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Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 149

The problem, in general, is detecting the discrimination in the first place. The article keeps the explanation on the simplistic (and legally significant) terms by framing the issue as discrimination against "protected classes".

But the AI problem of 'prejudice by inference' is not limited to the socially negative connotation of prejudice as mentioned in the article. Your AI may be discriminating in unsuspected ways that cost your hypothetical insurance company profit by overcharging a customer category that would be statistically less likely to file a claim. Detecting that sort of discrimination is harder because the demographics won't necessarily fall into the culturally defined categories that humans have created.

Comment The first dumb thing is to put a lethal weapon (Score 2) 983

like this in the vicinity of a hostile that is willing to take lives. What a wonderful thing to disable with a cheap jammer. Free bomb for the bad guys. It's already been done with drones and there are hackers now working on how to disable this sort of robot.

The second dumb thing is to be so short-sighted as to not regard how the next robot will be met. Remotely piloted robots are great for dealing with hostage situations in non-lethal ways (enabling communication, ferrying food or medicines for hostages)--or they used to be. Now, every robot will be regarded by the bad guys as a bomb-carrier. Seeing one approaching you there can only be one safe assumption: it is carrying a bomb. Act accordingly.

It is fine to argue the finer points of how to kill someone without exposing law-enforcement to danger. The robot worked very well for that this time. But from here on, it won't go so well and could create an even bigger disaster if the robot gets hacked.

Comment Re:Post-Scarcity Star Trek Economy (Score 1) 260

Knowledge is the new currency and it is knowledge scarcity that should be of greatest concern. Currency becomes the abstraction of knowledge in the Information Age.

The complicating factors for achieving this post-scarcity future you describe can be seen using the Toffler power paradigm as outlined in the book Powershift. The premise is that power can take the form of wealth, knowledge, or violence (or the threat of violence) and we are undergoing a major shift in the power dynamic where knowledge is becoming the dominant pillar of power. The book was published in 1991 and holds up extraordinarily well, consider that it was written pre-WWW.

The relevance to an AI revolution is that such a revolution is taking place at precisely the same time as the power transformation to knowledge-dominant power structure. It is not hard to imagine that in the near term, wealth is going to buy better AI--better meaning faster, more accurately predictive, and therefore, a greater ability to manipulate (thus, more power).

There is real potential for the earliest, most powerful AIs to be accessible only to the super-rich, some of whom won't necessarily be philanthropic with their knowledge, but at the same time, be notably philanthropic with their wealth, in order to maintain their power and not incite revolutionary disruption. After all, if one has a magic money making machine (AI making good predictions) then one can afford to keep the masses fed and sheltered.

Some ask for a basic living wage for all. That is Industrial Age thinking when we have already entered the Information Age. The power shift has already happened and while data is plentiful, it is knowledge that remains scarce. AI is as fundamental to the Information Age as the steam engine was to the Industrial Revolution.

The most powerful AIs will be regarded as potential weapons by governments, terrorists groups, and revolutionary movements. Banks and brokers will regard the most powerful AIs as tools for maintaining wealth. Industrialists, see free labor and potential engineering brilliance. For any of these groups, a competing AI is a threat and many will justify actions to eliminate the threat. The rest of us are just hoping for something to do the dishes and vacuum.

Comment Your management suffers from (Score 1) 234

a misplaced sense of security. The building is not securing the source code. You should first focus your efforts on convincing why physical security of the building is not what is protecting the source. I ponder what extraordinary circumstances you might be working under, already. Are there not non-compete contracts in place with current employees?

Regarding hiring outside help, perhaps, there is another issue: assuming your company is in the US, is the code possibly subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)? If there is a hint of a possibility, then you need to look into this as it will restrict who can be hired to work on the code, as well as the physical location.

I know of one company that was so distrustful of its employees (or, more likely trying to hide something) that only the founders were allowed direct access to the version control system for the flagship product. They had in place a ridiculous check-out, check-in procedure that slowed development, needless to say. It smelled pretty strongly that the source had been ripped off from the founders previous employer and that they worried that access to version control history would reveal that. No surprise that culture there was stifling and the guy I knew that worked there did not stay long.

Comment Bolden is just posturing Obama for posterity (Score 1) 162

When putting humans on Mars finally approaches inevitability, historians will attempt to define the starting place for the journey. "...and it all began back in the year ???? with President [NAME]". Bolden's statement is simply posturing the Obama administration as the Kennedy-like launching point to Mars. It is just political bullshit, nothing more.

NASA can wipe the slate clean in 2017, and as long it provides a new plan to keep an experienced work-force from fleeing, the start-over will not doom NASA. In fact, with the pace of technological changes continuing to accelerate, a couple of start-overs should be expected between now and 2039.

