Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

Dr. Spork Waa! Without 4K video, I can't get an education! (289 comments)

Sorry, there are many legitimate worries about digital divide stuff, and there are even more about ISP business practices. But this red herring about your education being compromised because your video link is only 1080p, that's just stupid. Why not worry that rich people's cars accelerate faster than poor people's cars? Is that causing a "kinetic divide" that we now have to worry about? The difference between the "poor" 171/122 Mbit/s connection and the gigabit connections will basically turn out to be just as unimportant to society. Let's focus on solving the real social problems, which are still many.

2 days ago
top

Apple Doesn't Design For Yesterday

Dr. Spork So on OSX you can't choose the system font? (369 comments)

I don't often use OSX, but I'm a little mortified that the system font is dictated by the whims of Apple, instead of being selectable by the user. When I install Windows, one of the first things I do is to change the system fonts. In KDE I used to, but now I'm happy with the defaults. But it never occurred to me that there might be a modern OS that doesn't give you this option!

5 days ago
top

The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

Dr. Spork Re:Here are your odds (347 comments)

Make it 2050 and I'll offer you $10 instead of $1. Nothing gets commercialized in 10 years, not even the soundest of science. It took more than 50 years to commercialize the laser after Einstein figured out stimulated emission. Cold fusion isn't even theoretically sketched out. Of course it won't be commercial in 10 years, but neither will anything else that is not in the prototype stage today.

about a week ago
top

Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Dr. Spork Re:You're making a baby, not a D&D character! (366 comments)

Right, and since not one of those sheets is going to be maxed out across the board, you have to pick the one which best fits with what you think is best for your child.

about a week ago
top

For Game Developers, It's About the Labor of Love

Dr. Spork I hate this strategy of justifying exploitation! (164 comments)

I think it's too easy to justify grueling jobs with bad work conditions and inadequate compensation by saying "Oh but the people who take them do the work out of loooove!" We do the same thing with teachers: Their jobs suck, their hours suck, their pay sucks, they deal with absurd bullshit, but all that is ok because allegedly, "they loooove kids and receive intrinsic rewards from their work."

We don't think this way about accountants or dentists. We don't expect them to loooove replacing fillings or mastering actuarial tables. We pay them so that their jobs are worthwhile even without the love. And I wish we would apply this standard to all jobs. A coding job where you produce games should be compensated like a coding jobs where you produce financial software, or anything else.

about a week ago
top

Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Dr. Spork Re:You're making a baby, not a D&D character! (366 comments)

I guess I'm saying that for personal flourishing in the real world, CHA, WIS and CON are the traits that matter most. And as parents, that's what we want - or should want - for our kids, right? INT has been shown to be negatively correlated with happiness. I would still hope that my kids get a high INT, STR and DEX, but I'd be happy to let the dice fall where they may. But if I could affect only a subset of their traits, as with this zygote selection method, I would focus on the traits that give them a happy temperament, CHA, WIS and CON.

about a week ago
top

Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Dr. Spork Re:You're making a baby, not a D&D character! (366 comments)

With genetic selection you can max them all out.

Not really. Remember, this is a process where you create lots of zygotes, test them all, and implant the ones with the most desired trait combinations. It's limited by how many eggs can be extracted from the mother - maybe a few dozen? This is not a process where you're splicing genes, or doing any other kind of trait engineering. This is just zygote trait prioritizing. You'll be choosing from a very finite set of "natural" (randomly generated) offspring.

about a week ago
top

Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Dr. Spork Re:What's the big deal with intelligence? (366 comments)

I think you underestimate how easy it will be to mechanize "intelligence" work. A hint: The cost of running code is falling at Moore's exponential, the cost of hardware is basically stable. Janitorial work requires hardware, intelligence work is just running code. Picking stocks, searching law precedents, designing bridges, and many other smart-person jobs, are already being done by computers. Yes, I wouldn't want my kids to end up in a profession from which humans will disappear, but if she ended up a chef or a real estate agent - just picking jobs that don't require a ton of raw brainpower - I would be a proud father. What matters is that she's happy, and that depends a lot on her genes, as it turns out.

Maybe it's because my wife and I are both academics, but when it comes to the intelligence of my kids, I'd be happy to let the dice fall where they may. But because we both have some serious melancholy in our families, the intervention that I would find most tempting is the one that will prevent these dispositions from manifesting themselves in our kids. I don't think that a high intelligence improves a life anywhere near as much as a sunny temperament, and I would never prioritize the genes that predispose for the former over the latter, if my kids couldn't have both.

about a week ago
top

Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Dr. Spork You're making a baby, not a D&D character! (366 comments)

I'm sure that Slashdot is full of munchkins who always try to max out the stats of their characters, but please, don't bring that attitude with you when you're designing a baby. If you want the best for your kids - and I hope you do - you should basically do the opposite of what you would do for D&D - prioritize charisma, wisdom and health (CON). Don't worry so much about STR, DEX and INT. All of these traits have genetic correlates.

about a week ago
top

Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Dr. Spork What's the big deal with intelligence? (366 comments)

If I were to choose a child from a huge batch of zygotes, I'd want the one that's generally disposed to be happy - easy going, social, even tempered, and not too fussy growing up. But apparently, geneticists aren't working on identifying the genetic correlates of those traits, even though we know that they are just as heritable as intelligence.

