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Comment Gap analysis of the poll versus the levees? (Score 1) 156

Not glued to the news, but interested. However, apart from the glaring gaps in the options, it would be good to know the point of such a poll. Lead in for the exploitation of the disaster to "upgrade" the city? Removing much of the city's personality and persons in the process, sadly.

Comment Re:For the same reason I stopped reading /.? (Score 1) 488

I'd forgotten what my sig was, but I'll say that my current amusement and replacement website is mostly Ello. Already becoming concerned about their lack of any apparently viable financial model... I'm sure you've all been invited already, right?

Comment For the same reason I stopped reading /.? (Score 1) 488

Not sure I can really claim to be a non-coder, since I was a professional database programmer for some years, but I can definitely say that I would like to contribute to Open Source and the reason I mostly don't is basically the same as why I dropped off of /. some years ago: Bad financial models. (Today's visit is too long a story.)

Let me try to clarify the problem. Microsoft produces gawdawful software. Apple is against freedom of choice. Google is blossoming as an EVIL tyrant under the new motto "All your attentions is belonging to us." However, they all have viable financial models and they are kicking the hiney of little OSS.

Constructive suggestion for you to ignore (of course): Charity share brokerage (AKA reverse auction charity shares). Sort of like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, but with project management and clear SUCCESS criteria. If the slashdot people wanted to act as the charity brokerage, the donors would trust them to hold the money and provide lists of possible OSS projects to be implemented. If enough donors buy the shares to fund a project, then the funds would be released. (By the way, the same basic mechanism could be used for funding solution projects for problems that don't call for software solutions.)

The broker would earn a percentage mostly by making sure the project proposals are clear and complete. How many people are required and how much will they be paid? How much testing will be adequate? How will non-core contributors be rewarded? What is the schedule? What are the most likely problems and how can they be dealt with? That's to help potential donors assess the real risks. And, to my way of thinking, most important: What will success look like?

The donors (possibly even including yours truly) would basically get nothing but recognition for their donations on a project funder page. However, as minor doggie treats they should be the first people invited to use the completed software and their reviews might receive extra weight in evaluating the success (or even failure) of the project.

Comment What's the motto again? (Score 1) 1

A few months ago I had dinner with an old acquaintance who had moved over to the google, and I realized their new motto is "All your attentions is belonging to the google."

I don't think it was in the original business plan to go evil, but it's just the way the game is played in America these days. In brief, the rules of the game are laws written by the most cheaply bribed politicians working for the greediest and least ethical businessman, and to heck with the rest of the businesspeople, the ones who just want to play fairly in accord with the rules. Much more profitable to rig the game.

Facebook is a different can of evil worms, and I think the evil was right there in their original business plan, or at least between the lines. The problem is that most people have so little understanding of real freedom. My current joke on that topic is this equation:

Freedom = (Meaningful + Unconstrained) Choice Beer

It isn't just your negative data that takes away your freedom. Of course you can be blackmailed pretty directly with secret knowledge of your mistakes and such. It's also your tastes, strengths, and even your virtues that can be used to manipulate you, but that's twistier because you just think you're doing what you want to do--until they yank your leash.

Comment Makes me feel so old... (Score 5, Interesting) 33

I was a teenager when they reached the moon, but it makes me feel so old to think back to those days. I'm beginning to feel like we're getting dumber all the time, and I'm pressed to imagine how they conceived of such an approach.

Now all of this high-tech stuff has led to Facebook? Give me a break. Please. If we don't give Facebook to the Chinese, they'll be building the first lunar colony, the way things are going nowadays...

Submission + - Google and Facebook: Unelected Superpowers? 1

theodp writes: "The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined," writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. "Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law." Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a "Major Contributor" to Mark Zuckerberg's PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?

Comment Re:Human-level AI? How boriiiiiiing. (Score 1) 903

Let me put it differently. I think it would be very difficult to stop exactly AT human-level AI, and it wouldn't be very interesting to do that. While I agree with you about the low energy in the field these days, I just don't see why they would stop at that level once they'd gone that far.

However, my main point remains that this is an extremely tired old topic to be polling on. Not just this most popular theme, but ALL of the polls alternatives were boring.

Comment Re:Human-level AI? How boriiiiiiing. (Score 1) 903

I should have made it clear I was primarily referring back to to the original poll question that was supposedly motivating the discussion and to the specific option of "Human-level AI" that was so strongly favored.

I still recommend the book as something of a classic of comic SF. Sort of serious and witty technical humor, not absurdist. Hmmm... No, I guess it can't be connected to the devolution of /. humor, since the book was published long before /. existed.

