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Comment Re:Just what the world needed most urgently... (Score 1) 184

Compare programming a 6502 in assembly back in 1980 to programming in Java nowadays.

I see your 1978 and raise you a 1970.

'''Prolog''' is a general-purpose logic programming language associated with artificial intelligence and computational linguistics.

Prolog has its roots in first-order logic, a formal logic, and unlike many other programming languages, Prolog is declarative: the program logic is expressed in terms of relations, represented as facts and rules. A computation is initiated by running a query over these relations.

The language was first conceived by a group around Alain Colmerauer in Marseille, France, in the early 1970s and the first Prolog system was developed in 1972 by Colmerauer with Philippe Roussel.

Prolog was one of the first logic programming languages, and remains the most popular among such languages today, with several free and commercial implementations available.

The language has been used for theorem proving, expert systems, as well as its original intended field of use, natural language processing.

Modern Prolog environments support creating graphical user interfaces, as well as administrative and networked applications.

Prolog is well-suited for specific tasks that benefit from rule-based logical queries such as searching databases, voice control systems, and filling templates.

Prolog did not fail because it was lacking in declarative concision. It failed because there's an annoying layer in between formal description in the problem domain and viable execution strategies in the solution domain.

This layer, too, requires code. Of course, we can just write a formal description of the "annoying layer" as a Prolog program and then let Prolog do all the real work.

Uh, wait a minute, recursion has somehow failed us here. How could that even be? Does not compute. Proceeding to Halt and Catch Fire.

Comment Re:All your jobs are...belong to us! (Score 1) 124

As of yet, there is nothing inherently special about a human being that cannot be reproduced by machines.

What on earth are you smoking?

The present gap, on best available technology, is so staggeringly mind-rending it could serve as the third ring in Dante's Total Enlightenment Vortex.

(Midway through the fifth ring—still reeling in shock from the fourth ring's ascendancy of green slime as fully revealed—the Pilgrim of Total Enlightenment receives a surprising and painful transcranial injection of quantum nanodots, so that the true horrors of rings six—spoiler alert: Chaitin's omega because blindingly intuitive and compulsive to calculate—and seven—HAL hasn't blinked since—can be savoured and swallowed in immense and total abjection.)

Comment Re:Remember kids! (Score 1) 377

I love the politicians who stump for "no invisible tax" and write legislation to ensure that gasoline pumps break out every tax category on the paper receipt (we still have these in Canada, I can't speak for anywhere else).

Everybody knows the deal going in.

I sure wish we'd apply the "no invisible tax" standard to casinos, as well. In this world, every patron is entitled to a printed receipt on the way out (just stick your card into the receipt printer near the main exit) of total $$$ in bets placed and total $ in winnings returned.

Even better if those same receipts enumerate the proportion of your losses that wind up in the government's pocket.

7 Facts about Gambling Winnings in the US

Riddle me this, Batman: how does an activity with a guaranteed amortized loss end up pay tax to Uncle Sam on aggregate negative proceeds?

John, a German national, travels to Las Vegas on holiday. He wins a single $10,000 jackpot on the slot machines while playing at Caesar's Palace, triggering the creation of form W2-G by the casino, a copy of which is given to the player. He also wins $1000 more in various slot machine wins, none of which trigger the creation of form W2-G. When John wins the $10,000 jackpot, he hands the slot attendant his German passport along with Form W8-BEN. The slot attendant processes the form and no withholding is taken from the $10,000 jackpot. At the end of the calendar year, John will need to file Form 1040NR with the IRS and report the $11,000 of gambling winnings. He will attach Form 8833, reporting his use of the treaty position to make the gambling winnings non-taxable in the US, along with a copy of the Form W2-G he received from the casino. John will only need to file Form 1040NR in the years that he has US sourced income.

I understand taxing proceeds in a game of skill like poker, but freaking slot machines? Ludicrous. Beyond insane. Conceptually criminal.

Comment death's excellent extended vacation (Score 2) 470

Are we talking the 'death' when a generational math prodigy turns twenty-five?

Or the 'death' when a the fastest of all fast-living rock stars turns thirty?

Or the 'death' when an formerly fetching actress turns forty?

Or the 'death' when a corner-office executive producer turns fifty.

Or the 'death' when a commercial pilot turns sixty?

Or the 'death' when a professor emeritus turns seventy?

Or the 'death' when a defeated American presidential candidate turns eighty?

Or the 'death' when everyone's favourite preschool teacher turns ninety (on Okinawa)?

Or the mostly-just-resting 'death' when the queen mum turns one hundred?

And we're still not done. George Burns lived an entire Windows 95/98 maximal uptime (49 days) after his one hundredth.

Comment Re:There are other chipsets for AM4 boards (Score 1) 71

My interpretation is that what they meant by "on tap" is what was being displayed at CES.

If you continued reading after stepping into the murky phrase "on tap", you've become so fixated on tracking prey that you've loss all sense of chivalry.

These are not the tea leaves you're looking for.

The correct response is to step back, throw your cape over the sticky filth to protect the innocence, thence to spend a calm half hour working your power squats, while chewing a grass stem and scraping the crud out of your boot treads with a small pen knife.

