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Comment Re:What is the added value over Python? (Score 2) 166

I agree this is subjective, and I agree this is a horses for courses situation. But MATLAB isn't designed for abstract numerical computing, it is designed for linear algebra. If you have a task which you know can be reduced entirely (or at least almost entirely) to linear algebra (like a prototype neural network training scheme I was looking at a while back in MATLAB), then sure I'd say I find MATLAB's syntax a bit easier to work with. But if we are talking general numerical computing, or numerical computing involving a large chunk of code that needs to be properly organised then I think python's (with numpy and scipy) features wins out. Where exactly that line is depends.

Comment Re:What is the added value over Python? (Score 5, Informative) 166

MATLAB compatibility. From my experience that is just about it, both are pretty feature complete but as Octave basically copies MATLAB warts and all so I don't know why anyone would use it if they knew other nicer programming languages. And if you have access to MATLAB and use it every day then MATLAB is just way faster than Octave (or at least was last time I used it).

Being a copy of MATLAB is really useful though, and Octave serves a role there. I code primarily in python (or C/C++) for work, but most of my colleagues use MATLAB. The Linux MATLAB client is crap and a pain to install and keep working, but Octave is one apt-get away and usually does the trick when I need to run my colleagues scripts or write something for them. It has a permanent spot on my hard drive for that.

Comment Re:Dune (Score 1) 691

I see. Perhaps I should be clear then, I don't consider anyone to be in a privileged position when it comes to art, I consider the entire idea to be absurd. Art is a label of convenience, nothing more and while having operating descriptive definitions of art is useful, normative ideas about art (the 'moral value' of art for example), are unhelpful. So, when someone criticises science fiction, or comic books, or video games, or interactive stories, or children's literature, or modern art, or any of the myriad of things people love to criticise and claim are not art I will generally take the most belligerent position possible in opposition to them, asserting that while I don't think there is a standard, if we are going to impose an arbitrary one I chose the one which undermines their pet genre, in the case of people criticising science fiction this is generally the 'high art - low art' types who think that dropping out of a 3 year college degree in ancient who-gives-a-fuck and media studies gives them a deep insight into the world because they spent all their time playing in a boring alternative band and pretending that impenetrable bullshit is 'really deep' and that they are better than the people whose study actually makes a material difference to the world because those people "just don't get it".
It isn't that I think this is a good standard, no standard is good, they are all arbitrary. I pick this one when someone else implies there is a standard to piss those people off and force them to defend their arbitrary bullshit. If you agree there is no standard, that it is all subjective and that people who like the My Little Pony theme song are no better or worse than people who like Chopin then we're all cool.

Comment Re:Dune (Score 1) 691

I'm sorry I cant follow what you are saying. I never said they weren't just regular people. I said they had a better understanding of nature than your average artist. Want grab 10 random artists, 10 random sci-fi authors and administer a physics pop quiz and see who does better?

I'm happy to listen to you, and if you have books for me to read all the better. I said art was good for generating ideas. I said being receptive to those ideas was open minded. I never said you had to accept them or, upon proper reflection, think they are of any merit.

Comment Re:Dune (Score 1) 691

"no, that's not true at all."
Below I suggest the following experiment:
If we selected 20 artists at random, and 20 science fiction writers and asked them "What is the ideal gas law?", which group do you think will score higher.

He is right, a pithy quote from a book doesn't necessarily apply. Of course the question of if it applies depends on a reasonably deep understanding of the text, the historical parallels it is evoking and a basic familiarity with the literary tropes being employed. I was pointing out that the sentiment had some pedigree, and wasn't simply a random quote from some book.

Comment Re:Dune (Score 1) 691

I never said they had a good understanding, just a better understanding than your average artist. If we selected 20 artists at random, and 20 science fiction and asked them "What is the ideal gas law?", which group do you think will score higher.

Sure they are human like everyone else, they have a political axe to grind. I never claimed that wasn't the case.

Comment Re:Dune (Score 1) 691

There is already a response to this, on this very topic. Sturgeons law: 90% of everything is crap. You'll notice I never said science fiction authors have a good understanding of nature, just a better one than your average artist. I would suggest to you that is a pretty low bar to jump. Nothing much has changed since C.P. Snow made the observed in The Two Culture that most artists cannot even tell you the second law of thermodynamics.

Comment Re:Dune (Score 1) 691

I'm trying to work out where you disagree with me, because your tone suggests you do, but I cant find where.

I agree, literature sucks at answering questions. You will notice I said art was good for generating ideas, I never said those ideas would be good.

I didn't say science fiction fans have a superior knowledge of nature, I said that science fiction authors are more knowledgeable about nature than your average artist. Your own example serves to illustrate this, ask your average artist what lithium deuteride is, and compare how many know to how many science fiction authors know. You'll also note I didn't say science fiction authors knowledge of nature certainly conferred additional legitimacy on science fiction, I said it may. I don't happen to think it does (I don't think 'art' is a meaningful concept at all when we start asking questions like 'is X art' or 'is X legitimate art'), but I threw that in just in case some lit major decided to contradict me. I was poisoning the well with a standard they know they cant meet and the subtle hint that I'm aware the standard of what constitutes 'art' is arbitrary.

Comment Re:Dune (Score 5, Insightful) 691

That quote is basically paraphrasing Rothschild, "Let me issue and control a Nation's money and I care not who makes its laws" only with the acumen to correct at least one part of the reason for the decline of his dynasty, his failure to realise that retaining control of the money supply from your competitors means controlling the courts as well.

Science fiction is as legitimate a artistic expression as anything else, if not more legitimate because it is generally written by people who have a better understanding of nature than your average artist. If you are saying 'ignore all art when it comes to generating ideas', then I think you very closed minded. If you are saying 'science fiction is not art', then I think you are an idiot.

Comment Re:There is no "shortfall". (Score 2) 381

Or we're doing pretty damn shitty at producing competent engineers and we need to fix out education system and what we value as a society to reward STEM.

I promise you if scientists are engineers are making six figures, cant move for members of the sex they are attracted to swamping them with offers of sexual favours and are talked about the way Kim Kardashian is there would be no need to worry about a shortage of talented people wanting to work in STEM.

Comment Re:Siri doesn't have free will (Score 1) 401

The ethical implications of a statement and its truth are largely orthogonal concepts. That we are biological machines and that free will is an ill-defined concept (making anything having it impossible as it currently stands) may have ethical implications we don't like, that does not make them less or more true.

I have a sense of free will sure. I have the impression I make choices. But closer examination reveals that the only way to make sense of this is to define me as the state of my brain and body and then define my choices as being the consequences of me being me. If my brain were different, that is, if I were not me I would do something different, but it is what the configuration of my brain is (with some random chance I have no control over) that determines the actions I take. In this sense me being myself makes choices. But this is very, very far from what most people mean when they say free will. Unfortunately no one has ever been able to give me a clear definition of what this other kind of free will is.

On the above world view we are always trapped in a cage, the laws of nature, the laws of physics bind us tightly at all times and free will is little more than a delusion.

Comment Re:Siri doesn't have free will (Score 1) 401

Then the proof is obviously flawed as your choice empirically invalidates it.

If you don't have free will you cant choose anything, although you may have the illusion you do. In the case above if the proof was sound you would either believe it or not believe it, but you would have no choice in the matter.

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