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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Knowledge Management Systems

Tom writes: Is there an enterprise level equivalent of Semantic MediaWiki, a Knowledge Management System that can store meaningful facts and allows queries on it? I'm involved in a pretty large IT project and would like to have the documentation in something better than Word. In a structured format that can be queried, without knowing all the questions that will be asked in the future. I looked extensively, and while there are some graphing or network layout tools that understand predicates, they don't come with a query language. SMW has both semantic links and queries, but as a wiki is very free-form and it's not exactly an Enterprise product (I don't see many chances to convince a government to use it). Is there such a thing?

Comment Re:core point (Score 1) 166

Once one has transmitted the means to convey information and technology, plans can be transmitted (ala Contact, but with technology for biological creation, not communication). One could send to another world every last step needed to create and nurture a human being in-situ,

You are assuming that life as we know it is meaningful to advanced species, and I challenge that assumption.

Life on earth made a leap forward when cells began working together and specializing. The same process is already going on in human societies - many of us are so specialised that we would have a hard time surviving outside the city and the logistics systems that provide us with water, food, electricity (for heat) and build our houses and roads. Imagine this goes on for another thousand years, with humans becoming the equivalent of cells. Highly specialised, completely linked into a larger system that becomes the new entity.

Life of such scale does not have restrictions that we have, the same way we are not impacted by the death of some individual cells in our body. Such a lifeform could easily engage in interstellar travel, even with the hundreds and thousands of years it takes. Its individual "cells" would die and reproduce, but it as a whole would continue.

You can even see nation states or cultures as a primitive version of such life. An identity above and beyond the individual. A frightening prospect for us westerners, who live in a culture that celebrates individualism. For asians, such ideas are much less frightening.

Comment Re:core point (Score 1) 166

We then need to create a signal that is clearly different than that which is produced by natural processes lacking intelligence.

This will give you attention, but not communication.

Transporting meaning, i.e. signal, is more than just making sure you get noticed. How to encode meaning is largely arbitrary and requires a common understanding between sender and receipient. See to the early days of the Cyc project for enlightenment on just how many assumptions are in even the most simple of our communications.

The problem is not generating a signal. Any infant can do that pretty much from the moment it's born. The problem is being understood, and that takes years, even if you are completely embedded in the structure that creates language.

Comment Re:Nope. Doesn't work like that. (Score 1) 305

Do you REALLY see many people like that around you? Cause those are only about 2% of population.

As are the 160 IQ people.

Those people can't be all below average. There are simply too many of them for that. And the curve is broken.

It's not a perfect curve, that's for sure. But the point is not about numbers and math. The point is what you said here:

Your view is distorted by the fact that you are probably standing a bit low (indicating higher IQ) on the right side of the curve, looking up-curve at all those people below you and going "OMG! There are SO MANY of them."
So you don't see that in actuality, most of those people are actually on your side of the curve. Closer to you, than to those below IQ 85.

Most of us here are on the above-average side, as a self-selected group of people interested in stuff that's not very simple. So from our perspective, things that seem incomprehensible stupid would seem less so from the average persons POV.

I personally can't wrap my head around the concept of religion at all and while I can write an article about the psychological needs and cultural circumstances that contribute to the formation of religious ideas, I cannot personally "feel" how it is to be religious. And I can feel myself into many other things.

But from statistics I see, being religious is still pretty much normal.

So in short: Never make a conclusion about what's normal from your own personal experience.

Comment good people (Score 2) 308

It's all the same, really.

If you have good people, you don't need managers, good people can manage themselves.
If you have good people as managers, other people won't mind working for them, because a good manager is a real contribution to the team.
If you have good people at the top level, they will bring good ideas into the company, have the resources and power to see them done, and benefit everyone.

And the reverse for bad people. In the end, it comes down to how good your people are.

That is CMM level 1. You don't want to run your organisation on that level. It's idealistic, and if it works, it works great, but it depends too much on individuals. When your company is not 20 people, but 2000, it becomes almost impossible to ensure that they are all heroes. That is when you need processes and organisational structures that, if they are made by good people(*), will act as training wheels for the less-good.

In IT we know this concept as an "expert system". Someone who is a really good manager works with someone who knows about processes and modelling to turn what he does best into a guideline for others who are not so good. The implicit knowledge gets turned into explicit knowledge. With that, you can go to CMM level 3. The higher levels are for a different discussion.

