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Comment Re:Important milestone (Score 1) 136

There was a story on Slashdot a while ago about the world's largest hedge fund replacing their fund managers with computers. That's not really that impressive though, since many studies have shown you can replace fund managers with monkeys flipping coins and get the same performance.

Many of the best learning systems are currently taught in an unsupervised way. They're fed stimuli and form their own internal model. Finally they're given a minimum of supervised training. Like a baby gazing around at the world for a few years then being told that the fluffy four legged thing is called a cat.

Comment I'll probably keep it (Score 2) 25

We canceled our cable subscription about a year ago, and while I was OK with it my wife hated not having certain live TV channels. We'd tried Sling, but it was hit-and-miss on the stuff we wanted. Some channels, like BTN, aren't available at all on Sling. DirecTV is only a little more and actually covers the live programming we want.

Make no mistake, the launch was rough. I don't think they allocated enough hardware or bandwidth to handle their initial demand, so streaming cut out constantly. It's finally getting to be pretty solid, though, and I'd much rather pay Sling a few bucks than have anything to do with Comcast.

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 2) 276

Perhaps, perhaps not. Venus is still very poorly understood. In its high temperature environment its conditions are largely self-sustaining (preventing the sequestration of CO2 in rock), although it's also unstable, prone to broad temperature and pressure swings. It also appears to have undergone a global resurfacing event about 300-500mya, if that gives a clue as to how unstable the planet as a whole is. ;) We don't know what caused it, or really anything about it. Part of the planet's properties are now a result of it having lost its water rather than being a cause, such as its hard crust. Obviously its lack of a magnetic field is responsible for its loss of water, but we don't know exactly when or why it disappeared (there are of course theories... I had always just assumed it was the slow rotation rate, but the last research I read suggested that not enough to account for it). Other issues as to how Venus ended up as it did may be related to size - although it's only a bit smaller than Earth, that may be the initial factor that set its fate in motion - for example, its lithosphere in general appears to be thicker and higher viscosity on Earth, which could have hindered or prevented plate tectonics, and thus subduction of carbonates.

Either way, it's a mess now at the surface (though rather comfy ~55km up ;) ). And I'm not so sure I buy into some of the proposed ways to fix it (terraforming). For example, some have suggest mass drivers ejecting the atmosphere. Let's just say you can pull it off, and then you start building oxygen in the atmosphere - what happens next? The crust is something like 7-9% FEO; it's going to rust away whatever oxygen you make in short order.

Interestingly, I'd argue that this is possibly the salvation to Sagan's airborne-microbe concept for terraforming Venus. The main criticism is that if you engineered some sort of carbon-sequestering microbe on Venus (or artificial equivalent), you'd end up with a deep surface layer of graphite surrounded by some hugely hot, dense oxygen layer, and the atmosphere would explode. But that would never happen; at Venus surface temperatures and pressures, the surface rocks would rust away the oxygen as fast as it was created, even in tiny quantities, with the wind blowing the dust around to collect at low/eddy areas. So you're laying down bands of carbon and iron oxide as you burn through the planet's iron buffer. Where have we seen this before? Right, Earth, ~2,3 billion years ago, banded iron formations. Just like on Earth, you'd eventually burn through the iron and start to accumulate oxygen. But by then the graphite is already underground, buried in iron dust.

It's not a fast process. But it has precedent. Microbes already rusted at least one planet, and that planet's surface conditions weren't nearly as favorable for rusting as Venus's.

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 1, Troll) 276

I don't know how China managed to melt so much arctic ice, leading to the absurd situation that just a couple days before the winter solstice this year I went on a hike through the snowless mountains in Iceland among chirping songbirds digging for worms. All I have to say to China about this is: Best. Conspiracy. Ever. Well played, China. Well played.

Comment Re:WHat I said on ars: (Score 3, Informative) 553

There is a difference between a pardon and commutation.

...which doesn't matter, of course, because the Wikipedia specifically said "clemency" (which is explicitly defined as including commutation). There is also a difference between jeans and grapefruit, but that's also irrelevant to the topic at hand.

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