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Judge: It's OK For Cops To Create Fake Instagram Accounts

Archtech Re:It's ok to break the law.. (134 comments)

Have you tried lying to a cop recently? I wouldn't advise it.

4 hours ago
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Judge: It's OK For Cops To Create Fake Instagram Accounts

Archtech Re: Why wouldn't it be? (134 comments)

"I doubt the cops care anything about civil law".

There is a mountain of evidence to show that the entire US federal government doesn't care about any law at all - international law, treaties, federal law, state law, or even the Constitution.

The key don't-get-into-jail card is always the same: the decision to prosecute is entrusted to the executive branch. If someone in the right position decides something won't be taken to court, it isn't. From a cop shooting an apparently defenceless and innocent civilian to a president launching unprovoked aggressive wars, authorizing torture, and refusing to prosecute the last president for the same things.

"A nation of laws, not men" - nice idea, but not any more.

4 hours ago
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Judge: It's OK For Cops To Create Fake Instagram Accounts

Archtech Re:Not seeing the issue here (134 comments)

That doesn't seem to be quite in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. "Land of the smart enough to avoid being framed by the justice system" - doesn't have the same ring, does it? Especially since (ironically enough) simply being smart doesn't cut it - you need street smarts, expert knowledge, and best of all contacts.

That's it" "Land of the well-connected".

4 hours ago
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Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

Archtech Re: No big red button? (187 comments)

"Are you paying for them?"

Aha! And there we have the central issue, in the simplest possible terms.

It's a matter of foreseeing and predicting risk, and then defending against it in a cost-effective way. Trouble is, there are very few other domains of expertise (if that is the right word) that so glaringly expose our human weakness at estimating risk. (See Nassim Nicholas Taleb's books, passim). Typically, a token effort at assessing risk is made, and then when some entirely unforeseen disaster strikes out of left field, we mutter about "black swans". The fact is that we are not nearly as clever as we think we are, which often leads us to bite off far more than we can chew.

Another relevant saying is "the left hand knoweth not what the right hand doeth". One person or team does the risk analysis, while other - completely unknown - people pile up unseen risks, which thus cannot be defended against. Presumably the people who designed those systems had no inkling that they would be attacked by technically expert enemies who deliberately set out to do as much damage as possible. I imagine that a resolute inquiry would eventually discover who upset whom, leading to this outcome.

11 hours ago
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Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

Archtech Re:What took them so long? (187 comments)

"This thought is so utterly flat as it is true, but it does not offer any train thought which steps to undertake to at least increase the security".

Precisely! The purpose of such statements is to focus the listener's mind on the highly unwelcome (and perhaps unfamiliar) idea that security is utterly antithetical to everything else we seek in a computer system.

Good security usually means lower performance, slower response time, greater cost, far less user-friendliness, and very noticeably less convenience in general. But if you want security, that's part of the price.

Since most people - including senior decision-makers - have little or no understanding of the issues and tradeoffs, this means that security will normally be severely neglected. So attackers have a fairly easy task and a target-rich environment. Until something really bad happens, when there is suddenly an outcry and a witch-hunt.

11 hours ago
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Cyberattack On German Steel Factory Causes 'Massive Damage'

Archtech What took them so long? (187 comments)

About 20 years ago I used to lecture on the topic of computer security. Taking my cue from UK government experts whom I had met back in the 1980s, I used to point out that the only secure computer system is one that cannot be accessed by any human being. Indeed, I recall one expert who used to start his talks by picking up a brick and handing it round, before commenting, "That is our idea of a truly secure IT system. Admittedly it doesn't do very much, but no one is going to sabotage it or get secret information out of it".

I still have my slides from the 1990s, and one of the points I always stressed while summing up was, "Black hats could do a LOT more harm than they have so far". To my mind, the question was why that hadn't happened. The obvious reason was motive: why would anyone make considerable efforts, and presumably put themselves at risk of justice or revenge, unless there was something important to gain?

Stuxnet was the first highly visible case of large-scale industrial sabotage, and I think everyone agrees it was politically motivated - an attack by one state on another, and as such an act of war (or very close to one). This looks similar, and apparently used somewhat similar methods.

