Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
User Journal

Journal Journal: An Lá 2

BÃ go maith, a mhuirnÃn.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ryan Ryttie / kesuki - Rest in peace 2

As most activity has gone away here, I often don't remember what real username maps to what person. It's fine, that is how this social media thing evolved.

What I do know, is that I knew Ryan Ryttie, from slashdot. Today, I saw a post from his sister that he passed away (Link to Facebook is public). No, I do not know the circumstances.

I know he stopped using his original username here. Ryan was a friend, sure he had is daemons. but he was a friendly and authentic person.

I post this in a journal, for others that may still wander here and may have known him.

May Ryan rest in peace.

[Edit: Ryan was known as kesuki on slashdot]

User Journal

Journal Journal: KIC 8462852 -- Comets In Vogue But ET Not Out Of The Running Yet

Response to Washington Post Article: âAlien megastructureâ(TM) continues to not be aliens in latest study

I responded to the WP directly, but here is the original composition which is a little longer than the 2000 character limit on WP submissions.

It is hard to put odds on whether Aliens are responsible for the odd light occlusions of KIC 8462852. The failure of the ATA to detect radio signals was a small blow as is this more recent LASER pulse detection failure. However, both pretty much have to rely on enormously strong signals being transmitted directly at us continuously (or at least with reasonably short rapidity) for us to detect anything.

Since Earth had no technological footprint 2800 years ago (the minimum turnaround time for the aliens to notice and respond) it is doubtful they would spend much effort to communicate with us.

If they are building truly gigantic structures it does seem likely there would be a lot of stray emissions, but 1400 light years is a vast distance to detect leakage radiation â" maybe they donâ(TM)t leak much (as time goes on technologies tend to become more efficient).

We really havenâ(TM)t trained our big guns on this system yet. China will be completing a 500 meter radio dish in 2016, I suspect this would be an excellent target for it to study. Sometime in the early 2020â(TM)s the SKA will be coming on line. If this behemoth detects nothing from KIC 8462852 I might be ready to throw in the towel.

As to the cometary theory currently in vogue, nothing really supports it strongly, it is just that the other natural hypothesis of planetary collisions was ruled out, leaving it the only natural theory standing. Most comets have enormous elliptical orbits or parabolic trajectories. The comet theory supposes a pass by an enormous comet in 2011 and then a swarm in 2013 (we missed opportunities in 2015 for detection due to one of Keplerâ(TM)s reactions wheel being out of service). If in 2017 we see another large occlusion event, then this will be the end of the comet theory. Also we will know if the occlusion is dust or gas. If not dust or gas â" then Aliens it will be.

As to this structure being a Dyson sphere â" this I doubt. Generating energy directly by fusion is probably trivial for any society even a few decades more than ours. Likely they would fuse hydrogen directly rather than create enormous structures to harvest it. If this is an alien structure I think it far more likely it is an enormous telescope of some sort. In any event Who knows what artifacts intellects thousands or millions of years older than us would construct or why.

As to whether this system is old enough to evolved intelligent life, we only have one example of how fast evolution works to create intelligent, technological capable life. Fast examples could occur far faster (we just have no way of knowing whether we are average, fast, or slow). This also assumes the system engineering would have to be by beings native to this system. If artificial, its creators could have come from virtually anywhere, and chosen this system based on criteria we donâ(TM)t have the intellectual capacity to comprehend (yet).

I for one will be on pins and needles until 2017 comes and goes. Of course there is also the mystery of Fast Radio Bursts to ponder as well. I suspect this will be the decade we finally know we are not alone.
User Journal

Journal Journal: An Lá 1

Solas agus Ãilleacht duit, a mhuirnÃn, an là seo agus gach lÃ, cibé a bhfuil tÃ.

User Journal

Journal Journal: First Contact, FRB 170806, Mark Your Calendar

August 6, 2017 could be a momentous day - this could be the day we have definitive proof of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

We currently have a list of 11 FRBs (Fast Radio Bursts), two of them are almost certainly from the same source, FRB 110220 and FRB 1401514, as can be seen from their detected locations.

