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Comment You're banning the wrong guns (Score 1) 61

If we were going to ban guns as a public safety measure, we really should start with handguns - they don't look nearly as scary, but are responsible for the vast majority of gun-related deaths. And that holds true even if you only look at gun deaths caused by mass-shooters who own an "assault rifle". Handguns are after all a weapon specifically designed for killing civilians in urban environments in the most convenient manner possible.

Assault rifles and their kin on the other hand are optimized for killing armed and potentially lightly armored adversaries at medium range (out to a few hundred yards), and are drastic overkill for soft targets at closer range. Eliminating them primarily helps protect police and possibly gang members, not the general public.

Comment Re:So... (Score 2) 61

Despite initially feeling the same as you about the Autopilot name, I've been cooling rapidly on it for one simple reason: in practice an aviation autopilot can handle pretty much anything that it is likely to encounter well enough for a distracted pilot to take many seconds assessing any crisis situation before having to take control. And that's key, because if the pilot's input is not needed, then human nature dictates that they're likely to be distracted when a situation that *does* need their input arises.

Tesla's Autopilot is not yet anywhere near that competent, not because it's technical competency is lacking in comparison, quite the opposite in fact, but because its expected operating environment is far more crowded and chaotic, and most crises will unfold far more rapidly, having already reached a conclusion before an inevitably distracted driver can hope to assess the situation. As such, Autopilot will need to be FAR more competent than it currently is just to be able to offer the same level of real-world functionality and safety as its relatively crude aviation counterpart.

I'd say it's currently got 70-80% of the needed functionality worked out, which means, as any programmer can attest, that only 90% or so of the work remains to be done.

Comment Who is spying on me? (Score 4, Insightful) 88

Honestly, I'm far less about the Chinese spying on me than my government. I mean, what do the Chinese care about me, other than as a potential customer? My own government though - anything I might do or talk about that poses a legitimate threat to the powers that be is liable to get me labeled as a terrorist and sorely inconvenienced if not outright "disappeared".

And as the level of corruption in our governments become clear, the obligation upon us all to begin fighting back against the current oligarchies steadily increases. I doubt I'll be the one that comes up with a solution, but when my government is spying on me, I can only assume it's also spying on those who *are* coming up with solutions. And that it will spare no expense in making sure such solutions are destroyed before they even begin to gather the necessary momentum.

Comment Re:What have they shown? (Score 1) 66

True. I worry though that it opens the door to creating genetic monocultures in livestock such as we see in agriculture - such monocultures do indeed increase short-term productivity, but at the expense of becoming far more vulnerable to disease.

It also potentially drastically reduces the long-term potential of the gene-line by eliminating most of the genetic variance that provides fertile ground for new beneficial mutations to emerge. Though as we take our first faltering steps into actually understanding DNA we can at least hope to eventually be able to engineer in new genetic features faster and more effectively than the mutation lottery could hope to accomplish.

Comment Re:What have they shown? (Score 2) 66

Correction - that's not how *normal* animals work.

However, aging is still very poorly understood, and there appears to be significant components on both the systemic (organs, organism) level, and cellular levels. There was some legitimate concern that a clone would start life with the cellular age of its "parent", potentially resulting in the cells reaching "old age" long before the systems did, which would likely result in a very different kind of old age, with things like cell's self-replication systems beginning to fail despite the organs themselves initially being otherwise in good health.

In that regard they're still not *entirely* certain it's not an issue, though it's looking good. The current sheep seem fine, and are in the 7-9 year age range (out of a normal 12-year lifespan), so it seems likely that either the cloning technique used did in fact successfully reset the cellular age (at least mostly), or that cellular aging is a minor factor in the aging of sheep.

An interesting follow-up experiment would be cloning the clones, perhaps for several generations, to looks for cumulative problems. Another might be to intentionally NOT reset the cellular aging mechanisms (that we know of) to better understand the contributions of cellular aging to the overall effect. Though that may have already been done in preliminary experiments - I know few of the details of this tale.

Comment Re: Doing Trump's work for him (Score 1) 460

Are you seriously arguing that having a populous that can afford your products is an impediment to small businesses? And obviously the majority of the benefit goes to the majority stakeholders in the economy - the majority benefit of *any* economic growth goes to them - anything that helps people, and doesn't specifically exclude or disadvantage them, will tend to benefit them most.

Yes, it does make for some additional difficulty for startups, but the alternative (baring direct income assistance) is to say that the most disadvantaged people should continue to be required to work 60-80 hours per week to have any chance of getting ahead. Because that's the reality of the current situation.

Earth

Feds To Deploy Anti-Drone Software Near Wildfires (thehill.com) 167

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: Federal officials are launching a new "geofencing" program to alert drone pilots when they're flying too close to wildfire prevention operations. The Department of Interior said Monday it would deploy software warnings to pilots when their drones pose a risk to the aircraft used by emergency responders fighting wildfires. The agency said there have been 15 instances of drones interfering with firefighter operations this year, including several leading to grounded aircraft. Drone-related incidents doubled between 2014 and 2015, the agency said. Officials built the new warning system with the drone industry, and the agency said manufacturers could eventually use it to build drones that automatically steer away from wildfire locations. The program is in its pilot phase, the agency said; officials hope to have a full public release in time for next year's wildfire season. "No responsible drone operator wants to endanger the lives of the men and women who work to protect them and we believe this program, which uses the global positioning system to create a virtual barrier, will move us one step closer to eliminating this problem for wildfire managers," Mark Bathrick, the director of the Interior Department's Office of Aviation Service, said in a statement.
Privacy

Glassdoor Exposes 600,000 Email Addresses (siliconbeat.com) 94

A web site where users anonymously review their employer has exposed the e-mail addresses -- and in some cases the names -- of hundreds of thousands of users. An anonymous reader quotes an article from Silicon Beat: On Friday, the company sent out an email announcing that it had changed its terms of service. Instead of blindly copying email recipients on the message, the company pasted their addresses in the clear. Each message recipient was able to see the email addresses of 999 other Glassdoor users...

Ultimately, the messages exposed the addresses of more than 2 percent of the company's users... Last month, the company said it had some 30 million monthly active users, meaning that more than 600,000 were affected by the exposure... Although the company didn't directly disclose the names of its users, many of their names could be intuited from their email addresses. Some appeared to be in the format of "first name.last name" or "first initial plus last name."

A Glassdoor spokesperson said "We are extremely sorry for this error. We take the privacy of our users very seriously and we know this is not what is expected of us. It certainly isn't how we intend to operate."

Comment Re:Code should be as concise as possible. (Score 1) 239

Ideally such functions will contain several pages of incredibly complicated looking code that will be completely optimized away in release builds, but exhaustively execute for debugs and traces, and require months of careful human analysis before anyone else can be completely certain of that fact.

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