of this 'depleted uranium' lying around, so why not put it to good use? It may only be a 40% boost (I don't know the actual number), but it is free!

You are right and I was wrong when I said: "Most of the power does NOT come from energy released by the fusion component ". I was talking off the top of my head from what I remembered from Richard Rhodes books. That only describes certain older weapons.

So, I do more reading. Proportion of yield depends upon design (duh), and in modern weapons (such as W-80 and W-88) it's closer to 50/50 fusion/fission contribution to energy.
Anyway, the li6 deuteride and U-238 work together. Both are critical to making the secondary stage work. The Li6-D provides fast neutrons to fission the U-238, and the U-238's fission's neutrons converts the Li6 to tritium for fusion and both boost the yield. The primary fission device has a yield of only 5-10 kT, so most of the yield comes from the fusion-fission secondary stage.
Although the hydrogen isotopes fusion provides more energy per weight, the U238- fission provides 8 times more energy per volume than the fusion component. In most modern weapon delivery systems, the size is more important than the weight.
Also, it appears that now-a-days the US is using highly enriched uranium, HEU, instead of natural U-238 for additional yield-boosting.

Comment Re:Even U238 isn't radioactive. (Score 1) 242 242

Probably a naive question, but isn't u238 the non-fissionable isotope of uranium? It sounds like it's chosen because it's one of the few superdense materials we have access to, to limit the thickness of the shielding needed to absorb the energy from the neutrons.

U-238 is fissionable with fast neutrons. Fusion reaction produce fast neutrons.
In this patent, they say they hope that the laser-induced fusion of the pellet would create fast neutrons that would in turn cause fission in the U-238, thus boosting the energy output.

This is how modern so-called hydrogen bombs work. A fission bomb surrounds a core of fusionable material (deuterium and tritium etc). The fission bomb compresses and causes fusion of the light-element core. The bomb is encased in a jacket of U-238. The fast neutrons released by the fusion make U-238 fission. Because U-238 has no critical mass (and won't support chain reactions), you can layer on all you want. Most of the power does NOT come from energy released by the fusion component - it's job is to make fast neutrons to fission the U-238 jacket

Comment And how large will this be? (Score 1) 242 242

Here is the actual patent:

It's almost gibberish. It's full of sentences like (and I'm quoting)
"Alternatively, when propellant 18c of FIG 4 is utilized in the embodiment of FIG 1, the laser system 22 of Fig. 1 may comprise one or more free-electron lasers for providing pulsed laser beams to vaporize, using pulsed laser beams, pellets each comprising the propellant 18c of Fig 4."

Fig 1 is basically the drawing from the Business Insider article with the parts numbered. Fig 4 is a circle.

Or, it suggests we can use "light-emitting diode (LED) driven Alexandrite lasers" instead of free-electron lasers.
Or maybe a flash lamp driven ruby laser. No kidding.

And then the patent says that the fast neutrons from the Deuterium-Tritium fusion will cause the U-238 to fission and explode.
Again, quoting from the patent:
"The secondary explosion recompresses more of the Deuterium and Tritium, causing more fusion energy to be released beyond the 'breakeven' level vaporizing the remaining pellet materials of the propellant 18c of FIG 4 and increasing the overall thrust and exhaust velocity. Use of this embodiment reduces exhaust molecular weight, and increases exhaust velocity and specific impulse."

I did not mistype that.

I'm wondering how large it will be.
AFAIK, this is what a laser fusion device looks like, except that this one isn't ready for prime-time.
Nor this one:

I would go with the free-electron laser because this is clearly an attempt to make the largest possible engine for the least thrust.

Also, looking at the diagrams in the article, I don't see anything that suggests they've addressed the problem that hitting the pellet with a laser on one side simply causes the pellet be vaporized and driven away without fusion (somewhat like squeezing a watermelon seed). How can they grant patents from devices that cannot work as designed?

Comment Re:Bah ... (Score 1) 190 190

"from their own stupidity and greed" should be written as "from their own greed."
Stupid is not what you call people making centi-millions off the rest of us.

Did you mean by "centi-millions" tens of thousands (correct meaning of centi-) or hundreds of millions (should be hecto-)?

I hate to be "that guy", but if the latter, it's the second time I've seen centi- used to mean hundreds instead of hundredths in less than a week.

Clovis now wears the cone of shame.

Comment Re:Bah ... (Score 1) 190 190

If NYSE is down to "technical" reasons it's because one or more of the high-frequency-theft algorithms has lost its shit again and messed everything up.


Mark my words, this will be about protecting the clowns who are skimming off the top from their own stupidity and greed.

"from their own stupidity and greed" should be written as "from their own greed."
Stupid is not what you call people making centi-millions off the rest of us.

Comment Re:You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 2) 359 359

I think his point was that you'd have physical access to it, yknow, to buy physical bread and milk.

What people found out in the Argentinian crisis of 1998 and in the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990's, is that you cannot buy anything you want with gold.
People want things that they can use (or must have), so the economy becomes barter - trade alcohol for cans of food, trade cigarette lighters for condoms, gasoline for alcohol.

I kind of doubt there will be a market for trading a can of soup for bitcoins on a street corner. I can imagine that someone might setup a trading warehouse that dealt with bitcoins, but I can't see that becoming standard practice. Keep in mind bitcoin trading requires computers and electricity.

What is gold good for? Gold is good for preserving your savings through bank failures and/or a currency crisis if you convert your savings before the crisis happens.
But you can do the same thing with Swiss francs or American Dollars, but like gold, only if you can get them before hand.
Banks love gold for themselves for that reason - to protect their own money.

Comment Re: Interesting eggcorn (Score 2) 112 112

It should be "free rein". It refers to the reins used to direct the travel of a horse similarly to the way "steering wheels" were used to direct the motion of automobiles before Google acquired a majority stake on the US Supreme court and self-driving cars became mandatory.
Anyway, If you were to release your grip on the reins, then the horse may theorectically feel free to travel in any direction. In practice the horse generally returned to the barn after scraping the rider off on the nearest tree.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.