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Video Learn About the FRDCSA 'Weak AI' Project (Video) 52

Today's interviewee, Andrew Dougherty, has a Web page that says he is " autodidact mathematician and computer scientist specializing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Algorithmic Information Theory (AIT). He is the founder of the FRDCSA (Formalized Research Database: Cluster Study & Apply) project, a practical attempt at weak AI aimed primarily at collecting and interrelating existing software with theoretical motivation from AIT. He has made over 90 open source applications, 400 (unofficial) Debian GNU/Linux packages and 800 Perl5 modules (see" Tim Lord says Andrew's project "brings together a lot of AI algorithms, collects large sets of data for those algorithms to chew on, and writes software to do things like ... guide your whole life." As you might guess, Andrew occupies a pretty far edge of the eccentric programmer world, as you'll see from this video (and transcript). He calls himself "a serious Stallmanite" (his word), and has chosen the GPL for his software in the hopes that it will therefore help the greatest number of people. (Speaking of help, he's looking for interesting data sets and various "life rules" that can be integrated with his planning software, and one of the reasons he presented at the recent YAPC::NA was to solicit help in putting his hundreds of Perl modules onto CPAN.)

Comment Would you do it? (Score 1) 383

Suppose we'd have the chance to upload ourselves into an AI. Let's say, a reasonably powered computer capable of emulating a large and well structured human brain, including backups, spare hardware, etc. Would you do it? Replace your human body and brain for an AI construct?

I'm not quite sure I would. I think it's best asked the other way: If you were an AI in a mechanical body with an external computer for a brain, would you trade in all that for the experience of being human? Breathing, living, being excited, ultimate fear of death, ultimate joy of love, etc.

I imagine it could sound intriguing to an AI.
Maybe we aren't to bad of as humans as we are after all.


Video Backyard Brains Shows You How to Remote Control a Cockroach (Video) 62

This is our second video starring Backyard Brains (Motto: "Neuroscience for Everyone!"). The first one was pretty lab-oriented, with a twitching roach leg here and there. This one has more roaches, with most of them crawling on command. Will the DoD see this and decide to make cockroach soldiers? Or roboroach bomb detectors and defusers? Or cockroach drone pilots? Anything's possible these days. But meanwhile, relax and enjoy learning about roboroaches and watching how, with little circuit boards on their little backs, they scurry hither and yon under control of their human masters. WARNING: Excessively squeamish people should not watch this video, but should stick to the transcript.

Video The Rails Girls Are Coming to a City Near You (Video) 162

So far, the Rails Girls have groups in cities ranging from Warsaw to Wellington, with U.S. gatherings in Washington D.C., Charlotte NC, San Francisco CA, and... let's make it easy: Here's a map. OMG! They're everywhere! Actually, mostly Europe, being as they started in Finland, same as the Leningrad Cowboys and a popular computer operating system. But they're spreading like mad. Would you believe the reason one of the two founders originally got interested in Ruby on Rails was because she wanted to make a fan page for American politician Al Gore? Our interviewee, Magda (from Rails Girls Warsaw), swears this is true. She also tells us about their upcoming Washington D.C. workshop on June 13th, 2013, in conjunction with the June 14-15 RubyNation event. Sounds like fun, doesn't it. Maybe you need more of this kind of fun where you live, eh? If there isn't a Rails Girls group near you, maybe you should start one and help more women and girls get into programming. This is the Rails Girls' goal. Any particular ages? Not really. And their workshops are all free of charge: "You just need to be excited!"

Comment Re:because desktop linux is a toy and novelty (Score 1) 1215

I dunno about that, I am stuck working with Windows mostly because of SolidWorks and Autocad. Find me a reasonably comparable open source alternative, or even something I can buy for linux and I could drop Windows like a hot potato. And no, Blender just doesn't cut it yet ... ;-)

But for coding, number crunching, analysis, or anything else linux comes up trumps. And I still cannot believe folks actually use Eclipse for anything serious. heh.

Comment Re:If you donate to leftists (Score 2, Interesting) 238

Since you ask? Media Matters for America, which isn't just a 501(c)(4) but a 501(c)(3) and routinely engages in blasting the American right wing.

501(c)(4) organizations are for promoting social causes; donations are nondeductible but operations tax-exempt, aka "if we performed these activities as individuals we wouldn't get taxed again so why should we be taxed as a group?" -- they can engage in cause-oriented political spending. 501(c)(3) are charitable organizations and the donations are tax-deductible and the organization isn't supposed to do partisan political spending at all. Then of course there are 501(c)(5)'s, aka labor unions, a left-wing favorite who are given very broad discretion to engage in very overt political spending to the tune of billions of dollars... but that's its own rabbit hole, and I digress.

