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Comment Re:Government waste (Score 1) 257

+1 to that.

Even when we can improve our tech and evolve our tools, there's something to be said about taking the slow route. In nature, evolution creates generalist species that can survive to works cataclysms, when specialised species that were "better" for the old environment perish en masse.

I think we know how to build such better tools for specific uses, but we have no clue about how to create "generalist", all-purpose resilient tools. Understanding those may very well require a major breakthrough or two in our knowledge of evolution. Its likely that we'll be able to build them before we know how we did it.

Comment Re:Government waste (Score 1) 257

we already know the most obvious tricks it developed at the lowest level, and almost nothing at the intermediate levels

There, fixed that for you

the difference is that we can improve the process itself by applying recursion to it, which is why all our technologies go through a period of exponential improvement, while evolution's process remains the same old linear technique and doesn't change

Fair enough to that too. It's clear that evolution has worked so far through brute force and random environment changes, and humans can generate directed evolutionary environments to accelerate the process. Although humans applying their wetware to solve specific problems can be seen as nature itself applying a "recursive ability so as to improve its own methods", from a certain point of view. ;-)

Comment Re:Government waste (Score 1) 257

Evolution is slow. Evolution goes by trial and error rather than absolutely optimized engineering design and QA, and doesn't have any kind of recursive ability so as to improve its own methods.

On the contrary, evolution's QA is performed at all levels, while human QA usualy only deals with the upper functional layer. Nature's products are recursively made from 100% reusable, self-healing parts. Where are the equivalent robots that fix themselves at a molecular level? Different processes, different advantages.

While human tools can outperform nature for a specialized purpose, evolution produces more robust and general-purpose entities, that can easily adapt to new conditions. We don't have anything like that with human engineering (yet). While we can generate our own accelerated evolution processes, nature has a huge head start.

Comment Re:Eh? (Score 0) 201

How is your average smartphone (either open-source or jailbroken) more simplistic and controlled than a 20-years-old PC? (Other than for DRM and binary blobs, but those things existed back then too, and I don't think you're referring to that).

Making simple things easy is not the same as making hard things impossible. You can have both in the same device, and that's the design trend you're seeing.

Comment Re:I've seen similar slogans before ... (Score 1) 165

If anyone thought that capitalism leads to free market, they have ample evidence now that this is not the case.

Free markets are the result of lightweight regulation - if you eliminate all regulation altogether, the natural result of capitalism is concentration of power (because capitalism is, by definition, concentration of wealth in a few hands).

Comment Re:Microsoft Never Really Knew What They Were Doin (Score 1) 786

I'd very much like to see what would happen to Microsoft Research in case the mother base plummets. There is some incredibly good stuff in there, of which Kinnect is the most viable of their short term projects - but they have equally good things going on for mid and long term. I wonder where all that IP would go if/when the ship sinks.

Comment Re:It's the email clients, stupid (Score 1) 242

It's the application, stupid

And there you've found the reason why chat apps are popular. The protocol doesn't matter at all, what counts is that they're dead simple to install and use for the intended purpose - chatting.

That whole package is something that email clients, Jabber and SMS don't have (SMS is the closest one, but it's too expensive, the basic version doesn't do multimedia and it doesn't keep track of the conversation).

Comment Re:And it begins (Score 1) 531

that doesn't simply mean that eventually we'll run out of things to do. Now money that was once spent on a noodle cook can be spent on something else.

That assumes that there's something else on which to spend the money, and that those other things will have a value for which people will want to pay; none of those assumptions are givens. The observed effect is that this money will concentrate on a few hands, the only ones with access to most of the produced goods.

Socialist types will never understand or accept this, but the market will reach equilibrium.

Oh, we understand it, we simply don't believe it without the proper amount of support; exceptional claims require exceptional evidence, which that model doesn't have. Right now that argument is an unproven emotional belief, not a scientific certainty.

Comment Re:They should build this into touch-screen device (Score 1) 54

Relative to the thumb, which can be recognized on its own. The other fingers will touch the screen later at some point after the thumb; all fingers have a fixed position and distance from it, so you can identify each finger after calibrating for hand size.

If you add the temporal dimension, you can recognize a variety of chords and multi-touch positions. Sure, it's not perfect tracking of all fingers the all time, but you don't need that to recognize a high number of hand positions, enough to provide a varied gesture-based control.

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