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Comment Re:Conciousness is an emergent property (Score 1) 729

Well, my point is that our subjective personal experience of conciousness isn't scientifically explainable. I can have a good scientific, materialistic theory of why you are concious, but I can't really explain my own. I can imagine why someone made out of the same atoms as me would subjectively experience conciousness as a biological state, but that doesn't explain why there is a "me" that experiences my own. Kind of a Decart-Godel thing "I think therefore I am" incompleteness thing.

I'm not going to delude myself into some kind of mystical or theological answer for this, though. It's as unknowable as what the "first mover" of existence was.

Comment Re:Conciousness is an emergent property (Score 1) 729

What unproven claim are you specifically talking about here? FWIW, I'm betting on the Big Bang myself :).

I don't delude myself into thinking I've made any kind of compelling scientific argument above; I'm just describing where I got to after several years of rumination.

However, I think I'm actually pushing back on the assumption that there is some sort of ineffable soul-like aspect of conciousness as opposed to conciousness being an entirely biology-based phenomenon like digestion or smelly feet.

Comment Conciousness is an emergent property (Score 3, Interesting) 729

Well, what a blast from my college past. I vividly recall all the late night manic chat sessions trying to decode Patricia and Paul Churchland's Neurophilosophy and Daniel Dennets Conciousness Explained.

Anyway, after years of rumination, to me it's clear that:

Quantum mechanics are definitely a part of neurobiology, and hence a critical building block of conciousness. We couldn't think without quantum mechanics. But plants couldn't photosynthesize without quantum mechanics either.

The quantum mechanical properties of neurophysiology apply just as much to clams as it does to humans. And it's just as applicable to those in a coma as to those engaged in a peak experience of some sort. So quantum mechanics definitely don't explain the conciousness of humans and in lesser degrees of other species.

Conciousness is an emergent property of the brain. Most of our evolutionary ancestors weren't concious in the sense we mean it today. Our massive brains are evolutionarily adaptive. Humans pay a big biological cost in having these big brains; very difficult childbirth, very long period of helpess infancy, wide pelvises to accomodate these giant heads, and a whole lot of extra calories and oxygen needed. But we're obviously breeding like rabbits as a species, and the primary limitation on further explosions of population are conciousness-driven (deciding not to have children, and having developed the means to do so).

Conciousness is, pretty much by definition, a really thorny thing to think about and almost perfectly designed to drive philosophers and cognitive scientists into mental loops. Since conciousness can also be described as self-insight, you get into a deep virtualization question in trying to have accurate insight into how you have insight :)!

So the trickiest part about conciousness is figuring out our own conciousness! It's a lot more easy and productive to try and consider someone else's conciousness than our own. Thinking about our own conciousness can easily get to the "eye of the universe question" - even if one has a good biological theory of conciousness, why do *I* have an experience of unique selfhood? That winds up being one of those unsolvable Big Questions, like "why is there something instead of nothing." Whether the existence of existence is explained via the Big Bang or theology, there's still the unanswerable question of what was the first mover. What started the cosmological ball rolling for there to be a universe in the first place?

Well, that was my moment of peak nerditry for the day! I'm going to go kiss a pretty girl for a while as penance...

Comment Actual costs of H.264 v. VP8 (Score 1) 120

Well, if we can live with "Comparing apples to apples, and throwing out quality, streamability, and all the technical standards" we'd be living on a very different planet with very different grounds for companies to decide on media technologies.

In the real world, it gets down to comparing the cost of licensing different technologies versus the costs of encode, cost of delivery, and breadth of playback for different technologies. Today, VP8 takes about 4x the time/joules to encode, 40% higher bitrate compared to H.264 High Profile (so either use higher bitrate and get lower reach and higher cost, or lower quality at the same bitrate), and isn't supported via ASIC in any shipping devices.

VP8's challenge is to get fast enough to encode, efficient enough to deliver, and have broad support enough device support to make its licensing cost difference enough to matter. As it is, the total operating costs and reach advantages of H.264 are so much lower than VP8 that H.264 licensing costs are a rounding error.

Also, Vorbis requires at least 2x the bitrate of HE-AACv2, and also doesn't have broad device acceleration.

XBox (Games)

New Xbox 360 S Uses Less Power, Makes Less Noise 176

Vigile writes "Microsoft unveiled a new Xbox 360 S console at E3 this month, and without delay the new machine has been dissected and tested. The most dramatic change is the move to a single-chip CPU/GPU hybrid processor that is apparently being built on the 45nm process technology from GlobalFoundries, AMD's spun-off production facilities. With the inclusion of the new processor, the Xbox 360 S uses much less power (about 30-40%) compared to previous generation machines, and also turns out to be much quieter as a result of a single, larger fan. This article has photographic evidence of the teardown, with comparisons between this Valhalla platform and the older Falcon system, along with videos of the reconstruction process and noise comparisons." The new console also takes measures to protect itself from overheating, so RRoDs shouldn't be a problem with this revision.

