Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:the 60s idea of environmentalism (Score 2) 280

by presidenteloco (#48943479) Attached to: Most Americans Support Government Action On Climate Change

You mean as opposed to all the other decades of the 19th through 20th century's idea of "let's just slash and burn and pollute all the ecosystems on the planet with our newfound technological power, and see how that goes for our descendants, because we don't give a rat's ass?" That genius idea that we are pretty much living by today? Remember that "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose".

Comment: C++ is a travesty of design (Score 3, Interesting) 200

by presidenteloco (#48894625) Attached to: Bjarne Stroustrup Awarded 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Prize

Because its requirements, chosen by its designer, were misguided and impossible to achieve with a clean, elegant design.

Attempting to be compatible with C was a terrible mistake. The resulting language complexity, inconsistency, and limitations resulted in an unsafe language much harder to use than is justifiable.

What would have been wrong with just creating a compiler which was both a C compiler, and also a compiler for a clean OO language.

Programs could have had C functions in some source files/directories, (considered unsafe, of course), and clean OO modules in other files / directories. An easy way of using data in some C types such as basic numbers, arrays, and strings within the OO language could have been crafted, and a no-muss-no-fuss way of calling C functions from OO and vice versa could have been included.

What was lacking was the courage to drag programmers away from C rules and conventions enough to create a simple and powerful OO language.

The ugly compromise approach set back OO programming momentum, cost millions of person-years of unnecessary debugging effort and allowed many, many continued buffer overflow exploits etc. that ruin the reputation of software in general.

Comment: Re:Why not gas giants too? (Score 2) 83

by presidenteloco (#48757597) Attached to: Analysis of Spacecraft Data Reveals Most Earth-like Planet To Date

My guess is that for life to form you need a place where common elements are brought together by gravity AND importantly, where solid, liquid, and gaseous phases of at least some common elements and molecules can co-exist.

The reason for the latter requirement is that life relies on at least some fairly solid structures to be able to form and persist for considerable time periods. Life needs a vocabulary and grammar of structures: e.g.
- tubes to conduct low-entropy (organized) flows of liquids and gases for organized energy and material transport.
- hollow spheroids to contain and shield (from outside random environment) metabolism and reproductive mechanisms and as building blocks for 3-D structures.
- semi-permeable membranes (to filter what can get into and out of hollow spheroids, to favour particular metabolic and reproductive processes inside the spheroids)
- layers of adjacent elements (to form surfaces of tubes and hollow spheroids)

- Life also needs liquids for organized material and energy transport within the organism.
- High-energy life like ourselves also needs gasses as a medium of rapid transport of sufficient quantities of high energy reactive materials (e.g. Oxygen).

I do not believe these requirements are just "the way it is done on Earth". I believe they are general to spontaneously originated and evolved life.

Conceivably, such life could then bootstrap artificial life of a different construction (e.g. self-replicating, material and energy hunting robot intelligences) but it is hard to see how that kind of life, which is comparatively rigid and fragile and extremely complex, could evolve itself from scratch, except by means of the squishier, semi-liquid, semi-solid self-evolvable simpler structures.

Comment: Re:No matter how much lipstick you put on it... (Score 1) 127

by presidenteloco (#48714115) Attached to: Bitcoin Gets Its First TV Ads

Well, after an initial period of deflation, there will be enough Bitcoin so that 10 billion people will be able to have an average of 210,000 Satoshis each.

Assume a Satoshi at that point is worth what a dollar is now. That still provides for quite a bit of economic growth from the average wealth now.

On a finite planet with finite resources, and a fixed or slightly declining human population as is predicted after 9 or 10 billion is reached, the only kind of economic growth that is sustainable is growth in valued virtual services. Such growth must be essentially zero-sum (or negative, actually) when it comes to throughput of non-renewable resources. Sure, innovation can continue, but some activities and products that take resources or deplete natural eco-system capital must cease when other products or activities are invented.

A steady-state economy based on renewable resources are maintenance of eco-system complesity is pretty much what physics dictates. Whether it happens smoothly and under our control or in massive cliff-fall crashes is up to our level of technical and social ingenuity. So far the signs are not very positive on that front.

Comment: Re:We don't need a new money (Score 1) 127

by presidenteloco (#48713997) Attached to: Bitcoin Gets Its First TV Ads

Re: The only way out ... is workers revolution for communism!

Um. Unless you're planning to outlaw the continued improvement of automation technology and artificial intelligence, I think you'll find that a workers revolution is an obsolete concept. The value of human labour in general is declining fairly rapidly, relative to economic production/activity/throughput/value.

