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Comment Misleading press release (Score 3, Interesting) 149

I googled Fan Hui: one source says he's 8 dan amateur, another that he's 2 dan pro. That's only a little bit better than go programs have been for several years, and much weaker than the best professional players. If he's a top player in Europe, that mostly says that go isn't played at a very high level in Europe. I think that the progress that has been made on go software is really great, but the claim to have beat a 'go champion' seems a bit of a spin.

Comment Depends on what is meant by "intuitive" (Score 1) 237

I think the main problem is that by "intuitive", a lot of people mean "sloppily glossing over distinctions as if they don't matter". Sometimes people try to simplify problems by treating new or difficult ideas or operations as if they're like other more common things, but this leads to problems insofar as those things actually differ. Intuition is hugely important and valuable in problem solving, but your intuition doesn't tell you the truth if you've trained it by thinking of things as being something other than what they are.

High level constructs should map in as straightforward way as possible to the more complex, low level details they represent. For example, if something is a pipeline, and a user finds pipelines conceptually difficult, trying to make the interface hide the fact that its a pipeline doesn't actually make it less difficult. The thing is still a pipeline, and can't be dealt with correctly any other way, so hiding that fact makes the problem even more difficult by making it less clear.

But if you've been thinking about it in the right way, then your intuition points you at creative and effective ideas about how to use it, without having to first reason through the details. Its as if you have a correct model of the thing somewhere in your mind that you can feel, even when you don't trouble yourself with the details, so what you feel about it tends to be right. In general, in my experience, most things that seem 'counter-intuitive' usually seem that way because they weren't explained and understood in an accurate way, not because they would seem counter-intuitive otherwise.

Comment Re:Summary insufficient, click through the link. (Score 1) 786

Bruce: Speaking as an unusually introspective asshole, with a good memory of my social experiences back to age 2, I think you're attributing too much to social conditioning. There's a part of it for me that's just mine, call it genes or my soul depending on which assumption you prefer, but no amount of childhood education would have fixed it.

I also think its best not to conflate autism and aspergers with assholery. I've seen no evidence that they're very highly correlated, and its not fair to all the nice people who have autistic tendencies.

On this thread we see some disparagement of "feelings", as if feeling is somehow incompatible with reason or objective standards. That's an attitude that I think is worth addressing directly, because it gets closer to the heart of the problem. In my experience the capacity to feel with intelligence is quite valuable: not only is it good for social interaction and empathy, it also enhances technical problem solving. Logical analysis is great too, but its not the whole of intelligence. And rudeness shouldn't be confounded with objective honesty. Although an honest perception is often difficult or impossible to state without being rude, the people who justify their rudeness as honesty are more often than not being gratuitously rude, in my observation, and not entirely honest.

Comment Re:I know it is a bit late in life... (Score 4, Interesting) 186

Chess mentality doesn't transfer very well to go in my observation. Since go has vastly more plausibly good moves, chess players often find themselves not understanding how to choose where to go next. Most people I've known who like go a lot hate chess. I've known one person who likes both, and he was never able to get very good at go. Generally speaking, chess can be learned by someone who can think logically and learn the standard opening sequences. Go is more like painting. Its not necessarily a superior skill, but not all intellectually-smart people are smart in the right way.

But by all means learn, its easy to get a game on the internet. If you like it its worth it. And if you do it for ego and discover you suck, sometimes that's worth something too.

Comment Re:Seriously? Look at History (Score 4, Insightful) 239

As I read it, things usually get better during long periods of difficult reform, but worse after a revolution. Sometimes when the balance between big powers changes there are opportunities for small nations to reassert their independence from an external tyrant, but that isn't a revolution in the same sense.

The 1917 Russian revolution would be an example of things getting worse after a revolution. The French revolution results were more mixed, but some things got a lot worse for a while, and its debatable how much the revolution itself really helped. The 1989 Polish revolution would be an example of escaping from an external oppressor, where things got better because the society was already capable of supporting a much better order than had been imposed from without.

The problem with revolutions, is that the a corrupt society is usually corrupt at more than just the top level - the people who abuse power at the top are able to do that in large part because of the corruption of those below them. When they are overthrown violently, even worse elements are commonly able to take advantage of the breakdown in civil institutions.

I'm not defending the people at the top - I hate the 1%. And I'm not against violence where it makes sense. But if people had what it takes to make things better after overthrowing their moneyed overlords violently, in most places they have what it takes to do it better without the violence. We have a lot of power already. If we don't use it because we're lazy or busy or brainwashed, a revolution isn't going to help with that.

