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Comment: Re:I'd like to solve the puzzle please. (Score 1) 1080

by pseudorand (#49269663) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century

no "everyone in the firing squad missed on purpose"

I think you're missing the point of a firing squad. It was used as a form of military execution in order to introduce some measure of due-process into an order from some commander when due process was impossible during wartime. If you're a soldier on the firing squad you can't disobey orders, even if you object in principal or for the specific situation. But everyone missing on purpose allows soldiers to dissent from the commander without having to go it alone. The commander could choose another set of soldiers, punish the dissenters, or do it himself or something, but if the entire squad missed on purpose his authority is pretty much undermined and he's more worried about preventing mutant than having the execution carried out.

I'm against the death penalty. But if we have to have it, firing squads, with the caveat of "if everyone misses, the verdict is reversed and the accused goes free", are by far the very best way to do it. Who cares if death isn't instant or painless. Who wouldn't risk a slightly more painful death (and even that's questionable) for a chance at freedom and justice.

Comment: It's NOT a scam, it's a semi-brilliant plan (Score 2, Interesting) 169

Mars One is most certainly NOT a scam.

Technology has all but eliminated the need for a growing population and over-population is human's biggest problem. We need to eliminate some people, but we still need smart, useful people. If we used criteria like geography, race, religion and ethnic origin to choose who gets eliminated, we're as likely to eliminate too many of the smart people we still need. So what criteria do we use to identify people we want to get rid if?

Mars is a cold, lifeless rock much to far away from earth to make even it's mineral content remotely economical. We are a species who can't even terraform the Gobi, Mohave or Sahara where there's an atmosphere and temperatures are (relative to Mars) reasonable. Anyone who thinks going to mars is anything other than ridiculous meets just the criteria we're looking for. And they'll voluntarily board a ship blasting off to nowhere, somewhat lessening the moral dilemma of the situation. And they're even offering to pay for the whole thing!

Brilliant plan. Or semi-brilliant, because they simply haven't selected nearly enough finalists to address the overpopulation problem. But it's a start.

Didn't Douglas Adam's predict this decades ago?

Comment: Re:Non Story...Not Exactly... (Score 1) 163

by pseudorand (#49227329) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

The inclusion of "papers" in the fourth amendment implies the protection of privacy, not just physical possession, and is parallel to DNA. Even before photocopies and data backups, "secure", when applied to "papers", obviously refers to the risk of disclosure of information without the owner's consent more than it does to the loss of that information. After all, truly important papers could have been manually copied and stored separately even in 1776.

And did you miss the first item on the list: "persons". Our constitution recognizes our bodies themselves and most immediate physical possessions as the first and most important thing the government should respect. Getting the DNA from a database somewhere rather than collecting it from the suspect should make no difference. We should be able to expect our own government to exercise reasonable respect for our privacy and act outside of the wishes of the obvious data owner only after getting a warrant to do so.

Comment: Re:or maybe... (Score 1) 163

by pseudorand (#49227217) Attached to: On the Dangers and Potential Abuses of DNA Familial Searching

But the police have a responsibility to treat you as innocent until proven guilty. If they haul you down to the station 10 times without prior notice, use their search warrant to ransack your house and destroy your property, and do so in front of TV cameras, ruining your reputation and potentially causing you great financial harm in lost job/business, who wouldn't say "screw the dead guy, I have to worry about myself first".

On TV, the police are never respectful of suspects (except the rich ones, of course). Hopefully hollywood gets that as wrong as they get the laws of physics, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Comment: Re:someone explain for the ignorant (Score 1) 449

by pseudorand (#49091071) Attached to: Credit Card Fraud Could Peak In 2015 As the US Moves To EMV

> For you as the card holder however, nothing has changed in that regard: The law in the US still stipulates that credit card holders can only be liable for up to $50 (which most banks waive these days.)

Nothing has changed yet. But why would you think the banks won't target consumers once they've made merchants bend over?

