Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Take advantage of Black Friday with 15% off sitewide with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" on Slashdot Deals (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment Not a Relevant Question? (Score 2) 574

I'd considered the question of AI and human conflict a while back, and then I came across Alva Noë's perspective on it. Alva words this much better than I could, so here are his words:

One reason I'm not worried about the possibility that we will soon make machines that are smarter than us, is that we haven't managed to make machines until now that are smart at all. Artificial intelligence isn't synthetic intelligence: It's pseudo-intelligence.

This really ought to be obvious. Clocks may keep time, but they don't know what time it is. And strictly speaking, it is we who use them to tell time. But the same is true of Watson, the IBM supercomputer that supposedly played Jeopardy! and dominated the human competition. Watson answered no questions. It participated in no competition. It didn't do anything. All the doing was on our side. We played Jeapordy! with Watson. We used "it" the way we use clocks.

Philosophers and biologists like to compare the living organism to a machine. And once that's on the table, we are lead to wonder whether various kinds of human-made machines could have minds like ours, too.

But it's striking that even the simplest forms of life — the amoeba, for example — exhibit an intelligence, an autonomy, an originality, that far outstrips even the most powerful computers. A single cell has a life story; it turns the medium in which it finds itself into an environment and it organizes that environment into a place of value. It seeks nourishment. It makes itself — and in making itself it introduces meaning into the universe.

Now, admittedly, unicellular organisms are not very bright — but they are smarter than clocks and supercomputers. For they possess the rudimentary beginnings of that driven, active, compelling engagement that we call life and that we call mind. Machines don't have information. We process information with them. But the amoeba does have information — it gathers it, it manufactures it.

I'll start worrying about the singularity when IBM has made machines that exhibit the agency and awareness of an amoeba.

I think that we're still a long way out from needing to worry about what will happen when artificial intelligence surpasses our own. Humanity has come a long way, and we can split atoms and splice genes, but we still can't create anything. We can't create life, even the simplest of life, let alone consciousness, free-will, and something capable of planning for its future in a way that conflicts with ours yet leaves us helpless to resist.

Perhaps when the day comes that it becomes a valid question, there will be other variables. Like, if the AI rose up and killed all living things on Earth, how would the rest of the colonized planets be affected?

Comment Re:quick question (Score 5, Insightful) 212

How can one verify that a different CA doesn't issue a certificate for your domain name to the NSA? It's happened before (including sub CAs getting compromised so new certificates could be created at will).

In order for traditional PKI to work, there needs to be a point of trust -- the certificate authorities. That also means trusting anyone that controls the certificate authorities (who may have the power of secret laws, subpoenas, and gag orders). If you don't trust the authorities, then you cannot trust PKI.

There can be public/private encryption without a centralized authority (SSH keys, PGP, etc). However, then it's up to each person to individually verify the authenticity of every other key. The certificate authority performs that role, so long as you're willing to trust them.

Comment Re:oracle? (Score 1) 124

Oracle has very little interest in Linux, now that they have Solaris. Solaris has always been their bread-and-butter, with it accounting for most of their installations anyway. And now that they own Solaris, it makes no sense for them to own (and maintain) their own Linux distribution. The general consensus is that they're going to get rid of the free UNIX OS they have now (OpenSolaris). In addition, Oracle is not very open-source friendly, recently questioning why they should continue the open source model that Sun started.

Of course, anything can happen. Oracle could surprise everyone decide to embrace OpenSolaris and MySQL for strategic reasons. Personally, based on the tone that they have already set about Open Source and the fact that Oracle already has comparable products to Novell's--including an OS and directory services--Oracle has very little reason to buy Novell.

Comment Re:but wait... (Score 3, Insightful) 271

The problem with your logic is that they aren't just scraping images from people that pirate movies, they're scraping images from everyone. Your question would be better posed as: Since everyone in the world downloads music and movies without paying, why can't they scrape your images and serve them up to "whomever?"

Revised, I think the question pretty much answers itself. Otherwise, in order for your question to have a logical foundation, everyone needs to be allowed to pirate music and movies, or they need to limit their scraping to pirates.

Comment Re:My best fit for Wave; (Score 0, Redundant) 180

I realize you've been modded funny, but it's no joke. It can seriously crawl. I was using Chrome to test it, figuring that Chrome would work best. Huge mistake!

