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Comment I see what you did there... (Score 2) 276

...including "Silicon Valley's privacy policies" in the list of pet peeves for the CIA/NSA. In fact, Silicon Valley IT giants have a steady stream of revenue from providing services to assist the NSA in their private personal data trawling. It's just business. The public rhetoric is simply PR and marketing to keep their share prices up. None of the IT giants are proposing anything that would actually prevent the NSA from bulk data collection and accessing their data warehouses, security certificates, and encryption keys. The greatest facilitators in the most intrusive and pervasive surveillance programme in history are the IT giants themselves. Let's not forget that.

Comment Re:Statistics. (Score 1) 490

Agree. How many people who commit acts of terrorism (mostly Christian, not Muslim, as the lame-stream media would have us believe. See: http://www.juancole.com/2015/1...) are not engineers and what explanation do they offer for them for committing acts of terrorism?
The part that caught my attention was, "migrant populations, where people with engineering backgrounds have difficulty in realizing their ambitions for good and socially valued jobs." How about marginalisation and injustice as strong contributing factors?

Comment CUt back on extra features... (Score 2) 110

I believe in better security by cutting back on extra, unnecessary features; all they do is provide more surfaces for finding vulnerabilities. I recently bought an IoT washing machine and have stripped back the extra features, like wash, rinse, and spin cycles, so that all it does is send SPAM messages and participate in DDoS attacks.

Comment Re:Why intelligence agencies haven't done anything (Score 1) 318

Intelligence agencies aren't supposed to do anything that you or I should hear about. They're supposed to collect intelligence, in this case signals intelligence (SIGINT) secretly, analyse it, compile reports, and quietly hand it on to the people who are supposed to act upon it.
But you're probably right that this traditional role of intelligence has likely been usurped by indiscreet politicians and civil servants looking for media attention and not really bothered about the effect of their actions.

Comment An easier solution than regulation... (Score 0, Offtopic) 201

...instead of making up regulations and playing "Gotcha!", why not just beef up and extend public transport infrastructure, make it more affordable, while at the same time reduce the multi-billion dollar subsidies to the oil industry, thereby making private car use more expensive and encouraging more people to use public transport. It'd also make more sense to give priority to people from poorer communities who may be paying a substantial proportion of their income on cars or having to rely on weak, unreliable public transport to get to work. This should result in higher productivity through fewer missed work days and greater availability of workers for jobs. Also, spending less on getting to work means more purchasing power for those people and therefore more economic activity/growth. Everybody wins.

Comment Try getting by without fundamental science... (Score 4, Insightful) 248

Typical narrow-minded view of research and knowledge. Not many corporations or private organisations invest in fundamental science research and nowhere hear at the scale and intensity that govt. funded research does. Without fundamental research, you don't have anything to base applied research on, which I guess is what they mean when they call it "innovation."

As for self-organising systems, there's plenty of fundamental research to show just how unpredictable and unstable they are in reality.

Comment Re:Accountabilty (Score 1) 46

Under tort law, they are liable. They clearly failed to put into place sensible and reasonable safeguards to protect their clients' sensitive data. CEO Dido Harding made a press statement that she didn't know if the banking details on TalkTalk's database were encrypted (gross negligence, in my opinion).

However, we live in an age of blameless, shameless corporations who know that, as long as they don't emabarrass any powerful people (that doesn't include politicians), they can get away with just about anything.

Comment Re:The coping mechanism is to fix the room (Score 1) 95

Parabolic mics pointed at the participants?

Neither parabolic nor super-cardioid mics would work very well in an echoey room. The sound reflections from the walls would still get picked up pretty well.

Wireless body mics?

Expensive. You'd not only need a bunch of wireless mics but also a mixer to channel them all through at the same volume ratios to the person/people at the other end. Personally, I like the "talking-stick" mic idea. It'd be a great way to manage the dynamics of turn-taking in conversations that some people seem to have difficulty with.

Comment And Google's epistemological basis is? (Score 3, Interesting) 375

I wonder what the Google staff's and consultants' philosophy of epistemology is. What do they mean when they say fact? What assumptions underly that definition? Are they naive positivists or social constructivists? Ultimately, it requires people to decide what constitutes truth, fact, and knowledge - machines are nowhere near being able to do that and perhaps never will. Do they expect to automate this ranking system with an algorithm? I can't wait to see it trip up over criteria-matching random string generators that regurgitate scraped "facts" off the web (by simply following Google's own "fact" ranking results) to push their porn, malware, and sales/scam/phishing sites up to the top of Google's page rankings.

This post was brought to you by Carls Junior, makers of Brawndo, the thirst mutilator. It's got electrolytes.

God is real, unless declared integer.