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Comment Re:This is huge, how about superdeterminism? (Score 1) 207

Entanglement is just a property of Nature, it's there whether you want it or not.

Hmm, now that's a comment that troubles me a bit. Somewhere in this discussion somebody said that Richard Feynman (Ironically, I'm reading Surely You're Joking Mr Feyman right now.) said it's called Quantum Mechanics because we don't really understand it, it's just some mechanical rules. Your description of entanglement seems to be the same thing. I think scientists are like kids who always ask 'why'. Everytime their parents give them an answer, they ask 'why'. They're still asking 'why' about entanglement. If it turned out that everything was superdetermined, then they'd be asking 'why' to that as well.

What follows is a train of thought I've had when reading philosophical stuff and watching things like "Closer to the Truth". It isn't my personal 'belief', I'm way too agnostic to have such a complicated 'belief', but I think it might be appropriate to throw it out here:

This superdeterminism smacks of predestinationism, which is a religious notion that troubles people over the 'free will' question. To my mind, if it turned out the universe was a giant computer running a deterministic program, it wouldn't make us 'predictable', because the only way to get ahead of the Universe's own CPU clock would be to have an even bigger, faster computer than the whole universe. The future is set the same way the past is set, it just hasn't become the past yet for us. Phyiscist types are always talking about space-time, and how one observer can 'see' the future of another. Maybe it is all one big lump, Past, Future, Present, but living through it is still life, isn't it?

Comment Re:This is huge, how about superdeterminism? (Score 1) 207

I am a quantum physicist...If anybody wants to ask me anything, I'd be glad to oblige.

OK, I'll bite. You said in your post that the world is not deterministic. Does the new experiment disprove superdetermism?

Just to show where I'm getting this from I did glance just now at the wikipedia article on Bell's theorem and, I quote:

There is a way to escape the inference of superluminal speeds and spooky action at a distance. But it involves absolute determinism in the universe, the complete absence of free will. Suppose the world is super-deterministic, with not just inanimate nature running on behind-the-scenes clockwork, but with our behavior, including our belief that we are free to choose to do one experiment rather than another, absolutely predetermined, including the 'decision' by the experimenter to carry out one set of measurements rather than another, the difficulty disappears.

Even though I don't get a lot of this stuff, I do sort of think I get the idea that if things were superdeterministic, like we're all somewhere in a pattern created by a rule 110 machine or something, that there would be no need for either instantaneous communication or a hidden variable in order to have 'entanglement'.

Comment I read in The Economist the other day ... (Score 1) 390

That it was Nevada (mainly Las Vegas) that was coping well and that California was struggling.

A quote:

Water-conservation policies in Las Vegas are more advanced than in surrounding states, particularly when compared with California, ...people who insist on keeping their palm trees and lawns must pay hefty sums for that privilege. In California, laws prevent many municipal water suppliers from charging any more than enough to cover their costs--which means that high prices cannot be used to encourage more frugal behaviour.

Comment Re:Windows 8/8.1 was bad? (Score 2) 321

There is a learning curve, but I went through that in the 80s on unix systems before X-Windows came out. I've forgotten a lot of things, though, if I need them, it's not hard for me to google to be reminded. (But even that is only because I've got the sense of it already in my mind. I don't know how easy it would be for a newcomer to find out how to do some of this stuff by googling.)

I admit I actually don't know much about what modern guis and file managers can do, so maybe I'm missing something. Can they dive down through a directory tree finding every file that's older than x but newer than y? or every file that has a suffix jpg, or list them sorted by size or time? and then do something with them? tar them off to an archive or move them or rename them (jpg to jpeg for instance? or change every capital letter in the name to lower case?) And if they can, what's the learning curve for that?

I will say that as a command line guy I hate spaces in filenames! There are workarounds, like changing the IFS in the environment, but it's ugly.

Comment Re:Self-Checking Code (Score 1) 285

Yeah, I remember working on a program for an embedded system (Motorola 68000, this was back in the 80s). In every loop I had #ifdef DEBUG range check the loop #endif /* DEBUG */ (Having all these range checks in production code would have slowed down the poor old 68000 too much.)

Finally, in testing, the thing would crash mysteriously and my boss finally compiled with DEBUG and one of my loops reported a problem. It turned out that my program was getting invalid data, but of course, in my boss's mind it was always 'my' bug.

Comment Someone wrote a novel about a computer bug (Score 3, Informative) 285

The novel is The Bug by Ellen Ullman.

Here's quote from one of the reviews

Her first fiction - which descends back into this realm of basement cafes and windowless break rooms, of buzzing fluorescents, whining computers, and cussing hackers - sustains a haunting tone of revulsion mingled with nostalgia. This artful tension distinguishes heroine Roberta Walton, who tells about the dramatic undoing in 1984 of Ethan Levin, a slightly odious but efficient programmer plagued by a highly odious but efficient computer bug.

Comment Will we ever get any intellect that ... (Score 1) 262

According to the article the definition of "superintelligence" of Oxford U's Nick Bostrom is "any intellect that greatly exceeds the cognitive performance of humans in virtually all domains of interest."
Should we, the human race not hope to have some sort of "superintelligence" some day, or do we want to stay just as we are eon after eon.? If we do want "superintelligence" some day, are we supposed to wait until we evolve, (and then would we be afraid of homo superior like in so much pulp science-fiction?) or should we go ahead and try to achieve it through AI?

