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Comment: AI will make us dumber (Score 3, Interesting) 416

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.

Comment: Re:git blame of the bug please (Score 1) 303

by pseudorand (#46698263) Attached to: OpenSSL Bug Allows Attackers To Read Memory In 64k Chunks

Looks like snhenson most recently committed the two places final s2n() macro call the above linked article identifies as the line that finally sends data, as well as the n2s() that got data from the remote connection:

Not sure which is worse, using the unsanitized user input (which it seems he MUST have known was user input) or the copy-n-paste coding.

Sorry for the public shaming, but it seems he'd better at least make a case that he's not on the NSA payroll. Of course mistakenly relying on user input is the sort of mistake we've all probably made at least once, so it's quite believable that it was an honest mistake.

Comment: Re:How? (Score 1) 516

Where the heck do you live that you can buy even a studio apartment for $10k? And even if you can, you'll spend $20k/year in gas getting to your job (not to mention the time you waste in the car). Okay, maybe if you get mad cash working an oil field in the boonies, but for most of us who have to live in a city to be reasonably close to work...

I agree with you that people should consume less, not demand huge, new houses, drive their cars until they can't possibly be fixed, and I do all that. My car is a 1998 I live 45 minutes from work because houses cost twice as much near my office. And I have a family, so I can't just rent a room (which is how I lived cheaply when I was single). But for the $800 of our mortgage payment that goes to interest, taxes and insurance, we can only rent a small apartment or condo, so borrowing and buying truly makes more sense.

What I'm really complaining about is the tax code and the fed's monetary policy. If you're paying 3.5% (i.e. earning -3.5%) on a mortgage and the stock market earns, on average, 8%, every extra dollar put in your 401k instead of paying down your mortgage is earning you 4.5%/year. But now that money is at risk for those years (and we have one once or twice a decade) where the stock market actually drops.

Tax and monetary policy should encourage people to save, not gamble. It /should/ be smart to pay off your mortgages and thereby distribute wealth rather than consolidate it at the top. Tax the capital gains the same as income. End the mortgage interest deduction but let us withdrawal from retirement accounts without penalty or taxes to pay off the mortgage on a single, primary residence (with some reasonable cap, say $500k). When Americans start actually owning their homes instead of the mortgage company owning it, we'll have less need for social security and medicare and be less resistant to cuts in those programs. And we'll save cash too, now that we've paid off our mortgages early, making us dependent on ourselves, not handouts from the Uncle Sam.

And the feds should NEVER bail out the markets. If we'd all owned our homes instead of having so much of our asses in the markets, we could have just let the big firms fail -- only a small percentage of very wealthy Americans would have been hurt much by that, and all of them could have afforded it.

And the fed should target a 0%, not 2% inflation rate. Would this hurt stock market growth? Of course, but that's fine. This free ride of a market averaging 8%/year just makes the rich (who have a larger % of their assets in the market) richer. Let it fail. Let it decline. But let the middle class get out first.

Comment: Re:hate the name (Score 1) 230

by pseudorand (#46538737) Attached to: Facebook Introduces Hack: Statically Typed PHP

Okay, stupid name aside, this is awesome. I've never had a single good thing to say about Facebook or Mr. Zuckerberg, but this could totally change that. Lots of devs disparage PHP, but they're all idiots -- PHP is heavily used because it's heavily useful. I haven't used HACK yet, but if it's not a buggy piece of junk might truly be great. I've yet to find a language that lets me go dynamic when I'm prototyping but gradually type when I see fit. So...Sweet!

That said, static typing isn't all it's cracked up to be. Java being the prime example, it makes for some very wordy code that's often tedious to change. And of all the bugs I fix in dynamically typed languages, very few are caused by treating something as the wrong type.

Comment: Re:How? (Score 2) 516

> don't borrow money. Ever.

I know that seems like common sense, but the very rich have engineered it so that it's stupid NOT to borrow money. This is what makes us all slaves. You HAVE to borrow money because if you have decent credit, a mortgage is as cheap or cheaper than renting. Saving won't work due to inflation.

But that's why the financial system is rigged. The middle class has to borrow from the rich and pay them, making them richer. We also have to put our money at risk in the stock market because savings will LOOSE value to inflation. And because the middle class has our assets there, the government has to bail out the market when it collapses like it did in 2007/2008.

We need:
1) The fed to target 0% inflation
2) Tax policy to encourage owning property and paying down mortgages more quickly, rather than paying the rich interest.

Or maybe just a good old fashion french-style revolution with guillotines and all. Actually, I think we're getting pretty close to that one, unfortunately.

