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The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Beck_Neard Re:What Bullshit (378 comments)

> Each cell divided from your original ovum/sperm combination. Those came from their parents, which came from their parents, etc. etc.

That has nothing to do with what I'm saying.

> But that is also not insurmountable. It's called gradual replacement. Kill about 1% of the brain every year and grow new cells.

Claims like this come from people who don't know neuroscience. The brain is a dense intertwined tangled mess of neurons, glia, and axons. Imagine being in a datacenter room from hell: billions of nodes, _trillions_ of cables arranged virtually randomly, forming links and tangles of dizzying complexity, some cables stretching from one end of the building to another, and the whole thing being so densely packed that you couldn't even begin to walk through it. Now someone asks you to replace a server rack deep inside the mess.

If you want to replace part of the brain, you have to replace all the connections from that part of the brain to the other parts of the brain. Otherwise you haven't replaced anything; you've just given someone a lobotomy and then placed a tumor of neural cells in its place. Not saying it's impossible, you'd just need a really high level of technology - the ability to go in and carefully remove axons one by one, then replace them with fresh axons - to do it. To be honest, I think some level of mind uploading would actually be a lot simpler.

> But you are wrong when you think the constraints are freer for artificial intelligence. They simply are not there.

The constraints are freer because you can engineer it any way you want. Machines might not be self-repairing, but so what? Nothing is truly self-repairing (except maybe objects in ground thermodynamic states like crystals and so on, but an intelligence will never be in such a state). If a machine breaks down, copy all its contents to a new machine.

Your 'hacking' argument is bogus. For one thing, biological brains can be hacked just fine. Both on a conceptual level (you could argue that cults and so on hijack normal thinking processes), a chemical level (what do you think heroin and cocaine do?) and a neural circuitry level (viruses, parasites, etc.). For another, there's nothing stopping you from designing an AI that is highly resistant to manipulation. Just because carelessly-designed computer systems get hacked, doesn't mean all computer systems are hopelessly vulnerable.

2 days ago
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The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Beck_Neard Re:von Neumann probes (378 comments)

> It may just take them a *long* time to reach every planet.

But the galaxy has been around for an even longer time: 13.2 billion years. Assuming it took 3 billion years for intelligent life to develop on at least one planet, a probe traveling at 60 km/s (within current human technological ability) could travel across the entire galaxy 20 times.

If the probes are self-replicating (as OP said), there's no reason for each one to visit every single planet. They really could explore the galaxy at maximum speed.

2 days ago
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The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Beck_Neard Re:What Bullshit (378 comments)

It's not just cancer. There's buildup of molecular junk inside cells, lack of ability of existing cells to effectively divide into new ones to replace old cells, a huge number of genetically-determined aging programs (telomeres are just one example among many), and so on. Even if we solve the cancer problem, as you'd age you'd need more and more cellular-level maintenance to battle the march towards decay. I guess one easy way of solving the problem would be to periodically replace your organs with freshly-grown ones (assuming technology reaches the level of being able to do that), but at some point you'd need to replace the brain, and then you're in trouble.

You can never win against entropy. Even an artificial lifeform will eventually lose, but at least the constraints are freer so it can be designed to be more resistant to decay.

2 days ago
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The Dominant Life Form In the Cosmos Is Probably Superintelligent Robots

Beck_Neard Re:Well, duh (378 comments)

It's basically the 'elder race' idea (that is, lifeforms that are creations of a long-gone ancient biological 'elder' race), so yes, it's pervasive through SF and has been for decades. And for those saying that SF != Reality, it's not like the philosophers mentioned here are going by any new experimental insights. Their reasoning is exactly the same as the SF writers.

2 days ago
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Research Highlights How AI Sees and How It Knows What It's Looking At

Beck_Neard Re:seems a lot like human vision to me (129 comments)

The distinction between deep belief networks (based on graphical models) and deep neural networks (based on perceptions and backprop) is an imprecise one. You could argue that DNNs are just a subtype of DBNs, and yes, the only 'successful' DBNs so far have been DNNs. When people speak of DBNs they almost always mean DNNs.

4 days ago
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Research Highlights How AI Sees and How It Knows What It's Looking At

Beck_Neard Re:seems a lot like human vision to me (129 comments)

It might be similar but it's not the same mechanism. When you see an object in static, your brain knows that it's just making a guess so the guess is assigned low confidence. But here they showed that you can actually design a picture that looks random but is assigned very high confidence of being an object.

This type of phenomenon is very well known. It's not news, people have known about this sort of stuff in artificial neural nets since the 80's. I guess they just sort of assumed that deep belief nets would get around this problem, but as far as I know there's no reason to believe that. There's a related phenomenon which is assigning very low confidence to a picture that is very clearly a certain class of object - and then if you add a small bit of noise the confidence goes way up. For the interested, this is a good page which explains why some of these issues happen: http://colah.github.io/posts/2...

Just one thing I want to get off my chest: I wish this deep learning fad would die. I first started using deep belief nets around 2006 or so when Hinton published his now-infamous Science paper. I thought it was cool and used it a lot, but I knew it had limitations. Then around 2012 or so this whole thing just started becoming a hugely-hyped meme that everyone wants to get on board, without any knowledge or wisdom - they just want results. This is going to be a recipe for yet another AI "failure", when people realize that they couldn't live up to their own hype.

4 days ago
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Bellard Creates New Image Format To Replace JPEG

Beck_Neard Re:JPEG2000 replaced JPEG (377 comments)

JPEG2000 had some serious technical issues. The reference library was itself non-compliant (I know, I used it extensively), which meant that there was no fully reference-compliant implementation available anywhere. The library was cumbersome and hard to integrate into existing image processing/viewing programs. And there wasn't much benefit to using JPEG2000; it had only slightly better compression and the wavelet scheme they used caused a lot of unpleasant artifacts (especially around large, uniformly-colored areas with gradual change of brightness).

BPG doesn't seem to have these problems; the images genuinely look better and it's easy to integrate it into the web. I don't really see a major need for a new image compression format but it would be nice to have an option to use it.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

What exactly are you trying to say? That there is a scientific controversy around the idea that humans are the major cause of climate change? Well, no, there's not. Now you can dig up random people saying random things and you can change the goalposts, but you can never prove there's a controversy when there isn't. Have a read here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pm...

FTA: "97–98% of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field surveyed here support the tenets of ACC outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and (ii) the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of ACC are substantially below that of the convinced researchers."

97% of scientists rarely agree on anything.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

But there really isn't any controversy, no matter how many times you or other people say it or want to believe that it exists.

In this context, controversy would mean a scientific controversy over the main aspects of climate change: that it is happening and it's due to human activities. There is no scientific controversy around this.

Science is full of controversies. You can go to the 'letters' section of any reputable journal and see how much scientists argue over things. But climate change just isn't one of these issues. There might be argument over small details or specifics, but nobody familiar with the science disputes that humans are causing the climate to change.

If you go outside the USA (and a few other anglosphere countries), climate change is pretty much accepted across the political spectrum. But in the USA you have this huge party that's made it it's job to spread FUD, which is exactly what we're seeing here in this thread. It's manufactured controversy. And it works.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

No they don't.

Not climate scientists, anyway.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:Peer reviewed (329 comments)

It's neither true that everyone is qualified to pass judgement about a scientific field, nor that everyone should just accept what scientists say blindly. The truth is in the middle: It would be great IF everyone could check for themselves, but in practice this just isn't possible, so at some level you do indeed need to trust the consensus of the literature. Of course you put in measures (like peer review and other measures) to make sure the scientists are being honest. Do transgressions happen? Obviously. We are all human. But it's really a stretch to say that all scientists across the world - from wildly differing backgrounds, with different beliefs and supported by different organizations - all came to the same wrong conclusion.

