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Comment: Re:Profitable, if self-contradictory (Score 1) 549

by curril (#48043183) Attached to: Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

5. No statement ascribing a mental predicate can be derived from any set of purely physical descriptions.

Meh. Hume's Law doesn't really apply to that statement. That's the same as the Chinese Room argument against strong ai. It is more wishful thinking than a valid thesis. It is very easy for a collection to have properties that its individual elements do not. A simple example is that a set of objects can be assigned a number corresponding to the number of objects in the set, whereas that property isn't meaningful for a single object. Once the collective property is defined, it is very easy to logically derive it from the collection of individual objects. So a particular mental state can be assigned to a particular set of neurons firing and, assuming that you have a good neurological model of the mind, you can therefore derive mental states from physical descriptions in the same way you derive results in calculus once you have defined concepts like limits.

To come back to the point of the thread, attempting to save humanity is meaningful even if it may ultimately be unsuccessful.

Comment: Tiddlywiki (Score 3, Interesting) 133

by curril (#45831399) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life Organization With Free Software?

TiddlyWiki is a self-contained app stored in an HTML file that you can store on a USB, Dropbox, or elsewhere. People have written GTD add-ons for it and it is easy to write your own customizations. There is an Android app to help run it on Android systems and the new version uses HTML 5 with option to use node.js to make it even more powerful.

Comment: Re:Thus spoke the sage on the stage... (Score 1) 637

by curril (#41972193) Attached to: Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago

There are many threats to our life and health in the modern environment. Cars, electricity, toxic compounds under the sink, industrial machinery, and so on. It takes intelligence to navigate these dangers and accidents are a significant cause of death for people of reproductive age, thus evolutionary selection for intelligence. Granted, most modern humans would be ill suited for surviving on the savannah, but the article's assumption that Athenians would be better suited for rapidly reading road signs and adjusting for oncoming traffic is a bit much.

Comment: Precedence in case law? (Score 1) 316

Google should look into the case of Loglan versus Lojban. The creator of the constructed language Loglan sued and lost against the creators of Lojban, a derivative language with similar grammar but with different words. Especially relevant since Loglan/Lojban was designed to be easily read and interpreted by computers.

Comment: Re:Always thought I'd love Augmented reality (Score 1) 249

by curril (#39577685) Attached to: Google Glasses Announced

Line of sight overlays as you describe would be very hard to implement in glasses because the camera would have to track eye position as well as doing object recognition. So process the image, identify the road or billboard to be overlaid, and then place the overlay on the glasses in a position that will correspond to the objects location for you eye's current position--all in real time. Those overlays they do for video of sporting events are for fixed cameras pointing at known objects with plenty of computing horsepower that doesn't have to worry about eye position.

Comment: FaceBook doesn't care (Score 2) 111

by curril (#35831234) Attached to: Crowdsourcing the Censors: A Contest

This is a well-studied "Who watches the watchers?" web of trust type issue. While there is no perfect solution, there are a number of good approaches. This page on Advgato describes a good trust metric for reducing the impact of spam and malicious attacks. It wouldn't be that big of a deal for FaceBook to incorporate some such system. However, it would require FaceBook to actually care about about being fair to its users, which it doesn't. FaceBook exploits for financial gain the tribal desires of people to band together and be part of a group. So FaceBook's really uses its abuse policy as a way to force people to follow the rules of the bigger and more aggressive tribes. Such battles actually help FaceBook to be successful because it strengthens the tribal behaviors that benefit FaceBook's bottom line.

So all in all, no matter what brilliant, cost-effective, robust moderation/abuse system you design or crowd source, the very, very best that you can hope for is that somebody at FaceBook might pat you on the head and thank you for your efforts and say that they aren't interested in your contribution at this time.

Comment: Re:Why prime? Any irrational numbers should be fin (Score 2) 180

by curril (#35751368) Attached to: Using Prime Numbers to Generate Backgrounds

Well, the images do have to be an integer number of pixels wide, but if the ratio between lengths approximated an irrational number you would expect long periods. Even relatively prime numbers would work. Tiles of length 7, 15, and 16 won't repeat for 1,680 pixels. Basically, if you want to create a nice, non-repetitive pattern of overlayed tiles, make certain that the smallest common multiple for all of the tile sizes is larger than your expected screen width.