Comment Human-level AI? How boriiiiiiing. (Score -1, Troll) 903

We already have plenty of humans around, mostly to ignore. However, if they can develop human-level AI the same techniques will probably not be limited, so it seems pretty obvious that they'll go on to superhuman AI, and that should be interesting. Topic reminds me of When Harlie was One --from about 30 years ago. Quite a good book, but /. is just TOO retro these years.

An alternative poll (for the moronic moderators) of more topical relevance:

Q: What motivates the protests of President Obama speaking to students to encourage them to study harder?

  1. Batshit craziness
  2. Batshit stupidity
  3. WASP fear that the motivated minority students will eclipse their own moronic children
  4. General fear of losing credibility with their own children if they discover Obama isn't the bogeyman
  5. All of the above
  6. Voyeur Cowboy Neal wants to watch

Can you imagine ol' Dubya trying to convince students 'Any of you could become President'? First you need a time machine to make your father President, then go back a little further and make sure your grandfather is a Senator.

And yes, I did scan for moderated "funny" and I was again disappointed. There was a funny link a few weeks ago--but the moderators failed (as usual). I only caught it because the poster of the link described it as funny.

Comment Re:Missing option (Score 1) 447

Missing Option: A greeting from President Obama.

Interesting evidence of /.'s death in progress that this is apparently the first mention of the topic. Or have all the moron moderators already censoriously moderated those comments into invisibility?

Anyway, it's suddenly become a very topical poll--but apparently I'm the only one who noticed?

waste of time, but a follow-on poll for the accidental relevance:

Q: What motivates the protests of Obama encouraging students?

  1. Batshit craziness
  2. Batshit stupidity
  3. WASP fear that the motivated minority students will eclipse their own moronic children
  4. General fear of losing credibility with their own children if they discover Obama isn't the bogeyman
  5. All of the above
  6. Cowboy Neal wants to watch

Comment Re:MBA (Score 1) 447

Given the time lapse, I'm pretty sure he didn't do that. However, I think he was actually filtered out at a higher level than that, so he was never really allowed to see what was really going on. I think he was smart enough to smell something--but that is exactly why they kept him from seeing anything concreted. I'm not really interested in that sort of thing, but from what little I've read, it seems like they were pretty good at compartmentalizing things.

In general I don't believe in complicated conspiracies, but I do think Baxter knew too much, had decided to tell all, and was snuffed before he could start squawking.

Comment Re:Terraforming begins at home (Score 2, Interesting) 316

Oh yeah. I forgot one more obvious thing that may not be obvious enough. The obvious mirror technology would just be large wire loops with thin coated plastic films stretched across them. You want them very light so that they will be responsive to the rotating gyroscopes (located at the center of mass of each mirror), and of course you want them to be cheap since you'll need a lot of them. Actually, I think you would only have one gyroscope per mirror, but it has to be on gimbals so you can rotate in arbitrary directions.

Comment Terraforming begins at home (Score 3, Interesting) 316

You caught me on the reference to "terraforming". Looks like we need to start by terraforming our own planet to sustain its suitability for human life. Not so funny.

My suggestion along these lines would be a network of large controllable mirrors in orbit. The individual sections could be aimed, essentially by rotating them with gyroscopes. Some region is too hot? Adjust more mirrors to give it more shade and reduce its temperature. Another area is too cold? Add the appropriate amount of reflected sunlight and warm it right up. Might as well send some extra sunlight to the polar regions and cultivate crops there, too. Surplus light for electricity generation on the side.

Expensive? Yes, but basically within the capabilities of existing technologies. I actually think the largest technical hurdle would be sufficiently accurate weather modeling. We'd essentially need to micromanage the weather all over the world. I don't think the launch capacity would be unsolvable. The early launches would focus on the power generation, and the power would be used to crack sea water for the hydrogen that would be used to boost more mirror satellites into orbit.

Okay, so it would also be potentially dangerous, but I'm hoping that the security problems could be solved, and all technology is morally neutral. Any power to do good is also a power to do harm. (Unfortunately, this is not a balanced relationship. There are some powers that can do nothing but harm... But that's getting off the focus--which can be risky with such large mirrors.)

Comment Re:MBA (Score 0, Troll) 447

I used to submit stories and suggestions. One of them is still pending, obviously long forgotten. Concluded that was a waste of time.

I've even had vigorous discussions with the big taco. It would be amusing to post some of his highly defensive email. However, I've never done that sort of thing, and I certainly don't care enough about /. to do it. In contrast, at least taco pretends to care--before he goes all defensive.

On the third hand, you have to admit taco has plenty to be defensive about.

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright