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Comment: ERP (Score 3, Interesting) 552

by markhahn (#47075161) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

First, recognize the need for empirical information on the state of your loved-on. It is of very little use to make subjective observations, since humans are incredibly good at finding patterns where none exist.

Second, recognize the difficulty of what you're undertaking. Humans are at the very beginning of understanding how our bodies work, and we have essentially no model to predict when patients will, or never will, recover from injury like this. What makes it hard is that this ignorance means that you will be trying to make decisions under extreme uncertainty - but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do so. For instance, there should probably be a time past which you withdraw life support when there are no signs of recovery. No one knows how long that should be, but the key thing is whether there are signs of hope.

What would be such signs? You've already read something about the locked-in phenomenon. First, CT cannot possibly provide any information about function: it measures x-ray density, and provides only structural information. At best, it might show which tissue has died - but unfortunately, we have very primitive knowledge of how that relates to function (or recovery). ERP (scalp electrodes) are MUCH more relevant: there is a huge literature describing the sorts of obligate responses made by sensory portions of the brain (our understanding of less sensory processes is rather spotty). PET can map metabolic activity, but that has a much less obvious relation to organized, functional brain activity. I think ERP monitoring should be your primary path forward. There is lots of research on this topic, and pretty much any university psychology/neuroscience/psychiatry department would have well-informed people you could talk to, often ones able to perform ERP tests for brain function. (The technology of ERP is very not hard, and designing effective tests is somewhat subtle. But if a test is supposed to guide a decision like continuation of life-support, it's not a casual trip-to-radioshack kind of project.)

In short, find a non-self-deluding way to gather empirical signs of functioning personhood; in the absence of such signs, figure out how long to wait.

Comment: Re:As painful as it is... (Score 2) 552

by markhahn (#47074883) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Communication With Locked-in Syndrome Patient?

this is NOT insightful.

we (medical or scientific communities) do not have the understanding to guide such a decision. we simply can't tell when a patient will never recover.

I personally would not want to be kept alive without prospects of a quite high quality-of-life. others certainly have different thresholds, and none of us can gainsay that preference. to do so is murder.

Comment: duh (Score 1) 256

by markhahn (#46778783) Attached to: SSD-HDD Price Gap Won't Go Away Anytime Soon

with spinning rust, you might re-engineer the bulk process that coats your disks, but the boost in recording density depends on changing the parameters of the head. bulk process and one device. compare to flash, where to boost density, you have to tweak each storage cell, controlling for defects and manufacturing flaws, where the yield of each cell multiplies, so defects are exponentially likely.

disks (and to some extent tape) will always have scaling advantages over litho-fabed storage.

you can certainly argue that latency and bandwidth also suffer by the same process - but for the most part, disk performance really is fast enough for most uses. it's a bit surprising that more disk vendors haven't tossed onboard a small flash chip (to all lines of HDs).

Comment: the concept of IP is the problem (Score 2) 103

by markhahn (#46741409) Attached to: Why the IETF Isn't Working

"Intellectual Property" that is, not Internet Protocol. IETF succeeded when participants were motivated by something other than staking out as much turf to monetize. The basic premise of modern business is "do whatever it takes to get away with as much as possible", which is emphatically not part of the thought process that brought us TCP/IP, SMTP, SSH, HTTP, etc.

The problem is lawyers and MBA weasels who tell everyone that monetization is their primary duty, and that lockin and the resulting "rentier" revenue streams are the ideal course.

Comment: network effect iff vendor lockin (Score 3, Insightful) 260

by markhahn (#46496629) Attached to: The Era of Facebook Is an Anomaly

lockin/networkeffect is so much easier a business model than competing based on excellence.

it's an interesting question to ponder: at what level of clue do customers begin to care? does the mass market ever reach that level? implicitly, sure - a service won't succeed which can't interoperate at least well enough. but how many customers really understand the concept of protocol or API - understand it well enough to realize that it permits vendor-independent services?

Comment: Fascism and demographics (Score 1) 309

by markhahn (#46484597) Attached to: Russia Blocks Internet Sites of Putin Critics

Obviously, this kind of thought-control, especially when combined with state capitalism/oligarchy/kleptocracy, is what we in the west would call Fascist. It is perhaps an interesting real-life demonstration of newspeak that much of Putin's fervor, at least for public consumption, is directed *against* Fascists in Ukraine. For him, the f-word means neo-nazi, or perhaps just ultra-nationalist for any nation other than greater Russia. It's really weird and mindbending, but you can find a lot of his undiluted propaganda on the web (, plenty in youtube, and planted comments on just about any relevant news article in any media...)

I find this fascists calling each other fascists thing quite interesting, but it seems to depend on a highly prepared political environment. The ex-USSR population seems to be uniquely primed to equate fascist=nazi, with all the baggage of WW2 (including the meme that the hard part was fought in Russia, not western europe, and that the cold war was essentially a continuation of WW2, with nazi-derived forces still conspiring against The Fatherland.) I imagine that works best for the older generation, but surely any Russian under 30 must look at the internet and see something closer to the truth...

Comment: MOAR IETF! (Score 1) 77

by markhahn (#46278169) Attached to: Oops: Security Holes In Belkin Home Automation Gear

IETF made everything possible, but has unfortunately been somewhat abandoned, or at least isn't functioning as a mooring-of-sanity as it used to. In some ways, this is inevitable, since the e-world is big enough that even a small company can do its own thing, and still succeed big.

This matters for IoT, since most cloud-enabled IoT devices do totally random things: poke through firewalls with UPNP, shove your private data into some random website, potentially over insecure protocols. (Or protocols that could be secure, but are implemented poorly or are simply in need of an update.) At some level, the problem is really that the easy path, for any given cloud vendor, is to set up their own cloud infrastructure (though it might be layered on Amazon, etc). This is bad for the customer because what happens when the company crashes, or gets bought and dissolved, or when the company just decides to stop supporting the device?

IETF should be thinking along the lines of a *local* data hub that you own, that your devices talk to over a simpler, standard protocol. Not that security can be ignored just because traffic is local, but an extra level of indirection makes all the difference in hardware as well as software. Whether that local hub is intelligent, whether it has storage - open question. And maybe devices need to fall back to trying to talk to the external cloud. But customers will eventually realize that they should want their own data to at least potentially be under their own control, not inherently subject to the vagaries of some whispy, transient external cloud. You don't want your fire alarm dependent on random external sites, or your internet-enabled door locks, or your thermostat, etc.

Comment: provenance (Score 2) 112

by markhahn (#46219077) Attached to: IBM Employees Caught Editing Wikipedia

let people perform whatever edits they want, but track the provenance of *everything*. let readers select some function of provenance as a rendering option, with the default being provenance of a pretty high standard of quality and non-conflicted-interest. letting people attach endorsements or upvotes is a pretty valuable kind of metadata anyway.

the problem seems to be the very idea that wikipedia should present a single, canonical version. absolutes are only found in faith, not the real world...

Uncertain fortune is thoroughly mastered by the equity of the calculation. - Blaise Pascal