FRB 110220 2011/02/20 01:55:48.957 22h34' -12deg 24'

FRB 140514 2014/05/14 17:14:11.06 22h34' -12deg 18'

We have not been looking for this type of astronomical phenomenon for very long, and have not yet devoted many resources to the search (likely the list of FRBs will rise). There are probably multiple ways in which FRBs can be generated -- most of them quite exotic and rare -- neutron star mergers and Blitzars are candidates. These type of phenomenon would not repeat in the same location. There are certain types of hypothesized stellar flares that could be recurrent, of course they wouldn't be recurrent on a constant time scale. So should there be an FRB on August 6, 2017 (08:29:24 UTC to be precise), then we are looking at the first unequivocal evidence of a extraterrestrial signal of intelligent origin.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Refuting the Chinese Room Argument

Chinese Room

I find the using of the Chinese Room argument to disprove AI is possible to be completely backwards. Most everyone agrees consciousness is the process that arises from the passing of electrical signals between neurons in an organized fashion. Each individual neuron is merely executing/passing along instructions based on reading instructions (receiving incoming nerve impulses) with no understanding of the overall program. Thus our minds ARE a Chinese Room. Consciousness is the byproduct of the process of message passing between neurons which individually have no understanding of what they are doing.

It may seem alien and ethereal, but should you create a Chinese Room large enough to simulate in sufficient detail the message passing of the neurons of someoneâ(TM)s brain, then that Chinese Room would possess a consciousness (albeit one that runs incredibly slowly). Not just a simulation of one.

It shouldnâ(TM)t matter whether the message passing is pieces of paper with a number representing the weight of an action firing potential or a flood of sodium ions in an actual synapse. Both are message passing between discrete elements. In the case of the Chinese Room simulating a human mind, when the person in the Chinese Room shuffling papers gets bored and quits then the Chinese Room mind dies, just like a human mind dies when its brain is starved of oxygen and its neurons decide to quit their jobs.

Now to get our Chinese Room mind up to speed lets do our message passing with electrical signals between transistors in a computer. This is much closer to how our neurons work anyway (though irrelevant as to where consciousness derives from). Whether it is conscious or not will strictly be determined by its degree of self-awareness. Not what components it is made of.

Note: this is a re-posting of a response I made to Android Authorityâ(TM)s Will the emergence of AI mean the end of the world?

Journal Journal: One year since XP OEL. 6

Do you realize that XP was EOLed exactly one year ago?
I know many XP machines still chugging around peacefully without problems: No XPcalypse happened. This entirely fits my predictions.

XP was a (had become) a mature operating system. I abhor the fetish of "newer is better" that reigns in our industry.

User Journal

Journal Journal: nettin_pure: Gone?

nettin_pure seems to have stopped updating his journal. Sad; it was a constant in a changing Slashdot. It will be missed.

In any case: Happy birthday, nettin_pure. I hope the day has been a very good one. LÃ breithe sona duit!
User Journal

Journal Journal: Reason 431 that I don't bother with Slashdot any more - 5 minute comment timer.

I can type at over 100wpm. Slashdot's comment timer was set to 5 minutes a few years back. So if there is a particularly interesting article with interesting comments, I can comment and reply every 5 minutes.

If I'm going at 100wpm, I could write a 500 word essay as a comment. Or what happens more frequently is, I type out a nice constructive reply to someone, and am granted the text telling me I'm going too fast.

So I close the window and go elsewhere.

5 minutes between messages on a good conversation isn't conversing. I had FidoNet conversations go faster than that. I could type up and send faxes faster than that. With a bit of practice, I could send messages over short wave radio in morse code faster than that.

Even if my comment were "you sir are a moron", that leaves well over 4 minutes waiting for the timer to run out.

If anyone wants to have an intellectual conversation with me on an old Slashdot topic (like, appropriate for the genre "News For Nerds. Stuff That Matters"), find me elsewhere. Even this comment, would still have a 3 minute timeout before I could post it.

User Journal

Journal Journal: An Open Letter to the Adults and Leadership of Iran

An Open Letter to the Adults and Leadership of Iran,

The Ayatolla Sayyed Ali Khamenei, Leader to The Islamic Republic of Iran, has sent an open letter to the Youth of Europe and North America - a direct appeal to them to learn more about Islam. The wording is all very friendly, but sends chills up my spine nonetheless. One must assume his eminence would be thrilled if our Youth upon hearing about the greatness of Islam decided to convert. So since this is a friendly exchange you must be considering encouraging the Leaders of Israel to send open letters to your youth extolling the virtues of Judaism, and the Pope to extol the virtues of Christianity. Perhaps your youth may want to consider a different path? Oh wait, in Iran apostasy a crime, one punishable by death.