I don't think that I'll have kids, but if I did, the thing I'd want most is that they grow up happy. I would work hard to make sure they grow up in an environment that encourages it. But genetics contributes a lot to happiness outcomes, and if I were offered well-tested genetic help, I wouldn't refuse it. Maxing out their intelligence would not be at all high on my list of priorities. Is this a weird attitude? I thought it was a kind of typical parent attitude, but apparently, geneticists have different ideas.

about a week ago
top

Nearly 700 Genetic Factors Found To Influence Human Adult Height

Dr. Spork Re:Only 700? (68 comments)

Remember that these were the most obvious 700, the ones that are visible even in a smallish study (250,000 subjects). And these only got us 20% of the way to explaining the genetic components of height. I doubt that the next 700 we find will get us anywhere close to another 20%, because the genes left undiscovered have effects that are so small that they were invisible to this study. Somehow, the remaining 80% of the genetic contribution to height is made up of such genes. That means many thousands of genes are involved. Remember also that there are fewer than 100,000 genes in the human genome.

about two weeks ago
top

A Production-Ready Flying Car Is Coming This Month

Dr. Spork Call it a "Driving Plane" not a "Flying Car" (203 comments)

Somehow it sounds cool to have a flying car, but kinda stupid to have a driving plane. This was an observation made by Tyler Cowen on his blog. It's a good point. It reminds me of a survey of priests that emphatically showed priests are ok with praying while smoking, but not with smoking while praying.

about two weeks ago
top

Will Windows 10 Finally Address OS Decay?

Dr. Spork There is an easy workaround (577 comments)

When I install Windows, I work hard to set up everything exactly as I like on install day. Then I make a backup of the OS partition - which has only programs, no photos, videos, etc. - using Acronis TrueImage. Then I proceed as normal, and when something gets screwed up, I just restore from backup. This completely undoes any effects of winrot, and the system immediately feels like it was installed that day. What I usually do then is update my applications and settings, and immediately make a new backup. A full restore takes about 4 minutes, and a backup with max compression takes something like 12. I find this so convenient that I use no antivirus. When I start to suspect that I may have installed malware, I just restore from a backup, and four minutes later, my system is perfect. I've been doing this since Win2K days, and if this method weren't available to me, I wouldn't be using Windows.

about three weeks ago
top

Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Dr. Spork Re:Not so.... (517 comments)

That's a useful chart, but it shows that the growth of coal in Germany is far larger than the total portion of solar. So if you want to call that growth a "fluctuation," you should call the contribution of solar a "rounding error" or something. What I learned from the chart is that in Germany, the burning of household trash produces twice as much power as solar, and this is growing much faster than solar. I bet it's also costing the customers far less and provides other benefits, like municipal hot water. So yes, Germany is having a bit of a trash burning revolution, and I applaud this. The solar thing though, I don't think that's going so well for Germany.

about a month ago
top

Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Dr. Spork Re:Really? (517 comments)

Soo, their CO2 output in increasing, their energy prices are highest in Europe, and a broad coalition, which includes the chancellor, is now pushing to have the program cancelled. ... SUCCESS!

about a month ago
top

Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

Dr. Spork Re:Really? (517 comments)

Um, you tell me about the coal burning plants that Germany shut down, and I'll hunt down the links for the 12 ginormous coal-burning powerplants that have opened up since 2010. The largest of these are designed to burn fucking lignite (brown coal, the dirtiest thing we have ever used for power in the history of mankind). This is not 1812, it was 2012. CO2 emissions are growing faster in Germany than anywhere else in Western Europe, while US emissions are sinking over the same timespan. Germany acts like it's some model citizen because everyone loves to hear about solar this and that, but most of their power comes from coal. Also, most of their new capacity comes from coal. Every year this decade, even the proportion of German power that has come from coal has increased. Yeah, coal. For this I hardly think they deserve any congratulations.

about a month ago
top

The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

Dr. Spork Re:Maybe... (196 comments)

I wish that people would stop this silliness about population controls. Have you been asleep for 40 years? Right now, in an age when European politicians are pulling out their hair trying to get people to make more kids, it's hard to find an industrialized country that it making children at the replacement rate. Many countries are actually shrinking, including populous ones like Japan, Italy, Russia, etc. Many more would be shrinking were it not for immigration. In countries like Mexico that are traditional sources of emmitrants, fertility rates are plummeting as well. It turns out that all you need is a bit of prosperity, urbanization and female education, and you can quickly generate negative population growth rates. If there's a reason to worry about global population, it's that we won't have enough kids to care for the world's retired.

about a month ago
top

Spot ET's Waste Heat For Chance To Find Alien Life

Dr. Spork False positives are far too easy (80 comments)

Basically, this method of searching for aliens returns a positive whenever there is something producing heat which we don't see/understand. I have a feeling that the universe is quite full of such things. But maybe explaining these will help us make scientific advances. When astronomers first discovered a pulsar, they labeled the signal LGM for "little green men". But since then, we learned a lot about astronomy. Explaining apparent anomalies is good for science, and if you want to make the process sexier by talking about possible alien civilizations, I don't see much harm.

about 2 months ago
top

Cause of Global Warming 'Hiatus' Found Deep In the Atlantic

Dr. Spork Aw shit, here comes Cuthulu. (465 comments)

As if global warming isn't scary enough.

about 2 months ago
top

Ebola Quarantine Center In Liberia Looted

Dr. Spork Re:Please stop and think (359 comments)

Thank you for an insightful post. No discussion of this will make sense without the point you made. IMO, it only makes the whole situation seem that much more tragic.

about 2 months ago

Submissions

Dr. Spork hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

Dr. Spork has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?