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Sci-Fi

Harrison Ford To Return In Blade Runner Sequel 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the geriaction-heroes dept.
An anonymous reader sends news that Harrison Ford is now confirmed to be returning as Rick Deckard in the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner. Ridley Scott is now officially an executive producer for the film as well, and Denis Villeneuve will direct. It's set to begin production in the summer of 2016.

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 1) 531

by thegameiam (#49140759) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

I confess the possibility of misunderstanding. However, when I've had multiple Atheists assert that belief in God is {foolhardy, evil, insert_negative_emotion}, that does seem to be a parsimonious explanation.

I do not think that Dawkins' formulation of the existence of God as a scientific proposition makes much sense, and it's an example of over-scientification of matters of philosophy - he fails to account for the idea of undecidable propositions (the existence of God being among them). Dawkins is actually a good example of someone who makes a bunch of attacks on Theism (cf the title of his book), when if it is merely a matter of him personally not having a belief, why would he care so much? Further, the spectrum displays a profound ignorance of religious people - doubt is a normal part of the religious experience, and he denies that sincerely religious people experience doubt (that is, the expressions of typical religious people would have a lot more degrees between his "1" and his "2"). .

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 1) 531

by thegameiam (#49140549) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

I have a conviction that there are no such bunnies, due to lack of atmosphere.

I take it that you don't study much philosophy or theory of knowledge - there is a gigantic conceptual difference between "absence of evidence of X" and "evidence of absence of X". In code terms, it's the difference between an as-yet-undeclared variable and a variable set to (null).

Comment: Re:"Born atheist" quite a leap (Score 2) 531

by thegameiam (#49139669) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

Atheism is an absence of belief, not a belief in absence. Few people who self-identify as "atheist" have an affirmative belief/faith in the non-existence of a deities. Atheism is just the default position of an absence of belief through faith. It doesn't require "proof" of anything.

This doesn't describe most of the Atheists I've met, who affirmatively proclaim the non-existence of God(s). Perhaps a differentiation could be made between "atheists" and "Atheists" - the former would be as you describe, and the latter would describe a person who expresses a conviction that there is *not* a God.

Earth

Lawmakers Seek Information On Funding For Climate Change Critics 387

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.
HughPickens.com writes: John Schwartz reports at the NY Times that prominent members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are demanding information from universities, companies and trade groups about funding for scientists who publicly dispute widely held views on the causes and risks of climate change. In letters sent to seven universities, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat who is the ranking member of the House committee on natural resources, sent detailed requests to the academic employers of scientists who had testified before Congress about climate change. "My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships." Grijalva asked for each university's policies on financial disclosure and the amount and sources of outside funding for each scholar, "communications regarding the funding" and "all drafts" of testimony. Meanwhile Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Barbara Boxer of California and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. sent 100 letters to fossil fuel companies, trade groups and other organizations asking about their funding of climate research and advocacy asking for responses by April 3. "Corporate special interests shouldn't be able to secretly peddle the best junk science money can buy," said Senator Markey, denouncing what he called "denial-for-hire operations."

The letters come after evidence emerged over the weekend that Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, had failed to disclose the industry funding for his academic work. The documents also included correspondence between Dr. Soon and the companies who funded his work in which he referred to his papers and testimony as "deliverables." Soon accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work. "What it shows is the continuation of a long-term campaign by specific fossil-fuel companies and interests to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change," says Kert Davies.
Earth

What If We Lost the Sky? 421

Posted by timothy
from the we'd-still-have-the-space-needle dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Anna North writes in the NYT that a report released last week by the National Research Council calls for research into reversing climate change through a process called albedo modification: reflecting sunlight away from earth by, for instance, spraying aerosols into the atmosphere. But such a process could, some say, change the appearance of the sky — and that in turn could affect everything from our physical health to the way we see ourselves. "You'd get whiter skies. People wouldn't have blue skies anymore." says Alan Robock. "Astronomers wouldn't be happy, because you'd have a cloud up there permanently. It'd be hard to see the Milky Way anymore."

