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RoboEarth Teaches Robots to Learn From Peers

JWman Re:clever marketing name games again (97 comments)

Thank you for some common sense. People are so irrational when it comes to computer "A.I." But humans do love to anthropomorphize everything we can, including attributing personality traits to our PCs.

more than 3 years ago

Assange Could Face Execution Or Guantanamo Bay

JWman Re:Rep. Giffords got shot after being threatened. (973 comments)

I'm sorry, did you take the time to read my post? I quote myself:

Giffords was also the target of tasteless rhetoric a few months before she was shot.

Perhaps that wasn't stated strongly enough for you, and that you automatically assume that since I don't buy into the hysteria that I somehow approve of "assassination metaphors"? So here I'll try again:

I think that Sarah Palin represents the worst of conservative America, along with those who use make similar comments. I dislike most things about her, not the least of which is her rhetoric about Assange and the talk about "targeting" political opponents.

That being said, I think it is also totally irresponsible to automatically jump to the conclusion that this Gifford's attacker was politically motivated in any reasonable sense and furthermore that he was incited to violence by Palin et. al. and lets al try to shame the right into submission. Particularly when initial evidence refutes the point of view that the attack had any such motivations. Making assumptions and pseudo-causal arguments like that is the stuff that conspiracy theories and political diatribes are made of. This line of reasoning was essentially tipped off by a sheriff in Arizona talking about all of the political "vitriol" surrounding the last election cycle.

It is my position that politics in America will not improve until BOTH sides stop being hysterical about every little thing that politicians say, inflammatory or not. Ad hominem attacks are the status quo in politics, and only serve to distort the true facts. How many enlightening or useful discussions have you had where either party was just looking to "one-up" the other person? Here's a hint, if you're focusing on the particular wording someone uses as opposed to understanding their meaning, you're doing it wrong. I've had many very insightful conversations with liberals (I identify myself as a moderate conservative) that have changed my views on certain issues. For example, by looking at the facts and overlooking the rhetoric, I've come to the opinion that Bill Clinton, in spite of his many personal failings, was in many very important ways more conservative and more in line with my views than George Bush Jr.

My original post was simply an expression of my disdain for hysteria in politics which these lawyers are continuing.

more than 3 years ago

Assange Could Face Execution Or Guantanamo Bay

JWman Re:Rep. Giffords got shot after being threatened. (973 comments)

Correlation != Causation.
Read the news stories more carefully -- not the analysis ones, just the plain news. Giffords was shot by a reportedly deranged man with no ties to any discernible political philosophy.
It just so happens that Giffords was also the target of tasteless rhetoric a few months before she was shot. The media needs to cool down on the hype until we know more.

more than 3 years ago

Assange Could Face Execution Or Guantanamo Bay

JWman Alarmist rhetoric (973 comments)

Look, I know the US hasn't had a stellar record of late, but come on. We're not to the point of ruthless dictatorship yet. If anything, I think extradition to the US would generate more much needed light on the fundamental concepts of freedom of speech in this country. "prominent figures have implied... that he should be executed" Uh huh... Since when did Palin start making policy decisions again?

more than 3 years ago

Seasonal Flu Shots Double Risk of Getting Swine Flu, Says New Study

JWman No biological reason for this (258 comments)

This is most likely a case of media hype driving public policy.
I heard a segment on NPR on this. Basically, it's just one study still in the very preliminary stages as studies go. Moreover, thee experts they interviewed said that there was no known biological reason why this would happen.
Given the amount of research into influenza, how to vaccinate against it, and how the bodies immune system responds to these vaccines, I think it's pretty safe to say that there won't be any medical surprises regarding the interaction between two such vaccines.

Until this is vigorously peer reviewed and at least another supporting study by other researchers is done, I call this a definite correlation (which we ALL know does not equal causation....right?).

more than 4 years ago

IBM, Other Multinationals "Detaching" From the US

JWman Re:And the solution...? (812 comments)

This also ignores the tax compliance costs built into our current system. The deductions are not automatic, they have to be carefully planned for in most cases. How much time is spent each year by corporations considering the tax implications of a particular business move? And then how much overhead is there to doing the necessary paperwork to prove tax compliance in the event of an audit? It is an astounding amount of waste, and leads to companies wanting to do business where taxes are lower and simpler to pay than in the U.S.

