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Comment We have no idea what "superintelligent" means. (Score 2) 75 75

When faced with a tricky question, one think you have to ask yourself is 'Does this question actually make any sense?' For example you could ask "Can anything get colder than absolute zero?" and the simplistic answer is "no"; but it might be better to say the question itself makes no sense, like asking "What is north of the North Pole"?

I think when we're talking about "superintelligence" it's a linguistic construct that sounds to us like it makes sense, but I don't think we have any precise idea of what we're talking about. What *exactly* do we mean when we say "superintelligent computer" -- if computers today are not already there? After all, they already work on bigger problems than we can. But as Geist notes there are diminishing returns on many problems which are inherently intractable; so there is no physical possibility of "God-like intelligence" as a result of simply making computers merely bigger and faster. In any case it's hard to conjure an existential threat out of computers that can, say, determine that two very large regular expressions match exactly the same input.

Someone who has an IQ of 150 is not 1.5x times as smart as an average person with an IQ of 100. General intelligence doesn't work that way. In fact I think IQ is a pretty unreliable way to rank people by "smartness" when you're well away from the mean -- say over 160 (i.e. four standard deviations) or so. Yes you can rank people in that range by *score*, but that ranking is meaningless. And without a meaningful way to rank two set members by some property, it makes no sense to talk about "increasing" that property.

We can imagine building an AI which is intelligent in the same way people are. Let's say it has an IQ of 100. We fiddle with it and the IQ goes up to 160. That's a clear success, so we fiddle with it some more and the IQ score goes up to 200. That's a more dubious result. Beyond that we make changes, but since we're talking about a machine built to handle questions that are beyond our grasp, we don't know whether we're making actually the machine smarter or just messing it up. This is still true if we leave the changes up to the computer itself.

So the whole issue is just "begging the question"; it's badly framed because we don't know what "God-like" or "super-" intelligence *is*. Here's I think a better framing: will we become dependent upon systems whose complexity has grown to the point where we can neither understand nor control them in any meaningful way? I think this describes the concerns about "superintelligent" computers without recourse to words we don't know the meaning of. And I think it's a real concern. In a sense we've been here before as a species. Empires need information processing to function, so before computers humanity developed bureaucracies, which are a kind of human operated information processing machine. And eventually the administration of a large empire have always lost coherence, leading to the empire falling apart. The only difference is that a complex AI system could continue to run well after human society collapsed.

Comment Re:BitLocker is Ultimate-only and Ultimate is gone (Score 1) 189 189

Sorry, I don't know anything about BitLocker. But if we're talking about getting Windows 7 with a new PC, I think it's fair to say that's a relatively minor limitation compared to everything you'd get stuck with moving up to 8/8.1/10, and you can still get Win 7 Enterprise on your new PC if it's an absolute must-have for your particular needs.

Comment Re:End of preinstalled Windows 7: October 2014 (Score 1) 189 189

From your own source:

Windows 7 Professional ... Not yet established **

** Microsoft will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.

The consumer Win 7 Home line isn't generally shipped preinstalled any more, but the Win 7 Pro line used by power users, small businesses and the like is still available in the normal way, with many suppliers offering it if you ask.

Comment Re:What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 189 189

We can only hope. For a long time, Microsoft has been the business you turned to when you wanted to get stuff done. They were notable for not having the effectively enforced upgrade cycles of Apple, Google, and most of the major Linux distributions, and instead provided systems you could count on using, with support for essential bug/security fixes, for periods measured in years or decades, not months if you were lucky. I want that Microsoft back, and they would surely get more money from me and my companies than the Microsoft we have today is going to.

Comment Re:Privacy in danger (Score 1) 207 207

In densely populated areas, the logical endgame is for devices to create their own mesh networks, independent of any active networking you might provide to them. Then all it takes is any path from your device to the mothership for your data to leak.

Homes with built-in Faraday cages and their own internal repeaters with firewalls for signals you actually want to let through is one possible technological response, but obviously worthless the moment someone creates a path outside the cage, for example by ever leaving the house.

A more practical alternative would be finally passing laws to regulate this area and protect privacy in meaningful ways in the context of 21st century technology, while still allowing beneficial applications of these technologies for those who don't want to be digital hermits. Given the modern reality that even if you opt out of everything those around you might not, the most reliable ways to prevent abuse of data by corporations are to ensure that it is not profitable to do so and/or the executives responsible for setting the policies will go to jail as a result.

Comment Re:It's coming. Watch for it.. (Score 1) 144 144

The overriding principle in any encounter between vehicles should be safety; after that efficiency. A cyclist should make way for a motorist to pass , but *only when doing so poses no hazard*. The biggest hazard presented by operation of any kind of vehicle is unpredictability. For a bike this is swerving in and out of a lane a car presents the greatest danger to himself and others on the road.

The correct, safe, and courteous thing to do is look for the earliest opportunity where it is safe to make enough room for the car to pass, move to the side, then signal the driver it is OK to pass. Note this doesn't mean *instantaneously* moving to the side, which might lead to an equally precipitous move *back* into the lane.

Bikes are just one of the many things you need to deal with in the city, and if the ten or fifteen seconds you're waiting to put the accelerator down is making you late for where you're going then you probably should leave a few minutes earlier, because in city driving if it's not one thing it'll be another. In any case if you look at the video the driver was not being significantly delayed by the cyclist, and even if that is so that is no excuse for driving in an unsafe manner, although in his defense he probably doesn't know how to handle the encounter with the cyclist correctly.

The cyclist of course ought to know how to handle an encounter with a car though, and for that reason it's up to the cyclist to manage an encounter with a car to the greatest degree possible. He should have more experience and a lot more situational awareness. I this case the cyclist's mistake was that he was sorta-kinda to one side in the lane, leaving enough room so the driver thought he was supposed to squeeze past him. The cyclist ought to have clearly claimed the entire lane, acknowledging the presence of the car; that way when he moves to the side it's a clear to the driver it's time to pass.

Comment What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 189 189

I hope that what you're missing is the businesses that supply professional laptops will continue to offer them with Windows 7 and no junkware for the foreseeable future. They'll cost more than all the consumer junk that is subsidised by pre-installed promo junk and spyware and so on, but if you want a system that actually works in your interests, someone will probably sell you one at a viable price unless some sort of legal agreement actively prevents it.

I also hope that this is finally the must-get-worse-before-it-gets-better moment for all the nasty recent trends of never-finished software, built-in spyware in everything, and subscription everything. Something as big as Windows screwing as many people as it's presumably going to screw might actually bring enough people to their senses that the industry reconsiders the path it's been following lately.

As I've commented before, I don't see Microsoft themselves changing course again as long as Nadella is at the top. He is exactly the guy the board hires if this is what they want to happen. However, given that Win10 is already looking less appealing than Win8 and people are still only just finding out all the ways it's a mess, the current generation of leadership at Microsoft may be short-lived if they can't turn avert the impending train wreck very quickly.

Comment Slashdot crying wolf again... (Score 1, Insightful) 120 120

I have heard of a monthly "running out of IpV4 addresses" on slashdot since 1998.

And this story has zero meat to it just like the last 690 stories here about it.

How about someone forcing HP to give up their gigantic chunk that they have been camping on unused for 40 years?

Comment Sure! (Score 1) 94 94

Honestly, force internet to be like a utility. dont let them be for profit and force them to spend at last 50% of all profits on infrastructure build out.

These asshole CEO's don't want to do the right thing, then it needs to be done at gunpoint with regulations and laws. Let the SWAT teams raid a CEO office for once instead of a poor persons house.

egrep -n '^[a-z].*\(' $ | sort -t':' +2.0