The article tells us that "...hackers managed to access production networks..." The question is, why was this allowed? If "production networks" cannot be rendered totally secure, they should not exist. Moreover, if they do exist they should be wholly insulated from the Internet and the baleful influence of "social networks" and the people who use them.

yesterday
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Sony Leaks Reveal Hollywood Is Trying To Break DNS

Archtech Odd individuals they must have been (387 comments)

It seems that the bipeds who once inhabited this planet had, at one time, developed a comprehensive worldwide networking system. They accomplished much through it, from exchange of all kinds of information to commercial transactions, education, and even personal communications.

But suddenly, one day, this useful system was destroyed. Apparently a small group of bipeds, which had enriched themselves by creating carefully distorted fictional representations of life and events, decided that the network might be slightly reducing the rate at which they amassed wealth. So they sabotaged it.

We really have no idea what kind of intelligence those bipeds had - if it was even intelligence as we know it.

4 days ago
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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat

Archtech Re:To your 2nd question (225 comments)

" As long as you are on the winning side who is going to prosecute you?"

Exactly. Nicely put.

about two weeks ago
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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat

Archtech Re:It may be Ok to shoot unarmed people (225 comments)

It never ceases to astonish me how some Slashdotters, who usually seem fairly intelligent and rational, say things like this whenever the discussion turns to politics.

I blame the influence of Hollywood and violent TV. Maybe the actual sight (and smell) of a few real dead and injured people would do you a world of good, and bring your strange thoughts closer to reality.

about two weeks ago
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US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat

Archtech Re:This might alienate anti-ISI* Muslims. (225 comments)

"There's nothing moral or immoral about waging war".

As that is a value judgment, I shall not say that it is incorrect. It does differ sharply, however, from all international and national laws and norms. Wikipedia puts it simply:

'The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, which followed World War II, called the waging of aggressive war "essentially an evil thing...to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."'

about two weeks ago
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Romanian Officials Say Russia Finances European Fracking Protests

Archtech Re: Unprecedented interference with free debate! (155 comments)

The anti-Russian astroturfers are out in force today. Say "Hi!" to the guys and gals in Washington for me.

about two weeks ago
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Romanian Officials Say Russia Finances European Fracking Protests

Archtech "Turk Stream" (155 comments)

The timing of this article is particularly foolish. Less than a week ago Russia announced that it has cancelled its participation in the South Stream project to supply gas through a pipeline under the Black Sea to south-east Europe (which would include Bulgaria and Romania). The EU insisted on conditions that Russia could not meet - for instance, that the pipeline be owned by a different corporation from that supplying the gas. Rather than give up control of what is, after all, its own product, Russia will instead be running the pipeline to Turkey. So Romanians can frack away without any Russian interference, although as well as getting highly poisonous residues in their drinking water they will also have to pay higher prices.

The whole idea that Russia would bother to discourage fracking in order to maintain sales of its own gas and oil is ridiculous. For a start, the Russian products come from conventional wells, and thus cost less than fracked fuels. Also, they are far more sustainable, with vast proven reserves whereas most fracking projects quickly run out of economically-extractable fuels. Conclusively, Russia is in the process of giving up on supplies to Europe - in future it has committed to selling enormous amounts of gas to China and other Asian countries, which do not slander it or attempt to harm it.

about two weeks ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

Archtech Re:No, it's not even possible (181 comments)

Carewolf, your statements about chess engines are rubbish. As anyone with the slightest knowledge of them would immediately know.

about two weeks ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

Archtech Re:No, it's not even possible (181 comments)

"Hogan ended up going off the deep end, conspiracy theories..."

I do recall one of his books was set in a near-future world where the USA and Russia had changed places. The USA was a violent, locked-down military dictatorship while Russia was blooming with free enterprise, invention, and individualism.

Now that was scarily prescient - it's happening as we watch. (Those of us who are still capable of noticing what happens in the real world).

about two weeks ago
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Romanian Officials Say Russia Finances European Fracking Protests

Archtech Unprecedented interference with free debate! (155 comments)

Thank goodness no other nation finances pro-fracking movements, either directly through government or indirectly through corporate-funded foundations. That, of course, would be unethical.

