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Comment: Re: So, a design failure then. (Score 1) 162

by plover (#47923091) Attached to: Developing the First Law of Robotics

You missed the jokes:

1. Will Smith starred in a recent movie adaptation of "I, Robot". [Minor spoiler alert] His character is tormented by the fact that a robot (applying the three laws) chose to save him over a young girl in a drowning accident because the math for survival worked in his favor, not hers. If the robot had attempted to save the little girl instead, Will Smith's character would have died in the accident and there would have been no story; hence, a boring movie.

2. [Spoiled child alert] Will Smith has a real life young son, Jaden Smith, who is widely renowned as an absolutely terrible actor. But, since his daddy is a genuine Hollywood A-list movie star, he gets to appear in any movie he wants. If Jaden was in a boring movie and a robot saved him so he could keep acting, the movie would be even worse.

Comment: Re:So, a design failure then. (Score 3, Interesting) 162

by plover (#47922195) Attached to: Developing the First Law of Robotics

I would grant that "fretting" was poetic license. Consider that the life-saving robot must continually evaluate all factors.

Let's say I was closer to a lava flow than you, but your path was on a slightly more direct course into it than mine, and the robot is located at the lava's edge midway between both of us. I will hit the lava in 30 seconds, but you will hit it in 20. The robot needs two seconds to have a high probability of saving someone, but one second is enough for a moderate chance. Factoring in the motion required, the chances of saving us both is high. As you are in more immediate peril than I, it should intercede on your behalf first, so the robot starts to move in your direction. Now, I change my course slightly so I will hit it in 15 seconds. The robot still has time to save us both, but the chances are slightly lower. It moves on a path to intercept me first. You then change your path so you will hit it in 10 seconds. The chances of saving us both is now only moderate, but still possible. So the robot alters its path again to save you first. Now, we both steer directly toward the lava, with only one second to intercept for either of us. The robot's continual path changing introduced so much delay it was no longer in a position to save either of us. We both die.

To the outside observer, it fretted, but the algorithm made continually logical decisions.

Comment: Re:NSA probably already has this technology (Score 1) 119

by plover (#47900169) Attached to: The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

Not at all useless. Simply decode all possible sequences and rank them, ranking the most self-consistent interpretation highest. You may also have other sources of data to help correlate the interpretation (there was an article earlier this year about measuring sound using the video footage of a mylar potato chip bag's vibrations.) Even if the room is crowded, it might be possible to identify a few isolated words from the audio recording of the conversation.

The next thing you do is throw away those conversations that you're not interested in. Regardless of whether the conversation resulted in "You punched a fish" or "You munched a dish", neither is going to have value when you're searching for criminal activity. But if your streams could be "I bought the ammo so we can rob the bank" or "I mopped the jam up sorry can you mop the tank?" one of those could be valuable.

99.999% of conversations are inane drivel. If this technology is applied, the number of false positives is going to rapidly overwhelm a system. More discrimination and correlation is going to be needed to actually produce intelligence from this data. But never think that data is worthless or unusable.

Comment: Re:Why is this legal in the U.S.? (Score 2) 149

by plover (#47889677) Attached to: Direct Sales OK Baked Into Nevada's $1.3 Billion Incentive Deal With Tesla

Don't forget we used several trillion dollars to prop up our banks and financial firms when, through their own incompetence, our financial system went into meltdown. These folks then used the taxpayer money to give themselves bonuses for the great job they did AND have told us taxpayers to go pound sand any time it is mentioned they should thank us for protecting them.

The only thing I would disagree with in this statement is the word "incompetence." It seems to me that any banker who could walk away with millions in bonuses after all that theft is an extremely competent criminal.

Comment: Re:Last link suspect (Score 1) 85

by plover (#47885533) Attached to: Mining iPhones and iCloud For Data With Forensic Tools

You don't need access to their PC if you have a copy of its credentials (otherwise, yes, it's a lot of effort to dig stuff out of a phone that probably could have come from the PC itself.) But who knows what kind of access you have to their PC? Perhaps you can send a corrosive DLNA packet to iTunes and get the credentials that way. Or maybe a snatch-and-grab phishing attack has only the capacity to send a few hundred bytes before it gets shut down, instead of letting you download all the juicy gigabytes of backup files.

Attacks don't always have to be directly on the repository of the info; sometimes it's very useful to be able to make them from a distance.

