Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Nonsense question (Score 1) 363

Until there is scientific evidence, it's a philosophic question and not a scientific one. From many philosophic standpoints, it's a bit of a nonsense question.

The basic problem that you're likely to run into philosophically is that, regardless of whether the universe is a simulation, it is our universe. There's no reason to think that it being a simulation would have any consequence for us, or that it would be detectable. Even if you were to find some artifact of the simulation, it would be indistinguishable from a weird quirk in physics. You could argue, for example, that the reason quantum mechanics is indeterminate is that the simulation doesn't actually calculate the location at particles at the smallest level until that level of accuracy is needed. It's a neat idea, but indistinguishable from "That's just the way physics works."

If this were a simulation, we have no access out to the larger "real" world outside of it, including the "computer" running the simulation, and therefore would have no grounds to make assertions about what that world would look like or how the simulation should work. We have no reason to think this supposed "real world" contains people, or creatures anything like what we've imagined. This supposed world might have entirely different rules of physics. The simulation might run on a "computer" that is not a computer, and is unlike anything we understand. Not only do we not know about these things, but we have no reason to believe the tiniest scrap of information about the supposed world is discoverable.

If we were to assume that our universe is a simulation of a sort that we know about, we should guess that the only way we would discover this deeper truth would be a revelation made by its creator. For example, there's no possibility of a character in Grand Theft Auto to learn that he's in a video game unless the developer programs the character to know it. Without the intervention of the developer to make this information available, the GTA character would have no way of figuring out whether the game is running on an AMD processor or Intel.

So given that, even if we assume for the sake of argument that we are in a simulation, we have every reason to believe that we can never discover evidence of it, and our existence in the simulation is indistinguishable from what our existence would be if we existed in reality. It's a distinction without a difference. Our simulated universe is still as real to us as the real universe would be to us if we were real. The whole thing turns into a broader philosophic question of, "What if the nature of the universe is actually unlike anything we understand, or are capable of understanding, and everything we think we understand is illusory?" It's a somewhat interesting question to ponder for a few moments, but it makes no sense to try to answer it. If it's the case that we're incapable of understanding reality, then there's no further use for inquiry.

Comment Re:Who is liable when your tv catches fire (Score 1) 175

The people inside a fully autonomous cars are passengers, not drivers.

Actually I put it into quotes in that instance because I was referring to the AI as the "driver". But an AI can't be fined or arrested, so someone else will need to be held responsible.

I don't think manufacturers will sell fully autonomous cars.

I agree that fewer people will buy cars, and that it may eventually become relatively rare for an individual to buy a car for their own personal use. Still, presumably someone will own the cars, and it may not be the manufacturer. You may have services like Uber buying cars from a company like Tesla. There may be companies that purchase vehicles for specific use, e.g. a shipping company may buy a fleet of autonomous trucks, or... I don't know... a hotel may want to buy a vehicle for their shuttle service. Though maybe you're right, and those will still be leased. I'm not sure how the economic and legal issues will play out.

Comment Re:Sunk cost fallacy (Score 1) 196

So, you're saying that censorship works?

Depends on what you mean by "censorship". If I don't post your views on my blog, am I censoring you? I suppose you could argue that I'm inhibiting your speech, but it's kind of a stretch.

But me refusing to endorse your views does "work", at least a little tiny bit, in terms of preventing your views from spreading. If enough people, or more specifically enough people who are influential enough, refuse to endorse views, and in fact oppose those views, then yes, it does "work" in terms of preventing those views from being enforced.

Twitter is not the only means of communication.

That's... kind of entirely my point. Twitter is a private company running what is essentially a blogging platform. They aren't responsible for stopping all violence, but they may be responsible (morally, if not legally) for the behavior their site enables. They are totally within their rights to say, "We don't want this kind of thing on our site," and it's not really censorship. It won't stop violence, but if they do a good job at it, it might stop Twitter from being a tool used to incite violence. If you don't like Twitter's terms of service, then use a different means of communication. As you note, it's not the only one.

Comment Re:Who is liable when your tv catches fire (Score 3, Insightful) 175

You're right. Ultimately, this is not a new problem. The question boils down to, "Who is responsible when a product malfunctions?"

