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Comment Re:Great (Score 1) 179

> greedy people ... taking more back than they put in

This is a classical misunderstanding of economics : the idea that there's a fixed amount of wealth to go around.

Suppose I could use my time to build either : a bicycle or an intranet site. Each one taking (hypothetically) the same amount of time, but each would creating very different amounts of value for someone who bought them. Suppose, now, a wise uncle of mine advised me to do the intranet site, and I paid him $1 for that (very valuable to me) advice.

His added value didn't disadvantage me. And he just made $1 from my work. He could advice 1000 people the same way, and everyone would benefit.

Comment Re:Count me in (Score 2, Insightful) 703

Default isn't a problem, since the US can simply print money : TRUE

Holders of US currency (eg: most US citizens) won't care : FALSE

If the US prints money, then Chinese exports get more expensive, and the dollars in your bank account become worth less and less. i.e. you get poorer (because you experience inflation). Printing money = a tax that no-one focusses on. If the dollar falls by 10% (say) then every piece of income, every piece of capital, becomes worth 10% less.

OTOH, if you own a house (a fixed asset) and pay a mortgage (you owe dollars, not own dollars) then inflation is a win for you.

Comment Re:Not really amazing... (Score 1) 206

" But there's no security: the system may be destroyed as well. "

That's extraordinarily unlikely. Granted, if you're only looking at a single individual, mutations/breeding may cause catastrophic changes.

But on a population-wide basis, sudden overall declines in 'best individual' fitness are pretty much impossible.

Comment Re:Not really amazing... (Score 1) 206

Ahh - but you are muddying the waters (perhaps intentionally) with the loading word 'Directed'.

One can take the word 'directed' and infer that there must be an intelligent Director.

Alternatively, simply understand that the 'directed' means that there's a direction (like a vector) that leads to improvement. And that vector is just pointing there because if it pointed elsewhere things would get worse... There doesn't need to be any external Director - just like a compass needle doesn't need to be guided alone magnetic field lines, the direction of the search/evolution is a self-directing process.

Comment Re:Err... what's the news? (Score 2, Informative) 206

Memory for Genetic Programming was an interesting topic back in 1995 too... And the first Koza book was an inspiration.

One way to test out 'memory' in an experimental was is to give the individuals some 'memory cells' (or internal preserved state) to work with, and then A/B test some of the good individuals vs. the same individuals with noise added to the memory cells. In that way, one can get a handle on whether/how they're really making use of the memory. Just like adding junk code into a buggy program to see what's actually getting executed.

One of the problems for the Genetic Algorithm/Programming people is that this stuff simply *works too well*. It's difficult to test hypotheses because the evolutionary bit will simply 'work around' you own bad coding decisions : so often experimental results are 'this was slightly worse at first, but then something really interesting started to happen'. Designing a really clean experiment is difficult : these populations are devious...

Comment Re:Not really amazing... (Score 3, Interesting) 206

Not really. While the literature makes a lot of fine distinctions between the various cross-over methods/rates etc., in reality it's pretty academic.

Getting the genetic process going on a population is a really small amount of code, and there's a huge payoff to seeing it work for yourself (rather than using someone else's Black Box code).

The real key is that 'mashing' two individuals together to create a 'child' (evolution) is a whole lot better than creating a child as a random variation of one of those individuals (hill climbing), which is in turn a whole lot better than simply creating new individuals at random (monkeys at keyboards).

But you don't have to trust me. You should be able to code something up in an hour or two to see the effects. Don't worry about the details. This stuff really works.

Comment Re:Intelligent Design tag? (Score 5, Interesting) 206

Actually no. The evolution mechanism is really robust.

Basically, if you have a bunch of random individuals, and the 'evolution' just mashes a bunch of the better ones together, you'll see the increase in fitness occurring. But it's not just a small effect : almost any crazy 'mashing together' method works, and the adaptation will spark off unbelievably quickly.

I know this because I did this for my PhD back in 1995. I had a choice then between going the Neural Net path, and playing around with the Genetic Algorithm/Genetic Programming stuff. Simple experiments proved that making NNs 'do the right thing' was a fairly tricky process of getting things set up right (and your formulae had to be right, etc : a fairly sensitive procedure). But the Genetic stuff was amazingly robust : almost any crazy method of crushing individuals together will produce remarkable innovation and learning (on a population basis).

But don't take my word for it, write a small piece of code yourself. The literature makes it sound like a more exact science that it needs to be. As I said, almost any 'mashup' method will work - the 'evolution thing' will simply find a way to 'protect' the important stuff.

So while this looks like 'old news' in some ways, I'm glad that they've got an eye-opening application : More people should know how much the computer guys can add to the biological evolution debate.

Comment Re:Duh... (Score 1) 428

+1 for recommending the Economist. Excellent content. Over 2/3s of it is politics rather than business/finance. And even the technology reporting is well-informed (e.g. treats Open Source in a rational way).

If anyone is claiming the Economist is just for money types : They should actually read a copy.

Comment Re:Health insurance (Score 1) 637

Firstly : I know nothing about this.

Secondly : Are these the lowest cost supplies available? What about :

I guess I'm missing something, but shouldn't one be able to approach Mexican supplies pricing but ordering in bulk?

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