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Government

Energy Star Program For Homes And Appliances Is On Trump's Chopping Block (npr.org) 260

Appliance manufacturers and home builders are in Washington, D.C., today to celebrate a popular energy efficiency program, even as it's slated for elimination in President Trump's proposed budget. NPR adds: You probably know the program's little blue label with the star -- the Environmental Protection Agency says 90 percent of U.S. households do. [...] The 25-year-old Energy Star program appears to be targeted simply because it's run by the federal government. It's one of 50 EPA programs that would be axed under Trump's budget plan, which would shrink the agency's funding by more than 30 percent. Critics of Energy Star say the government should get involved in the marketplace only when absolutely necessary. But that argument doesn't hold sway for the program's legions of supporters, which span nonprofits, companies and trade groups.

Comment Re:It's true (Score 2) 259

Pixar was unique in Silicon Valley companies in that we had deadlines that could not move. The film had to be in theaters before Christmas, etc. I'd see employees families come to Pixar to have dinner with them. I took the technical director training but decided to stay in studio tools, first because Pixar needed better software more than they needed another TD, and second because of the crazy hours.

Comment Scott Adams disagrees (Score 2) 145

Scott Adams would like a word with you:

Kahan found that increased scientific literacy actually had a small negative effect: The conservative-leaning respondents who knew the most about science thought climate change posed the least risk. Scientific literacy, it seemed, increased polarization. In a later study, Kahan added a twist: He asked respondents what climate scientists believed. Respondents who knew more about science generally, regardless of political leaning, were better able to identify the scientific consensus—in other words, the polarization disappeared. Yet, when the same people were asked for their own opinions about climate change, the polarization returned. It showed that even when people understand the scientific consensus, they may not accept it.”

Notice how the author slips in his unsupported interpretation of the data: Greater knowledge about science causes more polarization.

Well, maybe. That’s a reasonable hypothesis, but it seems incomplete. Here’s another hypothesis that fits the same observed data: The people who know the most about science don’t think complex climate prediction models are credible science, and they are right.

In fact, there's more incentive to lie about climate science than cancer research: More immediate funding is at stake, more groupthink applies, it will be decades before others can prove you wrong, and unlike falsified cancer research, people won't die because you misdirected searcher.

And as for saying "the fraud was in the review process, not the work itself," that's like saying "Well, Anthony Weiner was only caught sexting. He never actually cheated." The odds that the fraud we've caught is the only fraud committed by those willing to commit fraud would seem pretty low...

Comment Re: The problem with your explanation (Score 1) 307

If you look in the FEMA site, they say that they provide gramts to perform repairs not covered by insurance. And no, they don't do a needs test. Now, the typical rich person does not let their insurance lapse just so that they can get a FEMA grant. Because such a grant is no sure thing. They also point out that SBA loans are the main source of assistance following a disaster. You get a break on interest, but you have to pay them back.

Comment Re: The problem with your explanation (Score 1) 307

I understand your point about view land being desirable even though it's a flood risk. I live a mile or so from the Hayward fault. But I have California's risk pool earthquake insurance. The government wouldn't be paying me except from a fund that I've already paid into. I imagine that the government does pay some rich people in similar situations, but as far as I'm aware disaster funds go to the States from the federal government and should not in general become a form of rich people's welfare. Maybe you can find some direct evidence to show me that would make the situation more clear.

Comment Re:The problem with your explanation (Score 1) 307

What you are observing is economics. As a city or town population grows, the best land becomes unavailable and those who arrive later or have less funds available must settle for less desirable land. Thus many cities have been extended using landfill which liquifies as the San Francisco Marina District did in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, or floods. Risks may not be disclosed by developers, or may be discounted by authorities as the risks of global warming are today.

Efforts to protect people who might otherwise buy such land or to mitigate the risks are often labeled as government over-reach or nanny state.

