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Comment: Re:writer doesn't get jeopardy, or much of anythin (Score 1) 443

Nope. A purely empirical observer wouldn't be able to tell you that 'as far as mommy knows, the chocolate is still in the drawer and that is why she is surprised'. The empirical observer would be able to predict that mommy giggles but wouldn't know __why__ she is giggling. The little boy can, because he can model mommy's state of mind. That is the fundamental difference.

Comment: Re:Consciousness versus Intelligence (Score 1) 443

Computer programs have no idea that what they are tracking is 'time' and how that "time" is different from any other relation (for example, distance) between entities , because they cannot infer causality between events.

Computer programs track a number which changes based on an abstract rule that the programmer programmed into it and based on the absolute value of that number, they do things. You could write a program where this number is replaced by the distance from a fixed point and send the computer on a random walk and the outcome would be very very different, for the same basic rules.

Time is not a sequence of numbers. If I show you a picture of a car down the street and then a picture of the same car in front of you, you will immediately place them in a 'time' order because you infer causality between the two of them......the car is in front of you right now __because__ it was down the street some __time ago__ and it is no longer there because it is here __now__. You think a program scheduler can create a relationship like this spontaneously?

Comment: Re:writer doesn't get jeopardy, or much of anythin (Score 2) 443

But all of it doesn't even matter.

The professor of philosophy is actually wrong. We don't understand what time is any better then clocks do. We are complicated, ad infinitum refined "clocks" for mindless, insentient set of genes who aren't even aware of us. Even the notions "aware" and "sentient" are themselves misleading.

No, this is wrong. The professor is right; we do understand time and computers do not. In fact, we are capable of an understanding of time in a way which is impossible to communicate to computers or even any other forms consciousnesses. We understand time because we have an inherent sense of causality built into us, and time is the name we have given to the way we relate causal events. In fact, we are so good with time that we can construct dynamic experiments in our mind, using our own mind as a model and track the state of the modelled mind in time.

Consider the following experiment. A little child watches his mother put a bar of chocolate in the fridge. Little later daddy sneaks in and eats the chocolate. The little boy giggles; why? Because he knows that as far as mommy is concerned the chocolate is still there in the fridge and she will be surprised when she looks for it. How does he know? Because he constructed a simulation in his head of his mommy's mind, fed it a sequence of stimuli and observed its evolution over time. This is a level of manipulation of time (causality) which is completely out of reach of the most powerful computer.

Comment: Re:I bet Amazon would love to hire more women. (Score 1) 495

by justaguy516 (#48432567) Attached to: As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

"Amazon" may not care, but "Amazon" doesn't make hiring decisions either. Individuals in Amazon do and they are as subject to societal prejudices as anybody. Not that I know anything about how women are treated in the Seattle tech industry, but this anthropomorphizing of large organizations is pretty silly.

Comment: Re:I'm betting on balloons (Score 2) 99

by justaguy516 (#48202011) Attached to: Internet Broadband Through High-altitude Drones

There was an idea like this floated in the 1990s, called Strato station or something. Balloons at 80km altitude (in the stratosphere) providing coverage. I seem to remember that Loral and Alenia Spaziale were both involved to some extent. It was abandoned because it is too difficult to keep balloons static (even at that altitude) and this would need expensive tracking antennae on the ground (in the 1990s digital beamforming was simply not available for commercial use). Anybody else remember this? It was around the time when the whole world (including Microsoft, remember Teledesic?) was planning to do 'internet in the sky' kind of things.

Comment: Re:Fear of changing code.... (Score 1) 232

by justaguy516 (#47925639) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Have You Experienced Fear Driven Development?

That may be, but there are other issues as well. As a tech lead, I frequently hear from a developer, "for feature X, we can either create a brand new state machine, or add to that for existing feature Y; its not too big a deal." Which we finally do also depends on my judgement of this person's capability to make changes to the code-base (it can break a new guy's confidence to be given something too big for him/her to chew, even if they volunteered for it), how much additional testing (regression testing) will be required, whether I need to tell the customer or not (I work in communications software and we can barely test 50% of our feature set in the lab; there are always things happening in the field we don't anticipate).

If we write a new state machine, there may be subtle things that the old state machine handled, which we haven't thought of. On the other hand, if we modify the existing state machine, we may break existing stuff. In either case there is a chance of getting it wrong, but fear causes you to suspend judgement and replace it by paranoia or wishful thinking. Worse, your developers get infected by the same fear and start suspending their judgement.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.