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Comment A weapon's a weapon (Score 1) 983

I don't know why "with a robot" is a complicating factor. Would a police sniper have been justified in shooting him? If yes, then I don't care what the weapon is. Take the guy down in the most expedient manner with the least possibility of harm to anyone else. If the use of the sniper was not justified, I still don't care what the weapon is, they're doing it wrong.

In my mind that's the only question. Was the use of lethal force justified? I don't know, but with multiple officers already down I'd say it's clear they tried other possibilities first. I'm willing to concede that the force may have been justified. And at that point, as I said, I don't really care what weapon is most expedient.

Comment Re:How long until the total surveillance state ... (Score 2) 208

None of these always-on systems track every word you say,


because this would run your battery dry in no time. They all have just a low-power minimal voice-recognition in hardware that only recognizes the keywords and only then wake up and hand over control to the SoC itself for what you're actually saying.

Keywords like "Hey, Siri", or "OK, Google". Or "bomb" or "overthrow" or "cocaine" or...

Besides, if Big Brother wants to listen to your microphone he can just do that anyway, no need for such tricks. If you don't trust your networked microphone containing device not to listen to you, don't carry it to begin with. This is true for every fucking phone or tablet or computer.

Quite right. But, even though they can key up the microphone at any time, they don't know when it's interesting to do so. That's where the keyword recognition comes in. Say the secret phrase and it surreptitiously sends a few seconds of audio to the NSA who can then decide whether or not to add you to the list of listening targets.

Okay, I say it like it's a done deal, and even I don't believe that they're doing it yet. But it'd be possible, and it allows for previously unheard-of levels of snooping. Without voice recognition it's not feasible because it'd take too much manpower to even spot-check all those microphones. But if you can enlist the aid of the device itself to secretly alert the authorities... Now you're talking! What law enforcement agency wouldn't like to have an informant in every pocket? Make the list of keywords downloadable, too. Get word of an ISIS plot? Load "ISIS" into the keyword list. Whoa, they changed their name to "Totally Without A Terrorism Scheme" this week? Update the list, let the phones alert us when someone talks about TWATS! AMBER alert? Load the kid's name into every phone in the area. Sure you'll have a ton of false positives, but Think Of The Children! Honestly, is it any more ridiculous then sending a text message with a vague description of the kid to every phone in a 100 mile radius?

Sure I'm paranoid. But am I paranoid enough?

Comment Re:When is it "life"? (Score 1) 160

The computer had no idea what it was regurgitating.

To the contrary, I think the computer knew exactly what it was doing. Look at these "seeds":

Title: Sunspring

Dialog: "It may never be forgiven, but that is just too bad."

Prop & Action: A character pulls a book from a shelf, flips through it, and puts it back.

Optional Science Idea: In a future with mass unemployment, young people are forced to sell blood.

The computer did just what a human writer would do. It said, "What is this bullshit? Okay, bitches, you want a screenplay based on nonsense, I'll give you a screenplay based on nonsense!"

Comment Re:Generators (Score 1) 637

Yup, a generator is the way to go. Mine starts by picking one character each from the sets of uppercase alpha, lowercase alpha, numeric, and punctuation. Then it picks from the set of all characters until the password is the desired length. Finally it shuffles the order so the first four characters aren't predictably upper, lower, numeric, and punctuation.


I'm just using Python's random module to pick the characters, so I suppose if that's flawed I might have problems. I'm not sure how it would lead to a practical attack though.

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