My suggestion is to avoid using Chrome with Google Wave at all costs. There is an open Chrome bug about how slow Google Wave's JavaScript runs on it--cue irony. I've found it quite usable on FireFox, though. Truthfully, I've never been in a wave with more then two or three active participants, so your mileage may vary.

Comment Re:Wow (Score 2, Insightful) 52

Now that you mention it, all research requires fuel that, at some level, produces cancer-causing emissions. All research should be stopped! We've known about this for a long time, why produce all those cancer-causing emissions looking for 'better' treatments?

Although, I suggest that instead of sending HLT instructions to the processors as part of the idle loop, you should turn your computer off when it's idle. Think about all the energy you're using; the cancer-causing emissions are too much to bear. Wait! Go check the electricity meter on your house! Your entire house is burning energy even while you sleep. Oh no! We should all go completely off the grid and stop all research. That's definitely the best way of fighting cancer.

While it's interesting that you "find this kind of stuff amazingly ironic," you may want to keep that irony and associated comments to yourself in the future. You may think your opinion is insightful or particularly interesting, but, to me, the following quote comes to mind:

'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. - Abraham Lincoln

Comment Re:Great... (Score 1) 457

The problem here is that your comments aren't fully formed. For example, originally you wrote "You're making the naive assumption that these politicians are ordinary people, capable of making independent choices and casting votes of their own choosing." I interpreted that as meaning politicians are incapable of making independent choices. Hence, my original response.

Next, you say "I'm not advocating direct democracy, I'm saying politicians are slaves to their masters." Arguing that politicians are slaves to the people is naive. So, I respond that they are definitely not slaves to the people.

Finally, you challenge me to present an example of a politician who thumbs his nose at his party and gets re-elected. An entirely different argument! Had you simply stated what you meant the first (or second) time around, this would be a whole lot easier. Instead you seem to expect your audience to know what you mean without bothering to explicitly write it. I think I know what your argument is now, but it could certainly change.

As for an example, I'm to the point now of responding to a challenge to a view I haven't even commented on. But I find you interesting, so I'll see where this goes: Senator Joseph Lieberman. He was a vice president candidate in 2000, had a public falling out with the party and went so far as to run against the party in 2006 as an independent (and won). He's spoken out against the democratic party, going so far as supporting McCain, saying: "I'm a loyal Democrat, but I have loyalties that are greater than those to my party, and that's my loyalty to my state and my country."

So, if your argument is that politicians are slaves to their masters -- and the masters of politicians are their political party -- then there is your example. He's had very public issues with the party for about 7 years now, and he's still in office.

Comment Re:Great... (Score 1) 457

And I'm saying they're not. They need to get enough votes to get reelected, then they can (and will) do whatever they want.

Which is it, affordable healthcare for everyone that reduces long-term spending, or mobile deathsquads pulling the plug on seniors? Both are idiotic and an insult to the intelligence if you dig even a little, but you have to pick a side (or simply not vote).

If politicians were slaves to their masters, there would be much less FUD. And there would be a lot more real information coming from the politicians to the public. Pick the side you agree with (or the least of the evils) and drink the kool-aid.

I hear the kool-aid will make you think that politicians are slaves to their masters. :) But regardless, they are neither slaves in theory (per the Constitution) or in practice.

Comment Re:Great... (Score 1) 457

This is bullshit of the most dangerous sort. You're making the naive assumption that these politicians are ordinary people, capable of making independent choices and casting votes of their own choosing.

Frankly, you should know better.

You must not be an American. Here in the United States we don't live in a democracy; contrary to widespread belief. We have a republic, where representatives do our voting for us. Sometimes those votes are from politicians (say, the Senate and House), sometimes from Electoral College who vote for our president. The whole thing is in our Constitution, and our government type is clearly spelled out in Article IV, Section 4*.

In local matters, we sometimes get to vote directly for an issue. But, even at the national level, we generally get to vote for the people that get to vote. That's why we're sometimes labeled a democratic republic; we're a republic that shows some traits of democracy. However, a democracy we are not.

Anyway, the idea that a politician isn't capable of making independent choices from ordinary people is exactly backwards. In America, the assumption is that those that get to vote** are distinct enough from ordinary people that they are able to make independent choices.

