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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

Sycraft-fu No it isn't that we won't (318 comments)

But that we are so far from any kind of AI that worrying about what form it might take is stupid. Yes, there are lots of things that might happen in the far future. Until they are closer, worrying about them is silly. There have been stories from people who are all paranoid about AI and think we need to start making with the rules. No we don't, we are so far away we don't even know how far away we are. We also have no idea what form it'll take. May turn out that self awareness is a uniquely biological trait and we never make computers that are truly strong AI.

Also if you are betting your life (regardless of if this means an actual bet, singular investment of all assets, etc) on something far off, you are a moron. You have no idea when a technology will happen, if it'll even be possible, and if it is if it'll even be marketable. Want a great example? SED, surface-conduction electron-emitter display. Reasonably chance you've never even heard of it. Was a new tech from Canon, basically a flat, large, hig rez take on CRT. Offered extremely high refresh rates (and thus low blur) great contrast ratio, wide viewing angle, etc. Very exciting display technology lots of people looked forward to as an LCD alternative. Wouldn't displace LCD, but would be a better technology for many uses. It was real too, actual working sets were shown at CES in 2006.

What happened? Well as a result of litigation, the financial downturn, and the general market, they decided to pack it in and stop development. They shut down and liquidated that division in 2010, and there's been no further development. So despite it being real and doable, it didn't happen and almost certainly never will happen.

Now compare that to the concept of strong AI, which we have no idea if it even can exist, if it does what form it will take, and if so what technology will be required. Maybe not the best thing to be betting the farm on.

9 hours ago
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Eizo Debuts Monitor With 1:1 Aspect Ratio

Sycraft-fu A lot depends on size of the monitor (310 comments)

The bigger it is, the wider that is useful. Basically you find that you need a certain amount of vertical real estate to work effectively. So on a small screen like a laptop, a 4:3, or even more square, monitor can be of use. However when you start getting large desktop displays, wide is very nice. Personally I like 16:10 displays for the desktop, in part because I find them aesthetically pleasing (likely because they are near the golden ratio) but also because for the large sizes I like (30" currently) it provides a good amount of vertical real estate, but plenty of horizontal to fill my field of view and allow for multiple things to be displayed at once.

For TV, heck I could go even more than 16:9 if such a thing were standard. I was always partial to 1.85:1 3 perf and 2:1 Superscope for movies myself.

yesterday
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Microsoft Rolls Out Robot Security Guards

Sycraft-fu I imagine not (138 comments)

However the problem is that it can presumably notify security that you've done that. Given that they'll have full video of it, and know where the unit was, the chances of you getting caught are pretty high.

These aren't the kind of thing that would work well on their own out in the middle of nowhere but on a campus like MS's with human backup I imagine they are pretty effective. Rolling security cameras basically.

3 days ago
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Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X

Sycraft-fu They do in Windows (326 comments)

The generic MS drivers know how to see if the drive supports TRIM and send the commands if it does. That's the point of TRIM: It is an ATA standard command, so special software isn't needed.

In fact, in Windows all you use is the generic drivers. I mean you may install drivers for your SATA controller, but not for your drive. My laptop has a Samsung 840 Pro in it, with Samsung's Magician installed. However the drivers in use are disk.sys, partmgr.sys (both Microsoft files) and iastorf.sys (Intel's file). No Samsung provided drivers. Magician can directly send commands to optimize the drive if needed if the OS can't, but the OS sends TRIM commands no problem.

about a week ago
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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

Sycraft-fu Ok conspiracy 'tard (339 comments)

Or perhaps more likely "pro Russian shill" next time, spend a little more time doing research before you put together your bullshit theory. See you seem to have missed one little detail: This came from Russian TV. This isn't something that surfaced in the US, purporting to be originally from Russia, it was on Russian national television.