Comment Re: McCarthyism v2.0 (Score 1) 242

There are hundreds of thousands of government engineers and analysts who have time to surf the internet at work. It is where most of the tech activity went after manufacturing went to China. Most of them have views consistent with how they live. The vast majority of them are not being explicitly paid to astroturf.

Comment Re:confusion? (Score 1) 153

The distinction doesn't matter as much now in the age of internet and routine background investigations. I got arrested on a class one misdemeanor charge years ago. Since its not a felony, even had I been convicted I wouldn't have had to put it on job applications. I was completely innocent, and the charges were dropped. But it still turns up and I still have to explain it to employers when I try to change jobs. As far as I know it hasn't hurt me, but I still find it a bit worrisome that the whole "expunged from record" thing appears to have become a fiction.

I think this is another reason the pre-screening thing that the TSA has been pushing is a terrible idea. The mechanisms are already in place that with tiny changes create a huge subclass of undesirables that has trouble traveling.

Comment Re:The press and the people... (Score 3, Insightful) 228

People were more aggressive and less risk adverse in the past, and not as self-absorbed, but for the most part were never willing to stand up for what was right. For example, when Thomas Paine was in prison in France, the founding fathers left him hung out to dry. Nobody stood up to stop the genocide against Native Americans. There was a regional power struggle between the north and south US, which had different cultures, but poor southern white men did essentially nothing to help black men. America fought Germany because Germany declared war on the US, not because they were willing to fight Fascism, and the US did very little to help Jews escape. America fought Japan because they were pissed about Peal Harbor, not because of what Japan was doing in China. Very much of the domestic opposition to the war in Vietnam came from people who wanted to stay home, enjoy benefits of birth control pills, penicillin, and smoke weed, not because they had a more principled objection. I could go on.

I think its possible to understand a lot about "why this is", but we've got to be willing to give up our own vanity, and face the possibility that our ideals not only will not but can not be realized in anything like the form and time-frame that we may have hoped for. Our problems go very, very deep, its not like humanity just went off the tracks a few decades ago or even a few thousand years ago. Study animal behavior closely and you'll see that its all fucked up to, in pretty much the same ways. Maintaining idealism in the face of this takes an incredible patience, and a kind of courage. If we value courage, here's something to prove ourselves on maybe.

Comment Re:Don't stop your meds! (Score 5, Insightful) 218

I think your advice was reasonable, based on your experience, and it was reasonable for you to offer it.

I do have a partial disagreement with it though. Medications have side effects, often significantly undesirable, and there isn't a clear, universally applicable line which distinguishes all schizophrenics from all non-schizophrenics. I have had symptoms which meet the definition of schizophrenia, and I had them a lot more for a couple of years before they went away again. Suppose I had decided it was a problem worth getting medication for. Then I could never stop the medications again? That would seem like a good reason to be very cautious about ever starting treatment.

My sister is a doctor in a big city ER, so I can imagine what your experience is like. But that's a skewed sample. It doesn't include the much larger number of mild schizophrenics who never wind up in the ER. Also, many doctors are not very interested in understanding the more subtle tradeoffs with medications and their significance, and they prescribe drugs casually if the patient seems to be asking for it, or for the sake of doing some kind of treatment to cover their own liability or to justify the visit. How large a portion of doctors have that kind of arrogance I don't know, because I've encountered both. But the percentage who went into medicine because of some combination of attraction to money, having power over people, and vicarious sadism is not small. Particularly in the more difficult areas like mental health and ER work.

Comment Re:About time (Score 1) 345

That's true, sort of like how Republican's pretend to care about limiting spending, but it keeps going up whenever they control both houses and the Presidency. I think having a Republican president and a Democratic congress would help some with the surveillance stuff for that reason: the Democrats pretending to care about executive over-reach would slow it a little. But despite the talk people like Feinstein and Pelosi would still be behind it when it mattered. They're cowards and they're too deeply connected to the money through stock and other interests. Plus a lot of the programs they support are secret, so nobody can call them on it.

Comment Re:Then Fire Him (Score 1) 509

Seems to me you give up too much by tossing out vegans and religious nuts. As a right-leaning, freedom loving vegan, I don't see why I bring less to the table than pot smoking libertarians. Also, a significant portion of the religious right aren't a problem either, they've been caricatured by leftist agnostics who don't understand their way of thinking and lump them in with the bigoted, anti-science variety.

Comment Re:This is frightening (Score 1) 312

Or maybe the galaxy is teeming with life, but broadcast radio is a very brief, primitive technology, and ringworlds and Dyson spheres are a real bitch to build?

I don't think that most people really grasp how far apart things are, and how inappropriate it is to think of space is if its a gigantic ocean.

I think there are still frontiers, but 'crossing space' is not a right way to think about them.

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In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982