Comment: Re:Last link suspect (Score 1) 85

by plover (#47883325) Attached to: Mining iPhones and iCloud For Data With Forensic Tools

It's not really a MITM attack, it's spoofing credentials. It's copying the credential token from machine X, installing it on machine Y, then telling machine Y to connect to iCloud pretending to be machine X, and then downloading all the ancient backups in hopes they contained undeleted and unprotected juicy information.

In the past people have used "sort-of" MITM attacks* for jailbreaking, specifically to keep your iPhone from "upgrading" itself to the new version of iOS. The jailbreakers had figured out that they could restore from an old version of iOS and jailbreak it, so Apple wanted to stop that. They introduced SHSH blobs that contained your phone's signed version info, and when you wanted to install an old version of iOS from a backup, they would check to make sure you hadn't upgraded to a newer version. So the jailbreakers came up with a program called TinyUmbrella that you would load up with your iPhone's old SHSH blobs, and it would pretend to be the official Apple blob server. You'd modify your hosts file to redirect the Apple server at your local host, run TinyUmbrella, then launch iTunes. When iTunes wanted to restore the user-specified version of iOS, it would request the latest blobs, but TinyUmbrella would deliver them, tricking the phone into staying at its older version of iOS. In more recent versions of iOS Apple required the server to securely exchange the messages so iTunes could no longer be fooled, but this worked through about iOS version 6 or so.

Of course, this is not a MITM attack against iCloud, but rather against their update process. Still, it was a pretty clever hack.

* I say "sort-of" because TinyUmbrella did not intercept the blob exchange itself; it only stood in as a phony Apple server for a SHSH blob you had to extract on your own, using another tool.

Comment: Re:Wrong Title (Score 1, Insightful) 499

by plover (#47876439) Attached to: Researcher Fired At NSF After Government Questions Her Role As 1980s Activist

I was a member of my high school's student parliament but wouldn't think to report that during a background check and wouldn't consider it any more relevant than what this woman did thirty years ago.

Was your high school's student parliament dedicated to the violent overthrow of the US government? Don't you think that's maybe the kind of student activity you might find rather difficult to forget? Then it's probably not the same thing.

Comment: Re:Stop using tax dollars (Score 1) 347

by plover (#47874849) Attached to: When Scientists Give Up

Private research dollars are expected to produce profitable innovations. Bell Labs wasn't run for the good of all humanity, it was run to innovate in the communications space, and it did. They made tremendous amounts of money on the research their lab produced. And the rest of us have continued to benefit from the existence of the transistor. But even though they were wildly successful, where are they now?

Government funded research isn't expected to produce profit, but instead to the betterment of all. Look at any the Big Science projects, such as anything NASA does, or the Human Genome Sequencing project. These projects aren't intended to produce money, they are intended to further our collective understanding.

If private labs are profitable, they are built and run. Google Labs, Microsoft Research, etc., they do a lot of useful stuff and donate much of it. Even the research universities are not contributing as much to the common good as they once did, and are now becoming profit centers for their schools. A tiny example is to look at how much money the University of Minnesota's ag laboratories have made patenting apple hybrids. This is something that once upon a time would have been shared with everyone.

Private money isn't the only answer.

Comment: Re:Bullcrap (Score 3, Insightful) 385

by plover (#47865475) Attached to: Unpopular Programming Languages That Are Still Lucrative

The entire premise of the article is bull. Are companies ever going to get off this fixation on specific programming languages?

No. Companies (at least the executives running them) look at their code base differently than technologists. They see the cost of maintenance as X$, and if it's written in ten languages, the cost of hiring ten people to do maintenance is 10X. If you say "one person can know ten languages" they assume such people are expensive and very hard to find.

They want a simple way to manage the cost of maintenance. Cutting the number of languages in use accomplishes that goal, in their minds. Therefore, this practice will continue at companies that don't have unlimited IT budgets.

Comment: Re:Meanwhile in the real world... (Score 1) 427

by plover (#47861921) Attached to: UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

This. Something like 5-15% of people are immune to logic, and you just have to ignore them if you want to make progress. What it means is that you have to convince more of the people in the "unknown" category. The problem is that of those logic-proof people, some have a strong financial incentive to sway opinions to their side, so it becomes a tough battle.

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham