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Comment Re:SWTOR spoiled me rotten (Score 1) 128

Not 100%, but the Developers said they've recorded the equivalent of 60 feature length films worth of dialog.

All the personal story quests have short cut-scenes with spoken dialogs. A lot of dialog can be heard just running around towns too. It really brings the cities to life hearing snippets of conversations everywhere you go. That was one thing SW was lacking I think, the cities and environments didn't feel alive.

You'll also hear some of the spoken dialog as NPCs rush over to you and call out for help. There aren't traditional quest hubs with 4 NPC's wearing exclaimation point hats that each have 3 paragraphs of text to read. Instead you'll just see some bandits attacking the water pipes, or you'll see the farm being overrun by centaurs and you'll simply go help out. There's no wall of text necessary when you can see things happening right in front of you.

That being said some of the voice actors they got are a bit flat, but there's not a ton of quest text to read through either.

Comment Re:Pop Science (Score 1) 35

What's so bad about giving kids a space where all these creative tools exist and letting them just come in and see what they can come up with?

Yeah, 99% of the things that come out of there will be nothing special, but what if this "makerspace" enables the one kid in a million who has an actual gift for this and he comes up with something new and innovative?

Comment Re:Seems to me (Score 1) 409

My understanding of H2O versus CO2 is that yes, H2O is a stronger greenhouse gas, but it has a very short atmospheric lifespan.

Water evaporates up into the air, sticks around for a week or so, then falls back to earth.

CO2, on the other hand, has an atmospheric lifetime of decades... so it's pumped out of car exhausts and smokestacks into the atmosphere, but it does not get pulled back out or fall back to earth for a long time. Where water can reach some kind equalibrium, CO2 is being pumped into the atmosphere and is not being pulled out at nearly the same rate. As it accumulates and piles up in the atmosphere CO2's greenhouse effects are building and will be felt for decades to come.


Comment Re:So only your opinion counts? (Score 1) 1042

If you were to check the actual numbers, you'd discover that the rich pay way more than their fair share. The top 10% richest americans pay half of all taxes, while half the country pays no income tax at all.

I think that statistic just demonstrates how crazy, out-of-whack rich the top 10% really are. They pay the majority of the taxes because they have the majority of the money.

According to this page the top 10% hold about 75% of the nations wealth: Wealth Distribution Seems like if we're talking about "fair shares" then they should be paying about 75% of our taxes and not just 50%.

Comment Re:Killing pixels... (Score 1) 432

Men = hunters. Women = gatherers.

Sounds like there is potential for a co-op, Real Time Strategy game here. I tried to play Starcraft 2 recently and I'm just not fast enough, (ADD enough), to keep jumping back and forth from my main base, to my other base, to my army in the field, to my other army in the field and back again. If my wife could be building our bases and gathering resources on her screen that would free me up to build our army and focus on them and their battles without falling behind in either aspect.

Comment Re:So many comments about the buzzer (Score 1) 674

I wasn't saying Google would not return anything relevant, I was saying simply typing the literal question into Google and then reading off the title of the first result is almost never going to work.

I tried it with the questions on this site:

A few of the Google results do have the answer in the title of some of the results, but Watson still needs to understand what the question is asking for and have some way to know which piece to pull out:
Jeopardy Answer: Pseudonym of labor activist & magazine namesake Mary Harris Jones
Google Result 1: Book Nook Cafe - In the Public Domain (showing 1-43 of 43)
Google Result 2: The Daily Bleed: A Calendar Better Than Boiled Coffee! History Mom...
Google Result 3: Mother Jones: The Woman | Mother Jones

It's easy for us to pick out the correct phrase from result 3, but Watson, if it were simply using Google, would still need some algorithm to understand that "Daily Bleed" is not right, that "Book Nook" is not right, that "History Mom" is not right, and that it only needs the first 2 words from result 3. That's the tricky part, understanding what is being asked for.

Comment Re:So many comments about the buzzer (Score 1) 674

> With the web as a 'knowledge source', try asking the question "Where was Barack Obama born?" Or "Who destroyed the World Trade Center?"

Yeah, I definitely agree on this one. There is so much conflicting information out there you'd have to restrict Watson's queries to "the truth", which sounds unsolvable to me. They could try to do some weighting on how many links sites have and such, but that's no guarantee of truthiness.

At this point it sounds like Watson is an expert system on trivia, where only provably factual information has been entered. If they opened it up to the internet and allowed it to think anything it finds there is the truth then I think we'd have to revoke its expert status.

