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Corporations Hiring Hooky Hunters 610

No longer satisfied with your crinkled doctor's note, a growing number of corporations are hiring "Hooky Detectives." Private investigator Rick Raymond says he's staked out bowling alleys, pro football games, weddings and even funerals looking for people using sick days. From the article: "Such techniques have become permissible at a time when workers are more likely to play hooky. Kronos, a workforce productivity firm in Chelmsford, Mass., recently found that 57 percent of salaried employees take sick days when they're not sick — almost a 20 percent increase from statistics gathered between 2006 and 2008."

Comment Re:Electrodynamic de-orbit tether... (Score 1) 242

Put into orbit a roll of Kevlar that unspools to be a thin sheet 20 meters long by a few kilomiters from top to bottom. Solar panels on top and a conductive loop around the perimeter so it can use the Earth's magnetic field to maintain orbit (or go into higher/lower orbits to avoid working satellites).

Put it in a retrograde equatorial orbit with its surface plane parallel to its direction of movement to minimize drag. Any bits of debris that hit it will probably have a velocity vector such that all the collision debris will quickly fall out of orbit.

Comment Re:Can aircraft keep ahead of missile tech? (Score 1) 418

In WW2 the US had automated AA guns. Outputs from radar went through an analog computer, which controlled the guns. They were extremely effective. They were first used at Anzio and were definitely used in the later parts of the Pacific war. IEEE Spectrum had a really good couple of articles on WW2 electronics a while back. And yes, those articles made it quite clear that proximity fuses are wonderful things. Radar at frequencies that Nazi U-boat commanders can't even detect is pretty nice to have too.

Man Uses Drake Equation To Explain Girlfriend Woes 538

artemis67 writes "A man studying in London has taken a mathematical equation that predicts the possibility of alien life in the universe to explain why he can't find a girlfriend. Peter Backus, a native of Seattle and PhD candidate and Teaching Fellow in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, near London, in his paper, 'Why I don't have a girlfriend: An application of the Drake Equation to love in the UK,' used math to estimate the number of potential girlfriends in the UK. In describing the paper on the university Web site he wrote 'the results are not encouraging. The probability of finding love in the UK is only about 100 times better than the probability of finding intelligent life in our galaxy.'"

Comment Re:Scalzi on Stross on ST (Score 1) 809

I took a class in neural networks almost 20 years ago. One project was to get a small network to "learn" how to recugnize handwritten numbers. On a 486/33 running overnight it got to the point where it could recognize a number right over 90% of the time, just with a a few dozen neurons. However, it would probably be impossible to determine *why* that network was able to recognize the numbers.

Consciousness (however you want to define it) is almost certainly an emergent property, and if it can emerge in a toddler it should be able to emerge in a properly designed piece of hardware. And even you can you can do a core dump on that hardware, you'll *never* figure out why it's conscious.

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For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. -- H. L. Mencken