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Ray Kurzweil Responds To PZ Myers 238

On Tuesday we discussed a scathing critique of Ray Kurzweil's understanding of the brain written by PZ Myers. Reader Amara notes that Kurzweil has now responded on his blog. Quoting: "Myers, who apparently based his second-hand comments on erroneous press reports (he wasn't at my talk), [claims] that my thesis is that we will reverse-engineer the brain from the genome. This is not at all what I said in my presentation to the Singularity Summit. I explicitly said that our quest to understand the principles of operation of the brain is based on many types of studies — from detailed molecular studies of individual neurons, to scans of neural connection patterns, to studies of the function of neural clusters, and many other approaches. I did not present studying the genome as even part of the strategy for reverse-engineering the brain."

Comment Re:Yes and no (Score 3, Funny) 338

I immediately bought an RFID blocking wallet.

You mean you lined it with tinfoil? Yeah, me too. I've also got a stylish hat and matching suit made of the same material. The underwear is a little itchy at times, but you'll get used to it.

Comment Re:Because the Article Breaks Down the Claim Fully (Score 1) 830

I'd like to point out that it's not even to the level of what a newborn can do...there's quite a bit of syanptic plasticity that occurs throughout development (much of which we're just starting to understand thanks to environmental toxins), and there's two separate stages of neuronal dieback that occur - one before birth, and the other right around birth. 90% of the neurons end up dead, and it's not a signal encoded in the genome (well, the pro and anti-apoptosis genes are part of the genome, but they're activated by environmental signals). Specifically, neurons which are not being used die. Kurzweil would have a system with an order of magnitude more neurons than it needs, and those neurons are going to generate more noise in his system than a rock band playing next to a patch-clamp recorder.

Following this line of dieback+plasticity logic, I'd be more inclined to suggest that "strong AI" is not likely to come around from trying to understand the role of every gene in the genome (that's the holy grail of biology), but rather to come about from an artificial neural network trained via dieback and backpropagation (backpropagation is fairly similar to LTP seen in biological systems). But, I'm no expert.

Games

Too Much Multiplayer In Today's Games? 362

hornedrat writes "Gamepro discusses the idea that modern games put too much emphasis on multiplayer, and that players aren't as concerned about it as developers think. 'The current environment encourages developers to unnecessarily toss multiplayer into their games without caring about it — or even considering whether anyone will bother playing it. It’s like they're checking an invisible quota box that demands multiplayer's inclusion.' Personally I agree that too much emphasis is placed on competitive multiplayer. I play online, but only with my brother in games that allow co-operative modes, like Rainbow Six: Vegas and ARMA 2. 'My point isn't that developers shouldn't try and conquer Halo or Call of Duty. We'd never have any progress in this industry if developers didn't compete. Game companies, however, should think carefully about what they want their games to be, and more important, gamers should consider what they want. If a developer wants to eclipse Halo, then by all means, pour that effort into a multiplayer mode that's different.' I would be interested to know how many gamers really care about the multiplayer components of the games they buy."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Crytek Dev On Fun vs. Realism In Game Guns 324

An anonymous reader tips a post from Pascal Eggert, a gun enthusiast and Crytek developer, who sheds some light on how weaponry in modern shooters is designed. Quoting: "Guns in games are like guns in movies: it is all about looks, sounds and clichés. Just like in the movies, games have established a certain perception of weapons in the mind of the public and just like in movies games get almost everything wrong. ... The fact is that we are not trying to simulate reality but are creating products to provide entertainment. ... if you want to replicate the looks of something you need to at least see it, but using it is even better. You should hold a gun in your hands, fire it and reload it to understand what does what — and at that point you will realize, there is nothing on it that does not have a function — because guns are tools for professionals. Lot of weapon designers in the game industry get that wrong. They think of guns like products for consumers or magic devices that kill people at a distance when really it's just a simple and elegant mechanism that propels little pieces of metal. Unfortunately 3D artists often only get access to the photos that Google Image Search comes up with if you enter 'future assault rifle' or, even worse, pictures from other games and movies that also got it wrong. This may explain a lot of common visual mistakes in games, especially since guns are mostly photographed from the side and egoshooters show weapons from the first person view." This article is drawn from his personal experience in the game industry. The images shown are Pascal's personal work and are not related to his work at Crytek.

Comment Re:Won't bode well with the gaming community... (Score 2, Insightful) 462

Huh. I don't think you're seeing a representative sample of the gaming community. I think the majority of gamers, even on the PC, are willing to fork over cash for DLC. (Slashdot is not a representative sample, and neither are the modding forums I frequent. Visit some Steam forums, or Fileshack, or pretty much any non-technical gaming forum, and you'll see that the overwhelming opinion is that people are willing to pay for DLC, as long as it's more elaborate than horse armor.

Oh, you'd probably like a source for this. Go here, click on top sellers. That's right, the best-selling game at the moment is the one where Activision charges suckers $15 for 5 maps. Factor in the cost of bandwidth, and that works out to be, oh, a pretty freaking good deal for Activision.

P.S. I wish you were right.

Comment Re:hmmm (Score 2, Insightful) 235

OK, TFA has absolutely no details, but I think all it's doing is recording information about the demographic that looks at the billboard, thus allowing the billboard owner to say: "57% of the people looking at this billboard are male, 18-35 years old" and then pick an appropriate ad for the space.

The issue with this, of course, is that if you have a billboard showing some iteration of rule 34, a certain demographic is going to look, and you'll get the impression that only this demographic looks at ads, and then show more ads targeted to this demographic (lolcats) when in fact (hypothetically) there is a much larger entire demographic (say, 65+ women) walking by that doesn't stare because they don't care about lolcats. Maybe they just have a blank wall to get a sense of whose walking by before they show any ad? Or maybe this is just to get a sense of how many people are actually seeing the ad?

I don't know, this seems like a case of over-engineering, privacy issues aside ("operators have promised they will save no recorded images" yeah right).

Comment Re:even worse (Score 1) 433

Can you provide a citation for any of that? Frankly, I'd be shocked if the government were able to do anything that competent. Besides the obvious constitutional violations, you'd almost need a strong AI to accomplish that type of deep packet inspection. Also, wouldn't simple encryption (that any terrorist group would probably be using) render a system like that worthless?

Comment Re:I feel sad. (Score 1) 601

As someone with experience, right now (dial-up at home).

Ad-block plus is a must have, no-script is essential, I haven't even loaded a picture in months.

Once in a while, a site won't work without some stupid JavaScript, and I'm reduced to choosing between waiting 15-20 minutes to load the page, or looking for information elsewhere.

Email is fine if you just use POP3, but if you're trying to do more than read message boards online, it's impossible.

Patches for the OS, programs, and games are impossible except via sneakernet.

Anyone know how I go about getting a refund for the cash I contributed to the 200 billion the teclos got?

Classic Games (Games)

OpenTTD 1.0.0 Released 107

Gmer writes "Eming.com reports that OpenTTD, the open source clone of the Microprose game Transport Tycoon Deluxe, has reached a milestone. OpenTTD 1.0.0 has been released 6 years after work started on the first version, with the help of hundreds of contributors and thousands of testers/players. Over 30 language translations are considered complete, and OpenTTD is available for *BSD, Linux, Solaris and Windows. OpenTTD is a business simulation game in which the player is in control of a transport company and can compete against rival companies to make as much profit as possible by transporting passengers and various goods by road, rail, sea or air."

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