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Comment bang the gong (Score 1) 231

do they... do they let just anybody say whatever they want at these things? Dude's making a nutter claim with zero sources cited, and isn't even in the AI field himself... and Fortune picks it up like it's totally reasonable. Also, if the whole "we will be less than our shoes" thing wasn't a translation error, Son's got a troubling conception of what makes a given life form 'worthy' (i.e. raw IQ is directly proportional to worth, and nothing else matters)

Comment Redwall Abbey, here I come (Score 1) 158

"The work inevitably raises the spectre of intelligent animals" -- what 'spectre'? Creating a new species with human-level intelligence would be the greatest feat mankind has ever accomplished, bar none. It's a big deal, sure, and as such could go super-wrong, but it doesn't have to. If it went right, we could have a real-world Redwall Abbey, with Jacques-esque Moles! That said, the "...with humanised brains" part is a bit disturbing, depending on how much human gets into the new species; we're not exactly a sterling role model for new sapient life.

Comment No! Bad! (Score 1) 159

I see two big, big problems here:
1. People getting their news from social media services that are not even nominally bound by any sort of journalistic integrity. Amidst allegations of liberal favoritism, Facebook recently said that, in addition to trending topics and modest human curation which is supposed to be unbiased and minimal, news feed content derives from algorithmically cherry-picked stories; said cherry-picking is conducted with the goal of keeping the user engaged and/or happy [citation needed, I know -- I can't find it]. Unless the user is a psychopath, they're unlikely to get a very complete picture of current events if they only see news stories that are pleasantly interesting. Facebook is neat, but the content it displays to users is unabashedly influenced by what is popular and/or fun, and therefore not a reliable (complete) news source. That said, since mass media is largely fueled by ad revenue and/or ratings systems, even the most reputable sources are prone to sensationalism (this is obviously not new), which segues nicely into the next point...
2. People aren't checking citations. Regardless of where you get your news, knowing where a story came from is critical: in the absence of some sort of magically unbiased, 100% honest and trustworthy news outlet (I'm waiting for Newsbot AI, programmed by a different and very dispassionate AI to remove human bias entirely), the best we can do as readers is to compare multiple (ideally oppositely biased) news sources. If you ignore the citations, not only are you devaluing the very notion of citation (and, by extension, journalism), but you're also missing the particular shaker of salt you probably should be taking a given story with.

Comment U and I (Score 1) 698

My dear, I would put 'U' and 'I' together (I use a right-handed Dvorak)

Seriously though, I'd recommend ditching caps lock, tab, insert, num lock, home, end, page up, page down, scroll lock, pause/break, and roll the delete and backspace keys into a single delete key. Then make all the remaining ones bigger. I'd also take the damnable Windows logo off the command key and just refer to it as CMD across operating systems.

Comment Points+Insurance... (Score 1) 760

equals a huge deterrent. Granted it's not exactly tied to income, but it does complicate the issue given that auto insurance is mandatory in the US. This system could be interesting to experiment with, but we'd have to visit and clean up the rats' nest of insurance first. Also, an income-based fine system would have to look harder at what a person's daily spending power actually is than just yearly income/365.25 -- bonuses, dependents, medical conditions etc. all combine to make spending power a very tricky number to calculate within reason. Finally the main point of contention: 'day-fines could introduce some fairness to a legal system that many have convincingly shown to be biased against the poor.' This would only really be relevant if the harassment of poor folk was primarily in the arena of flat-rate traffic tickets; I'm pretty sure the problem goes deeper than that. Also, I'd suggest reforming maniacal bully cops as a preferable primary approach to a solution...

Comment Treat coding like labor... (Score 1) 200

...and you get websites like Healthcare.gov I love that this post appeared right above the latest security hole in that site. You can't just train to be a 'coder' -- (good) software engineering requires very high intelligence, keen mathematics aptitude, creativity with a quantitative bent, and a potent imagination. Ditto for robotics. I'm all for outreach and promoting STEM interest in schools, but only if it's understood that not everyone is cut out for a cerebral career path. Those that aren't cut out for it will, sadly, probably wind up as highly paid managers of programmers

Comment Re:instant disqualification (Score 1) 648

Agreed. Also, what does he mean by "when it comes to more complex constructs Python cannot do them and I would be forced to rely on C"? Python is a general purpose language, so it should certainly be able to tackle any complex constructs that VB, and C for that matter, can. Perhaps he meant constructs requiring low-level memory fiddling? I would call that an implementation detail rather than a modifier of a given construct's complexity. What I can get behind is the raised-hairy-eyebrow wrt implicit typing in Python for a student; for someone just starting out in programming I expect an implicit type system would be incredibly confusing and might lead to an 'it works because of magic' mentality. I cut my teeth on VB in junior high and high school and I found the transition to Java, C++, and eventually C (mostly so that I could understand what all the saccharine syntax of the above was doing) fairly easy to make. I'd recommend teachers in college plan for Java or C++ and high school teachers stick with something simple like a BASIC dialect. That said, they should use an open BASIC, like FreeBASIC instead of VB. On the other hand, Dijkstra said "It is practically impossible to teach good programming to students that have had a prior exposure to BASIC: as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration." So... maybe stick with Java as a fair middle ground?

Comment Slippery Slope (Score 1) 894

My religion's chief dogma states "And ye, verily, none shall limiteth free speech, nor even discusseth the potential limits of free speech, excepteth for the shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater thing." The Pope's statement about not offending religion offends my religion. Seriously though, nobody has the right to not be offended. If you don't like folk drawing your prophet-dude, leave an angry comment below their Tumblr post like everybody else, don't shoot/bomb/ anyone.

Comment Re:Start with Venus... (Score 1) 319

Indeed, we need much more data before trying something like this at home. Are we even certain the earth's climate is changing dangerously? Last I heard on the matter all we had were climate change trends and lots of ugly-looking man-made emissions - two items which might not even be correlated - analyzed using about 100 years of fairly good planetary ecology data and maybe a thousand years of empirical-but-primitive data total if we include crusty old ships' logs with 'here be dragons' annotations and illustrations of fire-breathing walruses. That's not even a fraction of an eye-blink in geological time. Assuming that warming trends observed within a tiny window of geological time are permanent, unusual, deadly, unnatural/man-made, and can be reversed by man through simple 'planet hacks' seems quite dangerous. That said, we should all really look into not burning dinosaurs to get from point A to point B anymore...

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