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Comment Re:japan is a fascist nation that was spared (Score 0) 159

All it takes is one coup for the Pontipines to invade Wottingerland.

The solution to that problem is collective defense. An agreement like NATO's article five "An attack against one is an attack against all", means that the one country that seeks war must be stronger than all the countries that seek peace.

Comment Re:Why yes, I would. (Score 5, Insightful) 209

And the exact same thing could happen to any other completely mechanical device.

You design the mechanism so that it is physically impossible for the software to do something dangerous. In the case of Therac-25, there should have been a mechanical interlock that cut power to the radiator when the shield was not in place. In the case of the needle sticking robot, you use an actuator with a stroke of, say, 5mm. Then there there is no way it could "jab through your arm". You also use a weak actuator, that doesn't have enough physical strength to push into bone, even when given full power. You put a spring-loaded (not software controlled) sheath over the needle, so the needle is never exposed unless it is pressed against skin. You design the hardware assuming the software is malicious. You design away any way you can think of for the software to do harm.

Then you design the software assuming the all the mechanical interlocks have failed, and use sensors to double check everything.

Comment Re:Why yes, I would. (Score 5, Informative) 209

Therac-25 is an example of the dangers of improperly tested computers with lethal equipment.

The Therac-25 was the result of layer after layer of utter incompetence. They assigned a programmer who wasn't qualified to write a javascript button-click handler, to write life-critical sofware. Then no one else even looked at his code. There was no design review, no QA or bug tracking, and very little testing. Even after the defect was reported, there was no review or followup, or realization that it could even be a software problem. But the problem went much deeper. The hardware design was just as defective. There were no interlocks, in either hardware or firmware, to prevent defective software from killing patients. Many books on mission critical embedded system design devote an entire chapter to all the stupid mistakes that made up the Therac-25. If you make a list of the rules of sane system design, the Therac-25 design will have violated nearly every one of them.

Comment Re:japan is a fascist nation that was spared (Score 4, Insightful) 159

Yeah, every country should sign a defense treaty with the United States and have America provide a security guarantee.

There are a number of countries that spend even less. Most countries have no disputed borders, and no hostile direct neighbors. Most military spending in the world is out of tradition or political calculation rather than any real security need. Even countries that need to keep their military, often have more than they need, and they focus on the wrong skills and capabilities. For example, two decades after the end of the cold war, Germany's military is built around heavy armored divisions, when there is no plausible scenario where they would be useful. On the eve of the 9/11 attacks, the US Army's top priority was the Crusader Artillery, a 99 ton monstrosity what would have proved nearly useless in the the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even GWB had enough sense to kill that.

Comment Re:A quick question (Score 0) 74

if I wanted to put a backdoor or vulnerability that could knock a plane out of the sky, how would I do it?

You don't put the backdoor in your code. Too many people would check that. Instead, you put it in the toolchain: you hack the compiler to insert the backdoor when it detects a certain innocuous pattern in the source code. Likewise, if you want to put a backdoor in an IC, you hack the Verilog/VHDL compiler to insert it.

The definitive description of this technique is Ken Thompson's talk, Reflections on Trusting Trust.

Comment Re:With the right training, huh? (Score 1) 347

The second bomb was unnecessary as surrender talks were already underway.

This statement contradicts everything I have ever read or watched about WWII. There is no support for this on Wikipedia (which clearly states that the emperor interceded after the second nuke), or anywhere else that I can find. Do you have a citation for this claim that "surrender talks were already underway"?

In July, the Japanese had tried to enlist the Soviets as an intermediary to negotiate an end to the war. But no talks were started because the Soviets were already making secret plans to abrogate the friendship pact and attack the Japanese in Manchuria and Sakhalin.

Even after the second nuke, a majority of the Japanese cabinet supported continuing the war. In his memoirs, Mitsumasa Yonai, the Japanese naval minister and close adviser to the emperor, described the bombings as a "divine gift" because they gave the emperor a face saving way to end the war. He felt that otherwise the war would have otherwise dragged on, with disastrous consequences for the Japanese people.

Comment Re:With the right training, huh? (Score 1) 347

The nuclear bombs at the end of WWII were unnecessary.

So we should have instead continued incinerating Japanese cities with conventional firebombs? That was killing far more people than the nukes. The Soviet invasion of Manchuria, beginning on August 9th, also killed far more Japanese than the nukes. That might have been prevented if we had used the nukes a few weeks earlier.

They were merely a demonstration to the newly perceived threat of the USSR

How many lives were saved by sending a clear message to Joseph Stalin? The history of Manchuria, as well as Europe, might have been very different. Prior to the dropping of the nukes, Stalin was pushing for the Soviet Red Army to participate in the occupation of Japan, including Hokkaido and northern Honshu. That could have ended in a "north" and "south" Japan, just like we have today in Korea.

Comment Re:With the right training, huh? (Score 4, Insightful) 347

So why don't we do that instead of electing them to public office or making them executives in the banking industry?

Because there is evidence that psychopaths actually make better leaders. There was an article about this a couple months ago in the Economist. By ignoring the suffering of individuals, psychopaths are able to focus on bold action for the greater good. This is especially apparent in war time, where compassionate leaders are often dithering and indecisive, leading to a prolonged war and many more deaths and wounds than needed.

Comment Re:If you can't trust the authenticity of the sign (Score 3, Funny) 218

(1) A particular section of a highway measured as to distance and with boundaries marked, designated, or otherwise determined in order that the speed of a vehicle may be calculated by securing the time it takes the vehicle to travel the known distance.

Speed traps are illegal in California.

As they should be. The problem with any automated system is they treat middle class white people the same as the blacks and teenagers that the cops are supposed to be focusing on. We can't allow that.

Comment Re:and a change of clothes (Score 1) 205

And because they probably expect to get him anyway.

Or because they want him to get away. Of course they have to put on a show of trying to get him, but do they really want to? The "Snowden Affair" is quietly fading away, with all the NSA spying intact. Bringing him back to the USA for a trial would put the issue back on the front page. The government prefers that we all focus on Will and Kate's new baby instead.

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