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Comment: Re:Short term (Score 1) 500

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.

Comment: Re:Fermi paradox (Score 1) 608

by gregor-e (#46842383) Attached to: Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?
Not only is space big to us, just imagine how much vaster it would be to an intelligence that thinks several million times faster that we do. Our civilization has only become 'visible' through RF radiation for about a century. That is a brief eyeblink of time on a cosmic scale. Our communication is already moving away from radio, toward optic fiber. Our intelligence is already making the leap from biological to non-biological substrates. It is not unlikely that a century from now, the bulk of intelligence in our region of space will be non-biological, and operating at several million times the speed of neurons. Such an intelligence will experience a human lifetime of contemplation in the span of an afternoon. Lightspeed lag will be very perceptible to this intelligence. Accordingly, such intelligence will wish to become as densely packed and interconnected as possible. Space, as it turns out, is filled with many variations on the theme of rocks that we are already familiar with. But to the fast, dense intelligence of the future, it will be several million-fold further away. By the time such an intelligence can fork off a chunk of itself and send it into space, even to the moon and back, several millennia of experience and evolution will have occurred. This, along with the fact that all they are likely to discover is more rocks, leads such intelligence to stay put. So the reason we don't see any advanced intelligence spreading through the universe is that shortly after they figure out computation, their communication drops RF and their intelligence implodes into a black hole of dense, tightly interconnected navel-gazing. Perhaps a literal black hole.

Comment: Re:Good morale, perhaps? (Score 1) 169

by gregor-e (#46819983) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can We Create a Culture of Secure Behavior?
Offer a bonus and recognition to any employee whose computer doesn't get hacked by the hired pen tester. Publish tips on how to avoid being hacked. Compliance rates will soar. Also, knowing they are being targeted by an actual human translates an abstract notion of why security practice is important into something concrete.

Comment: Re:Fraud? Try Idiot. (Score 1) 99

by gregor-e (#46529865) Attached to: More Troubles For Authors of Controversial Acid-Bath Stem Cell Articles
So it must be time to crank up the conspiracy theories.
Which is more (un)likely:
  1. Someone would attempt to perpetrate such a huge and obvious falsehood
  2. Vested powers, on hearing their castle is about to crumble, vigorously attempt to discredit the new theory
  3. Big money who is outside the potential profit sphere of this discovery is attempting to delay it long enough to get a slight variation patented

The test of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Aldo Leopold

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