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Comment Re:Patent troll? (Score 3, Insightful) 259

The problem with that seems to be they would have to guess the commercial value of a patent in advance. If they guess too high, they end up paying large amounts of money for the privilege of a worthless patent. If they guess too low, and their patent becomes immensely valuable, other companies can license it from them at rock-bottom prices. Imagine if copyrights worked like that and you had to guess how many books you would sell before getting a copyright...

Comment Re:Ah! (Score 1) 354

I don't agree. I replaced the original analysis (a "smart room") with a different analysis (a smart human who designed the room). However, the fact that the room is not considered smart in that particular case doesn't prove that rooms (or computers, or whatever) can't be considered smart in general. You would just need to create a different example that shows the computer to be smart. That shouldn't be hard, given my first premise, that we're only dealing with thought experiments and not real experiments, so really you can prove anything you like.

Comment Re:Ah! (Score 1) 354

There are two main problems with the Chinese room experiment. 1. Thought experiments don't really prove things, only real experiments do. 2. John Searle ignored the person who created the room, who did most of the intellectual work, making the rest derivative and predictable. It is the person who created the room who is the real intellect there, not the room itself or the person manipulating symbols inside the room. It is the room's creator who solved the general class of problem of language translation in a manner superior to the present entire output of humankind, and who therefore deserves the label "intelligent" more than the room itself. It's as though I were having a discussing with Searle and I say, "You should read this book, it's intelligent." and he replies, "What's so intelligent about it? Ink? Glue? Dead tree matter? The book-binder or person who sold you the book, perhaps?" "No," I would reply, "when I say a book is intelligent, I mean it's author is intelligent, not the book itself!" Likewise, the creator of the Chinese room, were such a person to exist, would be more intelligent than the room itself, although the room itself would admittedly be impressive in its own right. The room would not need to display "understanding", because that need would have been eliminated by its creator, who somehow reduced the problem of general understanding to one of rote mechanization.

Comment Re:I dunno... (Score 1) 776

Possible reasons for their failure: 1. Fizzbuzz contains a hidden trap. The cases are given to you in a different order than in what order you are supposed to apply them. If you apply the cases as given, the 15 test comes last and fails, because it is silently passed over due to being redundant to the other cases. 2. The applicants probably thought the problem looked simple and didn't test their code. They assumed that it worked. Or the tester took the first invocation of their program as their final answer, depriving them of the opportunity for trial and error that professionals do in practice. 3. Most of the applicants were probably college grads, not professional programmers. Classes probably accept their code if it is close enough and don't ask them to fix it. Anyway, college is not a coding factory, to drill them in basic coding technique, but a place to learn discipline and concepts.

Comment HFT versus self-driving car analogy (Score 1) 395

It's funny how Slashdot, which is so against computer-automated HFT, is equally in favor of the self-driving car. Consider what would happen if, due to some unrecognized design flaw, all the self-driving cars of the world were to crash at once. The resulting mash-up would put stock market flash crashes to shame... Anything can be automated and scaled up, including disasters. At least with HFTs, it's just someone's retirement savings that is getting crushed.

Comment Why is hardware different than software? (Score 1) 602

We already have completely automated production of software in the IT industry, i.e., we effortlessly create millions of copies of our product with the push of a button and no manual labor required. And yet there is still full employment of computer programmers, in design rather than in production. Why should the hardware industry be any different? Isn't hardware design an endlessly difficult and varied problem, just like software?

Comment Re:Exactly. (Score 1) 529

Your comments remind me of the famous quote by George Bernard Shaw: "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." Or as I would put it, if RMS is the backbone of the free software world, it is more important that he be stiff than that he be flexible.

Comment Why don't they just start their own university? (Score 1) 716

Having considered the options presented here, I just thought of an alternative to college. Just imagine if the big tech companies got together and started their own online university solely devoted to STEM majors. That would include Microsoft, Google, Apple, IBM, Facebook, Yahoo!, etc. In between them they are sitting on more than $100 billion of cash, which is enough to start an Ivy-league university of their own. They could disrupt higher education and supply themselves with plenty of STEM graduates that meet their needs as employees, in addition to funding research through a college-like organization. They could work their way through the accreditation process so that it is a "real" degree and not just a collection of online classes. And they could make use of it for their own ongoing employee education. Just think of the possibilities...

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