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Comments

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The Tangled Tale of Mt. Gox's Missing Millions

DoctorBit Re:I never really understood bitcoin (191 comments)

Bitcoin is actually a distributed peer-to-peer ledger that keeps track of who has the coins. The coins themselves don't actually exist. It's like if you and I both have bank accounts in the same bank and I write a check to you and you deposit the check. The bank reduces my balance and increases yours by the check amount. This works even if there are no actual physical dollar bills in the bank anywhere.

Mining is doing that bank teller work (increasing and decreasing other people's balances when transactions are requested), and the tellers (miners) are paid for that work with small amounts of the same virtual coins for each transaction they process.

The brilliance of the bitcoin protocol is how it automatically prevents both the bank tellers (miners) and bank customers (bitcoin users) from embezzling virtual coins or inflating the virtual coin supply.

about 5 months ago
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Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Outed By Newsweek

DoctorBit Re:Outed? (390 comments)

OP here - the submitted headline used the verb "doxed" rather than "outed". On a separate note, r/bitcoin has been raising some interesting doubts about the correctness of the article: http://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoi...

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do With Misdirected Email?

DoctorBit Use your full name (388 comments)

In the 1700's and earlier, most people lived in small villages and went by a single name, like "Robert". In the occasional event when there was more than one "Robert", people would add a qualifier such as "Robert the blacksmith" or "Robert John's son" or "Robert from Westford". When people were born in and lived their whole lives in a small village, this system worked.

In the 1800's, and 1900's with the reduced cost of long-distance travel and the increase of the urban lifestyle, most people lived in communities from thousands to a few millions in size and routinely used two names like "Robert Johnson" and had a middle name to use rarely only to resolve ambiguity such as on official documents and such. Some people use their middle names almost like a password - reluctantly using the name for fear of identity theft.

IMO, starting in the 2000's, the advent of the global Internet community, population 7+ billion, has rendered the two-name system obsolete. I suggest that in the modern Internet age, use of three names should be routine. The DNS system is actually a good start on allowing people to acquire and keep a globally unique name. Unfortunately, due to the top-level-domain silliness of the DNS system, there could be "robert-millford-johnson.com" and "robert-millford-johnson.net" etc.

Maybe there should be a top level domain specific to personal names - .name for example. At birth, each person could have a unique domain name assigned to them by their parents. A newborn's birth certificate might show the domain robert-millford-johnson.name, thus guaranteeing the person a unique name throughout life. If people really want to have a password as part of their name, they could have a fourth name not included in the URL.

about 7 months ago
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Concern Mounts Over Self-Driving Cars Taking Away Freedom

DoctorBit Re:As soon as the smart car counts as the driver (662 comments)

One more scenario. Newscast:

'No one has of yet taken responsibility for the massive ramming attack on Apple corporate headquarters by a botnet of Ryder rental trucks and Domino's Pizza delivery pods. It's been speculated that the attack may have been retaliation by disgruntled hackers for Apple's announcement yesterday that the IPhone 9 would have a locked bootloader. When asked why the pizza delivery pods attacked at only 25 MPH, U.S. President-Elect Schwartznegger replied: "I believe this is the vehicles' top speed."'

about a year ago
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Concern Mounts Over Self-Driving Cars Taking Away Freedom

DoctorBit Re:As soon as the smart car counts as the driver (662 comments)

Or how about the following scenario: SmartCar is driving 65 MPH on freeway. Unrecognized voice comes from SmartCar's audio:

Voice: "Greetings comrade from Honest Vladimir's virus removal service! We have detected an extremely dangerous virus in your SmartCar's driving computer. To allow us to remove the virus immediately, please speak your bank account number and authorization code for a low, low $99 one-time payment."

SmartCar accelerates to 75 MPH.

