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Comment Which calender? (Score 1) 296

This frustrates me. If you go by the Jewish calender, or any of the other pre-Gregorian ones, the date doesn't match.

Time, as we measure it, at least, is entirely a human construct. The idea that a second is a fundamental unit of the universe contains tenuous scientific assumptions.

Numerology is bunk. Worse, trying to find metaphysical (or even non-metaphysical) content in a system that is completely made up and has no foundation in any kind of science is nuts.

In the calender of my life, today is the 13th day, of the 13th son, of the 13th /. comment I've ever made. The world will come to an end tomorrow. Guaranteed. All the omens say so.


Comment Predicting the future (Score 1) 465

Any time I see a scientist (or any other 'pundit') predicting the future, I automatically assume the opposite of what they say will be true. The only guaranteed way to be wrong in life is to specify something about the future. Bill Gates saying 64k is all anyone will ever need in RAM or whatever, for instance.

Worse, and akin to what some people are arguing above...this sounds old and tired, to me. Someone giving up on a lifelong dream. Hawking has done a lot of great things in his life, but, to me, one of the greatest has always been inspiring other people with his love of science and his passion for knowledge. To say that humanity will never do something, given the practical infinity of time seems defeatist and...sad to me.

I think the theory of everything is one of the most important pursuits in science. Whether or not it is possible, rational, logical or what...it's already spurred massive amounts of research (LHC, etc) that has/will pay dividends in commercial, medical, or merely cool ways. It's the same argument I always have about the space program. Yes, it'll never be cool as Star Trek, at least not for a couple thousand years, but our need to explore, to climb, to name, to learn might be the thing that keeps us alive as a species. When we lose that...then I would expect extinction to be a natural outcome.


Comment 10 years of practice... (Score 1) 384

Remember under Windows 3.2 and 95 (and 98 and ME) icons would move around on the desktop every time you rebooted? It was like one of those bio-simulation games of life sometimes. Your icons made clover leaves and crosses randomly on your desktop.

Personally, I never see my desktop, but I check it every once in a while, because my icons breed and reproduce on there when I'm not looking, somehow and three months go by and there's 50 of them.


Comment Re:If Trekkies and Jedi can work together (Score 1) 631

I think your god spends way too much time paying attention to what consenting adults are doing in bed. It's a little creepy, frankly. My mom taught me that it wasn't polite to eavesdrop. My ex-girlfriend taught me it sometimes was, if you were invited. But the invitation seems to be a crucial part of human social interactions.


Comment Debian (Score 1) 417

I ran an apache webserver +clam av + spamassassin + qmail/squirrelmail on a pentium 233mhz box with 32 mb ram and about 5gig of HD space. That was Sarge, I think. But it ran beautiful for 2-3 years, every day, as a webserver for work. Then the drive seized solid. But? When did they last make 233's? 1995 or so? Pretty good run for it.


Comment Re:Psychology? (Score 1) 270

My thinking is, there are a ton of experiments we could do, that you can't do on a human. Anything that harms their development, etc, is outlawed for ethical reasons. With this, you could do that. It doesn't actually have to be that close to a human being to give us more knowledge. Just closer than a rat is. That's all it takes to give us valuable insight.

We could find out what kind of nurture makes people addicts, or sex offenders, or killers, or wife beaters, or whatever else. You could craft a person who was any of those things. And then simply erase the damage any time you wanted.


Comment Psychology? (Score 1) 270

Whether the video is a fake or not, this kind of constructed persona offers some pretty cool opportunities to study human development.

Imagine if you could raise him to be a sociopath? The insights that would lend us to prevent that happening to real people would be awesome.

All of the experiments that need to be done, or would be helpful to do, that we can't do because of human testing ethics could be done.

Whether it works or not, right now, it is definitely a step toward nurtured personality growth. That's just cool no matter if it works yet or not.

It doesn't even have to be any kind of 'true' AI. As long as it is more similar to the way a human subject reacts than a lab rat or monkey. And in 20 years (probably more like 5) once the momentum of investment and invention in the field gets established it could open whole new vistas for humanity. That's pretty awesome.


Comment Re:What not where (Score 1) 508

What if Queen Isabella had said to Christopher Columbus "What's the point of going there, just to plant the flag?" Obviously it is not that simple, but...don't discount the human need to climb the highest mountain, or kill the biggest mammoth (or bag the hottest girl) in the equation. It's present and an important part in history. Since this is actually, at this time, mostly a political question, it is especially important to consider it, I think.

That said, I completely agree with the rest of your post.:)


Comment Re:Not sure about evolution... (Score 2, Insightful) 201

Actually, I wrote a report about this for an Anthro class once. The advantage of "modern" humans, over homo erectus was "organization". Homo Erectus had a (20%) bigger brain (for whatever that means), massed ~20kg more than the average modern human, and was generally better established in the area.

Cro-Magnon man gathered resources and brought them to a central location, while Neanderthal went to the resources and used them there. Whether Erectus was wiped out, assimilated, or whatever, obviously organization requires communication, and it provided enough of an evolutionary advantage that Neanderthal lost.


Comment Re:If only. (Score 1) 468

The American government has a long and dishonorable history of rule-by-fear. This isn't politics, per se. It is governance.

Like the 'hide under your desk' nuclear drills of the 60s-70s. Or the 'we might have to draft', about the 100 hour long 1991 Gulf War.

As long as I tell you that the guy over there in that room will shoot you, you'll do anything I want, accept any irrational rule or condition I put in place, in order to get 'here'. Even if you told people that guy over there has 123,000 people in the room with him and he's only going to shoot one a year, and our 'safe haven' causes 10 people a year to be crushed by overcrowding, they'd still jump through hoops and accept ridiculous restrictions for the illusion of safety.

The anti-terrorism security in place is the moral (and practical) equivalent of telling a nervous father-to-be to go boil water and get towels. It's an old trick in first aid/crisis situations too. You give the people who are freaking out direction, rules, boundaries...and they're okay and can act competently within those boundaries. It doesn't matter if the orders even make sense. As long as they have direction and feel like someone is doing something, they feel safe.

Sorta like a sheep...


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