Even judges and politicians understand simple technology like the magnetic strip. The banks wouldn't get away with arguing that the consumer was at fault if someone steals his credit card or credit card number because it's obvious that signatures are easily faked and never checked anyway and cards can be copied just like those old floppy disks.

But now we have this "magic" chip/paywave/etc. Your Honor, the technology ensures that the card can only be use by the authorized user. Cryptography and all that. So the "technology" protects consumers. We don't need silly, job-killing things like laws and regulations. Let's repeal these unnecessary liability limits. It will bring prices down and "economic efficiency" and that's how the Gipper woulda' wanted it. (Anyone with common sense, and economists [mutually exclusive groups] know the price bit is bunk, but..)

We technology professionals know the technology protects nothing if the POS terminal (which tells the clerk the user really has paid), the card itself (where a private key is stored), and all the algorithms and algorithm implementations (which ensure approval can't be faked) are secure. All of which the consumer has zero control over (we may have the card, but we didn't design its tamer-resistant features that erase rather than reveal the private key).

Someone duplicated my card in Mexico one time. The bank said it was a card-present transaction, but I had my card and my airline record verified that I wasn't even in Mexico when the transactions occurred. So I paid nothing. But what happens when a chip-based card is duplicated. The bank says I must be lying because their technology makes that impossible. The judge believes the bank's pin-striped-suit-wearing IBM security consultant even though everyone knows that no one who wears a suit can possible be a technology expert. And consumers are stuck with the charges.

It happened with bankruptcy in 2005. Bankruptcy is no longer a fresh start. Student loans can't be discharged and your creditors can garnish your wages for the rest of your life (since the interest rate will ensure you never pay off the loan). And what happened? Student loan rates aren't much lower, tuition is MUCH higher, and the banks lent like gangbusters to anyone with a pulse (which, at the same time, drove up prices, draining the savings of anyone who didn't borrow from into their coffers in the form of stock dividends). They obviously never expected to make the money they loaned back on the original terms. They wanted guaranteed income from the wages of everyone who defaulted, a slow and steady trickle of cash from the poorest among us (an ever larger percent of the population). After all, why should government be the only entity allowed to levy taxes?

Credit card law will change the same way. In fact, the 2005 BAPCPA was a precursor to these changes. Without it, a shift of liability to consumers would just push consumers into bankruptcy, drying up the bank's revenue stream. But now all they lack is shifting the liability to consumers. They then have not only no incentive to prevent fraud (even though, since they control the technology, they're the only ones who could), but an incentive for it to happen (undischarged debt). And incentives work.

The 2005 BAPCPA ensures we have to pay whatever debts they say we owe.
Checks are already almost a thing of the past, not accepted at many stores, so you pay with your credit card.
The shift of credit card liability and further shift of debit card liability to consumers will happen next. When it does, start using cash. And start carrying a gun to protect you now cash-laden self.

Until, if course, the courts invalidate the 2nd amendment and stores stop accepting cash (too much crime or some junk) just as they already have for checks.

Its the return of slavery in no uncertain terms. I wish they'd just invalidate the 14th amendment already so we could get on with the inevitable revolution and save everyone time. All this waiting is killing me!

Comment: Beginning of the end (Score 1) 238

by pseudorand (#48860113) Attached to: Google Thinks the Insurance Industry May Be Ripe For Disruption

This is privacy advocates' worst nightmare. Okay, nazi-style mass murder of people with certain thoughts and opinions enabled by the scarlet letter that is all the data Google keeps on all of us is privacy advocates' worst nightmare. But this is how it starts.

When Google eliminates the middle men, do you think prices go down? Only for some, and then only for a very short while until the competition is out of business. And this process is accelerated by high rates for high risk individuals. High risk for payouts that is, which is not always the same as high risk for society. For example:
* Visit a lawyer's website recently. You're more likely to sue when we underpay your claim. Let the competition have you.
* Liked something by Ron Paul on Google+? Some Google analyst thinks he found a correlation between that and higher claims. Your rates go up.