According to Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California, losing the night sky would have big consequences. "When you go outside, and you walk in a beautiful setting, and you just feel not only uplifted but you just feel stronger. There's clearly a neurophysiological basis for that," says Keltner, adding that looking up at a starry sky provides "almost a prototypical awe experience," an opportunity to feel "that you are small and modest and part of something vast." If we lose the night sky "we lose something precious and sacred." "We're finding in our lab that the experience of awe gets you to feel connected to something larger than yourself, see the humanity in other people," says Paul K. Piff. "In many ways it's kind of an antidote to narcissism." And the sky is one of the few sources of that experience that's available to almost everybody: "Not everyone has access to the ocean or giant trees, or the Grand Canyon, but we certainly all live beneath the night sky."

Alan Robock says one possible upside of adding aerosols could be beautiful red and yellow sunsets as "the yellow and red colors reflect off the bottom of this cloud." Robock recommends more research into albedo modification: "If people ever are tempted to do this, I want them to have a lot of information about what the potential benefits and risks would be so they can make an informed decision. Dr. Abdalati says deploying something like albedo modification is a last-ditch effort. "We've gotten ourselves into a climate mess. The fact that we're even talking about these kinds of things is indicative of that."
The Military

US May Sell Armed Drones 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Nations allied with the United States may soon be able to purchase armed, unmanned aircraft, according to an updated U.S. arms policy. Purchase requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and foreign military bodies would have to agree to a set of "proper use" rules in order for the U.S. to go ahead with the sale. For example: "Armed and other advanced UAS are to be used in operations involving the use of force only when there is a lawful basis for use of force under international law, such as national self-defense." These rules have done nothing to silence critics of the plan, who point out that the U.S. has killed civilians during remote strikes without much accountability. The drones are estimated to cost $10-15 million apiece.
The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Trademarks "Windows 365" 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-easy-payment dept.
jones_supa writes The talks about a subscription-based Windows have begun again. With Windows 10 those ideas did not materialize in the way that many had speculated. Even though Microsoft has not fully detailed its Windows 10 pricing strategy, it is not believed that Microsoft is targeting an annual subscription charge for Windows at this time. However, it turns out that Microsoft has recently filed for a trademark for Windows 365, which adds a bit of fuel to the subscription based version of Windows. As of right now, Microsoft has only claimed this branding right, but as for what they will do with it, only time will tell. Deep inside the company, the idea is clearly still bubbling there.
Transportation

Automakers Move Toward OTA Software Upgrades 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the granted-features-like-a-wizard dept.
Lucas123 writes: While some carmakers today offer over-the-air software upgrades to navigation maps and infotainment head units, Tesla became the first last week to perform a powertrain upgrade overnight. But as the industry begins adopting internal vehicle bus standards with greater bandwidth and more robust security, experts believe vehicle owners will no longer be required to visit dealerships or perform downloads to USB sticks. IHS predicts that in the next three to five years, most, if not all automakers, will offer fully fledged OTA software-enabled platforms that encompass upgrades to every vehicle system — from infotainment, safety, comfort, and powertrain. First, however, carmakers must deploy more open OS platforms, remove hardened firewalls between vehicle ECUs, and deploy networking topologies such as Ethernet, with proven security.

Comment: Re:So who's going to buy them? (Score 1) 294

by thegameiam (#48999421) Attached to: Radioshack Declares Bankruptcy

The solution is remarkably simple: require the minimum wage be more closely matched to the cost of living. Miraculously, anyone who is working is earning enough to not require assistance, saving tax dollars.

You do realize that raising the minimum wage has consequences on small businesses, right? Take a look at Borderlands Books in SF, which is now closing because they can't afford the increase.

If anything, increasing the minimum wage will speed the consolidation of small businesses into a smaller number of larger ones, because Wal-Mart is more able to absorb increased costs than Bob's house of whatever is.

Education

Washington May Count CS As Foreign Language For College Admission 259

Posted by timothy
from the alle-menschen-sind-auslaender dept.
theodp writes On Wednesday, Washington State held a public hearing on House Bill 1445, which proposes a study "to allow two years of computer sciences to count as two years of world languages for the purposes of admission into a four-year institution of higher education." Among the questions posed by the House Higher Education Committee to a UW rep at the hearing was the following: "What's the case for...not just world language is good, world language is well-rounded, but world language is so super-duper-duper good that you should spend two years of your life doing them and specifically better than something else like coding?" The promise of programming jobs, promoted by Microsoft execs and other MS folks like ex-Program Manager Audrey Sniezek (ironically laid off last summer), has prompted Kentucky to ponder a similar measure.

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