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Comment: Maybe not a conventional expert system? (Score 2) 162

by kurisuto (#47400757) Attached to: The AI Boss That Deploys Hong Kong's Subway Engineers

The article says that they're using a genetic algorithm. I'm no expert at AI, but my understanding is that an ordinary expert system doesn't use a genetic algorithm; an expert system just involves percolating propositions through a bunch of human-specified if/then statements.

I'd hazard a guess that the system described here is using the human-specified rules as part of the fitness function for the genetic algorithm. That's one way a system could use human-specified rules, but I think it's different from how an ordinary expert system uses them.

If you can call this an "expert system", then at a minimum, it looks like it's pushing the boundaries of the definition of "expert system".

Comment: Re:How to interpret the statistics (Score 1) 435

by kurisuto (#47261993) Attached to: Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

True, but the null hypothesis is that men and women are equally capable at CS, however you measure that. Likewise with whites and blacks. Unless there's data to indicate otherwise, I'm assuming that knowing somebody's race or sex doesn't tell you anything about how likely they are to be good at CS.

Comment: How to interpret the statistics (Score 1) 435

by kurisuto (#47261819) Attached to: Yahoo's Diversity Record Is Almost As Bad As Google's

The numbers might give the impression that Google and Yahoo are unfairly discriminating against blacks and women. To determine whether that's the case, I think you need to know two things:

--Among Google and Yahoo employees, what percentage are black? What percentage are women?
--Among CS graduates, what percentage are black? What percentage are women?

(I'm simplifying here by assuming that every hire at Google and Yahoo is a CS graduate.)

If the two sets of numbers differ significantly, then it could indicate discriminatory hiring practices. If the numbers are the same, then it would seem to indicate that Google and Yahoo are evenhandedly hiring from the pool of available candidates, and that the cause of the inequality is further upstream.

Comment: Overstating the case (Score 5, Insightful) 582

by kurisuto (#46761165) Attached to: How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

I don't think anyone claims that open-source software won't ever have security issues. The claim is that the open-source model tends to find and correct the flaws more effectively than the closed-source model, and that the soundness of the resulting product tends to be better on average.

One case does not disprove that. The key words there are "tends" and "on average".

Comment: Sabbath (Score 3, Interesting) 224

by kurisuto (#46595181) Attached to: Introducing a Calendar System For the Information Age

There have been various alternative calendars proposed, and some of them have the property that there's a special day in the yearly calendar which doesn't count as part of the regular seven-day-per-week cycle (such as the "month zero" proposed here).

A significant objection is that some religions require that every seventh day be kept as a holy day. If the calendar contains a day which isn't part of the regular week, then there are sometimes more than seven days between one weekly holy day and the next.

It's not a consideration for me personally. However, I'm sure that this feature would lead to significant resistance to the adoption of such a calendar.

Comment: Sunset at 3:11 p.m.? (Score 4, Interesting) 545

by kurisuto (#45310469) Attached to: A Plan To Fix Daylight Savings Time By Creating Two National Time Zones

Part of the proposal here is to reduce the U.S. to two time zones. The Eastern time zone would be on the same time as what's now Central Standard Time.

I'm in Boston, MA. Under the proposed change, sunset in December would come at 3:11 p.m. Um, no, thanks.

Comment: Re:"no longer be offered in a pencil & paper f (Score 1) 224

by kurisuto (#43451555) Attached to: Some States Dropping GED Tests Due To Price Spikes

I dropped out of high school in 1983. I was being heavily harassed for being openly gay. I could take it no longer.

I took my GED and passed it easily on the first try. Then I worked my ass off, largely financed my own education, and eventually got a PhD from one of the Ivy League universities. Now I have a successful career.

If the option of the GED hadn't been there for me, I would have been at a dead end.

Comment: KDE vs. Gnome (Score 5, Insightful) 933

by kurisuto (#41165263) Attached to: How Apple Killed the Linux Desktop

In the 1990s, I wanted to get into developing GUI apps for Linux. The single biggest reason why I gave up on it was that the Linux GUI effort fractured into KDE and Gnome camps.

At the time, I figured that one of the two would win out over the other. There was no telling which might win, and I was reluctant to back what might be the losing horse. This was a serious demotivator. Of course, 15 years later, we've ended up with the worst of both worlds: many Linux installations take up the disk space for both, and we've got two unharmonized APIs continuing to fight for a following.

With MacOS, there is no question what API you should use. Apple offers a very clear path. For that reason, I feel more confident developing for that platform.

Comment: Re:Voice recognition (Score 3, Informative) 366

by kurisuto (#39805405) Attached to: Is Siri Smarter Than Google?

Sorry, but this is bull. Your statement that "voice recognition is at its limits phonetically" is just wrong. I work in the voice recognition industry, and in the past five years, I've seen the recognition error rate markedly and measurably go down, and this trend is continuing.

There are actually two kinds of models involved in voice recognition:

1) the acoustic model (which has to do with looking at a sequence of time slices of the acoustic signal and working out what sequence of phonemes could most likely have given rise to it). You say that voice recognition is at its limits phonetically, but these models are actually getting better over time with larger sets of training data, and the improved models measurably result in a lowered word error rate.

2) the language model (which has to do with specifying which words exist, and in what order they are most likely to occur). These language models can be very simple, as in the case of a yes/no question in a phone-based app (your model might accept "yes" and "yes ma'am", but not any arbitrary English utterance); or they can be very large, as in the case of a general-purpose dictation application.

In conjunction with the recognizer, what these two models give you is a raw string of recognized words. What sort of processing you do on that string is a separate question. There are obviously all sorts of things you can do with the string. The parsing and processing techniques are getting more sophisticated, and are getting integrated with other systems in interesting ways. This is largely a separate question from the accuracy of the string itself, which is the output of the recognizer (I say "largely" because your application might activate a different language model based on the current context, which does affect recognition accuracy).

Comment: Re:Why do I need to add a subject? (Score 1) 1276

by kurisuto (#39248089) Attached to: Scientists Say People Aren't Smart Enough For Democracy To Flourish

In the very unlikely event that a kind-hearted, mentally disabled person could become dictator, that person would not be dictator for very long. The first concern of an individual who is in power is to stay in power, because he or she is continually in competition with others who want power.

If a leader stays in power for a while without doing ruthless things, it just means that that leader had the good fortune of not being presented with situations where ruthlessness was required. I doubt that this happens very often.

Comment: Re:Catalyst? (Score 1) 519

by kurisuto (#38575816) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Which Web Platform Would You Use?

How does the size of the user base of Dancer compare to that of Catalyst? How do the growth curves compare? Are these things known?

Having a larger support community is one factor I need to consider, partly because it's easier to get help when I need it, and partly because a more widely-used framework is likely to continue to be supported over time. The inherent technical superiority is, of course, another factor to consider.

Comment: Apple ][ manuals (Score 1) 422

by kurisuto (#36746676) Attached to: How Do You Get Your Geek Nostalgia Fix?

I've still got the old Apple ][ wire-bound manuals. Yeah, I know, it's extremely unlikely that I'll ever again go poking into the assembly code of Apple DOS, but I've just never been able to consign those manuals to the trash bin.

I've also still got the manuals for the TRS-80 Color Computer. I can still flip them open and immediately remember writing programs using those exact BASIC commands.

Slowly and surely the unix crept up on the Nintendo user ...