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Comment Re:A success? Some people disagree... (Score 1) 203

If real natural language parsers ever come into being, the problem you describe would be one of the most interesting places to apply them. If you had a program that could actually understand language, then you could search the whole net and track trends like the ones you describe.

I'm not a programmer, and I don't keep up with these things, but I haven't heard of anyone even trying this yet. But if it ever happens, it will make alot of interesting trends and correlations immediately apparent, with potentially far - reaching effects.

Comment This guy isn't the CEO . . . (Score 1) 708

Howard Stringer is. Also, he recently gave an interview where he talks about a number of things, including how badly he thinks Sony has screwed up in the past and what he thinks they need to change. Reading that interview, I don't see any indication that he thinks that nothing good has come from the internet. He actually seems eager to embrace it and all the possibilities.

Which would be great, considering how many times Sony has dropped the ball in recent years.

Comment Population doesn't matter? (Score 5, Interesting) 258

I'm speculating here, but I don't think this is impossible, or even very far off.

We already have robots working in factories. If we ever get to the point where robots can be effectively used in war, we'll also be at the point where robots are capable of extracting resources. So, robots extracting resources, making robots, and fighting. Great, we've all seen this stuff in sci-fi, nothing new. But I've never encountered anyone talking about how this would affect world politics or the balance of power.

In todays world, the population of a country, as well as the will of the population, quality of military training, and natural resources all play a role in how well a country does in war. But if a country had robots as I just described, the primary factor in determining that country's power would be the natural resources available to it. If robots build robots you've got as many as you need, so the limiting factor is the raw materials and not food or population size or training etc.

So which countries have the raw materials? They win. For example, in this scenario Canada might be able to put up fight against the U.S. because Canada has alot of resources. As it stands now, Canada would get creamed.

This line of thought becomes more interesting when you think that the U.S. Military is developing robots as a way of making the U.S. army more effective, but maybe they are changing the equation so drastically that they might end up with much stronger enemies on more fronts.

Food for thought.

Comment Re:Zen for birds. (Score 1) 290

I grew up in the country, far from anything resembling a city, and I can attest to this. I used to walk off in the morning and get to somewhere I'd never been, wandering around for 6 hours at a time . . . didn't get lost though. I would just walk along, building a map in my head, and it was easy to get to any place I had ever been no matter where I was.

Living in the city now, I get really annoyed sometimes. I still have the habit of just cutting a straight line to get to where I'm going, but in the city there is always the inevitable fence, highway, building or angry person. Somewhat paradoxically, in the city following my sense of direction forces me to backtrack more often than not.

This was not, however the case when I went on an exchange year in France. The newer parts of the cities there are more like the cities in north america, and I would have the problem described above. But the older parts were often more organically laid out with shortcuts and passageways that you could find if you just went in the 'obvious' direction. Much nicer for walking around and living in.

Comment If it's not illegal over there . . . (Score 1) 122

Many sites (The Pirate Bay being a high-profile example) get by because their actions and services are not illegal in the country in which they operate. However, since the internet connects everyone, if those actions or services are illegal in anyone's country they can still use them because they can connect to the foreign country with no problem.

Great, so everyone knew that already. The question is, can this same tactic be used by law enforcement and government? What I mean is, even if the FBI hacking your computer is illegal in the U.S., could they go to a friendly government where hacking isn't illegal, get them to do it, and then give the information back to the FBI through some friendly diplomatic process?

I would appreciate it if a lawyer chimed in here, but would that evidence be admissible in any court? Even if it isn't, the tactic could still open up a number of doors. For example, it's probably easier to get a treaty saying international evidence is permissible than it is to convince your population to let you spy on them. Furthermore, internationally obtained evidence might make it easier to get a warrant. Also consider that it would be evidence about something happening in the U.S., so even if it is obtained in another country it must count for something here. Finally, even if the law can't legally use it, the journalists probably can. Any other ideas?

So the same bit of legal reasoning that lets people in the U.S. use The Pirate Bay, "it's not illegal over there" might come back and bite us in the ass.

Comment Re:Whats the solution ? (Score 1) 292

I'm not a parent, but I think I understand the concern here.

I'm also not a programmer or web developer (I'm studying physics and math), so I'm not sure if the idea I'm about to explain is feasible or possible, but I think it would work.

Would it be difficult for parents to take this censorship problem into their own hands, and remove the necessity for government control completely? If someone could create a "child-safe whitelist" of the internet, and then make a browser plugin that only allows those sites, it seems to me like this problem would be solved. How could one do this? Start a website and try and form a community, like digg or slashdot or whatever, but instead of people submitting stories and voting on them, parents submit websites and vote on them for inclusion on the whitelist.

I know, it would take a long time to get going, to get the list long enough to be useable, but after that I think it would be pretty good. And there has got to be enough concerned parents out there for something like this to get off the ground. And if you could manage to create a confirmed, child-safe subset of the internet, then I think the "protect the children" problem would dissapear.

I can imagine some problems with the implemenation here, but also some possible solutions. For example, how would you gaurantee that the sites on the whitlist are actually ok? what if a peadophile starts submitting sites? Well, this is why a healthy parent community would be important: I hope the number of concerned parents out there is larger than the number of paedophiles. With a good enough community, bad content would get voted down. Obviously it's not going to be perfect, but it should work well enough and it would be a hell of alot better then government censorship.

What about disagreements on the content? There are bound to be flame wars on which content gets included; for example, I would say that is ok for kids, theres no kiddie porn content. Others might say it's too complicated for kids, to which I would reply that the point of the whitelist is to find child-safe stuff, not necessarily child-understandable. These sorts of disagreements would have to be worked out some how.

Also, you'd have to fiddle with the voting system so that you got a good range of content and no porn.

But the biggest problem that I can think of is parents trusting the government filters instead of themselves or their own involvement in this "whitelist community", trusting politicians more their desire to be active in raising their children.

Do you think it would work?

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