It would be still worse, of course, if any nation were to use actual military and paramilitary violence to secure sources of oil and other fuels. Thank goodness, that could never happen.

about two weeks ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

Archtech Re:No, it's not even possible (181 comments)

The Dunning-Kruger effect may very possibly help to account for people who cite it in their sigs.

about three weeks ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

Archtech Re:No, it's not even possible (181 comments)

"Does this have anything to do with AI self consciousness?"

And now it's you who are introducing external matters. No one had mentioned self-consciousness before in this thread.

" I know the Post Office is old news these days, but their hand writing recognition for hand written addresses was able to read addresses more accurately than humans".

And a fine achievement too - and very useful, I imagine. But it's quite one-dimensional: I bet that software couldn't tell a bear from a moose, for example. So if you wanted to produce anything that could even duplicate human intelligence, you'd need to make huge breakthroughs in generality.

"But when you start ignorantly citing the implementation details of different AI systems without acknowledging the purpose and goal of each design, then you are arguing irrelevant facts".

This is mere ad hominem abuse. I did cite implementation details; but not "ignorantly". If you read my post more carefully, you will notice that I listed the progressively less difficult goals that were adopted as one effort after another failed. The original idea was to create "strong" AI, and the timeline was a few years - certainly before now. That proved completely hopeless, as no one had the slightest idea how to go about it. So then they tried setting less and less ambitious goals, until they reached a level that could be accomplished: playing chess well, and recognising handwriting.

about three weeks ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

Archtech Re:No, it's not even possible (181 comments)

"How does lack of understanding of a problem equate to impossible?"

Perhaps one reason no one has answered this question is that it is ill-conditioned. The sentence is ungrammatical - which matters, not because of some formal rules you are breaking, but because it is hard to see what you are talking about.

Perhaps you mean "isn't it wrong to say a problem is insoluble, just because we don't understand it?" But surely that must be the case. If you don't understand a problem, how can you even begin to solve it?

Or perhaps you mean "isn't it wrong to say something is impossible, just because we have no idea how we might go about doing it?" That is reasonable - it might be quite possible, if only we could find some way of tackling the problem. But until we do - for all practical purposes, it's impossible.

For instance, I might say "it's impossible to go faster than the speed of light". But couldn't that just be because I don't understand how it might be done? True, we'd have to find a way around relativity, but perhaps there may be some refinements - or even a whole new and better theory. In general, it looks to me as if your attitude would rule out saying that anything is impossible. We could just delete the word from the dictionary - as I have heard some positive thinkers actually do.

about three weeks ago
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Do you worry about the singularity?

Archtech Re:No, it's not even possible (181 comments)

"Your post seem [sic] to indicate that you fall into the mind/brain trap".

No, it doesn't. Perhaps you think it indicates that, but you would be wrong. I learned about "the ghost in the machine" at school, 50 years ago - by now it's quite familiar.

It is very questionable indeed whether brains can usefully be said to "follow rules". Of course you can assert that, but it strains the facts. One of the most obvious (and distressing) facts about the human nervous system is that it's virtually impossible to describe it in terms of rules. That's because the underlying "hardware" (or wetware, or whatever you want to call the neurons, axons, dendrites, synapses, etc) isn't remotely like a Turing machine. It's massively, immensely parallel, and each neuron is internally more complex than any computer ever built - although its inputs and outputs may appear to be relatively simple. There is clearly something analogous to what we would call "design" going on, especially in the early stages when the nervous system is developing. But it's equally obvious that no one designed it - what order there is simply evolved.

"...my phone recognizes my driving pattern, notes where I park, reminds me of appointments, and so on".

Yes, but it had to be explicitly programmed to do every one of those tasks. That is comparable to the cells in the human visual cortex that automatically recognise, say, a striped pattern or a vertical line. Those "circuits" provide valuable low-level building blocks which help our brains to recognise far more complex, variable patterns. But I doubt whether it's possible, even in theory, to detect a set of neurons that performs the task of noticing when an online commenter is making statements beyond the scope of his knowledge - even though we often have that feeling.

"...I literally mean that statement is nonsensical".

Funny, it makes perfectly good sense to me. If you find it nonsensical, maybe you have not managed to understand what I was trying to convey. Try reading it again a few times, and think it over. The meaning may come to you.

about three weeks ago

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