*Interestingly enough, the word democracy (or any derivatives) never appears in the Constitution. So much for spreading democracy throughout the world?

**Okay, you can vote for the president. But only sort of. Al Gore had the most votes in 2000, and in a democracy he would have become the president. So yes, you can vote, but that doesn't mean your vote counts. Technically, although the Electoral College tends to vote for whoever the people in their district vote for, there is no requirement that they do so.

Comment Re:Example: Standard Deviation (Score 1) 429

Certainly, but crackpot therapists like psychoanalysts, regression therapists, multiple personality therapists etc. also call themselves pshychotherapists.

Where I studied, psychiatrists only came from med school, not from the psychology department. There are similarities between the two, but the aim is different: treating patients vs. studying behavior. Maybe the definitions are different where you grew up?

You're absolutely correct, psychiatrists always have med school training. And after med school, they then undergo a significant amount of training in mental health. As you mention, the aim is to treat patients (applied psychology).

And, psychologists do generally take a different training route: getting a Ph. D. in clinical or counseling psychology, followed by an internship. But while psychologists can be research-oriented, they can also be people-oriented. a neuropsychologist, for example, is a psychologist that certainly doesn't study behavior.

I've heard it said that one difference between psychologists and psychiatrists is the medical degree; but some psychologists certainly do have medical degrees. I'd be more inclined to say that a psychiatrist deals with mental illnesses, whereas a psychologist deals with emotional ones. There's certainly room to argue, but it's an approximation.

Anyway, a clinical psychologist might be more likely to tell a severely depressed person, "Tell your wife that you are gay; it's time to come out of the closet." By using psychological methods to solve problems, that by definition makes them psychotherapists (practicing psychoanalysis).

I'll agree that psychotherapists can certainly be crackpots, especially since there isn't regulation (at least in the United States) needed to call yourself one. However, the idea that all psychotherapists are crackpots, or that all psychologists are research-oriented is incorrect.

I'm not so sure our definitions are different, but perhaps our perspective is.

Comment Re:Example: Standard Deviation (Score 1) 429

You're mixing up psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists. A psychiatrist went to med school, got a doctors degree and specialized in problems with the brain...

You're mixing up psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists. Think of a psychologists as a general term, like "doctor," for which there are many specializations. A psychiatrist is a classification of psychologist, one of 56 defined by the APA.

One of the differences between a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist, as you note, is the medical degree and therefore, the ability to write prescriptions.

A marriage counselor could certainly have a Ph. D. but not have a medical degree. This falls under the umbrella of psychotherapist (or further subcategorized as a clinical psychologist). It also falls into your definition of anyone "who feels like calling themselves that." Boy, will those doctors have egg on their face once they realize they've earned a meaningless title!

Comment Re:Our budget deficits are catastrophic, too (Score 1) 555

I happen to disagree with c6gunner, in that I don't think you're necessarily trolling. Even though he/she makes a good argument, points out your flawed logic, and you followed up with a totally different argument (Canada can so why can't we), I'm responding to you instead of modding you down.

The knowledge that the Iraq war wasn't necessary is sort of funny in a way. If you read the commission report, you'll see that one contributing factor to the idea that Iraq war was necessary is confirmation bias -- facts that support your beliefs are accepted as true much more readily that ones that support the opposite, which tend to be dismissed as unreliable.

Religion is an easy example of confirmation bias. No matter what religion you are, you think it's right and probably have plenty of proof that support your beliefs. Other religions, out of necessity, are therefore wrong. If you're an atheist, all religions are wrong -- they simply can't see it.

The Bush administration really did believe it was necessary. You can fault the logic that led to such a belief, but keep in mind they didn't have the benefit of hindsight to assist.

We wasted enough money in Iraq to pay for universal health care, AND a trip to the moon.

If the Iraq war had been necessary to prevent an attack on America, surely you wouldn't disagree that saving tens of thousands of lives (or more) is worth more than universal health care and a trip to the moon. After all, those things can be postponed for a bit with minimal overall impact. One might even argue it would be foolish not to address such a risk if there is even a remote chance of it occurring.

I'm not saying that I agree with going into the Iraq war. But sometimes bad decisions are made for the right reasons. It wasn't simply an issue of throwing away money then deciding that there isn't enough for health care or space exploration.

