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Comment Re:Short-term numbers versus long-term (Score 2) 119

I'm not up on state of the art on computer image/object recognition but the experience I have from about 10 years ago leads me to believe that...

Others have already responded to your other points, I just want to point out that experience from 10 years ago tells you basically nothing about the state of the art today. Deep learning methods have enabled dramatic progress on exactly the class of pattern matching problems that includes computer vision.

Personally, I still think that LIDAR is inherently superior to video cameras for this task, but Tesla's numbers are impressive, and prove that while their system may not be all that it should be, it's already better than a typical human driver -- at least than the typical Tesla buyer (note that I have no reason to believe that Tesla buyers would be worse than average drivers, but the possibility shouldn't be ignored).

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 172

But what is the value of an algorithm that you can't actually execute?

In the practical world, language efficiency actually matters and is a reasonable thing to discuss.

Sure, that's true. But it has no bearing on the question of whether a language can accurately be called Turing Complete -- and Turing Completeness also matters, because it defines the class of algorithms that can be implemented in the language. What's the value of an algorithm that you can't implement because the language lacks the necessary expressive power? Except in very limited circumstances, Turing Completeness is a prerequisite. Without it, there's no point in discussing efficiency.

Comment Re:You need to do a bit of research. (Score 1) 139

Star Trek Continues also violates those same guidelines (high-quality props/sets/uniforms instead of toy-store quality items, professional acting/directing/scriptwriting

Have you seen Star Trek Continues? Cheesy plots, lousy acting, terrible effects and you can't tell me their props, uniforms and sets don't look like toys.

It's like a low-budget 1960s vision of space travel.

Comment Re:Whitespace takes the most space (Score 1) 172

To be considered Turing-complete, a language must be able to simulate a Turing machine - and that's actually impossible, since it can never meet the "infinite tape" requirement.

Languages are not machines. Languages have no memory limitations, and therefore have no trouble simulating a Turing machine.

The fact that we run code written in those languages on finite machines does not change the Turing-complete nature of the languages.

Comment No value in the minerals ... (Score 1) 286

... lots in the science.

Right now, we don't have a very good idea of the exact composition of Earth's core. If this asteroid is a chunk of planetary core, a few tests and samples could tel us quite a lot about how our own planet works. This includes data related to planetary magnetic field generation, radioactive decay heat production, etc. This sort of data can tell us a lot about things like why Mars is dead while the Earth supports life. And we can extend this knowledge to assist in the search for life-supporting planets elsewhere.

Comment Re:Now lets see. (Score 5, Interesting) 1436

You might be interested in reading "American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America", by Colin Woodard. The author argues that there are 11 distinct cultures in North America, which don't align neatly with state (or even national) boundaries, and that US politics is primarily a competition between two shifting coalitions of these 11 cultures, coalitions anchored in the Yankee culture (Democrats) and the Deep South culture (Republicans). One value that both of those cultures hold in common is authoritarianism, though of very different forms.

Yankeedom is built around and values a communitarian form of authoritarianism, derived largely from its Puritanical heritage. Even though the religious aspects of Yankee Puritanism have gone away, they've been replaced by a secular form of the same thing, which is the notion that while it's critical that the people as a whole have "independence", meaning they can form their own assemblies and regulate themselves, the individual should willingly subjugate his or her own will to that of the community. In Puritan days, this was severe; almost any form of disagreement with the community's religious and social values resulted in severe punishment. Individual freedom was not valued, and tolerance for alternative views was extremely low. Also, Yankeedom reveres education, and therefore the fruits of education, including progressiveness.

The Deep South is built around and values a hierarchical form of very strict authoritarianism, derived from that region's slaveholding culture, which enabled it to establish an essentially feudal model of lordly manors occupied by elegant idlers, supported by masses of lower classes. The southern planters placed tremendous value on "liberty" but it was the old Greek and Roman notion of liberty, which is available only to those at the top. The south took the "lower classes" notion a bit further than feudal lords with their serfs, but the southern class-based society wasn't just "planters" and "slaves", there was also a large underclass of what we might now call white trash, which was also expected to be subservient. What's perhaps odd about the old Deep Southern notions of hierarchy is that they were so deeply embedded in the society that although the underclasses chafed a bit, they also grew to expect a strong hierarchy and to respect their aristocratic leaders.

So, the two core cultures around which our political battles revolve are both authoritarians. Their allied cultures are less authoritarian, but it's the core cultures that hold the whip hand. In particular the left coast is very big on individual freedom and self-realization, but also has its roots in Yankeedom, including the trust in education and progress, which makes is a natural ally of the Yankee culture even though they disagree on individual freedom. Similarly, the far west culture is very libertarian but allies with the deep south because of its opposition to Yankeedom, rather than because it likes the southern authoritarianism.

Anyway, that's a flavor of what's in the book. You probably won't agree with all of it (I don't), but a lot of it makes a great deal of sense and I found that it really illuminates my understanding of the major political dynamics in the US, and has helped me understand why there is this strong streak of authoritarianism in a country that purportedly values freedom and independence.

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