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Comment: Re:I used to work on SYNC (Score 1) 232

by steveg (#48586913) Attached to: Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

Yow. Is that why the 3.6.2 upgrade eliminated Daylight Savings Time? Couldn't find the code that supported it?

My car changes time zones when I cross to a new one. But during the summer you set it to the GPS time and then *manually* shift by an hour. Because the option for DST was removed.

Comment: Re:sync unintuitive (Score 1) 232

by steveg (#48586881) Attached to: Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

I have a 2013 Fusion.

I keep seeing complaints about how unintuitive and hard to use My Ford Touch is. That hasn't been my experience at all (OK, let's ignore the nav system. I'll give you confusing and unintuitive *there*.) Most of the system, by and large, is pretty easy to use.

Now flaky? That's another issue. It crashes, freezes up, reboots, and is generally unreliable. The older version of MFT would re-index my music each time I started the car, and start playing the same song that it had decided should be the first in the list. Great song, but less great the 40th or 50th time in a row.

Once I upgraded to a newer version and learned all its tricks and what is likely to cause it to screw up, it's much more reliable, but I would never actually call it reliable. But unintuitive has never been my complaint.

Comment: Re:Open Source not a silver bullet (Score 1) 73

by steveg (#48574609) Attached to: Why Open Source Matters For Sensitive Email

Ken Thompson modified the original C compiler to put a back door into the Unix login program, as well as to modify any compiler that was compiled with that compiler to include the backdoor function. So for generations of code, and backdoor was inserted, with no evidence of its existence in any code you could examine.

Comment: Re:Free Enterprise (Score 1) 184

by steveg (#48567215) Attached to: Swedish Police Raid the Pirate Bay Again

But it's not. When the price rises above what the market will bear, you get a vigorous black market. That's exactly what we've got. If the assertion that cutting the prices by a factor of 4 will increase sales by more than 4x were true, that would be evidence that current prices are *more* than the market will bear.

*Is* it true? Maybe. Someone would have to do the experiment, and I'm not holding my breath on that.

I'd guess that the drop in income the music industry has seen in the last decade or so is evidence that they *are* charging more than the market will bear. No, the industry's problems are due to file sharing you say (*they* say)? I suggest that file sharing is one of the *reasons* that the market is willing to bear so much less, but so is the perception that if you're not getting something physical you shouldn't pay as much. That perception may not even being accurate (physical distribution is a smaller percentage of the total cost than we might think) but it's still "intuitively obvious" to most people that a download should be cheaper than a physical object.

"But people just want something for free! Making it cheaper won't help!" For some people that's probably true. But most people want it *easier*. If it's easier to buy it, and it doesn't cost too much, then most people will take the easier path and just buy it. Black markets won't go away. There will always be free riders. But I suspect a lot of people in the black market aren't that hardcore about it, and would be paying customers if it were less expensive.

Comment: Re:7 years ago (Score 1) 574

by steveg (#48510429) Attached to: Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

Moore's law is really not tied to CPU architecture. All it really says is that they can get more components on a substrate. Neural nets normally use CPUs and are implemented in software. Even a hardware neural net implementation is going to make use of components contructed on a substrate, either transistors or memristors, or something similar.

And positronic brains? Um, you're aware that those fall in the MacGuffin category, right?

No matter what, AI development is likely going to need a boost from exponential growth, and that means, if not Moore's Law, one of its close cousins. For better or worse, it's likely to get that boost.

Comment: Re:7 years ago (Score 1) 574

by steveg (#48507767) Attached to: Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

Is it? Don't forget Moore's Law. Or some variation of it. It may be that we're coming close to the end of how much we can cram onto a silicon chip, but Intel and others are exploring 3D fabrication, and there are probably other approaches as well (carbon nanotubes, etc.)