So, maybe think your bullshit conspiracy through next time,a nd make sure you know the sequence of events.

about a week ago
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US DOE Sets Sights On 300 Petaflop Supercomputer

Sycraft-fu On enough with the whining (127 comments)

I hate this attitude that if you don't have the top spot, you are crap. It is so silly the attitude that the US somehow lost something by not having the first spot on the top 500 list.

I mean for one thing, the Chinese computer is more specialized than the big US supercomputers. It gets its performance using Intel Xeon Phi GPGPU type processors. Nothing wrong with hat but they are vector processors hanging off the PCIe bus. They work a lot like graphics cards. There are problems that they are very fast at, linpack (which is what's used to test) being one, but others they are not as fast at. Many of the US supercomputers (like BlueGene/Q) use just standard CPUs, meaning their performance holds steady over more kinds of tasks.

Then there's the fact that while the US might not have the #1 spot they have the #2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 spots. In other words, half of the top 10 computers. That is more impressive than having one really big system. Ya it's nice to have a huge system and some simulations need really big systems to do, but there's something to be said for lots of different research groups having access to high power computers.

Also there's the fact that linkpack isn't necessarily the best benchmark.

I'm happy that the US is looking to invest more in HPC because money spent on research is always well spent in my opinion. However let's stop pretending like it is some major failure that the US doesn't have the #1 computer. Big deal.

about a week ago
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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

Sycraft-fu People tend to believe their first media (339 comments)

I've seen the same kind of thing. I know a lady who's from Serbia. Very smart woman, and she's lived in the US for a couple decades, immigrated and become a citizen. However, when it comes to world news, she believes the Serbian media over all others. It's pretty bad too, it makes Fox News look credible (well almost) with the level of propaganda and shit. However, to her, that's the truth.

It seems a somewhat common thing that whatever you start getting your news from first is what sticks with you as the "true" news if there's disagreement later.

about a week ago
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Former Police Officer Indicted For Teaching How To Pass a Polygraph Test

Sycraft-fu For some reason (328 comments)

Geeks have real issues with the concepts of knowledge and intent mattering in the law. They think something is either ok, or not ok, and if it is ok it is ok in all situations. Of course that's not how the law work. Intent in particular matters a hell of a lot. Something can be illegal or legal just based off of intent, or can be a different level of crime. Likewise if you know you are helping someone commit a crime, that can get you in trouble whereas doing the same thing unknowingly can be fine.

It is complex, because it varies, there are crimes that don't require intent, or crimes where even doing it unknowingly will get you in trouble, but there are others that are not. It is complex with various shades of gray, which I guess is why geeks can't understand it. Many seem to be very binary thinkers and want absolutes in rules, which the law frequently doesn't have.

about a week ago
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Assassin's Creed: Unity Launch Debacle Pulls Spotlight Onto Game Review Embargos

Sycraft-fu Re:Quit buying games on day one (473 comments)

I think it's fine to buy them soon after release if you want them and can afford them (remember, to some people $60 for entertainment isn't a huge deal) so long as it has been properly reviewed and your research indicates it is a good game. There are plenty of games that launch strong, just as there are plenty that don't.

But never buy it before you can research if it is good, and if you are likely to enjoy it.

about two weeks ago
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Assassin's Creed: Unity Launch Debacle Pulls Spotlight Onto Game Review Embargos

Sycraft-fu You are completely correct (473 comments)

And I am one of many people who harp on the "Never preorder games!!" thing. So why do people do it? Two reasons:

One is they just get caught up in the hype. They are all excited and wanna have it as soon as possible. Silly, but human nature and it does happen time to time.

The other is that companies try to bribe you. They offer bonuses that you only get if your preorder, or that you have to pay for later. So there may be some day one DLC, but you can have it "free" if you preorder.

It is still, of course, and extremely bad idea to preorder and people should be talked out of it at every opportunity. Wait until it is out and reviewed, then decide if you want it.

about two weeks ago
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Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday

Sycraft-fu Also how much similarity triggers things (320 comments)

There are only so many ways someone is likely to design some functions, particularly if the class demands particular formatting. So if having one function that is very similar or the same triggers it, then it is rather bullshit.