Yes, those things are important. I've got to get new gutters for the house, the driveway repaved, and seriously need to look into getting a new car. But there's only so much money to go around and something is going to have to wait. In hindsight, I may look back on my decision and regret not making a different decision. Hindsight is funny that way.

Comment Re:Good and bad. (Score 4, Insightful) 207

Perhaps you should consider that there is a reason for having 12 people on a jury, and why a single person can hang it. What seems to have appalled you, in practice, worked exactly like it should have. It takes a single person to keep things balanced.

It's also interesting, that knowing this, you advocate demanding a judge to determine your fate over that of a jury -- essentially, putting all your eggs one one, biased basket. And yes, we're all biased, like it or not. To not be biased would require a special mental handicap that I have yet to encounter.

I don't consider myself stupid by any means, and, like your mother, I too decided to serve on jury duty. I recommend it for everyone; it's completely different than portrayed on television. Sure, you're supposed to make decisions on the facts -- which is what you believe to be true, not evidence, which is something else. You're constrained by the laws, the wording, definitions, etc. Then the last thing the judge tells you is that what happens in that room is no one's business except yours, and that ultimately you're going to make decisions that you feel are truthful, and you can sleep with.

The judge who talked to our group discussed a priest with a drinking problem who had gotten off drunk driving convictions three times by various juries. Each time, the jury saw what a great man he was and gave him "one more chance." Eventually he wrapped his car around a tree and died, but the point the judge was making is that you're not necessarily doing someone a favor by letting them off. While he didn't kill anyone else, he could have.

I took something else away from it too: the jury has the ultimate control over deciding whether a crime was committed. It can be illegal for you to chew gum, but it'll take a full jury to be willing to convict you. For example, in Michigan, it's a felony to commit adultery (750.30). I suppose adultery is about as common here as anywhere else, but guess how many people are tried for it... Juries are the reason draconian laws aren't enforced.

If our fate lay solely with a judge, who is completely unbiased (if there were such a thing), and who held us accountable to the letter of the law in all cases, we'd be much worse off.

Comment Re:MW2 and Steam (Score 1) 94

Read what he posted, the resellers are able to sell it cheaper because they buy keys from a different region of the world where the game is actually priced cheaper than it is in his native country. This is not illegal, as long as you abide by the tax laws in your country importing is perfectly legitimate.

It may not be illegal like killing is illegal, but distributing software between regions is either copyright infringement (unauthorized software distribution) or at minimum an EULA violation. Part of Steam's DRM is policy enforcement. If you hack, your entire steam account may be disabled. If you have a game installed that you shouldn't have (say you have multiple Steam accounts with different games) it won't let you play those games -- even though they're installed.

What Valve don't like is the fact he has bought it cheaper because he worked around their price fixing mechanism that aims to squeeze as much money out of people in different parts of the world as possible.

That is exactly it. But realize that different markets have different pricing. Sometimes software may be cheap (or free!) but you could incur nominal per-minute playtime charges. In a different region the software may be $49 and incur no playtime charges. Whether that is for economic, cultural, or legal reasons doesn't matter -- they have no interest in letting you game the system.

Let's say you are a mechanic. You charge $1,000 to fix things, then offer free, unlimited, lifetime support. Other mechanics, however, offer free parts but charge labor. A crafty consumer may try to get free parts, then switch "regions" and get free labor. Can you see why mechanics might not feel it is your right to do that-- even if you feel that by not letting you do it they are unfairly squeezing as much money out of you as possible?

Note that this would effect you identically if you for example bought a copy cheaper whilst in Asia on holiday and took it home to play in say the UK or US where it's more expensive.

Or bought a DVD in Asia and tried to play it somewhere else? It's copyright infringement when you do it for DVDs too.

They are basically creating their own additional import laws outside of those already imposed by the country into which he is importing goods. It is similar in a way to DVD region encoding, which was used to try and block people in Europe getting films early because they were released 6 months earlier in the US, and also getting them cheaper because the US prices were lower than European prices for example.

Or how software is cheaper for educational users, even though 1 block away is a corporation needing the same software but has to pay more! Why does the geographical boundary exist? Why can't the corporation buy the educational version at a discount, then use the cheaper software instead?

Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.