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Comment Re:Presence of self-awareness (Score 1) 401

The question of self-awareness is not the same as the question of free will. A die, when thrown, exhibits all the necessary traits of free will at the macro level, (and at the quantum level when you get right down to it). But a software program may exhibit pseudo-free-will (analogous to pseudo-random) but not free will. And Q4 ("Can I predict my own decisions beforehand?")! Good grief, MRIs seem to show that we make decisions then find out what they are, not the other way around. That is, we make the decision BEFORE we are aware of the decision we made, then the knowledge of the decision bubbles to the top. (See pop-culture level story Brains scans can reveal your decisions 7 seconds before you decide).

Comment Wang, TROFF, LaTeX, Macs and Word (Score 2) 479

[greybeard alert] The WYSIWYG interface of the IBM Selectric was ugly, corrections were messy and revisions were time and money lost. We were more careful programming when we got one turn around a day and used punch cards, similarly, we were careful and detail oriented when creating a document took a specialist (a "secretary") to create and change it. When the first Wang CPT-like systems entered the staff (USAF) we quickly noted that documents suddenly had to be perfect, corrections weren't allowed and the curmudgeons like to complain about the change in focus from content to format. The hapless staff officer would run around with the 8" floppy with the electronic version of the document, and every little nit picked resulted in a new printing, offices revisited, and signatures. TROFF and TeX both seemed to let you focus on content (again), but it seemed that people spent so much time tweaking the layout that that dream was lost. WYSIWYG was supposed to fix that, but the quality of the theses my students turned in did not reflect that dream so much as their desire to dazzle with really fancy font and alignment and equations that were typeset soooo prettily, surround by words that did not seem to matter so much. For a while I was a bit of an HTML 3.0 is all you really need Luddite, and highly structured CSS seems like a jump three steps back (JMP *-3) in complexity just to try to get back to where we were when all you could do was size, bold and italic (or is that em?). Sheese, I'm going back to hand-written. Maybe even carved in stone or clay.

Comment SciAm site is another example (Score 1) 281

The SciAm site is often weighted down with trolly arguments that quickly seem to degenerate into fights between the two camps of True Believers. While this is NOT where science is being done, it is where opinions are being formed that in turn decide what science will get funding. I usually go to the source papers to avoid the opinion crap.

Comment Re:I do not understand why this is a story (Score 1) 740

Not all data follows the same path, did they have a shorter route so their trade arrived on the floor before the announcement arrived (in which case they traded locally illegally). I CANNOT WAIT to read transcripts of lawyers trying to explain, to a lay jury, simultaneity and event sequencing using Einstein-Minkowsky diagrams. See also this most excellent TED talk, How Algorithms Shape Our World explaining why some peoples data paths are better than others.

Comment Re:Wrong analogy (Score 1) 293

A pilot asked me if a helicopter could lift a 4 ton object if it had 4 x two-ton capable cables. 2x4=8 which is double the load weight. Not a bad engineering fudge factor, right? Wrong. The vagueries of the system are such that it is likely that each cable will at times have to carry the entire load, so each rope has to be at least 4 ton capable. Statics are actually dynamics, in the real world.

Comment Too big to Fail? (Score 1) 352

Has Google crossed the threshold where the government(s) need to either break it up or impose extraordinary controls? That is the theory behind trust-busting and the attempts to keep banks from growing too large, because if they fail, they can take the economy with them. Grow too big to fail, and suddenly you can no longer operate as if you are in a free market environment.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 476

This is the best description evah ... of course this is only half the problem. The other is that large investors, ones whose trades would move the market, have to replace their "I'll buy that apple" orders with "I'll buy one 1-millionth of an apple" (repeated 1M times) to foil the fleet footed fekkers.

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 476

The purpose of the market is to let firms raise capital for their use. The intermediate trading that occurs between IPO and buy-back is to reduce risk to the investor (who can move money to get out while the getting is good). HFT does not serve those purposes, it is the equivalent of scraping the edge of coins to gather the precious metal, which is why we used to put ridges on the edges of our coins (back when they were not fiat currency). The microtax will serve the same function, protecting the fundamentals.

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