Also, while deductions do bring the tax rate down, there is also the state and local taxes that business are hit with, and those associated compliance costs.

We have a horrible, horrible tax system. These issues also affect individuals as well as businesses, I'm just focusing on corporate taxes because of the silliness of the thinking that corporations pay any tax whatsoever. Their taxes and compliance costs are built into the price of goods that we buy and that they export to other countries.

more than 5 years ago

IBM, Other Multinationals "Detaching" From the US

JWman Re:And the solution...? (812 comments)

Ummm.... what about the second highest corporate tax rate in the world ? It sits at about 39%. I think that just might have something to do with wanting to leave.

Corporate taxes are a joke. They just get passed on to the consumer anyway, and they make businesses less competitive internationally. But it is politically rewarding to go after the big evil corporations and for them to pay their way.

Really, and end to corporate taxes is a big reason why I strongly support the FairTax . It would no longer hide the taxes we pay, and special interests would not be able to carve out exceptions for themselves life they do all the time now.

more than 5 years ago

How Common Is Scientific Misconduct?

JWman Take research with a grain of salt (253 comments)

Scientists are humans, just like anyone else. Frankly, I think 1.97% is pretty low considering it is the combined total of all "fabricated, falsified or modified data or results". Notice that all of those aren't quite equal either. "Tweaking" results to tease out the answer you want (while still unethical and damaging to scholarship) is not as bad as outright falsification. Especially since it is not always clear where the line is between "modifying data", and doing valid statistical analysis like throwing away outliers. Yes, there are standards for outliers, but they are not universal, and confounding factors can occur during the experiment that make ethical decisions more difficult (i.e. the tester didn't read part of the script right, test subject's cell phone went off during test, survey answer was ambiguous and hard to read, the list goes on.)

The reality is that no one study should be taken as fact in isolation. It should either be corroborated by existing evidence (i.e. - it shines a new light on existing theories without contradiction), or by similar studies validating the results, or both.

Nutrition is a perfect example. How many studies have come out in the past 20 years that directly contradict (or seem to) prior studies done in that area? If someone followed each new "discovery" intently, they'd be so screwed up in their eating habits they'd probably end up being malnourished. However, looking back over a series of seemingly contradictory studies, we can see patterns which we've been able to make more sense of. We now have a greater understanding of "good" vs. "bad" cholesterol and the idea that fats aren't necessarily the root of all evil, and many similar findings. We still don't know all the answers, but we know lots more than any one study told us. This is how research works. It is also why graduate students writing dissertations are required to include a large section on "related work" so that they can get the full appreciation for where their research fits into the big picture, rather than basing their entire hypothesis on just one study or finding which might be contradicted in the next conference.

more than 5 years ago

My favorite simple machine is ...

JWman Re:I like the pulley the most. (490 comments)

Also, you can always assume away the effects of friction. It's great!

At least that's what my high school physics teacher taught me...

more than 5 years ago

Infrared Fibers Can Protect Against Chemoterrorism

JWman Re:Low-hanging fruit for terrorists (71 comments)

We can safely conclude:

4. There are no terrorists. 5. The government is lying.

I seriously hope that was an attempt to be funny rather than revealing some "obvious" conspiracy theory.

It is just as easy to conclude (and far more likely to be true) that:

1. There are terrorists, but they either feel they have made their point and achieved their goal of causing terror and its associated overreactions or they are incapable of mounting a significant overseas attack, or unwilling to mount one that would not cause similar damage to 9/11.

2. The government is not outright lying about the terrorist threats, but is doing what it does best: protect itself.

If Bush had done nothing after 9/11 to increase security, he would have been crucified much sooner and in a worse way than he was. Even as it stands, very few people are embittered towards him for domestic defensive security policies, but for foreign offensive security policies. Politicians (and therefore government) have set up a system whereby they can remain blameless in the face of society crumbling around them. They could spend trillions more on homeland security and no one would be held personally responsible for any sort of public outcry except perhaps the president, who would still do his best to sidestep any blame. This is how the game works. Big, fat, bloated, wasteful, and expensive defensive strategies that allow lawmakers to hide behind the guise of being over-cautious will always win over strategies that involve personal risk through bold, decisive action that will likely be criticized by someone, somewhere.

