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Comment: Re:Evolve Humanity (Score 1) 384

by erik.erikson (#43047035) Attached to: Is Code.org Too Soulless To Make an Impact?

Thanks! It's nice to start the day with a good laugh.

Among changes in the world that my code has enabled is the quantified reduction of occurrences of neighbor-upon-neighbor violence in Africa.

If your code isn't helping others do better and more effective work, find entertainment to better enable the user's effectiveness in life, or whatever, maybe you should be asking: whose head is up her or his arse? If you aren't creating that kind of value, then while all my clients and customers will continuously grow more effective and wealthy yours will become iteratively more poor and less effective. Suppose you're willing to hazard a guess about the likely impacts that will have on our revenue streams?

Comment: Evolve Humanity (Score 1) 384

by erik.erikson (#43038759) Attached to: Is Code.org Too Soulless To Make an Impact?

Coding is about evolving the activities of humanity and by so doing, directly making the world better.

Where the work of persons can be automated we do so with code in order to allow the attention and creativity that would otherwise be avoided or consumed to be redirected to solve bigger, harder, and more interesting problems to more effectively accomplish our goals, whatever they might be.

Caveats about our lack of understanding about what better might be, et cetera, aside: at least we can provide ourselves more free resources with which to solve and consider such problems.

At least, that is why I code...

Comment: Faulty Jump (Score 4, Insightful) 293

by erik.erikson (#41834223) Attached to: Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, and Vice Versa
It seems a faulty jump to go from the observations that the study participants did not use the two elements of cognition together to the assertion that one cannot use both capacities at the same time. At the very least it should be theoretically possible for neural connectivity to be established between the two sub-networks and as a result to activate both capabilities concurrently. Certainly we should be able to imagine circumstances where having such an ability would be advantageous, such as the processing and understanding of the experience but also wise and healthy reaction within the emotional interactions we engage in with our loved ones.

Comment: Youth (Score 1) 823

by erik.erikson (#41766175) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Rectifying Nerd Arrogance?

Nerds are commonly arrogant in their youth. We pay attention to how things actually work and drive towards accuracy and truth/fact. In a sense it is the expression of dominance as a counter to the manners in which we are not dominant and this has been rubbed in our faces through a lack of mates, popularity, et cetera. However, it is an artifact of youth as a true nerd will quickly identify the limitations of his or her knowledge and thereby gain humility, will also gather a peer group in which they are not always the brightest and thereby gain the insight of having been a big fish in a small pond only en route to the ocean amongst the whales, and will experience the failures and manifested risks of arrogance learning to function in a world of people where our interests are joined and others have decisions.

Our strengths are long term in nature and, of course, not all of us successfully develop. We fail to continue growing and developing at our own peril. At the same time, the majority of our world's leaders and powerful people were once considered nerds.

Comment: Grow The Jerk (Score 1) 480

by erik.erikson (#41484229) Attached to: What Should Start-Ups Do With the Brilliant Jerk?

As a reformed previous "brilliant jerk" one of the things I came to realize was that during that time my jerkishness was motivated by being requested and incented, even required, toward such behaviors but to be straightforward, it was also a result of my limitations of understanding and experience in working with people. What I needed was someone to help me understand the social side of the business and the greater value and advantage I could drive through greater diplomacy, empathy, and constructivity within my communications.

You might just find that you evolve the individual as well as the culture of the company while demonstrating loyalty and caring to and for your employees while retaining the talent and capability, accelerating broader productivity, and improving morale.

Comment: Re:Bent of mind (Score 1) 767

by erik.erikson (#41365479) Attached to: Can Anyone Become a Programmer?

Mathematics is most basically a field encompassing the methods and concerns of quantification.

The field of computer science has largely been developed and expanded by mathematicians but I can only accept your assertion if you can demonstrate mathematics ability to address matters such as semantics or all of the other myriad concerns that are generally accepted aspects of the informatics field. Mathematics is a terribly handy and important tool in the toolbox but just one. The general companion idiom you may recognize is that if all you have is a hammer, the world is composed of nails.

My best formalization of how to express computer science is that it is "applied philosophy": the unification of the ideal with the concrete as a precursor of and mechanism towards the possible and actual manifestation of the unification of all ideals.

Comment: Good Idea, Yet Easy to Subvert (Score 1) 167

by erik.erikson (#41058551) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Using a Sandbox To Deal With Spambots?
It's a great idea but there's an issue... If aware of such a policy, such a spammer could create to accounts. One to simply be a "is my other account banned" validation-only account. The strategy could be more effective if the "invisibility" were applied on an IP basis (all accounts from the communicating from the same IP could also view the comments) or something of the like but that strategy could as easily be subverted by switching IPs. Still, it increases the work required of a spammer and complicates their efforts, so I take it as an overall good method of discouraging spam or at least making it more expensive to spam.

Comment: Competitiveness and Efficiency (Score 1) 1086

by erik.erikson (#40937201) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many of You Actually Use Math?

As a new product developer, I use math regularly. Most commonly I have used discrete, set, and stochastic maths. I am glad for the intellectual investments I've made in learning math.

