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Comment: Schools should focus on accomplishment (Score 1) 249

by gregor-e (#48797735) Attached to: Education Debate: Which Is More Important - Grit, Or Intelligence?
Instead of rewarding students for being able to absorb and regurgitate information, schools should make accomplishment of tangible goals their criteria for scholastic success. If, instead of passing an exam covering gravitation, students were required to successfully position a box so as to catch a toy car that is rolled down a ramp and launched into the air, this would demonstrate applied knowledge - what many would call wisdom. Better yet, schools should require the student to choose some tangible long-term goal such as "build a ping-pong playing robot", and teach whatever the student asks to know that will help achieve that goal. We could make objective measures of progress toward that goal the criteria of success. We'd have graduates with demonstrated ability to get stuff done instead of graduates with demonstrated ability to record and recall.

Comment: We already have super-human intelligence (Score 1) 258

by gregor-e (#48797285) Attached to: AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines
A human plus a computer can solve far more problems than a human can alone. The combined system has super-human intelligence. Humans still offer contributions to problem solving that are quantitatively and qualitatively distinct from the areas that non-biological intelligence contributes. However, the fraction of problem solving that is contributed by non-biological intelligence is increasing, and there are no obvious boundaries that prevent non-biological intelligence from one day contributing the remaining fraction now contributed by humans.

We also have a growing class of humans who are so distant from the solutions they use to the current problems of life (technology) that these solutions are completely outside their ability to even understand, let alone contribute to.

We may expect these gradual trends to continue until humans, as slow, non-contributing consumers with zero understanding of the solutions they use, may be regarded as little more than venerated pets. Coddled, spoiled, taught to perform entertaining tricks, and shown-off. Better than extinction, right?

Comment: Delay is to mitigate Obama's demand for payback (Score 2) 127

by gregor-e (#48365339) Attached to: FCC Confirms Delay of New Net Neutrality Rules Until 2015
By taking a public stance diametrically opposed to the desires of the communication companies whose lapdogs Obama appointed as FCC commissioners, Obama is reminding the loyal opposition that when these lapdogs ultimately capitulate to the communications monopolies' desires, they are doing so at great political cost. Delaying the capitulation will reduce the value of Obama's obvious posturing, reducing the magnitude of the quid pro quo that would otherwise be expected in the face of such seemingly insubordinate behavior. Of course, this formula of attempting to leverage any sort of return from favors hasn't exactly paid off for Obama so far, but it seems to be the only tactic he knows.

Comment: Who wants you to go? (Score 1) 182

by gregor-e (#47966487) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?
If you're the one wanting to go, then you should pay. Your employer is your best and only customer. Why should they pay for something you want to do? How would you feel if you hired a guy to do some construction, and this guy says "Hey, there's a seminar on using the newest nailguns going on downtown next week. I'd really like to learn how to use those new nailguns. How about you pay the $150 admission so I can go?"

Comment: Re:Short term (Score 1) 506

by gregor-e (#47761811) Attached to: California DMV Told Google Cars Still Need Steering Wheels
As soon as the advantages of lower death rates, greater highway capacity utilization, and fuel savings become apparent, government will offer huge incentives for people to purchase self-driving vehicles, making them affordable for the masses. Couple that with self-driving-only lanes where the cars automatically form close convoys that all brake simultaneously, giving significant fuel savings and much faster transit times, and the case for purchasing a self-driving car gets pretty compelling for the average driver. I speculate self-driving cars will achieve >50% of new car sales within 10 years of introduction.

Comment: Re:Soda can... (Score 1) 163

by gregor-e (#47587601) Attached to: Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can
From what I've seen of the HOV lanes in the Bay Area, the signs designating it as such are just there for decoration. This suggests a potentially lucrative opportunity:
(1) Position cameras to catch jerks abusing the HOV lane
(2) Look up their address from DMV license plate records
(3) Mail incriminating photos to jerks, informing them of your mailing service, which promises to forward the evidence to the DMV for free, but with the option of custom-mailing it to an alternative address of their choice for only $100
(4) Profit for the rest of your short and violence-filled life

Comment: Re:I hate to imagine it (Score 2) 126

by gregor-e (#47431507) Attached to: Child Thought To Be Cured of HIV Relapses, Tests Positive Again
As wikipedia assures us (emphasis added):

A retrovirus is a single-stranded RNA virus that stores its nucleic acid in the form of an mRNA genome (including the 5' cap and 3' PolyA tail) and targets a host cell as an obligate parasite. Once inside the host cell cytoplasm the virus uses its own reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome, the reverse of the usual pattern, thus retro (backwards). This new DNA is then incorporated into the host cell genome by an integrase enzyme, at which point the retroviral DNA is referred to as a provirus. The host cell then treats the viral DNA as part of its own genome, translating and transcribing the viral genes along with the cell's own genes, producing the proteins required to assemble new copies of the virus. It is difficult to detect the virus until it has infected the host. At that point the infection will persist indefinitely.

Comment: Re:Cry Me A River (Score 4, Insightful) 608

by gregor-e (#47415355) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software
Whining about how hard the tools are to use and how, if only the tools could be made as simple as a hammer then everyone could program, is as naive as suggesting that if word processors were as simple as pencils, anyone could write poetry.

What these utopian visions of programmatic democracy all lack is any notion that attacks the essential complexity of the problems being solved by code. Problems that have, if anything, grown more complex with increasing memory and CPU power. All the forays into "graphical programming" or other tools to take the programminess out of programming have shown that it doesn't matter whether you're expressing a solution in text or little icons connected by arrows - the essential complexity of the problem remains. The only way we're going to democratize programming is if AI gets to the point where the thoughtwork of breaking down the essential complexity of problems can be offloaded to some other intelligence.

Comment: Management is hard (Score 1) 121

by gregor-e (#47360349) Attached to: Happy Software Developers Solve Problems Better
This is one more tricky aspect of managing software or any other creative/analytic project. You can start with the smartest, happiest people in the world, only to have your schedule blown because one of them is going through a messy divorce or a loved one gets cancer. The bad vibes can drag a whole team down. I forsee a huge market in happy pepper-upper pills for programmers. Oh, wait. That's what coffee is for.

Comment: Powering down? (Score 1) 73

by gregor-e (#47350275) Attached to: Cambridge Team Breaks Superconductor World Record
How did they power down that experiment? If they let the temperature rise until it drops out of superconductivity, it'd explode. Or did they just load magnetic field until it burst and chalked up the maximum as a new record? That's almost enough to make magnetic munitions - shells that explode on impact and also pack an EMP wallop.

Comment: Re:stupid comparison (Score 1) 501

So we don't build it out of concrete. The Yellowstone supervolcano will eventually blow and wipe out most of civilization sometime in the next few millennia, unless we do something about it. We can't simply drill a hole to the top of the magma, since that would set it off. What we have to do is tunnel down deep, to the lower part of the magma column, where the density is much higher and the pressure much lower. From there, we can allow the magma column to bleed off pressure gradually, providing us with a constant stream of incandescent magma that can be used for whatever we like. Then all we'd have to do is come up with a high-temperature insulated conveyor belt to transfer all the fresh magma to wherever the current end of the casting is. We could build 1000-foot walls, cast castles, create huge canals or reservoirs, whatever we like. So long as we keep coming up with good uses for a never-ending stream of white-hot magma, we're set.

2 pints = 1 Cavort