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Comment Re:This is a lot more complicated... (Score 1) 153

Hm, why do you think we haven't evolved with perfect memory? Could there be a good reason?

The standard answers to this kind of question are:

1. Local optimum: Evolution is a black box optimization process. No black box optimization process that progresses in reasonable time can cover all of the search space, so they will get stuck in local optima. The eye is a good example of a local optimum. The nerve fibers are on the wrong side of the eye, so you get a large blind spot where the fibers go "out of the eye" and into the brain. However, to fix this suboptimal design would require a rather large trek through solution space, and some of the intermediate solutions would be so bad that evolution would weed them out. Therefore, the eye remains as it is. The same may be the case for memory structures in the brain.

2. Shifting tradeoffs: Evolution is also quite slow. Therefore, its tradeoffs are based on an environment in which we no longer reside, where food was scarce and one had to save energy lest one died. This sort of wrong-tradeoff optimization is evident everywhere you have obesity, for instance.
In this case, perhaps near-perfect memory was too heavy a weight to bear in conditions of scarce resources. If it was, evolution would not have optimized in that direction, because the losses (due to having to expend more energy) would be greater than the gains (of greater planning or what have you). Now, on the other hand, we do have much more energy available, but evolution hasn't caught up.

So to sum all of that up: to the degree that the evolutionary process visits close to optimal solutions, it is slow, and to the degree that the evolutionary process is fast, it skips certain solutions that might be very good. In both of these cases, technology can cover what evolution does not - when evolution is blind, technology can be less so; and when evolution has its blind spots, technology have others so they can make up for each other's partial coverage.

Comment Re:What about dropped packets? (Score 1) 104

Given their rather long latencies from speed-of-light delays, they might be using forward error correction to fix errors ahead of time. This works more or less like PAR files in that if less than a given fraction of the bits are corrupted, the data can still be recovered without problem, and that would seem to be much quicker than having to do a SYN/ACK type "Hey, these don't CRC out right, give me them again" scheme.

Comment Re:Immortal Reader As Well (Score 1) 261

Etch them, then coat them with glass, then add another coating of diamond using CVD. That should last! I'm only keeping the glass because, theoretically, diamond is metastable. Perhaps you could replace the diamond with some sort of boron-containing compound (cubic boron nitride, B4C, rhenium boride), which would be fully stable and very hard, but I don't know if they are transparent.

Comment Re:id color palette (Score 1) 147

Even since the original Quake, I never understood the concern - those who were playing it at the time never complained about the palette until much later, if at all - and still don't know. It's a post-apocalyptic, dust-track racer. What colour did you *EXPECT* to see? Even if you had the ruins of something-or-other-colourful, it would be dust-covered and aged by the time the game is set.

First there was Quake. Quake was brown because of technology limitations. Then there was Unreal. Unreal wasn't brown: it even played on the "dank environment" trope by making the first level dark and machine-like, then surprising the player once he got out of there. Half-Life was less brown than Quake, too. So why does every modern FPS have to have the same limited postapocalyptic palette?

Oh well. Hopefully there will be some non-brown areas - like the place with the mutant in Fallout 3.

Comment Re:Yeah, and I am a Pony (Score 2) 291

This looks a lot like sparse voxel octrees. As a concept, SVO is nothing new at this point, and id has been considering using it as part of their id Tech 6 engine.

A sparse voxel octree is basically a hierarchical structure for points in 3D space. The advantage of using a hierarchical structure is that you can stop looking at any time, and so zooming works very well: you just traverse the tree until you get so far down that further detail won't be visible, then you render. If the player moves closer, that simply means you'll go further down the tree, but you'll cover a smaller space so the load doesn't really change.

Now, the sparse voxel octree both gives and takes away. It enables detail at all scales, but since the structure is hierarchical (log n insertion and deletion, AFAIK), moving large numbers of points about is going to be really hard, not to mention actual deformation or changes of the objects themselves. One would probably use an SVO to show world detail: landscapes and "3D textures" - and then use simple polygon skeletons for collision detection, moving critters around, etc.

Sparse voxel octrees work, and they work very well on the kind of static-but-detailed data shown in the demos, so it seems quite likely that's what they're doing. But sparse voxel octrees aren't New And Revolutionary Unique Technology only available to the Australians here. Here's an nVidia demo, another demo (not by nV), and an example of the kind of tricks you can do by combining SVO and procedural generation.

Comment Re:Smeagol (Score 1) 722

(And remember, higher levels of taxation lead to lower levels of economic growth, and thus lower revenue generated to the government.)

Only if you're to the right of or at the optimal point on the Laffer curve. The supply-siders kept saying the US was to the right of it, again and again, but two can play that game. In truth, the Laffer curve probably looks like this, a chaotic mess at any significant distance from 0% or 100% taxation.

Comment Re:Why third-party candidacies don't work (Score 1) 291

Arrow proved that you can't make a perfect election system for more than two candidates. That doesn't mean every voting system that does exist is equally worthless.

Consider France, for instance. They use top-two runoffs, and they have more than two parties. While top-two doesn't really fit Arrow (as it's not a ranked ballot method), it probably doesn't pass the independence of irrelevant alternatives criterion, and so isn't a perfect method by Arrow's yardstick. Yet it works: it does permit multiple parties. That in itself means that some methods, while not perfect, are good enough.

Comment Re:Yawn (Score 1) 291

Instant runoff voting is so strange that moving a candidate higher on your ranked ballot can actually make him lose, whereas if you had kept him lower when you voted, he would have won. It could also neglect to choose the candidate that would win a hypothetical top-two runoff against every other candidate. Give me actual runoffs any day, or for ranked ballots, the method Wikimedia itself uses.

Comment Re:How about a smaller disc? (Score 1) 179

Let's see. Standard DVD size has a diameter of 120mm (radius = 60 mm). You want 1 in (25.4 mm). There's a center hole that's 15 mm in the DVD standard, so let's say it's shrunk to 8 mm. Then the area of the DVD sized disc is pi * (60^2 - 15^2), and of the small disc, pi * (25.4^2 - 8^2). The DVD sized disc has about 5.8 times the area of your smaller disc, so if they can get 500 GB on the big one, 80 GB on the small? Sounds good.

Comment Re:half agree (Score 1) 291

However, the record companies are not run by robotic automatons. They are run by humans and, quite frankly, as human beings, they should have the cognitive capacity to understand complex mental abstractions such as morality, healthy social balance, empathy, and temperance. Trying to earn a profit is not a morally corrupt quest. Trying to earn a profit at the expense and livlihood of your fellow human beings, and at the disruption of the society that you, yourself, are part of is downright stupid, if not flagrantly evil.

There's a selection pressure going on. If you have a sense of morality, you're not going to last long in such an environment, so you quit. Meanwhile, the people that don't have such compunctions keep working. Pretty soon all the moral people have been weeded out.

If the corporate optimization function is aligned for profit alone, then don't be surprised when the upper echelons of the companies get filled with people who care only about profit. In this respect, the sociopaths have an "evolutionary" (selective) advantage: they don't let their morals get in the way of the profit optimization. Thus they can optimize further than ordinary people can, and hence they're selected for. Doing something about that would involve altering the optimization ("fitness function"), but how?

Comment Re:Yes (Score 1) 342

Bioshock was basically System Shock 2's story set underwater, they had 10 years to come up with something semi-original.

And how blatantly so. Atlas is Polito, with the same twist. That makes Fontaine SHODAN and Ryan XERXES (and his splicers The Many). Tenenbaum is Delacroix (atoner). In this corner, we have some pipe hybrids, and over in that corner, some splicers, both zombies.
As for the game elements... stock up on elements in System Shock 2 and take pictures in Bioshock, then grab some cybermodules or ADAM. Can't do spooky action at a distance? No problem, hack some vending machines/vending machines and get some PSI hypos/EVE, then let 'er rip from your PSI-amp/arm.

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