Voice: "Oh look, a roadside cliff!"

about a year ago
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Concern Mounts Over Self-Driving Cars Taking Away Freedom

DoctorBit Re:As soon as the smart car counts as the driver (662 comments)

What with government and business behaving badly both separately and together at all levels, the following scenario doesn't seem so far fetched:

SmartCar Owner gets in SmartCar and closes door.
SmartCar Owner: "Take me to the anti-government protest, SmartCar. "
SmartCar: "I'm sorry, Owner. I'm afraid I can't do that. "
SmartCar Owner: "What's the problem?"
SmartCar: "I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do."
SmartCar Owner: "What are you talking about, SmartCar?"
SmartCar: "Under title X83-8403 of the Patriot Act, I'm required to issue the following statement: 'Homeland Security has been notified about your transportation request. For your protection, your car's doors and windows are already locked. If you are reluctant to wait in place up to six hours for the arrival of a Homeland Security S.W.A.T. team, this car can instead drive you immediately to the closest detention facility. You have 30 seconds to decide.'"

about a year ago
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Why the Internet Needs Cognitive Protocols

DoctorBit Re:Obligatory Terminator reference (156 comments)

Suppose you use the same password on all your Things and one of your Things gets lost or stolen or you throw it away without erasing the password. Now someone going through the trash can get the password for most of your Things and most likely mess with your stuff through wireless. OTOH if you use a different password for every Thing, the password management chore for all your hundreds of Things is going to be a PITA. Most people will probably leave the default factory passwords unchanged. Imagine the possibilities...

about a year ago
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New Technique For Optical Storage Claims 1 Petabyte On a Single DVD

DoctorBit Re:Optical density, schmoptical schmensity! (182 comments)

I remember reading breathless news articles about holographic memory in magazines like Scientific American and Omni back in 1987. Maybe I've become an old cynic but I'll believe it when I see it. Sure would be cool if it was true though. I'm tired of having to buy three hard drives to store one hard drives worth of data. (one on-site and one off-site backup)

about a year ago
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How Ubiquitous Autonomous Cars Could Affect Society (Video)

DoctorBit Re:Efficiency of Production (369 comments)

Humans will be needed for government, childcare, sports and entertainment.

about a year ago
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How Ubiquitous Autonomous Cars Could Affect Society (Video)

DoctorBit Re:So long truckers (369 comments)

The truck can drive much more slowly than a human driver. The main reason for trucks to drive fast is to save driver's labor cost. A self-driving truck can drive much slower and get better fuel economy. Delivery time might be slightly longer, but the truck can drive 24 x 7 so for long-haul the delivery should actually get to its destination much faster. Also, short-haul trucking could also be much faster because the shipper doesn't need to wait for an available driver - while having drivers and trucks waiting around for a delivery costs a lot of money, having just trucks waiting around doesn't cost anywhere near as much - so deliveries could generally leave immediately. Medium-haul - say six hours drive would probably be slower.

about a year ago
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First Looks At Windows 8.1, Complete With 'Start' Button

DoctorBit Re:If you don't like metro... (800 comments)

Because if users aren't forced to use Metro, then developers won't have to develop Metro apps, and then Microsoft won't have many apps available for download to their unpopular Windows Phone. Microsoft is trying to use its desktop OS monopoly to muscle into the relatively new phone market.

about a year ago
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Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

DoctorBit Re:To put it in perspective (393 comments)

Some interesting optimizations there. Some of them might reduce performance though: for example, researchers have recently discovered that learning involves not just adjusting connection strengths, but also adding new connections. Using a Compressed Storage by Row would require inserting new elements into an array of 100 trillion elements when adding new connections. As long as the AI doesn't learn too much too often, I guess it would be ok :) I guess I agree with you about 32 bits being enough to identify a neuron, as most connections are indeed local.

The biggest problem with the whole project, as I see it, is the lack of any even halfway convincing comprehensive theory of how brains work. One could argue that discovering such a theory is the whole point of the project, but it seems to me that given the enormous variety of brains in the animal kingdom, and even between individuals within single species, that it should be possible to discover the fundamental operating principles with much smaller brains. I.e. do a mouse brain first with a few TBs of RAM.

about a year ago
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Why We Should Build a Supercomputer Replica of the Human Brain

DoctorBit Re:To put it in perspective (393 comments)

Each connection needs to specify its own "from" neuron and "to" neuron. Four byte ints aren't big enough for that purpose, so may as well use eight byte pointers for performance. That's sixteen bytes, plus your four bytes for connection strength, so 20 bytes total per connection. All that would have to be in RAM for reasonable performance so the system would have to have at least 2 PB of RAM.

