FDA Wants To Release Millions of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In Florida
Firstly, the mosquito in question, Aedes aegypti is not native to the Americas. If we destroy them utterly, bats and whatever will go back to eating other mosquitoes.
Secondly, the release of genetically altered mosquitoes has been done before in the Cayman Islands, which reduced the mosquito population by 80%.
Thirdly, this type of modification (where the insects mate but the offspring don't develop) has been done in America before with the screw worm, which infected mostly livestock (and some humans). The screw worm has no redeeming qualities whatsoever, good riddance.
And finally, the headline "FDA Wants To Release Millions of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In Florida" is one-sided and inflammatory. It does not mention "FDA wants to control several types of tropical fevers" or "FDA wants to eliminate a non-native pest that transmits disease".
Let's get everyone all worked up about the uncertainties of genetic engineering by completely ignoring the contextual reasons for doing so.
Because, you know, genetic engineering is bad in any form, even if it saves lives and brings the ecology closer to its original state.
Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?
Don't worry I'm sure the market will sort it out...
Thats why you have free market, capitalism and democracy!
I see this type of quip a lot on slashdot.
It's meant to push a specific agenda by pointing out yet another bit of anecdotal evidence that something is "obviously" wrong(*).
In this case it's the "obvious" wrongness of libertarianism and free market capitalism, even though the telco/ISP situation is so far removed from a free market that the label doesn't apply. The subtext is "we need government regulation because free capitalism doesn't work".
Except that the anecdote is completely the opposite of free capitalism.
Most people don't bother to pick apart the logic of such a statement - they rely on the innuendo as a shortcut for the best position to take. As Robert Cialdini points out in his book "Influence", it engages one of our automatic systems of information gathering: click, whirr... "capitalism doesn't work, got it!".
What could be the motivations of someone pushing this type of agenda on an audience of highly trained, highly-intelligent viewers, I wonder? Why would they want to bypass the rational process to engage the automatic system in an attempt to sway opinion?
(*) Another type is the framing association quip, such as always writing "Libertarian" next to a derogatory word such as "loonie", as in "yet more Libertarian hogwash" as if "hogwash" was a foregone conclusion.
Amazon Takes On Microsoft, Google With WorkMail For Businesses
Though you have to trust AWS with the plain text at some time since every mail server and client has to hand the message over in plain text (it may come in over an encrypted tunnel, but it needs to be decrypted by their mailservers).
Huh, I didn't know that.
If figured that the message body and subject text could be encrypted separately from the routing (and other) header information.
Today, I learned.
Amazon Takes On Microsoft, Google With WorkMail For Businesses
My top priorities for email service are quality of spam filtering, support for unlimited aliases, search, and rules. I think labels work better than folders for categorization. I have not found any Amazon documentation which addresses these issues.
My top priority is privacy.
Does their service have built-in encryption, such that they cannot decrypt the message contents?
I can do spam filtering, searching, and other rule-based operations on my home system. What I *can't* do locally is prevent others from sticking their noses in my business.
Whether it be my ISP adding ads to the data stream for goods and services I might be interested in, or the website provider tailoring ads for goods and services that might be of interest to me, or my home country looking for perceived criminal activity, or someone *else's* country looking to steal corporate secrets or leverage me into forced compliance, or any of a number of other reasons.
Of late I'm actually pretty interested in the privacy aspect.
How high up on your list of priorities is privacy?
Police Organization Wants Cop-Spotting Dropped From Waze App
Where is this shit coming from? How did you get voted so highly?
Police who commit misconduct of any kind is are the extreme minority.[...]
Here's a concrete example for you.
Cleveland Cops recently shot a black teenager who had an air-pistol.
That's OK, because the air pistol is indistinguishable from a real pistol (the red tip had been removed), and the police followed proper procedure. In a statement given to the press, the police described how the teenager had been told three times to raise his hands, and when he didn't comply and went for the pistol, he was shot twice and killed.
No problem, it wasn't a black-on-white issue, the police were responding to a call, it really *really* looked like he had a pistol, and he didn't respond to repeated commands to surrender.
...except that video of the shooting shows police opening fire less than 2 seconds after arriving on the scene, and neither [of the two policemen] administered first aid to Rice after the shooting.