However, there is a relevant shift in liability that needs to happen. Basically there are certain things where the manufacturer is only responsible for the product being able to operate safely, but the operator of the product is also partially responsible.

For example, Toyota may have legal liability for a manufacturing defect that causes the breaks to stop working, but Toyota isn't responsible for a car crash caused by an unsafe driver. Once you have self-driving cars, that needs to change because the "driver" cannot be held responsible. Obviously the manufacturer needs to take on greater liability, but there also may be situations where that's not really practical either. There may still be things that the car's owner or passenger could do to cause an accident. For example, if the owner modifies the car or fails to perform maintenance, and that causes the AI to malfunction, the owner should probably still be held responsible. Or there will certainly be some accidents that just happen, and aren't really anyone's fault.

And the particulars of all that need to be codified into law. We have hundreds of years of laws dealing with carriages and cars, but some of those may shift when the car is autonomous. What, exactly, is the car's manufacturer responsible for, and what is the owner responsible for? How do we determine whether an AI is adequate to make the necessary decisions, and how will inspections be carried out? These are things that need to be thought about.

Comment Re:What's the plan, Stan? (Score 1) 196

Unfortunately no-one can verify if this is true in any given case...

Do their terms of service provide that you have some kind of right of review? Or do those terms specify that they can suspend your account?

Try this thought experiment out for size: if Twitter's workforce were to try and unionize, do you think Twitter would permit them the use of their own platform?

If they were smart they would permit it. I don't know that they have an obligation to. Does NBC have an obligation to run a reality TV show about people who hate NBC?

Comment Re:More to Free Speech Than the First Amendment (Score 1) 196

But as usual, it's the pro-censorship side (i.e. you) who's brought up the First Amendment first, as a strawman so you can dismiss it.

This is perhaps the stupidest sentence I've read all day. It doesn't make sense to dismiss whatever statements are made first.

It doesn't get much better after that. From the thing you yourself quoted:

In contrast, when private individuals or groups organize boycotts against stores that sell magazines of which they disapprove, their actions are protected by the First Amendment...

Yes, there are instances where shutting down a conversation can be dangerous, in much the same way that exercising any of your rights can become dangerous. Still, boycotts and protests are protected by the First Amendment. When you say something stupid, your freedom of speech protects your right to say it. My freedom of speech protects my right to say your speech is stupid, an even to tell you to shut up.

But we're not even talking about that. The issue here is not Twitter taking action to try to suppress your speech, but they are only refusing to provide a platform. You probably won't get the difference right away, so I'll attempt a somewhat clumsy metaphor. Let's say you're a musician, and you want to play a show at a local venue. Obviously you have the right to play your music. In the same sense, I have the right to not attend the show. I can even tell you and everyone else that I hate your music, and that no one should go to the show. If I wanted to be a real dick about it, I could even mount a protest to discourage people from going to the show. I have the right to do that, though perhaps that's not a good thing for people to be doing.

However, none of that is what we're talking about with Twitter. In the case that we're talking about, Twitter is the guy who owns the local venue that you want to play in. Twitter is saying, "You can play your music if you want, and I'll do nothing to stop it. But no, I'm not going to let you play here." Twitter owns the place, and has every right to do that. The alternative would be that every venue has to host every musician that wants to play in it, which is ridiculous.

Comment Re:What's the plan, Stan? (Score 4, Insightful) 196

Because shutting down extremist accounts ends violent extremism... how exactly?

Maybe I'm missing something, but where does it say that they intended to end violent extremism? It said they're trying to "tackle 'violent extremism' on its microblogging platform," but I think a more reasonable interpretation of that is that they're not trying to deal with violent extremism itself, but with its presence on their platform.

And actually, to deal with your question more directly, denying extremists a platform does help prevent the spread of that extremism. It doesn't really matter if it's ISIS or the KKK, if you help people spread their propaganda, you're deepening the problem. Twitter has simply taken the position that they don't want to assist in spreading that kind of propaganda. And before you start harping on the First Amendment, no, the First Amendment does not require that private parties assist you in spreading your speech. It only disallows the government from making your speech illegal.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Marriage is low down, but you spend the rest of your life paying for it." -- Baskins