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Comment This is not a surprise (Score 1) 312

It would seem to the average person, there should be something prohibiting a person from attaching a weapon to a drone.

This has been coming for decades, and yet governments have been far too busy lining the pockets of members of the party in power to do anything about it. Donald Kingsbury predicted home-built cruise missiles in the '80's (in "The Moon Goddess and the Son").

It's been obvious since the early 90's that computing costs and hardware costs were falling so rapidly that anyone could do this on a budget of a few thousand dollars. That's now a few hundred dollars. And fully autonomous operation is not far in the future: it's just not that hard.

So the reason no one has done anything about this is that hardly anyone has been paying attention, and those of us who have believe that drone technology is worth the price of the risk posed by machines like this. There was simply no way to not get to this point without cutting off development of half-a-dozen technologies that are too important for too many things to ignore, not even counting the economic benefits of drones themselves.

Comment Re:Existing Law (Score 1) 312

Writing code is human action. As someone pointed about above, it would literally appear that a weapon fired by a loop would count as an automatic, but a weapon fired by a sequence of individual calls to the "pullTrigger" method would not be, because the act of writing each one of those "pullTrigger" calls would be an individual human action that resulted in the gun firing.

I'm not suggesting this would stand up in court--for all I know it might, but that's not knowable until it does--but serves as a nice illustration of how our categories start to break down in the face of new technology.

Comment Relationship between animal experience and autism (Score 1) 131

I've seen many claims that being a human with autism somehow gives you some special access to animal experiences. Since no one knows what animals actually experience, and pretty much everything we know about both animal evolution and autism tells us that a human with autism is if anything less likely than a neurotypical human to have sound insight into the lived experience of a domesticated harem-keeping herbivorous prey-animal with completely different evolved responses to external stimuli--since neurotypical humans are generally better than humans with autism at building models of other minds--does it bother you as a scientist to see these completely unfounded, unjustified and likely false claims made, despite the huge benefits they have had to marketing your personal brand, and the likely good your prominence in the field has done regarding the humane treatment of animals?

Comment Re:Nothing to see here, move along... (Score 1, Insightful) 195

This is where I have an issue. ANY piece of science than, in any way, might somehow make someone question the global warming dogma is immediately attacked and discredited.

Agreed: if this work was identical in every respect but said nothing about climate, no one would pay any attention to it. Instead, it "must be false" because it has been used by Denialists (somehow... it isn't clear to me how, but Denialists are insane so I guess it doesn't have to be).

My favorite response to this story from Warmists has been statements along the lines of, "The Little Ice Age was local to Europe and in any case caused by volcanic eruptions" (which result in global cooling.) It's a bit like the old Russian joke about "It was a long time ago and in any case it never happened."

It is possible but quite tricky to reconcile the claims that the Little Ice Age was both local and caused by volcanoes, but the people putting forward these arguments don't even try. They just spout whatever contradiction sustains their faith.

This is not to say AGW isn't real and doesn't deserve a significant policy response, including rapid building of modern nuclear plants to replace base-load coal, shifting of taxes from income to carbon emissions, and public money spent to support solar, storage and smarter grids. But many people who "believe in global warming" have decoupled themselves from the science, such that almost anything that happens will be spun in support of their beliefs.

Comment Re:Interesting study (Score 1) 195

The solar constant is 1360 W/m**2, so 0.2% reduction would be 2.7 W/m**2. Current anthropogenic climate contributions come out to about 1 W/m**2 (some decrease from aerosols, some increase from GHGs).

Only about 1/3 of that 2.7 W/m**2 is relevant at the surface, but it's still very much in the range of anthropogenic contributions to the terrestrial heat balance.

Comment Re:All this means is that you can catch them (Score 1) 339

Either way... these goofballs are at their zenith already. Its all down hill from here.

This is my read on the situation as well, and the way you've reacted to the idiot who accused you of being an MRA is a nice example of how the future of this conversation will go: those of us who actually care about men's rights (because they are human rights) will continue to say the things we've been saying for years (decades, in my case) like, "Maybe living in a world where if someone dies on the job, there is a 92% chance they are male is bad thing?" People who are the argumentative equivalent of script kiddies will run their MRA script, and it'll bounce off the kind of thoughtful, fair and honest response you've given in this thread. The script kiddie will look like an abusive, angry, idiot, and that'll be the end of it.

