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Comment Re:Sentient machines exist (Score 2) 339

No. We don't know *how*, but we know it can be done and is done every minute of every day by biological processes.

The knowing how is the problem. While there is little down that a human level AI could be built if we knew what to build, it is not clear that we are smart enough to come up with a design in any kind of directed fashion.

“If our brains were simple enough for us to understand them, we'd be so simple that we couldn't.”
  Ian Stewart, The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World

This is conjecture, of course but there is scant evidence against it. Some AI researchers have taken this philosophy or something similar to heart and propose that the only way to make real progress in AI is to reproduce the processes that lead to the human brain: random changes and selection pressure. The trouble is, even if it works and a human AI comes out of it (and it is no clear that we are even smart enough to provide the right selection process), it seems we would have little control and less understanding of the result. Benign but useless seems the most likely outcome.

Comment Security risk? (Score 5, Interesting) 322

Point of Sale systems usually operate under more controlled conditions than end user machines. Would these updates keep your XP machine plausibly secure or highly vulnerable to threats not considered serious to point of sale systems? What about vulnerabilities in components not present in POSReady 2009 but used in XP?

Comment Re:Raise the Price (Score 5, Insightful) 462

No, they can't. CA Regulations don't allow electric alternatives to be n% more than gas.

Citation needed. I looked through the regulation and I see no mention of requiring a certain price for ZEV's.

What it does require is that a certain % of the sales be of ZEV's. If they are change too much, they won't sell enough. This leads to two solutions:

1) Spend little on R&D for an electric vehicle. Sell it just cheap enough (at a loss if you have to) to meet the minimum requirement. Whine about it.
2) Put some effort and investment in developing an electric car that people will actually want with a manufacturing cost that leads to a price people are willing to pay. Refine the design over time so that it becomes that profit center that saves your bacon when the bottom inevitably drops out of the IC car market as the cost of gas heads toward the stratosphere.

Comment Bubble vs recession depends on who "we" are (Score 3, Insightful) 154

If any economic categorizations other than "normal" are appropriate than they are "depression" or "recession" rather than "bubble". I haven't perceived any significant change since 2008. Companies remain stingy. Unwilling to train. Unwilling to pay for the talent they need. Commonly using outsourced labor (which blows up in their face almost without fail). We work in an industry with extensive collusion among the major employers not to compete for employees (yes, this is still happening) and where no one is willing to form a union.

By what metric are we experiencing a bubble? Do we mean a negative bubble?

Technically we can't be in a recession because that is a macro economic term and the economy is growing. However, we can and are in situation where much of the economy is dragging. That is perfectly compatible with a tech bubble. Here in Silicon Valley (or, more properly the Bay Area since the focus has shifted toward San Francisco), there a many many startups raising large amounts amounts of money and chasing big ticket buyouts or IPO's with questionable business plans. Very frothy. However, it is only party time in the space of Internet and mobile services.

Network infrastructure? No. Telecom? No. Semiconductors? Are you serious? The only "hardware" startups that get funded are those that apply the absolute bare minimum of hardware and wrap a service around it. Outside the bubble, a few companies are doing well (like Apple) but, as you have observed, they haven't passed much down to the rank and file. I don't think it is as terrible as 2008 but it looks a lot more like 2008 than 1998.

Comment Re:My concern is far less esoteric (Score 1) 255

If self-driving cars ceed control back to the real driver when things get "interesting", without all the conditiioning that driving countless kilometers will the driver still be able to react competently? Or will it be like throwing inexperenced learner-drivers into the deep end?

Driving is a skill, and like any skill it needs to be practiced often to stop going rusty...

Returning control to a human would not necessarily mean giving control to the human in the car. You could imagine a team of remotely connected people whose job it is to drive under circumstances not anticipated by the software.

However, any kind of hand off can only be of a the slow to no speed variety. In any circumstances that requires a quick decision, the automation will have to carry though on it's own. There will not be time to recognize the alert, access the situation and react even if there is a skilled driver already sitting behind the wheel.

Comment Maybe the problem is the word "robot" (Score 4, Insightful) 255

Robots stores in Science Fiction are about powerful artificial sentient minds wrapped in an mobile and often human like container.

