Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


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 Re:The actual real problem with Mars... (Score 1) 103

Yes. The problem is that we keep launching one-offs and patting ourselves on the back for our successes. Then we move on to the next one-off.

I think the rovers are great projects and great science, but unless they turn into something repeatable, their actual value is limited. They need the ability to push forward to repeatable and frequent flights where we incrementally test the bounds.

The government can be really good at it, but only if the stars align and they're fighting a Cold War. Otherwise, it gets defunded for the usual mix of armaments and bread and circuses.

Comment Re:futurist (Score 1) 522

I find that #6 is probably the most likely, but also the most likely to be survivable (we've survived supervolcanos before as a species). Followed by #4 and #1.

Most of the astronomical ones like a Black Hole or Gamma Ray Burst are not incredibly likely. A GRB could, in theory come from anywhere, but you need some sort of generator for one, and it has to be close enough that it will not have dispersed. We have a good idea what causes GRBs and those objects are not exactly stealthy and we're not aware of such a thing anywhere nearby.

A black hole would have to be one that is currently dormant and invisible to us. Possible, if it really is in stealth mode, but unlikely. Most stars we have seen will never even see a black hole, and there's no reason to believe we will either.

Solar storms can be nasty, but unless it is extremely serious, it's just going to scorch us a little bit and blow out our power grid. Casualties likely in certain areas, but mostly just expensive to fix and restore services.

Comment Re:futurist (Score 1) 522

You have a point, to some degree, and I agree with the fact that eventually, there has to be an end.

But bear in mind that there have been a lot of ten thousand year cycles in the history of the Earth. I mean a whole lot of them. This means that there may well be less oil than we would want, but probably not as little as we fear.

In any event, the real argument against burning oil has always been pollution and the fact that oil is much more efficiently used in making plastics. I do think we should move away from fossil fuels, but I don't think we should do so in an economically unsustainable manner.

Comment Re:Perhaps (Score 1) 598

There have been moves to define metric units by physical constants and things that should be measurable and useful in other places than Earth or even the Solar System.

Currently, the work is being done to redefine metric units based on:

the Planck constant
the elementary charge
the Boltzmann constant
the Avogadro constant
the speed of light

This work is currently ongoing but should probably be finalized in the next few years.

Comment Re:Moving off-planet doesn't guarantee survival (Score 2) 151

You might be more successful, particularly in the short to mid term, but you wouldn't necessarily be better off.

It depends on what your ultimate goals are. If your goals are simply more living space, there is certainly something to be said for ocean cities. If your goal is to decrease the load on Earth's ecosystem and resources, then going into space is necessary, because that's the only place where you aren't just finding a new way to cut up the same pie.

In space, you're building with resources that eventually come from extraterrestrial sources and using energy sources that are actually additional to terrestrial energy sources.

I don't necessarily believe that we're in any immediate danger of Malthusian crisis, but I do think that eventually, maybe not today or even this millennium, we're going to need to make the leap, and we're better off making that leap as soon as it is feasible so that we're not trying it when we absolutely have no other choice.

Comment Re:Order of progression (Score 1) 151

We will definitely need a lot of space based infrastructure, but I don't think we need Moon or Mars colonies to make that happen. I imagine we'd be more likely to generate infrastructure built with automation that does not require human presence or workforce using asteroid mining and automated fabrication. Ultimately, there's really no good reason to make our workforce out of humans in space.

Humans are great if you don't want to have to go to the trouble of making general purpose machines that will iteratively build all of that infrastructure, but the cost of lots of humans in space is prohibitive, which tips the balance considerably.

Comment Re:What part of this is hard to understand? (Score 1) 183

I agree that there should be Quality of Service scenarios, but the services like VoIP should be sold separately with their own bandwidth in addition to "general" bandwidth.

Or perhaps more simply, you should be able to pay extra for a separate high QoS connection which would be useful for VoIP or real-time stuff, but *you* decide what the bandwidth is used for, not ISP routers. If you want to use your high QoS pipe for bit torrent, that's your business.

So yeah, if you want to use VoIP over a general Internet pipe, then there shouldn't be traffic shaping on the ISP end for that and the QoS is your problem, not theirs.

Comment Re:Movie theaters (Score 1) 342

That depends how much of viewer share is still in theaters. If it is still high, then theaters could very easily hand the studio that tries that a very serious beating due to refusing to show their films at all. And then it comes down to who is stronger and even then, fear and uncertainty may postpone that date until long after the balance had already shifted.

One day, a studio will do what you propose, everyone will hold their breath and the studio will win and theaters will sink as suddenly as if a sink hole opened up under them. But like a sink hole in real life, the ground underneath will have been eaten away by slow erosion for years. So, I'm guessing that that the studios will be afraid right up to the date that some maverick studio head tries something, and he will either be squashed like a bug (postponing the change for another decade), or immediately change everything overnight.