The point is: Managers are needed, because many people work better under management. Maybe nobody in the team wants to bother with resource allocation and procurement, or skill development and HR processes. Maybe nobody wants to bother with organisational tasks, or (something other posters commented) wants to make the hard decisions. There are many reasons. In the end it boils down to division of labor, which is a proven productivity enhancer.

(*) yes, you can't get rid of this dependency entirely, but you can reduce the number of good people you need. It is fairly easy to find 5 or 50 good people that set up the structure for everyone else. It is near impossible to find 500 or 5000 good people. Not because they don't exist. Because they already have jobs.

Comment averages (Score 1) 305

If the average IQ is 100 (and it is, by definition), that means for everyone with a 160 IQ, there has to be someone with a 40 IQ, or two people with 70 IQ, or four with 80...

There is an incredible number of stupid, uneducated idiots in this world, right around you. You just don't notice them because our social circles tend to be made up largely so others in it are similar to ourselves.

As the saying goes: Being stupid is a lot like being dead. It's more difficult for people around you than for yourself.

Comment core point (Score 1) 166

The core point is to investigate the assumptions we make, and that's what makes this a philosophical challenge, not a linguistic or engineering one.

Our life is full of assumptions that we are not even aware of. Thinking about aliens lets us challenge these assumptions. Visual communication? Maybe, but in which part of the electromagnetic spectrum? Audio? Which frequencies and what patterns? Tacticle? Chemical? Something else entirely?

What are "basics" of the universe that we can use to construct a communication system with a species very different? These questions are asked for this, and the Voyager plates are great examples, but still they make too many assumptions, without which we as humans don't know how to communicate.

Comment Re:Guaranteed to put stress on any car? As if. (Score 1) 126

No, it's perfectly legal to use the left lane, as long as you occasionally pass people on the middle lane.

Now, as for people doing 280+, I have yet to see one.

You're looking at one. Not very often, but an M3 will get you to 290. There's the occasional supercar as well that I've seen pass me when I was doing 220 or 240.

It's not very often that you have to make way when you're doing over 200, but it happens.

In reality, on sections restricted to 120, you'll have trucks going 90 on the right lane, most people averaging 120-130 on the middle lane, and some doing 150 on the left lane.

True, it's not quite as simple as I made it, but in general, people drive speed limit +10.

Comment Re:Just wait (Score 1) 126

Firstly, in Germany the driver will not pull a gun on you anyway, because we're not maniacs armed to the teeth, we have strict gun laws, and very few shooting sprees.

Secondly, what makes you think the truck won't call the cops (or at least a control center) when you smash the cab window and hit some kind of emergency stop? Or when the freight doors are opened at an unauthorized location?
What makes you think there won't be a camera or three, streaming pictures of your face to the control center?

Your scenario is not very specific to automated trucks. It's a standard robbery with some details adapted. I don't see this as a major point. Especially not in Germany which is a very safe and very densely populated country. These trucks are not likely to be on many completely empty roads.

Comment depends (Score 1) 112

Which country has the best on-line personal privacy laws that would made it patently illegal for any actor, state, or otherwise, to access my information?

Depends which country you want to protect yourself from.

If you are mostly afraid of US companies and the US government, put your server into Russia. They laugh in the face of US companies that make any demands.

For strong privacy laws, many european countries have laws in place much stronger than the US, but beware that they usually have a "if you agree to it, anything goes" clause (which is why these small "I agree to ..." checkboxes are so important there.

Comment Re:Guaranteed to put stress on any car? As if. (Score 1) 126

Yes, it's pretty much a national custom. Also, Germany has extensive driving school with compulsory minimum hours, and driving instructors teach you strongly to signal. You can actually fail the driving test if you don't signal.

However, I disagree on the velocity differences. That depends very much on where you are driving. Some parts of the Autobahn have a 120 km/h speed limit and there you basically have two speeds: 80 km/h for the right lane, mostly filled with trucks, and 120 km/h on the 2nd and 3rd lanes.
On other parts, however, you have no speed limit. Which means you are driving 180 on the middle lane, passing a truck doing 80 on the right lane, and someone going 280 passes you on the left lane. That's two 100 km/h speed differences right there.

"Anyone attempting to generate random numbers by deterministic means is, of course, living in a state of sin." -- John Von Neumann