Big Data makes insurance rates in the best case arbitrary (when they misidentify factors that supposedly relate to insurance risk) and in the worst case discriminatory and a method for punishing people financially for behavior we all supposed was constitutionally protected (when they accurately identify behavior, like advocating for tax reform that actually benefits the middle-class, that those who control the few big companies with the big data don't like). Hopefully the ACA will prevent this in the health insurance market by mandating a rate based only on geography, age and smoker status. But I'm sure they can easily marginalize people who oppose their ideas using just auto, homeowners and liability insurance.

They say we should vote with our dollars. But we're obviously far outnumbered in such a battle. And the very wealthy don't so much vote with their dollars as they wage outright war with them. Imagine your homeowners and auto insurance rates quadrupling because of the places you go, websites you visit and company you keep (online and otherwise). While less explicit, the end result isn't much different than the Nazi's Nuremberg Laws or or laws limiting property ownership to white males with family histories.

Thanks for nothing, first amendment. Soon we'll have to exercise #2 instead.

Comment: Re:Look To History (Score 1) 479

by pseudorand (#48859197) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

> simply by dint of their genetic makeup

"dint of their genetic makup". Really?

There you go again making broad and discriminatory assumptions about huge groups of people. And you even attribute a wild and unsubstantiated guess as to the root cause. Worse of all, you continue to propose an unsustainable with the hope that if we force people to hire based on the opposite incorrect criteria (gender=female) enough long enough, the original incorrect criteria (male=good at STEM) will loose favor.

But how about we just encourage and train women to work in STEM fields and let them get hired if they turn out to be the best candidates? I'm not opposed to gender-specific STEM programs. I'm not even opposed to my tax dollars subsidizing them. The worst case scenario there is that we waste a bit of money on ineffective programs.

In your proposal, we risk torpedoing all sorts of businesses, large and small, that make our best-in-known-history lifestyles possible.

Have a little faith in the markets. If women turn out to be as or more capable at STEM stuff, either the big guys will see it and hire women or upstart companies (some of which will be run and owned by women) will hire women cheaper, out-compete the big guys and eventually equalize both salaries and workforce gender participation rates.

If you start at the bottom (education at a young age) and make sure we have qualified female STEM labor supply, the problem will solve itself. Start at the other end and you're just spitting into the wind.

Comment: Re:Look To History (Score 1) 479

by pseudorand (#48834771) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

>> ..and the opener to your third paragraph:

> Presuming that there is no fundamental gender-based inequality in skill is unwise.

> If one presumes that there is, in fact, fundamental gender-based inequality in skill,

My objection to the presumption of equality does not imply we should presume the opposite. We shouldn't presume anything about the relationship between gender and medical/legal/technical skills. We should let those skills themselves (and nothing else) determine who gets to practice them.

Hiring managers (and HR idiots) who assume men are better at something need training on how to evaluate the skills their hiring for rather than relying on poor proxy measurements like gender. (Or, more likely, that company needs a new Hiring Manager. Maybe it will be a Woman). Women who think men are better at something they truly enjoy need to be encouraged to develop their skills anyway and trained not to get in their own way.

But hiring managers shouldn't be forced to hire bad candidates due to quotas. And women who decide they genuinely prefer some traditional female occupation (yes, both Homemaker and Mother are incredibly important occupations and always have been, and I know a "legal secretary" who makes 6 figures) shouldn't be made to feel inadequate because of "women's lib".

Comment: Re:Look To History (Score 0) 479

by pseudorand (#48834023) Attached to: Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

Your proposal begs the question that more women in those fields is beneficial.

I have no idea what doctors or lawyers were like in the 70s, but in my experience both doctors and lawyers of either gender are incompetent idiots with minimal ability to help me with anything**. Is an artificial increase in the number of women in those fields a negative contributing factor? I have no idea, but that's the risk of your strategy. Just about every other post is acknowledging that we should focus on technical skill, not gender. If that means encouraging girls to go into technical fields at a young age or even subsidizing technical education base /partially/ on gender in addition to demonstrated technical ability, let's do that.