Comment Re:The problem with your explanation (Score 1) 307

Oh, of course they were caused by misguided engineering efforts. Everything from the Army Corps of Engineers to Smoky Bear goes under that heading. The most basic problem is the fact that we locate cities next to resources and transportation, which means water, without realizing where the 400-year flood plane is. Etc. We have learned something since then.

Our problem, today, is fixing these things. Which is blocked by folks who don't believe in anthropogenic climate change, or even cause and effect at all. They don't, for the most part, register Democratic.

Comment The problem with your explanation (Score 5, Insightful) 307

The problem with your explanation is that it's fact-based, and stands on good science. This is the post-truth era. Thus, the counter to your argument will be:

  • Evidence for a human cause of erosion is thin and controversial, and is being pushed by loony liberals.
  • We need those oil and shipping jobs, and jobs building and maintaining levees, not more regulation that stifles them!
  • Cause and effect is not a real thing, except for one cause, God is behind everything.
  • This is part of God's plan for us. The end time is coming, and when the Rapture arrives it will not matter that Louisiana's coast has eroded. Cease your pursuit of unholy science and pray to save your soul!

Comment Not impossible (Score 1) 58

100 words per minutes might be a stretch, but it doesn't sound all that impossible given that the speed record was set with hunt&peck typing by moving a cursor across the screen. Some fancy machine learning that could guess whole words at a time or something along the line should have no problem beating that by quite a margin. It wouldn't even need to be perfect, just close enough, to give a drastic speed up (i.e. like Tab-completion).

See this earlier work that guessed video sequences from brain activity. Getting information in a more 'holistic' form out of the brain instead by just cursor movement seems plausible.

Comment Re:So... (Score 1) 341

so far hasn't done anything irreversible.

I think the first victims have been farmers who can't bring in their crops. Just the people who voted for him in California's central valley and wherever else we depend on guest workers. I don't see citizens lining up to pick those crops. The small family farmers, what's left of them, will feel this worse, the large corporate ones have the lawyers necessary to help them break the rules and truck people in from South of the border.

The second group of victims will be the ones who need health care that doesn't come from a big company. It's a lot more difficult to start a small business when there is no affordable way to get health care. And that is the case for my own small business - I'd be in bad shape if my wife left the University. I think that's the real goal - to keep people from leaving employment in larger companies and going off on their own.

Comment Re:So... (Score 4, Interesting) 341

Donald Trump, unfortunately, satisfies a common desire among the populance to right things by means that won't actually right them. It's a desire to rid Washington of inaction by cleaning it out of the current folks who don't seem to get anything done: and then you find that the things they were working on are harder than you understood. It's the feeling that you can get things going right by having a manager who lights a fire under the responsible people: just the way that bank managers pressured employees to increase revenue or be fired until those employees started opening accounts fraudulently for customers who hadn't asked for them.

What I am having a hard time with is how our country gets back out of this. I fear Humpty has had such a great fall that there is no peaceful recovery.

AI

AI Programs Exhibit Racial and Gender Biases, Research Reveals (theguardian.com) 384

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: An artificial intelligence tool that has revolutionized the ability of computers to interpret everyday language has been shown to exhibit striking gender and racial biases. The findings raise the specter of existing social inequalities and prejudices being reinforced in new and unpredictable ways as an increasing number of decisions affecting our everyday lives are ceded to automatons. In the past few years, the ability of programs such as Google Translate to interpret language has improved dramatically. These gains have been thanks to new machine learning techniques and the availability of vast amounts of online text data, on which the algorithms can be trained. However, as machines are getting closer to acquiring human-like language abilities, they are also absorbing the deeply ingrained biases concealed within the patterns of language use, the latest research reveals. Joanna Bryson, a computer scientist at the University of Bath and a co-author, warned that AI has the potential to reinforce existing biases because, unlike humans, algorithms may be unequipped to consciously counteract learned biases. The research, published in the journal Science, focuses on a machine learning tool known as "word embedding," which is already transforming the way computers interpret speech and text.

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