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Comment Re:Power efficiency is good in some places, not al (Score 1) 308

John Cook (put his blog in your RSS feed if you don't already have it) made a very good point recently: The speed gains from Moore's Law are dwarfed by the speed gains from algorithmic improvements. And unlike Moore's Law, we're not yet seeing a limit approaching for better ways to solve stuff. The post in question: http://www.johndcook.com/blog/...

Comment Re:Power efficiency is good in some places, not al (Score 1) 308

A lot of tasks intrinsically don't scale, or scale only up to some limit. Some people are running into this already in the HPC world, were we have big parallel machines that they can't take full advantage of. Their simulations simply don't scale above a certain number of cores.

This problem is becoming steadily worse, since people want to make models with more detail (that tends to not parallelize well), and simulate much longer timeframes than before. If you're simulating protein interactions over one millisecond, then it might not matter if it takes an hour or two. But if you want to use that to understand LTP in neurons and simulate a second or two, then it becomes a very major problem if your model can't parallelize further and the per-core speed stays put.

Comment Re:last chance to buy quality Sharp products (Score 3, Interesting) 46

Geeks are just as good the world over, whether Japan, Taiwan, EU, US or China. Product quality has nothing to do with the quality of the designers and builders and everything to do with the budget and time constraints they have to do their stuff. And that is all about where their company wants to position itself in the price/quality/reputation landscape.

Sharp has a well-deserved reputation for good quality and sometimes off-beat or niche products that delight a few even if they don't become huge sellers. And that's of course part reason why they've been in trouble for some years now. Foxconn doesn't have a reputation for premium products or for doing their own thing.

I share the worry that Sharp as we know it will disappear, and just become another nameplate pasted on bland, forgettable me-too stuff.

Comment Re: Militant Slashdot (Score 1) 291

While I agree with most of it, I have a small nit to pick with your comment.

The only reason the US Military uses 5.56x45 instead of 7.62x54 (the old .308 Springfield cartridge that got your (great)grandfather through World War II)

.308 is .308 Winchester, not Springfield.
30-06 was Springfield.
The dimensions of those cartridges is 7.62x51mm for .308 and 7.62x63 for 30-06.

Otherwise, your analysis is spot on.

LK

Comment Reposting my comment from the original article... (Score 5, Insightful) 1828

Being one of the greybeards who still reads Slashdot, I'll add a few:

- Add the ability to edit comments until they are moderated or have a reply
- Stop linking to Forbes articles and posting Slashvertisements
- Stop running articles about Martin Shkreli or other things that have nothing to do with "News for nerds"
- For the love of all things absurd, please add CowboyNeal back as the final poll option
- If you need money to operate the site, try asking for it from readers. That way you can reduce or eliminate advertising useless junk that nobody wants

Comment Re:Take back Slashdot (Score 1) 1305

Being one of the greybeards who still reads Slashdot, I'll add a few:

- Add the ability to edit comments until they are moderated or have a reply
- Stop linking to Forbes articles and posting Slashvertisements
- Stop running articles about Martin Shkreli or other things that have nothing to do with "News for nerds"
- For the love of all things absurd, please add CowboyNeal back as the final poll option
- If you need money to operate the site, try asking for it from readers. That way you can reduce or eliminate advertising useless junk that nobody wants

Comment Re:Gazebo, ROS, OpenCV, Point Cloud Library (Score 1) 78

What dbc says in his answer. But there's also that you can to some degree choose to shift complexity to hardware or software.

You can for instance have a very expensive, high-quality, difficult to design and build harmonic-drive limb joint. The hardware is strong, accurate and reliable. There's no backlash or slack anywhere. Your software for moving the joint can in such a case be more or less "move_to_angle(something)" and you're done.

Or you can have a hobby servo moving a hinge consisting of two holes threaded with a wire hanger. You can build it in five minutes. But now your software has to take all the slop, and all the inaccuracies into account. The behaviour of the joint will change depending on bending angle, direction to the floor, what it's holding and probably a lot more. You'll need extra sensors and probably some kind of adaptive system that learns to control the rickety thing.

So you can decide whether you want to shift more of your problems to the hardware or to the software.