The entire police force closed ranks and kept quiet while the department made an official statement that was a complete falsification of the evidence, in order for two officers to shirk legal responsibility. The police didn't release the surveillance video until public pressure forced them to.
So enlighten me, I'm confused. Which of the police in the Cleveland police force are *not* guilty of aiding and abetting a crime?
Ask Slashdot: Where Can You Get a Good 3-Button Mouse Today?
Get a used mouseman from ebay ($10 and free shipping), throw away the top cover, and 3-d print your own.
Don't own a 3-d printer? Probably one of your friends does, or the local university, or the local hackerspace, or as a last resort you can use shapeways.
Grab some modeling clay in your hand, make a 3-d scan of the resulting "handle", add fasteners for the buttons and ball (or IR chip), then 3-d print a custom-grip top cover. You can get IR mouse elements and ball elements from old mice, usually for free on Craigslist. Or the local Salvation Army store.
Purchase a sheet of friendly plastic (polycaprolactone), soften it in a pan of boiling water, then lay it over your relaxed open hand like a handkerchief. Wait for it to cool and harden, take a dremel to it, and use that as a custom-molded mouse top.
Get an Arduino, or any of the zillions of hobbyist microcontroller systems (pic, propeller, &c) which have a USB interface, and add buttons and an IR chip from an existing older mouse and program the buttons specifically for your needs.
Get a used mouse with lots of buttons, remount the buttons into a custom top as mentioned, then reprogram the button codes in the driver.
Or write your own USB driver at the OS level - it's not that hard. (For windows, it involves downloading the DDK and modifying an example found on the net.)
New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed
I find this offensive?
We're spending science mind power, money and time researching a way to make a drug that replaces a persons weakness of character and lack of willpower.
That is an excellent statement of the moral issues involved. Here are some more issues to consider:
Measles: We are spending science effort, money, and time producing a vaccine that replaces a person's physical weakness.
(Is character and lack of willpower a learned trait, or conditioned by physical attributes? Should we force people into weight-watchers and exercise programs?)
Guns: Guns have a protection effect similar to vaccines. Even though the probability of being self-injured by a gun goes up if you own one(*), the aggregate total chance of death from all causes goes down for the neighborhood. It's a sort of "herd immunity" for crime.
(Is restricting guns better or worse for society in general, as measured by the mortality rate?)
Flu: We are spending science effort, money, and time producing a vaccine who's purpose is largely to increase manufacturing productivity; ie - to keep you at work for an extra 5 days during the winter (**).
(Is it worth millions of people each spending $35 for a vaccine that's only partially effective?)
And note that everything mentioned is a probability, and that there is a probability of having a bad reaction to any individual shot. The probability is very low, but it's not zero.
(If the probability that the child will get the disease is lower than the probability that they will get a bad reaction, should we still force them to get vaccinated?)
What we have is a spectrum of efficacy weighed against the morality of forcing someone to do (or not do) something. The measles (and smallpox and polio) vaccine is on one end, while the Lyme vaccination is probably on the other.
Where do we draw the line with forcing people to do things? Is "living in society" a strong enough reason to go against someone's religious beliefs? Do the beliefs have to be religious to qualify for an exception?
Are we ready to ditch the doctrine of individual dissent, or must everyone bow to the wishes of society?
Where do we draw that line?
(*) Mostly due to suicide, and as has been pointed out, suicides will happen whether guns are available or not.
(**) Yes, the flu can kill and it's miserable to have, but the marketing is all about not losing work due to sick days. Go online and try to determine whether getting the flu shot is *effective* - you won't find studies, all you'll find is people saying "of course it is!". Science by authority, and all that.
Dish Network Violated Do-Not-Call 57 Million Times
Most of the calls are from telemarketing companies that sell Dish, not Dish themselves. I work for an authorized, small local company that sells and installs Dish (and DTV). As we see it, the biggest problem in the industry is telemarketers that sell the systems and then don't care at all about the customer. These unethical companies are the ones breaking the laws, but Dish looks the other way as long as they are sending them lots of business.
Lessee here. 57 million calls at 10 seconds per call is about 433 man years wasted
This is the complete livelihood for the 5 of us that own and work at our company. We handle some large accts like our state capital, entire state prison system, state University medical center (to name just a few). My boss has built a great little company, it will be very sad to see it taken away as a result of this. This is actually quite scary, we all have over 15 years of our lives invested in this company.
