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Talking To Computers? 395

merlock18 writes "Is it un-natural to talk to a computer? After discussing the outcome of the Jeopardy game with some colleagues, they seem to think it is mildly 'scary' to talk to a computer and have it competently talk back. Is this what everyone thinks? I was thinking to myself how much I would like to be able to even tell my computer to open programs by telling it vocally. A simple idea that I am fairly surprised is not common. Am I a minority in this one? Do people just not like the idea of talking (without cursing) to a computer, let alone have it act or reply? Would anyone else be interested in building their own mini-Watson, or is this just scary?"

Sysbrain Lets Satellites Think For Themselves 128

cylonlover writes "Engineers from the University of Southampton have developed what they say is the world's first control system for programming satellites to think for themselves. It's a cognitive software agent called sysbrain, and it allows satellites to read English-language technical documents, which in turn instruct the satellites on how to do things such as autonomously identifying and avoiding obstacles."

Comment Re:How far is too far? (Score 5, Interesting) 208

The problem is that the Chinese government isn't doing it - they are simply giving others license to do it, with assurances of government protection and payment.

Sound familiar? It is - it's called privateering. It used to be done with ships on the sea; now it's done with computers on the internet. While China may not be at war with us, their use of privateers is proof that they do NOT mean us well.

So how do we combat it? Article I, Section 8, paragraph 11 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to "grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water." Imagine if the US Congress granted Google the authority to go after China - can you imagine how much havoc that would wreak if Google employees focused 20% of their time on fucking with China?

Comment just one more issue.... (Score 3, Insightful) 681

if it is true, and flying is already safer than road travel, then why do we need all the security?

1) The elite prefer, at this time, to control the masses by fear. Americans are carefully social engineered to be cowards, and the elite like it that way. Otherwise, all the lives ruined by the elites might want to take a few with em on the way out. So, keep them scared.

2) Do you have any idea how much freaking money that "security theater" costs? Lots of campaign contributions later, it turns out we have a need.

I called this over a year ago in the "Air Force One NYC Flyby" incident:

"We are a bunch of fuckin' wussy people."

- 3 planeloads of people let 5 men armed with hand tools take over airplanes - because that's what they've been told to do. As soon as the 4th planeload of people find out how they've been lied to, they take action and save many more lives.

- Hundreds of students cower under desks waiting be rescued from 1 man with 2 handguns, and the only person to do ANYTHING is an octogenarian who gets killed for his efforts to protect the strong, healthy, 18-22 year old "adults" hiding in fear. The most played interview is of a young man who was simply waiting to die. He is called "heroic".

- A man starts shooting in an immigrant center, and police take 45 minutes to enter the building, while people hide like scared rabbits waiting to be rescued. The police state that their response time was irrelevant - the victims would have died anyway.

Oh yes, we have reached the point where helplessness is considered noble, where former soldiers are considered security risks because the government trained them to kill, and the people whose "job" it is to protect us simply shrug their shoulders and pick up the bodies.

Wussies doesn't really cover it.

A year and a half later, it's only gotten worse. One of the victims at VT is now making his name running "investigations" on how easy it is to get guns at gun shows - even though the guy who shot him bought from gun shops and passed the background checks. Soldiers passing through to Afghanistan are being told they need to check their bayonets - while they KEEP their rifles and sidearms. And once you enter the "secure zone", you must either submit to the scanner or the search or be arrested - you can't simply decide not to fly.

It's not even a question anymore about whether something really bad is going to happen - the question is what are people going to do WHEN it happens.

Comment Re:Hi- I'm the Author (Score 1) 330

Functions and variables shouldn't be a problem; they are already into algebra in his math class, and they are something that I understand vis a vis programming, so I can explain it.

Comment Re:Hi- I'm the Author (Score 1) 330

Would this book be suitable for a relatively precocious 10 year old? My son wants to learn how to make computer games, but he has the attention span of a gnat on Red Bull. But his math skills are excellent (about 7th grade level) and his reading is above average too, with a scary vocabulary. He'd be attracted to the comic format, but what level of programming knowledge does it assume? I'd be available to help him, except the last time I programmed anything was 20 years ago - in FORTRAN.

Comment Privacy vs. Anonymity vs. Stupidity (Score 1) 152

We HAVE a right to privacy - things done in private should stay there.

We THINK we have a right to anonymity - that somehow, things done in a public place or forum will not be connected with our identity.

People ACT with stupidity, when they post private information on a public forum with their identity specifically attached.

Society needs to read some Niven and Pournelle and learn what "Evolution in action means."

Comment Re:seven? nine? three? (Score 1) 199

Aren't computer types always accused of working in their mother's basements or the bowels of a data center? Sound like caves to me.

Oh, and read John Ringo's The Council Wars - it's a sort of retelling of the Silmarillion with sex and violence (and violent sex) replacing erudition and pretension. In the books, the rings are represented by cryptographic keys.

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