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Comment: Re:Measuring Competence (Score 1) 255

by jacksdl (#47055669) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence
Agree. The bar a autonomous car should have to meet is to drive at least 1 order of magnitude better than the average human driver (based on metrics like safety and efficiency). Looking at the human drivers currently on the roads, a robot driver doesn't need to approach perfection to achieve this. Simply adding logic that makes a car stop when it doesn't have sufficient information to proceed safely would make it a superior driver to most of us.

Comment: Impossible, Impractical or Unpopular? (Score 2) 59

I've been a fan of your eclectic perspective and rational style since I bought the "Last Whole Earth Catalog". I know you were a early proponent and popularizer of space-based solar power and space colonies (at least in late 70's as I recall). Have you changed your views on those? Can I hope that my children will see an O'Neill Cylinder in space (or at least a Bernal Sphere)?

I know faster than light travel is impossible. I know personal jet packs are impractical. Do building those space colonies we dreamed about in the 70's fall in the impractical category -- or just unpopular?

Comment: Pay highly effective teachers more (Score 1) 122

My wife has been teaching for 32 years in downstate Illinois. One of two National Board Certified teachers in the district (meaning she meets the "Highly Qualified" standards for NCLB). She just past the $60K threshold last year (although with the supplies she buys it is still below that). We recently increased her monthly Salliemae payments so they will be paid off by retirement.

Research shows that highly effective teachers (teachers whose students regularly make more than 1 year of academic progress per school year) make a large and lasting difference in outcomes. More so than technology.

So identifying, rewarding and developing highly effective teachers should be a national priority. The economics of moving the median up for students would mean a huge gain for the economy.

As for Gates influencing our national education policy with his wealth, it shouldn't be possible. He can contribute to the discussion and do Foundation research, but that effort should be swamped by the dollars and attention the subject of education reform is getting. If he has too much influence, it just shows he is focusing on education while most of the rest of us aren't.

Comment: Re:So what? (Score 1) 305

by jacksdl (#45121737) Attached to: Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Food Stamps
I have no doubt that your story is true. On the other hand, I have a cousin that was briefly on food stamps and other assistance when her husband left her and the two kids. She worked, and parented, and got a college degree (with the help of several programs). She recently retired after a successful career, one of her sons is a surgeon the other audits banks.

We need to find tools to separate the abusers from those who use the system to get back on their feet.

Comment: Mandatory ignorance (Score 1) 122

by jacksdl (#44629711) Attached to: Florida Town Stores License Plate Camera Images For Ten Years
I am constantly surprised the technically sophisticated slashdot commenters seem to overwhelmingly respond from a perspective of paranoia. Besides the Florida license plate story, it comes up with all big data abuse scenarios. Why can't the technical community come up with some ideas on making the data available for legitimate societal good (missing kids, alibis for innocent people, apprehending real terrorists) and find controls that keep creepy police state abuse at bay. Police could be breaking down doors and taking citizens away on flimsy excuses, but for the most part this is not happening. We can create checks and balances on the access to big data. We just have to recognize that it is here to stay and we can't legislate it away.

Comment: Re:Mmmhmm, I smell something bad. (Score 1) 758

by jacksdl (#42480839) Attached to: Anti-GMO Activist Recants
While not a fan of Monsanto's use of intellectual property law applying to genetics, most of what you appear to be worrying about is reactionary nonsense (IMHO).

The rat study done in France seems to be bad science. Dr. Steven Novella in in NeuroLogica blog among others listed the problems with the study. There have been many, many studies testing GMO corn safety. This one is definitely making some extreme claims. I would be willing to bet that larger, better designed studies will follow that will contradict this one.

Scientifically literate environmentalists should consider the logic of people like Steward Brand. He is a long-time environmentalist who advocates GMO's, nuclear power and dense urbanization -- all to limit the negative impacts of human activities on the environment.

Comment: Planetary Chauvanism (Score 2) 414

by jacksdl (#39136891) Attached to: Faulty Cable To Blame For Superluminal Neutrino Results
There is a faulty assumption underlying the notion of the infeasibility of civilization off this planet. That faulty assumption has a name -- planetary chauvanism ... Planetary Chauvinism

No breakthroughs in physics or engineering would be needed to build O'Neill cylinders that could eventually create habitable land areas several times that of the earth. ... Space Habitat

So we can't claim it's impossible. Maybe we'll never do it because, as a species, we can't seem to stop wasting talent and energy on killing each other over borders and religions -- But not because it's impossible.

By the way, an O'Neill cylinder is used in the new hard science fiction web series "L5". They only tease you with a few glimpses in the opening episode, but if they get enough support, they'll make more. ...L5 - A Hard Science Fiction Series

Comment: I'd swear I've been in this guy's mtgs (Score 1) 186

by jacksdl (#38213956) Attached to: Obama Orders Federal Agencies To Digitize All Records
Seems to be the parent's objections are a classic case of "perfect being the enemy of the good." Of course the metadata definitions won't be complete enough when these documents are scanned. This leaves the user with having to digitally search through the records (if they OCR'ed decently). How is this not an order of magnitude better than going through the paper?

Comment: Re:The only problem with Yucca MTn (Score 1) 226

by jacksdl (#37702094) Attached to: The "Scientization" of Yucca Mountain
I agree with the parent. The adage that one man's trash is another man's treasure is no where as true as with "Nuclear waste". The rarity of the elements contained in that waste and their unique characteristics means that it is likely we will find important uses for them. So it may make more sense to store them in a way that allows us to get back at them. Even if we don't find uses for them, we will surely develop better processes and technologies to extract and render them less dangerous.

Unless, of course, you subscribe to the pessimistic view that we are inevitably going to see the collapse of civilization and the return of illiterate barbarism. In which case, I would suggest that you are focusing on one of the smaller risks in that post-apocalyptic world.

My suggestion would be to find a way to safely store them for 50 years. If, at the end of that time, we still haven't found a better use for the "waste", then we repackage it for the next 50 years using the superior knowledge and technology that will then be available.

Comment: Technology vs. Getting People to Drive Right (Score 1) 263

by jacksdl (#37355558) Attached to: DoT Grants $15M To Test Car-To-Car Communication
Is this an argument against trying this technology? That we would wouldn't need such safety technology if we all just drive responsibly?

Experience shows many more lives will be saved by applying technology than we could ever hope for by depending on people to behave properly.

Comment: You want "never" and claim "always" - likely BS (Score 1) 493

by jacksdl (#35520402) Attached to: US Ed Dept Demanding Principals Censor More
Of course such a rule could (and inevitably would) be misused by a teacher or principal. What rules would be left if we eliminated all of them that could be misapplied by corrupt or selfish authorities?

As to your broad assertion that anyone claiming anything done for the children is lying, I know that to be false. (The way you framed the argument only requires a single counter example). My wife has been teaching for many, many years and I have been a part of decisions she has made to confront parents, argue with administration and generally do things not in her self interest. On those occasions it has been for the good of a child.

Put your Nose to the Grindstone! -- Amalgamated Plastic Surgeons and Toolmakers, Ltd.

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