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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: ethical issues with Freenet (

An anonymous reader writes: FreeNet allows one to share any file. No-one can then find out that you shared it (absolute anonymity) and no-one can find out that someone downloads it. Also, while the file "hovers" around the freenet network, it is not possible to find out where it is physically located. This is great for people in oppressive regimes who want to share sensitive information. When I looked 2 years ago what was available (there's an index page), all kinds of interesting information was available. Last friday I checked again and now 95% of it is childporn. This gives me an ethical problem: I would like to support information sharing of people in oppressive regimes but I definitely don't want to support the sharing for childporn! So what should I and we do? Abandon FreeNet? Or does anyone have a bright idea to filter this stuff? (although that would defeat the purpose of FreeNet).

Comment Re:More like ticket Scalping (Score 1) 500

Why are there 'other markets'? A stock exchange has become part of the infrastructure of a country, it seems to me. So IMHO this has two consequences. First, the (there can be only one per country) stock exchange is not a private company but is run by the state and secnd every trade has to be made through the stock exchange. If you trade anything secretly and it is found you are out of business. I think this will solve most of the current problems: No HFT because there is no incentive for the stock exachange to have first class customers. It is not supposed to make profits anyway. The transaction fees/taxes can not be circumvented. You could easily enforce that every new 'financial product' you want to introduce has to be certified first. I imagine this could be done similar to how drugs are introduced. As a bak, you would have to prove convincingly that your product can not have any harmfull effects and the stock exchange would check your documents and then possibly approve your product. A nice side effect of a stock exchange run by bureaucrats would be that all of this would be so complicated, expensive and slow that banks would probably not try to get more than a handfull of derivatives certified.

Comment Re:Tinfoil hat! Get yer tinfoil hat on! (Score 1) 684

I am still not sure about the benefits I get from a smart meter in exchange for the dangers imposed by the pontential privacy invasions and the increased hackability of the system. Besides the fridge, the water heater is only the second example that I can come up with, where there might regularly be some choice in when to use electricity. For the wahsing machine and the dryer I usually want them to be as fast as possible. I sometimes run them overnight (which I guess about 90% of the people living in rented appartments cannot do because of the nieghbours) and in that case I would not mind if they started in the early morning. But this could also be done right know with a simple timer in the machine. It may even exist. All in all I do not think that more than a few percent of my electricity are flexible in time. Last year I paid 200 Euros for electricity. That means we are talking about maybe 20-50 Euros I could save. On the other hand I paid 1200 Euros for heating. So not forgetting to turn down the heat before I go to work a couple of times would probably buy me as much. And I am too lazy for that.

I would not follow your heater example because there is a good reason for the 140 degrees. If you stay below that for a significant time, you are breeding all sorts of nasty germs. Again I would not trade the risk they pose for a couple of bucks.

Comment I have to grow up (Score 1) 1521

Thanks for all the fish, indeed (ATM that is a tag of this story).

I started reading /. about one year after I had my first internet connection (A 14k modem which I shared with about 100 people such that 40B/s (yes, bytes, not kilo bytes) was considered to be quite fast and downloading the newest winamp (about 1MB) was quite challenging) but registered for an account much later which spoiled my ID. I think it was about the first useful thing I found on the Internet. Since then I read /. almost every day. It will be a tough change if one day there will be no /. (as we knew it) anymore.

Thanks a lot for starting and managing this site

Comment Re:Security researchers or confidential informants (Score 1) 176

Unfortunately I do not have a reference handy but some time ago I read about a study that found the exact opposite of what you claim. The result was that even rich people are happier in countries where the range of wealth is relatively narrow than in countries with a large inequality. They argued that your perceived risk of becoming poor contributes to your stress

Comment Re:what progress? (Score 1) 769

While this approach to figuring out how to build safe bridges might be perfectly reasonable from an engineering point of view, the senate of Rome should have been able to figure out that the mistake was in the way it was commercialized.

The way it was done ruined it for a long time if not forever where it would have been easy avoid this mistake. They should have given the engineeres enough money to research bridge building for a few decades. During that time they could have performed experiments on a few experimental tree bridges and later stone bridges. Many safty nets and standby rescue boats could have been used for those research bridges until they had figured out all possible dangers and how to mitigate them. Then after maybe 50 or 100 years they could have started increadibly safe commercial bridges without the need for all the expensive safty nets and boats that are much too expensive for a widespread use but that are not necessary any more. From then on everybody would like those handy new bridges that make river crossings both easier and safer. Because bridges are supposed to be used for the next couple thousand years, it is completely irrelevant that the first commercial bridge would have been delayed by maybe 100 years compared to the approach that actually happened.

Comment Re:augmented reality (Score 1) 238

Your and the GP's arguments are actually philosophically quite relevant. A famous* paper by Nagel, "What is it like to be a bat?", The Philosophical Review 83, 435 (1978) discusses more or less exactly this question.

* According to Google Scholar it is cited 2461 times

Comment Re:100 years sounds good... (Score 1) 267

Let's see:

With high quality fine clay you could probably make 50 bits per square centimeter including ECC. If we make the panels 50 by 50 centimeter this amounts to about 16 kB per panel. Let them be 1 cm thick including padding. Wikipedia says that the Library of congress has 1200 km of shelves which means it could hold about 2 TB. Compared to the estimate of 20 TB it is holding now this is only one order of magnitude lower. Maybe it would be worthwile to backup everything in clay.

Comment Re:Missing Option (Score 1) 256

After reading this I can't help but wonder what percentage of folks that have german as their native language actually speak(read) english poorly enough to actually *need* a german wikipedia.

I do not have numbers but I would think is is well above 80 percent. Although most people in germany have learned some english in school, I do not think most of them are proficient enough to follow anything but very simple stories. More or less technical articles on Wikipedia are certainly out of reach for most

Then again, I consider the fact that we have so many different languages on this planet somewhat of a curse(are you listening, Babylonians?). I see very little added value and a ton of effort to ensure we can communicate with one another.

Communicating is certainly a problem. On the other hand it was proven time and again that the language you speak shapes the way you think about the world. That is, as we are losing more and more languages (which I think is inevitable as we are more closely connected than ever before) we also reduce our chances that somebody somewhere gets a really helpful idea


Submission + - The Top Scientific Stories of 2007

ahab_2001 writes: "The journal Science has put up its annual "Breakthrough of the Year" list of the top-ten scientific accomplishments for 2007. Leading the list are studies of human genetic variation, and a flood of new discoveries that point toward a future of genomic medicine and even "personal genomics" — with all of the potential issues of ethics and privacy that entails. Runners-up include advances in cellular and structural biology, astrophysics, physics, immunology, synthetic chemistry, neuroscience, and computer science. In addition to the articles from the journal, there's a video on human genetic variation and a podcast as well."

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