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Comment Re:What are we forgetting... (Score 1) 220

Well, to take a cynical view, consider this plan:
1. Establish rocket company that can send stuff to Mars
2. Send 100 or so humans to Mars
3. OMG they're going to die, but we don't have any more money to send them supplies!
4. Profit!!

Though I admit, if you wanted to force the hand of society into creating an interplanetary civilization, you would use basically the same strategy if you had the ability to do step 1. I think this is one of the ideas explored in "The Martian" -- society appears to be much more interested in drama than either science or progress. You may note that the people look a lot like hostages in this scenario, regardless of whether they are willing or not.

Comment Re:"Don't be evil" (Score 1) 154

It's called the race to the bottom. The "don't be evil" motto was based on the idea that users would not just offer up their personal information without some proof that it would not be misused. It turns out this was not true. People will upload their most personal information (and that of their closest friends and even their children, which is even worse) for what amounts to services worth less than $100 a year. It's sickening.

For personal email might suggest But I think there are many service that will provide email service that is not being data-mined for an amount any smartphone user would barely notice in their yearly budget.

Comment Re:If you are into that (Score 1) 474

Unfortunately there isn't much overlap between danger addicts and people with the skills, foresight, and pragmatism necessary to make a mars colony work.

That's not to say there are no good candidates for colonists, they just aren't like the guy that you're talking about. They are more like our current U.S. astronauts for whom getting a Ph.D. is just something they do along the way because they have a ridiculous amount of discipline and aptitude. There are many more qualified applicants than there are spots for them to fill, and there would probably be even more if the space program were more real. Interplanetary viability of the species is something that even very pragmatic and intelligent people are willing to risk their lives for.

Comment Re:The New York Times | Florida traffic crash (Score 1) 440

I think the concern is that the Tesla system may not have even identified the semi trailer across the lane as an obstacle at all because it is not clear that the Tesla's brakes were applied prior to the collision. Any defensive human driver would have taken note of the truck in the turn lane before it even started its turn and prepared to take action if it turned unexpectedly, even if they were unable to stop or swerve in the end. Tesla's system was definitely unaware of the truck until it entered the lane, and was most likely incapable of determining the actual structure and size of the obstacle.

But the big problem everyone is worried about is right there in the first sentence of your link. The article calls it a "self-driving car" which even Tesla (except for their CEO in promotion mode) takes pains to say it is NOT. Treating a Tesla on autopilot as a self-driving car is extremely dangerous to the driver and all motorists around them. The sensor package and software is not designed for that usage.

Comment Re:It's not that good (Score 1) 440

Thanks for an actual description of how it behaves. It sounds like any reasonably conscientious safe driver would stop using the autopilot feature in most situations after some testing because it is obviously unsafe except in a fairly tightly constrained set of situations. This is why autonomous trucks or designated autonomous lanes make sense with this level of automation. For commercial trucks, the driver can be trained on what the appropriate use cases are and held responsible for inappropriate usage, and in the designated lanes case the situation can be constrained to within safe parameters or supplementary information can be provided to the autonomous system. Expecting people to just discover the appropriate use cases without training is (was?) just a bad idea and will get people killed.

Comment Re:RUD FUD (Score 1) 130

This completely misunderstands NASA's role. NASA is a space research agency, not a rocket company or a launch vendor. As others have said, NASA being highly supportive of SpaceX means that what SpaceX is doing and what NASA is doing ARE THE SAME THING. NASA runs space missions. If they choose an innovative launch vendor like SpaceX, then they are doing exactly what you want them to. The fact that congress is so pork-oriented that a huge fraction of NASA's budget is mandated to pay for another launch system that has no clear purpose is not NASA's fault. I want NASA to focus on running good space missions, which may have been about rocketry in the 60's but today it's about spacecraft and the rocketry is just the delivery service.

Comment Re:The big claim here is....... (Score 1) 207

Of course they use the more direct size measurements when they are available. It sounds like those 102 are the control sample, in which they have both WISE measurements (IR light) and a more direct measurement of size. They don't need a thermal model for those objects. And when just reporting object size they should report the size inferred from previous radar or occultation if that is available.

It sounds to me like this guy developed a thermal model that doesn't work for objects for which the size is known from other methods. The obvious conclusion is that the thermal model is not good, but apparently he has instead decided that it's a vast conspiracy to hide the true sizes of asteroids. I'm sure the WISE and NEOWISE teams would be happy for someone to develop an improved thermal model if theirs is only accurate to 15% for objects with known size. However, this appears to be a case of this crazy outsider trying to push a worse thermal model through outrageous and insulting press releases. Not exactly how science is supposed to work.

Comment Re:Doing the ecological epidemiology (Score 1) 279

Somehow I don't think another study debunking the association of autism with vaccination is going to make any difference, so I think it's fine the CDC wouldn't waste money on it. And you don't even appear to be able to state your conclusion correctly, since autism's correlation with autism is pretty meaningless, I assume you meant autism's correlation with vaccination rate. I'm pretty sure it is well known that risk of autism increases with the mother's age.

Comment Re:She is so smart (Score 1) 367

I am unsure the subchapter you quote applies in this case because the FBI is not compelling a pre-market system change. They are compelling assistance after the fact for an individual device. I personally think it would be better for us all if Apple loses because it should be made abundantly clear that a device that is vulnerable to a firmware replacement attack is not secure, even if the manufacturer is the only entity that can sign a new firmware. As far as technically possible, the device owner's data security should not depend on the manufacturer's ability to resist legal action (or their ability to resist a well-resourced hacker, which is much more dangerous).

Comment Re:EU Funding (Score 4, Insightful) 361

The piece of information that you are missing is that the UK has already gutted its internal research funding. The UK government is not going to suddenly become more friendly to science funding even if the need to pay the EU goes away. As far as I know, one of the few good sources of academic research funding in the UK currently is from the EU.

Comment Re:this whole thing is fishy to me (Score 1) 254

What's going on is the FBI wants a precedent (and a firmware) that they can make apple use in other non-national-security cases. I have the viewpoint that if Apple didn't want to be subject to this, they should have designed the handset so that they couldn't "help" unlock it. The only reason Apple can resist in this case without getting killed in the press is that it is very unlikely that there is valuable data on this handset. (It's the gunman's work phone; he destroyed his personal phone.)

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