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Submission + - What if reality was really just a 'Sims universe? ( 3

SternisheFan writes: Physicists propose experiment to test hypothesis that reality is just a computer simulation.

Originally published:
Dec 14 2012 — 5:00pm

Joel N. Shurkin, ISNS Contributor

(ISNS) — What if everything — all of us, the world, the universe — was not real? What if everything we are, know and do was really just someone's computer simulation?
The notion that our reality was some kid on a couch in the far future playing with a computer game like a gigantic Sim City, or Civilization, and we are his characters, isn't new. But a group of physicists now thinks they know of a way to test the concept. Three of them propose to test reality by simulating the simulators.

Martin Savage, professor of physics at the University of Washington, Zohreh Davoudi, one of his graduate students, and Silas Beane of the University of New Hampshire, would like to see whether they can find traces of simulation in cosmic rays. The work was uploaded in arXiv, an online archive for drafts of academic research papers.

The notion that reality is something other than we think it is goes far back in philosophy, including Plato and his Parable of the Cave, which claimed reality was merely shadows of real objects on a cave wall. Sixteenth-century philosopher-mathematician René Descartes thought he proved reality with his famous "I think, therefore, I am," which proposed that he was real and his thoughts had a reality.

Then, in 2003, a British philosopher, Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford, published a paper that had the philosophy and computer science departments buzzing.

Bostrom suggested three possibilities: "The chances that a species at our current level of development can avoid going extinct before becoming technologically mature is negligibly small," "almost no technologically mature civilizations are interested in running computer simulations of minds like ours,” or we are "almost certainly" a simulation.

All three could be equally possible, he wrote, but if the first two are false, the third must be true. "There will be a


Submission + - Open Hardware & Software Laptop

mihai.todor85 writes: It looks like Andrew "bunnie" Huang has been quite busy lately, developing a nice open hardware laptop. He was even kind enough to provide all the schematics without NDA. For anybody interested in owning such a device, he says that he "might be convinced to try a Kickstarter campaign in several months, once the design is stable and tested" if enough people are interested.

Submission + - Adam Lanza's Asperger's, Autism Cannot Be Blamed for CT School Shooting, Experts 1

An anonymous reader writes: Did Adam Lanza's Asperger's syndrome have anything to do with his murderous rampage that claimed 28 lives? Authorities investigating the tragedy said that the 20-year-old gunman in the Connecticut elementary school shooting had been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism characterized by difficulties in social interaction. Since the latest details of Lanza's mental health have surfaced, many have been quick to tie his mental disorder to his actions.

Comment Creepy... (Score 1) 81

Let's see: stem cells -> eggs -> ovary tissue -> natural ovaries -> oocytes -> removed from ovaries -> fertilized -> transplanted into "foster mothers"... To me, that sounds like a combination between Frankenstein and Fantastic Voyage

Comment That's just a subjective and biased impression (Score 1) 285

While these online courses are not as rigorous, well structured and of the same quality as Stanford / MIT / Oxford / whatever courses, I do think that most of them are much better than what students usually get at standard universities in poorer countries. Does anyone from Romania want to contradict me?

Even though there is enough room for improvement, there are many students in other countries who don't even have access to courses such as Machine Learning, Cryptography, Quantum Computing, etc so any introduction to such topics is most welcome.

I think that in a few years they will only get better, based on feedback received from the forums as well as from the quizzes. Also, they should implement some mechanism to determine which segments of the videos are re-winded over and over, since those might need clarifications. A term index is also welcome.

Just think about it: if an online course doesn't live up to the expectations of the students, then it will just die out when they will stop following it. Now, compare this to a professor who teaches poorly a certain course: generations upon generations of students will be forced to try and make sense of that course, because they have no other alternative.

I personally followed Andrew Ng's course on Machine Learning and, while it wasn't rigorous regarding the mathematics, it did offer me a really good intuition on how those algorithms work, as well as the required terminology to be able to start reading a book on this subject. I also followed Jennifer Widom's course on databases, which was really, really good and Dan Boneh's course on Cryptography helped me get a decent understanding of this subject for my current job.

So, we should encourage them to improve the courses instead of just yelling that some of them doesn't really live up to "the standards".

Comment My 2 cents (Score 1) 140

It's quite funny that people with modest coding skills still believe that they can make good money as freelancers. Putting aside the rare occasions when you find (a fat pigeon) some clueless and wealthy investors, if you're not backed up by some company with a nice portfolio, then you're usually out of luck. A few years ago, I was digging around sites like rent-a-coder to see if it's even remotely feasible to make some money as a freelancer. What I found was a swamp of "experts" who were willing to code youtube clones for 100$ and small companies that posed as users with perfect ratings. My conclusion is that if you're good enough and you have many years of experience in the industry, then you're better off as a consultant for (big) companies, paid by the hour. Otherwise, just find a nice job at a company that's willing to invest time in training you, and, heck, you might end up learning how to code while making some money as well.

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The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."