Comment Ratio of web designers to programmers... (Score 1) 309

for most companies is hugely in favor of the programmers. A few years ago I needed to hire a college-grad CS major for (non-web) software development. I contacted the local university and received several dozen resumes, and nearly every prospect was highlighting their web design experience and looking for a job doing the same. The exception to that were the foreign graduate students, whom I could not hire for security clearance reasons, and one previously home-schooled kid (for high-school) that fast-tracked his way through college and was not stuck in that web design rut like everyone else. While I found two other candidates I could barely justify interviewing (because of what they did for hobby programming, not what they espoused in their schoolwork), the previously home-schooled kid got the job. No contest, really. I was mad at the school for producing so many no-interview/no-hires and wrote them a letter saying as much.

The company I worked for at the time employed 90-100 people, with about 25 of those being software developers. We only had one web designer and he was also doing all the IT in three cities, so web design was very part-time activity. The most important part of our web-presence was CRM software, which we wisely outsourced to a big-name company which hosted that portion for us. We paid that company about half of what we'd pay one full-time programmer and it handled thousands of customers. That left our IT/web designer doing fairly rudimentary web development.

It is a scaling issue. The tiniest company that needs a rudimentary web presence might do web development in-house with a poorly qualified individual and then later maybe outsource to gain a fairly robust but static online web presence. Once they are big enough to hire a competent in-house web person, they still won't need to hire a second web developer until that company is either very large, or doing something very unusually interesting online--and outsourcing can usually be done cheaper in most of those cases.

The bottom line is that you should concentrate on school and the non-web oriented CS courses that school can offer you. Most companies don't need anything fancy or unusual for web design and a university that is pushing more than one class in that area as part of a CS degree is exploiting the students' ignorance of the job market. There is more than enough fundamental things to be learned in CS without getting bogged down in teaching whatever the latest trendy web tools are.

If you need to earn money, offer your part-time services as a consultant to small mom-and-pop businesses that have crappy websites. As a demo, repackage what they have into something less crappy. Send them a link and then offer to revamp and maintain their website. Smaller churches are another good candidate and could probably use a part-time IT person to help them from time-to-time. Line up a few of those each year and you'll have a nice side-business and resume to augment your degree.

Comment Re:tl;dr (Score 1) 331

Marx also failed to see the term "poverty" encompass such a broad spectrum of living conditions. What was poverty in Europe prior to 1848? Compare that to what we call poverty in the US or EU in 2014. Similarly, compare the living conditions of the working poor in 1848 vs today. If Marx could time-travel to from 1848 to 2014, he might reconsider a great deal of his Manifesto.

Comment Re:And Russia will announce shortly (Score 1) 291

You prefer to leave space flight to the whims of a billionaire instead of dictator?

I hope private companies are successful in achieving reliable manned flight, but I don't believe the US should be putting all its eggs in one basket. Until there are viable alternatives, the US would be wise to pursue as many avenues to space as possible.

Comment Re:And Russia will announce shortly (Score 1) 291

Except Bolden has said he would recommend killing SLS and Orion if Russia stops flying our astronauts to the ISS.

'Bolden said the space station would probably have to be shut down without Russian transport, and in that case, "I would go to the president and recommend we terminate SLS and Orion."'

Care to rethink what the agenda is?

Comment 2 days later..maybe have to kill SLS and Orion if (Score 1) 291

.."if Russia stops American astronaut rides to the International Space Station any time soon and before U.S. companies are ready to do the job."

Asshole. How does this even make sense?
'The space station would probably have to be shut down without Russian transport, and in that case, "I would go to the president and recommend we terminate SLS and Orion."'

Comment Re: and for a hardware company w/ no market share (Score 1) 151

I thought about your 1) but concluded no, because when companies do this, they acquire proven companies with a predictable revenue stream. Oculus is burning money and their business model relies on a bunch of people adopting new behaviors for interacting with their computers. A killer VR app is needed to make this work, even among the hardcore gamer market. FB is not the killer app for VR, so...there must be much more to this story we don't know yet for this to be the case..

For 2) I think this is on the right track and would add that if Oculus had an IP portfolio that provided licensable tech, AND there was a giant, burgeoning VR market about to explode, then there'd be even more weight for this scenario. Not sure Oculus had that key IP, however.

But given the huge amount of money paid--for a hardware company with no market share in a nearly non-existent market, I think about 40x too much--FB either bought a toy they wanted to make sure came to market, or they aren't done with acquisitions and the other shoe has yet to drop.

If FB wants to somehow integrate into a VR-type environment, then I think FB acquired the wrong company, and they should have courted CastAR. The CastAR device, being potentially highly mobile inside with smartphone hookup, and in AR mode, allows you to walk about, integrates into an environment is far more friendly to the kinds interaction FB provides. Either way, however, CastAR benefits by Oculus' success, as the vast majority of users still need to be convinced that VR or AR is a worthy thing. 'Foculus Rift' blazes that trail and CastAR grows alongside as the market does.

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