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Comment BAD idea (Score 1) 247

Stan: Let's go watch the new Indiana Jones movie.

Kyle: Yeah, dude. Totally!

(in theater)

Stan: What are they doing?

Kyle: They're raping him! They're raping him!

Butters: Let's get out of here.

(two weeks later)

Stan: Let's go watch the new Indiana Jones movie

Kyle: Yeah dude. Totally!

Comment I am shocked! (Score 1) 101

You mean people who write good papers get Nobel prizes? Wow!

Also, I didn't know that people who won Nobel prizes for fundamental discoveries won't post facto get gratuitous citations in the first line of the introduction of every subsequent paper in the field.

Page Rank captures whatever is `sensational', in every domain of human activity. Having RTFA, I conclude that if all that is sensational is good, then what we have here is an empirical demonstration of circular reasoning. If all that is good need not be sensational, we simply have misleading anecdotal evidence.

Comment Re:Off with her head! (Score 1) 347

Very good point! I am sure the poor citizens of Cayman islands couldn't possibly do without a FIFTH of Citibank's subsidiaries world-wide.

You see, while American homo sapiens who need to watch TV to fill in their hours of leisure, the Cayman Islanders have evolved differently. They need bank transactions as a means of recreation. Without them, they feel unfulfilled and restive. There are Cayman islanders who spend up to eight hours a day making deposits and withdrawals in their checking accounts.

All Citibank does is to nobly provide them with their daily fix of ennui. We must be very careful before making presumptive remarks about the actions of those whose stated ambition is global prosperity. They know better than us what's good for the world.

Comment Bah! Humbug! (Score 2, Insightful) 307

The biggest problem with Kurzweil's view of the world is that it assumes that any innovation, if technologically feasible, is going to be adopted. As a simple example, the issue of voice-to-voice translation that he raises in the article. Its just more economical and practical to do business with someone who knows English (or has easy access to someone who knows English)

Similar wishful thinking by Sci Fi doyens caused visions of space colonies and interstellar travel by the first decade of the 21st century or soon afterwards (e.g. 2001:A space odyssey) back in the 60s and 70s when the edges of the universe seemed to be be just another Project Manhattan away. We all know how that has turned out.

Yes, there are lots of cool things that technology can produce. It will produce them for a population, however, that is more concerned with surviving on a decreasing resource base than the pursuit of techno-Utopia. Just because a small population of geeks in the US can afford and enjoy playing with gizmos doesn't mean the technology is pervasive in the `world'. Yes, computational power increases with time, and that can be channeled into all kinds of innovation, which is the gist of what Kurzweil is saying. That increase in computational power has limited scalability, however, unless you are assuming that all the world is concerned about is playing PC games, downloading music and watching videos online. [Note: By world, I mean the world outside /. Yes I can prove it exists!]

I think Kurzweil is going to be increasingly disappointed in the coming decades.

Comment Re:Oh bull (Score 2, Interesting) 91

I'm a grad student and have recently been asked to help out on a research grant proposal for the very same thing. I agree with the point made in the parent post - if its already out there, there's not much investigation needed. Additionally:

1) How will algorithms figure out if a story is relevant? There's no deux ex machina here. It will see if the article has the relevant buzzwords and if it has been released by a reputable source.

2) The buzzword factor kills the algorithm's chances of finding something really new. Its just going to find something that is `current'. Thus, its doing news aggregation, not investigative journalism.

3) The `reputable' source issue will be decided by looking at factors like source authority (measured by incoming links etc) which means that the algorithm will be scraping sites that are already highly visible. Again, this is simply `Google News' by another name. I cannot think of a way by which algorithms can look into nooks and crannies of the internet by being agnostic about source reputation. If they tried, they would quickly start coming up with 9/11 conspiracy theories and other balderdash as news reports.

Basically, data mining is going the way of fuzzy logic. It has reached saturation in terms of its utility and applications, and now people are trying to sell all kinds of possibilities to allow for the overshoot in academia (too many PhDs, too little to do).

Comment Why is this shocking? (Score 5, Insightful) 235

The last time I checked, there were more than half a million papers on arxiv. The number of scientific papers in the world is increasing with the rate of increase in researchers looking for jobs, not with the rate at which problems are being discovered or solved.

Since the currency of the research community is number of publications, and since administrative sections of universities have little or no competence in judging an academic's competence save statistics on papers published, why is it surprising to find that people publish low-quality work?

I am reminded of the joke about string theory, `The number of papers in string theory is increasing faster than the speed of light. This is not a problem, though, since no information is actually transferred.'

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