Anyway. Media Matters would make an okay 501(c)(4), as they clearly have some idea of a social cause, but they go above and beyond that to get outright all-contributions-deductible 501(c)(3) status while their political enemies were denied any tax exemptions at all.

Comment Re:If you donate to leftists (Score 1) 238

Parent comment deserves +5, Troll. :)

But don't worry! The US left has already proposed a way to resolve these abuses targeting right-wing political activity! Nancy Pelosi would have us take action to ban these vehicles for right-wing political activity altogether. We can also pretend Citizens United never happened. :P (Whatever else, that lady's got some chutzpah.)


Video Author Peter Wayner Talks About Autonomous Cars (Video) 50

Peter Wayner is no stranger to Slashdot. Not only that, he's written a bunch of books, plus articles for InfoWorld, PC World, the New York Times, and many other publications. Now he's working on a book about Autonomous Cars. Last year Peter wrote an article for Car & Driver about the privacy implications of vehicle recorders. Driverless cars will bring us a whole new set of problems, questions, and -- no doubt -- legislation. We're hoping to have more conversations on this topic (and others) with Peter in the future, so with any luck this video will be the first of a long series. With all that said, take it away, interviewer Timothy Lord... Update: 06/05 21:56 GMT by T : Peter's book is still in progress, but it's got a website, if you'd like an early glance.

Comment Where these proffessors the same profs who teached (Score 2) 597

Where these professors the same profs who educated the people who got it so badly wrong?

I can't help but think of the saying "De beste stuurlui staan aan wal"/"bachelors' wives and maidens' children are well taught", sure these profs "know" what went wrong... and where is the proof that what they THINK is right? I can tell you why Hitler lost the war, it was his silly mustache. I have now educated you on this fact but that doesn't make me right.

Just because someone analysed a disaster and claim X caused it, does not mean X caused it. This is ESPECIALLY important to remember when these people have for decades been teaching the people do did X.

When people say hindsight is 20/20, they are wrong.

Comment There is no difference? (Score 3, Insightful) 597

You are a fucking retard if you think there is no difference between making a software product and making a car. And I sure hope you never EVER get to work on ANYTHING more important then... fuck it, I hope it you never get to work on anything period.

Some rather obvious, to anyone with a brain, differences:

Car: Road safety regulations, any car going on the road needs to qualify in most countries to a very thick binder of rules.

Software: no regulation.

Car: Environmental regulations dictating fuel consumption and construction materials.

Software: no regulation, you can even do it in .NET if you hate the world.

Car: Has engineers work on it.

Software: Has software engineers working on it. These are NOT real engineers 99.99% of the time. Real engineers have to sign off on the stuff they design.

Car: Your car looses its brakes on the highway, you can sue.

Software: Your software crashes during crunch week, SUCKER!

The above poster then claims people can't die because of software error... is he really that dumb?

He seems to think that software design CAN be approached the same as car design... and this is were his REAL ignorance shows.

Cars get many times the budget and especially TIME that software gets. But cars also (increasingly so) re-use parts over and over again. Entire car lines are build on the same chassis, with the same stock engines. And what car maker makes it own tires?

Cars also work on universal roads, nobody would put a Jeep on Mars and then call tech support because "it doesn't work".

Software developers often are expected to create a complex piece of work, with many custom parts at a breakneck pace. It is because if you ask a real engineer to build a car in a week, he would snort at you. That is because the entire world accepts that this cannot be done. Software? They expect you to code a facebook, youtube, gmail competitor over the weekend for a hundred bucks.

and THAT is the big difference. Not in quality or capability of the people but in the treatment they get from management. And that is because car management people have learned that anyone who promises them a new car design in a week is stoned while software managers think "wow, I finally found the only honest developer".

Oh and finally, if car designers pulled of what software developers have been doing, our cars would not just run on water, they would do it on the rings of Saturn. See the current Jeep fiasco and the refusal for a callback despite a very high incident rate.

Comment Re:I have legible pictures over 150 years old (Score 2) 358

yes - this is a real issue - and ARCHIVED data that is important DOES need to be "spun up" and refreshed to new media.

If it's hard drives, yes. If it's optical media. . . well that depends. Because some optical media just plain degrades over time. Some is written in special proprietary formats (like Apple's early implementations of CD+R) that you're going to have a hard time reading with CURRENT equipment.

If your data is archived to tape, and more than 10 years old, I'm afraid you're fucked.

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