Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:Turing test is flawed (Score 1) 68

by Pembers (#48441853) Attached to: Upgrading the Turing Test: Lovelace 2.0

The Turing test is usually presented as something that a machine either passes or fails, but since no machine has yet passed it, contests have focused on how long a machine can withstand questioning before the interviewer decides it's not human, or what percentage of interviewers it can fool for, say, ten minutes. So you can say one machine is more intelligent than another, even if you don't have a definition of intelligence apart from "intelligence is the ability to convince a human that you are human". To use your GPS analogy, it's more like the GPS tells you how far from the destination you are, but not in which direction.

I agree the Turing test isn't very useful in its own right - or at any rate, attempting to build machines that can pass it isn't very useful. We already have 7 billion entities that can pass it, and making more of them is a very low-tech process. I'd rather we figure out how to build machines that can do things we want to do but can't, or aren't very good at.

Comment: Re:So good that the proxy battle is over (Score 4, Informative) 69

by Pembers (#48440415) Attached to: Judge Approves $450M Settlement For Apple's Ebook Price Fixing

So why does Amazon get to set the price, and not Apple or the publishers?

Because that's how the sale of every other product to the consumer works - the manufacturer or publisher tells the retailer "we'll sell you a crate of widgets for X dollars apiece" and the retailer is free to sell them to the consumer for whatever they think the consumer is willing to pay. Usually it's some function of X, but it doesn't have to be.

Agency pricing (so-called because the publisher sets the retail price and the retailer acts as an agent of the publisher, taking a fixed percentage of that as his profit) removes the ability of retailers to compete on price. Apple liked it because they don't want to compete on price anyway. It doesn't matter so much when you're talking about their hardware - plenty of people are willing to pay a premium for an Apple computer or phone or tablet because they perceive them as better or cooler than cheaper products with similar specs from other manufacturers. But if you're talking about ebooks, it's hard to see why you should pay $12.99 or $14.99 for the latest Stephen King or James Patterson from Apple when you could get exactly the same thing for $9.99 or less from Amazon. But if it's the same price at Amazon, you might as well get it from Apple.

The publishers liked agency pricing because it meant Amazon couldn't price ebooks at a point where it would cut into the publishers' print business. The publishers know that print is going away anyway - they're just trying to prolong it as much as they can because they know that when Barnes & Noble goes bust, there won't be anyone else they can play off against Amazon. They also know that print distribution is the last advantage they have over self-publishing. Self-published ebooks now compete on a level playing field with ebooks from the big publishers, but it's still very difficult for a self-published book to sell a lot of copies in print. (The ones that have managed it were usually picked up by a publisher after doing well as ebooks.) Everything else a publisher can offer an author can be bought from freelancers for a one-off fee, instead of most of the revenue for the life of the copyright.

Having said all that, the lawsuit was never about agency pricing as such. US competition law cares very little about protecting retailers. What was illegal was that Apple and the publishers colluded to raise prices, thus harming consumers. The fact that they used an unusual method of pricing to do it is neither here nor there, really.

Comment: Re:Weird article (Score 1) 14

by pudge (#48404889) Attached to: Cardow cartoon cannot be unseen

... you did seem to lament the courts' inaction ...

Not in any way, no, I did not.

you ... always singl[e] out one particular issue based purely on the person implementing it

You're a liar.

When talking about transparency, it's yours that is the most obvious...

I agree. I am nearly completely transparent and obvious and clear. I lack pretense or disguise.

Comment: Re:At first glance, I liked the first response... (Score 1) 24

by pudge (#48404647) Attached to: To The Little Untergruber

... exactly the way your financiers want it ...

No. It's true that the framers and most people who understand politics want the people to be ignorant about most issues in government, because otherwise, the people would be spending too much time watching government and not enough time enjoying life and being productive. Everyone should want to be ignorant about most things, especially most things government does. Otherwise you'll be miserable.

But it's not true that they want people to be ignorant, but with a delusion of lack of ignorance. You're just making things up.

... with its present day monolithic two-face one party system. Not a single independent in the house. Smells very bad...

There's no objective reason why it's a bad thing.

Comment: Re:At first glance, I liked the first response... (Score 1) 24

by pudge (#48402667) Attached to: To The Little Untergruber

Gruber was mostly right, although the word "stupid" is probably not what he meant. But the fact is that whoever believed it wasn't a tax, it wouldn't raise rates, it wouldn't force you to change plans and possibly doctors, etc., was ignorant. Not stupid, necessarily, but ignorant. That said, someone who is ignorant and thinks that he actually knows these things is kinda stupid. So all the news folks, for example, who said that what Republicans said about the ACA were lies ... they were stupid.

The fact is that almost everything the GOP said about the ACA was true. Federal funding of abortions, subsidies for illegals, massive government control defined at a later date by an administrator and not Congress, death panels, increased taxes and premiums, decreased choice ... all of it was and is true.

Comment: Weird article (Score 1) 14

by pudge (#48402659) Attached to: Cardow cartoon cannot be unseen

I'd expect an article talking about criminally prosecuting Gruber would at least make reference to some violation of the criminal code. I see no crime. Neither the author nor his interviewee mention any crime. He makes vague references to "Deceit. Fraud. Premeditated felonious theft.," but he simply gave his opinions; he didn't implement anything. The theft was by the government, not him. The fraud was perhaps aided by him, but no court has ever found that government fraud of this type is prosecutable, so prosecuting a private citizen for aiding the government in something that can't be prosecuted makes no sense.

Comment: Re:Can government solve government problems? (Score 1) 135

by bmajik (#48397321) Attached to: Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

My ILEC is CenturyLink, a national company. The neighboring ILEC is actually a locally owned company that is much smaller and is providing much better service.

The point is, even if I wanted wired IP service from a competing ISP, that's not possible because the ILEC owns the copper to my property and the ILEC cannot provide L2 connectivity over its existing infrastructure, and has no plans to upgrade that infrastructure.

Meanwhile, a neighboring, locally owned ILEC is running FTTH to its rural customers...

I haven't spoken enough with the competing ILEC to know if they'd be able to finance their fiber buildout without capturing the revenue from voice and data service on top of their plant.

I don't understand your reference to my state. I agree that we shouldn't make laws for everyone based on the conditions in a particular place.

That's actually a great reason to limit FCC oversight, since it is a federal entity and makes rules that are national in scope...

Comment: Re:Can government solve government problems? (Score 1) 135

by bmajik (#48397241) Attached to: Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

Why does Verizon have the right to saturate my property with 700mhz energy?

I didn't sell that to them.

If they want to shoot 700mhz energy across (and through!) my house, why don't they have to buy rights to that? If they are preventing me from being able to do anything in my own home with 700mhz because of their harmful emissions, why don't I have any recourse against them?

Nobody would let me park across the street from your house and shine lasers or even flashlights into your windows.

Why is Verizon given this same privilege, albeit in a section of non-visible spectrum?

The current RF energy governance framework we have in the US may not be appropriate. The spectrum licensees certainly benefit from legal protection from competition, and from legal usurpation of my property rights on a massive scale...

Comment: Re:Can government solve government problems? (Score 1) 135

by bmajik (#48397141) Attached to: Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband?

I am near the edge of my ILEC's territory. If I wanted a different ILEC from a neighboring territory to be able to provide service at my address, I would need to petition for the two ILECs in question to agree to "hand me off" from the current ILEC to a different one.

This comes directly from the state public service commission in my state (North Dakota).

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.