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Comment: Re:Funny, that spin... (Score 4, Insightful) 217

by hey! (#49765025) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

Spin, sure, but it's a waay bigger minority than I expected. I'd even say even shockingly large.

The genius of Asimov's three laws is that he started by laying out rules that on the face of it rule out the old "robot run amok" stories. He then would write, if not a "run amok" story, one where the implications aren't what you'd expect. I think the implications of an AI that surpasses natural human intelligence are beyond human intelligence to predict, even if we attempt to build strict rules into that AI.

One thing I do believe is that such a development would fundamentally alter human society, provided that the AI was comparably versatile to human intelligence. It's no big deal if an AI is smarter than people at chess; if it's smarter than people at everyday things, plus engineering, business, art and literature, then people will have to reassess the value of human life. Or maybe ask the AI what would give their lives meaning.

Comment: Re:Truth be told... (Score 4, Interesting) 118

by hey! (#49764209) Attached to: Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed

Dear moderators: "Troll" is not a synonym for "I disagree with this".

That said, I disagree with this.

We've known since the investigation of 9/11 that suicide bombers are not necessarily dead-enders except in the literal sense. Economic powerlessness might play a role in the political phenomenon of extremist violence, but it is not a necessary element of the profile of a professional extremist. These people often come from privileged backgrounds and display average to above average job aptitude.

Mohammed Atta's life story makes interesting reading. He was born to privileged parents; at the insistence of his emotionally distant father he wasn't allowed to socialize with other kids his age, and had a lifelong difficulty with relating to his peers. At university he did OK but below the high expectations of his parents. He went to graduate school in urban planning where his thesis was on how impersonal modern high rise buildings ruined the historic old neighborhoods of the Muslim world.

That much is factual; as to why he became an extremist while countless others like him did not, we can only speculate. I imagine that once he decided modernity was the source of his personal dissatisfactions Al Qaeda would be attractive to him. Al Qaeda training provided structure which made interacting with his new "peers" easier than ever before. And martyrdom promised relief from the dissatisfactions of a life spent conscious of his own mediocrity. Altogether he was a miserable and twisted man -- but not economically miserable.

Comment: Re:To be more precise, Amazon will collect on taxe (Score 1) 218

by Maxo-Texas (#49763729) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

And most corporations don't actually pay 35%. Some large notable corporations didn't even pay 10% for the last several years.

In part due to finding a way to bypass existing tax laws.

The understanding was-- you do business in region "X", you pay taxes in region "X" to support services (like roads, court systems, police). The businesses found a way to say, "Oh- I'm legally in region "Y" even tho I made billions of dollars in region "X" last year. In some cases (like ireland) they are finding it wasn't really legal in the first place... in other places they are closing the loophole.

Comment: Most guys here are missing the point. (Score 1) 274

by hey! (#49763589) Attached to: Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

And that point is encapsulated in a single adverb: still. "Still" is what makes this news; it wouldn't have been news twenty or thirty years ago.

I am old enough to remember when genital equipment was considered employment destiny. When my wife went to oceanography graduate school the sysadmins of the school minicomputers were all female. The all-male faculty called them -- I kid you not -- "Data Dollies". Data dolly was considered a good job for a technically inclined woman because it paid well for an entry level job, involved computers, and was an easy job to hand off when you quit to marry the professor you'd snagged. Plus they'd have a hard time getting work in industry. Clearly that was a transitional moment because there were a substantial minority of women graduate students in the program, but *no* female professors, much less senior administrators.

But given the strong cohort of women in that class, it is surprising the thirty years later there is still a lingering perception in this country that science isn't for women. But maybe it shouldn't be surprising. Change doesn't happen instantaneously, nor does it necessarily ever become complete. When I was in college the notion that women had to become full time homemakers was still predominant -- not among students, but of people over thirty or so, practically everyone in positions of hiring and authority. That attitude seems weird and foreign to a young person today; I expect it's hard for a young person to grasp how pervasive and indeed how genuinely oppressive that belief was. It's a bit like the difference between the way I experience watching Mad Men and the way my kids do. I actually *recognize* that world where smoking was everywhere, big shots drank during office hours, and "womanizing" was a word people actually used without irony. It was fading fast, but still there. To my kids it's like an alien civilization in Doctor Who. So yes, the news that many Americans see science as a profession that somehow belongs to men is a bit like discovering a Silurian in the closet.

The women of my generation fought hard to establish a beachhead in male dominated professions, and if they're sometimes a bit snippy about it, well they earned the right. It wasn't easy to be an oddball among your peers and freak to your parents, teachers and and people in authority generally. And this was at a time when there was no such thing as geek chic to offset the disadvantages being an oddball. Being a geek was bad, period.

Now that cadre of pioneering women is at or approaching the apex of their careers. They're still a minority in their age cohort, but they left a wide open hole in their wake for the next generation. It's taken awhile for that hole to fill up because when opportunities open for a group they go for more high-profile professions (47% of medical students are women, as are 48% of law students). But in another generation I am sure the view that science belongs to one sex or another will be a truly fringe belief.

