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Comment: Re:"Deep Learning"...?? (Score 1) 64

I think there is more here than just learning to imitate humans, exciting though that is.

Let us take 'Deep Blue' as an example of a machine that does not think. It was able to come up with some dramatic solutions. Its typical successes were mates involving an improbably sequence of sacrifices that gave a mate in 6 or 7, which was about the brute force look-ahead of the time. It also had weighting models that give suggestions of which were 'good' moves and which were 'bad' ones. Moving a bishop to a centre square is good because it threatens more squares, but if it was in front of your king then you may want to leave it where it was. Deep Blue could alter the weights in its model depending on the games it had seen, but it did not really have any understanding of 'edges' and 'centre' any more than a pocket calculator understands the nature of numbers and multiplication.

Let us now take a problem that Deep Blue possibly has not seen: you have two bishops and a king against a king. If you have just taken another piece then you have fifty moves to get a mate, otherwise the game is a draw. Now most of these extreme endgame solutions are known, and Deep Blue probably had the solution hard-coded. If Kasparov had got into the losing position, he would probably have given up the game because he knows it is hopeless.

Can you force a mate in less than 50 moves? Yes, you can. The two bishops can make a diagonal 'wall' of squares that the king cannot jump, so you can slowly heard it into a corner. However, the king can still take one of the bishops, so you have to either protect them with your king, or move them to the other end if the diagonal. As you get towards the corner, the diagonal becomes shorter, and this becomes harder to do. Eventually, you have to protect one bishop and move the other out of the corner entirely. There is then a tricky bit where you may have to waste a move so the other king is forced to move off the better of the squares left to it, and then move the other bishop. It can take 48 moves but it can be done.

Supposing Deep Blue had not got a hard-coded solution. 48 moves is well away from its brute force limit. Its tables for 'good' moves are not optimised for the extreme end-game, and the winning strategy seems to 'change' as you get into the corner. It has no understanding of corners and diagonals, so it might heard the king into a corner from 'instinct' (probably not the 'right' word, but it sort-of works). So, we might win because we can use our knowledge of herding sheep to get the king in a corner, the understanding of the other king's want to survive by attaching the bishops, the knowledge that the bishop can be anywhere along the diagonal to counter this be flipping to the other end, the appreciation that this strategy will not work all the way into the corner and will have to be changed for something at the last minute, and so forth.

Note, this 'Deep Learning' free problem solving ability that we use, and can probably duplicate in a machine one day, is not necessarily linked with self-awareness, will to survive, altruism, creativity, and all the other things we usually identify with intelligence. We could probably make something that could explore other planets which can work for its own survival, and determine what is interesting and worth reporting on the planet, without giving it a concept of 'self' or a fear of its own death. Indeed, it may well be better off being designed without all the baggage that comes with evolution. Maybe it will develop some of these of itself, maybe not. But I doubt it will attack its creators in its struggle to survive, in the classic sci-fi tradition, unless we deliberately train it to do so.

Some say it may have something new and wholly alien to us instead of 'free will'. I rather doubt this, but I allow there might be other radically different solutions for 'how to live'.

Apologies for the long reply, Words are tricky with this topic, but wordy illustrations can avoid some of the worst ambiguities.

Comment: Re:"Deep Learning"...?? (Score 4, Insightful) 64

It is a good question, and there are several answers...

Artificial Intelligence has been seen as a goal since Ada Lovelace was a lass. In the fifties, it was hoped that computers fed with parallel translations could learn the rules of languages, and provide fought translations of (say) technical documents on aeronautics from Russian to English, where sufficiently skilled and positively vetted engineers were rare. There were later attempts in the sixties and seventies to learn to walk, recognise objects, or solve puzzles. There was the constant hope that the next hardware would be a bit more powerful, and you could throw problems at it, and intelligence would somehow boot up. After all, that is how it must have started last time. However, intelligence failed to boot up, or maybe it always lost out to other brute force techniques which regular computers are good at.

The nematode has a simple. pre-programmed brain. It is good for being a nematode, but it doesn't really learn. Our brains have a lot of structure when they are formed, which means that our language centres, our vision centres, the parts that are active when we are solving spatial problems, or composing music, turn up in the same places most of the time; but we don't seem to run an actual program as such. We are born with very little instinct when compared to most other complex animals, but I suspect even they are not really running a program either.

The trick seems to be to provide the robot with enough plastic design to nudge it in the general direction of intelligence: too little design and it never gets its act together, while too much design means it is just doing what you programmed it to do. There are interesting times where computers are getting the complexity and the connectivity and plastic re-programmability to rival animal brains; but the spontaneous self-evolving problem solving spark just isn't there yet. But I hope we may see it in our lifetimes.

Comment: Actually (Score 1) 166

Well, actually the *chinese* backdoor is the one which is hardware embed into the chip that runs the LiteOS.
The 9KB you're looking at are the *russian* backdoor that they managed to sneak in without anybody noticing.
(The remain 1K was written by a coordinated effort of european spying agency... hey not everyone has the ressource of the big player, some need to pool together)

The US you ask? They are busy introducing a new law that will make eaves-dropping access mandatory on all IoT gizmos.

Comment: Standards (Score 1) 77

by DrYak (#49758031) Attached to: New Chrome Extension Uses Sound To Share URLs Between Devices

So, you're saying the problem is that there are currently too many messaging apps, and no agreed upon standard? And the solution to that problem is to create yet another messaging app?

Well technically there is one agreed upon standard: XMPP/Jabber.

But beside Google (who - although helped pushing it forward back then - would rather like that you forgot they support it) and Facebook (who was more or less forced to slap a gateway as an after though to their proprietary system and would like to discontinue it and force you to install their app) no other big major player use it.

Still, it's very popular among lots of small-scale services (which are usually federated among them), and also popular in the corporate world (Cisco, as a random example, provides solution for communication inside a company, that under the hood uses jabber)

But for current big players in the consumer fields (WhatsApp, Skype), there's no such standards.
(And WhatsApp is very active at trying to shut un authorized users out)

Comment: Clear code: Cultural background (Score 1) 408

by DrYak (#49754219) Attached to: The Reason For Java's Staying Power: It's Easy To Read

if you took someone that never read or wrote code before and showed them 100 line, idiomatic programs in Java, Javascript, Python, Ruby, PHP, Perl, Lisp, Haskell, C, Fortran, COBOL, Basic, and a few other languages that Java would not top the list for readability. My guess is that the winners would be Basic, COBOL, and Python.

Depends. My bet is that it entirely depends on the background of the "someone" you've taken.
- english speaker ? mostly used to litterature and philosophical logic ? yes, maybe as you list them.

- background in mathematics ? The order will probably be reversed, with probably Haskell, C and Fortran near the top. And probably APL topping them all. And the guy complaining that most of them still miss support for greek alphabet.

some people are used to see things written down in plain text, other are better used to see things written with symbols.

plain text has the advantage of being a little bit clearer for a person who happens to be fluent in the language which was used to create the language (say hello to dialects of Logo and Excel macros translated into various languages). Otherwise it's completely useless (most of the language you mention are based around english. useless non-english speakers. when I was a kid, I started learning to code in basic before I knew english).

symbolic notation has the advantage of being more compact (requires less typing, quicker to read)
cf. the well know geeky joke of "add 1 to cobol giving cobol" vs "C++"

And well, Perl, let's forget about Perl. It's a write-only language.
The only language your cat can write legal code in just by walking across the keyboard. :-D

(Disclaimer: I used to code a lot in Basic as a you kid. Started C a bit later, and learned english about this time. I code also regularily in Perl, C++, awk, php, 386 assembler, etc. I know bits of R, javascript, python, FORTRAN, did some Logo in french in school as a kid, etc.)

Comment: Retention Period (Score 1) 150

by chill (#49753879) Attached to: The Body Cam Hacker Who Schooled the Police

Part of the problem is this:

Q. How long are the videos kept?

A: Current policy is to indefinitely keep video recordings dealing with crimes. The Seattle Police Department is working with Department of Justice monitor Merrick Bobb to finalize policies for the body-worn cameras.

Are they deleting videos that DON'T deal with crimes after a set period? And why in God's name are they kept indefinitely? Anything the DA doesn't elect to prosecute should be deleted fairly quickly. Anything that hints at police misconduct or a criminal charge against an office is kept for the duration of the State Statute of Limitations.

Comment: Board replacement... meh (Score 1) 134

by DrYak (#49753569) Attached to: Pre-Orders Start For Neo900 Open Source Phone

Motherboard replacements and case replacements will gain traction just like in the assemble your own PC era.

Well not very likely.

That did work for the openmoko because the neo 1973 and neo freerunner (i have one!) have been designed from the gound up with an open hardware approach.
They have been designed to be easy to open, easy to hack, easy to replace parts.
Thus upgrade kits like gta04 were likely.

That does work now for the N900, because they are a little bit older generation, back at a time when case were a bit bulkier, battery was replaceable, etc.
There are also a lot of them out in the wild. (Basically, for a long time the Maemo where *THE* definite platforms for geeks to go, N900 was the most popular, and there were only 2 others before).
You could make a Neo900 upgrade kit that is more or less practical.

That won't work with modern smartphones:
- first they are absurdly compact and small (just to have a "better number" on the check list. not that it's actually usefull, specially when the end users will enclose them in an over-priced after-market case anyway).
- they are often very hard to dissassamble (both because of the previous point, but also because it makes them more resistant to moisture etc. if they are in an enclosing never designed to be opened)
- some don't even have removable batteries.
- to make quick buck these companies tend to launch one new model every 6 months (yeah, imagine a replacement borad for iPhone. iPhones are popular, isn't it ? except that there are a dozen of them by now)
- also most of these companies aren't targetting geeks in the first place (unlike nokia maemo platform) and thus aren't likely to be held by users actually able to use an upgrade kit.

I suspect that the Jolla's sailfish phone is the only probable next target for an upgrade kit.

