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Comment: Re:This is clearly futile... (Score 1) 149

by swillden (#48475045) Attached to: Google Told To Expand Right To Be Forgotten

The Internet is full of half-truths and outright lies. Search engines do not deliver results based on the truth value of sites, but on popularity, page ranking and such.

That has nothing to do with this. If someone has put lies about you up on a news site, you can and should be able to get that information taken down at the source. In fact, dealing with defamatory writing is something we figured out how to do long ago. It's called "libel" and there are all sorts of laws around it.

The "right to be forgotten" isn't about taking down false or misleading information. It's about suppressing accurate but unpleasant truth.

Comment: Re:Quantum Mechanics and Determinism (Score 1) 332

The universe as a whole is NOT deterministic as Quantum Mechanics proves. QM is based on true randomness (obvious a simplification but go with it for this conversation).

The fact that the theories that describe QM are based on true randomness does NOT mean that the universe as a whole is not deterministic.

First, we already know that QM is limited, because it doesn't account for gravity. Second, even if QM as it is formulated today did accurately describe the universe to the best of our ability to measure it doesn't mean that another theory that is deterministic couldn't also describe the universe.

Many of the arguments made on the basis of QM go beyond the actual math and are just fairly subjective interpretations of the implications of the theory. It might be established that you can't measure the position and velocity of a particle with arbitrary precision, but that doesn't mean that a particle doesn't have a precise position or velocity. QM tends to be formulated in terms of describing what you'd get if you performed an experiment. That doesn't necessarily mean that the universe actually works in this way.

Think about it - how could you even prove that a given chain of events was or wasn't deterministic? You can't ever reproduce the same chain of events perfectly, so it is impossible to test. That means any claim that there is or isn't determinism in nature is basically unfalsifiable.

Comment: Re:I think (Score 1) 332

Really? Do you define your moral compass to directly align with the law? Let's look at what you said.

He was explaining the Geneva Conventions/etc. That isn't an argument about morality.

Define organized. Define military, Define what constitutes an insignia. Your definition of privileged combatant excludes every combatant relevant to a modern war (at least for the US which is where the automated death machines are coming into play). Terrorists groups aren't in organized military structure, they don't wear insignias, and they don't follow the laws and customs of warfare. So by your definition of civilian, they are all civilians and in some cases both civilians and combatants.

I'm sure those terms all have definitions, and as you point out they exclude most of the folks the US tends to end up shooting at of late.

The Geneva conventions were written so that nations with big armies could decide who they are/aren't allowed to shoot at. It isn't an accident that the definition for privileged combatants exclude terrorist groups and such. Forces not wearing uniforms are basically not afforded any protections under the conventions.

How is a drone or even a soldier supposed to know the difference between the men carrying the guns? If he is standing with the other men when the soldier fires on them and he fires on the soldier is he a combatant and okay to kill then, even though he is a civilian acting in self-defense? What if the soldier is replaced with a machine? Now it's a human being defending his life and not putting another at risk.

These problems aren't unique to drones. I can't specifically answer your questions as it is a bit unclear who is shooting at who in your description above.

If you're a civilian and somehow get caught up in a firefight with an organized group of soldiers on the other side, your best bet is to run or try to surrender. If you have a gun using it in self-defence is almost certainly suicidal. That isn't going to change if you add robots to the mix. This has nothing to do with morality - it is just a fact that when you shoot at soldiers they're going to consider you the enemy and they're almost certainly more likely to come out on top.

Comment: Re:I think (Score 1) 332

Then there's also the question of, how many wars have there been lately where both sides were clearly identifying themselves? Those fighting have gotten the hint that it's a dumb idea to engage bigger powers in anything other than asymmetric/guerrilla/whatever warfare.

And this would be why the large powers that worked out the Geneva Conventions wrote them in a way so as to offer no protections for people engaging in guerrilla warfare. It isn't like this is something new. There just haven't been any large-scale wars in a long time.

Keep in mind that nations are basically defined by their sovereignty. They aren't really subject to laws in the same way that ordinary citizens are. International law is really just a set of protocols everybody tends to follow because it works to their benefit. The Geneva Conventions basically say that if you don't firebomb our civilians we won't firebomb yours, and to help make that happen we'll both agree to not have civilians fighting guerrilla wars. When one side in a war decides to ignore them, they do so at the risk that the other side will also decide to ignore them.

Also, I think the effectiveness of guerrilla warfare is sometimes overstated. It works very well when the state you are fighting doesn't really have a big stake in the game, and is governed by some kind of democracy with a free press and all that. It only tends to work against occupying forces, since it lacks the ability to project power. It also relies on the fact that the occupying power desires to have peaceful relations with the existing population.

If you tried to use guerrilla warfare under other circumstances you would probably not be as successful. If you were fighting against a opponent governed by a dictatorship who occupied your country solely because they need your natural resources they might just decide to nerve gas the entire local population and move in their own workers to exploit your resources. If you were fighting against even a democratic opponent but they felt that their way of life was at risk, they might resort to brutal measures to put down the revolt (maybe they're engaged in a larger war and need your country as a base of operations). If some local tribe had attacked an essential US base in the pacific in WWII I doubt the local marines would have put up with it.

Comment: Re:In Finland (Score 1) 495

by rastos1 (#48472837) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?
The parent post should not have mentioned earthquake. For earthquake prone zone you want wooden houses because they are more flexible. But I don't often see earthquake reports from US. On the other hand I see tornado reports from US several times a year. The houses are turned into a pile of debris every single time. Also the victims don't usually wander around saying - "Ah, it's cheap to re-build a wooden house". More likely they say "I've lost everything; I can't afford to build a new house". I don't say that a concrete/brick building will not suffer any damage. But surely it will be in better shape compared to a wooden house.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 1) 427

by Rich0 (#48471857) Attached to: How Intel and Micron May Finally Kill the Hard Disk Drive

But big sequentually accessed files like video or music are perfect for a hardddisc, It's random access & thousands of little files where SSD's shine because of zero seektimes.