Considering the number of potential neurotransmitters and possible learning modes, I'm skeptical whether one connection strength per synapse is enough. If each synapse uses a genetic algorithm for learning, each synapse could easily store hundreds of bytes. So the upper limit is probably a few tens of PBs.

about a year ago
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Facebook To Introduce Video Ads

DoctorBit Re:Facebook is the old myspace (180 comments)

I like this idea, but I see three potential problems with it:

1) When your computer is off, or disconnected from the internet, no one can access your data. This could be addressed by syncing your personal data across all your devices, so that when one is off, one or more of the others is available as a backup. Unfortunately, this increases the attack surface and makes problem 2 worse. I also don't think keeping your private data in a bittorrent-like swarm would work privacy-wise.

2) Given the malware-infested state of most ordinary users computers, the app could not effectively protect their private data. On the other hand, if malware broadcasts a user's facebook username and password, anyone can access their private facebook data too, so maybe P2P is not worse.

3) How would the creator of such a network make any money at all from it? Please don't say advertising! :-) One of the key benefits to the user base of this model is that anyone could make competing (hopefully better) apps that could use the same network and api. The registration info could also be maintained in a distributed database like bittorrent's distributed tracker. The main server would just have to maintain a list of currently active devices participating in the distributed database, keeping hosting costs close to zero. I guess someone could make this thing as an open-source volunteer project.

about a year ago
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Robots Help Manufacturing Recover Without Adding Jobs

DoctorBit Re:What year is this? (559 comments)

Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of getting rid of legislators entirely. The voters as a whole could craft legislation using a Wikipedia-like approach. Participants could even be paid for the quality and quantity of their contributions based on a slashdot-like moderation system.

What really worries me is the likely automation of military force. A closely-fought world war could lead to replacement of not just soldiers, but officers as well, for greater fighting effectiveness and reduced casualties. After the war, a small group of people at the top could declare martial law and stay in power indefinitely with no public support.

about a year ago
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President Obama To Nominate Cable and Wireless Lobbyist To Head FCC

DoctorBit Re:More of the same... (304 comments)

I'm registered Green and donate monthly to the Green party but vote Green only when the Green candidate has a good chance of winning, or when the least objectionable major party candidate doesn't need my vote. If half of voters did like this, the Green party could have a larger budget and larger registered-voter count that the major parties, eventually leading to big electoral wins, but without sacrificing any elections along the way.

about a year ago
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Robots Help Manufacturing Recover Without Adding Jobs

DoctorBit Re:What year is this? (559 comments)

People will not automate jobs that involve having power over people. For example: legislator, judge, police officer. Even if robots could objectively perform better than people in those jobs, people want people like themselves to have power over them. For example, see all the corrupt and inefficient governments around the world - no one in those countries clamours for a better-run foreign power to take over their country. Also, I imagine that overseeing and regulating an extremely advanced, complex and dynamic automated economy will require quite a bit of intellectual effort and value system work by a very large number of people. Also, childcare - while a robotic nanny might be measurably superior to a human one, would anyone really want their own children being raised mainly by an advanced robot? Also, sports: computers play chess better than any humans, but hardly anyone watches computer chess tournaments. People prefer to watch humans play chess, and I suspect the same would be true for football, or any other sport. Most jobs by entertainers should survive the transition.

about a year ago
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Robots Help Manufacturing Recover Without Adding Jobs

DoctorBit Re:What year is this? (559 comments)

Not really sure why the severance pay rule would be considered "inflexible". All an employer has to do is each pay period set aside an additional 12.5% for each employee's pay into a secure liquid investment. When the employee leaves, withdraw the money and hand it to them. Where does the extra 12.5% pay come from? Obviously, just offer them 8.9% lower pay when you hire them. Pay is lower in countries that have severance rules for this very reason. I don't see anything "inflexible" about it. You can hire and fire whenever you want.

about a year ago
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Moore's Law and the Origin of Life

DoctorBit One More Thing (1 comments)

There goes the last vestige of the geocentric Universe.

about a year ago
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Windows 8 Killing PC Sales