I could see this too. Where I work professors are extremely lazy and grade via script. They don't read the programs students hand in because that would be "too much work", never mind that in the arts and humanities professors have to read papers all the time. Then they usually use some kind of automated cheat checker program. Well, said checkers aren't something that just makes sure files are bit identical. They allow for various fudge factor. That means they can match even on things that aren't actually copies of eachother.

about two weeks ago
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Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Sycraft-fu Re:Ok but that's electricity, not energy (485 comments)

I chose 25 degrees just since it is standard temperature. Either way if you don't believe me, look it up, a significant amount of energy use by humans is temperature related and cold areas use more than hot areas. Saul Griffith has done some great talks on the matter.

I know that it is something of an article of faith that AC is the devil and hugely wasteful but that just is not the case. Heat pumps (that's what an AC is) are very efficient and getting better but they only work if the evaporator coil is warm enough that water doesn't freeze on it, precluding their use as heaters in any place that gets near zero. Because of their thermal efficiency compared to heaters and the fact that sorry, but cold places DO get colder than hot places get hot, even if you set 20 as the benchmark, people use less energy when they live in warmer climates.

about two weeks ago
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Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Sycraft-fu Ok but that's electricity, not energy (485 comments)

Guess what? Cold places use MORE energy than warm ones. While people like to hate on ACs as some excess, they are actually quite efficient. Since they move heat, they can move more energy than they use. A good AC can easily move 3-5 watts of heat for each watt of energy it requires to operate. No such luck with heating systems, they at best get you 1 watt of heat for each watt they take.

Then there's the issue of temperature delta. If we take 25 degrees (C) as a target room temperature, well then you can see why cold places have it even worse. The hottest inhabited places on Earth only tend to reach 40 degrees regularly and peak at 50 rarely. So a 15-25 degree delta from normal. The cold places? Hell, even a "mildly" cold place hits 0, and they generally drop a good bit below that. Denmark sees 15-30 degrees below zero. So a 40-55 degree delta. Of course the bigger the delta, the more leakage you have, the more energy you need, etc.

If you intend that heating energy to be renewable, that means no oil, gas, etc furnaces. You can use electric, so long as the electricity is from a renewable source. I guess depending on your definition wood might be ok too. That's about it, unless you happen to live near some hotsprings and can get some geothermal heat.

So re-run the energy calculation when all the district and local heating has to stop using anything non-renewable.

about two weeks ago
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Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Sycraft-fu Also batteries die (485 comments)

Remember we don't have battery technology that lasts forever, or really even for a long time. So you have to lifecycle those batteries, they will have to be replaced periodically. Probably once ever 5-10 years max. Well add in the cost of that now to the total cost. Also add in the energy required to create and dispose of said batteries to your calculation.

Ends up not being a great option with current battery technology.

about two weeks ago
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The Students Who Feel They Have the Right To Cheat

Sycraft-fu We see that problem with graduate students (438 comments)

Being an engineering college we see many Indian and Chinese grad students. In both cases we numerous students who have real difficulty with any kind of synthesis and application of knowledge. They want to memorize a bunch of facts and formulas and crunch numbers to get the result. Solving real problems is something they have a lot of difficulty with. In particular there's not a good concept of problem solving. If they don't know the answer to something they believe the solution is to seek the person that does, not apply problem skills.

It, unsurprisingly, comes from the elementary and undergraduate education they received. That is what learning is to them. It is a real issue since of course in real engineering, you don't get to work from a textbook.

about two weeks ago
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There's No Such Thing As a General-Purpose Processor

Sycraft-fu I's just a bullshit semantics game (181 comments)

Guy is trying to play silly distinction games. Really, everyone in tech understands what people mean when they say "general purpose processor." Yes, said unit may have some specialized circuits and such, but it is made to be good at dealing with all kinds of problems. Integer, FP, branching, linear, etc doesn't matter its design can handle them all reasonably well.

