Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Self Defense (Score 1) 197

From your safe place behind a safe computer, you can say that.

Go ask the people in Syria if they feel like they are taking part in a "more humane and less deadly conflict".

That's like saying "Global Warming isn't true because it snowed today!" The Syrian conflict is a horrific, awful anomaly. Even then, it's pretty restrained by historical standards and more than offset by the otherwise tranquil world scene at present. It should also be noted that much of what Assad is doing isn't involving guided munitions because he just flat out doesn't have them. And his opposition has no airforce at all.

Compare that to 100 years ago and a similar conflict probably would have resulted in flat out genocide and deliberate extermination of 70% of the population. Current estimates are that about 0.5 - 2.5% of the population has been killed in the conflict. That's comparable to the American Civil War, but the vast majority of the world is at peace so as a percentage of world deaths it's pretty tiny. The Syrian conflict is almost notable because the world is otherwise so peaceful.

Comment Re:Self Defense (Score 1) 197

Obama's killed more innocent civilians with drone strikes to "kill a few hostile bad actors" than Bush ever did. And last I checked Obama wasn't a member of the GOP.

The GOP leading candidates will *happily* tell you that they'll carpet bomb Syria. That's not partisan, that's their campaign *platform*. That's not partisan bullshit, that's what they proudly argue is what *needs* to happen. Hillary and hawkish democrats are for targeted strikes and Bernie and the more liberal democrats are for nothing at all.

We're in a fucking twilightzone if it's now a 'Liberal Smear' to "accuse" GOP candidates of supporting their own campaign platform and stump speech. "HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE CRUZ OF SAYING WE SHOULD CARPET BOMB SYRIA UNTIL THE AND GLOWS!"

You don't get to accuse Obama of being "Soft on terrorists" and also accuse him of carpet bombing at the same time. Obama and GW Bush both were quite restrained in their air campaigns. That's not partisan, but GW Bush isn't a fucking GOP candidate so my point stands of "GOP Presidential Candidates".

Comment Re:Whoa! Exciting stuff! (Score 1) 127

If it'll help, the basket looks kind of like a depiction of a gravity well.

Also, the observers changed the outcome. The discussion of this game might very well spark insights that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity.

You can say you were there when the 21st century Newton got hit on the head by a basketball.

Comment Truly, truly sad (Score 2) 197

What a shame that in this relatively late stage of human development we should still be debating the moral pluses and minuses of applying technology to kill each other. Talking about "offensive autonomous weapons beyond meaningful human control" and "autonomous weapons would commit fewer battlefield atrocities than human beings" - shouldn't we be raising the level of discourse? A lot?

Comment Self Defense (Score 2, Interesting) 197

Arguably while war is all about winning, it's not at "all cost". We (ignoring GOP presidential candidates) will not bomb an urban civilian center these days in order to kill a few hostile bad actors. Arguably the availability of precision munitions changed the moral balance from "bomb a city into submission" into the modern sensibility of "only bomb specific targets of military importance."

Even though war is a terrible and bloody affair, we as societies have constantly been moving towards more humane and less deadly conflict. It's one thing to shoot someone shooting at you. It's quite another to kill someone in cold blood. War is arguably largely about self defense today: "I have to shoot you in order to not die." The shift I see happening with autonomous weapons is that there is no imperative to shoot people shooting at you. It might be expensive or costly to lose an autonomous infantryman, but if you can capture without killing I suspect we'll expect our autonomous soldiers to exert "self control". Obviously if it's a shooter killing civilians you would be morally justified in stopping them using violent force if necessary but otherwise autonomous troops effectively become more akin to police officers than soldiers in their relationship to the population.

Comment Re:Uh... let me think about it (Score 1) 529

I used to do delivery. 99% of the time I ignored directions because the package had an address on it, and I could use a map. I learned the hard way not to ignore that 1% where their "folksy directions" were key to getting there. You'd have hidden entrances, missing numbers, new streets and damaged bridges. They knew about that stuff. I didn't.

Really though, unless you're address is tricky like that, just give me the address. We had excellent maps and the directions were almost always wasting my time in a business where time was money. We were "contractors" long before Uber and all that, and yes it sucked and I didn't do it too long..

Comment Re:Why this matters (Score 1) 414

The reason this is so important is not the single black hole merger they detected.

AND, it was detected during a shake-down run that wasn't intended for scientific investigation. Either they were incredibly lucky, or these things happen all the frelling time, and we're about to view a cacophony of zip/whip/zuups.

It is because this is the first of what will become a major source of astronomical data.

Indeed -- one of the unaddresed issues (so completely, blatanly unaddresed that I suspect the scientists involved have been blinded by the success) is using gravity waves for real astronomy. Wait, wait, bear with me for a second; I'm not saying what they did wasn't real astronomy. Consider the one overlay map that was shown during the press conference of the probable location of the source, based on the single event as viewed by the two separate LIGO detectors in the US. That was deduced based on matching up the data signatures, time delays, and known geometries between the two detectors. Effectively doing source identification with a stereo recording (I did much of my graduate work applying that sort of analysis to a different kind of recordings) by using the two detectors as a phased array of size 2. With really serious amounts of computing power, that phased array should be able to give you a map of gravity wave intensity / frequency (think brightness and color) for THE ENTIRE SKY. With only two detectors, it will be very fuzzy, but as more detectors are brought on line across the globe, the resolution of such a real-time map would improve dramatically.

Comment Re:poison the data (Score 4, Interesting) 254

...What we really need is a hardware firewall that blocks all access to Microsoft domain names and IP addresses.

I recall reading within the past week, (probably in connection with Office 365), that some functionality was simply broken when telemetry was disabled beyond what the OS itself allows users to disable. Perhaps that breakage only applies to Microsoft applications; but if it doesn't already apply to third party programs, and indeed to the OS proper, I'm sure Microsoft will fix that 'oversight' sooner-rather-than-later in a mandatory update.

Or even better one that sends bad data to Microsoft. Maybe a nice little distributed computing project would be to know what data Microsoft is collecting and the write and distribute software that keeps feeding Microsoft bogus data to make their data collection less useful.

I think with Windows 10 we're seeing the advent of a brand of distributed computing in which 'error checking' takes place between MS servers and your computer. MS gets to define what an 'error' is; if the data your computer sends back to the mothership isn't what MS is expecting, they will simply discard it. And they may disable part or all of your OS functionality as well. Coming up with an algorithm which can successfully fool Redmond while sending false information might be quite a programming exercise.

...Microsoft might get the message and cut this out.

Not a chance. The only thing that will get Microsoft's attention is customers jumping ship in droves. And we all know that ain't gonna happen. Too many people don't understand where this is all going, and most of the rest simply don't care.

Slashdot Top Deals

CChheecckk yyoouurr dduupplleexx sswwiittcchh..