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More Supermassive Black Holes Than We Thought! 92 92

LeadSongDog writes: The Royal Astronomical Society reports five supermassive black holes (SMBHs) that were previously hidden by dust and gas have been uncovered. The discovery suggests there may be millions more supermassive black holes in the universe than were previously thought. George Lansbury, a postgraduate student in the Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, at Durham University, said: “For a long time we have known about supermassive black holes that are not obscured by dust and gas, but we suspected that many more were hidden from our view. Thanks to NuSTAR for the first time we have been able to clearly see these hidden monsters that are predicted to be there, but have previously been elusive because of their ‘buried’ state. Although we have only detected five of these hidden supermassive black holes, when we extrapolate our results across the whole Universe then the predicted numbers are huge and in agreement with what we would expect to see.”

Comment Re:Computers cannot create real Art (Score 1) 50 50

Since comptuers can only understand what they know, and not infer on new understandings, they cannot, and never will be able to, create real art.

That's an assertion ab nihilo. I could equally assert that they will be able to, and there we have a disagreement with neither of us presenting evidence to back ourselves up.

Example: A computer can recreate the Mona Lisa in a near infinite number of ways. It cannot, however, create the original Mona Lisa without there having been a Mona Lisa to create from.

Counterexample: A human can recreate the Mona Lisa in a near infinite number of ways. It cannot, however, create the original Mona Lisa without there having been a Mona Lisa to create from.
See what I did there?

Comment Re:Still misunderstands the Turing Test (Score 3, Interesting) 50 50

It doesn't "misunderstand the turing test". It's a different test. No computer has yet passed the Turing Test, so doesn't it make sense to have other tests?

Let's assume that the Turing Test is a good test for AI. It's debatable, but let's accept the premise. We don't have good AI yet, so what is the point in testing what we have against a test for good AI? Doesn't it make sense to aim for something with a lower bar, achieve that, and then tackle the tougher problem? When I was at school, we didn't set the high jump at olympic champion levels. We set it at a level that was a stretch for us but still achievable.

Comment I nearly cost my company millions (Score 2) 377 377

I nearly cost my employer several million by fixing a bug.

The first task I was given in my new job was to look at an old system that printed labels to be put on containers of car parts. A message would come in on a serial cable saying what part was going to be needed within a few hours at a car assembly line, the parts were packed into stillages (a frame designed to hold a certain number of a certain part, like bonnets, bumpers, doors panels, etc.) and when a stillage was full, or when a certain amount of time had passed since the first part was picked, then a label was printed, applied to the stillage, and it was dispatched over the road to the factory.

Every time the serial number rolled over 9999 to 0001, the system would go wrong and stop working. This happened about once a month, and the help desk had a sheet of instructions on how to fix the problem. Some of the staff knew the fix off by heart.

I looked at the code, found a roll-over bug, and fixed it. Everything was fine, and a couple of years went by with no problems.

Then, at 3 in the morning, the help desk called me and said that it had happened again. They didn't have the sheet of paper any more, and no-one could remember how to fix it. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and tried to get my brain into gear and remember what to do. It took me about an hour talking with a couple of help desk people, and between us we figured out what the fix was, and they called the warehouse and talked them through it.

The next day I talked with my colleagues, and found out that we had come within a few minutes of triggering a penalty clause for halting the production line that could have run into millions of pounds. This was back in the '90s when millions of pounds were a lot of money!

I looked back over the code, and found that there were actually two very similar bugs in the code, one of which happened fairly regularly, and one which only happend much more infrequently, but the same fix worked for both of them.

Back when I first started working in IT, my boss told me, "One day, you will probably make your million pound mistake. In our business, we build systems that, over the course of our careers, will save millions of pounds in lots of small ways. Eventually you will make a mistake, and one of those systems will go wrong, and it might cost millions. Your employer will bear the cost of it, which is why we don't earn those millions ourselves. You have to be prepared for that eventuality. If it happens while you're working for me then I will kick your arse, and maybe I will fire you, but I'd be wrong to do so, that's just the nature of the business that we are in."

Comment Re:Your tax dollars at work (Score 1) 45 45

That's a great way to encourage investment. This company has spent tens of millions developing this technology. Sure, that pales into nothing compared to billions, but it's still a lot of money, and denying them any return from it is ridiculous. Also, the ISS is not the USSS. If the ISSP gets some of the money from this company, then great, and they probably have already paid them a chunk of cash.

"Is it really you, Fuzz, or is it Memorex, or is it radiation sickness?" -- Sonic Disruptors comics

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