Kurzweil might be overly optimistic on a lot of things, but his notion of the Law of Accelerating Returns is pretty compelling, and it's not based on our prowess with silicon. Moore's Law is just a specific instantiation of a more general principle. Even people who *do* understand the implications of exponential growth can be surprised by it.

And the question is how much of our job performance is based on being "fully human"? Does it really require "strong-AI" to do most jobs? "Weak-AI" is often defined as task-specific AI, and really most jobs are task specific. It isn't going to take strong-AI to take most jobs -- weak-AI should be sufficient. It may require that weak-AI to be improved, but again, Moore's Law.

By all accounts self-driving vehicles are not sufficiently advanced to allow them to safely drive anywhere that hasn't been carefully mapped for them. But Cadillac will be offering autonomous freeway cruise control in two years -- essentially self driving, limited to freeways. That's a long way from a fully self driving car, but if you had predicted such a thing ten years ago I'd have told you that it would be (many) decades away.

Ten years ago I'd have been confident that a driving job would be safe for a long time. Only humans could do that.

Comment: Re:until you threaten it (Score 1) 574

by steveg (#48507419) Attached to: Hawking Warns Strong AI Could Threaten Humanity

Why would it be less destructive? *Its* needs are not served by a functioning biome (unless it needs *us*, of course.) What it needs are energy and computational resources. Once it figures out how to come up with those on its own (without us) the biome becomes irrelevant.

And carbon is likley going to be a very important resource for computational capacity. Why waste it on unimportant biological phenomena?

Comment: Re: How about we hackers? (Score 2) 863

by steveg (#48263367) Attached to: Debate Over Systemd Exposes the Two Factions Tugging At Modern-day Linux

I'm not going to comment on whether Linus intended Linux to be Unix.

However RMS wanted to replace Unix exactly with an alternative written by the community.

If I may quote Stallman:
"I was developing an operating system that was *like* the Unix operating system, but was *not* the Unix operating system. This was a *different* system, we would have to write it ourselves, from scratch, because Unix was proprietary, we were forbidden to share Unix, we couldn't use Unix, it was useless for our community."

He was specifically objecting to the licensing of Unix, and he wanted to reproduce Unix without the licensing restrictions that made it impossible to use for "our community." He was not trying to come up with a different design, just a different licensing model.

So from a licensing perspective, Gnu is Not Unix. That's a licensing statement, not a structural one.

Comment: Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (Score 1) 256

by steveg (#48214597) Attached to: Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

Well, prices have come down, and will probably come down more. Once I get the new AC paid off (*that* brought my electric bills down) I'll have free money to consider solar.

But given that the hardware price is coming down, I don't see much upside for "Power Purchase Agreements."

But I don't lease cars either. :)

Comment: Re:Tesla wasn't the target, it was China (Score 1) 256

by steveg (#48212809) Attached to: Michigan Latest State To Ban Direct Tesla Sales

Electric is a slight cost savings in fuel if you live in California and pay Tier 3 or Tier 4 prices (which you do if you live in the Central Valley.) If I could afford to put solar panels on my roof that might very well change the equation, and prices for that are coming down, so I'm going to revisit that issue at some point.

My commute is far under what you cite as the average -- I drive about 6 miles each way. For most of my daily use (assuming I can bring the cost of electricity down) an electric would be fine.

Once every month or two I make a 200-300 mile day trip (round trip.) Once or twice a year I make a 2 to 3000 mile round trip. Flying could be an option, but not a very good one. It would still involve a decently long drive -- the local municipal airport would mean an expensive shuttle flight each direction. Overall, that's quite a bit more expensive and only a little shorter time-wise. Plus it would mean renting a car at the destination.

But I'm suspicious of what your notion of the "average American" does. I've never lived in a place where putting in a grocery order for delivery was an option. I've never lived in a place where most of the people I knew didn't make occasional trips out of town. I've never lived in a place where "I rarely drive" was an option.

Perhaps you live in a very big city or a *very* small town, but is that really the "average?"

Money is the root of all wealth.