That compares to something specialized like a GPU. For certain kinds of problems, specifically single precision vector math with fairly consistent branches, it does amazing. However for other things, not as much, though it is turning complete and capable of anything. Still a true processor and not an ASIC that can't be programmed, but not general purpose.

Try to play semantic games with it is silly. Are there going to be cases where the line might be blurred? Sure, but who cares? That's how life is. Everything doesn't always fit in to neat little boxes. It is still a generally useful way of looking at things.

about two weeks ago
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YouTube Opens Up 60fps To Everyone

Sycraft-fu 60fps doesn't need 2x the bandwidth (152 comments)

Frames are similar to each other (this is a big way that H.264 gets compression) and the more FPS you have, the more similar the frames are since each is a smaller time slice away from the last one. So you may not need a whole lot more bandwidth.

A good example is AVCHD, that's the H.264 camera format that is popular with consumer and pro cameras. The 2.0 spec supports 30fps and 60fps. At 30fps you store data at 24mbps, at 60fps you store it at 28mbps. Same visual quality, only 4mbps more to get the extra 30fps.

Same idea scales down to lower bitrates. You do need more bits to maintain the same quality, but not a ton.

about three weeks ago
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Denuvo DRM Challenges Game Crackers

Sycraft-fu It's also useless (187 comments)

The idea that bitchy DRM is what you need to make money is silly. The bitchier the DRM, the more it costs you in terms of implementation and support and, guess what, it turns out that a great many of those pirates just won't buy your game, they don't want it for anything more than free.

You can see some good examples in the audio industry, which has some really bitchy DRM. Like take Steinberg Cubase and Cakewalk Sonar. These are two of the long time DAWs, both dating back to the DOS days. Both still make money, both are still in active development. Cubase uses super retarded DRM. A dongle that Steinberg bought and customized (syncrosoft, now called Elicenser) that is checked when you do anything. Seriously like opening menus has checks to the dongle. Sonar has no DRM effectively. You need a serial and an activation code, but the activation code is per serial, not per computer. It is just so you register your product with CW. The serial and code don't change and it doesn't phone home. Yet despite that weak DRM, Sonar continues to be developed and sold.

Or in audio samples. The big name in virtual instruments is Native Instruments, their program Kontakt being the king of sampling. They have some fairly weaksauce DRM on their products. A challenge/response kind of thing that is cracked and pirated versions abound. Despite that, they make lots of money and are the unquestioned top of the sampling game. Then you look at EastWest who uses their own custom software with an iLok dongle because of evil pirates. They are too small for anyone to care about cracking. So no piracy, but they are tiny, a fraction of NI's size and profits.

Really all bitchy DRM does is increase the cost on the developer. You end up spending more programmer time implementing it, more QA time making sure it works, and more support time helping people when it doesn't. There's no good evidence showing it increases sales. Remember that decreasing piracy is not the same as increasing sales. You can drop piracy to zero and yet discover you get little to no extra sales because the people who were pirating were only doing so because it was free, and have no interest in paying for it.

about three weeks ago
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Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Sycraft-fu In the US (468 comments)

You need to register once, that's it. I registered to vote when I was 18, and never again. That makes you valid for all elections.

Also, in most if not all counties, you can have your ballot mailed to you. That's what I do. I would much rather vote at home and mail it back than bother to go to a voting booth. There is no charge for this service, you just fill out and mail in a form, or call, or fill out a form online (which is what I did) and the county recorder mails you a ballot when an election happens. They also mail you all the official election materials listing candidates, propositions (short text, full text, and legislative analysis) and so on.

Really, it is dead easy to get to vote on your schedule. If you don't, that's on you.

about three weeks ago
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Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Sycraft-fu That's the whole point (468 comments)

They want people who are easily swayed and don't look in to shit to go out and vote for their guys. They know an election could easily be swung if you can get people like that to vote for you.

about three weeks ago

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