Nintendo 3DS GPU Revealed 133

An anonymous reader writes "The GPU for the Nintendo 3DS has just been revealed, and it's not made by Nvidia, ATI, or even Imagination Technologies. Instead, Nintendo has signed up Japanese startup Digital Media Professionals (DMP) in a deal that sees the company's PICA200 chip churning out the 3-D visuals. For the first time in Nintendo's history, the 3DS will feature a GPU with programmable shaders, rather than a fixed-function pipeline, meaning the 3DS is more graphically versatile than the Wii. Among the PICA200's features are 2x anti-aliasing, per-pixel lighting, subdivision primitives, and soft shadows. As well as featuring DMP's own 'Maestro' extensions, the PICA200 also fully supports OpenGL ES 1.1. The architecture supports four programmable vertex units and up to four pixel pipelines."

Funeral Being Held Today For IE6 194

An anonymous reader writes "More than 100 people, many of them dressed in black, are expected to gather around a coffin Thursday to say goodbye to an old friend. The deceased? Internet Explorer 6. The aging Web browser, survived by its descendants Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, is being eulogized at a tongue-in-cheek 'funeral' hosted by Aten Design Group, a design firm in Denver, Colorado."

New WoW Patch Brings Cross-Server Instances 342

ajs writes "World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion was staggered into 4 phases. The fourth and final phase, patch 3.3, was released on Tuesday. This patch is significant in that it will be the first introduction of one of the most anticipated new features in the game since PvP arenas: the cross-realm random dungeon, as well as the release of new end-game dungeons for 5, 10 and 25-player groups. The patch notes have been posted, and so has a trailer. The ultimate fight against the expansion's antagonist, the Lich King a.k.a. Arthas, will be gated as each of the four wings of the final dungeon are opened in turn — a process that may take several months. The next major patch after 3.3 (presumably 4.0) will be the release of Cataclysm, the next expansion."

Comment Data Code (Score 2, Informative) 487

And in fact, for large classes of interesting applications, installer and installed size is overwhelmingly data, not code. Games are going to be 95%+ data (check out how small the actual app is sometimes; often less than 1% the size of the data files). Microsoft Office has far, far more space allocated to fonts, clip art, all those multilingual spelling dictionaries, and templates than the actual *.exe files.

And even the self-contained .exe files in the above examples will also include a ton of bitmapped images for the GUI and such. Sure, command-line apps are going to have a lot more code, but even they will have the help text, tables, and other stuff that could be stored once in a platform-independent internal data structure.

Having behavior driven largely by data, not good is a good thing, of course. Data is a whole lot easier to debug than code, and bugs in data are generally much less catastrophic assuming the code itself does good validation.

Comment Win 7 XP particularly with NUMA multi-socket (Score 1) 349

This test was only using a single socket system. Perf differences from XP are going to be greater on a NUMA multisocket systems like Barcelona or Nehalem. XP predates NUMA on the PC architecture, while Vista and Win 7 got a lot of tuning for it.

This can be a big help for video encoding and other highly multithreaded tasks.

Comment 48 Kbps HE AAC sounds quite good (Score 2, Insightful) 567

There's no news here. The HE AAC codec (called AAC+ in the Coding Technologies implementation, and now called Dolby Pulse after Dolby's acquisition) is a highly advanced spectral band replication codec, and can be pretty darn transparent down to around 48 Kbps. That there was about a 2:1 preference for the high bitrate Ogg in a highly nonscientific small sample size test like this is a yawner.

Comment Re:What every player is missing (Score 1) 184

On Windows, the most common one is DirectShow. (or whatever they've renamed it in Vista/Win7)

DirectShow is alive and well on Vista and Windows 7. There is a new media API called MediaFoundation, which is used by default in WMP for Win 7. It's quite different and improved in many ways over DirectShow, but can interoperate with existing DirectShow decoders.

Comment Re:You know.. (Score 1) 184

The MPEG-LA license only protects you against the MPEG-LA members. In no way does it provide any sort of guarantee that someone who isn't in MPEG-LA won't start suing at any point in time. The argument against Theora in this regard can really be made against any codec.

Well, the members of the MPEG-LA patent pools hold pretty much all the known-critical patents for video compression, so that's actually a pretty good real-world protection.

Comment Samples of current Theora, H.264, VC-1 (Score 2, Interesting) 184

I made a few samples using the latest versions of x264, VC-1, and Theora, testing both offline VBR and real-time CBR encoding.

Theora is defintely improved, but I see a lot of basis pattern throughout these samples. Theora would be well-served by a postprocessing filter. Theora's 1-pass CBR encoding definitely needs a LOT of tuning before it'd be viable for real-world content; I don't think we'll see it used effectively for live encoding this version.

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