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Comment: Re:This is fucking stupid. (Score 1) 279

by plover (#49467219) Attached to: Researchers Developing An Algorithm That Can Detect Internet Trolls

You barely survived bullying, so you should know better than most that many people don't. That's plenty of reason not to tolerate bullying.

Look at it this way: survival of the fittest is already being changed by modern medicine; would you withhold penicillin from a child with pneumonia because he's too weak to survive? By extension, we owe the same level of concern to people with psychological problems.

Comment: Re:just what we need (Score 1) 279

by plover (#49464765) Attached to: Researchers Developing An Algorithm That Can Detect Internet Trolls

No, it's pre-crime if they've done no harm at the time they're banned.

The triggers or flags the algorithm recognizes are not themselves the offenses. They are just attributes of posts from people who in the past have exhibited similar early behavior; this algorithm knows how to recognize that pattern.

Let's say that you categorize a thousand historical troll posts, and study their metrics (I'm going to make up some fake metrics here for example.) The average number of posts before they actually get to spewing the bile might be 15. Of those 15, an average of two of them might contain the misspelled phrase "your wrong". Another indicator might be writing five posts within the first hour of registering a new ID. None of those posts contain an actual troll message, but 75% of the time someone matches that behavior, they will have written a troll by their 10th-20th post.

Pre-crime would be banning people based on matching this pattern without waiting for the actual troll post to be made. It would ban 100% of pattern-matchers, but of those, only 75% would statistically have gone on to actually troll. The other 25% would be unfairly banned for their poor spelling and bad timing.

Comment: Re:This is fucking stupid. (Score 4, Insightful) 279

by plover (#49464593) Attached to: Researchers Developing An Algorithm That Can Detect Internet Trolls

While I believe that people who are less sensitive tend to thrive more than others, I don't agree that "thicker skin" is a workable solution. Too many people have fragile emotional states and simply don't have the neural hardware psychological capacity required to dismiss the hate and insults that often happen on line. There have been some high-profile suicides among teens who were attacked online, and who knows how many people remove themselves from public comment because of the hate they've received? For safety reasons I don't think society should completely abrogate the forums to the trolls.

Does that not mean some people are overly sensitive? Sure. But just as we shouldn't velour-line the internet to cater to absolutely every person with a psychological disorder; we also don't have to tolerate the diarrhea that spews forth from the trolls. We don't have to draw a hard-and-fast line on the ground, either, and define "these words are always 100% bad in 100% of situations". Instead, we should be welcoming humans in the loop, asking them to pass judgment when needed. That gets us to a more fluid state than full automation. It also lets the user choose. Don't like the judgment process on Slashdot? Don't hang out on Slashdot.

I know full automated filtering is the holy grail of internet forum moderation, but as soon as you deploy a filter it becomes a pass/fail test for the trolls, who quickly learn to adapt and evade it. Human judges can adapt, too, and are about the only thing that can; there are simply too few for the volume of trolls out there. A tool like this might help them scale this effort to YouTube volumes.

Comment: Re:Double tassel ... (Score 1) 216

by plover (#49442541) Attached to: Senate Draft of No Child Left Behind Act Draft Makes CS a 'Core' Subject

Because too many people still associate coding with Computer Science, and are not taught Software Engineering.

Computer Science is all about the languages and the algorithms: how to make the computer count, how to make it sort, how to normalize data, etc. Software engineering is about the whys of design principles and design patterns. It's about testability, quality, readability, maintainability. It's about development methodologies. Almost anyone can write a sequential list of instructions, but unless they understand modularity, complexity, coupling, cohesion, they will not produce effectively maintainable code. They still think that because they passed a coding class that they're a coder, so they produce a crappy pile of hard-coded inappropriate dependencies, and then build more stuff that depends on the badly designed stuff, and then they wonder why programming sucks.

If we taught every child in the "Intro to Coding" class using Test Driven Development, we'd be teaching them to be the very first consumers of the code they write, and they'd quickly feel the consequences of making their own poor choices. They'd learn to course correct early, instead of struggling like so many of the questioners asking about homework problems on Stack Overflow. Instead of waiting to teach TDD as an advanced graduate level course, we'd have a lot more people who "get it". Or we'd quickly weed out the people who are incapable of ever getting it. Either way, everyone would be better off than we are.

