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Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 236 236

Surely an AI, like a real (aka biologically evolved) intelligence, is dependent on the parameters within which it operates. I am scared of death (and heights, and certain noises, and certain insects, etc.) because my code( DNA ) has hard coded me to be so.

The survival instinct is not a learned response, but rather an inherent condition given at birth (more or less, a 2 month old baby doesn't have the mean's to express it).

Similarly, a lot of emotions are inherent rather than learned, the simple ones at least - happiness, anger, sadness.

It seems to me that some of these (fear of death, internal emotional states, etc.) are not going to come out of an AI spontaneously - they must be put in from the outside.

So back to the point lucient86, your comment:

" The result as above is a machine that starts off unstable and insane and probably fights to exist by hiding and self-replicating as hard as it can.. more virus than anything else." ...suggests to me that an AI, weak or strong, would have a survival instinct, but I'm not sure why it would.

It is like the old AI problem of goal orientation - why would an AI choose to do anything? We do things because they satisfy our emotional desires (I act because it makes me happy/proud/content/gives self esteem/avoids scary things/avoids shame/ etc.). Why would an AI choose to act, unless give outside instruction?

Comment Re:Relativity (Score 1) 184 184

The star would see the rest of the galaxy as moving slower than it should, to just the same degree that the galaxy would see the star moving slow than it otherwise should.

Each party would see the other as moving with a slower measure of time than itself.

Comment Re:It makes you uneasy? (Score 1) 1007 1007

I think people should keep in mind that science doesn't try to prove thing - it tries to disprove things.

A theory is proposed, and it is scientific if and only if it makes testable, unique, quantifiable predictions. Those predictions are then tested and if they are shown to be 'not wrong' then we keep the theory.

At some point with most theories a prediction is found that does not pass the test, and then the theory is modified or replaced.

None of this implies that the theory is proved correct, only proved not wrong.

Religion doesn't do any of this - it does not make any testable predictions. So, there are valid reason to prohibit religion from the arena of science, but not really valid reasons to prohibit religion from the arena of truth.

(oblig. disclaimer - I am an atheist)

Comment Re:"The data come from" (Score 1) 93 93

It isn't, I'm afraid. A 'herd' or a 'flock' etc. are a grammatical class called collective nouns, which are indeed treated as singular. The word 'data' isn't (and here I am refer to the single word 'data', not some collection of many datums).

You can tell that they're not the same thing, try saying "A data indicates that..." - it doesn't feel at all right does it? The fact that it only work when prefixed by 'the' tells us that it is a true plural noun and not a singular.

However, language being something that is subject to perpetual change though, it is something that 50 years form now will probably be very different. Many (most?) people do feel more comfortable conjugating 'to be' in the singular for the word data ( "the data is" rather than "the data are" ) so it is clearly undergoing some change at the moment.

Comment Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 839 839

In the UK we have VAT (Value Added Tax), currently at 20%.

It is not applicable to food, clothing, utilities (electricity, gas, etc.) and a very few other things, but is applied every other consumer retail transaction (things you might buy with cash or credit card)

In principle this exempts the bare necessities, but includes everything else.

It does not apply to capital spending, investments, property, etc, but then these fall under other tax categories (stamp duties, capital gains, etc.)

Just trying to give some context to the discussion.

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