Comment: Re:To be more precise, Amazon will collect on taxe (Score 1) 218

by Maxo-Texas (#49762257) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

You don't have perfect flexibility to raise your prices.

You might wish you did, but for most businesses, you don't.

The truth is somewhere in between you raising your prices 30% and you eating the entire tax. If you raise your prices 30%, you will sell less product. Often, raising them 30% will cut your business by more than 30%. So you raise prices by less - make a little less profit- and maximize the profits you can make at the new tax rate.

If the tax rate is unsustainable, then you'll go out of business.

Clearly with most of the targeted companies making record profits and more to the point, unusually high profit margins compared to other businesses - they have a lot of slack. They are just a new business and the government hasn't figured out how to take a share from them yet. But it will-- because police have to be paid, roads have to be maintained, the courts have to be run, and the military has to protect the country, etc. etc.

Comment: Re:Whistleblower (Score 1) 360

"Accidentally" isn't certain here. If I was part of something that was wrong and I wanted it to be known, I would very well "accidentally" leak it too.

Except I don't see how that applies in this case. Stay or leave -- it's not the bank's call. But if politicians are putting leaving the EU on the table, even as an empty gesture, then naturally the bank has to start thinking about contingency plans. That's just common sense, even if you think the very idea of leaving the EU is mad.

It's also common sense to keep that on the DL to prevent misguided overreaction to what is after all still a hypothetical scenario. The Bank of England a central bank and so people must be constantly scrutinizing it hoping to glean inside information on future monetary policy. That's to say nothing of having to deal with the conspiracy theory nutters.

Comment: Re:what is the harm? (Score 1) 239

by Maxo-Texas (#49760991) Attached to: California Votes To Ban Microbeads

You can't study microplastic beads directly because once they reach the environment, they quickly become indistinguishable from other microplastic pollution.


I'm not an expert in this area but it looks like enough serious people are investigating it that I'll back them when they say to stop.

--- (from the link).

I R.C. Thompson, et al. âLost at Sea: Where Is All the Plastic?â(TM), in: Science, 304 (May 2004).

II P.K. Roy, et al., âDegradable Polyethylene: Fantasy or Realityâ(TM), in: Environmental Science and Technology, 2011, pp. 4217â"4227.

III M.C. Goldstein et al., âIncreased oceanic microplastic debris enhances oviposition in an endemic pelagic insectâ(TM), in: Biology Letters published on line 9 May 2012; C.J. Moore, âSynthetic polymers in the marine environment: A rapidly increasing, long-term threatâ(TM), in: Environmental Research108 (2008), pp. 131-139.

IV L.S. Fendall, M.A. Sewell, âContributing to marine pollution by washing your face: microplastics in facial cleansersâ(TM), in: Marine Pollution Bulletin, 58 (8) (2009), pp. 1225-1228.

V W.J. Sutherland et al., âA horizontal scan of global conservation issues for 2010â(TM), in: Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 25, pp. 1-7.

VI Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panelâ"GEF (2012). Impacts of Marine Debris on Biodiversity: Current Status and Potential Solutions, Montreal, Technical Series No. 67.

VII Chr.M. Boerger et al., âPlastic ingestion by planktivorous fishes in the North Pacific Central Gyreâ(TM), in: Marine Pollution Bulletin 60 (2010), pp. 2275-2278.

VIII Y. Mato et al., âPlastic Resin Pellets as a Transport Medium of Toxic Chemicals in the Marine Environmentâ(TM), in: Environmental Science & Technology, 2001, 35(2), pp.318-324.

IX H. Takada, et al., âAccumulation of plastic-derived chemicals in tissues of seabirds ingesting marine plasticsâ(TM) in: Marine Pollution Bulletin69 (2013), pp 219-222.

X E.M. Foekema et al., âPlastic in North Sea fishâ(TM), in: Environmental Science & Technology, 47 (2013), pp. 8818-8824.

XI P. Farrel en K. Nelson, âTrophic level transfer of microplastic: Mytilus edulis (L.) to Carcinus maenas (L.)â(TM), in: Environmental Pollution 177 (2013), pp. 1-3.

XII D. Lithner et al., âEnvironmental and health hazard ranking and assessment of plastic polymers based on chemical compositionâ(TM), in: Science of the total environment 409 (2011), pp. 3309â"3324.

XIII STAP. Marine Debris as a Global Environmental Problem: Introducing a solutions based framework focused on plastic. In A STAP Information Document, p. 40. Washington, DC: Global Environment Facility, 2011.

XIV L. Van Cauwenberghe, âOccurrence of microplastics in mussels (Mytilus edulis) and lugworms (Arenicola marina) collected along the French-Belgian-Dutch coast, in: J. Mees, et al. (ed.), Book of abstracts - VLIZ Young Marine Scientists' Day. Brugge, Belgium, 24 February 2012. VLIZ Special Publication, 55.

