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Comment Re:I know I'm being selfish, but... (Score 1) 219

If it's any comfort, once you get past the breathless headline it turns out it only works for problems that can be solved in 5 lines of code or so. The sort we give middle schoolers to solve in summer computer camp.

I am also reminded of CASE tools. That was the big hype in the '90s that was supposed to allow non-technical managers to produce custom software based on a simple specification. It turns out, you have to be a programmer to be able to write a specification good enough to turn into software, but it's harder to write adequately for CASE tools than it is to just write the software.

Of course, everything old is new again, so in the 2000's we got UML (not the virtualization UML) that was also supposed to generate code from an exact specification driven by XML. You remember XML, the magic glue that was supposed to magically make software inter-operate?. Well, that turned out to also be much harder than just writing the damned code. WooHoo, you can generate hello world in less than 3 days!

But more to your point, yes. When people here and elsewhere say just go to school and get a new career, they're glossing over a great deal of mental anguish that will be suffered by millions, either because they're too immature to understand what it's like when you can't just run home to mom and dad or they believe it won't happen to them and they don't have enough empathy to feel for others.

While I don't think programmers will really be hit by this for decades to come, some people are truly facing it right now. They did everything you're supposed to do, but the promised life isn't forthcoming. Unfortunately, it looks like fixing the problem won't get much traction until someone experiments with replacing judges and lawmakers with Watson.

Comment Re:Awesome (Score 1) 122

It really depends on the algorithm. This is apparently about the type of language used, not the opinions expressed. If the algorithm mostly removes one word replies like "Fucktard", and leaves in place "I respectfully disagree with you that Mr Trump's policies will have the effect you describe", then, well, it's fine. What's the problem?

What I find interesting right now is that the word "Toxic" is used to describe the kinds of comments that'll be removed, and immediately rather a lot of people on Slashdot (not you) immediately assume it's anything that's anti-StrawJW.

Kinda tells you something about the people who use the term "SJW" to describe opponents of their own beliefs, doesn't it.

Comment Re:I want to see the results first (Score 1) 219

I worked once on a very large project that tried to do something similar for the Dutch tax service: put the (ever changing) tax regulations in some form of specification language, and compile that to C# code. I was a contractor for some time on that project. After a 160 milion EUR budget overflow and some questions about it in the parliament the project was significantly reduced in its ambitions.

Oddly enough this is one of those cases that should have worked. I mean if I have a tax filling all the rules and requirements should be specified and I should be able to follow the tax calculation step by step, there shouldn't be any unspoken or ambigious requirements about what applies and in what order to evaluate it. There is only supposed to be one correct answer. What it probably means is that the tax code is so complex nobody actually understands it and that whatever the actual code does is the de facto tax system, regardless of whether it matches the specifications.

Submission + - Google has demonstrated a successful practical attack against SHA-1 (

Artem Tashkinov writes: Ten years after of SHA-1 was first introduced, Google has announced the first practical technique for generating an SHA-1 collision. It required two years of research between the CWI Institute in Amsterdam and Google. As a proof of the attack, Google has released two PDF files that have identical SHA-1 hashes but different content. The amount of computations required to carry out the attack is staggering: nine quintillion (9,223,372,036,854,775,808) SHA1 computations in total which took 6,500 years of CPU computation to complete the attack first phase and 110 years of GPU computation to complete the second phase.

Google says that people should migrate to newer hashing algorithms like SHA-256 and SHA-3, however it's worth noting that there are currently no ways of finding a collision for both MD5 and SHA-1 hashes simultaneously which means that we still can use old proven hardware accelerated hash functions to be on the safe side.

Comment Re:R&D (Score 1) 96

Apple spends serious coin on Research and Development; far more than their competition.

This is almost true, though the vast majority of Apple's R&D funding is firmly at the D end of the spectrum. IBM used to spend a lot more than Apple on research, though they've cut down a lot. Microsoft still does (around $5bn/year on MSR). These companies and Google (and Oracle, and so on) all throw grants at universities for research, which Apple doesn't. It wasn't until last the last few months that Apple even published any of their research.

Comment Re:AI Snippets... (Score 1) 219

In this respect, it's not really any different from stuff genetic algorithms have been doing for decades. If you have a set of executable tests that can tell if the algorithm is working correctly, then you can evolve something that will pass the tests. Of course, you have absolutely no idea how it will behave on inputs not covered by your tests.

Comment Re:yes, this is of utmost importance (Score 2) 134

because throwing a tablespoon of catsup (or ketchup) away in an almost empty bottle is such a crime and a waste

Some people (like me) whose parents grew up during wartime or similar were brought up to think exactly that. A bit of water in the bottle, shake it up and throw it in when making pasta sauce or similar calms that irrational food wasting guilt by getting the last bit out of a normal bottle.

I think the article is an example of a journalist saying "how can we use this in the home" when asking about a new scientific advance. Applied uses may end up really being something in minerals processing but it's harder for most to relate to that than kitchen stuff.

Comment Re:How does it work? (Score 1) 134

Right out of the bat I was concerned about whether or not this is based on nanotechnology, because we already have super-slick surfaces there. Not sure if I want to eat nanotech.

Since even the whitener in toothpaste got redefined as nanotech you already are despite it being nothing like the way Drexler et al used the term.
Androids are phones, hoverboards are skateboards with batteries and nanotech is powder in sunscreen, toothpaste etc - the future is now but it's not matching the hype.

Submission + - Announcing the first SHA1 collision (

matafagafo writes: Google Security Blog just published

Cryptographic hash functions like SHA-1 are a cryptographer’s swiss army knife. You’ll find that hashes play a role in browser security, managing code repositories, or even just detecting duplicate files in storage. Hash functions compress large amounts of data into a small message digest. As a cryptographic requirement for wide-spread use, finding two messages that lead to the same digest should be computationally infeasible. Over time however, this requirement can fail due to attacks on the mathematical underpinnings of hash functions or to increases in computational power. Today, 10 years after of SHA-1 was first introduced, we are announcing the first practical technique for generating a collision.

Comment Re:Back? It never left. (Score 1) 156

So they came up with a definition that excludes all extrasolar planets (already confirmed to exist) and wandering planets (almost certain to exist)?

Who are you and I to correct astronomers? After all those office workers who call the beige box a "hard drive" think we are getting it wrong when we try to correct them, have you considered that this may be a similar situation?

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Pascal is a language for children wanting to be naughty. -- Dr. Kasi Ananthanarayanan