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Comment Re:What's the real problem? (Score 1) 144

For security purposes, it's not unreasonable to suggest that Mr. Big Picture Strategy Guy not be given read/write access to everything he is expected to be planning; that makes his credentials unbelievably valuable to an attacker and if he is in the position of needing to twiddle individual configurations all the time the organization hasn't actually made him the Big Picture Strategy Guy; but widespread read access would be a much harder request to reasonably deny: Anyone who is supposed to be strategizing needs to be able to see the world; and forcing him to wait 48 hours and work from a secondhand report compiled by minions every time he has a question about what the world looks like now is going to waste a lot of everybody's time.

Unless his mandate is strictly "Design us a new system so we can forklift upgrade this whole goddamn place!"(which would be deeply satisfying; but legacy infrastructure never dies that easily); expecting him to work in a black box is unrealistic; but he doesn't necessarily need(or even want to be stuck with) the ability to actually commit his proposed changes to every last widget out there.

Comment Re:John Sculley? The guy who nearly killed Apple? (Score 2) 118

Scully increased Apple's revenue ten fold during his tenure as CEO. It was the idiots who followed him that tanked the company.

No, Scully allowed Apple to become unmanageable, Spindler nearly died trying to get a lid on it, and then Amelio made the decision that saved the company from oblivion, by picking NeXT over Be.


Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 2) 44

Well, I think that the standards for driving tests could use some modification; but I was actually aiming at exactly the opposite point: There isn't any particular reason to believe that we need to, or will, demand that machines that control vehicles be submitted to some sort of profound understanding and formal verification, given that we accept black-box testing(and pretty shoddy testing at that) for human operators.

The initial ,lobbying might be a fairly ghastly pain; but I see no reason why there would be any long-term resistance to complex systems(neural network or otherwise) that are effectively beyond human understanding; so long as they pass black box tests of their abilities. I say this both because that's what we do when dealing with people; and because, in practice, even today's tech is complex enough that effectively nobody outside of very specialized software dev and test outfits knows what the hell is going on; and people basically accept that, because the alternative involves being restricted to radically simpler technology or radically more expensive tech support.

Comment Re:The problem with neural networks (Score 1) 44

I certainly wouldn't want to be the one leading the charge to get this approved; but we currently let neural networks drive cars after a relatively pitiful 'black box' verification where we subject them to maybe 30 minutes, 45 at most, of approximately real-world stimuli and then evaluate their responses.

This arrangement does end up with ~30,000 fatalities a year; but seems to enjoy broad support.

Comment Re:The elephant in the room (Score 1) 172

Aside from the question(which is important; but not directly relevant to this post) of whether or not the pre-feminist situation was ethically tenable; I think that there are some complications that your description of the economic situation doesn't include.

Female labor force participation has never actually been particularly minimal: women(and children) were a staple of factor workforces from the start of the industrial revolution; and the 'piecework' and 'putting-out' distributed domestic production of various goods were also heavily dependent on women and children. Plus the effect of domestic labor that isn't counted as labor market participation; but which effectively replaces demand for some goods and services that would otherwise be produced by people in the labor market(if mom is cooking and mending at home, your consumption of new clothes and restaurant-prepared food is going to be more limited, as likely will be your demand for housecleaning services and the like).

It is true that women's labor market participation was often more tenuous and less protected('maternity leave' tended to be you getting fired); but between young women newly entering the labor market and mothers of older children re-entering it(sometimes with those children) it was still quite substantial. The single-income household(especially as a blue-collar phenomenon) was only ever on the table because of the period of relative strength enjoyed by organized labor(which was instrumental in raising the earning potential of male blue collar workers) and 'Progressive' reformers pushing against child labor, for mandatory universal education, and against the neglect of children whose parents had to go back to work while they were still very young.

Absent those changes, factory work would likely still be a family affair, as it definitely was earlier in its development; and single-income households would really only be even an option for the relatively wealthy and skilled and/or educated.

As for the annihilation of the blue-collar sole breadwinner; it is undeniable that it has occurred. However, it's worth looking at whether those jobs/wage levels were lost because of increased availability of female workers; or whether the causes were elsewhere and the increased female workforce participation was a compensatory measure to attempt to salvage overall household income: I'm open to discussion on the matter; but I'm inclined to go with the latter. Think of the sectors where the relatively high paying, largely male, blue collar work used to be. Did those sectors see a pattern of increased hiring of women and wages sliding with increased supply; or did they mostly just disappear with offshoring and outsourcing, or face substantial declines in real wage as the power of labor unions has withered?

Among poor and unskilled workers, the big shift hasn't been Rosie the riveter stealing your factory job, it has been the fact that (mostly lousy) 'pink collar' retail and service industry jobs can't really be offshored, while historically desirable blue-collar sectors have just been gutted. It's actually among the comparatively wealthy and well educated where women's employment gains have occurred through actually getting jobs in historically male fields; and those are the people who are more likely to see marriage and family formation as desirable(though likely to defer it because getting 'a good education' is a process that sure isn't getting any shorter).

