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Comment: Re:The benefit of Science (Score 1) 397

It never is, and never will be if all goes well. Wouldn't you rather be honest about what you (don't) know than work on stupid old data, like "cloved hooves are bad to eat"??

We continuously learn more, and the "flip flops" are the result of continuously better understandings. Your life expectancy has increased as a result, and this continues to improve each and every year.

Comment: The benefit of Science (Score 2) 397

There is a tremendous amount of ignorance and stupidity the world over. People get ideas from random sources, make their choices, and are very prone to making the mistake of believing everything they think. So we have people who *still* swear by Laetrile as a cure for cancer, or Scientology as a cure for arthritis caused by grumpy souls stuck in their elbows.

However, science offers a way out of the maze: the idea that ideas are only as valuable as they can be *validated* by peer review and experimentation. Validating ideas is painful, costly, and time consuming, so it takes *time* to find all the stupids and work them out, one by one. Combine that with the often significant economic interests in the ideas being cross-checked, and you can see it often takes even more time and expense to get the word out.

The change of tune that you point out is perhaps the single biggest strength of science, not some evidence of *ahem* irrational design.

Comment: Re:Upside Down? (Score 2) 142

by mcrbids (#49078377) Attached to: Breakthrough In Face Recognition Software

There's lots that you are missing.

The issue isn't the input data, it's the processing method. The processing method mentioned here as "revolutionary" is just about exactly the method that Raymond Kurzweil posited: a hierarchy of "nodules" that pattern match on a cascading network of pattern matches....

We're living with a modern-day Turing. Do we give him ample credit?

Comment: Re:And so it begins ... (Score 1) 158

If anything, the digital revolution obviates the need for tedious, drudgerous work. In the 1960s that was George Jetson speak! Poor George had to work an entire hour per day! But now that we've adopted far-right, archaic ideology and let the super-wealthy get all the spoils of the digital revolution, suddenly "eliminating drudgery" means "eliminating jobs".

The digital revoluion is set to disemploy up to 50% of Americans over the next 2 decades. It's going to get lots worse before it gets better. That is, unless you are a software engineer.

Comment: Re:Big Data (Score 4, Insightful) 439

by mcrbids (#49058357) Attached to: Will Submarines Soon Become As Obsolete As the Battleship?

Everyone knows that the military airplane became obsolete once radar was invented. (Sarcasm?)

The SR-71 was shot at too many times to count. Never once shot out of the sky. RADAR? Sure, they may have known she was there, and wasn't nothing to be done about it, as nothing could catch it.

The only reason why we parked the SR-71 is that satellites could do the same thing, cheaper, 24x7.

Comment: Re:It would be great if google and apple enter ... (Score 3, Interesting) 138

by mcrbids (#49053093) Attached to: Apple Hiring Automotive Experts

I don't *want* fancy electronics my car that doesn't adhere to some standard interface.

I want music to adhere to a standard interface, EG: RCA connectors. I don't expect navigation in the dash - I'm perfectly happy using my phone. I'd be good with it playing through the soundsystem via a standard interface, EG: bluetooth.

If you take care of them, cars last a long time. I'm *still* driving a 2001 Chrysler convertible, and it not only has a CD player, but also a cassette tape! I can't imagine using CDs or tapes - all my music is in my phone. The car only has 120k miles, I'll probably get another half decade out of it, at least. (And yes, I'm aware that the Chrysler convertibles have a bad reputation; emphasis on take care of them )

I want my car to be a car, and not try to include technology with a life cycle of 3-5 years. I don't *want* my car to have a built in cellular wifi, because the cellular network will likely be upgraded well before the car dies, making the feature worthless at best, but more likely a security or reliability concern. I don't *want* my car to have built-in navigation, as whatever system it has will be hopelessly obsolete long before I'm ready to turn in the drivetrain.

Instead, I propose that cars can have an in-dash screen that may (or may not) have it's own "smarts" but is also usable as a simple screen via something like HDMI with touch feedback so that later, I can use some new whiz bang thingie that hasn't been invented yet.

Comment: Re:why does everyone always want to give... (Score 3, Interesting) 690

by mcrbids (#49012827) Attached to: Free-As-In-Beer Electricity In Greece?

It's somewhat true that there's a bell curve in taxation, peaking with the middle class.

1) The poor have nothing to tax. They are generally on welfare or just off it, and struggling. The "freebies" a la "welfare" is not so much about the welfare receiving parents as giving their kids a chance to break out of the poverty trap, which they can't do if undernourished or uneducated.

2) The middle class has something to tax, but don't have the resources to defend themselves adequately. This is where the peak begins.

3) The upper middle class has a lot to tax, and is just starting to have enough resources to start to defend themselves, This is where the taxation peak starts to drop. (pretty much: between the 2% and the 0.5%)

3) The super wealthy hold all the cards. They can hire legions of lawyers and bankrupt countries if need be. This category controls or directly owns 50% of the world's wealth. Taxation doesn't even make sense to this class.

Comment: Re:Use of fear to have your way (Score 1) 58

10+ years ago, I used to log all packets that didn't "fit" in expected services. It really was an eye opener, there are perpetual and constant probes of all sorts, all day long. We're not talking actual attacks, just the equivalent of walking around, trying doors to see if any are unlocked or even present.

At that time, I was logging well over 1,000/day on a *home 1.5 Mbit DSL modem*. Today, I would log that many actual attacks against our small-ish website every few minutes if I cared to log them. The Internet is an incredibly hostile place, and it's only because the routers, servers, and networks etc. are actually rather good at their job that we manage to make it such a useful tool.

Comment: Re:On tracking (Score 4, Insightful) 111

by mcrbids (#48942475) Attached to: Fixing Verizon's Supercookie

Your traffic is always being tracked by cookies, government spies, whatever.

Please stop with the "sky is falling" routine - it only makes the problem worse and the stakes are too high to just throw your hands up in the air and give up in blissful ignorance.

Even https exists to serve this purpose. Certificates are just another cookie.

I suspect that, at a basic level, you have a fundamental misunderstanding as to what a "certificate" is and does.

1) A cookie is an identifier that allows you to tie numerous http(s) sessions together by domain. It can thus be used to track you by having many sites contain images or content from a common domain. (EG: doubleclick.com)

2) A certificate is used to negotiate a private session with a single domain. It's provided by the server and validated by the client to set up an encrypted connection. It allows you, the user, to verify that you are connected with the correct domain and *not* a nefarious person. The use of HTTPS and certificates foils the Verizon "supercookie" as they have no meaningful way to pierce the encryption provided between you and, say, Google.com.

Comment: Armchair engineering at its finest (Score 5, Insightful) 248

by mcrbids (#48920923) Attached to: Engineers Develop 'Ultrarope' For World's Highest Elevator

I'm probably going to lose some karma for this...

I, too, could come with a half-dozen answers that would be "far superior" to what 100+ years of the finest minds in the industry could come up with. But in reality, I really, seriously doubt that my designs would hold up because there's a *reason* that things are done the way they are.

Mechanical engineering is a *very old* industry, and any radical, new design would have significant hurdles to pass before it could be accepted and used in a real scenario. The cost of failure is very high and there are real lives on the line.

My first thought was to use something like a caterpillar drive along the sides of the shaft, each of which would operate like a mini elevator for perhaps 10 floors. But, very quickly, I can see that this type of system would have many, many more moving parts and consequently many more points of failure.

So, I think it *might* be best to trust that 100+ years of experience are, in fact, at work, and that we should first understand that there is *real knowledge* at work before assuming that our half-baked and thoroughly unproven ideas hold any merit in reality.... ?

Chemist who falls in acid is absorbed in work.