XV Cole M., et al., âMicro-plastic ingestion by zooplanktonâ(TM), in: Environmental Science & Technology, 2013 47 (12), pp. 6646-6655.

XVI G. Liebezeit, F. Dubaish, âMicroplastics in Beaches of the East Frisian Islands Spiegeroog and Kacheloplateâ(TM), in: Bulletin environmental contamination and toxicology, 89 (2012), p. 213-127.


XVIII Leslie, H.A., Microplastic in Noordzee zwevend stof en cosmetica. Eindrapportage W-12/01, IVM Institute for Environmental Studies, Amsterdam, 2012.

XIXM.A. Browne et al., âAccumulations of microplastic on shorelines worldwide: sources and sinksâ(TM), in: Environmental Science &Technology 45 (2011), pp. 9175/9179; H.A. Leslie et al., âVerkennende studie naar lozing van microplastics door rwziâ(TM)sâ(TM) in: H2O 14/15 (juli 2012), pp. 45-47.

Comment: Re:what is the harm? (Score 2) 239

by Maxo-Texas (#49758027) Attached to: California Votes To Ban Microbeads

Microbead contamination and harm Although their small size makes them difficult to detect, microbeads have been found in inland and coastal aquatic habitats 4,5 and in fish 6 . Experiments have demonstrated harm in fish 9,10 from plastics that are the same type, size and shape as common microbeads. Microbeads pass through water treatment facilities, are released into natural wat erways and become microplastic debris. Microplastic is ubiquitous in aquatic habitats , including bays 11,12 , estuaries and shorelines 13,14 , coral reefs 15 , the deep - sea 15 , freshwater lakes 16 , rivers 5 and Arctic Sea ice 17 . Microplastics persist in aquatic and terrestrial habitats for decades where they accumulate hazardous chemicals. Microplastic has been reported in hundreds of species globally, including marine mammals, turtles, seabirds, fish and invertebrates 18 . Microplastics cause physical and chemical ha rm to animals 9,19 . Physically, micro plastic can cause cellular necrosis, inflammation and lacerations in the digestive tract 20 . Chemically, microplastic is associated with a complex mixture of chemicals, many of which are priority pollutants under the US E PA Clean Water Act for being persistent , bioacummulative and/or toxic 21 . C hemicals associated with this âcocktailâ(TM) can accumulate in animals that eat them 9,10,19,22 - 27 and cause liver toxicity and disrupt the endocrine system 9,10 .

Comment: Re:Affirmative Action (Score 1) 529

by Maxo-Texas (#49756439) Attached to: Harvard Hit With Racial Bias Complaint

Wow.. 4 insightful to 0,Troll after folks stopped paying attention and it had 15 replies.


Here's what the original said:

Yea, well you were not kept as slaves, killed for learning to read, beaten with inch and a quarter thick poles (often to death). Your families were not sold separately to different owners and broken up. You were not systematically excluded from education, jobs, housing, medical care for generations and eveb lynched for generations (as recently as the 1990s for several of those). The police don't selectively stop you, shoot you, arrest you while letting other races go without an arrest record.

So affirmative not really so much about helping or hurting you or your minority group. It's about trying to correct evils of the past and make things fair enough again that we don't have violent civil unrest, mass rioting and destruction of property.

If you have 2% of the population and 2% representation at harvard, you don't need help from harvard.
She was like chocolate when she drank... semi-sweet at first and then increasingly bitter.

It's truth, not trolling.

Comment: Re:Probably True (Score 2) 156

by Obfuscant (#49754821) Attached to: 'Prisonized' Neighborhoods Make Recidivism More Likely

Provincial inmates are released to the community they came from, while Federal inmates are paroled to a different community.

That seems like common sense. You and your pals take up a life of crime. You get released back into the same neighborhood where all your pals still live/are released to. It's likely you'll fall into the same bad company. Get put into a community where your pals aren't ready to help you re-offend and you're less likely to re-offend.

Comment: Re:Signals, zoning, and subsidizing transit (Score 1) 825

by Obfuscant (#49754779) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

Even at a red light, the car might want to go right on red, and assumes you're not going to just run through the light, so they pass you.

At a red light, a car turning right on red has the right of way over a bicycle desiring to go straight through on red. It isn't an issue of passing the bike, it's one of turning in front of him. Changing the law so that the red light becomes just a 'yield' for the bike but a stop for the car is a recipe for accidents. And the biker will lose.

I've already talked about the confusion created by existing laws in this regard. Let's not try to make it worse, ok?

I can't believe how many times I've done that to catch a car that thinks "Oh he's going so slow, I'll just sneak ahead of him and turn real quick."

That's an excellent argument against making stop signs and/or red lights into "yield" for bicyclists. That will create the same "I'll just sneak ahead" situation for a bicycle crossing an intersection without stopping.

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