Sure. However, there seems to be some kind of argument that SSDs will completely replace hard drives for consumer use. That doesn't seem likely to me. SSDs are great for many things, maybe even for most things, but there are many common use cases where they just aren't adequate. Their cost may very well come down, but so do hard drive costs.

Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 1) 69

by Rich0 (#48471845) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

I wasn't really trying to debate that part of your post. I don't know what their original agreement was, but if they promised to develop it then they may very well have failed to uphold the agreement.

I think part of the issue here is that Ebola was a dead-end financially until recently. It is still speculative that anybody will make money off of it. So, companies weren't exactly beating down the door to develop it. Really the solution in these kinds of cases is for the government to just hire a company to do the work on a cost+plus basis or something like that, with the government retaining the patent rights. Of course, that would cost money, which is probably why it wasn't done.

Heck, I think that the government should be doing this a lot more even for potentially profitable areas. I'd like to see how a cost-plus model works for drug development. The resulting drugs would be cheap, with the taxpayers paying all the bills. This model could compete with the current patent-based model and we could see which was more effective in the long run.

Comment: Re: Mass produce! (Score 1) 177

by HiThere (#48470947) Attached to: Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

FWIW, if you have enough energy then synthetic gasoline can be manufactured. It's not the most efficient of processes, however. Using it for fuel would probably be unwise. (I think electric cars would work out better.) But you can also build lubricants.

Mind you, this process doesn't sound efficient enough to make the process practical.

Comment: Re:BLUE ray (Score 1) 177

by swillden (#48470725) Attached to: Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

removed the top plastic layer, exposing the recording medium beneath; cast a mold of the quasi-random pattern; and then used the mold to create a photovoltaic cell with the same pattern

So you use your expensive photo lithography equipment to create a master, make as many molds from that as you like, and then create the photovoltaic cells from those. The mass production of BD-ROM discs is irrelevant, it just makes your master cheap, but when you're making 10,000s of cells the cost of the master is unimportant.

Sure, but the cost is very relevant when you're doing research. This Blu-Ray disc experiment demonstrates that the theoretical work done previously will probably work as well as the theory predicts.

Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 1) 69

by Rich0 (#48470081) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

That's the point people generally make -- but look at the context of the article you're commenting about -- the drug in this case was invented in Canada, paid for by Canadian taxpayers, and then rights were sold pretty much at-cost to a US company to test and develop it

Setting aside the breach of contract angle, keep in mind that the cost to test and develop a drug is actually the vast majority of the total cost to bring it to market.

It is a bit like saying that I sold my conceptual art drawing of a flying car to Ford for $100k and they went on and made millions on an actual flying car. The art drawing might have gone into the design, but there is a lot more to a flying car than a painting. Even an untested design isn't worth a whole lot, because the company buying it may test it only to find that it doesn't work.

The work required to bring an Apple Newton and an Apple iPad to market could very well be the same. That doesn't mean that the rights to market either are going to sell for the same price.

Comment: Re:Recognize the crisis in US Big Pharma... (Score 2) 69

by Rich0 (#48470063) Attached to: Canada's Ebola Vaccine Nets Millions For Tiny US Biotech Firm

Canada creates a highly viable experimental vaccine for a very dangerous and scary virus, and US pharmaceuticals seek to pwn it up in their own market.

The distinction is that Canada did NOT create an FDA-approved vaccine. The difference between a vaccine and an FDA-approved vaccine is that you have to start with about 15 of the former and spend $100M on each to end up with just one of the latter, typically.

Commercial pharma companies sell each other early discovery compounds on the cheap all the time, so it isn't really a scandal when governments sell them. Early drug candidates don't cost much because it turns out that 95% of them don't work.

Imagine that a hurricane floods out a car dealership. A week later the water has drained away. An auction is held for all the cars on the lot. Do you think they will sell for their sticker prices? They'll certainly sell, but for a fraction of what they would get in undamaged condition.

Now imagine that you take a lot full of 1000 flooded cars. You perform a complete teardown and inspection on all of them. You end up with 990 cars that are in horrible condition, and 10 that by some miracle happened to get through with minimal damage. Now if you auction them all individually the 990 will sell for their value as scrap (even less than the average price paid sight unseen), and the 10 will sell competitively to ordinary used cars. The cars didn't change at all, but the knowledge of them did change.

Another example is buying vintage packs of baseball cards and such. The pack sells for a value that represents the average likely value of its contents. If you open it up the contents instantly become either much less valuable, or much more valuable.

It is no different for drugs. If you take a bunch of research leads they might all look equally promising, but after you invest millions in clinical trials it becomes apparent which ones will make money. If you sell your lead at the beginning you get a lot less for it. On the other hand, if you hold onto it you might find you held onto a bunch of junk cards when you could have gotten a portion of the value of a prized card for it.

Comment: Re:Fuck That Shit (Score 1) 64

by HiThere (#48469259) Attached to: The People Who Are Branding Vulnerabilities

How do you explain to a nervous boss who doesn't program that your program isn't going to be affected? Some people won't be reassured, and also won't understand. And they can always find someone to justify their fears.

My old boss came up through programming. I got a new boss. After a couple of years I decided to take early retirement. Some people you just can't explain things to...especially in areas they're ignorant of. (I'm willing to accept that he was a good accountant.)

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.