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Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child 331

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."

Comment Re:Evolution (Score 1) 453

It requires nothing of the sort. It just requires that you sometimes try going up instead of down.

Depending on the terrain, however, "sometimes going down" could almost always result in worse performance.

One solution is more randomness in the culling heuristics, as well as bigger populations and occasional bigger mutations.

Of course, this applies to whole populations, not individuals. Simply saying "follow the gradient and occasionally don't" is more likely to result in degraded average performance. Actually knowing when going against the gradient is helpful and not harmful, and knowing which direction to take against the gradient, OR having a good heuristic for guessing when it's a good idea, on the other hand, is clearly optimal.

Randomly doing something counterintuitive may reveal clues toward a more optimal solution, but in itself it is no guarantee of improvement.

Comment Re:Recanted (Score 1) 453

Vista is a very good example of what happens when you take tough theoretical problems and throw entry-level programmers at them who haven't spent enough time converting C code to assembly on 4-bit microcontrollers with 64 bits of onboard RAM to appreciate the inherent value in code optimization and algorithm design, and there's enough processor speed and memory available that nobody notices or cares about the inefficiencies until it hits shelves and millions of end-users are forced to hit "Allow" 300 times a day.

Comment Re:Evolution (Score 1) 453

Except following the gradient is just an example of using a suboptimal solution that works in the majority of cases, and is significantly less difficult to implement than the "next step up," which requires, at the very least, an internal model of the surrounding terrain. If it is actually known that going down will help you get higher, it's not actually a dumb decision despite how it may appear to agents without the "internal model" algorithm.

In fact, the gradient follower in that case is actually the dumber process, because it takes only one factor into account. But if the gradient follower is able to observe the internal modeler performing counterintuitive steps and achieving greater results, it may attempt to modify its own behavior without understanding the justification behind it, or the full ramifications thereof. This is where IT Managers come from.

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