Comment: Like you haven't though of that for years (Score 1) 234

by pseudorand (#46467871) Attached to: How the NSA Plans To Infect 'Millions' of Computers With Malware

Okay, everybody, stop your whining. I'm pretty sure every one of us reading slashdot has had somewhere near the middle of his or her to-do list something along the lines of "script mass exploit of remote computers in case I ever need to give the entire world a big F-U". There it is, just below "implement monitoring for everything" and just above "stock up for immanent apocalypse" (which fell a few spots in late 2012). It probably won't ever float high enough to actually make much progress on, but we've all though of it. If you could get someone to actually pay you to work on that one in a semi-legitimate fashion (i.e. NOT the mafia or Russian government), wouldn't you jump at the chance?

Comment: Re:Rule of Law (Score 1) 519

by pseudorand (#46430283) Attached to: Massachusetts Court Says 'Upskirt' Photos Are Legal

> If laws can be "interpreted" to go beyond their plain meanings, then it becomes difficult for those subject to them to figure out what is prohibited.

Really? Apparently you haven't read much of the law then. If that were the case, the we pretty much haven't a single law on the books, as just about anything written by lawyers and judges that I've ever read, the constitution itself being a prime example, is vague to the point of being useless. Maybe that just because I'm a computer programmer and when writing code anything ambiguous doesn't even compile, but lawyers and judges have got to be the group with the absolute worst grasp of language.

Comment: Re:Why so many trucks? Why not railroads (Score 1) 242

by pseudorand (#46399819) Attached to: Walmart Unveils Turbine-Powered WAVE Concept Truck

And what's wrong with subsidizing something we all use and benefit from? Those who can pay more do in the form of higher property taxes (the rich actually pay a smaller percentage to the feds income/capital gains tax, but that's a different story). But in return the can hire people at lower wages and patronize businesses with cheaper prices because those businesses can hire people at lower wages. Without the subsidy, we'd either have crime, a revolution or higher wages.

Comment: Re:They are all paid too much (Score 0) 712

by pseudorand (#46297979) Attached to: Are Bankers Paid Too Much? Are Technology CEOs?

> It would distort the free market and no one would take the risk...
Risk? What risk? The DOW did hit ~7k briefly, but last year it broke record highs on a daily basis. If you happened to be the idiot who sold at 7K, you lost. If you just kept your money where it was, you're doing pretty well. And why is that? Because congress plunged us deeper into debt and the federal reserve printed money like it was going out of style. And in the long run, those things will disproportionately hurt the lower and middle class in the form of higher taxes* that stifle job creation and inflation that erodes wages and savings.

So why would our government do this when there's obviously a lot more poor and middle-class voters than rich ones?
> ...and who is the shareholder? Your elderly mom, YOU, etc

Ah yes, that's it. Because the system forces all of us to take the same risk, independent of our financial means.
Between FDIC and NCUA, each adult can have $500k of government-insured bank and credit union deposits, far more than most of us have in liquid assets. Why would we possibly put our money at risk in the stock market? Because they pay almost no interest, yet government policies almost ensure inflation and profits in the stock market. So while we won't loose our deposits to bank fraud or runs on the bank, they'll slowly decrease in purchasing power. So instead we have to put it at the same risk that the very wealthy take in the stock market. Which means that when those systemic risks actually happen, the government HAS to bail out the markets or everyone, rich or poor, looses. This means the tax payer is actually on the hook to make sure the rich stay rich.

* Why do taxes and inflation hurt the poor and middle-class more? Because wage increases always trail inflation. And because the rich make most of their money through capital gains, paying 15% federal income tax while the rest of us pay more. We also pay a higher percentage of our salary in social security and medicare (there's a cap on how much of your salary is taxed for those). And since we have to spend more of our salary to survive, we pay a higher percentage of our earnings in sales tax. So I'm all for a flat income tax, but it has to take the place of all other taxes.

Comment: Re:Why the hype? (Score 1) 274

by pseudorand (#46231547) Attached to: The Death Cap Mushroom Is Spreading Across the US

Nothing in the Amanita genus is easy to id considering that it's a huge genus which includes a very large number of both the most commonly found and most poisonous mushrooms.

Now, if you mean that the genus, rather than the species phalloides is easy to identify, okay, maybe. But distinguishing A. phalloides from it's edible cousins is in no way easy, and you've got to be pretty dumb to eat anything that looks similar unless you have a degree in Mycology and/or decades continuous of field experience in the region where you picked it. There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters, as the saying goes.

This is especially the case when other both edible and choice species like Bolets, Morels and Chanterelles are relatively easy to identify, have no poisonous lookalikes (assuming you have the experience to notice key characteristics). Of course, they're much harder to find, but...

"In the face of entropy and nothingness, you kind of have to pretend it's not there if you want to keep writing good code." -- Karl Lehenbauer