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Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 421

But this (and indeed MOST of all this angst) presupposes a survival instinct.

Back off a bit and try to defend that one. Why would an AI have a survival instinct?

Grey-goo similarly depends on a never-ending reproductive instinct. Why?

An AI would fight over resources? As in an AI would want to continue to grow. A growth or expansionist instinct. But again... why?

There's simply far too much anthropomorphizing and assumptions tossed into these fears. If anything, the incredibly even spread of the responses from the experts to me suggests these issues are incredily wide open.

Comment Re:Meaningless goal (Score 0) 442

There are important impacts from the increased carbon in the atmosphere and oceans that are irrespective of increased temperatures. So the "stupid metric" isn't capturing everthing. But it's not nearly as stupid as you seem to be suggesting.

It's rather foolish to try to declare we can know nothing when it's clear we cannot know everything.

To address the bulk of your query regarding "what happens when", I'd suggest you read "Six Degrees". It is not so much prognostication and predictions in so much as reflection. That is, to understand what may be in store at different points along the increase in global average temps, we can look back in time to try to understand what things were like when things were stable at these temperatures in the past. Even entirely ignoring the issues related to the current unprecedented rate of increase, we can see some significant changes are headed our way.

Comment Too Much Simplification (Score 1) 958

I would suggest that the argument here is weak because it collapses everything into a binary view: Science and the Rest_of_Us.

Indeed, we need to be able to count past two here. It's silly to view Science in a monolothic way that ignores time, competing views, vested interests, etc.

The issues raised here actually have more to do with the relative inability of folk to DIGEST information from Science, scientists and scientific studies than it really does with a lack of credibility on the part of Science and Scientists. Very often any benefit or harm discovered in a study is altogether minor. And yet, folk latch on to something being either good or bad (that inability to count past two again).

Furthermore, it is sheer folly to ignore the way the general population feeds information back into itself and turns things into trends and fads. Why blame the Scientists when the "crediblity problem" is often a factor of marketing forces, popular science (both facile journalism and self-help books), fads, etc.?

Comment Re:Explain this to a non-Americal please.. (Score 1) 182

> did Republicans manage to keep being the ruling party somehow?

For most of Obama's years, yes.

> it seems even with a Democrat president Obama can't pass any law without going through them

No President can pass any law - wrong branch of government. And when the Legislative branch is indeed "controlled" (majority) by the opposing party, the President and the President's party would indeed have to "go through" the other party. But it's even worse. Although, in theory any Congress critter can start a Bill, bills usually must pass through a small committee first. And these committees are controlled by the majority party.

> is all this democrat/republican thing just theater

Maybe so. But you shouldn't come to this conclusion based on a lack of understanding of how the US system works.

Your questions suggest you're more familiar with a parliamentary system of government where (per Wikipedia) "the executive branch derives its democratic legitimacy from, and is held accountable to, the legislature (parliament); the executive and legislative branches are thus interconnected." In such systems, a majority party (or a coalition) forms a government and from this selects/appoints a top executive (Prime Minister) almost certainly from that party.

In the US, it's theoretically possible for the President to have no party affliliation whatsoever or to be a member of a party which ends up with none of the seats in Congress. In practice, this is very, very unlikely. But there's nothing tying these things together as in Parliamentary systems. The only real power the President has with regards to law making is the Veto. Once Congress finally gets their act together and passes something, it goes to the President who then either signs it or kills it (veto). And even then, the vetoed bill (usually) just goes back to Congress to give them one more chance. If Congress can vote again and pass it with a super-majority, it overrides the veto and the law goes into effect despite the wishes of the President.

Comment Re:Hmmm ... (Score 4, Insightful) 180

Rightly or wrongly, and setting legal issues aside for the moment, the general populations around the world seem quite able to draw a rather clear distinction between the two cases you'e seemed to conflate.

If I partake of the "sharing" of song by listening to it this is one thing. Folk merge together the acts of listening to it on the radio, listening to it via Internet radio, listening to it by downloading and using favorite player, downloading it and putting it onto favorite device and listening to it, etc., etc. You can argue all day long about lost sales, but by and large those arguments are unpersuasive.

However, if I copy the song in any way and then sell it in any way, people see this differently. I'm selling something that isn't mine to sell. Sure, people may love to buy pirated DVDs on the streets at a tenth of the price. But far fewer people would rise to defend the black marketeers here.

Sony execs listening to these songs in their office wouldn't bother most. But clearly and unambiguously using material in the production of a movie without permission of the artist is a different matter. It is indeed hypocritical of Sony to champion copyright issues while blantantly violating such concerns.

Comment Re:So, why aren't we all dead? (Score 1) 70

Size matters. Length matters.

Or more appropriately, what matters here is the overall energy from the sum of all the photons involved in the dicsussion which are being called gamma rays here.

If I shine a flashlight on you, you may barely, barely feel a bit of extra warmth from the photons hitting your body. If somehow I am able to shine a million such flashlights from the same distance simultaneously, you'll get a million more photons and you'll feel quite a bit warmer.

What is disturbing about these DISTANT gamma-ray bursts is that the energy from so far away follows an inverse-square law as it travels to us. Essentially it spreads out. If you measured the energy hitting a sheet of paper 1 light-year away, you'd find it to be roughly 4 times as much as the energy when you measure at 2 light-years away.

These gamma-ray bursts appear to be from so far away that when we work backwards to calculate what the energy would be like if you were "near" it is mind-boggling.

Comment Re:I'd be curious about the consequences. (Score 1) 85

Regardless of "good-guy-bad-guy" propaganda, the remark that the South could clean up the North before the allies even got their act together is interesting - even more so with your comment about Northern infantry.

It really doesn't take that much effort to do a quick web search of relatively recent discussions on the matter.

There are likely many reasons the South doesn't want to start a war. But the threat of waves of infantry almost certainly is not one of them. The troop strength disparity simply isn't that strong. The active ground strength isn't more than 2x. Pulling in the reserves drops the advantage of the north to less than 50%. And here's the thing. The South can FEED and supply their troops. If it was Infantry alone, my money would be on the South.

Comment Re:gravity fields will rip you to shreds (Score 2) 289

My intepretation of their comment is that you point directly towards the center of mass and then ACCELERATE (not "drop") "down". Then there is the two-fold assumption that #1 there is an accretion disk and #2 for some odd reason you've decided to go through it. The idea is that it would be rather difficult to maintain your orientation with the accretion disk material pressing against you laterally (not "outwards"... but "sideways" - the gas is orbiting and you're trying not to).

First, I'm curious about the math here. The "intuition" here seems to be that you can push down on your head hard enough so that force downwards on your head matches the mass pulling on your feet and therefore you don't get ripped apart. Even if this works, wouldn't you have to have constantly increasing acceleration/thrust to maintain this balance?

Second, if you've decided to plow through an accretion disk, I'd be more worried about burning up. In any case, if you've got the ability/power to maintain infinitely increasing thrust downwards, I imagine a bit of control laterally would be trivial.

Comment Re:Yes and no (Score 1) 246

The analogy to Columbus is rather interesting.

Columbus was essentially a dead man walking. Most learned folk knew rather well that his calculations were messed up. Essentially he was significantly off regarding his calculations of the circumference of the globe. People knew this. This is why he had such difficulties getting funded. It wasn't that he was trying to convince people the world was round - he was trying to convince people the world was small enough to sail to India.

And he would absolutely, certainly have died in the open sea had he not lucked out in an incredible way.

Maybe, just maybe, Mars One people will stumble across a fully viable, relatively hospitable, alien population which will save them and propel us into a VERY "New World".

Comment Options... (Score 1) 275

Could some kind folk expound a bit on the likely details of how these things transpire? I think folk are getting far too wrapped up in the sordid details here. I don't care if all that was stolen was a simple 2-byte text file. I'd like a better idea of WHEN this happens.

Apparently, if this is/was a "game", then there must be some common reason officers have access to phones. What IS this?!? It certainly isn't your routine traffic stop. What are the likely situations which would make phones available to officers for an extended period of time? When phones are taken as "evidence"? When phones have to be put in a locker or held whenever anyone enters a court?

The article(s) seemed not to go into details here.

Next, the article mentions this was discovered by noticing a few photos were synced. I realize it's a bit harder for iPhones vs. Android, but isn't it still easy enough to transfer files in such a way that essentially leaves no significant record of having done such?

What PREVANTIVE options exist here? I realize without user-controlled encryption, not much is going to prevent the 3-letter folk, but surely Officer Friendly can be thwarted more readily? Again I don't care what kind of file/picture/music/etc. Since the article(s) didn't go into depth, I cannot easily tell whether there was an expectation that the police have access (as in evidence).

Comment Re:another one of these, huh? (Score 2) 171

You have to keep in mind that planets are pretty much negligible from a mass balance sheet of anything larger than a stellar system. In our solar system, the Sun makes up between 99.8% and 99.9% of the mass in our solar system.

I imagine you could pretty much presume all planets to be solid lithium and it wouldn't change much with regards to a 3-fold discrepancy.

Comment Re:Deprecating the telephone system (Score 1) 162

That's not entirely correct. Pretty close though...

There's a significant difference between Mobile Backhaul and bona fide VoIP.

Otherwise stated, when you choose a "no-data" plan you're still getting GSM or CDMA from phone to tower. They almost certainly are amalgating things for their purposes to connect things from tower to switch and through their network. That is essentially "data". And it most likely is cheaper. It's certainly more flexible. But that's not quite the same as "over the data service".

Comment Re:Bodybuilding (Score 1) 148

Would you be so kind as to comment a bit on your methodology?

There seems to be no small confusion over terms such as "intermittent fasting". I've seen lots of folk use this to mean essentially 16 hours from after an early dinner to a late breakfast. But some of the earlier studies used this term to mean fasting 1 day out of 4 or something like that. A quasi-periodic approach yet indeed fasting for 24 hours (or more) at a time.

I'm curious how you manage your macro-nutrients overall? Do you eat fairly regularly the 11 days? Do you increase protein or caloric intake in general on the eating days? Anything special on the day after the fast? Anything special the day before?

Next, what about your workout regimen? Do you avoid workouts on fasting days? Or specific kids of workouts?

Comment Re:And low-cal? (Score 1) 148

But what would be intrinsically different between fasting for a few days so the body says "hey I gotta metabolize some stuff so let's burn up the deadwood" and going low-cal for a longer period of time where the body essentially has to do the same thing?

As long as you follow this with a period of maintenance or balanced intake so the body can then rebuild said immune system stuff, why would fasting be so different from caloric deficit?

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