But the issue of global warming is just so simple that you don't even need to go that far. Public temperature records are available. There's all sorts of other public data available. It's really easy to look at the data yourself if you are so inclined.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

I'd never seen that list before. It's pretty illuminating. Thanks!

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

Again, that doesn't really count as being contested. By that logic, it's also a subject of controversy as to whether the dog did indeed eat little Johnny's homework. Also, it's contested whether the sky is indeed blue - a colorblind person sees it as gray.

It doesn't count as contest if the people contesting it are ignorant and/or are doing it for political purposes.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:Glad you asked (329 comments)

The amount of CO2 we release into the atmosphere is easily measurable, and it matches with the observed increase in CO2 in air, water, and biomass. It's about 40 billion tons per year now: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/GCP/carb...

The amount of CO2 naturally emitted by volcanoes and forest fires and such is a bit harder to calculate but you can get reasonable order-of-magnitude estimates. Volcanoes, for instance, emit about 0.3 billion tons per year. There are lots of sources on the US geological survey page: http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/haza...

No matter how you slice it, even the most outlandish estimates for CO2 from natural sources fall 1-2 orders of magnitude short of the amount of CO2 necessary to explain the global increase.

There are natural CO2 absorbing sources but the additional amount they absorb each year is tiny.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

It's not 'contested a lot'. The only people who 'contest' it are US republicans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I...

FTA: "It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of observed warming since 1950, with the level of confidence having increased since the fourth report."

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

Geoengineering won't solve the problem, it will just replace the problem with another problem. That said, it's possible that the new problem will be easier to deal with than the problem of CO2. In that case I'm all for it, but we need to first figure out more about the effects of climate change before we make any hasty decisions.

Sadly a lot of groups are going to see geoengineering as a way to further their own agendas, so it's possible that that solution too will become corrupted.

about two weeks ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

Beck_Neard Re:How about a straight answer? (329 comments)

Actually the question isn't to what extent humans are responsible. We know that humans are mostly, if not entirely, responsible. This is not controversial. It's also not controversial that over the next century the planet is going to warm by at least a few degrees, regardless of any actions we take (the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has already 'locked in' a certain amount of warming). In all likelihood, this is going to continue for at least a millenium, again regardless of what we do now. This is unless we figure out a magic way to recapture all the CO2 in the atmosphere faster than nature can absorb it, which is so incredibly hard that you wouldn't be very incorrect in saying that the laws of physics themselves forbid it (removing CO2 from the atmosphere represents a massive decrease in entropy; this needs to be balanced by a proportionately large increase in entropy elsewhere, and this means - ironically - more heat).

The only thing that's controversial right now is what effect global warming will have on ecosystems and human civilization. This is at least a factor we can control, and it's possible it won't be as bad as the alarmists say. Humans are clever and we can overcome the challenges. But we at least need to start doing something and stop pretending that it's a 'controversy'.

about two weeks ago
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How Relevant is C in 2014?

Beck_Neard Re:C is very relevant in 2014, (641 comments)

The question isn't whether writing verifiable code is hard. It's obviously hard. The question is whether the alternative - the risk of a buggy OS bringing down your system and causing potentially huge losses - is worse. In many cases I'd argue that it is. Maybe not if you're writing an iOS game, but definitely for a lot of other stuff.

about two weeks ago
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How Relevant is C in 2014?

Beck_Neard Re:Great but unusable? (641 comments)

Well I was attempting to be humorous. It's true - it's NOT a great language.

about two weeks ago

Submissions

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U.S. Navy Deploys Its First Laser Weapon in the Persian Gulf

Beck_Neard Beck_Neard writes  |  about a month ago

Beck_Neard (3612467) writes "FTA: "The U.S. Navy has deployed on a command ship in the Persian Gulf its first laser weapon capable of destroying a target.

"The amphibious transport ship USS Ponce has been patrolling with a prototype 30-kilowatt-class Laser Weapon System since late August, according to officials. The laser is mounted facing the bow, and can be fired in several modes — from a dazzling warning flash to a destructive beam — and can set a drone or small boat on fire.""

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