Advice: if nothing else, you should ensure you are able to review and understand the academic presentations of solutions and methods or else you will have excellent solutions that you will not be able to take advantage of. Mathematical theories often describe the "shape" of problems and the factors involved with them as well as the challenges and limits you'll encounter. Without mathematics, you will reduce the top-end of what you can do and reduce your productivity at work. Few can identify it but you will cost massive amounts more for the businesses that hire you. On top of your greater cost, you will have to deal with more of the distracting and non-essential coding that composes the (in my opinion) more boring aspects of the field. Meanwhile, you will move more slowly than the rest of the market and loose any advantage you may have over time.

More personally, studying mathematics you will open up types of thinking and give yourself perspectives you might not otherwise have available. Even if your day to day doesn't require mathematics, you will be better positioned in life if you expend the effort to at least get a cursory understanding.

Comment: The problem is the problem (Score 1) 239

by erik.erikson (#40498989) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Defines Good Developer Culture?

Keep all your developers focused on the problems you are solving. The really hard problems. And demand clarity in their code and solutions. In the end, the problem is the vehicle towards the value you are producing. Leadership's role is to define and communicate a vision of the value you produce, the engineer's role is to understand that vision before but necessarily thereafter identifying and solving the problems that expose their solutions and result in the delivery of the value.

If process or any other factor of the work place start to reduce developer focus from problem solving you will disable or lose your best people and accumulate slack-jaws. Having a job that actually keeps your brain revved up and challenged on an every day basis is crack to true geeks. Note that the basics like reasonable compensation, a good development machine, and basics like coffee et cetera are important to make sure no issue invades the mind space of your focused problem-solving employees.

Having worked in both a successful startup and a large corporation, this is what seems to hinge or turn any effort in our field.

Comment: Re:SciFi don't dictate what I love, or dis-love (Score 1) 448

by erik.erikson (#39750597) Attached to: Neal Stephenson Takes Blame For Innovation Failure
Anubi makes some good points. We do have some social patterns that make trying to do the right thing or start something new problematic.

Of course, you are correct too. The only rational response is to stand up and figure out how to work with the world as it exists.

I don't know that you can assume Anubi hasn't pulled up her/his socks and gotten to work. I have for myself pulled myself up from the gutter. Further, the "stop accepting your position as victim and change it" message is one I share with many people as appropriate. It still doesn't change the fact that the world as we create it couldn't be more conducive to doing awesome stuff. It doesn't mean that existence couldn't be a better place than it is or that we couldn't be better to one another. Actually, I'd go further to claim that if we were able to improve the state of existence that we'd all be the better off for it. Mindsets that stop with the "get over it" and "it's good enough" message seem a barrier to achieving a better state for ourselves and seem an acceptance of the victim position, only slightly evolved. I won't presume your position but maybe you should ask: does that description fit your understanding of yourself? And yes, stepping up will cost you some but the dividends will be higher over the long term.

Actually, that is where I'll agree with the sentiment of Stephenson's assertions. A lot of Sci-Fi has focused on the dangers and risks of the future and it has, by this, failed to develop creative imaginings of the positive possibilities and potentials of existence that we could attempt to manifest. While it is important to understand how we could enslave or destroy ourselves in order to understand how to avoid doing so, it is also important not just to poke holes, not only to critique but also to provide solutions and an understanding of what configurations of reality might be plausible improvements over the current state.

Comment: Re:If you value security and your data (Score 1) 176

Technically, an automated process may have provided the access. It's astute to consider (and even likely) that a non-mechanical process failure may also have been involved. That doesn't change that a bug or other issue in the host's rights provisioning code may have provided the access just as easily.

Comment: Re:First things first (Score 1) 93

by erik.erikson (#39306025) Attached to: Teaching Robot Learners To Ask Good Questions
You appear to falsely believe that we are not machines. Surely, we are the bio-mechanical variety but our machinery learns (or fails to, if you'd like to take the pessimistic view) quite sufficiently, though with limitation.

The knowledge representation and rule based approaches are inherently limited in the sense that you state. That is only a single portion of a much larger field. Would you state the same limitations in regard to the forms that enable your own perception and reaction, "emotional" or otherwise?

All our basic learning functions are derived from emotional responses

The field seems rather convinced that it is a factor of the neural mechanisms that identify regularities and relationships in the environment. Likewise, it seems unprepared to harness those same methods for its purposes. Emotions are but one form of the perception of the environment, not unlike the "thoughts" or more direct perceptions (e.g. you see an object) we also experience. If I twist what I understand to be your meaning then I can state that we agree that the stimuli from the complete environment (including the representations of the environment that the brain provides) and your neural system's processing of it is in fact the basis of human learning. In a simpler and shorter statement: your absorption and comparison of the moments of your existence.

Otherwise, the notion that the abstraction of your sensory and extra-sensory experience is the basis of our learning is but a statement of your direct phenomenological experience.

Comment: Re:Two of my favorites (Score 1) 1244

by erik.erikson (#39279107) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Good, Forgotten Fantasy & Science Fiction Novels?
Agreed about the Narnia series which has received broad attention.

The space trilogy, on the other hand, is a much more mature and much less known but excellent body of work. If the OP had not specified fantasy/sci-fi I'd have tossed out a further dead and forgotten author: Knut Hamsun. More particularly I'd have suggested Growth of the Soil.

Despite the strong presence of dragons in Dragonworld, it is a story that is much more about the evolution and interactions of societies and people. More particularly of a inventor/geek/innovator borne upon society's tides which makes it seem of particular appeal/relevance to the /. crowd.

The major difference between bonds and bond traders is that the bonds will eventually mature.

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