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Comment You Can Do Something About It (Score 5, Interesting) 272

Yes, emotionally manipulative language is effective, but it doesn't have to be. Train yourself to look for it, and then choose to reject it. When you see someone appealing to your emotions instead of your reason, recognize what they're doing and call them out for it. That's especially true when they're saying things you agree with, because that's when you're most vulnerable to manipulation. We each have the responsibility to reject people who try to manipulate our emotions and tell them that's not acceptable. We also have the responsibility not to stoop to doing it ourselves. If your arguments are sound, they can stand on their own without emotionally manipulative language. If you find you can't make your arguments sound convincing without it, that's a pretty good clue there's something wrong with them.

Comment Doesn't interrupt my schedule (Score 3, Informative) 52

If someone emails me, I can deal with it whenever it's convenient for me. If they phone me, I'm supposed to deal with it right that moment, no matter what I was in the middle of when they interrupted me. Or I can let it go to voicemail, but that's way less convenient to check than email.

Comment Talking to the investors (Score 1) 193

Don't take public statements by CEOs too literally. Anything they say in public is directed at investors. What kind of CEO is going to say in public, "I don't think we can compete, Apple/Amazon/whoever is going to come in and crush us?" Even if they're really worried, they have to sound confident to keep up the stock price. And then (if they're good), they make plans for how they'll either try to compete or, if that doesn't work, sell out to the giant company instead.

Comment Typical Slashdot flamewar (Score 1) 438

No discussion about anything related to politics (or often even not related to politics) can get far on Slashdot without degenerating into insults and name calling and arguments about whether it's the left or the right that's totally evil and wants to suppress free speech.

This is a complicated issue. If you think it can be reduced to a simple liberals vs. conservatives, that means you don't understand it. There are real concerns about people who've had their free speech blocked, and there's a legitimate desire to do something about that. There also are real concerns that this bill could be abused to prevent universities from taking stands on climate change, evolution, or anything else someone doesn't want them to talk about. Free speech is both really important and really hard to get right, especially when protecting one person's freedom of speech has the effect of restricting someone else's freedom of speech.

Insults do nothing to promote thoughtful discussion. But if anyone cares to offer their own proposal for how to protect everyone's right to speak out, that would be valuable.

Comment Re:No (Score 4, Interesting) 808

> Python has JIT-compiling these days, and thus, like Java, can potentially run faster than static-compiled programs.

Not really. CPython, which is what most people use, is just interpreted. Sure Pypy has a JIT, but it's not that useful because so many libraries don't work with it. And even Pypy is still pretty slow compared to Java. That's not because the authors are bad at writing compilers. It's because Python as a language is really badly suited to JIT compilation.

I'm a big fan of Python and I use it a lot, but I don't think it is or should be "the dominant language". It's good for certain things (single use scripts, chaining together libraries written in other langauges), but bad for others (anything that has to be fast, big code bases with lots of interacting parts). And long term, I think more modern languages like Swift and Kotlin "should" win out. They combine the benefits of Python (fast to write code) with the benefits of Java or C++ (faster execution, static typing).

Comment Re: No, because meaningful whitespace (Score 1) 808

Lots of languages use significant whitespace. C and C++ do, for example. They're just less consistent about it than Python. For example, the preprocessor uses line breaks to indicate end of line, unlike most of the language that uses semicolons. And you can't put a line break in the middle of a string literal, because that's another place where it's inconsistent and treats whitespace as significant. Even things like having to write "vector<vector<int> >". Notice the space I had to insert between the two >'s? Without that, some compilers interpret it as the >> bit shift operator.

There's nothing wrong with significant whitespace, as long as it's done consistently and produces readable code. Python does it well. C++ does it badly.

Comment Re:If it's the left, just a narrative will do. (Score 1) 119

I assume (hope?) you meant that to be funny, but even so, the irony of your answer is remarkable.

The OP asked a serious question, looking for facts from people who actually know about a subject. You replied with an answer that contained no facts at all. In fact, you said things that are obviously, objectively false. You did that to score political points. Or to put it differently, you just posted made up "facts" based on the narrative you want to promote.

Now reread your post. Do you see the irony?

Comment Re:Government vs Private Sector (Score 1) 163

That's half true. Until ten years ago, very few companies spent much money on AI. For 50 years it was mostly just the domain of government funded academics. Without all those decades of government support, it wouldn't have reached the point where companies started finding it useful and investing in it themselves.

On the other hand, the government wasn't really "picking winners and losers." No one knew which one AI would turn out to be. It was interesting and promising enough to justify continued investment, and it was really cheap to do compared to some other types of research. That's where government funding tends to excel: early stage research that might or might not turn into anything, and companies aren't willing to take a risk on it, but it also could be really big if it works out.

But I'd agree that at least some areas of AI research are now past that point. Companies are pouring money into it, and if the government stops supporting it, that won't affect them much. The risk is that we'll miss the next big advance, one of the things companies still consider too far out there to invest in.

Comment Re:AI is not a wise thing to spend money on (Score 4, Insightful) 163

The problem is that you misunderstand what "artificial intelligence" means. John McCarthy, the person who coined the term in 1956, defined it as making machines "behave in ways that would be called intelligent if a human were so behaving." It explicitly does not require machines to be sentient. It does not require the machine to follow the same "thought processes" that a human would when performing that action. When a human plays chess, or translates a document into a different language, or drives a car down a street while obeying traffic laws and not hitting anything, everyone agrees they are displaying intelligence. Therefore when a computer does the same thing, that counts as artificial intelligence. That's been the standard definition of the term for the last 60 years.

If you want a computer to be sentient, that's something completely different. We're nowhere near being able to do that. We aren't even sure how to define what that would mean. But that isn't what the term "artificial intelligence" means.

Comment Re:"The booming field of artificial intelligence"? (Score 1) 49

Yes, you missed something. AI (or more accurately, deep learning) is everywhere now. Talk to your phone and it recognizes what you say? That's done with a neural network. Go to YouTube and it recommends some videos you might want to watch? That's another neural network (actually two of them). Google Translate? All done with deep learning now. Upload a photo to Facebook and it tags the people in it? More neural networks. The field is booming, and lots of companies are designing special hardware to accelerate it.

Comment But not Slashdot! (Score 1) 60

Maybe Slashdot could use a bit of this. It's the most amazingly painful site when I load it on my phone. The page appears, and then I have to wait for ten seconds while it keeps jumping around before I can start reading. Every time it finishes loading another ad the whole page reformats. That's the sort of garbage AMP is meant to fix.

Comment Google, Microsoft (Score 1) 269

The problem with avoiding Google is that their search engine really is the best. I mostly try to use other ones that respect privacy, but if they aren't giving me the information I want I'll switch over to Google, because it really does work best.

I don't own a Windows computer, but I sometimes have to use Windows at work. That's true for a lot of people.

Amazon is easy to avoid. Anything they sell, you can also get from lots of other online stores.

Apple is easy to avoid, as long as you aren't also avoiding Google and Microsoft. If you can't use either Android or iOS, that's hard. If you can't use either Windows or macOS, that's hard. (I know, use Linux, but that isn't always a good option.)

I already don't use Facebook, so I guess that's easy. I know, I'm making it harder for myself to keep up with friends. Just like in the old days before we had social networks. That's a choice I've made.

So you can avoid any of these companies, but do you want to? I avoid Facebook because they're evil, and I avoid Windows when I can because I dislike it. I don't try to avoid Apple or Google, except that I try to limit how much information Google knows about me. And I use Amazon a lot. They aren't a monopoly, they just have a great selection of products at reasonable prices with good customer service. You can shop other places, but most people default to Amazon for good reasons.

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