So no, those are not "safe" conclusions, and expose some pretty hefty biases on your part.

more than 5 years ago

Infrared Fibers Can Protect Against Chemoterrorism

JWman Re:Low-hanging fruit for terrorists (71 comments)

they'll do both no matter how wasteful.

Sadly I think you're correct. Ideally I'd say to cut the budget from the TSA and put it towards the national debt -- or at this point just towards putting our national budget in the black again. I figured that putting it towards another anti-terror project would be at least a bit politically viable. But, sadly, it is easy for the government to begin funding something and awfully hard to stop funding it.

more than 5 years ago

Infrared Fibers Can Protect Against Chemoterrorism

JWman Low-hanging fruit for terrorists (71 comments)

Things like this get me irked that we are spending billions upon billions each year on equipment, employees, and wasted time for all the added airport security since 9/11.
The fact is, is I were a terrorist I'd simply walk onto a bus or subway during rush hour with a bomb, like has been done in England and Spain. Effective, cheap, and little can be done to stop it. Not the same impact as collapsing two skyscrapers, but I seriously doubt any future plane hijackings will be successful since the rules have changed.

The overreaction to airplane hijackings is disturbing to me. The high school in my home town had a similar reaction to the Columbine shootings. They installed metal detectors at every entrance and hired extra security even though there had been little more than small knives confiscated at school, and never any real violence. Of course, there wasn't time to check people's bags properly, so it would have been trivial to smuggle something in anyway.
After two years at a cost of about 1.5 million per year, the metal detectors were taken out and the extra security measures scrapped. By then the public outcry for action had calmed, and no one wanted to be flushing 1.5 million down the drain every year.

I wish they'd do the same with the airport security. Lower it to a roughly pre-9/11 level, and spend the money elsewhere, like to keep nukes and dirty bombs out of the country.

more than 5 years ago

Utah Governor Vetoes Jack Thompson's Game Sales Bill

JWman Re:suddenoutbreakofcommonsense? (36 comments)

I agree that this tag is a bad one. It implies that everyone in Utah was on board with this, but Huntsman alone stepped forward to kill it. As someone who is living in Utah at the moment, I can tell you that this got no press coverage here, except through (conservative) political commentators who agreed it was a BAD idea. I'm not sure how it got enough of a coalition to make it through the legislature, but it certainly wasn't by popular demand.

more than 5 years ago

Stanford's Quantum Hologram Sets Storage Record

JWman Pragmatist (210 comments)

I do usually try to take a pragmatist view. It's hard not to, given the number of predictions that have been wildly off, particularly concerning technology over the past few decades.

For some great anecdotal evidence, look in the back of Popular science magazines where they print headlines from 25-75 years ago. There are doom and gloom ones (e.g. predicting '1984' type of developments) and overly optimistic (e.g., 'by 2000, we won't have to do housework because robots will be doing it for us'). I find that the truth is almost universally between the two extremes.

I also find that this view works extremely well when applied to the economy and politics as well (as in, Bush is not the devil incarnate in spite of numerous bad decisions, and Obama is not going to turn the nation into a socialist welfare state where we pay 60%+ in taxes -- nor is he going to fix our problems in the first 100 days of his presidency).

This view is especially helpful in light of discussions concerning exponential growth. It is easy to show trends that have continued for the past X years and then conclude that since numbers don't lie, this will continue for the next Y years. These arguments are easy to demonstrate and harder to refute (meaning it takes less technical knowledge to make them than to disprove them), making them widely used in persuasion.

more than 5 years ago

Stanford's Quantum Hologram Sets Storage Record

JWman Re:Neat (210 comments)

It's a logical end result of exponential growth.