This does pose a problem, in Iran and many other Islamic states religious tolerance seems to be a one way street. When pictures of the Prophet Mohammad are depicted by cartoonists, Iran's response is to fight back with a Holocaust cartoon contest. So an insult to Islam demands an insult to some other faith (and not even the faith of the provocateurs)? Islam demands respect, but seems to offer none in kind.

Though I myself am an Agnostic, you might as well consider me an Atheist in that while the question of God is open, there is no doubt in my mind all the organized religions of the world are based on silly, childish, fairy tales and wishful thinking. This is my opinion, sorry if you find it distasteful. I believe that it is a basic human right for people to believe what they wish and express it without fear. You have my full considered consent to believe in Islam - you can say whatever you want about my beliefs and that of others without fear of retaliation. The opposite appears not to be true. Ahmed Salman Rushdie wrote a work of fiction called "The Satanic Verses." Since this is a work of fiction its meanings are up for interpretation, however your then ruler Ayatollah Fuhollah Knomeini issued a fatwa calling for the killing of Mr. Rushdie. The fatwa has since then been rescinded in weak fashion - Iran no longer calls for the killing of Mr. Rushdie, nor would it condemn his killing should it occur (and only came to this weakened stance to reopen trade with the west).

My own country is going to great pains to declare terrorism and Islam separate. Our leaders constantly remind us that there are many peaceful followers of Islam (and there are). There is however a great deal of hatred growing here. But it isn't just the terrorists that are fomenting this hate. When virtually every Islamic state of note restricts freedom of speech and religion, then in my opinion they are not much above the terrorists they so wish to be differentiated from, and it is this restriction of freedoms regardless of sect, Sunni or Shiite, that leads to the fomenting of terror in general. Can you cite current great Christian conflicts between Protestant and Catholic sects? A great portion of Islam is not only at war with the west, but at war with itself, largely because many (most?) regional Islamic powers only view their own interpretations of Islam as acceptable. Of course perhaps insistence on enforcing Islamic dogma is merely a blunt tool for use by those in power to retain control by hypocritical means.

It is hard to have compassion for and care about the suffering of people who would cheer for killing those for speaking ill of their Prophet. I say this because I stand with those that ridicule Mohammad (and so must consider myself at peril). Let me be clear on this point; I have no respect at all for Mohammad, he was a rapist, a murder, and a torturer. If you worship him, you worship a false Prophet. I would be among those who many of you would have my bones broken, my body burned, my head severed - if not restrained by international agreements so as to be able to do business with the kafirs. For those Muslims among you who would not wish this fate upon me and respect my right to my thoughts and my speech (as well as those of all others), then peace be unto you. If not, then why should I care about you? Will you really tell me there is not a multitude among you that wouldn't have me pay a dear price for what I have just said? Have not many Muslims said similar or worse words about most other faiths? What should be their punishment? Under our system - none - so who shows true compassion? The leaders of Iran and other Islamic countries have condemned people to death for words. I would be proud if my words merited such attention and opprobrium.

Islam must either evolve to embrace secular tolerance or it is doomed to an eternal war it cannot win with the west. This is not Christianity and Judaism versus Islam it is modern enlightenment and civilization versus the barbarism of the past. Let me state most emphatically; if Islam cannot abide freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of association, and freedom to enjoy all rights equally regardless of race, religion, or gender - then Islam is not a religion of peace and the theocracies based upon it will never truly be considered equal by the rest of the world.

I can have tolerance for a believer of Islam especially if he observes it in a way that does not restrict the freedoms of those around him. But I have no tolerance for regimes and political systems that build upon Islam (or any religion for that matter) as their foundation, because as far as I can see this leads invariably to the oppression of their people and coerces them into following the national faith. If Islam is not coercive - then why are there laws against apostasy? Shouldn't a person's thoughts on religion and how to practice it be their business and not the government's? While Islam in many cases allows a person to practice another faith (if born into it and with many caveats), it seems being born into Islam is to give up any free choice in the matter.

Our freedoms here in the west have allowed you to talk to our youth; there are no government restrictions against them seeing your words. Are your youth open to our words, especially those critical of Islam? How hypocritical of you to use our freedoms to promote your message when you restrict so many other views under your system. Of the top 500 websites visited around the world, Iran restricts viewing by censorship of almost 50%. I am unaware of ANY official Iranian websites being so censored here in America. I guess you fear our words more than we fear yours.

Slashdot Top Deals

Real Programmers don't write in FORTRAN. FORTRAN is for pipe stress freaks and crystallography weenies. FORTRAN is for wimp engineers who wear white socks.