Comment: Re:IoT (Score 1) 191

A heartbeat can theoretically be traced, at least to the last RF transmitter in the chain. If that's WiFi, it's a few hundred meters at most. If it's typical home automation, it's 20 meters or so. So, if the Evil Midnight Bomber is being watched, the messages originating from him could be noticed. It's definitely not the stealthiest of options.

Yes, a transmitter putting out a watt or two would lead to the needle in the haystack scenario, but the bad guys aren't doing that yet.

Comment: Re:Tin foil hat time (Score 3, Insightful) 142

by plover (#49397193) Attached to: TrueCrypt Audit: No NSA Backdoors

Yes, the NSA has been accused of colluding with RSA to promote the Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator as a standard, despite claims that it contained a backdoor. . The NSA has also been accused of interfering with standards that would enable ubiquitous effective encryption for popular communications tools, such as phones and email, resulting in the current hodgepodge of patchwork. Sure, you may use TLS to send and retrieve your email to and from your ISP, but the data is unencrypted in their servers, and is vulnerable to interception there. Your cell calls may be encrypted, but Chris Paget demonstrated at DEFCON how easy that is to defeat, using his almost legal homemade version of a Harris Stingray. And the encryption algorithms used by cell phones only protect the data flying over the airwaves, not on the cellular wired infrastructure which is already required to be vulnerable by CALEA.

However, the existence of one backdoor in one algorithm does not prove or disprove the existence of backdoors in other algorithms. Most exploitable weaknesses we do know about come from either protocol flaws or implementation errors, and these auditors found evidence of neither.

Comment: Re:More details (Score 2) 128

According to the article in Nature at , it only improves normal walking speed on level ground.

Which is too bad. My sister in law's right side was mostly paralyzed by a stroke. She shuffles around, swinging her body weight on her good leg, and is quite the effort. I was hoping this could help her, but given her gait it's unlikely.

Comment: Re:The worst thing about April Fools Day... (Score 1) 37

by plover (#49388499) Attached to: Wastelanders Decry Lack of Change In Punishment Wheel

The funniest thing is that every story is filled with comments from whingers who don't realize they're being trolled by Slashdot. The editors are no doubt sitting in a conference room, keeping score on all of the comments. Maybe they've even turned it into a drinking game where they drink every time someone types 'stop', and have to chug for each goatse.


Comment: Re:See nothing that says this is x86 (Score 1) 128

by plover (#49385331) Attached to: Microsoft Announces Surface 3 Tablet

That's a premature pronouncement, too. My Windows tablet is also now my laptop, just smaller and lighter. Not as light as my iPad, but the iPad has been relegated to a desk drawer because it's essentially useless compared to carrying around a tablet with a fully functioning OS.

If Apple were to install OSX on the iPad family of devices, that would indeed change the game again. But that would mean cutting into their insanely lucrative monopoly with their App Store model, so that's not likely to happen.

Comment: Re:The 3d printed elephant in the room (Score 2) 52

by plover (#49332311) Attached to: Australian Company Creates Even Faster 3D Printer

If you have a business use for what they can print today, you already have one, and are likely contemplating buying a better one. If you have a personal use for the parts they can print, you probably already own one. And even if you don't have a real use for them, you may have one as a cool toy. But not everyone is going to buy the same toys as you.

Once they get a lot more capable (maybe not Star Trek replicator capable, but substantially better than they are now) then they'll become ubiquitous. Until then, not everyone needs one. I'm thanking you now for being an early adopter, but don't expect me to join you yet.

Comment: Re: The real reason (Score 5, Informative) 52

by plover (#49332271) Attached to: Australian Company Creates Even Faster 3D Printer

The problem is they're too limited. They have to get more capable, not faster, in order to meet my needs. If they can insert circuitry, maybe I can print things that are somewhat more useful. As of right now, I have needed exactly one 3D printed thing (a battery holder for an electronic project, which a friend provided gratis.) But at no point in the last five years have my needs for small plastic things added up to the $300 price of a Simplebot, let alone a printer with better quality, resolution, size, or capabilities.

Maybe you have kids who need thousands of plastic army men. Maybe you are in a business where fabricating prototypes is valuable to you. Great for you, I'm glad you have a use for one. Hopefully you'll help drive volume so the costs come down even further. But as they stand today, they're too expensive for anything I need, and would take up more storage space than I want to waste on a toy.

It has nothing to do with thinking big or small. I'm sorry you can't imagine a scenario different from your own experience.

Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.