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Comment It's about time! (Score 2) 150

Yeah, Economists (and I'm an avid amateur) use a language that is not precise to describe behavior that is not able to be precisely measured. Take the word "rational" for instance: Rationality in psychological terms implies something on the order of optimization in general, while rational in economic terms is optimization for individual behavior. Yes, an individual may change to the faster moving line or lane, but that only has a cumulative effect on the mass of behavior, and does not add to strategy as a whole. Individual behavior does not advance knowledge of the subject; it is only the accumulated effects of individual behaviors that reveal Economic behavior and may reveal Economic principles.

The closest thing we have in in tech terms is "emergent systems" and economics actually closely resembles an experiment in complex systems.

The other imprecision is to generalize about Economists. Some Economists are idealists or philosophers and deal in theory only, trying to determine "the way things should be." Some Economists are technologists and are mostly concerned about using the information to manipulate outcomes. (Many negative effects are a result of Economists who do both of these!) Somewhere in between these two types is the Economic Scientist whose main concern is finding out what is going on, proving that it is valid, and who can use the information to actually predict Economic behavior. It seems to me that machine learning actually serves the Economic Scientist.

Comment Re:Keeping up (Score 2) 242

I've been programming since 1965. I did programming 'cause I liked it. Then I started taking high-paying 3 month contract jobs and it all went to hell. Once I escaped the electronic sweatshop I started to enjoy programming again. These days, on the verge of retirement, I do almost no contract programming (unless the job is very interesting) and today I am involved in a small number of projects that totally interest me.

What is the outcome of marketing your skills on social media, etc.? Mostly un-inspired positions at un-inspired companies doing mediocre work. Then countless interviews, competition for the position based on irrelevant criteria, judged by people who don't have a clue. These positions are better suited to people who are inspired by money and benefits, not programming. Old programmers like myself seem to be more interested in job satisfaction than money. And making these jobs hard to get doesn't increase their desirability once you get them.

IMNSHO, a good thinker using Rational Rose or Embarcadero and optimizing the output can outperform and out-create most of the young code-doggies. I'd rather be the one creating the tools like Rational or Embarcadero.

Old programmers have special skills and talents that younger programmers haven't developed yet. Companies who want these skills and talents might be better off recognizing that the pool of people with these talents are different from the just the general pool of programmers. If they really want these skills and talents, they should use the right bait and fish in a different pond.

But then, if you are an old programmer looking for income, the price you have to pay is the effort needed to market yourself where the interest is.

Comment The nature of transparency (Score 2) 83

I'm surprised that it hasn't been done before this. In high school, (Many, many, many years ago...) we were taught that things were transparent because "light wave could pass through." In reality, we now know that in transparent materials, a photon striking the surface passes some of its energy to the next molecule, releasing another photon, which does the same, etc., etc., until finally the last photon is transmitted to an almost unobstructed medium (air, in our case). The key question has always been, "What is the difference in atomic structure between 'transparent' medium and 'opaque' medium?" The second question has been, "How can we change the atomic structure of supposedly 'opaque' materials to work like so-called 'transparent' materials without losing the characteristics that make the current 'opaque' materials useful to us?"

Ceramic research has been on the edge of this discovery for years.

Comment Anti-Republican Justice? (Score 1) 510

Abuses abound on all fronts, but I'm surprised no one is looking at this for the political motive: The current administration is very good at deflecting criminality of Democratic politicians and very good at smearing as many Republican politicians as possible. I suspect that the reverse will be true when Republicans regain power. It's our fault: We keep electing politicians who forget that they are supposed to protect the rights of EVERYBODY, not just their party members. How cool would it be if voters voted for competency rather than just team affiliation?

Comment Re:HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

I think the purpose of the penal system is to protect society from those who prey on the common citizenry, and "penalty" has noting to do with it.

I am not interested in punishment, retribution or revenge. If society is adequately protected by isolating criminals from the society, then that is adequate and moral.

Clarence Darrow maintained that the persons who committed "real" crimes, such as rape, arson, or murder, were sick. They should be hospitalized and quarantined until they were well, then released. They should not be released before they were well.

The death penalty should be reserved for those persons who are still a danger to society, even incarcerated. Some terrorists perhaps. Maybe lawyers and politicians.

Comment Simple Answer: Lack of Quality control (Score 2) 320

Basically, I suspect that science that is not evaluated scientifically loses precision and credibility.

Take the headline in the original post: How many people actually read the headline, saw the modal argument, and realized that the presupposition was leading to a straw man argument?

Now take an hypotheses with lots of data and present it to multiple administrators, legislators, politicians and the public: How many will subject this presentation to even the most rudimentary argument mapping such as a Toulmin worksheet? How many are even capable?

Science is not "wrong" or "right"; hypotheses are supported or unsupported. Conclusions are never actually true or false, just justified by the evidence subject to the limits of experimentation so far.

So, the sooner some of you software geniuses create something to quickly and efficiently evaluate and sort the arguments, the quicker we can weed out the crap and improve on the quality scientific endeavors.

