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Comment Re: Great event! (Score 1) 420

"Does something exist if it is the product of an algorithm or does it only exist after the algorithm has been executed. If I compress a document does the document cease to exist until I decompress it, or does it exist as a combination of the algorithm and the compressed data."

Sorry for the late reply. So my answer to the metaphysical question is "No, it does not exist". This was an epiphany for me during my time as a patent examiner. I was talking to an older examiner and expressed the frustration that people were just claiming ideas that essentially already existed. I didn't express this quite in the way that I did just now, but this idea was an embedded though somewhat camouflaged implicit assumption in my frustration. When the older examiner told me that the ideas didn't exist until the inventor invented them, I argued with him vociferously for a while, but he eventually won the argument, and I had that epiphany. I went on to convince myself mathematically that some combinations simply do not exist anywhere in the universe before someone makes them. That is the basis for intellectual property law (done properly). This string of words, right here, has never been put together before, although I am drawing from a list of previously used words, and using a fairly well defined algorithm (English syntax) to put them together. So, if I were to copyright these words, I am not stealing pre-existing property from mankind. No, this string of words never before existed. If I pick out a number at random with one hundred digits, I will guarantee you will not find that string of digits was actually written out before.

It is the difference between writing an algorithm and actually executing the algorithm. You can write down the algorithm, "Print all numbers 1 - google" but you can't actually execute it. Not within the limits of our universe. If I pull out that random 100 digit number, out of sequence, I will guarantee no one else ever before has pulled out that same number, out of sequence, and written it down. Here is one:

Well, just type your own damn string of numbers. I tried to post one on Slashdot, but I got the error message, "Filter error: That's an awful long string of letters there." And it won't let me post. Whatever happened to freedom of expression? Why is Slashdot censoring my strings of one hundred digit numbers? Why does Slashdot discriminate between the algorithm "write a one hundred digit string of numbers" and an actual string of one hundred digits?

Anyway, go find whatever random 100 digit number you generated anywhere, other than where you wrote it. It will make going back in time and winning yesterdays Powerball look pretty easy. And just because you can search it on the Library of Babel, and come up with locations, doesn't mean they exist. Those locations have literally never existed before you searched for them, in much the same way that writing an algorithm for "writing out all the numbers 1 to the number above" and executing that algorithm is not the same. Is there a difference between the algorithm "Store all the numbers 1-google without compression" and the algorithm "Store all the numbers 1-google with compression"? There is. If there is not, you can prove basically anything about "compression". That is a basic logical tenet. If you can prove a statement and it's opposite, you can prove anything within the logic you are using. One difference between those two algorithms is this: the first algorithm cannot be executed, and the second one can. It is essentially the same difference between the algorithm "Describe all inventions that will be the subject of a US patent application filed in year 2017" and the algorithm "Provide a printout in under a year describing all inventions that will be the subject of a US patent application filed in the year 2017". I know an algorithm for the former, and have written it down, but I will never execute it. In 2018, it will be relatively easy to provide an algorithm for the latter (possibly excepting patents on gene sequences). If you have an algorithm *now* for the latter, you can be much richer than the Powerball winners. The best and most efficient algorithm for the latter is called "Earth" and that algorithm exists now, and will execute the former and latter algorithms in 2017. Nowhere else in the Universe does the latter algorithm exist, and it would not be complete without me, without you, without Slashdot, and without these words. Now there is some metaphysics for you to ponder.

Comment Re: Great event! (Score 1) 420

I think of it more as a physical argument, not a metaphysical argument. You said the computer contained nothing except the boot loader algorithm and maybe the kernel executable. I'm not following you there. To make sure we are talking about the same computer, I'm including the microprocessor, RAM, ROM, and non-volatile storage at minimum. Of course there also has to be some I/O. Your comment about not finding my last e-mail with a microscope puzzled me. Of course my last e-mail is stored, and of course it is very unlikely to be stored optically, (unless my non-volatile storage is some type of writable optical disk, which is not true of my computer). A microscope would be of no help. So, if I were trying to find my last email on my computer, I would need a magnetic read head capable of analyzing the surface of the magnetic disk in my computer. Fortunately, such a magnetic read head is built in, and it is configured to read the tiny bits of magnetic material on my magnetic disk which stores ones and zeros which represent the ascii codes for my last email.

In my way of thinking, all of the ascii data that makes up any statement is always physically stored somewhere, and never appears by magic, or some non-physical process. The exceptions are randomly generated data and algorithmically generated data. Now, I would assert that "Print out all the numbers from 1-10" is a very simple algorithm written in plain English. Storing that requires an amount of computer space which is different from "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0". Notice that if the first algorithm is stored on the computer, the ascii value for "7" is a bit sequence that is not stored. In the second data set, the ascii value for 7 is stored. That is the basic difference.

It is really even easier than that to understand. I can say that I know how to count from one to google. I do. I know exactly how to count from one to google. But I just can't physically do it, and neither can any computer. It takes too long. The algorithm is simple, and has a well defined beginning and end. If you ask me to do it, I will fail. If you ask a computer to do it, it will not halt until it is shut down. Even if the computer is merely counting in one of it's internal registers, and not doing any I/O, it would not make it before the universe imploded. It would need approximately a 333 bit internal register (I use 10 exp 3 = approx 2 exp 10 as a conversion), which is almost trivial to make with today's technology. But even if you ran it at tens or hundreds of gigahertz, you would not make a substantial dent in your counting sequence in one year. Ok, to make it simple, say we (or the computer) counts at a terrahertz, or from one to 10 exp 12 in one second. How high can we count in a year? A year is 31,536,000 seconds. Let's just round it up to 100,000,000 seconds, or 10 exp 8. So we've counted up to 10 exp 20 in one year, using our approx. 3 terrahertz computer. Oh, I know! Let's count for a hundred billion years. Great, now we have surpassed the life of the universe, and we've only made it to 10 exp 31. Oh, I know, let's use more than one computer register, and count in parallel! Even if we turned the entire mass of the solar system into computer registers that could help with the counting, we would not get close to our goal of counting to google. Only when we used every fundamental particle in the universe to represent one bit in our computer, and counted for a time on the order of the lifetime of the universe, are we beginning to be in the rough order of magnitude of counting one to google. But then, that is just counting, not storing all the data. Oh, I can store all the data for you! I will just use a compression algorithm. Here is all the data, compressed into one simple algorithm: "All the numbers from one to google". I've stored it! If you want me to retrieve a number, * just tell me what the number is *, and I will retrieve it! I have them all, right here, up in my noggin. If the number is part of the "stored" numbers one to google, I will let you know. Now there is a metaphysical argument for you.

The true metaphysical argument here is about how fantastically unique we all are if you can begin to understand these numbers. I have more than 300 unique bits in the leftmost millimeter of the tip of my left big toenail. No one will ever be anything remotely like me as I am right now at this moment, sitting here in my room, even if the universe repeats itself a hundred gajillion times. What I am experiencing right now is a miracle of large numbers, which cannot be stored, lost forever if I don't experience it myself, right now, this moment.

Comment Re: Great event! (Score 1) 420

Thank you JimFive. BTW, are you one of the people in the Library of Babel's molecule collection, which stores every possible three dimensional configuration of atoms (and molecules) up to 200 kilograms? Or did you escape?

Seriously, nothing is really stored in the Library of Babel, as far as I can tell. Instead, it is a program which generates a book or image based on a reference. There is a huge difference. In other words, I can make a reference to every book that is 410 pages long very easily. In fact, I just did make that reference, in the last sentence. Any example of a 410 page book seems to be within the bounds of my reference, and, once I see the book, I could imagine it to be located here... wherever "here" is imagined to be (but within a space larger than the universe). So it would be quite a different matter to actually embody all of those books. It is literally the difference between saying "All the numbers 1-10" and "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10". Those two sentences may mean the same thing, but they are not literally the same thing. If I said "All the numbers 1-google" I only made a reference! I did not actually say all those numbers. It would be physically impossible for me to put a sentence next to it that listed all the numbers one to google. What the Library of Babel has managed to do is to make a sophisticated algorithm to reference many books. It is a programmed reference.

I am glad you provided me with that link. People like you make posting worthwhile. I hadn't heard of the Library of Babel before. I think I should provide a link to the USPTO. I'd like to see them chew on that for a while.

Comment Re: Great event! (Score 1) 420

You are funny. But, ignoring the fact that this is a complete troll, of course nobody starts with an infinite sequence of words. You would obviously need an infinite number of sheets of paper or computer memory to start with the *complete* sequence S. Even if we limited ourselves to a mere 10,000 word vocabulary, no current computer could come close to containing the complete set of sequences that are at least 25 words long. If each word in your sequence is chosen from 10,000 words, then there are 10 to the n * 4 words in the complete set of sequences of words n words long. For n=25, that is 10 to the 100th words. Maybe you should google that number. It is higher than the number of fundamental particles in the universe. Thus, even if you managed to build a computer which stored one word per fundamental particle in the universe, you could not start with the complete set of sequences of words that are at least twenty five words long, and then edit them down. Although I have not read it, I assume that the diary was longer than 25 words, and therefore her father was not engaged in a creative process, in this universe at least. Perhaps you believe he could have concentrated the combined resources of a multiverse and channeled the results into this universe, but I would insist that would be mere speculation on your part. As you may notice, my reply was more than 25 words, and could not have been anticipated by even the smartest slashdotter, even with a beowulf cluster of several quadrillion universe scale supercomputers at their disposal. Even I didn't know what I was going to say.

Submission + - Microsoft has your encryption key if you use Windows 10 (theintercept.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: The fact that new Windows devices require users to backup their recovery key on Microsoft’s servers is remarkably similar to a key escrow system, but with an important difference. Users can choose to delete recovery keys from their Microsoft accounts (you can skip to the bottom of this article to learn how) – something that people never had the option to do with the Clipper chip system. But they can only delete it after they’ve already uploaded it to the cloud.