Comment Re:Doctor's diagnosis (Score 1) 580

It is one of the possible solvents for the serial dilution and 'succussion' thing that homeopaths do to produce their quack juice. Not as common as water; but it is an option that counts as 'homeopathic' if prepared according to the rest of the procedures.

Solubility doesn't matter much by the time you get to the end product, since basically anything is soluble enough in anything for concentrations in the 'modest probability that a single atom is present' range; but for the original solution and the first few dilutions, some materials just don't dissolve in water very well; but do nicely in alcohol.

Comment Re:why not laser projection overlay? (Score 1) 76

This could have just been device immaturity; but I played with one of those 'laser keyboard' gizmos back when they came out and, while this sensor would presumably help solve the fact that keypress registration was iffy and tactile feedback was utterly hopeless; it isn't in a position to deal with the fact that the laser overlay effect itself was(once you got past the OMG I Live In The Sci-Fi Future Now! effect) kind of lousy. Your hands cast shadows during use, and the keys being shadowed were projected distractingly all over your fingers, while the laser lines were a bit dim for bright light; but somewhat uncomfortable to look at in dim conditions, and you did a fair amount of looking because touch typing was not happening.

The cool factor was high; but the experience was fairly unpleasant.

Comment Re:Sorry, but slapping a keyboard overlay... (Score 1) 76

I agree(from my Model M) that you should never send some 'touch' nonsense to do a proper buckling spring keyswitch's job; but the technology behind this product actually sounds extraordinarily impressive, just not suited for beating keyswitches at what keyswitches do best.

Resistive sensors are not new; but have traditionally suffered from tepid pressure-level sensitivity, a very limited number of simultaneous touch points(the basic 'grid layout' ones often just register two touches as a single touch somewhere between those two points); and the ones that are actually good have been comparatively expensive and large enough to be packaged as discrete parts.

These guys claim that they can get 20,000 pressure sensors of adequate quality crammed into a small enough surface to provide comprehensive coverage, and cheaply enough that you'll be able to get one for $200. If that is so, they have a very, very, interesting entrant into the existing market for strain gauges, force sensitive resistors, and the like; with markedly higher resolution and comparatively low cost. Robotics will be all over this one.

Comment I wonder... (Score 1) 172

I'd be fascinated to know, though I admit that I'm not sure how you would disentangle this, how much of the success of this approach has to do with any particular twist on how the education is done(the introduction of the college classes option earlier in HS, curriculum restructuring and shuffling, etc.); vs. how much has to do with the fact that the corporate sponsor is(through the internships and preferential hiring) making the connection between achievement in school and tangible payoff particularly strong and evident.

I'd certainly be the first to agree that many kids are dumb, impulsive, and shortsighted(some grow out of it, some turn into adults with the same traits); and that some schools are just atrocious. However, while slavishly adhering to the 'rational actor' model can lead to absurd excesses best left to economists; it can sometimes be helpful to imagine, at least as test, that people might actually be behaving "rationally", at least in a local sense.

Thinking back on my own education, some of it was undeniably useful for basically anyone(literacy and basic mathematics), some of it was of no direct use but almost certainly good for the mind in ways that are broadly applicable(writing essays about works of literature or classical greek political events isn't terribly relevant; but knowing your way around a coherent thesis backed by a reasonably competent body of argument and evidence sure is handy); and some of it was probably included for reasons little better than 'because tradition'. However, my surroundings always made it abundantly clear that (in addition to being a social expectation) education had rewards. My parents had degrees and jobs that were only possible because of their education; our neighbors and family friends were almost entirely the same way, we watched older kids head off to college, to internships, to various jobs; even if some dickhead still asked "When are we ever going to need this?" during some aspect of calculus that annoyed him, nobody was in any serious doubt that, even if you thought that some of it was just hoop-jumping, education was obviously valuable.

Had I grown up in a worse environment, gone to lousier schools, I would have likely enjoyed worse teachers and facilities; but I also would have been substantially ignorant of, or unbelieving of, the value of education: both because a diploma from the local high school probably isn't all that valuable; and because I'd have relatively few references for people who had done the work and gone on to some sort of professional career thanks to that. Maybe my sheer virtuous love of learning or whatever would have seen me through; but I certainly wouldn't put too much faith in the possibility.

In this case, IBM is making it quite clear that "Do this schoolwork for 4-6 years, depending, and you will see internships and quite possibly a job offer". That's relatively concrete, relatively short-term, easy to understand. To the degree that students are rational actors, that would seem to be a pretty big difference between this program and a school where the payoff is less visible or simply not there.

"Here's something to think about: How come you never see a headline like `Psychic Wins Lottery.'" -- Comedian Jay Leno