There are two clouds in this silver-lining: the post-modern left is so well-entrenched in academia that it'll take a generation for it to die off, although the trend is already there. The theoretical underpinnings of post-structuralism are so astonishingly stupid that as the decades pass they are necessarily eroding. Now that their major proponents are all dead, the cults of personality that sustained the nonsense are no longer viable.

On the other hand, the post-modern right have come to dominant politics in the US and a few other places, particularly in Eastern Europe. They have absorbed the lessons of the left--particularly the notion that there is no objective truth, and what is accepted as truth is simply a social construct enforced on everyone by the strongest political bloc--and run with it as a pragmatic template for governance. The current crop of GOP and GOP-lite candidates in the US are all blatant serial liars, from Jeb Bush to Hilary Clinton, and their supporters are completely incapable of changing their minds when presented by mere facts.

Detecting lies won't slow these people down unless we make a concerted effort to systematically make facts matter.

Comment Re:Oh boy! (Score 1) 172

Yeah, I've gotta say I'm within a hair of dumping Firefox. I'm not a Chrome fan, and IE is just not on. I've tried some other open source browsers and they have the usability of a jello hammer.

At this point I'd be willing to pay money for a browser that just didn't flatline my CPU every time I loaded a page, that didn't stall for tens of seconds at random intervals (this is after I turned off hardware acceleration, which make things tens times worse on Windows in 38) and is simply, utterly and completely unusable on Amazon.

Why these basic usability metrics aren't the first priority for Firefox developers is beyond me. The changelog seems full of completely irrelevant stuff that's just going to bloat things more.

Dunno... maybe it's time to hold my nose and move to Chrome, but Firefox has so many features I like and know well that I'm loathe to do so. It feels churlish complaining about software I don't pay for, but I'm not sure why Firefox is being shipped any more. It certainly isn't to satisfy user needs, because it doesn't.

Comment Re:No, not so much (Score 1) 255

But if you are merely becoming a pro at using that 1 tool you are likely not thinking past how to use that tool.

True, but the problem is employers define jobs in terms of tool use. You can be good at JavaScript and happy manipulating the DOM to your heart's content, but if you don't have node.js or some other library/API on your resume' they won't look at you.

To give an idea of how bizarre it has gotten, I'm seeing a ridiculous number of job ads for senior software positions that list "git and GitHub" as either requirements or nice-to-haves. To me that's like asking for the ability to use a pencil and paper in an engineering design position. Anyone remotely qualified will have said experience, or be able to come up to speed on it in a day or three. It's like HR just has to make that list of tools as long as humanly possible.

Take anyone who has used Mercurial or any other modern distributed source control system and sit 'em in front of git and they'll be fine within a very short time. Take anyone who has used Eclipse and sit 'em in front of Visual (or vice versa) and they'll be able to do the job adequately almost immediately. They won't know all the stupid Visual tricks that someone who has used it since 6.0 days knows, but so what?

And if a person is not capable of that, you've made a bad hire, because technology and tools change all the time, and if the can't adapt to your toolset they won't be able to adapt to the future. So there is absolutely no loss to a company in hiring someone unfamiliar with their specific tooling. There might even be a gain, because if they fail to adapt they can be let go painlessly while still on probation.

So long as companies continue to use toolprint matching for hiring, schools will focus on teaching the tool-du-jour.

Comment Missing calibration data, not drivers (Score 1) 253

The summary, as usual, is terrible. The missing files were calibration data for the engine controllers, not executables of any kind.

However, the article says some astonishingly stupid things, like: "'Nobody imagined a problem like this could happen to three engines,' a person familiar with the 12-year-old project said."

Well, duh.

Since the human imagination is known to be almost completely useless as a tool for understanding reality or predicting the future, this has to be the most obvious observation since the dawn of time.

Anything that can happen, will. Since we have finite resources, we have to guess what is most likely to happen. If we have data, we can run predictive models to inform our guesses. The one thing we know with near-certainty is that what we imagine might happen is completely irrelevant to what will actually happen.