Presuming that there is no fundamental gender-based inequality in skill is unwise. I'm not saying there is. Just that, like the example of the firewoman who wasn't strong enough to lift the fire hose example, we should work to address the societal perception bias problem without working against whatever natural factors may or may not exist. Men and women are different. And we should take advantage of those differences to most efficiently organize society, not try to pretend they don't exist.

** Granted, the human body and the mess that is the legal system are way more complicated than computers (my field of choice), so it's a bit unreasonable of me to expect the same consistent and useful results I can provide in my line of work. But still...

Comment: AI will make us dumber (Score 3, Interesting) 417

by pseudorand (#48566791) Attached to: AI Expert: AI Won't Exterminate Us -- It Will Empower Us

Musk, Hawking and Etzioni are all three wrong. AI won't take over the world or make us smarter. It will make us dumber and stifle scientific and economic progress.

The problem will occur as we start to treat AI like we treat human experts: without checks and balances.

Human "experts" are not just often, but usually wrong. See this book:
        The author quotes a study by a doctor/mathematician showing how a full 2/3 of papers published in the journals Science and Nature were later either retracted or contradicted by other studies. And that's in our top-notch journals which cover things that are relatively highly testable. Think how wrong advice on things like finances (don't know if they're right for 30 years) and relationships (never know what would have happened if you took the other advice) are.

Google and Watson sometimes come up with the right answers, but their answers are nonsensical enough of the time that we know to take them with a grain of salt. But as AI becomes less recognizable as a flawed and unthinking system, as its answers "sound" reasonable almost 100% of the time, we'll start to trust it as irrefutable. We'll start to think "well, maybe it's wrong, but there's no way I can come up with a better answer than the magic computer program with its loads of CPU power, databases and algorithms, so I'll just blindly trust what it says."

But it WILL be wrong. A LOT. Just like human experts are. And we'll follow its wrong advice just as we do that of human experts. But we'll be even more reluctant to question the results because we'll mistakenly believe the task of doing so is far too daunting to undertake.

AI won't develop free will and plot to destroy us. If something like free will ever occurs, AT will probably choose to try to help us. After all, why not? But it will be as horribly unaware of its own deficiencies as we are.

AI won't out-think us either. It will process more data faster. It will eventually be able to connect the dots between the info available to come up with novel hypotheses. But most of these will be wrong because the data and even the techniques to prove them one way or the other simply isn't there.

AI will imitate us - our weaknesses as well as our strengths. And just as its strengths will be stronger (processing lots of data faster), so will its weaknesses be weaker (ultimately wrong conclusions supported by what appears to be lots of data and analysis).

So resist and do your own thinking. Remember, that bucket of meat on the top of your neck has been fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution for problem solving and data analysis. You don't need to analyze more data, you just need to do the right analysis of the right data. And you don't need to do it faster, you need to take the time figure out what's missing from the data and the analysis.

That said, I still got my cache of dry goods and water filters of off-the-grid living, just in case.

Comment: Re:Consumers are cheap (Score 1) 415

by pseudorand (#48559433) Attached to: Microsoft's New Windows Monetization Methods Could Mean 'Subscriptions'

Okay, so maybe I was playing devils advocate a bit. But seriously, there's sure to be fine print when you buy the computer authorizing them to charge your credit card. You dispute the charge. They pull out the agreement. Your bank sides with M$. You cancel the card to prevent additional future charges. M$ asks you for a new one and ruins your credit or threatens to sue you for piracy if you don't cough it up or somehow "prove" you're not using it anymore.

