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Comment Deep Learning (Score 2) 123

If you want to start playing with some deep learning models, I would highly recommend this page. It provides some basic examples that run right in your browser. Also, this page provides a great guide to working with neural networks without getting bogged down in a bunch of mathematical equations.

Another great resource is Caffe. Caffe is a deep learning framework that will let you define a wide variety of neural networks by just writing a text file. You can run Caffe applications in CPU or GPU mode (a lot of open source deep learning code will only work with GPUs, so being able to run things either way is a nice feature).

If you want to do computer vision, make sure that you read up on fully convolutional neural networks, because they are the big thing right now.

Remember that story about a program that was able to learn how to play just about any Atari game? That is called reinforcement learning, and that's a big thing right now too. Udacity has a great course on reinforcement learning.

Comment Re:Not Bitcoin Core Developers (Score 4, Insightful) 122

some people say 'altcoin' when they mean anything that isn't bitcoin-with-the-annointed-blockchain.

You are correct that some people are advancing this definition, but I do not consider it to be an honest definition; instead, I consider it to be an attempt to conflate two clearly distinct concepts: A competing bitcoin client that would fork the blockchain and an altcoin. The only reason some people are attempting to conflate these concepts is so that they can pretend that censoring discussion of BitcoinXT on a bitcoin message board is not really censorship, but simply the removal of off-topic, altcoin discussion.

Comment Re:Not Bitcoin Core Developers (Score 4, Insightful) 122

So, in 2013, when the developers switched from BerkeleyDB to LevelDB and accidentally caused a fork between the miners running bitcoind 0.8 and the miners running bitcoind 0.7, which one was the alternate crypto currency? 0.7 or 0.8? 0.8 had more hashing power behind it, but the developers chose 0.7. What if the developers had chosen 0.8, instead? Would you say that an altcoin was adopted in 2013 if that had happened, since it doesn't matter how many people join in? What if people abandon bitcoin at some point and switch to litecoin? I suppose we could also call that 'switching to an altcoin'. Is it okay to use the exact same terminology to discuss such radically different situations?

Comment Re:Not Bitcoin Core Developers (Score 4, Interesting) 122

As far as I know the only bitcoin core developer working on an altcoin is gavin andresen.

BitcoinXT is not an altcoin; it's an attempt to increase the bitcoin blocksize. It does not change any bitcoin rules unless 75% of the hashing power is running it. BitcoinXT has not been widely adopted yet, but Coinbase just started running it in production, so it will be interesting to see if others follow their lead. But calling it an altcoin will only add to, rather than avoid, confusion. In fact, some moderators are actively censoring discussion of BitcoinXT on the most popular bitcoin reddit board, and they are trying to justify this censorship by calling BitcoinXT an altcoin. So, calling BitcoinXT an "altcoin" is a very contentious issue right now.

Comment Re:I don't get it (Score 1) 168

Those rating agencies have been given a special position by the government. For example, as this article mentions, the Fed will only accept assets as collateral if they carry high ratings from S&P, Moody's and Fitch. Even an SEC Commissioner admits that the credit rating agencies have acted like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other companies that dominate the market because of government actions.

In a free market, poor credit rating agencies would go away, because if they lose the trust of investors, there is no longer any reason for companies to use those credit rating agencies. The reason that the big three know they have nothing to worry about is because they know the SEC and the Fed will continue to grant them special status.

Comment Re:I don't get it (Score 1) 168

How does that differ from the pre-FDA situation? It would seem problems with that model is exactly why the FDA was created in the first place.

There have been plenty of withdrawn drugs and foodborne illness outbreaks under the reign of the FDA. If these are the types of "problems" that prove that the free market model does not work, then surely these problems also prove that the FDA model does not work?

The fact is, we don't know exactly what form the market would take if we allowed competition in the food and drug review business. For all we know, competition in that space may result in fewer withdrawn drugs and foodborne illness outbreaks. What we know for sure is that consumers will ultimately vote with their wallets. If the FDA's way of doing business is clearly superior, then it follows that consumers will only use FDA-approved products.

Comment Re:I don't get it (Score 1) 168

If a drug maker, who produces drugs that are widely available and considered safe in other developed countries, can not export those drugs to this country, then I consider that to be incompetence on the FDA's part. It is okay to say, "I don't have enough funding to personally review this drug facility, so therefore I had to trust a foreign agency's approval process"; it is NOT okay to say, "I don't have enough funding to personally review this drug facility, so therefore it is BANNED."

But anyway, who is to say what constitutes "sufficient funding"? Instead of having a centrally planned monopoly and trying to determine a "sufficient" budget, I would much rather have competing companies that have to raise funds by convincing skeptical investors, and then have to generate profits by pleasing their customers.

Comment Re:I don't get it (Score 1) 168

Mr. Shkreli bought the only FDA-approved treatment for toxoplasmosis. There are many cheaper versions of the drug around the world, but they are not FDA-approved. As this article explains, the FDA currently has a backlog of about 4,000 applications, and the median approval time for new generic drugs is 27 months. Thankfully, in this case, Imprimis was able to do an end run around the FDA's incompetence by making a compounded drug with the same ingredients as daraprim.