I'm sorry, I don't get it.
You seem to be implying that I should care that you, an admitted telemarketer, might be put out of a job along with four others.
I just don't understand your position.
Could you explain it with a car analogy?
New Advance Confines GMOs To the Lab Instead of Living In the Wild
Way back in the 1970s, a scientist named Roy Curtiss engineered Chi-1776: a strain of E. Coli for precisely these purposes. It was unable to synthesize d-amino pimelic acid, it couldn't exchange plasmids(*) with other bacteria, it was killed by detergents and UV radiation, and so on.
It was subsequently discovered that the survival of Chi-1776 was greatly enhanced when a plasmid commonly used for research was added.
Chi-1776 was also found difficult to work with. The very safeguards that made it safe for experimental use also made it difficult to grow. In fermentors it was outcompeted by just about everything else in the environment, so absolutely sterile environments were required, and this turns out to be very difficult in practice.
In response, researchers turned to a strain labelled K-12 which had a higher survival rate than Chi-1776, but couldn't infect the digestive tract and also couldn't survive in the wild.
...until it was found to infect mouse digestive tracts after the mice had been given certain antibiotics.
Also, despite strict procedures in place for chemical or physical disinfection, K-12 was subsequently found in the sewer systems supporting the University of Texas.
Those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it, or so they say. Does that statement apply to the current situation?
(*) A plasmid is a "loop" of DNA that is sometimes exchanged between bacteria. It's a method of propagating useful survival traits without going through the full reproductive cycle.
Doxing Victim Zoe Quinn Launches Online "Anti-harassment Task Force"
RIGHT??! Why is that not the standard policy?
Because the police are terrified.
They have to respond to any incident as if it was the worst possible scenario, because if they ever, ever misjudge a situation they would be held responsible for "not doing enough" to stop crime.
They have to respond in the most dickish way possible.
Just ask them.
Sid Meier's New Game Is About Starships
In the game, you control a fleet of starships as you journey through the galaxy to complete missions, protect planets and their inhabitants, and build a planetary federation.
That seems to be targeting only a subset of consumers(*).
What if I want to build a totalitarian empire? Subjugate and control planets, turn their productive output towards my ever-growing fleet of interplanetary destroyers? Drive my enemies before me, hear the lamentation of their women, yada yada.
Sort of like Ronan from Guardians of the galaxy?
Not all of us want to have good, clean, wholesome fun, 'ya know...
(*) I'm reminded of the children's holodeck game from Star Trek, where the "correct solution" was to broker a truce between the tree person and the water person. Made me want to puke.
Cuba's Pending Tech Revolution
As much as I like what's happening recently, I'm really troubled by the *way* it's happening.
Eric holder just gutted civil forfeiture. That's a good move, should have been repealed 30 years ago, I'm all for it.
Has anyone noticed that a single man who was not elected gets to pick-and-choose which laws he will enforce? Here's a man in the executive branch who decided unilaterally to dump an entire law. The legislature can pass or repeal laws, that's their job. The supreme court can bless or condemn laws, that's their job.
But the executive branch?
Can they just unilaterally pick and choose which laws(*) they will prosecute?
Similarly, Obama told Holder awhile back not to pursue "Defense of marriage" cases. That's fine too, the law should never have been passed and should have been dumped long ago.
Has anyone noticed that this was done by the executive branch all on its own, with no oversight?
I'm troubled by this because everyone accepts the outcome because the results are so good. The ends justify the means in these cases, it's so good to get these laws off the books that we don't notice *how* they got repealed.
To be specific, in the future we will see the executive branch gutting laws more often, and if people complain they will point to these good results and say "it's OK for us to do this now because no one complained when we did it previously".
This is a troubling turn of events.
(*) I'm making a distinction between pick-and-choose laws, as opposed to pick-and-choose cases, the latter of which is within the discretion of the prosecutor. Yes, there's line, and yes it can be abused.
US Government Lurked On Silk Road For Over a Year
I've been following the trial with some interest.
The Free Keene group went down (from NH to NYC) to protest the trial and hand out Jury Nullification pamphlets, for which they were threatened by the judge.