But in general, the case is the least problematice in smart phones.
It makes more sense to 3D print a new case around an existing board, rather than try to fit a new board inside an existing phone.

Usually, the screen is the most complex, instead.

Comment: Re:I'm extremely surprised... (Score 2) 150

by garcia (#49753167) Attached to: The Body Cam Hacker Who Schooled the Police

In Minnesota, the public sector is mandated by statute to release information to the public and be setup in a way which facilitates this action:

Subdivision 1.Public data. All government data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by a government entity shall be public unless classified by statute, or temporary classification pursuant to section 13.06, or federal law, as nonpublic or protected nonpublic, or with respect to data on individuals, as private or confidential. The responsible authority in every government entity shall keep records containing government data in such an arrangement and condition as to make them easily accessible for convenient use. Photographic, photostatic, microphotographic, or microfilmed records shall be considered as accessible for convenient use regardless of the size of such records.

I have used this exact quoted statute many-a-time to force local government agencies in Minnesota to not only provide me information, which they were usually willing to do, but for free or very low cost.

I made a request once to a public transit agency who told me it would be several hundred dollars to do. I told them if they had followed the statute to make the data readily accessible by the public, it wouldn't require the work they were trying to charge me to do. Their legal counsel informed them I was indeed correct and I got it for the cost of the media.

Maybe there is a similar statute in this case which drove the decision?

Comment: Be gentle (Score 1) 380

by DrYak (#49752467) Attached to: How Java Changed Programming Forever

On a related issue, I still hold my position: In a near future, (and perhaps because of this stupid IOT thing) {...}

I'm under the impression that: as currently lots of the precussors of future IoT projects are from the maker culture it's probably one of the more hipsterish languages like Python and Ruby which might see more rise.

If you think of it, currently it's platforms like Raspberry Pi which are the forerunner of all the future connected small things. It's the "plant tweeting when it needs water" of today, that are the "intelligent fridge which automatically fills your grocery list" of tomorrow.
And currently, Python is *the* most popular rapid prototyping language on these platform.

all the Java based appliances will start to work together and bring Skynet to life. Prepare yourselves to run away from hordes of Java-powered T1000s!!! I for one welcome our CPU and memory hungry robotic overlords.

Well, try to be gentle with them. Do to run too fast so they can try to pretend they can keep up. And while running, please push aside all the various garbage laying on the ground so that these Javaminators don't trip on them and fall (or stop to automatically collect it up).

Also be kind: if you meet more than 1 of them, it would be proper etiquette to act as a translator between them so they can understand each-other (specially if one of them speaks microsoft dialect)

Try also to be understanding toward their sensitivities. There are a few of their kind that the remaining Javaminators consider untouchable (specially the one called Dalvik). Try not to madden them because you don't agree with that rejection (Even if you consider that actually that pastry-obsessed-outcast is the cool guy you want to hang around with).

Comment: Different continent, different results. (Score 1) 57

by DrYak (#49751607) Attached to: Forecasting the Next Pandemic

According tot he CDC at, the unintended pregnancy rate male condoms is 18%.

Funny that here around I've regularly seen and read different numbers (random source in fr. key point < 10% for latex based condoms, < 5% for polyurethan. that's just a random example. I don't have enough time to kill to do a complete litterature mining and meta analysis)
Either North American are much dumber or worse at using condom than European, or your condoms tend to be made of a self-destructin material~
Xenophobic jokes aside, actual result vary *wildly* depending on the considered population, specially the level of sex-ed.

*when used properly* condoms can be very much safe. When used *haphazardly* not so.
See this table (again quick search). Pregnancy rates vary a lot. (See the specially low level among "motivated women" in israel. They probably had better knowledge on proper prevention than the (poor) women in the philiphine that still did get pregnant up to 60%).

The difference in number seem to be linked in the level of education and motivation of the people. A *properly* used condom is effective. That means that you need to educate better the people, to that they use the prevention better.
(instead of completely ignoring condoms, and opting to outcast HIV positive people, as suggested by top troll).

(I know it's only an anecdote, but that also match my personnal experience with <1% breakage among the hundreds of protected intercourses I've done. But both I and girl(s) knew how to use a condom properly and the necessary precautions to take).

Comment: Re: It's not a networking issue. (Score 1) 380

by chill (#49740119) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Solve a Unique Networking Issue?

While an interesting solution, it only addresses the network part of the problem.

I think he might be limited by the software doing the updating. If he can't run multiple copies then how will the software understand responses from the pumps? Send one command get 8 responses? That probably won't work.

The whole multiple VMs may be his only hope depending on the client software.

Comment: Re:Either of the poles woulc cause this effect (Score 1) 489

by Tumbleweed (#49739947) Attached to: The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers

If you start a mile north of the South Pole, walk a mile south, then you cannot walk west, so it still fails.

Also, the North Pole isn't ice-free all year long. (I've not been keeping up with how much (if it has happened yet) it is ice-free during a year, but it's certainly not the whole year. Yet.)

The world is not octal despite DEC.