Socialism may be required in the near future, to deal with the predicament that probably a majority of us will be permanently out of work while the economy hums along producing goods and services in a highly automated fashion.

But it will most assuredly not be labour-based socialism.

It will have to be a "Hey, I was born into this society, so it would be inhumane not to provide me a roof and some food, when you (the owners of automated production) could easily do it" type of socialism.

Comment: More productive on the bus to/from work (Score 4, Interesting) 420

by presidenteloco (#48701617) Attached to: The Open Office Is Destroying the Workplace

I had a programming job in an open office with the boss on the phone faking jovial, garrulous laughter in sales calls all day long when he wasn't coming over to refocus our efforts many times a day and ask how long that would take.

Needless to say, I got more productive development done (on my hobby project/next business) in the private office of the back seat of the bus for half hour in the morning and evening. A bus can be noisy (and you have to hang on to your laptop for fear of sudden stops), but it beats the open plan office by a long shot anyday.

Comment: Just don't drive creatively too (Score 1) 73

0.075 is above our legal limit of 0.05 for driving.

Excuses, even if very creative, like I was just driving around the block with the window open to clear my head, won't work.

So best to just sit in the pub morosely pondering whatever problem you are trying to solve.

My problem is, at point 0.075 I'm most creative, but at 0.076 I lapse into an existential crisis and think why bother. working on that problem anyway. Plenty of way more fun things to do around here.

Comment: Re:Life form? (Score 1) 391

A rock is not life because its maintained crystalline structure (eg an NaCl crystal) is a lowest-energy, most-probable configuration, given the thermodynamic regime and material availability in the environment. There is no need for particular information embedded in that structure to influence the surrounding physics and chemistry to achieve greater than thermodynamically expected longevity of the structure.

If you equate the information in the crystal structure (all several bits of it) with the form (and bonding-energy configuration) of the structure, then I SUPPOSE you could say that that information embedded in/ implicit in that structure is related to the structure's thermodynamic stability. In more life-y persistent structures, there is a more complex causal relationship between the information's form and the persistence of the structure. Also, there is typically much more information, and therefore much lower probability of the information pattern's spontaneous formation or maintenance in the thermodynamic regime, so much more NEED for self-causation by the information. If something was inevitably going to happen anyway to some matter and energy, due to its statistical distribution and the surrounding thermodynamic regime and fundamental forces, do we say that that future state (or equivalence class of states) required a particular cause (beyond the operation of the simple physical laws on the situation?) No. So particular local information is not required to cause anything, in thermodynamically and physically stochastically EXPECTED states. Information is only required to be able to be self-causal when the persistence of the information (and the material forms and processes it persists in) are NOT OTHERWISE thermodynamically and physically probable/expected.

Rocks are expected (from operation of simple physics laws), so are not life-y self-causal by particular information.

Comment: Re: Life form? (Score 1) 391

Ok, but the slight problem with your definition is that it's not a particular bunch of matter and energy that is maintaining the state. Matter and energy flows through the lifeform (and the species, ecosystem), Each lifeform (and living system) is an open thermodynamic system, transforming energy and material input, which temporarily becomes part of the lifeform/system, then exits as waste material or heat.
So it is not a collection of matter and energy that actively... bur rather, it is a particular PATTERN of matter and energy (a standing wave would be a good analogy) which actively maintains the state of low entropy. And a PATTERN of matter and energy is in the category "information": not matter or energy or collections of stuff.

By the way, a virus-system is a living-system pattern. It is a distributed system, whose parts are sometimes considerably separated in space and sometimes closer. The best system boundary to draw for the virus living-system's genotype is "all of the virus's codng DNA and some of the host species' coding DNA; that subset that is used by the virus." The best system boundary to draw for the virus living-system's phenotype (instance) is the whole virus body plus some or all of the infected host's body. Those who deny that a virus is living are just drawing the wrong boundary around the "virus-living-system" because they are hung up on the physical boundary of a single virus-body, but that boundary is not that important (it is not an important system-boundary) when considering the fate probabilities, and longevity, of the virus-system.

Fire is not living because its persistence (the persistence of its pattern of process for some amount of time) is not unexpected given the thermodynamic regime and material environment. Fire is the thermodynamically optimum chemical reaction, independent of particular information that is embodied in the fire. There may be (a minimal amount of) stable information embodied in the fire, and that may be connected with the persistence of the reaction, but external factors dominate the lifespan determination, compared to the stable information (if any) in the fire.

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire