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Comment: Well... (Score 1) 172

by readin (#47422117) Attached to: The Lovelace Test Is Better Than the Turing Test At Detecting AI
A guy told me some 20 years ago that he read about an artificial life experiment in which a specially designed operating system was created to allow programs to execute code and, like computer viruses, reproduce themselves while competing for the resources to do so. He said the result was a program that copied itself very efficiently in a manner that the researchers found very hard to understand and was totally unexpected.

Sadly he couldn't explain the details and didn't know the experiment, but if what is says is true, did it pass the Lovelace test? It certainly seems like something that could have occurred given the capabilities of computers at the time.

Comment: Re:better idea (Score 1) 501

To keep the guns out of Mexico, eh? Not such a bad idea ...

Yep. Amazing isn't it. The same wall that would keep undocumented people from entering the country would also help keep guns from getting to the drug lords in Mexico, and would also greatly reduce the amount of illegal drugs entering the country, and would prevent many other kinds of contraband from flowing across the border, and would also reduce human trafficking. And it would allow us to amnesty the illegal immigrants already here without fear of encouraging larger waves of future illegal immigrants (like the Reagan amnesty and the illegal Obama Dream Act did).

And if Democrats are to be believed about the usefulness of borrowing and spending, building a secure border would stimulate the economy as well.

However this wonderful border wouldn't help rich people keep wages low so corrupt members of both parties don't want it. And a secure border won't help Democrats tilt demographics in their favor so even the less corrupt Democrats don't want it. Not to mention that if the border were secured and our immigration problems largely solved the Democrats would have one less excuse for falsely accusing their opponents of racism. So we're not getting a secure border anytime soon, if ever.

Comment: Re: I started with a Humanities Degree (Score 1) 264

by readin (#46944287) Attached to: An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities
No. I learned in 4th grade about different thinking styles. I can spell very well when I see things written down or when I'm writing. But listening or speaking is not something I do well. My wife is foreign and used to get very irritated at me when she would ask me what a word meant when she was reading, and I couldn't tell her when she spelled it out loud. It took her a while to learn that she either had to spell it very slowly or let me look at it.

Getting back to the 4th grade spelling test: when the teacher asked me a word and I had to spell it out loud, I suddenly discovered that I couldn't speak and spell at the same time. Translating what I would imagine on the written page into a spoken letter while keeping track of where I was in the word turned out to be extremely difficult for me.

I've improved over the years, but it didn't come naturally.

Comment: Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (Score 1) 264

by readin (#46895527) Attached to: An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

I've never understood why math/science/programming geeks are stereotypically bad at spelling (or language in general). It should be about the same kind of attention to detail in both cases.

Personally I'm excellent at spelling but it often doesn't come through in my writing because I'm in a hurry, I hate writing, and I'm such a critic of writing that I can't stand to go back and read my own stuff. Reading my own writing usually makes me cringe. This means I don't double check my writing. I'll notice someone use used "it's" instead of "its", but since I never read my own stuff I never correct my own stuff.

Comment: Re:I started with a Humanities Degree (Score 1) 264

by readin (#46895513) Attached to: An MIT Dean's Defense of the Humanities

Then earned my IT degree later in life. Hard to eat on a Humanities degree salary.

Still, I can communicate and write better than 90% of my peers, and that gives me a major advantage over them.

Being able to communicate between people is as important as being able to enable communication between two machines.

You make an important distinction. Humanities classes can be good, but a humanities major isn't much use. In the balance of things, we just don't need that many people to study art history, and while knowing some art history is useful it's not as useful as knowing some chemistry, physics or math.

For STEM we've developed a lot of techniques that allow us to g deeper, check our work against reality, provide objective results and in doing so build on previous work. We can put a lot of people to work exploiting these gains to make real progress. With humanities (and it does vary by subject of course) there is too much wheel-spinning and news spinning with people arguing over the meaning of things without being able to prove whose theory looks most right and should serve as the basis for further work..

As for the writing, perhaps you write better than your colleagues because you always could, not because of the classes you took. You decided to get a humanities degree because you were good at writing rather than you're good at writing because you majored in humanities. Perhaps it is some of both. I do wish I had learned more writing. Arguing on the internet has improved my writing more than anything I did in college.

Comment: Re:Not for Nerds (Score 1) 253

Where I live they seem to play that episode more frequently than the other rerun episodes. It's the only one I'll watch (because it has Summer Glau). They're traveling by train somewhere (no idea where since I never see the beginning) and she's in the same car with them.

Comment: Re:Not for Nerds (Score 4, Insightful) 253

Klinger wasn't trying to be gay, he was trying to be crazy. Kinger and Radar were sympathetic characters. When something bad happened to them you felt bad.

They've taken the most nerdy of the Big Bang group, Sheldon, and made him a villain like Major Burns. You laugh at his misfortunes because he is such a jerk. The early episodes I remember just had him very logical. He said things that would seem outrageously rude, but only if you didn't realize that he didn't intend them to be rude. He might say something like "well obviously I should handle the money because I'm the best at math" and it was funny because it sounded sooo bad, but you knew he was just being logical and was actually correct in that he was the best at math. In later episodes he became a jerk who would say he was better at math just be be bragging and seem superior. That turned him from a sympathetic character struggling with a vulnerability into Major Burns.

Comment: Re:Not for Nerds (Score 1) 253

Haters gonna hate...that said, please tell me one sitcom (short for situational comedy) that wasn't designed for you to laugh at the cast?

It's more a matter of whether you're laughing out of a sense of superiority and/or malice. Are you thinking "I can't believe their sooo stupid" or "I'm so glad I'm not like that" or "Ha! he deserved that!" as opposed to something more benign like "that's so outrageous" or "they must be confused by this".

Big Bang guys in store-bought super hero outfits are designed to make you feel superior because they guys on the screen are so stupid. Klinger in drag made you laugh because a hairy guy in women's clothing looks outrageous. The misunderstandings of Three's Company didn't make you feel superior to the people experiencing them.

Comment: Re:Not for Nerds (Score 5, Insightful) 253

In early episodes that I saw, Sheldon was clueless about people and would be clumsy. He would say something about how it made more sense for him to do something because he was smarter than everyone and you felt like he wasn't trying to be mean or arrogant, he was just pointing out an objective fact without stopping to think people might be offended. That was something I could relate to and find funny.

But before too long they just made him mean. In that episode with Summer Glau, when Penny crushes his Japanese puzzle box you feel like he deserves it. He's no longer a sympathetic character whose weaknesses make him endearing. Instead he's a geek that people can feel good about disliking. Instead of giving people reason to reconsider their awful treatment of geeky peers, the show affirms that treatment as being deserved.

In real life I've met very few geeks who were genuinely mean. Most seem to believe in fair play, following the rules, good citizenship, do unto others.., etc.. However at first glance their poor social skills can make them seem uncaring.

The early episodes seemed to get that. They portrayed what geeks see in themselves and in each other.

But soon the show appealed to a wider audience by portraying geeks as non-geeks see them. Clueless Sheldon became arrogant cutthroat spiteful Sheldon. He was no longer rude do to thoughtlessness but instead became a scheming villain

People don't like geeks and this show affirms their feelings.

Comment: Material? (Score 3, Interesting) 302

by readin (#46836257) Attached to: Consumers Not Impressed With 3D Printing
One thing I haven't understood yet from what limited reading I've done on 3D printers (I think I'm a pretty typical consumer in that I have not gone out of my way to learn about them) is what material the printed objects are made of. Can I print a decorative button for my coat? If I can, will it have as much strength as the button I'm replacing? Can I have it printed the same color?

Can I print a coffee mug that I can use? That might be cool - I could put whatever engraving I want on it. But again I'm not sure what material I'm dealing with. Is it waterproof? Is it strong? Is it toxic?

Would I be able to use printed objects as hardware? Are they strong enough to act as screws or screwdrivers?

It might be good for kids. I could replace those missing pieces from various board games. Could I print out new D&D dice?

So far my impression is that you get one material - some sort of resin, and you get one color. I don't think I have that many needs for things made of plastic resin.

Comment: Re:The problem is celebrity culture (Score 1) 600

by readin (#46824925) Attached to: The US Public's Erratic Acceptance of Science
Where do you get your news from? Celebrity newscasters, celebrity reporters, or newscasters and reporters whose names you don't know and won't remember? Are the latter somehow more reliable?

Or do you travel around from country to country investigating every news story yourself before you believe it?

Do you trust what celebrity physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson tells you about science or do you read most science papers yourself and spot check by re-running some tests to be sure you get the same data?

We can't all investigate everything ourselves so we have to take someone else's word for it hoping that they've done the research and trusting or not based on what little we know about them.

Now when a politician who can't even understand simple economic laws like Supply and Demand and can't understand how evolution-like processes can produce more efficient economies that are as difficult to muck with as any other naturally evolved ecosystem starts to tell me about science, I don't have a lot of confidence in him. But when someone who almost always makes sense tells me about science I tend to have a little more confidence (and even more if he's an expert in the field).

Either way, I'm basing my confidence largely on the person's reputation (i.e. what I know about him as a celebrity).

Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.