Comment Re:Not for me (Score 1) 47

Memory is complex.

I'd rank myself at the top of the spectrum in what Paul Ekman / Daniel Goleman term "cognitive empathy" (also called perspective-taking).

Yet I can draw the most amazing blanks when encountering someone I haven't seen recently—for the first five minutes. Gradually it all comes back. I tend to recognize people far quicker by their physical mannerisms than by face, dress, or other static aspects of appearance. I recall ambiguities I've detected in people far better than their outward, declared identity.

My sister, by contrast, never fails to recognize someone on first glance, complete with name, recent concerns, context of last meeting, and last fragment of personal information exchanged. "Stephanie, how's it going with new job assignment? Oh, I like this necklace. Is it new? Hey, you know what? I saw Bob downtown just last week. Are you still in touch?" and so on. Meanwhile, I would still be at "you know, that walk looks familiar, and there's that ironic tilt of the head—there's something lurking behind that I haven't figured out yet—I so know this chick, whatsherfuckingname".

It's not just a profound difference in social orientation. My sister's social skills are, well ... social. Whereas my social skills are cognitive. I pick up many shades of a person's internal self-image vs their external self-image and projected self-image. My sister socializes first, connects second. I connect first, socialize second. And both our memories reflect this.

A long time ago, when we were growing up, I used to grief her about watching the same TV shows. "Don't you remember? You watched this show last summer. That guy is going to do this, and this girl is going to do that. The dialogue was so bad, I could hardly concentrate on my calculus assignment from the next room." She never seemed to recall watching the same show twice.

Now, on basic personal dossier, she'd beat me 99 times out of 100. Until it gets deep.

What can you figure out from a face anyway? Whether someone is Jewish? How useless. What you can tell from microscopic hitches in eye movement or verbal delivery will tell you whether a person is pretending to be someone they're really not, or not. Fixed or flexible? Now we're getting somewhere.

I can only conclude that memory is deeply conditioned on the purposes in life we choose to regard as most important.

When I was roughly thirty, I looked at a photo of my grade two classroom, and remembered nearly every face and name (pretty much a fixed cohort through grade five, which certainly helped).

On a parallel note, I suck at basic plot analysis. Never had any gift with the conventions of genre fiction. I've sat beside people steeped in genre who seem to process fiction (whether a book or a movie) the way the Terminator itemizes conversational gambits, whereas I anticipate nothing immediate, but somewhere during the second act I'll start to growl, "this director is going to panic and fuck the ending, I just know it already" (by the time a film is edited, the director's success/failure in bringing the movie home is front and center in everyone's mind—director, editor, producer—so these early hints are not incidental). Yet again, conventions of form are slow for me, while deeper traces knock early.

In particular, movies that go for the fake suspense scene never work for me. He's dead! No, he's not really dead! LOTR pulls this stunt quite a few times (Frodo, Aragorn, Samwise; all the hobbits snug in their feathery Bree beds; meanwhile while Gandalf struts around as the meme personified). The form never hooks me enough to take me along on these silly ruses. After a certain amount of time wandering around in the labyrinths of tvtropes (a quantity of time that shall remain nameless), I now pick up much of this on an analytical level. But still not gut.

Part of the reason I think I classify slowly on form is that I tend to maintain a portfolio of possibility anyway. "This could be five different things, let's leave it at that and see where it goes." I notice this all the time whenever I compare social notes after an unusual interaction. The other person's account is always more definite in nature. And then I'll go, "but that's not exactly how it was said; the way it was said could also have been this or that."

On the other hand, if it's a long term thing, the analysis goes the other way. The other person will be going, "what's driving this behaviour, could it be this or that" and I'll go "it certainly isn't that, because that's not how the psychological feedback loops work in this person; have you ever seen a time where X lead to Y? For this dough ass?"

The space of options begins to collapse for me once the loops connect full circle.

It's just a seriously fascinating thing how much people differ in their cognitive reflexes and strategies. I could never tire of observing the human cognitive circus up close and personal. It's seven thousand shades of amazing, entirely unlike ice cream with fudge and marshmallows and random cookie bits and weird sprinkle topping. Who the fuck remembers their last random Wheel of Fortune selection at Baskin-Robbins? But no. Wrong. That person is one of the 7000 shades.

Comment the significance of Go (Score 1) 139

After chess, checkers, poker, and Arimaa fell, the significance of Go with its huge search space was whether its huge search space and geometrical intuition represented a fundamentally harder challenge for computer algorithms, or just a different challenge, one that we hadn't figured out yet.

Many were saying that Go posed a fundamentally harder problem than chess. I took the view that Go would fall hard once it finally fell, but it was unclear when that day would arrive. I thought it was more "different" rather than "more difficult".

My view came more from game theory than intuition, because I'm not a Go player.

What we now know is that people reasoning from intuition about what kinds of closed, artificial problems computers are good/bad at are not to be trusted.

Brute force comes in many flavours.

Comment Re:It's obvious (Score 1) 293

Business 101: Cash is king.
And as long as Apple makes bucketloads of cash from their current iProducts, they will. When it stops, they will re-evaluate where they are in the world, but not before then.

In the weirdest coincidence of all time, this is also the course description for Guns, Germs, and Steel 101.

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