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Comment Maybe we SHOULD fear guns (Score 0, Flamebait) 535

to familiarize kids with real guns

Why? Why the fuck should kids be familiar with real guns? I think you grew up in the wrong neighborhood.

I hope some day the only familiarity kids will have with guns will be in visits to a museum, where they will also see steam engines and whalebone corsets.


Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable 426

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "One of the most profound advances in science in recent years is the way researchers from a variety of fields are beginning to formulate the problem of consciousness in mathematical terms, in particular using information theory. That's largely thanks to a relatively new theory that consciousness is a phenomenon which integrates information in the brain in a way that cannot be broken down. Now a group of researchers has taken this idea further using algorithmic theory to study whether this kind of integrated information is computable. They say that the process of integrating information is equivalent to compressing it. That allows memories to be retrieved but it also loses information in the process. But they point out that this cannot be how real memory works; otherwise, retrieving memories repeatedly would cause them to gradually decay. By assuming that the process of memory is non-lossy, they use algorithmic theory to show that the process of integrating information must noncomputable. In other words, your PC can never be conscious in the way you are. That's likely to be a controversial finding but the bigger picture is that the problem of consciousness is finally opening up to mathematical scrutiny for the first time."

Comment Re:Satellites have eclipses (Score 1) 230

Wut? Unless that set period is so short it needs building additional facilities, the price for repeated launches will only go down, never up.

Imagine the time period is the same you need for building a 1 GW power plant using any traditional technology. That will be a few years. Meaning you could do a launch every couple of days and complete a thousand launches in the same period. You could do that from a single launchpad.

The reason why they don't do launches day after day right now is because there is no demand for so many launches, but they certainly could adapt the procedures for that.

Comment Satellites have eclipses (Score 1) 230

In the geostationary orbits there are two periods each year, around March and September, when the satellites are eclipsed by the earth. That's why geostationary satellites need batteries, which are among the heaviest parts of a satellite. And, unfortunately for the power generation idea, these eclipses occur at night for a satellite located above the point it's beaming at.

As for the cost, launching 10,000 tons could be done for something like $50 billion or so. We are talking about a thousand launches, so it would pay to build your own rockets, which would bring the price down.

The exact costs of the launchers today is a closely guarded trade secret, but it's certainly less than the price you pay. Certainly, with a private company with development costs amortized over a thousand units, they could bring the launch costs to a less prohibitive level.

Comment Re:Bank them (Score 1) 333

trying to force a 100 year old body to keep it's heart beating

Hint: by the time science discovers more about the mechanism of aging, it won't be a 100 year old body anymore.

All of her white blood cells were being produced by just two stem cells. Imagine if they could replicate stem cells indefinitely, her body would become 20 years old forever, not 100.

The Courts

Supreme Court OKs Stop and Search Based On Anonymous 911 Tips 461

An anonymous reader writes "On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers are legally allowed to stop and search vehicles based solely on anonymous 911 tips. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the majority opinion, reasoned that 'a 911 call has some features that allow for identifying and tracking callers' as well as for recording their calls, both of which he believed gave anonymous callers enough reliability for police officers to act on their tips with reasonable suspicion against the people being reported.

The specific case before them involved an anonymous woman who called 911 to report a driver who forced her off the road. She gave the driver's license plate number and the make and model of his car as well as the location of the incident in question. Police officers later found him, pulled him over, smelled marijuana, and searched his car. They found 30 pounds of weed and subsequently arrested the driver. The driver later challenged the constitutionality of the arrest, claiming that a tip from an anonymous source was unreliable and therefore failed to meet the criteria of reasonable suspicion, which would have justified the stop and search. Five of the nine justices disagreed with him."
The ruling itself (PDF).

Comment Re:Philosophy is the opposite of mathematics (Score 1) 306

I took a philosophy course and an engineering degree. After working 30 years in engineering, I can tell for sure that philosophy is NOT the answer to engineering problems.

If too many people working on IT are under trained, you may blame the education system for failing to provide them with enough training in that field, not for failing to provide them education in totally unrelated fields.

Comment Philosophy is the opposite of mathematics (Score 0) 306

Philosophy to come up with the right argument and psychology to make it stick

Unfortunately, philosophy is very far from coming with the right argument. I took a philosophy course in college, to "broaden" my outlook, and it had the exact opposite effect. Read any text by a philosopher, and in the end you'll get to the conclusion that perhaps there could be one or two good ideas there, if it had been written in a hundred words instead of a hundred pages. That's why sometimes a philosopher seems so smart to the uninitiated, they have read only the aphorisms and quotations, they have never had to pore through a full book written by a philosopher.

IT is a field for many different specialists. In the most common forms, what is needed is an expertise in human interfaces, we need graphics designers to create the screens and writers to create the documentation. In that sense, yes, it's all about expertise in the humanities. The vast majority of IT work in development is about personal and corporate software, of which data input and presentation is the bulk of the thing.

Logic and mathematics, although it's behind every software, is a very small part of the development job. However, it cannot be totally disregarded, because it's an essential part.

