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Google Told To Expand Right To Be Forgotten

DeadDecoy Re:This is clearly futile... (193 comments)

The Internet is full of half-truths and outright lies. Search engines do not deliver results based on the truth value of sites, but on popularity, page ranking and such. If, 10 years ago, you were arrested for child porn, with headlines in the newspapers. Three months later, charges were dropped, everyone apologized profoundly to you for the mistake, the government paid a ton of money for your troubles and the prosecutor who go your arrested lost his job.

That sounds nice in theory, but your stance makes a few assumptions: 1) there is a perfect objective view of what the truth is and 2) the internet is not a dynamic, adaptive source of information. For point 1, people may have two different perspectives on what should and should not be public knowledge. For example, if a politician is caught for embezzling money, they may want to be forgotten to avoid further persecution and move on with their life. Voters in other regions may want to know and remember that factoid to avoid putting a historically dishonest person in power. I think both sides have some merit here.


For the second point, the internet is a highly adaptive and dynamic source of information. If you attempt to take information down, someone else may put it up anonymously somewhere else. How does one filter the good information from the bad? Or should we just remove any mention of the person by brute force? What if the person in question has a similar name to yours? This approach may censor potentially damaging information and it may also censor potentially useful information, like your resume or personal website. The-right-to-be-forgotten takes a naive and sometimes despotic approach to controlling information. And, it fails because it ignores the technical constraints to implementing such an idea.

Finally, you didn't need to invoke a variant of Godwin's law to discuss this topic. It's rich and complicated enough without bringing child pornography into it.

about three weeks ago
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Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

DeadDecoy Link to the study. (422 comments)

Here's a link to the study: study. They performed a cross-sectional study across some 5000 adults, looking at the effect of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB), non-carbonated SSBs, diet soda, and fruit juices. They adjusted for sociodemographic and health-related characteristics, and found that SSBs are correlated with shorter telomeres (b=–0.010; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.020, 0.001; P=.04); fruit juice with longer telomeres (b=0.016; 95% CI=0.000, 0.033; P=.05), and no difference for diet sodas and non-carbonated SSBs.

I'm not sure how to interpret the results, as the study does not explain what the effect size is, or how impactful it is to general health. If there are any biologists in the crowd who can explain this, that would be super helpful.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is There an Ethical Way Facebook Can Experiment With Their Users?

DeadDecoy Informed consent? (141 comments)

Scientists request it all the time through their internal review board, This isn't really a complex issue, which is why the approach facebook took is considered underhanded and skeevy.

about 2 months ago
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From FCC Head Wheeler, a Yellow Light For Internet Fast Lanes

DeadDecoy Re:Victory..? (149 comments)

I have mixed feelings about that. While I do feel that having 'fast lanes' would be appropriate for certain civil services, those considerations would be used as a trojan horse for corporations to shove legal policy through the system. The need for sufficiently fast internet should actually strengthen the argument for net neutrality. The internet has become such a critical part of the societal infrastructure, that it should be maintained like one. If all traffic is equal, and we're worried about some critical health service needing bandwidth, then we should upgrade the hardware instead of creating an artificially scarce resource.

about 7 months ago
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3D Display Uses Misted Water

DeadDecoy Re:hehe (65 comments)

It's probably just vaporware.

about 8 months ago
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U.S. Students/Grads Carrying Over $1 Trillion In Debt

DeadDecoy Because student loans are easy to get (538 comments)

Colleges are able to charge more for perhaps two reasons. The first is that student loans are fairly easy to get. This makes it easier for colleges to bill students for around that amount, plus or minus whatever the parents and a temp job can dish out.If you look at prices before student loans, they are dramatically lower. A second factor is that colleges, and even some post-graduate training, have become mandatory to achieve a decent wage (where decent is somewhere between livable and capable of raising a family). This compels students to risk being crippled by debt in order to avoid being crippled by poverty sometime in the future. Some posters mention that "nobody forces you to take a loan", but economic and societal pressures make it pretty damn hard not to.

This naturally brings us to a bunch of controversial solutions: apprenticeships, subsidized colleges, increased minimum wage, loan forgiveness programs, etc. I'm personally in favor of any option that enables citizens to get better paying jobs regardless of whether if debt is payed back or not. Most of the time, the government will easily make back its money through increased taxes on higher paying jobs and society benefits from having more people available to take on the advanced jobs.

about 10 months ago
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New Type of Star Can Emerge From Inside Black Holes, Say Cosmologists

DeadDecoy Re:Information paradox? (193 comments)

I think information is used in it's most abstract sense. Any particle or wave signals that that approach the black hole get consumed. I.e. when we look at it, we see nothing because light is absorbed. I'm probably wrong, though, and someone who studies the topic might be more apt at providing an explanation. Personally, I wonder what this means in terms of the second law of thermodynamics. When a black hole consumes energy and releases a Planck star, do either events reduce the entropy of the system?

about 10 months ago
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US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality

DeadDecoy Re:There's no need for a new bill ... (535 comments)

True, but passing a token bill probably isn't the most appropriate solution. The current situation at least makes the inequity visible, i.e. that the FCC has abdicated their authority and that ISPs have unlimited freedom to shape their traffic. At least this opens the door for more activism.

about 10 months ago
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US Democrats Introduce Bill To Restore Net Neutrality

DeadDecoy There's no need for a new bill ... (535 comments)

Just reclassify ISPs as common carriers. Creating a separate bill would probably open up the doors for more abuse, not less.

about 10 months ago
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Elsevier Opens Its Papers To Text-Mining

DeadDecoy Re:It would be nicer if... (52 comments)

There are a few issues with the output of pdftoxml that make it difficult to parse (mostly adobe's fault). For 2-column articles, the columns are interleaved. That means you'll get a little bit of text from column A followed by a little bit of text from column B. The xml tags contain the x/y coordinates, so you can develop some heuristics to cleave out segments of text for one journal. This is not particularly suitable when you want to analyze text across different journal formats, as you'll have to develop a one-off solution for each journal.

It would also be useful to have clearly demarcated sections for the abstract, results, references, etc. Again, you could set BIO (Begin-In-Out) tags based on the section title and formatting style, but you may run into a few false positives if those words are used elsewhere in the text, and the two-column issue mentioned earlier may dump in text from other sections. Finally, there's little distinction between the body of the manuscript and the header/footer information.

Overall, the text is a bit messy. If you're just looking for keywords, then it's not a big deal. If you are trying to extract more complicated syntactic structures within the document, then it becomes a problem.

about 10 months ago
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Elsevier Opens Its Papers To Text-Mining

DeadDecoy It would be nicer if... (52 comments)

... publishers removed the paywall to publicly funded literature, or at least made the prices more sane.

Also, while we're on the topic of text mining, would it be possible to get text-only or xml-based articles, with figures attached and cross-references as needed? It's quite annoying to manually convert a pdf when trying to setup an automated analysis over several documents. I know one could setup a shell script to dump it out using the pdftoxml converter, but the output is a bit messy to parse.

about 10 months ago
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Startup Out of MIT Promises Digital Afterlife — Just Hand Over Your Data

DeadDecoy Re:NSA (241 comments)

Great. The last thing I want is for the NSA to be spying on my virtual avatar self. He's probably out there in WoW planning some terrorist act.

about a year ago
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Marc Andreessen On Why Bitcoin Matters (And A Critique)

DeadDecoy Re:The Problem (332 comments)

That makes it more valuable, but I'm not sure that makes it more useful. The purpose of money should be to encourage the exchange of labor, or at least the abstract representation if it. This increases the incentive to hoard the currency, which in turn would minimize not maximize productivity.

about a year ago
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Scientists Glue Sensors To 5,000 Bees In a Bid To Better Understand Them

DeadDecoy Multiple causes (85 comments)

I wonder if the sensors themselves interfere with the bees.

about a year ago
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People Become More Utilitarian When They Face Moral Dilemmas In Virtual Reality

DeadDecoy Re:Utilitarianism is correct (146 comments)

I think the scenarios handle the worth of the individual being sacrificed differently. In the clinical case, the individual is not just being killed, but they are objectified as a set of resources that can be exploited. In the train case, the individual is killed due to being in the wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time. I think most people would make this distinction out of empathy. That is, they may be more ok with dying due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, and they may not be ok with dying to suit other peoples' functional needs.

about a year ago
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Why Organic Chemistry Is So Difficult For Pre-Med Students

DeadDecoy Re:College too hard? (279 comments)

The problem isn't that you need to dumb it down. It's that, as the op says, you need to memorize a fuckload of chemicals, equations, and the particular circumstances under which they occur. The memorization task is made particularly difficult when you're dealing with concepts that you don't consciously interact with on a day to day basis. I think the process of teaching ochem could be improved if we take into account the limitations of the human brain. The brain tends to have a capacity of remembering 2-5 things, but that capacity is significantly increased when we start chunking and creating meaningful links between those concepts. It might then be easier to group the ~50 items-to-be-memorized into smaller groups, to facilitate memorization. Or deal with fewer chemicals in greater depth. It might also be useful to stress skills in navigating the text rather than outright memorizing it. Eventually, a body of knowledge gets so big, that it requires a longer time to learn.

about a year ago
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DNI Office Asks Why People Trust Facebook More Than the Government

DeadDecoy It's opt in? (273 comments)

It's opt in and facebook doesn't have the authority to send a swat team to my door? Sure the government can read facebook posts and then send the swat team, but in that case, I'm explicitly putting information out in the open. With a telephone call or email, I have an implicit assumption (a big one nowadays), of privacy.

about a year ago
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Neuroscientist: First-Ever Human Head Transplant Is Now Possible

DeadDecoy Re:The body can affect the mind (522 comments)

Actually, there is some evidence that your personality is shaped by your interaction to external stimuli. Cognitive psychologists have found evidence to suggest that we experience the world in an embodied fashion. That is, when we think about cool ice tea, we simulate the concept by activating neurons that would be responsible for interacting with the object: site, touch, taste, etc. The same could be said for mood, as we use metaphors such as warm or cold to describe our temperament or our perceived temperament of others. When it comes down to making precise definitions such as mood and personality, the brain can present some rather fuzzy grey areas. That is, there is still a lot we do not know about it and it's hard to know precisely what impact our bodies have on its development.

Ben Bergen provides a nice review of lit in his book: Louder Than Words.

about a year and a half ago

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