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Comment: Re:Quantum Computing Required? (Score 1) 283

by ceoyoyo (#49351983) Attached to: Steve Wozniak Now Afraid of AI Too, Just Like Elon Musk

My point is that there's not much differentiating us from primates besides scale, remember. I mentioned the cortex particularly in relationship to neurogenesis, not in relationship to primates. It is the most striking difference between primate brains and those of other animals. I also didn't say there wasn't any neurogenesis in the cortex. There might be, but it's proving pretty hard to find. If you read your reference 3, you'll see this:

The number of migrating cells in the
Gould et al. study5, calculated from case numbers
8 and 9, and after a single BrdU injection,
is more than 10,000 per day33. Even if only
25% of BrdU-labelled cells were neurons, as
has been estimated more recently34, the resulting
migratory stream would still be large
enough to be readily detected in the frontal
lobeswith any light microscopic method, but
it has never been observed.Moreover, if most
new cells degenerate between 2 and 9 weeks
after their birth34, then many pyknotic neurons
commensurate with the massive cell
death would be expected.This prediction has
never been confirmed.

That's the very paper I was referring to when I said "Indirect hints of neurogenesis in the cortex have been reported, but other methods that should turn them up haven't, so the evidence is contradictory." It might be there, and it might not. If it is, it's difficult to detect, much more so than the known neurogensis in older parts of the brain that is known to exist in a wide variety of species. It's also difficult to understand what role ongoing neurogenesis would have in providing some kind of "spark" for intelligence.

I doubt very much there's a magic bullet for intelligence hiding in the human brain. Your friend said it herself: "there is strong evidence that the human brain is a scaled up primate brain." The principles are the same, but there's more of everything.

Comment: Re:War on terror update part 2 (Score 1) 708

by ceoyoyo (#49346285) Attached to: Germanwings Plane Crash Was No Accident

I'm pointing out that there is certainly quite a bit of mass hysteria going around. Sometimes that manifests as whackos killing innocent people, as per your definition. Other times it manifests as whackos engaging in multi-year legislative and regulatory exercises.

The OP was talking about cockpit door regulations. I tend to think that's a good idea, but it obviously has a downside; his point isn't unreasonable. Lots of other "legislative and regulatory exercises" are harder to defend: the random stuff airport security comes up with seems to be borne completely of overreaction. Also things like special border zones hundreds of miles from a border, domestic spying to make Orwell blush, decades long wars, that kind of thing.

Idiots killing innocent people and overbearing regulators: different sides, same mass hysteria coin.

I also found this interesting:

Comment: Re: Invisible hand (Score 1) 518

You're right. I did ignore a lot of those things, though presumably you as an individual would incur most of those same costs. The point was to demonstrate the costs that you would pay, but Comcast wouldn't. I suppose I didn't quite do that as well as I had hoped. Mea culpa.

Of course, in most places, the utility companies are required to mark the lines at the landowner's request, at no charge, so that's not a cost; it's just a "to do". (Amusingly, that's probably one of the few costs that Comcast would incur that the landowner wouldn't.)

Either way, there's some profit margin built into any contracting company's fees, and a company big enough to have their own custom cable and conduit manufacturing is also probably big enough to hire their own employees, thus cutting out that portion of the cost. Whether they choose to do so or not is another question, of course.

Comment: Re: Invisible hand (Score 3, Informative) 518

They were independent contractors hired by Comcast with a Contract requirement that they badge their trucks and wear Comcast shirts. Comcast supplies the materials, there is an advantage to labeled conduit in that people digging utility test holes can easily identify the owner.

Maybe so, but if so, they're playing a very dangerous game. The legal term that comes to mind here is "agency by estoppel." Briefly put, that term means that if a company authorizes you to act on their behalf, and if they allow you to look and act like an agent of a company, then the company can be held liable for your actions.

As long as Comcast's name is on those trucks, if they screw up, Comcast is almost guaranteed to be held liable in court, regardless of whether the workers are employees or independent contractors. That legal risk is the reason that most contracts these days contain clauses that forbid you from representing yourself as being a partner of or an agent of that company.

The only communication utility that has direct buried cables (no conduit) that I'm even aware of is very old installations of telephone wires. I have run into some of the older fiber optic cables that were not in conduits but they were in armored cables with flowable fill. Such cables aren't used for anything that's not very very important. Anything installed within about the last 30 years when cheap PVC conduit became cheap is now in conduits.

Admittedly, I've only seen cables being buried for cable companies in rural areas, but they were A. coax, and B. not in any sort of conduit whatsoever. That was only a few years ago, and I doubt that practice has changed much except in areas that have gone to fiber. Mind you, that practice does vary widely from place to place, so if you live in a city (or even within twenty or thirty miles of a large city), I can understand why you would not have seen it. That doesn't mean it isn't common practice in truly rural areas.

So rural is easier, but then it's about the same cost?

It's easier, but the distance is also longer. The cost is higher in rural areas, because fewer houses can be served by a single line or set of lines. However, it isn't as much higher as the distance implies, because you don't have to bore under a driveway or sidewalk every fifty feet (and/or dig up and re-build sidewalks and driveways). Building the infrastructure while you're putting in a neighborhood is much cheaper than building it later for the same reason. The less crap you have to work around, the less it costs to put lines in. That statement is amazingly straightforward, and I would challenge you do prove it wrong.