Comment Seems obvious to me. (Score 1) 311

Simply make any use of the well-known logical fallacy types a crime against sanity, then see which methods are used in court. I think exile to Mexico would be a good punishment for those found guilty. Appeal to CowboyNeil would be categorized as "heresy and witchcraft".

Comment Re:A difficult subject (Score 1) 308

Absolutely, on all points. I'd perhaps add one other - we've got potentially good diagnostics, but they're not used for this, they're rare and they're horribly expensive. (Problem is, it's longer and less clear than yours.)

An example. Hospital MRI scanners are around 2 to 2.5 T, which gives sufficient resolution to see severe injuries and malformations but not much more. Medical scanners can go up to 7.3 T and research scanners actively used go up to 9.1 T. At this upper end, blurred sections of the brain are almost crystal clear. You can see not quite to the neuron level but fairly close. Subtle issues can be detected. It's more than good enough to find out if there's a problem with mirror cells, bandwidth issues (too much or too little) and similar fine-scale deformities. The best scanner that can be built that can take a human head is around 13 T. It's unclear what this would show, I've not been able to find any info on it

I wouldn't ask psychiatrists and neurosurgeons to have an underground bunker with dozens of such devices armed with top technicians at the ready, although if one of them is the sole winner of the US Powerball at its current 1.2 billion dollar level, it would be nice if some of it was spent on such things. However, MRI as a diagnostic tool is strongly discouraged, apparently, which seems to defeat its value as a means of rapidly identifying and classifying evidence you can't otherwise get to.

I counted the total number of scanning technologies (excluding minor variants) and came up with 33 different diagnostic tools that could be used at the level of the brain. Of those, I have only known two of those to be used in practice (EEG and MRI), never even remotely close to the levels of sensitivity needed to analyze the problem unless, as I said, there's a problem at the grossest of levels. EEG, for example, is performed with as few leads as possible and the digital outputs I've seen look like the ADC is cheap and low resolution. Nor have I ever been impressed by the shielding used in the rooms (the brain is not a strong source, so external signals matter a lot). I've read papers where MEG is used, but it seems to be almost exclusively research with very, very few hospitals actually using it.

This doesn't contradict your statement that there are no good diagnostic tools, partly because nobody has the faintest idea if these tools would be any good in diagnostics (as it's forbidden by the great overlords), how you'd read the data (if it's not actually used then nobody can understand the output at all, and if it's used but never for diagnostics in mental illness then there's no means of understanding what the output means in this context).

That's just the bog standard medical gear, though. Whilst it should be useful (your experience shapes your brain, your brain shapes your experience and this recursion should mean that you can identify traits of one from the other), there will be other tests. In fact, there are. There are hundreds of questions that make up the official test for autism spectrum disorders, but I've only heard of (and then second-hand) one doctor actually running through them. Most glance at the DSM (which is worse than useless and the criteria listed in it are largely rejected by both the checklist and those definitely in this category) and that's it. The checklist is probably not optimal and is probably incorrect much of the time as autism has a very wide range of causes (both known and suspected) and congealed categories of unrelated conditions won't work with any single checklist. Researchers hotly dispute even when it can be diagnosed and at what age it first appears. That's clearly not very helpful.

But that's positively enlightened compared to something like "Borderline Personality Disorder" (a label given to anyone who doesn't fit any billable category and is generally considered not worth wasting time on by the medical and psychiatric professions). Here, there really isn't an actual diagnosis as such, just an identification that there's a problem and that it's not something insurance will pay for.

We need a good, solid ontology of mechanisms of mental illness that forgets tradition and costing, whether there's any lawful or technological way to detect them or not, because those can be measured (even if only in principle) consistently and reliably. It's not enough, by a long way, but at least there will then be a clear indication of what the gaps are, what precisely we don't have diagnostic tools for (and perhaps even theory for).

This would also be the starting point from which medicines or therapies can be developed. You're right about side-effects. About half my current medications are there simply to counteract the side-effects of other medications. One I was put on, temporarily, shut down my colour vision. The problem? Doctors had to experiment on me. They had no idea what would happen until they tried me on something. I really do not like being used as a lab rat when the long-term effects of even short-term exposure is unknown but where it's known that even the short-term effects include death even at the lowest end of the therapeutic range with no understanding of why or to whom this will happen. It strikes me as... all a bit vague.

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