Comment: Re:Bitcoin is good, but problematic. (Score 1) 280

by curril (#35588602) Attached to: Google Engineer Releases Open Source Bitcoin Client

I really like BitCoin, But the biggest problem is the "goldrush" is over.

Yeah, BitCoins are something of a fad like Beany Babies where an artificially restricted supply allows early adopters to make money off of late comers who foolishly think that they can make money off of people coming after them. From an economic standpoint, BitCoins are simply collector's items. Collecting BitCoins isn't much different than, say, collecting 1973 pennies. There are a limited number of them and their value is primarily determined by the demand for them from other collectors.

The rigid nature of the BitCoin supply is very appealing in today's economy as people want to acquire assets that retain value. Unfortunately, most people have a hard time understanding that value is not determined just by supply, but by demand as well. The very fact that the cash value of BitCoins is going up right now is evidence of this. Most of this demand, however, is not from people who want to use BitCoins, but from people who see them as an investment. After a while the number of new investors will peak, demand will go down, early investors will cash out, supply will go up, and the market will crash.

I doubt that BitCoins will ever see much mainstream use for conducting transactions, primarily because of the complexity of using them and because their unregulated nature will prevent them from being a stable currency. The fact that all transactions are public will discourage shadier operations from using them. They might see some use in online games where BitCoins could be used as the in-game currency.

Comment: Re:Do you want computer science, or engineering? (Score 5, Insightful) 583

by curril (#35465124) Attached to: CS Profs Debate Role of Math In CS Education

Which is really the way it should be broken out. Computer Science should be about the math, theories, and algorithms that make up computation, and computer software engineering should be more about building applications. Sort of like how traditional engineering relates to physics.

Comment: Re:I don't understand the appeal (Score 1) 517

by curril (#35168052) Attached to: Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity

Uhm, if the average price of goods goes down relative to the currency, that is, by definition, deflation. While you can argue that it is justified by a higher standard of living, it is still deflation and it will still have all of the problems that deflation has, namely discouraging borrowing and spending.

The real issue here for you seems to be that you want to be assured that whatever currency you manage to accumulate will have the same purchasing power tomorrow as it does today. The only way to do that with currencies subject to inflation is to put the money in a savings account or other investment vehicle whose interest rate compensates for inflation. You think that using BitCoins as a currency would get around that problem, but it doesn't. Assuming that somehow, some way the value of your BitCoins is the same tomorrow as today, then they will be worth more in inflated dollars and you will be taxed on the difference so that you will still end up with less. In fact, in any well-regulated free market, you can expect that if the demand for a fixed, nonrenewable commodity, be it BitCoins or Picasso paintings, remains the same, then its value in an inflated currency will be about the same as it would be if you had started a savings account instead.

Comment: Re:I don't understand the appeal (Score 1) 517

by curril (#35166300) Attached to: Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity

It's all fine and dandy to not to trust the government to regulate the money supply, but I fail to see what BitCoins do to avoid the problem. If the government wanted to, it could buy up a lot of BitCoins, decreasing the supply available for market functions, and then the government could dump in BitCoins from its reserves to increase the supply. If the government is having a hard time getting enough BitCoins to build up its reserves, it could just tax people. Even if the government stayed completely out of the BitCoin market, there is nothing preventing a group of individuals getting together and doing the same thing for their own benefit.

Comment: I don't understand the appeal (Score 2) 517

by curril (#35165452) Attached to: Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity

BitCoin enthusiasts seem to fall into the same category as gold standard promoters. You can't run a modern global economy with financial instruments based on a rare commodity. Only 21 million BitCoins will be generated, which will cause deflation once that limit is reached. The only way a government could use BitCoins is the same way they used to use gold, ie. buy up enough of it to have reserves that can be used to pump money into the economy when it needs it. BitCoins won't be more stable than modern fiat currencies because they will have all the problems associated with gold, such as hoarding and dumping. BitCoins are interesting as an attempt to create an electronic form of cash, but hoping to build a stable economic platform on them is foolish.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990