I say go ahead and try to achieve the superintelligence thing through AI. There's been a lot of research on human behavior, to find out why we do irrational things that may cause long term harm. That needs to taken into account if developing conscious AI to be sure. There's a lot that needs figuring out about human nature (denial, spitefulness, prejudice...), but of course, there's a lot that needs to be figured out about AI too, so maybe the understanding of both will develop more or less in step. I'm aware that that sounds incredibly optimistic, but what's the alternative?

Comment If there had been cyberattacks in the early days (Score 1) 76

When networking of smart devices was still on a relatively small scale, a cyberattack wouldn't have done much harm, but afterwards, manufacturers, and more importantly, their customers, might have wised up. Stuxnet was a warning, and I think it has to some extent been heeded, but already by then the existing infrastructure was so vast that a major overhaul would have required a commitment and leadership that isn't there.

Comment Re:11 rear enders (Score 1) 549

Insurance for these autonomous cars will be lower than manual cars

Exactly what I was thinking. I'd have modded you up if I had points. I remember reading Mark Twain's Life On The Mississippi. He talked about how some riverboat pilots created a monopoly (he became part of it), with secret handshakes, and special signals they would give each other if their riverboats were passing, and they would warn fellow pilots in the monopoly of dangers up ahead. Eventually, riverboats would only employ pilots who were in the monopoly because of insurance. They had fewer accidents so the insurance companies offered lower premiums to the riverboat owners.

I expect something similar with self-driving cars.

Comment Re:This is why physics is the king of the sciences (Score 1) 95

I don't so much disagree as consider it a narrow viewpoint. Darwin's Theory of the Origin Of Species by Natural Selection was pretty damn regal in my opinion, and, I daresay, has even influenced the thinking of many physicists. Computer Science has had a big influence too. (I think Computers are the 'steam engines' of the 20th Century in the sense that physicists learned about thermodynamics in the 19th Century from studying the steam engine, which led to all kinds of stuff, and studying what computers can do has had a big influence on thinking and paradigms and what not in the 20th and on into the 21st Century. On top of that computers help physicists compute.)

Comment I saw a documentary about sleep (Score 4, Interesting) 159

It's been awhile since I saw it, but I was struck by one thing in particular. One of the researchers talked about a period of 4 hours during the sleep when participants usually could not remember dreaming, but apparently they were. They could be awakened during this time and recall their dreams. The researcher would also disturb the sleeper somehow without completely waking them up but it would still disrupt their sleep somehow. When the subjects woke up they believed they had gotten a good night's sleep and felt fine. But cognitive tests showed they were not operating at maximum potential.

Generally sleep is poorly understood, but it seems to be an almost universal phenomenon and need in the animal world. Muck with it at your risk.

Comment Re:Computers cannot create real Art (Score 1) 50

Real art, in it's natural form, from humans anyway, comes from discovering new truths of the world

I disagree with that. Science might lead to discovering new truths, but I don't think art typically does that. I think art is a kind of outlet for stuff simmering inside the mind. Whether that stuff is 'true' or not is almost irrelevant. The art may lead to self-discovery, which could be a kind of truth, but it doesn't necessarily do that. It could lead to self-deception instead.

This project, as it mentions in the article, is a kind of Turing test. It's not about being 'intelligent' in the normal sense, but it could shed light on how the creative process works. I think a lot of creativity might just be an almost random juxtaposition of concepts where somehow somebody sees some utility. It seems that synesthesia might be a mechanism for such juxtaposition and maybe computers could do that also. The hard part would probably be recognizing utility. For more on what I mean about synesthesia see the Scientific American Article "Hearing Colors, Tasting Shapes" from April 15, 2003 by Ramachandran.

Our insights into the neurological basis of synesthesia could help
explain some of the creativity of painters, poets and novelists.
According to one study, the condition is seven times as common in creative people as in the general population.

One skill that many creative people share is a facility for using
metaphor ("It is the east, and Juliet is the sun"). It is as if their
brains are set up to make links between seemingly unrelated
domains--such as the sun and a beautiful young woman. In other words, just as synesthesia involves making arbitrary links between seemingly unrelated perceptual entities such as colors and numbers, metaphor involves making links between seemingly unrelated conceptual realms. Perhaps this is not just a coincidence...

Comment Re:Internet accounts, and I watch broadcast TV (Score 1) 194

I found the less internet accounts I have, the less I feel the need to be heard. Since ditching my slashdot account 3 years ago, I post only 10% as much. Back when I had an account, I had the urge to post on a variety of topics where I was frankly talking out of my ass or adding my worthless uninformed opinion. Basically I was just another droplet in a river of BS.

I used to read and post a lot on Usenet back in the 80s and 90s when it was the biggest game in town. (To the point where I felt guilty about it, and needed my usenet 'fix' every day.) When Usenet degraded I felt an acute sense of loss. I got on slashdot, which is slightly reminiscent of old usenet, and I also was on IMDB for awhile, slightly reminiscent of another part of usenet. (That , the IMDB, is where I got tired of all the BS from fatuous, self-important posters). Nothing quite replaces Usenet back in the glory days though. (Or maybe it just seems that way because I was relatively young then.)

Slashdot's moderation system helps filter out a lot of noise, though I'll admit that here too, it seems harder to pan for those golden nuggets of insightful comments than it used to. Mainly, in my opinion, too much snarky schoolboy humor gets modded 'up' nowadays.

Anyway, getting back to the original topic, I keep hearing how 'nobody' watches broadcast TV anymore. I guess that makes me nobody. Digital TV has excellent video quality, and you see those programs on PBS like Nature and Nova in glorious detail. Even the quality of the commercial shows is , for the most part, better than it was 'in the old days', and for me the old days goes back to the 50s.

They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.