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Comment Re:FBI Word games (Score 4, Insightful) 367

"With good reason, the people of the United States -- through judges and law enforcement -- can invade our private spaces," and those private spaces include houses and cars?

I think your notion of specific limited instances & warrants is a little naive. Consider all the cases the #BlackLivesMatter movement want us to consider: citizens obeying the law and still getting gunned down by officers of the law with neither warrant nor true probable cause. This is a larger issue of our ability to trust not a nanny state, but a police state.

How can we have an "adult conversation" with a fascist system wearing a Dudley Do-Right mask?

Comment This will only drive them underground (Score 1) 156

1. This is just a bad idea from the point of view of freedom of speech. I'd rather know if there are nutjobs out there, in increasing numbers, advocating shitty things.

2. If Jihadists can't post in obvious places, they'll go to non-obvious ones. Do we really need these assholes learning how to run dark-web sites?

3. This will prevent truly *fabulous* events like this one, just today:

As funny as that last story is, note that the Anonymous hacker in question also managed to post IP numbers, phone info... and shared it with other hackers. I call that "a nice start."

Comment Re:Dear submitter, (Score 1) 408

(Trauma increases memory retention.)

Absolutely correct, but the original poster's point still stands. The back of the late, great neuroscientist Gerald Edelman's book "Bright Air, Brilliant Fire" had a quote to the effect that the functioning of the human brain more closely resembles a rainforest ecosystem than the workings of a modern digital computer. Here is the story that I have always used to explain Edelman's theory of Neural Darwinism vis-a-vis human memory.

Imagine that you were in a car accident. A friend picked you up in his brand new shiny red Toyota pickup truck. As you go down the road, you are struck by the cloying new-car smell and the annoying new country music that he has dialed in on the radio. It was sunny as you embarked, but a light drizzle of rain happens as you begin your climb into the mountains on a shoulderless two-lane road. As your friend begins an ill-advised lane passing on a blind curve to pass a slow green Kharmann Ghia, an oncoming white Isuzu utility vehicle hits you and your friend is killed instantly. Certainly traumatic, and your adrenalized system takes a deep imprint.

Now how you remember this is dependant on what triggers each rememberance. Let's fork this out, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style. Let's say that shortly after this event you buy a new car, a blue Mercedes sedan. You're not consciously aware of why your panic attacks keep cropping up, but it turns out that the new car smell is the trigger. You will remember the new car smell of your friend's pickup more potently, and will be more inclined to emphasize that part of the event when recounting the story. Eventually you might forget that her (see what I did there?) car was a pickup, or that it was painted red.

Let's choose another scenario. Let's say that during your therapy sessions it was constantly raining. As time goes on, those neuronal groups (networks of neurons) are reinforced and you begin to remember that event as the stereotypical "dark and stormy night." That feature will gain prominence in your memories and recountings. We can just as easily imagine scenarios in which a bunch of trips to shitty dive-bars results in you starting to have panic-attacks anytime someone has the poor taste to select "Achy Breaky Heart" on the jukebox. It is not at all implausible that you could eventually "remember" that you were in fact inside the green Karmann Ghia (vaguley), but that you were *definitely* hit by the white Isuzu truck. One way or the other, the emotional impact and intensity of the event will never be forgotten.

So, you're right: trauma increases memory retention. But we are all, as Neitzsche had it, better artists than we realize. (Or, if you prefer, the Zen koan: Who is the master that paints the grass green?) There is no place in memory that is a perfect, digital, untouched replica of an event. A memory is much more like a JPEG with lossy compression: it gets retouched every time it is revisited, with echoes of the particular context in which it was invoked.

Comment Re:"According to the vehicle's logs..." (Score 1) 408

"...a log that Ford can pull up wirelessly over the Internet..." is exactly the sort of thing that I'm thinking of. Most pop-culture discussion of self-driving cars falls into two polar camps: ill-advised or inevitable. I'm of the latter camp.

There was a story (I think it was "Network World" back in the late 90's) about the University of Hawaii researching the possibility of RFID-equipped speed limit signs. The idea was that your car would pick up that signal and throttle the fuel injection. The accompanying cartoon showed a car failing to escape an active volcano, illustrating the tragic stupidity of this idea.

But still... years later, watching I, Robot, two things occurred to me simultaneously. One, that autonomous vehicles are pretty much inevitable. Two, that AI will take the form of "swarm intelligence" long before some kind of HAL 9000 (or Ava from Ex Machina) self-aware Frankenstein's monster. Think about the likely next evolutionary steps of this tepid "Summon mode" technology in the Tesla in question. We already have cruise-control, and we have more-than-rudimentary collision detection. The logical next step from "fix speed at 65 mph" is "using my car's sensors, tether to this pod of cars I am currently matching speeds with." Now consider that it is absolutely in the interest of Tesla''s shareholders (let's not be naive or mince words) that the company does in fact have live, over-the-internet, real-time updates on black-box information from its vehicles.

Imagine an entire freeway full of traffic slowing down in tandem because of a Nixle SMS that a white Ford Bronco with a certain gun-wielding ex-football player was spotted in the vicinity. All without human interaction. The automotive equivalent of the "algotrades" behind the 2008 financial crisis, if you will. The imagination reels...

Comment Re:The whole picture. (Score 4, Interesting) 330

Thank you for that link! When I was reading TFA, I found his assertion that climate change was doing more good than harm rather startling, and was wondering if there was some research that I was unaware of which might change my opinions somewhat. From that exchange you linked to:

"Second, we do not know whether the recent changes in climate are on balance doing more harm than good. The strongest warming is in cold places like Greenland. More people die from cold in winter than die from heat in summer." ...which is just a really special kind of logical fallacy. Special like it rides the short bus to school. He might be a brilliant physicist and/or mathematician, but when it comes to climate change he is just (as another suggested) an old codger.

Comment Re:Malaria treatments (Score 1) 311

I'll second that one, but I think you could go one better and say water purification technology. According to the WHO, 1 in 5 people don't have access to clean drinking water on a daily basis. You could not only stem the tide of a lot of diseases, you'd also positively impact infant mortality rates. By my thinking, this would probably have the single biggest impact on humanity's collective quality of life.

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Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley