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Comment: Completely Predictable .. unlike the climate (Score 1) 331

Of course it would come to this.
This is precisely what was wrong with politicizing climate change. Eventually, someone would want to _do_ something. Because that is precisely the kind of mindset of a person who gets involved in politics.

Unfortunately, while we may explore what it is we can _do_, the repercussions of those actions are unknown. We do not understand our climate sufficiently to predict the impact of our actions.

Need proof of that? Ask for the assumptions made in the existing crop of climate models and the sensitivity to perturbations of those assumptions.

Fact: we can't predict the climate even when we don't mess with it, why do we think we can predict what will happen when we do?

Comment: Valid Assertion? Valid Solutions? (Score 1) 282

by fygment (#48344909) Attached to: When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

If a person can't verify the validity of the assertion, is it any wonder they will base their opinion on the proposed solutions?

A person is told the sky is falling. They can't verify it, but are told the potential consequences.
Then the person is told the 'needed' solution, say, cut off everbody's right leg.
Well the cure sounds pretty bad, and the impact of the cure on the person is very clear.
So two possibilities: one is unverifiable, the other well understood. Which one would a person choose?

Science and politcs, the former deals in speculation, the latter in tangible consequences. There should not be tangible consequences to mere speculation. That is just wrong-headed. History is replete with examples of 'scientifically supported' facts, resulting in barbaric consequences eg. the atrocities of WWII. We can look back _now_ and say 'the science was wrong', but _at the time_ the science was held up as the justification for action.

Comment: Re:analog computer AND nonlinear (Score 2) 91

by fygment (#48344831) Attached to: fMRI Data Reveals How Many Parallel Processes Run In the Brain

Mod parent up AND consider:

a) remember that the use of Independent Component Analysis (ICA) is appropriate for linear processes and therefore must necessarily be, to an unknown degree (until you actually know the underlying distribution), an approximation ie. the more unlinear the process, the less ICA accurately reflects the underlying processes; and

b) the actual processing methodology of the brain is unknown, heck, we do not even understand the encoding used by the brain.

So the article really rests on the assumption that the brain is composed of linear processes operating like a modern digital computer.

Ummm ... no.

Comment: FINALLY Something Quasi-intelligent from Bio (Score 1) 221

It's a small step, but it is nice to see that biology, or a small subset of the community, recognises its limitations.

And also tacitly admits that it is not a science, but butterfly (or creature) collection.

Awesome would be to see biology grappling at establishing 'first principles', like physics, so that researchers would be able to theorize intelligently about biological possibilities. and this paper is a first step in that direction.

Comment: Same was said about steamships in 1838 :) (Score 1) 594

by fygment (#48293119) Attached to: Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

Back around 1838, ocean travel by steamships was considered part pipe dream, part cutting edge tech. It was commonly believed you would need a coal-mine worth of coal for the crossing plus it was dangerous. Shortly after the first successful ocean crossings, another steamship (the Moselle) wanted to show off the new tech by doing a full-speed run on the Ohio River before on-lookers lining the shoreline near Cincinatti. The boilers exploded raining body parts and blood down on the surrounding area, with ~149 killed, missing, or injured. Yeah, you can imagine the headlines ... and you also know how prominent, dominant, and safe steamships became as a mode of sea travel.

Life at the edge of tech (except for computer tech :) has risks ... and by the way, those were test pilots in Space Ship Two, persons who were willingly testing out new technology for the future benefit and safety of others.

And ... isn't it weird to see such an article in something as purportedly future thinking as Wired?

Comment: Really?! Sad and Laughable (Score 1) 185

by fygment (#48239199) Attached to: Study: Past Climate Change Was Caused by Ocean, Not Just the Atmosphere

No, really, how many of you thought that the whole effect of the ocean was understood and implemented in the existing climate models?

When the climate models are provided with both their assumptions, omissions, and error, then maybe we can consider basing public policy on them. Until that time, keep them in the lab and out of public debate because they are nothing more than an opinion ... and we have more than enough of those to go around.

Comment: Re:you missed the important point (Score 1) 289

by fygment (#48233747) Attached to: Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

It's that the tech/cybersecurity companies are actively trying to participate in the shaping of global policies under the belief that the free market is a valid force for doing so. THAT is the scary part, the belief that something so mercurial as the 'free market' should have a hand in shaping the actions of government and policy makers. Furthermore, not only is the concept wrong-headed but those perpetrating it, do so without understanding the wrongness of it all; they believe what they are doing is not evil, even though by other measures, it is.

Comment: Ironic (Score 1) 205

by fygment (#48179821) Attached to: The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

I became a consultant recently (applications of machine learning to big data). After 15+ years of working almost exclusively in Matlab, I switched to javascript/nodejs to get a 'real' programming language under my belt, a language relevant to the web. The fact was, unless I was in academia or a big company, I could not afford Matlab.

Which is interesting, as there is now a slight class barrier for entry to Google ie. you have to have gone to an institution that could afford the licencing.

And no ... Octave, Scilab, etc. are not good alternatives, though Python is (sadly, it's dead slow). Promising is Julia, but it is very very young.

Comment: Say "No more!" to Climate Posts (Score 1, Insightful) 423

by fygment (#48071959) Attached to: Past Measurements May Have Missed Massive Ocean Warming

Enough already.
The Earth is warmer, probably.
We don't know for how much longer.
We don't know how much warmer.
We don't know how it's happening, mostly.
We don't know why it's happening.

That's climate in a nutshell. Do you want a _government_ ringing in new policies based on that? A government can't even get well understood problems under control ... like say, traffic, or urban development. And if you dare say, "Hey, traffic is hard to model!", well guess what, climate is harder.

If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer