Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

Comment Meta moderation is gone? (Score 1) 23

I haven't seen meta-moderation in over a year, I suspect the functionality was deleted right around the time Slashdot was sold (and/or the "Beta" thing).

It's too bad, because no one other than Slashdot got that right. If you just let users mod things, then you get partisan bullshit and identity politics. If you vet and only allow reasonable users to mod (as decided by other users), then you do away with a lot of the problems.

This works mathematically when most people are reasonable and jerks are in the minority. Letting people mod will reduce the noise posts by some amount (say, 20% remain), but only letting meta-modded people mod posts will reduce it even further (20% of 20% remain).

Most sites simply either 1) allow comments, or 2) Allow comments and upvote/downvote. A lot of sites implemented commenting precisely because Slashdot was so successful at it - and then had to dump the ability because it filled with spam and trolls. They jumped on an internet fad and didn't implement it right.

Slashdot is in a unique position to actually improve their process using feedback, but management seems to regard it (Slashdot) as a chore, something to be tolerated.

They should sell the domain to someone who can properly care for it - such as Bruce Perens, if he's willing.

Comment Re:Duh, missing other data dimensions (Score 2) 160

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) 160

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) 160

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 Some questions (Score 4, Insightful) 143

"Facebook is a living, breathing crime scene for what happened in the 2016 election -- and only they have full access to what happened,"

A couple of questions here.

1) What crime, exactly, was committed?
2) Is Sandy Parakilas, the manager in question, more intelligent or better informed than the average person? (The average person with a full-time job not related to understanding political issues.)
3) It this another example of a liberal who still, 18 months later, can't get over the loss of her candidate and has made a shocking pronouncement to get viewer engagement and generally get noticed?

Is this really a problem?

No one worries about issues of propaganda when it was the MSM's version of fake news.

It's been over and done with for 18 months, Trump isn't literally Hitler, and the country is doing pretty well. All things considered, we seem to have chosen the better of two candidates.

Why is it such a big issue?

Comment Re:Normally I'm quite against biofuels (Score 1) 259

Look at the price of even a small nuclear power plant. Now look at the price on a Maersk Triple E. There's your answer.

It's just not economically justifiable. So far only one country (Russia) has even found it economically justifiable for icebreakers, which are about the most energy intensive task at sea you can get. As a general rule, reactors only go on ships when they must (when you need them to be deployed for long periods at a time - aka carriers, missile subs, etc)

Comment Re:Normally I'm quite against biofuels (Score 3, Interesting) 259

That would be great if the industry could react that fast, but it takes a lot longer than just a few years to convert a large portion of the world's total petroleum consumption from high sulfur sources to low sulfur sources. They're working on it, but there will be a supply-demand imbalance, and it will have financial consequences.

BTW, the IMO regulations come into effect at the start of 2020, not the end. Not much time left. The rule change was only announced this fall

It can also be dealt with, mind you, by installing scrubbers on ships - then they can still burn high sulfur fuel. But about 80% of shipping is expected to switch to lower sulfur crude, as the capital costs for ships to add scrubbers are quite high. There's another problem, in that the most affordable way to scrub sulfur from ship exhaust ends up dumping it into the sea... but then they're exposing themselves to a liability that years from now that might be banned and they'd have to undergo yet another retrofit.

Comment Normally I'm quite against biofuels (Score 5, Interesting) 259

But it's important to know that in 2020 a new low sulfur standard on bunker fuel is going to come into play. That's going to put shipping in direct competition with diesel for refinery output, and will likely create a significant crunch in that regard. The right time to have killed off biodiesel's subsidies is either "several years ago" or "after the market adjusts to the new low sulfur standards", not during the crunch / adaptation timeperiods.

I mean, you can make the diesel crunch worse if you want if you're willing to drive up commodities prices further in order to accelerate the transition to electric shipping. There's a logic there. But as far as timing goes, diesel is going to be in a tight spot as it is without taking a lot of alternative fuel off the market.

Comment Re:No jurisdiction (Score 1) 350

Since eliminating Obama's rules results in the cessation of Title II and since Congress has decreed Title II be administered, if the FCC won't then it is entirely legal for others to.

Since State Rights apply to all things the Federal government refuses to assume authority over, State Rights apply here. These override the FCC concerns because the FCC has decided it has no authority and is therefore not a concerned party.

Slashdot Top Deals

Suggest you just sit there and wait till life gets easier.