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Comment Re:This got modded up? (Score 1) 208

Stross has more than once (now) decided that he didn't like the was a series was going, and ended it. It's not exactly writer's block, because he wrote something else instead, but it still ended the series.

In the "Singularity Sky" series he decided that he couldn't avoid the bad guy's winning in the third volume, so he just decided to stop with "Iron Sunrise". In the "Halting State" series, Scotland was an independent country. Most of his outrageous ideas kept happening (so far "Athena" hasn't yet shown up). Etc. So he decided that he didn't like how it was going. And he's declared it ended. (A pity. Those were my two favorite series of his.)

Comment Re:On Other Dimensions (Score 1) 433

Sorry, but a dimension is actually more general than that. In some datasets, e.g., color might be a dimension.

Generally when we aren't being special and particular we want to use dimension to something that varies independently of other dimensions, and which as a continuous range of values. This is why it's quite reasonable to consider time as a dimension, as well as up-down, left-right, and forward-back, but weight is also sometimes worth considering as a dimension, and size can have dimensions independent of centroid.

Where things get strange is where we start considering extra spatial dimensions. Time seems to get in to the mix honestly, but most other dimensions are shucked off. So one is left with 4 observable space-time dimensions. But the math seems to want there to be more...but there's no obvious physical interpretation. I actually think the best thing to do is to say "These are things that the math wants. They are very like things from the math that are normally interpreted as spatial dimensions, but it's not really clear how you should interpret them. They almost always, however, drop out when you solve the equations for anything that you'll encounter, so you don't really need to interpret them."

Comment Re:so does this mean.... (Score 1) 433

Was there ever any serious doubt that the halting problem and Godelian limits applied to minds?

I've occasionally run across people who seemed to think so, but I always thought they were being unreasonable.

OTOH, this may also imply that there is no way to do FTL, that wormholes will not be stabilizable, etc. And it seems as if it would put strict bounds on how powerful quantum computer algorithms could be.

Comment Re:Oh, it's a lot older than that. (Score 3, Interesting) 433

There WERE a lot of REALLY STUPID ideas and health practices. But the worst ones didn't adversely affect the practitioners. There was a lot of "evolution" going on before there were reasonable models, where people would come up with ideas almost at random, and the ones that killed (or adversely affected) their practitioners didn't tend to get transmitted on. But high status people could adopt practices that were frequently lethal to low status people with very little adverse affect, and because they were high status the ideas would tend to persist.

Consider, e.g., the doctors who used to pride themselves on not washing their hands. For that matter, Aristotle decided that women had fewer teeth than men, and this was accepted as truth up through, I think, the 1500's. It didn't have much bad effect, but it's an example of high status individual and a totally arbitrary idea.

Comment Re:so does this mean.... (Score 2) 433

Naa. A much easier answer is that the simulation of the mind has only a limited amount of introspection capability.

Actually, that's true irrespective of whether the apparent physical universe has "grounded" existence. You decide whether to move your fingers, and how, before you are aware of the action. My theory is that consciousness evolved out of a need to serialize experiences in order to index them for storage and retrieval. The actual physical universe (whether or not it's a simulation) is massively parallel WRT consciousness. What we CAN be aware of is only a fraction of what we physically experience. So the universe that we experience is guaranteed to be a simulation, irrespective of whether the containing physical universe is itself a simulation.

The other alternative is Solipsism, which strikes me as a rather useless belief, even if it *IS* consistent with all available evidence.

Comment Re:A projection of what? (Score 1) 433

Well, to be fair, math isn't science. Math is a system of statements. It may be complete, it may be consistent, but it can't be both. Not if it can describe very much.

A particular set of math statements can have in interpretation that can describe an interface between the math and the physical universe. This interpretation can be either true or false. The math can only be either correct or incorrect. (i.e., 1 + 3 = 5 is incorrect in most systems of math. You could design one in which it was correct. Say a bounded set of integers where all numbers >= 4 had the same value. It might not be useful for much.)

So. When you have an interpretation of a system of math, it can be a bijective isomorphism to some abstraction from the physical world. Then if you observe something in the physical world, it should be derivable from the math. (If, that is, you have an appropriate rule of inference. And example of a place where we don't is radioactive decay.) And if you derive something from the math, you should be able to observe it in the physical world (if you can perform the experiment). If either of these fails, then you know that either you made a mistake in the math, or that the isomorphism was incorrectly assumed to apply.

The science part is taking predictions and validating them, and the making observations and deriving them. The math isn't science. the interpretation isn't science (that's more philosophy).

So. To me this looks like math, not like science. There's a close relationship, but it's not the same thing.

Comment Re:A projection of what? (Score 4, Interesting) 433

What do you mean it was proven wrong? It never was, and it hasn't been yet. It probably can't be. (Well, except in the sense that Newtonian Mechanics was wrong.)

What was proven was that the heliocentric theory was a lot easier to calculate. And you didn't need to keep adding on as many special correction factors each time the instruments improved. So now we're doing relativity and quantum mechanics, and they are just means of calculation. Relativity doesn't really define an interpretation, and Quantum Mechanics is consistent with multiple different interpretations. The different interpretations seem quite different when described in English, but the math is exactly the same. You can't chose between the multi-world interpretation and Solipsism on the basis of evidence, you need to choose on the basis of philosophical biases.

Just consider, Relativity talks about bent spaces, but in what direction is space bent? Well, that's not clear. Perhaps saying bent is just something to enable you to understand that what we're really talking about is lengths being longer in one direction than in another, but that's just gibberish. You CAN'T translate Relativity into English and have it really make sense, any more than quantum mechanics. The last one you could "pretty much" do that with was Newtonian Mechanics, and if you really think carefully about that, you also find places where you must follow the math rather than reason. Just try to think carefully about what an infinitesimal means, or an imaginary number. You can't. You're just used to them, so you slide over the places where they are incomprehensible.

FWIW, I don't understand pre-Newtonian mechanics well enough, but I'm rather certain that they had equally incomprehensible places. Think of Cantor's proofs, and then try to imagine what it means to paint one copy of the interval of real number red and another blue. Or Zeno's paradoxes.

Comment Re:See what you have done, NSA ? (Score 4, Funny) 208

Dear Batman,

          Since I don't believe in Santa Claus, could you take a break from patrolling Gotham to dismantle the evil NSA and put those responsible for it in Arkham Asylum?
I'm convinced the Penguin is behind it, due to the scope, peril and nuisance involved. Lotta tuxedos in the D.C. and burbs area. The proliferation of clowns in the White House/Capitol Hill/Lincoln Memorial areas would suggest that the Joker has been masquerading as President for years now. Could you rid us of these fiends and their henchmen?

Comment Re:Kinda, sorta extortion. Maybe... (Score 1) 252

I don't think that's the distinction. If I charge you money not to burn down your resturant, I'm not stopping doing something, I'm continuing to not do something. But it's still extortion.

IIUC, blackmail is the threat to do something to you unless you do something. But that shades into extortion without a dividing line that I can see. Perhaps they are two terms for the same thing. (I.e., perhaps extortion is the legal term, and blackmail is the journalistic term. That could produce the shades of difference in meaning that I feel as being present.)

Comment Re:Hey Mr. "Open Book" anonymous jackass (Score 1) 252

No. That, also, would be coercive. But one being nude was allowed in public as well as in private, yes.

FWIW, in cold weather I don't want to be nude. In hot weather, I often do. But there are sanitary reasons why total nudism is often a poor idea. We live in densely packed social clusters, so sanitary concerns are appropriate. Please, however, note that this NEVER applies to photos.

That said, it should be (and I think is) a copyright violation to post a photo of someone without their explicit written permission. And of course, extortion is not acceptable, even if it's just a picture of someone eating hotdogs. (Not that I imagine you could demand much for such a picture...that's irrelevant.)

Comment What if it "breaks"? (Score 1) 617

Assuming you live in the UK, and that the law says you have to send it back to them, what's to prevent the recipient from just smashing the PS Vita to bits and shipping that back? Are there any UK laws that say you are responsible for the safetly and security of unordered merchandise?

That wouldn't be the nicest thing to do, per se, but I don't see how anyone has any more responsiblity for keeping an unrequested item safe. It could also be stolen in the mean time. What then?

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