Actually, that logic is flawed. The assumption that we will continue to see exponential growth forever in anything is pretty flawed, simply because of different laws kicking in. Look at trends in computer ownership, or TVs or anything else that hits its prime and hits it big. For a good while these things do have an exponential growth curve, but obviously that growth cannot continue indefinitely, or people would have to start buying two or three TV sets at a time every couple of days, and then the next week buy 3 TV sets every day, and then every hour....

This is the fundamental problem with extrapolation taken too far. The truth of the matter is that you have no idea what the curve looks like, regardless of how much data you have. It could be exponential growth for thousands of years, and then suddenly take a nose dive and drop back down close to where it started, or perhaps grow faster. Extrapolating too far is foolishness that happens far too often.
I've heard the discussion of converting all matter into computational elements, but a FAR more likely growth curve for computing power is not exponential, but sigmoidal.

Thus, I would argue that converting all matter into computational elements would be the asymptotic 'end game' of technology that we will never quite reach, but always be moving towards (though our progress will slow). Many growth patterns follow a sigmoidal curve.

more than 5 years ago

Remembering NASA Disasters With an Eye Toward the Future

JWman Re:Danger isn't the problem (273 comments)

It is truly sad that the space program is not at the forefront anymore. Lets consider the cost...
NASA 2008 Budget: $17.318 Billion
The federal government throws this amount of money around all of the time. Heck, lately it's almost a rounding error with all of the spending going on. To put this in perspective, $8 billion dollars is currently earmarked for "state and tribal assistance grants" in the new stimulus package coming out. (see this spreadsheet ).

What are the gains? When the Apollo program was running it caught the public's fascination. It made an entire generation of kids that wanted to be astronauts. It made "rocket scientist" become part of our nomenclature and synonymous with "really smart guy". And most importantly, it spurred an interest in engineering and the "hard" sciences (math, physics, chemistry). The knee-jerk response of today's youth is that these subjects are too hard and not fun enough. And so the US is losing engineers and knowledge workers and replacing them with massage therapists . How many people in 1965 thought that the best job in the world would be to work at NASA? How many think that now? (or for that matter, how many think that ANY engineering job would be ideal for them?)

In addition to inspiring the public to idolize something besides the latest Hollywood tabloid, the space program made numerous technological and engineering breakthroughs that we are still benefiting from tremendously today. The difficulties of doing even simple things under the constraints of space exploration force tremendous ingenuity and resourcefulness that the nation then benefits from as a whole.

more than 5 years ago

Bickering Blocks US Mobile Phone Payments

JWman Privacy Anyone? (267 comments)

I'm not a fan of the "Pay Wave" features on credit cards even. I don't especially like the idea of my information being transmitted from my wallet anyone in my immediate vicinity with a reader. Especially when the payoff to me is zero. I think "Pay wave" is a useless feature. Is it THAT hard to swipe a card instead of "wave" it in front of a reader? Then at least I don't have to worry about other people on a bus/subway/crowd who are close enough to steal my info without ever touching my wallet.
Given my distaste for this feature on credit cards, I sure as hell don't want it on my cell phone.

The real story here is the failure of businesses to work together to deliver a feature to consumers (many of whom would no doubt enjoy this feature).

more than 5 years ago

EC Considering Removing Internet Explorer From Windows

JWman Re:So what? (827 comments)

I'm not MS lover, but really, at what point does this stop? What if a company with a desire to litigate decides they want to enter the utilities market, but are hampered by the preloaded utilities available in Windows (defrag, search, etc.). Does MS have to strip out features every times someone calls foul? How far will it go? What if some company decides to make a CPU scheduler, and think that it's unfair that MS includes one with windows? Where's the line?
How many people are there buying computers who would think of thier computer as complete without an internet browser? Is MS evil for catering to this need?

On a related note, will Apple have to stop including Safari with OS X?

more than 5 years ago

Oprah Sued For Infringing "Touch and Feel" Patent

JWman What about Amazon? (249 comments)

Amazon does book previews as well... does this fall under the "Touch and Feel" patent?
If so, than Harris would be suing about as many people as SCO (at least in terms of high-profile companies).
Hmmm an individual filing a spurious lawsuit against Oprah, Google, and Amazon that has already cost him his job...Nice try.

more than 5 years ago


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