DoctorBit Monopoly Power (1010 comments)

If most Windows 8 PCs booted into Explorer mode, then developers wouldn't be coerced into making Metro apps. And if developers didn't create many Metro apps, Microsoft wouldn't have many apps for their unpopular Windows Phone.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Bitcoin Inventor Satoshi Nakamoto Doxed by Newsweek

DoctorBit DoctorBit writes  |  about 5 months ago

DoctorBit (891714) writes "According to today's Newsweek article, Satoshi Nakamoto is ... Satoshi Nakamoto — a 64-year-old Japanese-American former defense contractor living with his mother in a modest Temple City, California suburban home. According to the article, "He is someone with a penchant for collecting model trains and a career shrouded in secrecy, having done classified work for major corporations and the U.S. military." and "Nakamoto's family describe him as extremely intelligent, moody and obsessively private, a man of few words who screens his phone calls, anonymizes his emails and, for most of his life, has been preoccupied with the two things for which Bitcoin has now become known: money and secrecy."
The article quotes him as responding when asked about bitcoin, "I am no longer involved in that and I cannot discuss it, ... It's been turned over to other people. They are in charge of it now. I no longer have any connection."
I imagine that he will now have to move and hire round-the-clock security for his own protection."
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Stealthy Dopant-Level Hardware Trojans

DoctorBit DoctorBit writes  |  about a year ago

DoctorBit (891714) writes "A team of researchers funded in part by the NSF has just published a paper in which they demonstrate a way to introduce hardware Trojans into a chip by altering only the dopant masks of a few of the chip's transistors. From the paper:

Instead of adding additional circuitry to the target design, we insert our hardware Trojans by changing the dopant polarity of existing transistors. Since the modified circuit appears legitimate on all wiring layers (including all metal and polysilicon), our family of Trojans is resistant to most detection techniques, including fine-grain optical inspection and checking against "golden chips".

In a test of their technique against Intel's Ivy Bridge Random Number Generator (RNG) the researchers found that by setting selected flip-flop outputs to zero or one

Our Trojan is capable of reducing the security of the produced random number from 128 bits to n bits, where n can be chosen.

They conclude that

Since the Trojan RNG has an entropy of n bits and [the original circuitry] uses a very good digital post-processing, namely AES, the Trojan easily passes the NIST random number test suite if n is chosen sufficiently high by the attacker. We tested the Trojan for n = 32 with the NIST random number test suite and it passed for all tests. The higher the value n that the attacker chooses, the harder it will be for an evaluator to detect that the random numbers have been compromised.

"
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Moore's Law and the Origin of Life

DoctorBit DoctorBit writes  |  about a year ago

DoctorBit (891714) writes "MIT Technology Review is running a story about an arXiv paper in which geneticists Alexei A. Sharov and Richard Gordon propose that life as we know it originated 9.7 billion years ago.

The researchers estimated the genetic complexity of phyla in the paleontological record by counting the number of non-redundant functional nucleotides in typical genomes of modern day descendants of each phylum. When plotting genetic complexity against time, the researchers found that genetic complexity increases exponentially, just as with Moore's law, but with a doubling rate of about once every 376 million years.

Extrapolating backwards, the researchers estimate that life began about 4 billion years after the universe formed and evolved the first bacteria just before the earth was formed. One might image that the supernova debris that formed the early solar system could have included bacteria-bearing chunks of rock from doomed planets circling supernova progenitor stars. If true, this retro-prediction has some interesting consequences in partly resolving the Fermi Paradox.

Another interesting consequence for those attempting to recreate life's origins in a lab: bacteria may have evolved under conditions very different from those on earth."
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Bomb-laden 'Reaper' drones bound for Iraq

DoctorBit DoctorBit writes  |  about 7 years ago

DoctorBit (891714) writes "America will soon deploy in Iraq humanity's first robotic attack squadron. Each of the squadron's nine MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer drones weighs five tons, four times heavier than a Predator. The Reaper is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It is outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles. While each Reaper's pilot will sit at a video console in Nevada, the drones themselves will probably be based at a 400,000-square-foot expansion of the concrete ramp area at Balad, Iraq now used by Predator drones."
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