The government is using threats to prevent jury nullification information from getting to potential jurors. Doesn't seem fair to me, but then the constitution is probably written in some strange dialect of English where the meaning is something different to a lawyer.
It occurs to me that this is one way we can have an effect on government in addition to the vote. By informing people about jury nullification, we can encourage juries to ignore unfair laws.
AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines
Thank you - well put and insightful.
AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines
Five! Five laws of robotics...
I'll come in again.
AI Experts Sign Open Letter Pledging To Protect Mankind From Machines
I'm an AI researcher working on strong AI.
I've wrestled with the morality of making a breakthrough that causes all sorts of mayhem - from changing the economics of getting paid to do work, to making humans superfluous, to starting a terminator-like utopian future. (Or was that distopian? I can never keep those words straight.)
I've asked on this very forum whether a researcher should forego publishing, with the example case of Leo Szilard, who might have put off development of the atomic bomb for decades (possibly indefinitely) by not publishing.
The results were a little surprising. "Yeah - go for it!" 'kinda sums up both the position and strength of the response.
So now I basically don't care about the morality - I mean, why should I when to all appearances no one else does? Will the military worry about the humanity of applying AI to weapons? Will the lawmakers worry about the humanity of applying AI to business? Will the nameless bureaucrats worry about humanity when making regulations about AI?
I'm working towards the downfall and subjugation of the human race, and loving it. Sort of like a James Bond villain, or at least working for one.
If you (meaning: the "royal you", or humanity) don't care enough about yourselves to practice morality, then why should I?
(If anyone has a counter to this position, I'd love to hear it. Note that "just stating your position" is not a counter argument.)
Obama Proposes 30-Day Deadline For Disclosing Security Breaches
This will be considered 'anti-business' and the Republicans won't let it through Congress, just you watch.
Yeah, and the Democratic president waited until *after* the Democrats lost power in the legislature before proposing it.
It almost seems - dare I say it - that both parties are against the needs of the people!
Google Fund To Pay For 1 Million Copies of Charlie Hebdo
I was wondering if any malware writers would like to help.
Lots of malware will scan the infected computer for E-mail addresses so that it can send out spam.
Suppose someone wrote a virus which scans infected computers for E-mail addresses with common muslim first names, and sends a randomly selected offensive Mohammed cartoon to that person. One of 10 cartoons that comes bundled with the malware, for instance. (Google has many to choose from.)
This would have the simultaneous effect of trolling (getting others emotionally upset), swatting (getting others to do precipitous actions), ferreting out the extremists, and getting the Islamics more used to satire and criticism.
Of the proposals so far, I think this has the potential to really change the situation. It's like getting allergy injections to teach the body to tolerate irritation.
Any malware writers out there?
Cryptocurrency Based Basic Income Program Started In Finland
When these crypto-currencies are added to the currency pool, doesn't it reduce the overall value of all currencies, at least a bit.
So if there are $100B paper dollars, and $10B worth bitcoins plus $100 million fubar crypto-currency is added to the circulation, does the USD fall in value or can we keep "printing" new crypto-currencies without affecting other currencies?
Check out this image.
That's for the US, but it echoes the situation in industrialized countries, which is that production of goods and services rises over time. The value of money is the amount in circulation divided by the amount of goods and services produced.
If the money pool were fixed (discounting replacements as bills wear out &c), fixed money supply divided by greater production would make your money more and more valuable over time - year over year the same amount of money is available to purchase ever-larger production.
Governments realize this and put more money into circulation by printing and then spending it. In fact, each year they put proportionally slightly more money into circulation to maintain a positive inflation rate - year over year the same amount of money will purchase slightly less of the same production goods.
Thus, governments have to tweak the amount they print in order to keep up with production and have a slightly positive inflation value. Letting things get too far out of hand would result in runaway [positive] inflation, or negative inflation [generally considered a bad thing].
If there's more money in the pool due to crypto-currency, government regulators would simply adjust their printing output to compensate.
How Close Are We To Engineering the Climate?
Isn't global warming [from greenhouse gases] an exponential system?
The opposite, it's a logarithmic system. Every ounce of CO2 released produces less warming than the previous ounce. This is why climate scientists talk about warming in terms of "a doubling of CO2", because if it causes 1 degree of warming with one doubling, the next doubling will also cause a degree of warming.
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you!