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Comment Re:Seems ethically dodgy... (Score 4, Insightful) 539

Science does ignore things outside of the universe, but amazingly enough, everything that matters is, by definition, inside it.

In other words, suppose there is a soul. If we can still make a brain simulator that acts conscious, then it doesn't really matter, because it had no observable effect. If, because humans have souls and computers don't, we can't make a conscious brain simulator, then the soul has an observable effect, and can be reasoned about with science. Now, in the first case, you might say that the brain simulator acts conscious but isn't. It would be a lot like saying people with a different skin color act conscious but aren't, though - not morally defensible.

Religions are not dualist because their ability to reason without evidence has allowed them to see some great truth that science has missed. They're dualist because they were conceived before we came to the great realization that the behavior of living things emerges from the physical laws.

Comment Re:Seems ethically dodgy... (Score 2, Informative) 539

Why would you be unable to aenesthetize an artificial brain? It's just a chemical that has some (currently not well understood) effect on the physical processes in your brain. If the artificial brain works by simulating those processes, it should be relatively straightforward to simulate those effects, and you should get the same temporary loss of consciousness.

I would say that consciouness is inherently tied to the algorithms that produce it. Those algorithms happen to be executed by a massively parallel self-modifying chaotic biological organ, but, being algorithms, they could in principle be carried out by other hardware. (The strong Church-Turing thesis.) Granted, our crude attempts to design similar algorithms from first principles (Bayesian networks, predicate logic, expert systems, etc.) are so different from what happens in the brain that it's fair to say they are not the same thing. But that's not what these guys are doing - they're not reverse-engineering the software, they're emulating it at a low level.

I suspect the only real barriers are technical - how do you get sufficient information about the structure of the brain, and how it changes over time? How do you learn which aspects of that are important and which can be abstracted? And how do you get it running sufficiently quickly?

Comment Re:You can get hard passwords (Score 2, Interesting) 349

Randomly banging on the keyboard clearly produces less than ideal entropy. Case in point, your password contains "asedf", which I'm willing to bet was the result of you drumming the fingers of your left hand. Now, whether it matters for such a long password is another matter, but if you're paranoid enough to use a password like that, you may as well go the extra mile.

PlayStation (Games)

Submission + - Playstation 3 price drop confirmed. (

chuckdpe1 writes: Following up on the report that the PLAYSTATION 3 would see a $100 price cut taking place the week after E3 2007, GameDaily has confirmed with "a merchandising manager at one of the world's biggest retailers" that the 60 GB version of the PS3 will indeed drop to $499, starting on July 12, one day after Sony's E3 press conference. GameDaily also reports that the new price is indeed indicative a retail-wide price drop, not a Circuit City specific sale, as a handful of speculators have posited.
PC Games (Games)

Submission + - Gamecock tipped as potential Severity publisher (

Robert Summa writes: "Gamecock tipped as potential Severity publisher Thursday's episode of Epileptic Gaming had some breaking news about the CPL's publishing plan for Severity and its new energy drink. Citing an article set to appear in the Dallas Business Journal tomorrow, June 15th, EG reports that the relatively new Gamecock Media Group is a potential publisher for Severity. Mike Wilson, CEO of Gamecock, recently joined the CPL's advisory board, which lends credence to the idea of his company publishing it. Previously, Sierra was favored to publish the game."

Submission + - Judge orders TorrentSpy to turn over "RAM" (

virgil_disgr4ce writes: "In a monumental example of the gap of understanding between legal officials and technology, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian "found that a computer server's RAM, or random-access memory, is a tangible document that can be stored and must be turned over in a lawsuit." ZDNet, among others, reports on the ruling and its potential for invasion of privacy."

Submission + - eBay may Lose "Buy it Now" Button in Paten (

Spamicles writes: "A judge has delayed his ruling on the eBay patent infringement case. eBay has been involved in a legal dispute over the use of its popular "Buy it Now" button, which allows consumers to skip the bidding and purchase items on eBay directly. The patent suit was filed six years ago by MercExchange L.L.C. In May of 2003, a jury ruled in MercExchange's favor finding that eBay did in fact infringe on the patent, but in 2005 the US Supreme Court ruled that MercExchange was not automatically entitled to a court order blocking the offending service, essentially handing a victory down to patent reform advocates. However, the ruling by the Supreme Court does not affect the final judgment of the court."
United States

Submission + - Game educates players on political redistricting

jhsiao writes: As mentioned on NPR, students at the University of Southern California have created a game showing the power politicians wield in the redistricting process. The game has several missions showing how gerrymandering can be used to create an advantage for one party (like in Texas), to entrench incumbents of both parties (as mentioned before in Slashdot here), or to establish minority representation.

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We don't really understand it, so we'll give it to the programmers.