Comment Important topical idea! (Score 1) 324

I have long believed that if it was as hard to maintain a car as it is to administer a computer, the world would stay home and read books.

It is the manufacturers' responsibility to ensure that hardware does what it is supposed to, does it correctly, and does ONLY what it is supposed to do. In the coming age of self-driving cars, personal care robotics and so forth, it is inexcusable for the builder to make defective stuff. I suspect we will have to go back to first principles instead of relying on software recipes that were invented back in the 1960's.

We will run into another level of complexity when our machines start modifying themselves for something called "better performance."

This does not answer your question, but this is a legitimate area for concern and I thank you for bringing it up.

Comment Why? (Score 1) 421

I have had to interview numerous High School graduates and Junior College attendees who were so bad at math they couldn't run a cash register. What evidence is there to indicate that "schooling" over the summer is a benefit to them or Society at large?

Although I object to his lack of citations, real proof, and his use of innuendo and other false arguments, I strongly agree that John Taylor Gatto is right: The American Education system is irrevocably broken and must be redesigned from scratch. The school system is (WARNING!:GROSS GENERALIZATION AHEAD!) something where you send your kids to prison during the working hours to have their heads messed with by persons only marginally capable of feeding themselves .

OK, I agree that there are SOME dedicated and competent teachers, but I suspect they are working in an environment that systematically sabotages their best efforts. It is also true that some students do well in spite of the average school environment. These anomalous students maybe have access to better schools, better teachers, and better parents.

The idea of making students go to school year-around is case of "jumping-to-solutions" and avoids any real thinking about "How can we improve our educational system?"

Comment Re:"Just let me build a bridge!" (Score 1) 372

Not a bad analogy, but Engineering follows the rules of Physics and Chemistry, which were built on layers and layers of scientific thought and experiment. Hardly anyone writing code these days understands what's happening under the hood.

Disclaimer: I've been programming since 1965. I'm proud of the fact that I can create logic gates that will do medium to complex mathematics.

Programmers have become like lawyers: They are sometimes competent technicians but are not required to engage in original thought. We are long past the time when we should really need "coders" anymore for application production. We need thinkers who can define requirements precisely, designers who can describe processes to produce those results, and then turn the design (UML. Warnier-Orr, Flowchart, etc.) over to a generator that produces reliable, proven object code. The inventiveness is in the design, not the coding (usually...some exceptions apply).

In a society where we are faced with self-driving cars and machines that care for sick, young and elderly, the type of "coding" (based on layers of algorithms developed back in the 60's..including errors) will not be sufficient. Committee-work will not make it better.

Goedel? Who cares? Somewhere there is an original thinker who can traverse the wall of logical abstraction that will allow us to prove programs correct in multiple domains. When that happens, "coding" will be demonstrated in craft fairs instead of professional offices.

Comment Language = Math (Score 1) 241

I am surprised that more people are not better at Math, since language is almost entirely Math. Think of the words we use that denote math terms: Quantity (more, less, many, one, few, all, none, etc.), space (large, small, besides, etc.), relationships (on, in, with, by, all, included, etc.), ..and the list goes on.

I strongly recommend a book called, "What Linguists Always Wanted to Know About Logic..* (*But were Ashamed to Ask!)" by McCawley.

Incidentally, this book has one of the BEST descriptions of Lambda Calculus I've seen so far.

I can easily see the disconnect between language and programming; it s pretty much the same as the disconnect between language and good thinking. Language contains many distortions, deletions and generalizations the people who know the language process unconsciously (sometime to their detriment) to complete their understanding of the communication. Computers cannot, at this time, do a good job of imputing the missing components to fully complete the instruction.

Good programmers are simply better at complete and precise thinking.

Comment Monkeys = good guards (Score 3, Interesting) 119

Back in 1996 there was a warehouse in Cam Ranh Bay that had large amounts of goods continually disappearing at night. AP patrols with dogs didn't stop the theft, so the K9 guys attack-trained a half dozen monkeys (about 30 lbs each). They would keep the monkeys in a CONEX container and back it up to the entry door in the eveneing, and when they opened the CONEX the monkeys would race into the warehouse. The next morning they would back the empty CONEX to the door and bang on the back wall; the monkeys would then race into the CONEX to get food. From that point on, nothing disappeared from the warehouse at night.

Comment Re:Not the phone (Score 1) 243

ATT points out that the demand for wireless services will increase 8 times (800 percent for those of you who don't undrstand math) from December 2013 through December 2018. Most of this increase will be the continued rise of phones as internet devices. (2014 is the first year that demand for internet to phone devices exceeds internet to desktop computers.) A large trend is the demand for inter-connectivity between devices; Vehicle-to-vehicle, phone-to-computer, wearable gear-to-desktop and cloud. Thesity will be increasing ly replaced by virtualization ande are all crating demand for wireless services. Data pipes will be like oil piplines untill the infrastructure catches up. Worse, where we have hardware connectivity will be replaced by virtualization and software-defined device emulation and virtual networks, so errors and breakages will be more disruptive.