There's the dilemma we face. We cannot just exempt people working in IT from training in the essential parts most of them will never use, because we never know when those skills will be needed.

Those programmers who say "I've never used a differential equation" are people who slept through their calculus courses and cheated at the exams. If you are simulating pitching a ball or you are calculating the profits from an investment fund you are using differential equations, and you should know how to do the job. Unless you work for a big company, you cannot be assured that the only things you'll ever need to do is drawing screens and writing manuals.

Comment Terrorists, not tourists (Score 1) 239

I guess the memo had a misspelling. The wheel wells seem to be a good place for terrorists, not for tourists.

If someone can sneak up to the plane and climb in, it should be equally easy to put a bomb there. If a 16-year-old can find a way to squeeze into that space, it wouldn't be too difficult to fit in a couple hundred pounds of explosives.

Comment Why concerned about only one side of Keystone XL? (Score 2) 243

Interesting that the OP is so deeply concerned with tech companies' lobbying against Keystone XL, but not concerned with the Koch brothers, whose organizations have spent a nine-digit amount of dollars on campaigns and advertisements (often misleading or just plain false) to influence campaigns, with an eye toward issues of interest to the Koch brothers themselves, like getting limits on campaign donations removed and, just to pick a random example, getting the Keystone XL pipeline approved.

Comment Re:Recycling Personalities (Score 1) 448

Different topic. A war gone badly is a mistake -- not a crime. But you simply don't know what the alternative would have been. Saddam was taking shots at US fighter planes all throughout the Clinton administration. You simply don't know that keeping him in power would not have proven more costly (in terms of lives) than what has happened. The was didn't turn a good situation into a bad one. It turned a bad situation into a different bad situation. But before calling it a mistake you'd have to show that the alternative would have been better.

You really think that with Saddam it was even remotely possible, under severe sanctions and no WMD, that he could have caused more deaths and cost more than the Iraq war started by W?

Instead of "containment" and no threat really besides the starving of kids in Iraq, we borrowed money from China to make Iran stronger. Do you like how that turned out?

One helluva mistake. But my mind was made up years ago. Its called war mongering by hook and crook, with the ends justifying the means. Scott Ritter may be a pedophile, but read what he said before the war. He was right on the money - there was no WMD and it was obvious to everyone who had been there. So W lied - there is no doubt about that to me.

This article by a USA general in 1935 makes me skeptical of your argument:

Comment Re:The protesters should brace themselves ... (Score 1) 448

I think what this boils down to is you want to punish DropBox for some things that Rice did 10 years ago that you disagree with.

People are judged on their credit reports and criminal history, why should using her past history in government to predict future behavior be any different? In this case that means questionable behavior on private data, as she has shown in the past. if its legal then anything goes and the ends justifies the means. And yes, I don't want to associate with people like that.

She is a very high profile lightning rod - unlike most board of directors - and hiring her shows very poor judgement, rightly or wrongly, on Dropbox's part. I expect they will go the way of MySpace. Therefore I'd be making a poor choice imho on betting on their future.

Have a nice evening!

Comment Re:Recycling Personalities (Score 1) 448

4.3 trillion. And he had to fight a war and deal with post-dot-com crash of the economy. And that 4.3 trillion included the 700+ billion of the bank bail out that both Obama and Hillary voted for (as senators).

Um, the war is what we are talking about and it and most people now think it was a mistake. Bush owns that legacy. There would have been no Obama and Affordable health care act without it, so you can thank the Iraq war supporters for that. And it was Bush who signed the law. I'm a libertarian and I was against all that from day one.

And the stock market was lower when he left than when he came in - the only president in history to accomplish that. The crash at the end of his term was do to his "ownership society" and hostile actions to regulation, and that will be his legacy too.

Comment Re:The protesters should brace themselves ... (Score 1) 448

I very much doubt that Rice thought waterboarding was a nifty idea, and it wasn't her call in any event. Even if she did, the US has waterboarded probably tens of thousands of people, all of whom were US soldiers except for three (3) terrorists, the most recent of which was 11 years ago. If that is the basis for your decision I think you are on very shaky ground.

Google has been going after increasing amounts of government business, including intelligence agencies. Google has been sanctioned by several governments for privacy violations. If appearances matter then I think you should look twice.

Your knowledge, respectfully, on these matters are on shaky ground.

Google for "Rice approved CIA waterboarding" . In her memoir she states " ''I do not regret the decisions we made. I would never have engaged in - or encouraged the President to undertake - activities that I thought to be illegal.''

Alright then, I guess she was never bothered by mere moral questions, so I hesitate to give her my data.

Also, Human Rights Watch has higher numbers than 3. How many were tortured by Jordan, Egypt etc under extraordinary rendition may never be known.

Google is not perfect and the lesser of two evils is still evil. However, it is possible to opt out of most of the privacy invading data collection. There are legal challenges to them on privacy and that is a good thing. There are other options besides Google too if you are so inclined.

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