Robots in real life have been defined as machines with mechanical appendages that can programmed and reprogrammed for a variety of tasks. Their computational capabilities are seldom extraordinary and they usually don't even employ AI.

More recently, "robot" has also been used to describe machines with ai-like programming even if they are single function (like a robotic car).

When a word is used in three greatly different ways, should we be surprised that there is is confusion about that a "robot" can do?

Comment Re:Train Yourself, Peon (Score 2) 232

We want people to spend their own time and money to train the skills that we need. There's no way we would invest in such things -- it hurts the bottom line!

How daft! We do not want people who have trained themselves. If we wanted someone who learned technology outside of a corporate setting, we would hire someone straight out of college and we don't do that. We want other companies to train you.

Comment A slightly easier way to diet to a longer life (Score 3, Interesting) 66

From TFA:

By studying the mitochondria from cow heart cells, the researchers found that -KG blocks ATP synthase, thus turning down the cell’s metabolism.

Funny. You know what happens when you turn a cell's metabolism? It burns few calories. If you don't reduce calorie intake you get fat and suffer from a variety of obesity related illness that might kill you earlier than if you had not started taking the medication.

So in exchange for a possibly longer life you get to eat little and do little. Surprise, surprise! That is just like Calorie Restriction, albeit without the consistency requirement. That means you might actually achieve some benefit for the sacrifice rather than making the sacrifice, not getting it quite right, and getting no benefit.

Still, this doesn't sound like the fountain of youth. More like a prolonged living death.

Comment Re:Memory is more like dynamic RAM. (Score 1) 426

Not retrieving memories is what causes them to decay. Ever hear of refresh?

Actually, DRAM has both. Memory decays over time if not refreshed. Memory decays immediately when read. Whenever a page is opened, all the elements in that page copied to an internal buffer and the contents of the DRAM locations are lost. When a page is closed, the data is copied from the internal buffer back to DRAM.

It isn't obvious that wetwere memory actually decays or if old memories are simply re-compressed in a lossy fashion to make room for new memories.

Comment Re:Chip and Signature, not Chip and PIN (Score 1) 210

Most US cards being issued with a chip are Chip and Signature, not Chip and PIN -- because banks have trained Americans to think PIN means debit so banks fear applying a PIN to a credit card would confuse people.

Confuse or alarm? Perhaps it has changed but it used be that if you purchased using a credit card and used the PIN, the transaction went through as a cash advance with all the associated and onerous fees.

Comment Re:No screenshots (Score 1) 77

Screen is actually surprisingly useful.

You can throw jobs off to a "screen" instance that can run happily. Then, if you have to VPN in from home, you can grab the screen and pick up where you left off. Combine this with "nohup" and you can have jobs that run even when you log off, and you can regain console control from them at any time.

Why do you need nohup? Just detach and log off. Whatever jobs you have running on that screen will keep running and you can re-attach the next time you login from wherever that may be.

Really, the only time I use nohup is when I need to run a job detached on a system were screen is not installed. Usually this is preceded by a brief weighing of the pros and cons of fetching and installing screen for what seems like a one-time need.

Comment Re:Fermi paradox (Score 2) 608

answer: Space is really big.

A race could have populate half the galaxy's out there and we still wouldn't know.

Space is big but time is also vast. A civilization that build Von Neumann machines could occupy the entire galaxy is half a million years, even with travel at rather slow speeds.

And such a civilization could have arisen any time in last billion years.

Comment Re:Not really needed anymore. (Score 1) 410

Here's a question though: Who would you say is disadvantaged?

I ask because Princeton did a study and found that if they ended Affirmative Action, the number of black and latino students would drop significantly while the white students wouldn't materially increase. They did however estimate that four out of every five black and latino students would be replaced with an Asian student.

Aren't Asian's supposed to be among those disadvantaged? Because presently Affirmative Action seems to disadvantage them even further.

Asians are not among the disadvantaged. They have a higher median income than whites and that has been true since at least the 80's. Even if affirmative action controlled for the tendency of Asians to apply more to colleges, properly functioning affirmative action would still disadvantage Asians.

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