As soon as your recovery key leaves your computer, you have no way of knowing its fate. A hacker could have already hacked your Microsoft account and can make a copy of your recovery key before you have time to delete it. Or Microsoft itself could get hacked, or could have hired a rogue employee with access to user data. Or a law enforcement or spy agency could send Microsoft a request for all data in your account, which would legally compel them to hand over your recovery key, which they could do even if the first thing you do after setting up your computer is delete it. As Green puts it, “Your computer is now only as secure as that database of keys held by Microsoft, which means it may be vulnerable to hackers, foreign governments, and people who can extort Microsoft employees.”

Comment Re:Dear Mr FBI (Score 5, Insightful) 347

And what about Google, Apple, and Facebook? Isn't this just lovely that Comey is telling these companies to make sure there is a way they can read all our communications, even when we try to use encryption? Once the capability is there, the corporate lawyers will simply have us agree in the "end user license" (that we negotiate with them by clicking "I agree") that Google et al. can read and sell ALL our communications regardless of any court order. Nice. I really love where this is headed. Thanks again, FBI. I love you people! You're doing a great job! Always thinking of me! I feel so secure!

Comment Re: Sounds like a psycopath. (Score 1) 486

Yeah, because the Russians have a huge motivation to constantly pass false tips about terrorists to American intelligence operations. They are so devious!!! They know if they constantly pass us false tips, our FBI and CIA will use up all their resources chasing their tails. Way to put that troll in its place! That time they told us about the Boston Marathon bomber was probably just a mistake. Obviously, we should ignore tips from unreliable people like the Russians and border patrol agents, and double down on mass surveillance.

Comment Re: Trade Secret, not Copyright (Score 1) 117

OK, I'll bite. Patent law requires sufficient disclosure for a person skilled in the art to make and use the invention. The general intent of patents was to avoid trade secrets, and having technologies lost when master practitioners died. Trade secrets are destroyed by such disclosure. Patent law is supposed to cover the substance of a disclosure, not the particular disclosure. In other words, you could describe a blue semiconductor laser in any way you want, as long as it was clear to a person skilled in the art, and your intellectual property would be blue semiconductor lasers, not the words describing them. Copyright covers the particular expression, not the underlying substance. Thus, many university professors could all write textbooks about the same blue semiconductor laser, without violating each others' copyright. They couldn't all patent the same blue semiconductor lasers. Also, copyright is at odds with trade secrets in the most basic way. Of course there are exceptions, and software seems to span all three. That's because a set of computer words could be 1) an indecipherable secret code 2) an artistic expression, or 3) a functional part of a machine, such as a read only memory in a CVD chamber which makes blue semiconductor lasers. In the third instance, the CVD chamber could turn out useful blue semiconductor lasers or completely useless silicon junk, simply by changing only the contents of the ROM. So, the software in the ROM might be covered by a patent which describes the steps the software makes the CVD chamber perform. You might not need to see the source code or the compiled code in order to understand the invention. The compiled code could be covered by copyright, and the source code could be covered by trade secret. Notice that these are all different things, yet all aspects of the same thing. 65 is not the same as 01000001 or the letter "A", is it? No, they are three different things, just like patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. Any similarity is all in your head. And BTW, it's not yours, so keep your filthy brain off it.

Comment Re:It's the base assumption that its invalid (Score 1) 392

It's a bit more than banning gloves. It's more like requiring you to wear a subcutaneous chip, to track your movements, just in case you murder someone. Seriously, the logic is very close to that. It is hard to miss the fact that most people have smart phones now. So what if someone decides to murder three nuns and three babies, and LEAVES their smart phone AT HOME? Shouldn't we prevent this, so murderers don't get away with murdering three nuns and three babies? Who can be for murderers murdering three nuns and three precious babies? We must implant the smart phone locators inside every person, so they can't get away with murder. The big problem with this, of course, is the tremendous power imbalance this creates between the people in the government and the people not in the government. If non-government folks could spy on the government folks in the same way, this wouldn't be such a huge problem. But that arrangement is almost unthinkable in this elitist culture.

Comment Re:not new (Score 3, Insightful) 243

My thought exactly. This is why one should be extremely skeptical. The article says that none of the circuitry is new, it's only the miniaturization to a sleeve a few millimeters thick that is the trick. So why wouldn't toy manufacturers build this type of thing into their toys to make them last longer? Wouldn't this make people like the toys more? Or at least have fewer gripes? And doesn't every battery powered device need to last longer?

Comment Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 591

I am glad you can communicate with dead people, but a few of the living actually have stated a preference for the death penalty. For the rest on death row, because it is so awful and final, the death penalty does spur active opposition and advocacy on the side of the convicted person to do everything possible to prevent their execution, including finding evidence to clear their names. With a life sentence, the need for immediate action is not so compelling. Lifers don't get the same focused attention. I do not believe in the death penalty, but that doesn't mean I can't evaluate the actual practices the penalty incites.

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