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Comment Re:Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup (Score 1) 349

Pro-tip, stay away from dihydrogen monoxide. It's a real killer! Nasty stuff.

I like to bathe in it, even though laying face down in an inch of it will kill you. Less than 1cc of it also could kill you, if you froze it and propelled it out of a barrel at high enough speed... and into yourself, in a vital location. Some chemicals are fine or even beneficial in small quantities, but what about larger ones? Many "vitamins" and minerals can cause negative health effects if overconsumed, even ones which are necessary for life.

Comment Re:Duh, missing other data dimensions (Score 2) 161

It tried to be fair and actually failed, because it uses a methodology that clearly wasn't designed by a statistician.

The program uses over a hundred factors in its classification scheme, but statisticians and data scientists make a point of pruning factors because long experience has shown that introducing many irrelevant factors actually reduces predictive accuracy. And just because race is not an explicit factor doesn't mean that the algorithm is race blind either. It's entirely feasible to given the huge number of factors involve to recover the subject's race with a better-than-chance reliabilty, whether explicitly or implicitly; intentionally or even by accident.

Now the program's score is equally correlated with reoffending rates whether the subject happens to be white or black, which sounds impressive and color-blind -- to a layman. To a mathematician not so much. It's actually quite easy to produce this result by tweaking your model, implicitly recovering race in the manner suggested above and forcing it to produce a result that looks right -- in aggregate.

But what a statistician wants to know is about conditional probabilities, and it turns out that when applied to retrospective data the program is twice as likely to commit a type 1 error (falsely predicting reoffending) for black subjects as white. If this makes the whole process of achieving fairness sound hard, that's because it is. Color-blindness in aggregate isn't the same as color blindness on a case-by-case basis, and that's the thing that actually matters.

Ultimately you want criminal justice decisions to be based on reason, and mathematics is the purest form of reason there is. And because you want those decisions to be based on reason, they have to be transparent. Secret methods for arriving at decision-making are fundamentally antithetical to our concept of justice.

Comment Re:"Headlines no more accurate than stupid clickba (Score 2) 161

Alternatively: vendor oversells effectiveness of its proprietary, secret sauce methodology and doesn't like any independent evaluation of its products unless it's favorable. Customers, having a naive faith in technology, buy anyways, which produces exactly the results you mention: programs will be forever terrible at this task. Why should anyone bother to make a program good when customers will shell out good money for mediocre?

Comment Re:No bad software (Score 1) 161

Well, there's bad (i.e., stupid) clients too. They're responsible for a lot of bad software.

If a customer wants to buy magic software without an understanding of what it does or proof that it even works, what are the programmers supposed to do about that? They just report to work and build what their boss tells them to build, and he tells them to build what the customer will buy.

Comment Minecraft has languished (Score 4, Interesting) 50

It's been years since Microsoft took over MC (fuck you, Notch, you lying sack of shit) and development has been even slower than before, and long-standing bugs have not been fixed. For example, placing half-slabs while lagged results in placing them where you physically could not place them, the net code is pure garbage, the game still punches your GPU in the nuts for no apparent reason (minetest uses like 10% of the GPU of MC for the same visual quality) and placing more than a couple dozen hoppers without capping them off with furnaces still lags the game to hell and back. They've done absolutely nothing to fix bugs, so that's vintage Microsoft, I guess.

If what has happened to MC under this tool's watch is any indication, Microsoft Games will go entirely down the toilet.

Comment Re:The supposed reason... (Score 1) 132

I imagine an all-electric vehicle would get less overall wear and tear in this way, because the motor isn't doing anything when you're not moving?

It's enough to have an electric heat pump in a hybrid. It will auto stop-start and it doesn't need to idle to run the HVAC. Basically everything is going hybrid now, except pure sports cars. It's an option at the moment, but soon you won't be able to buy really anything without electrification.

Comment Re:Grrr. (Score 1) 138

Environmental stupidity on display...

Thanks for the warning, sport.

So, you somehow think we can just cut over to "green" and the resulting cost and economic impacts be dammed?

Name the cost and economic impacts of the move I described.

Take what you can easily get.

That's what this is. It's actually easier than natgas conversion, because you don't have to do anything to the vehicles. Green diesel is a 1:1 replacement for petro diesel (it doesn't cause any of the problems that biodiesel causes) and butanol is a 1:1 replacement for gasoline which only causes the same problems that supplementing fuel with ethanol causes.

Comment Re:Grrr. (Score 1) 138

I'm just suggesting that it might be a good sort term solution as a viable motor fuel that would give us better emissions for the same work with a minimum of fuss and trouble.

Existing refineries can be jiggered to make green diesel out of algal lipids, butanol can be made fairly cheaply to replace gasoline, and we should simply proceed with electrification if we want to improve emissions. (In the short term, we can also add heated catalysts, which drastically improve cold-start emissions; these go hand in hand with hybrid systems, which provide the power to heat the catalyst.) Fracking is bad for water supplies, and increasing natgas production means doing more fracking, so it's not a good plan on any time scale.

Comment Re:Speed wasn't SR-71's problem. (Score 2) 298

Hopefully, if such satellite killers exist, they capture and drag their targets out of orbit instead of blowing them up, that would be truly irresponsible.

Why go to all that trouble? Just burn their sensors and communications equipment, and let their orbit decay. Actually blowing them up would take more energy, so it would cost more.

Comment Re:It's Global Warming's fault! (Score 1) 325

What does global warming have to do with anything?

It's affecting the natural fiber crops, like cotton. If I didn't wear them until they were holey, the third world would be happy to have my castoffs because they are overwhelmingly made of natural fibers. I'm happy wearing secondhand clothing, but that's difficult for me because I'm two meters tall and there's not that much of it available to me compared to what's out there for others. Still, almost everything I own is made out of cotton, rayon, linen, or silk. I have a few poly blend overgarments, but I prefer to keep that stuff away from my skin.

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