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Comment Now we need "Alexa, ask Google..." (Score 1) 63

After a year of so living with Alexa I find her to be exceptionally useful for many things, not including deep searches. For everyday things (and being Amazon, for selling things) she does a marvelous job but the AI behind Alexa is pretty much an Eliza-class AI. Google has and is in the position to continue developing better deep-thinking AI's, as does IBM.

I think Google and Amazon need to bury the hatchet, and add "Alexa, Ask Google..." to Alexa's skill set. There comes a time when a user wants a better search result than one gets with Alexa's default Bong search. A skill that would permit Alexa to consult with a better AI would be a very useful addition. In that same vein, it might be nice for Amazon to buy some IBM hardware and add "Alexa, Ask Watson..." to the universe of skills.

We're better together.

Comment Uber is off mission (Score 1) 92

Uber started out as a simple middleman, matching up people with a car with people needing a ride. Now they're burning billions of dollars trying to shape the future of transportation. Instead of letting market forces shape the future transportation market and adapting to it, Uber has a grandiose vision they're trying to cram down the market's throat.

I don't think people really want the future Uber is trying to push. They should stop the self-driving car research, today. That future will happen anyway but it's not clear when cars will be able to transport passengers without a driver. Uber and Lyft are already treating human drivers like the machines they're working on to replace them. Neither will survive until robots are ready to take over unless they go back to basics. They'll need human drivers at least three years, probably closer to five. They can't survive that long burning through cash like they are today. The rider experience is already suffering from second rate drivers and high turnover.

Think about self checkouts at grocery stores when contemplating how long it will be before cars can drive themselves.

Comment Not -Exactly- Renewable (Score 2) 160

Tapping geothermal energy is a great idea, but it's not precisely renewable.

The process, whether using natural (in place) water or by water injection, is removing paleolithic heat from a piece of solidified rock. That rock only has so much heat in it and the process of tapping that heat cools it. There are already geothermal fields in Northern California (The Geysers) that are producing reduced power output due to local cooling.

The upside with deep geothermal is that there is a whole lot of crust to drill into and depleted wells can be deepened. With better grid technology more remote geothermal sources can be tapped including shallow magma.

There is a lot of energy available but technically speaking it is neither infinite nor renewable any more than anthracite coal fields were renewable. At the turn of the 20th century mining companies were looking forward to mining these vast fields of coal forever.

Comment Have they actually prodcued anything? (Score 4, Interesting) 99

I know they have concepts and maybe some engineering drawings but have they actually contracted out for the development of anything? There has to be some supporting equipment they could be accumulating right now, right?

I wonder if they ever considered partnering with a company like SpaceX?

I could see this going somewhere with the right mix of companies, but right now I just don't see one organization pulling it all together.

Comment Yes,but it's not about Computer Programming (Score 1) 381

These are books about algorithms. I've read them all, and worked the problems.

At the risk of exposing myself as an elitist snob, I wonder about the people who don't think one has to understand the basis of an algorithm, and what makes for an algorithm as opposed to a heuristic.

Decades of research went into understanding how computing machinery accomplished the things that they did. A certain Bill Gates came along and decided none of that highbrow stuff applied to the new paradigm of PC's. That's one of the reasons that we had fifteen years of the worst memory manager on Earth, in Windows. In point of fact Knuth talked in detail about this memory management as a counterexample of how it should not be done. But it was simple amd worked on PC's and hey, memory is cheap.

Knuth's books are about the Fundamentals. They're not practical guides and they never were practical guides. They are insight into how a certain variety of stochastic machine operates and the kind of things one must think about to design proper algorithms that work all the time, as opposed to work most of the time. They are the Zen of computer programming, a philosophy of thought and a discipline for creating algorithms. This is not how to write code.

It certainly isn't for people who confuse how to speak a language with how to converse.

Comment Re:Which media company would refuse to stir up shi (Score 2) 588

Sure, it's an appalling idea, but can we wait until it's an actual plan before pouring out the vitriol?

So, we should wait until the actual contracting stage to express indignation? The fact the other companies didn't unanimously and immediately shit-can this idea says more bad things about America than burning a flag could ever accomplish.

Comment "This is the one you want to protect" (Score 3, Interesting) 151

And that is -the- reason to build an O'Neill colony.

In order to build it and make it work, it is necessary to understand an ecology, deeply and comprehensively. Mistakes will be made and what better place to make a mistake than a totally artificial habitat? The first of the experiments (actual experiments, not "I read the journals" studies) was BioSphere, and that didn't work out so well.

So what was the motivation to fix BioSphere? Not much, really. Easier to walk away muttering "That was bad, dude."

With a colony, the colonials are most mighty motivated to fix the darn thing. If technology needs to be developed, it will be developed. If new principles need to be learned, they will be learned.

And for all of you "This is a nutty idea" I have a few short words. New World. Panama Canal. Washing Hands.

Nutty ideas have a way to become decidedly un-nutty.

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