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Comment Mini black holes - meh. (Score 1) 156

Summoning virtual Higgs bosons into existence using the HLC may create mini black holes. (Meh, what could possibly go wrong?) A bubble of nothingness that expands to consume the entire Universe! In less than a second! Sounds like an enthusiastic ten-year old after watching a bad Sci-Fi flick.

Comment Challenge, Confidence, Failure (Score 1) 698

Urge her to challenge herself. She will have successes that in turn will provide her with justifiable confidence. Such confidence will serve her well as she confronts future unknown challenges. Inevitably, there will also be failures. That is what happens when you try difficult things and the outcome is uncertain. In this case, remind her of the wise words of Lao Tsu, which I discovered in a fortune cookie: "There are no failures, only lessons" You should illustrate these points with anecdotes from your own life. That will make it real and precious to her. Good luck to you, brave Sir!

Comment TRUE STORY: This happened to me and police helped (Score 3, Insightful) 664

My backpack was stolen at Orlando airport while I was distracted. It contained my iPad, Macbook Air and a ton of other really good stuff. For various reasons I won't list here, we didn't discover it missing until we returned home. I used Find My iPhone and within ½ hour got a hit and the address when the thief turned on the iPad. Once I was sure he was not moving, I sent the commands to wipe everything. There is a story to tell about find the "right" police to report the crime to, which can be tough when the theft occurred at an airport, in one county, and the perp is in an adjacent county and you live in yet a third county. I made literally 24 calls to multiple police agencies and at multiple points was told, "do you know how many calls we get like this every single day?". Apparently, hundreds. As a rule, the police have bigger crooks to catch. I decided to make a huge fuss, invoking DHS, FBI and everything else I could think of. Finally, I hit on the right strategy. I had been telling the (multiple) police officers I talked with that I was going to get in my car and confront the guy, and they ALL thought that was a really bad idea. Maybe I felt like doing that but --- I'm NOT stupid, OK? -- but it was a good negotiating ploy. I told them I would be there in an hour and so they finally connected me with a deputy sheriff, in his patrol car and not too far from the perp's location. I guess he was convinced I was on my way and likely to get really really hurt, so I allowed him to talk me out of going to the house in exchange for a promise to visit it at dawn. He kept his word. An older woman answered the door. Here is the conversation: "Were you at the airport last night?" "No, my son went to pick up his girlfriend". "Is he here" "Yes, he's asleep" "Is that his car in the driveway?" "No, that's my car" "Mind if I have a look?" "Go right ahead." THE SHERIFF FOUND MY IPAD AND AIR! (But not the backpack). A few days later I had them back. After weeks of more wrangling and assuring the district attorney I would prosecute, the perp was arrested. Six months later, they have not tried him (yet). Bottom line: mixed results which I only gained by being both a pain in the ass to three law enforcement departments all night long, including convincing them I was going to get in a situation where something REALLY bad would happen and they would have to deal with it. I don't recommend this approach. The lesson: it is highly unlikely that the police will do anything. I was lucky. I recommend checking out a service called "Witness" at wittnessapp.com . They have some great ideas for security and will help you with all this (dealing with police) in the event your equipment is stolen. I hope never to have to use their service but now I'm better prepared.

Comment Some data is streamed (Score 1) 461

I have a friend at Pratt Whitney who consults for Korea Air. Quite a bit of engine-related maintenance data is already streamed from the plane to the arrival airport, but I'm not sure at what point this starts. Sometime during descent I think. The idea is to give ground maintenance people a heads up on any issues needing attention before the next take-off.

Comment Is it misdirection? (Score 1) 504

One possibility I have not seen discussed is whether the Intelligence Community is actually directing this whole Snowden-NSA revelation thing. Spying has much in common with effective magic: the art of directing attention elsewhere is crucial. What are we NOT paying attention to because of these revelations? Why do we believe the content of any particular Snowden release? As many have pointed out, why should believe anything the NSA says publicly? Easy answer, you shouldn't.

Comment Personal promotion on Wikipedia (Score 1) 166

A not-unrelated problem is the creation of individual entries for living "non-famous" people. Every time I turn around I find another puff bio on someone that looks like a rip-mix-burn from their LinkedIn page. Some of these are for people I know personally, and it leaves me shaking my head. I suppose I could edit the prose to bring supposed accomplishments down to size, etc., and that might be the right thing to do, but who wants to start a war?

Comment Re:NSF not writing checks (Score 3, Informative) 1144

The are many government agencies that fund basic and applied research. NSF is the flagship, but the others are no small potatoes either. I am precisely in the situation you describe, along with many colleagues. Even if they resolve everything tomorrow and play nicely together from now on, the impact on on-going research is huge. People don't realize the importance of federal support for scientific research.

Comment Re:Random homicidal moments (Score 3, Interesting) 1144

I feel the same way and I'm perilously close to a furlough situation myself. We are rapidly getting to a point where the actions of the RWNJ's and their oligarch sponsors will be tantamount to sedition. Some argue we've already passed that threshold. Many GOP members of Congress have vowed to "dismantle" the Federal government. They are the new Confederacy, and the actions they are taking with this GOP shutdown are entirely consistent with their words and previous deeds — in fact, they have no incentive to stop because it is what they have promised to do. They are gleeful to see the government fail, and don't care if that means our Democracy fails too. They certainly don't believe in majority rule, and that is a bedrock principle of democracy. I don't know how to stop them, or what legal methods are available to the President or other elected officials. I fear the worst. Good luck to you. I'll see you at the barricades.

Comment Federally Sponsored Research clobbered (Score 4, Informative) 1144

My colleagues and I work at a non-profit research institute affiliated with the State of Florida university system. We just do research. No students, no classes. It's all soft money and the vast majority of our funding, maybe 90%, comes as contracts and grants from Federal agencies. There are two huge problems that are hurting us right now. First, if the government cannot make the incremental payments to us on existing grants or contracts, then we don't get paid. That is happening right now. Not only are we not hiring, people are taking salary cuts or going to half time or worse. The payments from the government come at different times throughout the year and are different depending on the grant and the agency, so it is not a issue of the lights suddenly getting turned off. But the impact, however incremental, is very real and it is NOW. I have enough cash on hand from my largest existing grant to keep myself and my group going through December maybe. That brings up the second problem, which is the whole proposal process. Continuity in our research projects requires that we are always in "proposal mode." Grants and contracts are for limited amounts for limited duration. It can take a long time and a lot of effort to get funded since the level of competition is very high. (Competition is ok - I welcome being pushed to do my best.) Right now I have proposals and white papers and discussions with program managers that are all in limbo - and the clock is ticking. Even if they are approved, it will take many months, maybe half a year, to receive the first increment of funding. What's more, the tendency of program managers when they are uncertain about the funds available to their program is to be VERY conservative about making new commitments, regardless of proposal quality. They are also really p.o. 'ed about being furloughed and this makes them surly. In such circumstances, it is difficult to talk about research continuity.

Comment Re:*cough*Asimov*cough* (Score 1) 277

Constructing a deontological ethical model that works in all situations has proved extraordinarily difficult. Indeed, if Asimov's rules had worked very well then the stories would have been incredibly boring! You are probably right about AI in the near term, but that is uninteresting to me. I'd rather work on the problems coming down the road in 10 or 20 years and have some some answers when the question really comes up about how to assure ethical behavior in robots. That's not as far uptime as you may think.

Comment Re:AI has a high burden of proof (Score 2) 277

A true artificial intelligence will show evidence of maintaining a mental model of reality, and of testing that model against incoming data, and adjusting the model when necessary. This strongly implies that the AI models itself in some manner, such that it can "imagine" a different way of "looking" at the world, and then judge whether the new model is a better way of thinking about things than the old model. The process is clearly fractal, since at the next level the software would be "imagining" a different way of judging which of two models was better, and eventually reaching the point where it makes decisions about whether in the current context it should act pragmatically or ethically.

Indeed. "Mental" modeling — maintaining and manipulating an abstract computational representation of beliefs — is at the heart of strong AI. Such models include, for example, beliefs about the world, beliefs about other agents (including what they believe about you), and beliefs about self. This is where computer scientists, linguists, cognitive psychologists and others all have some common ground and interdisciplinary research can be very productive. Learning is the ability to make systematic normative changes to mental models as a consequence of reasoning about experience; normative in the sense that such changes improve the ability to reason with and about the model in ways that maximize some value (e.g., ability to make accurate predictions). Experience involves reasoning about both the outside "real" world and the internal reasoning process itself. This is where your comment about "the next level" is germane. Those of us working on this topic call reasoning at multiple levels "meta-cognition", that is, thinking about thinking. There is no theoretical reason to limit meta-cognition to any specific number of levels. Current research on meta-cognition typically considers the level (or two) "above" (abstracted from) experiential belief modeling and action planning. This is also about the right level of abstraction for ethical reasoning ("would", "could", "should", "may" and their opposites). I've observed that most researchers assume a utilitarian ethics, which makes some sense if maximizing performance is the overall imperative. However, I count myself among those who believe that future AIs must be able to reason about moral imperatives if we expect them to behave themselves appropriately as we live and work alongside each other. Ronald Arkin at Ga.Tech is a leader in this area and he is a pioneer on the topic of computational methods to help ensure ethical behavior by potentially lethal robots.

Comment Re:wtf (Score 2) 662

This is correct. They can detain you during the conduct of an investigation. It is also useless to ask, if you are arrested, what the charge is. The copy has no obligation to tell you and may not know. All the police need is a reasonably suspicion that a crime has occurred/is occurring. The Prosecutor is the one that charges you.

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