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Comment We will all become BAs writing COBOL (Score 1) 107

Unfortunately, the hard part of programming is tightening up the requirements to exactly specify what is to be done. Most issues occur when there is a gap between what is specified and what is intended. While as simple tasks might be obvious, it does not translate for complicated tasks. Now in a complicated business environment, there are many ways to doing things. The worst ones are those that look right, but are not. Moreover, what is coded is subject to refinement and iteration. This is hard between people, so a machine might do what is asked but not what is wanted. Software developers make a lot of choices based on implicit requirements, many of which are not explicitly stated, just understood.

Comment Re:privatized gains, socialized losses (Score 1) 121

The biggest use of AI will be in keeping track of dissidence.
As brought out in an earlier SD article, Facebook, Twitter and others turn over photos and postings of people over to the police. This is great for data-mining and record keeping. Add to this the fact that most of our cloths and merchandise have RFID anti-shop-lifting tags, it is easy to trace you based on you passing through shopping checkouts and video surveillance. Even if you decide to yank off every RFID tag and avoid video cameras and a cell phone, most of your friends will not, and call you a tin-foil hat alarmist. "1984" was only off by a couple of years. As long as things are going well, most people's liberties are not strongly infringed. However, just in case things fall apart, the powers that be want to stay in charge. Just look at how successful was the Co-Intel program in the 1970s when it looked as if student and Black demonstrators got carried away. America does not want to pay reparations to Blacks and Indians, that is just for the Germans towards the Jews.
We laugh at the Soviet and their obsessive security system, but it arose because the Soviet Union was scared of collapsing from within and took measures to control what they could.

Comment privatized gains, socialized losses (Score 1) 121

Just as in pharmaceutics, where most of the research comes from public grants and then successful drug research is taken over by private industry, AI and robotics has been largely developed with government grants funded by the tax payer.
The same thing also happened with space exploration. Most of the research and development came from the general public. I will say that the major reason that the US went to the moon was to explore its mineral content. This was outright stated by the astronauts, as they got the equivalent of a M. Sc. in geology. Had there been sufficient supply of exotic minerals, the industry would have been taken over by private forces. It just that the tax payer had to front the initial investment. Worse, maybe we'd find out that the distribution of resources was such that there was not much worth pursuing on the moon. Well, you would not want companies to take that sort of loss would you.
So, most of us paid to develop AI, so that it could be used by corporations to make a bigger profit, and we can go pay the bill.

Comment Re:Where the researchers slaves? (Score 1) 51

If you ever talk to a university dean or professor, the aim of a university to educate undergraduates is secondary. Most of the engineering budget comes from research grants to the department. At best, the jobs of a university is to educate graduate students and to conduct research from which to receive further research grants. I was told that a MIT's EE professor brings in 5 times his salary in research grants. So, as long as this happens, the university carries on. However, in times of intense growth or economic boon, it is more lucrative for both parties involved to hire a professor outright. I guess the major factor for many professors to not leave their university is that they think that maybe working in industry might draw them away from research and risk making them obsolete in case the tech changes. Also, universities tend to make the path to becoming a full tenured professor quite a journey, where each stage requires a considerable investment in order to be vetted by your peers. Many professors put up with this because they think that get stability and respect at a university. Technology has a half life of maybe 5 years, so even if you are an expert in something hot, it will eventually become passe.
I remember reading an article in Newsweek about some researcher who was able to transfer the bioluminese gene from jellyfish to other organisms in the mid 1980s. At that time, it was a ground breaking achievement. Now, he was working for a little bit better than minimum wage at Hertz Rent-A-Car in Madison, AL.

Comment Pharm industry does not want meds to be available (Score 1) 191

Most meds developed by research institutes are funded with public research dollars. However, once a medicine becomes effective at treating a disease, more extensive testing is done to validate it and the side effects on a broader population. This is where pharms enter the picture and get in make money. They buy the work from the research institute and write patents on the chemical process to obtain exclusivity. If you want to do research, best stick with problems faced by poor people without resources to cure their problems, e.g. parasites found in the South.

Comment meaningless (Score 1) 89

Most of my FaceBook friends are people with whom I went to HS 30 years ago and haven't seen since. Some of my FB friends are people I ones that I never spoke with, unless I count my HS reunion after 5 beers.
Many of my LinkedIn associates are people I met while in career transition. So I had lunch with so and so, hence we reached out since we had some "common interests" Nice as this sounds, we are really worlds apart. However, the kicker is that there are many coworkers out there who turned down my LinkedIn request, and vis versa.
Much of this is probabilistic analysis.
My favorite FB moment was a FB suggestion I had. FB found that I have lots of friends in common with this person. Ok, she is my wife, but maybe she does not want to admit this to too many people.

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982