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Comment Re:Too late. (Score 2) 269

the mechanism by which bitcoin increases the difficulty of mining every time a number of new coins are found

There's a mechanism that scales the difficulty by how much compute-power is applied to the task of mining, but nothing pre-set to make each successive block more difficult to mine - it's just that most of the time the supply of computing power has been growing, so the difficulty kept going up to compensate - there have also been times where the difficulty declined.

The closest thing to a built-in difficulty increase is a periodic halving of the amount paid for each block, but that's only happened once so far (with the next one approaching some time later this year)

Comment Re:Could this lead to false sharing allegations? (Score 2) 47

There was that case where researchers were able to use some manner of spoofing to attract DMCA complaints claiming that their networked printer was engaging in file-sharing. There's a TorrentFreak article about it here which links to the PDF of the paper they published.

Comment Re:Anthropomorphizing (Score 1) 421

The concern isn't so much that the AI would have human-like goals that drive it into conflict with regular-grade humanity in a war of conquest, so much as that it might have goals that are anything at all from within the space of "goals that are incompatible with general human happiness and well-being".

If we're designing an AI intended to do things in the world of its own accord (rather than strictly in response to instructions) then it would likely have something akin to a utility function that it's seeking to maximise, and so implicitly has a goal defined by that function - some arrangement of the world that scores the most highly according to that function. Whether the nature of that goal is inscrutable beyond the wit of man, or utterly prosaic like the "paperclip maximiser"... if it doesn't share our values then the things that we value may end up disassembled for raw materials.

In the admittedly unlikely event of a machine achieving a degree of intelligence that allows it to completely achieve any goal it happens to have, the only way for humanity to win is if it has goals that align near-perfectly with what's best for humanity, which is a vanishingly small target when you consider the universe of possible utility functions that aren't that.

Obviously not really a concern with the current state of technology, but if progress in making more intelligent machines follows anything like an exponential curve then we could fall foul of how bad our intuitions are around exponentials, and end up being taken by surprise by a machine that's rather abruptly more intelligent than we expected. Especially if we make it able to improve itself.

Comment Re:Physics violation (Score 1) 690

Compare the following two questions:

"If the energy in a computer ends up as heat and information, and the energy in a heater just ends up as heat, isn't there some loss of energy in the process?"

"If the water in a waterfall all ends up at the bottom, and the water in a hydroelectric dam all ends up at the bottom, isn't there some loss of (gravitational potential) energy in the process?"

One dumps all the energy provided into some sort of ground state as quickly and wastefully as possible, the other carefully channels it to extract an additional benefit on the side. The analogy isn't perfect (for one thing, the water at the bottom of the waterfall will land with more energy than the water sent through a turbine, and make a hell of a noise in doing so), but I don't think there's anything thermodynamically wrong with the idea of siphoning off and redirecting some part of a flow of energy to drive a turbine or a calculation, and still have it ultimately all end up as heat.

Comment Re:Were Hunter-gatherers doing better (Score 1) 92

Agriculture developed independently in multiple places. In each case it would have involved former hunter-gatherers deciding to cultivate crops instead. Clearly there was something attractive about the idea or they wouldn't have bothered with it. Probably just something daft though, like having a stable source of food or being able to produce an excess to survive through a lean period, and allow some of the population to do something other than constantly hunt and gather... but who really needs that?

Comment Re:As a private citizen (Score 2) 213

To look at it from the opposite end, if your country is abiding by their treaty obligations then they may feel compelled to make laws reflecting it, which you are then subject to. That is of course a pretty big "if" - if they've decided not to abide by it then it becomes a question of what consequences they're either willing to concede to or able to have forced upon them by whoever's on the other end of the treaty.

If your hypothetical asteroid miner were from a smaller country, one less able to dictate terms to the rest of the world, they might find themselves subject to rather more outside interference...

Comment Re:AI is always (Score 1) 564

My point was just that "intelligence" can't be impossible to reproduce algorithmically, because physics is amenable to simulation and has given rise to intelligence.

If it can be produced by a mass of wet jelly sat between two ears, it can be produced by a computer running the right program. The challenge then is to unpick the puzzle of what that jelly is actually doing, and to do so sufficiently clearly to be able to specify that "right program".

Not saying it's easy; it's incredibly difficult. But possible in theory.

Comment Re:AI is always (Score 1) 564

Current algorithms are not Artificial General Intelligence. What we have now are algorithms for domain-specific intelligences.

But in principle, physics can be simulated by an algorithm. Therefore a human brain can be modelled at the particle level and run in simulation. Therefore whatever a human brain is doing that produces intelligence (assuming for now that it does, in fact, produce intelligence) can, in principle, be reproduced by an algorithm, even if it has to treat the brain as a black-box to do so.

Consider that the brute-force approach to algorithmic intelligence. Obviously the real prize is to find the shortcut - abstract out only the necessary elements of what the brain does and express those as algorithms.

Comment Re:Infinite Bank Account (Score 2) 385

I may be wrong, but I feel like you missed the point of the post above you... the "$20 trillion dollar bank account", I took to be an analogy for the world's fossil fuel reserves. Which, if we want to avert climate change, we probably have to take a significant fraction of and leave it in the ground.

All the focus is on reducing demand by reducing usage, and that would theoretically force fuels to be sold cheaper until the point where it's not economically viable to extract them. But it seems like an indirect approach compared to convincing a government that controls a lot of fuel reserves to just stop drilling them out and leave them buried.

But of course it's not really 'realistic' to expect them to do that - they're sitting on a bottomless well of wealth just begging to be dug up. It would make them uncompetitive to stop, it would mean other nations continue to profit while they sit on their hands, it would weaken their position of power on the world stage... it would help save the ecoystem of the planet, but clearly that's of no particular importance compared to wealth and power.

Comment Re:Brain ZAP! (Score 2) 284

If you spent most of your prison sentence unconscious, it would make any attempt at either punishment or rehabilitation impossible. Would still satisfy the "removing you from society" goal, and would still offer some deterrence (maybe not as much if prison was now closer to a null experience than an actively unpleasant one), but still... seems like defeating a large part of the point of imprisoning people

Comment Re:I am using Windows 8 (Score 1) 516

I'm not certain where it fits into your analogies, but I'm using Windows 8 with Classic Shell and the only time I ever even see Metro is the rare occasion when my touchpad driver forgets that I disabled the "Edge swipe" gesture and that goofy little "Charm bar" sidebar pops up.

It boots to the Desktop mode, I have all the default full-screen Metro apps replaced with my own programs, it has the familiar old start menu and control panel and everything. For all intents and purposes, I don't need to know it's Win8. The one thing that hasn't quite gone back to the way it used to be is the network connect/disconnect dialog - that still opens up a full-height sidebar with the names of nearby wireless networks. But I can live with that.

Comment Re:Bitcoin post = win (Score 1) 177

Or to borrow some actual slashdot headlines...

Formhault C has a huge bitcoin debris ring
Scientists print bitcoin
Police pull over more drivers for bitcoin tests
Apple pushes developers to bitcoin
NASA schedules space walks to fix bitcoin pumps
Bitcoin exchange value halves after... wait, I did this one wrong
Unreleased 1963 bitcoin on sale
Want to fight allergies? Get bitcoin

Dammit, it still works, I would read every single one of these.

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