What is needed here is some more competition; not in the drug manufacturing business, but in the drug review business. In other words, why aren't entrepreneurs allowed to compete with the FDA? Perhaps the free market could even find a way to review generic drugs in less than 27 months. What if some private reviewer does a poor job? Well, consumers can decide if they are willing to trust drug reviewer A or drug reviewer B, just as consumers currently decide if they trust the reviews in Consumer Reports.

Or we could go with price controls. It seems to be working for Venezuela. Sure, there are constant shortages, but, hey, prices are always low!

Comment Re:The obvious answer (Score 1) 332

Start whacking industries who use the most water with a levy to pay for the plants. e.g. almond growers. If they are suddenly motivated to develop ways to save water then fine, if then don't then it's still a new plant.

Or better yet, let the market set the price for water. The California water shortage is just another example of what happens when we allow the government to manage resources.

Comment Re:What about the block chain size? (Score -1) 80

Why are you downloading the blockchain? The only reason I could think of that you would want the blockchain is if you're planning to do some solo bitcoin mining (if you're mining in a pool, then you don't need the blockchain).

If you're not mining bitcoin, then you don't need the blockchain. If you want to buy bitcoins, use coinbase.com. If you want to move your bitcoins into a wallet that you control, use blockchain.info or coinbase's multisig vault. No need to rely on a third party (because you control the private keys), and no need to download the blockchain.

Submission + - Is D a Criminally Underrated Programming Language? (dice.com)

Nerval's Lobster writes: While some programming languages achieved early success only to fall by the wayside (e.g., Delphi), one language that has quietly gained popularity is D, which now ranks 25 in the most recent Tiobe Index. Inspired by C++, D is a general-purpose systems and applications language that’s similar to C and C++ in its syntax; it supports procedural, object-oriented, metaprogramming, concurrent and functional programming. D’s syntax is simpler and more readable than C++, mainly because D creator Walter Bright developed several C and C++ compilers and is familiar with the subtleties of both languages. D’s advocates argue that the language is well thought-out, avoiding many of the complexities encountered with modern C++ programming. So shouldn't it be more popular?

Comment Re:raise money privately? (Score 1) 200

If it is easier for a municipal company to get access to existing municipal infrastructure, then the municipal must be making it harder for private companies to do so. This is an example of the local government standing in the way. Remember, I said they need to get out of the way.

Financing through municipal bonds is another example of government cheating, because holders of municipal bounds are exempt from federal income tax. Also, any extra "sense of legitimacy" that a municipal has is probably based on the assumption that a municipal company will be bailed out with tax payer money if necessary. Once again, if residents want high speed internet, can't it be provided by a company that follows the rules of every other private company?

As far as easements, I've never liked the idea of governments forcing easements on private property. I think the existing easements that were created by governments are immoral, and should be retroactively converted into a leasing agreement, in which property owners allow private companies (cable companies, power companies, etc.) to rent easements for a period of 5 to 10 years for some agreed upon yearly fee. That way, the relationship is more like landlord and tenant, instead of master (i.e. government) and slave (i.e. property owner).

Comment raise money privately? (Score 0) 200

If the residents of these cities want fiber internet, can't they just pool their money and start a privately owned ISP? Not only would the early investors get the internet speed that they want, but they'd make a profit as well after their company takes off. Or, if they want to, the early investors could even run the ISP like a cooperative. All that the city would have to do is get out of the way.

Now, if you tell me that that can't happen because customers would not be willing to pay enough money for their service to make the privately owned ISP profitable, then that means most residents don't actually want high speed internet. Right? If residents truly want high speed internet, then they should be able to make it happen without using any coercion.

It's not as if there is a free rider problem here; no one is getting internet service without paying their fair share. So, if you're telling me that we need taxation to "solve" this problem, then you're tacitly admitting that residents aren't willing to put their money where their mouth is, unless they are forced to.

Comment Re:Against Minimum Wage, For "Jobs"? (Score 1) 778

It's always amusing to see these people who are against raising the minimum wage justify their claims by saying that it will decrease jobs. For one, there is no evidence of that, only primitive debunked economic theory.

If you want to really see the effects of minimum wage, you should look at teenage workers. Teenage workers tend to be the most untrained, and therefore, the workers most affected by changes in the minimum. When you look at the effects of the minimum wage on teenage unemployment, the evidence is absolutely damning: In both the UK and New Zealand, teen unemployment rose strongly after a teen minimum wage was introduced.

Now, if you want to argue that teenage workers should be unemployed, go ahead. But if you're willing to admit that the minimum wage increases teenage unemployment, then you're going to have to do some serious mental gymnastics to believe that the minimum wage does not have any negative effects on those members of society who are older, but also relatively unskilled and/or untrained. The study referenced by slashdot proves nothing, because it is focused on the general unemployment rate, rather than the unemployment rate of the least productive members of society.

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