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Submission + - Google & Facebook Attempt To Code Imagination (

natarnsco writes: The Wall Street Journal reports:

Somewhere, in a glass building several miles outside of San Francisco, a computer is imagining what a cow looks like. Its software is visualizing cows of varying sizes and poses, then drawing crude digital renderings, not from a collection of photographs, but rather from the software's "imagination." The technology is the work of Vicarious FPC Inc., a quasi-secretive startup backed by early Facebook Inc. employees and investors that is part of the rapidly expanding world of artificial intelligence. The company is weaving together bits of code inspired by the human brain, aiming to create a machine that can think like humans.

The article goes on to say:

Last week, Google said it purchased a small startup similar to Vicarious, London-based DeepMind, for more than $500 million, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Submission + - US Intel Warns Over Code Created By Belarus Developers In Obamacare Site (

cold fjord writes: The Washington Free Beacon reports, "U.S. intelligence agencies last week urged the Obama administration to check its new healthcare network for malicious software after learning that developers linked to the Belarus government helped produce the website, raising fresh concerns that private data posted by millions of Americans will be compromised. The intelligence agencies notified the Department of Health and Human Services, the agency in charge of the network, about their concerns last week. Specifically, officials warned that programmers in Belarus, a former Soviet republic closely allied with Russia, were suspected of inserting malicious code that could be used for cyber attacks, according to U.S. officials familiar with the concerns. The software links the millions of Americans who signed up for Obamacare to the federal government and more than 300 medical institutions and healthcare providers. “The U.S. Affordable Care Act software was written in part in Belarus by software developers under state control, and that makes the software a potential target for cyber attacks,” one official said. " — More at Human Events.

Submission + - Dallas PD uses Twitter to announce cop firings (

natarnsco writes: The Dallas, Texas police chief uses an unusual weapon in his arsenal to announce firings and other disciplinary measures in the Dallas police force, namely Twitter.

Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown has fired or disciplined 27 officers and employees in the last year. And every time he brings down the hammer, he announces it on Facebook and Twitter, specifying exactly who the men and women are and what they did. On Dec. 30, it was five officers and a 911 call operator.

The article goes on to say:

Chief Brown is, as far as we know, unique among police chiefs in his use of social media. ”I’m unaware of anyone else doing this,” says Lt. Max Geron, who handles media relations at the Dallas Police Department. “If we weren’t the first, we were one of the first.” We checked out the Twitter profiles of various departments around the country as well and couldn’t find a similar situation. The social media posts aren’t an official policy of the DPD, but rather a “push for transparency” initiative, in Lt. Geron’s words. “[It comes from] a desire to be more transparent and to get our message out to the greater community,” he says.


China's Nine-Day Traffic Jam Tops 62 Miles 198

A traffic jam on the Beijing-Tibet expressway has now entered its ninth day and has grown to over 62 miles in length. This mother-of-all delays has even spawned its own micro-economy of local merchants selling water and food at inflated prices to stranded drivers. Can you imagine how infuriating it must be to see someone leave their blinker on for 9 days?

Comment Re:War is not pretty (Score 1) 698

The military never sells war as being "clean" even though modern air warfare is a hell of a lot cleaner than air wars were a few decades ago - the military purpose of precision weapons is to ensure target destruction while minimizing the expenditure of ordinance and the use of resources necessary to deliver the ordinance. A single pilot flying a single aircraft delivering a single 2,000 lb weapon to destroy a single house is much more efficient then using a squadron of aircraft delivering dozens of 2,000 lb weapons to destroy an entire neighborhood that contains the single targeted house. Minimizing collateral damage is a nice but ultimately irrelevant side benefit. Now if you see some civilian pundit or fat commentator on television saying war is "clean" now because of precision weapons and you believed him, don't blame the military - blame your choice of information sources. Anybody with a scintilla of intelligence should know that 2,000 pounds of high explosives detonating in a crowded city, whether precision guided or not, is going to be messy and dangerous. Anybody with a little bit more intelligence should also know that no matter how precise the weapons are, target selection on a hot battlefield is not as precise and there will be mistakes from time to time.

Comment Re:Dangerous Thinking (Score 1) 611

In the conflict envisioned during the Cold War, the purpose of the Soviet Navy was to shut down the sea lanes as much as possible preventing American Reforger (Return of Forces to Germany) operations. The purpose of the American (and other NATO) navies was to keep the sea lanes open as much as possible. This was the exact same scenario that the Allies and Nazi Germany faced in WWII. Hence Germany's and Russia's emphasis on attack submarines and the Allies' and NATO's emphasis on massive fleet formations and projected naval power. So no, the Soviets were not idiots, but they did understand their limitations and their objectives. So does the United States.

Comment Re:Lack of knowledge not an excuse (Score 1) 440

1. He didn't say they were idiots, he said they were unimaginative and afraid of math and science. BIG difference.

2. His post was not a diatribe, it was a carefully thought out series of arguments and I thought it was remarkably calm.

3. His post was certainly comprehensible, and even with some typos and grammatical errors it was several levels of grammar above a typical internet post. In case you've been living under a rock for the last couple of decades you should know that forum posts don't require the same level of proof-reading as a thesis.

4. FWIW, in 12 years of public schooling (13 including kindergarten) I did not receive much grammar education at all. I didn't realize how little grammar I knew until I began studying a foreign language on my own in earnest. The foreign language classes I took in High School were a joke. I learned FAR more English grammar in one year of studying Spanish on my own than I learned in 12 years of public school. Now whose fault is that?

Comment Re:Lack of knowledge not an excuse (Score 1) 440

The thing that people often forget is that teaching itself is a serious talent/skill.

Bullshit. We always have to teach new people how to do things right and unlearn much of the bullshit they are taught in school. We don't have any "special skills" but then again we also understand what we are doing. It's just a matter of the student picking it up. Some pick it up quick, others take time. We also don't "grade" employees based on whether they learn things quicker than others or not, it's how they perform with what they learn that counts.

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Artificial intelligence has the same relation to intelligence as artificial flowers have to flowers. -- David Parnas