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Comment Ethics and intent (Score 2) 280

This piece isn't about the code per. se. It is about the use it is put to.

Some people might set out to write software that is ONLY usable for malevolent purposes - and they could be fully aware of this when they do the job and deliver the result. Just like some people will work in cigarette factories. Or design more "efficient" land mines.

However, the vast majority of software that is used for evil can also be used for good. Take GPS for example. It can be used to guide ambulances to accident victims and it can be used to guide missiles to their targets (it can also be used to make those missiles more accurate thereby reducing collateral damage - go figure).

Is the person who invented the for() loop responsible for all the unknown uses it is put to? Is the team that fixes a bug in car's firmware responsible for saving lives? These are unknowable points. The best that programmers (and testers and designers) can do is to produce high quality work, that fits within their ethical framework. Then sleep easy at night.

Comment Re:Missing the point.. (Score 1) 540

The GOOD thing is that with lower production costs, it will become less costly to live so maybe these things will balance out as they always have in the past. The future economy, though, looks like it will be vastly different than what we have today.

Not really. For many people the base-cost of living: the rent, the energy bills, the property taxes, the children - those will all continue at the same levels as before. Many families, especially the low-paid, have very little discretionary income so the lower production costs (not including the raw material, marketing, and development costs) of non-essential consumables will have very little impact on their household budgets.

Comment Passive works, active doesn't (Score 1) 182

It's really easy to imagine that games would permeate our lives much the way digital music does today.

There is no action (air guitar notwithstanding) needed to have music playing. Although when I visited a Disney Store once I was confronted with "music" playing the entire time. That (the wrong type of music) is a living hell.

But back to games. While we can live with music, we cannot passively play a game. A game needs input and the "twichy" ones need fast reactions which implies paying attention all the time. This is clearly impractical.

I would suggest that either this guy has a radically different view of what future "games" will be like, or he was making this stuff up as he went along.

Comment Worse if using real name? (Score 1) 60

the most common concerns being unwanted contact (43%) and various forms of harassment (39%).

The two qualifiers to this would be the level of "community" where the negative interaction took place and whether the individual receiving this negative interaction was identifiable or using a pseudonym.

One can imagine that "public" humiliation would result in a worse outcome for the recipient. Where the individual could be identified in the real world. Possibly even physically encountering their abuser.

However, the level of sensitivity of individuals varies widely. Some are resilient enough to shrug off a bout of internet abuse while others can be severely affected - even if their account was entirely anonymous. Maybe there is a lack of education in how to cope with anonymous attacks? Should people be reminded that having someone you have never met insulting your avatar cannot possibly have any real meaning, since they know nothing about you. Maybe people should be taught how to toughen up - since cultural norms for behaviour (both online and offline) vary wildly across the world.

Comment Show us the data (Score 4, Insightful) 232

To be blunt, what Zuckerberg "thinks" is irrelevant.

He is in a position to obtain and have analysed the data - not just about whether the fake stories and lies are a "small proportion" of FB's content, but just how much that "small proportion" gets liked, reposted and commented on. Being a small proportion is meaningless if it is influential. And it is the influence that these fake stories have, not the quantity of them, which is important.

One could also say that The Washington Post reaches only a small proportion of the world. But Zuckerberg considered it worth buying.

Comment Hit, miss or don't know? (Score 3, Insightful) 303

For a projectile aimed at something 100 miles away, it's going to be very difficult to tell, in real time, whether you've hit the target or not. The best you could do would be to have a drone nearby to report back. But if you can operate a drone in theatre, why not use that to fire a missile of its own?

Comment Fluency (Score 1) 587

Being able to effortlessly speak, read and write american (as opposed to the language used in England) at a high level, to know the culture, to have the nuances of intonation, politeness, expectations, professionalism and body language counts for 40 - 50 points on your IQ.

It is not enough to have been on a 6-month language course and to be able to ask for (and understand) directions to the bathroom. You have to be able to read and write complex, technical, documents. You also have to be able to demonstrate the social skills (what about them cowboys?) to mingle with your colleagues. You have to be able to ask for explanations and understand them.

Being a good coder, tester, designer or integration specialist isn't enough. To earn the rates that american IT workers command, you have to blend in and pay back the confidence that your employer places in your soft skills.

Comment Cause or effect? (Score 1) 167

Respondents were also asked to identify the most common causes of bugs

Surely the cause of bugs is programmers getting it wrong (or, if you want to go to a higher level, errors in the design or specification). All the cited reasons don't cause bugs, they merely prevent their detection.

As for the most environment where bugs are most costly to fix, I would suggest that would be once they reach the consumer and can only be fixed by a product recall? Although once they reach orbit, that can be a pretty expensive place to apply a fix, too.

Comment Re:So... (Score 0) 156

Did they double-check the mirror this time? And compensate for zero-G?

And remember there's a difference between inches and centimetres.
Don't forget that on the rocket, the arrows should be pointing upwards.
Have they tuned the radio link to the correct frequency?

Luckily this telescope doesn't need parachutes. But they'd better put a screen-wipe in the package in case the mirror gets dusty between now and launch-day.

Comment Dump channels (Score 1) 200

I don't care what channel something is on. I just want my TV to present me with a slection of programmes I do like - given my watching history - and some suggestions for others I might like. When I choose one, just show me the dam' programme. That's all! If I then specify that I want more, don't ask me any questions: just get it.

Comment UBI is a one way street (Score 4, Insightful) 917

The point about UBI is that it provides enough to get by on.

That is fine as a temporary measure, but run the play through for a generation and see where it leads. The first thing that happens is that you have children growing up in an environment where there is no history of earning and no expectation of it. That leads to the question: why bother with an education? Once you start questioning that and consider the costs - books, all the stuff the "other kids" have, trips, the cost of transporting your offspring to school - it all adds up. And to what end? You don't have a job, the next generation is even less likely to have one - why expend energy and time learning stuff that will be no use.

After that we're really sunk: we have a generation who might just have picked up the basics: speech, a little counting, but who needs nothing more. Even if they are only a proportion of the population they are significant: not least because they will have a vote. But not only do they have no skills, they have no ability to pass on to their kids anything of themselves.

Sure, there would be machine learning available - but why bother, if you will never need that information or any skills.

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