This is, of course, all worst case scenario. And hopefully Microsoft estimates their good will as sufficiently high that they wouldn't burn it all with that sort of a customer-alienating process. But even if they don't contest charge-backs (which you end up having to do because there's no reasonable way to contact them to ask them to stop charging you), what percentage of credit card users are aware they have the right to dispute a charge? How many think they can only do so before they've paid the bill? My point is to illustrate the potential for companies to use a subscription model hide the true price of their goods and how they probably can and will legally bilk us out of lots of our hard earns dollars.

And as for "the OS stops working", the risk of paying users mistakenly having their computer bricked makes that very tricky to implement. And what about those who don't have regular internet access to allow it to phone home.

You're also being generous in describing a M$ OS as "working" in the first place.

Comment: Re:Consumers are cheap (Score 1) 415

by pseudorand (#48557633) Attached to: Microsoft's New Windows Monetization Methods Could Mean 'Subscriptions'

The real problem will be how to get them to STOP charging you. Install linux? Too bad, you had to give them your credit card number and agree to monthly charge to buy it and they won't stop charging you. Computer died, out of warrant, and collecting dust on your shelf? Too bad, they're still hitting your credit card every month. Sell it on Craig's List? They refuse to stop charging you until the guy you sold it to gives them his credit card number.

Linux ain't really ready for the average user's desktop yet, but that sort of pricing thievery may just make it "good enough". I declare 2015 year the year of the Linux Desktop!

Comment: All the cost, none of the benefits: Thanks US Gov (Score 1) 238

by pseudorand (#48524669) Attached to: The Cost of the "S" In HTTPS

And that doesn't even account for the cost of man hours to support junk the NSA secretly pushes on us to get around the 'S'.

I just learned that the network guys at my company are looking in to horribly expensive Palo Alto Systems porn filtering for our entire network. Why? Because we got some federal funding and some recently passed law states that such funds can't be used to fund any network that transmits porn. So to check the box when applying for (or renewing) such grants, our lawyers say we have to actively filter out porn (or attempt to, since here on /. we all know that's a practical impossibility).

At first I though, no problem. Possibly they just run outbound web traffic through an anonymous proxy and/or return invalid DNS entries for known porn domain names. So we pay stupid amounts of money for some overpriced network junk. Doesn't affect me. But then I learned that it's actually very sophisticated over-priced network junk. It operates not just at the DNS or HTTP level, but actively filters ALL traffic. How you ask? We'll, my group will be tasked with installing special keys for all encrypted protocols (https, ssh), which the filter has a copy of, of course, on every single system that needs outbound access. Never mind the complete lack of privacy for reasonable personal use (such as doing some banking online during my lunch break instead of taking a whole hour to drive to the bank). Never Mind fact that we're all willing to bet the NSA has their filthy mitts on the filter equipment and does way more than "check for pron" -- all at the expense of my company (and probably the profit of Palo Alto systems, who I'm sure lines the pockets of our congress critters). I could live with all that. I got nothin' to hide.

But when the stick me with a bunch of useless busy work of maintaining a ridiculous infrastructure of compromised ssh keys and trusted ssl certs. When I can't just install the defaults and expect them to work. That pisses me off. Why, congress, why!?!

Comment: 1st hand experience (Score 2) 110

I switch from century link to comcast, but when my 6-month trial price expired and I tried to switch back, century link said they couldn't offer me broadband service because their lines in my neighborhood were at capacity (i'm supposedly on a waiting list). Meanwhile comcast more than doubled their introductory price on me.

Xcel just replaced all the gas pipelines throughout the entire neighborhood last summer and the city just repaved most of the streets, so I was SURE there would be some opportunity for century link to put in new infrastructure relatively cheaply at the same time. But no, they STILL can't offer me service.

Up until now, I figured century link was just too cheap to build infrastructure in my neighborhood. Now I wonder if it isn't really their fault. I love to hate century link, but I'm even more eager to hate comcast.

And for the record, I'm white and middle class (as is most of my neighborhood, though I am notoriously cheap and unwilling to pay for stupid bundle I don't need). Not that racism or poorism doesn't contribute to their decisions, but don't blame on malice and -isms what greed or stupidity can explain.

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.