Comment Re:So many comments about the buzzer (Score 1) 674

> Jeopardy was a perfect challenge format given that Watson could make up for poor knowledge/bad logic with sheer speed.

Except there is a distinct penalty for getting the question wrong. Simply buzzing in quickly does not win the game. You must also get the question right most of the time or you'll be in negative dollars and have no chance of winning.

That Watson could buzz in quickly was a distinct advantage it had, being a machine, but it also had to parse the question text, figure out what was being asked for (accounting for any puns or other word trickery), search it's knowledge bank for something it thinks makes sense, and then buzz in, all in about 4 or 5 seconds.

Yeah, there are some logical disconnects and room to improve, but this system is leaps and bounds above any other natural language processor I've ever seen. The fact that it can take in a Jeopardy question and actually figure out what is being asked for is amazing. It's not just a simple search algorithm, try typing a Jeopardy question into Google sometime. I don't think IBM has anything to be embarassed about. It's really not that easy to map our human level language processing abilities into a piece of software.

Comment So many comments about the buzzer (Score 1) 674

Everyone seems to be fixated on the buzzer and the speed with which Watson was able to send the signal to depress the button.

Well, Watson is a machine, of course it's going to be inhumanly fast. So many comments are claiming it's unfair and some sort of delay or fudge factor should have been built in to level the playing field. This is the Jeopardy "Grand Challenge" where humans are pitted against a machine to see who can win. Why should they dumb-down/handicap/disable the machine down to the level of a human? I'd argue you aren't truly challenging the machine at that point.

That would be akin to challenging a Kangaroo to a jumping contest and then strapping its legs down in an attempt to reduce it's jumping ability to something closer to what a human could achieve. It's a kangaroo, it's good at jumping, and as a human you're not likely to beat it. But if there was a human who did beat an unmodified Kangaroo in a jumping contest that would be something to brag about.

Watson can compute at the speed of a computer. It's a computer. Shocking! If you want to claim to have beaten a computer at Jeopardy you're just going to have to be better than it somehow. If you beat a hobbled, artifically slowed down Watson it seems like it would be a fairly hollow victory.

"Yeah, I beat Michael Jordan in basketball, ten to nothing!" "What? Oh, did I forget to mention that he was playing in a straight-jacket?"

Comment Re:Buzzer (Score 1) 674

> Knowledge and language parsing were not the determining factors in the victory.

That would be true if there were no penalty for wrong answers, but there is. Simply buzzing in first in no way wins you the game. You need to buzz in AND get the question right or you'll soon be deep into negative dollars and have no way of winning.

No, this was a great demonstration of a piece of software that was able to parse through a text "answer", determine what is being asked for, (which may include puns and other word play), and search its memory banks for plausible "questions", all in about 4 seconds. If that doesn't seem impressive then I don't believe you understand just how hard it is to make a piece of software read and understand english.

That it was able to buzz in first if it felt it knew the correct answer is obvious. It's a machine, of course it's going to be inhumanly fast. It seems like everyone only wants to to challenge a machine if that machine has been handicapped down to the level of a human. Where's the victory in that? I'd argue you aren't truly challenging the machine at all at that point.

Comment Re:Casimir Force (Score 1) 136

Ah, that's a good point... whether you're using fancy casimir forces, or "just" gravity, in the end all I've described is something pulling on something else, but nothing is actually moving anywhere.

Another idea I've always thought would be cool is finding something that produces energy when it's crushed, and then build a layer of it under every house, so each household generates it's own small energy supply simply by virtue of being heavy.

I suppose the same limitations apply there too in that the crushing would have to result in some compression of the material to generate the energy, and the resulting energy would be a function of how far the material is compressed per unit of time.

Comment Re:Casimir Force (Score 2, Insightful) 136

The way the Casimir force works is that when you put smooth plates very very close together, they are pulled closer... we get a force pulling the plates together.

I assume there is some reason this wouldn't work, but could we harness this "force" and convert it into useable energy?

Just attach something to the back of both these plates that will be pulled on by the plates as they try to move together. The "something" would not allow the plates to get together, but as far as my understanding goes, the plates would "perpetually" try to move together and you'd have a constant generation of energy.

But current physics laws don't allow endless energy for free, so what's the catch with this one? Is the amount of pull so small it would take ages to build up enough energy to be usable?

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