You might find this hard to believe because you don't know what you are talking about but the cost to install the cable to this one house could be a million dollars. He could be on the outer limit of the amplification limits such that it would require them to install an entire fiber hut and amplification system. He could be on the other side of a protected refuge or there could be major utilities between him and the closest connection. In fact there could hundreds of reasons that only Comcast knows about why they can't afford to service that house. There is little point is speculating about what those reasons are unless you want to pay the $5K it would cost for an engineering and locate study to check the feasibility of the installation.

I'm not speculating. The person in question did the installation. There were no boosters, no multi-million-dollar fiber huts. The person paid to have someone trench and run a cable. The cable company lit the cable. End of story. Therefore, I do know that none of those things were necessary, and none of the things you're talking about are even slightly relevant in this case. Clearly the cost was not a million dollars. In fact, it was about $3,000. It is safe to say that if it were going to cost Comcast a million bucks to light up the cable, they would not have agreed to do so in exchange for the original poster spending a mere $3k to run the cable him/herself.

The facts seem pretty clear here, and the fact is that it cost $3k for a random individual to hire a contractor, who in turn got all the necessary permits and permissions and ran the line. Therefore in the absolute worst case, it would have cost Comcast... $3k to run the line. And that's naïvely assuming that they don't get better deals from the contractors by buying in bulk (both in terms of the materials costs and the labor costs). That's also assuming that the cable company doesn't already have agreements in place that make it easier for them to access the right-of-way than a contractor working on behalf of some random landowner. And so on.

Comment: Re: Invisible hand (Score 3, Informative) 518

First, all Comcast construction is done by contractors for liability reasons. This isn't negotiable for a large company, a single improper process for a contractor digging a utility in could bankrupt even a company of Comcast's size if their employee's were directly involved in the right incident.

The folks digging up our street were Comcast employees (or at least contractors working for Comcast, not some installer company). They drove Comcast trucks. They ran underground pipes that were manufactured specifically for Comcast, with their name printed every few inches all the way down the length of the tubing. Maybe you don't realize just how big a company we're talking about here.

As for liability, there's a little thing called liability insurance. Companies doing that sort of work have to have it, and if they hire a company to do the work, the company they hire has to have it. It is usually required by law. Whether Comcast pays that cost directly or indirectly is irrelevant; they're still paying the cost of that insurance. Comcast chooses to use contractors in some places because they don't have enough work to keep full-time staff occupied, and/or because it confers tax advantages to use contractors instead of employees. The liability claim is just something they tell contractors so they don't realize how badly they're getting screwed.

Second, though it may only cost $200 a day to rent it's rather irrelevant because Comcast pays the going Contract rate for installations.

Think about this: You're a contracting company that specializes in pulling cables. You have two options:

  1. Work hard to find a bunch of small jobs, knowing that if you can keep your schedule full all day, you'll make n dollars, but realistically knowing that some days you'll barely make n/4 dollars.
  2. Take a contract with Comcast that pays .5n dollars, knowing that they're going to keep sending you work on an ongoing basis.

Which one would you choose? Most contracting companies would choose B, knowing that they'll still be able to pay their employees the same wages, but the company as a whole will be more immune to market fluctuations.

Third, if you think digging the cable in is the only cost you have no concept. There is the planning and engineering costs, the utility mapping, the right-of-way access, the coordination with the local city and the compliance with the local building codes, the insurance costs, the contract management costs, the inspection costs, the quality control and quality assurance. Pulling and splicing cables through the conduits, power and other interconnection costs, splicing the cables, testing and validation, and plant hookup.

Maybe you didn't read the original post. This was about a rural installation. In my experience, that usually means bare coax cables in the ground (no conduit, and probably not fiber), minimal utility mapping (relatively few houses with taps from the power and phone lines), minimal planning and engineering. I mean yes, you do have to do utility mapping, but it's a whole lot easier to map a rural street with a straight wire that parallels the road than it is to map a suburban street that has wires going in random directions from transformers to houses every fifty or one hundred feet.

The cable company would have to comply with the local building codes no matter what. I doubt there's a huge difference there between a rural install and an urban install. If anything, the rural install is probably more laid back, less rigorous, and has lower overall compliance cost. A building code inspector isn't likely to inspect the entire length of wire, but rather the termini, so that cost should be about the same for a 1,000-foot run as for a 50-foot run, assuming it doesn't require them to install any boosters along the way (and if it did, he/she wouldn't have gotten satisfactory results by running the line himself/herself, so we can safely assume that it did not). Similarly, they had to hook it up to their network whether he was thirty feet from the street or a thousand feet, so that cost is also irrelevant. The only relevant factor that makes this house different from any other is the cost of running a thousand feet of cable in a slit in the ground.

Verizon's pass cost (the cost to put a cable in front of the house) was about $1500 per house in a typical suburban environment. It probably costs about another $500-$1000 to dig the cable to the house install the ONT and pull the cable to the jack.

The pass cost was very nearly paid by having service in the street just 1,000 feet away. Remember that, the cost of running a cable in the suburbs is typically much higher than the cost of doing so in a rural area, because you have to deal with a lot more sidewalks, roads, and driveways. Mind you, the extra distance makes up for a lot of that, but 1,000 feet really shouldn't be a big deal, assuming they don't have to dig up any roads (extra permission) or put up any poles (extra cost and probably extra permission).

Comment: Re: Invisible hand (Score 1) 518

We're talking about the lines that they put in the ground, not the in-home installers. And I'd expect most independent contractors to be glorified employees, just under month-to-month contracts.

But even if they contract other companies to do the digging work, they're still paying a lot less for them than you would be as an individual, because those companies know that you are a one-time job, and they need to get as much as they can out of you, whereas the Comcasts of the world are repeat customers that will keep sending you business.

The goal of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we've finished building it.