Comment Re:Proof her perf evaluations weren't fair (Score 1) 566

She is not Donald Trump. Which is honestly a top 3 reason she'll get elected. I do agree that it is not the #1 reason, which is that there are demographics that wouldn't even vote for Abraham Lincoln if he came back and ran as a Republican in 2016.

Republicans had the best opponent in years to go up against, and they picked the only candidate who she could beat without even really trying.

I'm not a huge Pence fan, but holy shit, they'd have a better chance if they flipped the ticket around. Then Donald would be kind of like a Republican Joe Biden and no one would care.

Comment Re:When did "The Matrix" become a religion? (Score 1) 1042

The universe is very much philosophical. Unless you're suggesting we're not part of it.

Transient or not. Small blue speck of dust or not. We're here and we're part of the Universe. Philosophy is as much part of that as the Theories of Relativity or Evolution are, the only uncertainty is in what measure.

And you haven't explained "why", you have merely explained "how". Your real answer to "why" is,

"I have no idea, and I don't care."

Which means you probably sleep pretty well. Lucky you.

Comment Re:When did "The Matrix" become a religion? (Score 1) 1042

The use of the term "simulation" to describe this is meaningless. You might as well be talking about God and the afterlife as posthumans (or more accurately "pre-humans") running a simulation. The situation only differs in terms of who specifically is running it and what impact they have had on the "simulation".

If we're running in a simulation, then our only means of knowing it would be via revelation. Either direct revelation, or by being programmed to accept the concept. A simulation is supposed to mimic reality, so why would we be surprised if we find some features of our simulations in reality?

I'm not saying that we are or are not living in what is, in effect, a simulation. I just find the idea meaningless unless there is some sort of revelation. And I find someone assigning a percentage chance to the idea beyond absurd. This is word play, not scientific theory. Even the scientific aspects of this are filled with "ifs" that don't have to even be close to what they envision.

There is nothing that requires the ability to build a human brain in transistors or qubits or whatever. And even if there is, for those of you offended by the concept of a unique structure, the hardware required for simulation does not have to be as efficient as the organic brain is, either in size, amount of resources, or power consumption. And if we simply manufactured an organic brain, then we'd have to have similar means of powering and training it, which effectively generates humans identical to ourselves in most meaningful respects. And that might well be cloning, but I wouldn't call it a simulation.

Comment Re:Many believe that we live in a computer simulat (Score 1) 1042

The problem is that ultimately, Mexicans make cheaper textiles because they accept a lower standard of living. The only way to combat that directly is artificially making foreign products more expensive. Which is to say, trade protectionism.

Yes, there are definitely improvements to be made in the tax code and in the red tape, but the bottom line is that it's going to be cheaper to make these items elsewhere. The only thing keeping that industry here was that they did not have skilled workers and the investment to do so. The high price of US labor over the past decades has ensured that industry was able to deal with that overhead cost and still make a profit. You'll have to do something punitive to keep US companies from using overseas labor, and I foresee that blowing up in our face.

The US, for better or worse, is permanently out of the textile business and many other businesses which used to support a great deal of workers, or at least until something fundamental changes. We're better off trying to compete in new areas where the money hasn't already been spent to transfer operations overseas.

Comment Re: Many believe that we live in a computer simula (Score 1) 1042

Bernie has been an outsider the entire time. It didn't require anything untoward for a slate of superdelegates to be generated to favor Hillary because Sanders was absent for those decisions. Hillary might have been the only one playing the game, but Sanders should have known the score going in. And I think he did, he never expected to even deal with that, he was probably as surprised as everyone else was that he had gotten that much support where superdelegates were even a factor.

Comment Re: Many believe that we live in a computer simula (Score 1) 1042

Clinton basically checks the checkboxes for what you'd want a President to have done. But yes, she wasn't good at those jobs.

I'm not sure if I would prefer a bad plumber to someone who has never done any plumbing to work on my pipes. It may be academic, depending if the damage goes over a certain threshold.

Although, at this point, I think people are simply going to vote for which of the two of them is less likely to start a nuclear war, which unfortunately is probably Hillary. God have mercy on us all.

At one point I thought that, even though I disagree with the Libertarian Party on a lot of specifics, they'd be a safe protest vote, but after Johnson can't even figure out what Aleppo is on live TV, I don't think I could vote for him with a straight face. Foreign affairs is far too important for him to not have that shit on the tip of his tongue with a ready answer. He doesn't get a pass on that. It was a mistake, but a mistake he would not have made if he'd been thinking about it seriously.

Slashdot Top Deals

"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world." - The Beach Boys