The human imagination is no better at understanding or predicting today than it was when people were imagining bloodletting balanced the humours. It makes as much sense mentioning it in this context as saying, "Our astrologers and scriers never saw this coming!"

Comment Re:Projections based on what? (Score 1) 310

I'm pretty strongly supportive of both technological (nuclear, solar/storage) and political (carbon tax/tariff) approaches to climate change, but as a computational physicist I agree with your evaluation of models. They contain a lot of good science, but the non-physical parameterizations they depend on make them non-predictive, certainly with regard to the details of regional climates.

Unfortunately, this published dataset reflects the hubris of climate scientists that they actually have predictive models, and plays in to policy planners and the public's unsupported belief that climate models are good guides to local policy (as opposed to sufficient to say, "We really shouldn't be dumping gigatonnes of greenhouse gasses into the air regardless of the detailed consequences, because our economy is finely tuned to the current climate and even relatively small disruptions could do Very Bad Things.")

My prediction is that in 20 years time most of the predictions in these models will turn out to be badly wrong. It would be almost miraculous if models that parameterized away as much of the physics as our current ones do, and imposed important constraints like top-of-atmosphere heat balance by hand, came close to the real climate. No one who has spent their career modeling systems that can actually be tested in the lab believes anything other than this.

Comment Hilarious (Score 1) 72

There is no shortage of Linux devs. If there were, two things would be true:

1) salaries for Linux developers would be going up

2) people with two decades of Linux development experience would have no trouble getting a job

Neither of these is true. Ergo, there is no shortage of good developers with Linux experience.

Pretty much every Linux job I've seen posted in the past few months requires (that is, not "nice to have" but "requires") a dozen other skills that make up a combined skill set that only one in a million people have. Got Linux experience plus sockets plus Python plus git (this is a clue to what's going on...) OK, you also need experience with OpenGL and have three years CG coding on major animation projects.

People aren't looking for workers, they're looking for replaceable parts. The "git" thing gives it away: rather than burn, I don't know, an hour or two teaching someone the basics of git, or asking them to read a book on it, they won't consider anyone who can't simply sit down and start working.

The specific-industry-experience requirements are likewise a give-away: it isn't enough to have 3D experience, it's gotta be in animation, or they won't touch you, because those skills, man, they aren't transferable in any way.

Bytes used in animation are totally different than bytes used in medical imaging, and your understanding of one kind of processing pipeline precludes you from learning any other. You'd have to unlearn all that other stuff to make room for the new, and it would be at least a couple of days before you're a 110% productive member of the team! We can't have that!

[This is a synthetic example of things I've seen over the years, but it's all too prevalent an attitude and seems to be getting worse, and all the while the whining about "no devs available" gets louder.]

Comment Not exactly a reliable source (Score 1) 169

No one who knows anything about nuclear power is going to be "excited" by anything the BAS releases on the topic, because they are a purely political anti-nuclear organization with a radical anti-nuclear agenda.

Whatever they have released, the odds are so overwhelming that it's nothing but a propaganda tool in their war on nuclear energy--a war whose success has helped create our current climate crisis--that it isn't worth anyone's time to even look at.

Comment Re:because it's cheap, and you're expendable (Score 1) 156

Companies that do this clearly don't care about productivity, because cost is only one part of the equation. No one who understands anything about business ever does anything because it costs less. They do things because the output per dollar spent is higher. If they are focused on cost, or do something imbecilic like think of their business in terms of "costs centres" and "profit centres" (hint: if it's necessary for your business it's a profit centre, since you can't generate a profit without it... if it isn't necessary for your business you shouldn't be doing it) they they aren't any good at running a business.

There can be reasons for putting people into one big room, and high-walled cubicals can be arranged to produce barely-sufficient privacy to get decent productivity at significantly lower cost, but none of these depend on cost. They depend on output per dollar.

Comment "instead of air"??? (Score 1) 116

The Hycopter uses its frame to store energy in the form of hydrogen instead of air

This makes it sound like there are all kinds of quadcopters out there that are using air to store energy. This is news to me, although given the low density of compressed-air storage I'd be pretty surprised if it's true.

Anyone have any idea why anyone would say this, as opposed to "instead of batteries"?

Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success. -- Christopher Lascl