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!



By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem

TrekkieGod Re:Warp Drive (564 comments)

An adaptive program (in the sense the previous poster was attempting to describe) would be one that is able to figure out on its own how to do things that its programmers had not anticipated in advance.

It's all a matter of levels. I can make a good argument that humans don't strictly fit the definition you've provided. After all, we're born with ready-made circuitry to do everything that we do. Learn a human language? Put two babies together and don't teach them a language, they'll come up with one for themselves given enough time. We're built to develop it, it's not something we figured out how to do but weren't built to do. Use of tools? It's only possible because our brain is hardwired to treat external objects as extensions of our body. For example, you can "feel" the tip of a pencil as you're writing. When you're driving a car, you "feel" the entire boundaries of the car as the space *you're* taking up. Even when playing video games, you are quickly able to think in terms of what you want the object you're controlling to do, you don't think about the buttons you're pressing. That ability of our brain to integrate tools as extension of ourselves instead of an object completely separate from us is hardwired in, it's not something we can learn.

Now, of course, I'm not going to argue we're *not* intelligent, and that we're incapable of learning. I'm also not going to argue machines are as intelligent as we are. That said, a lot of what they do is most certainly intelligence, and it's most certainly learning. After all, we're programmed to learn languages, but not with English. We're programmed to use tools, but have to be taught to write or type. However, in the same way, we've made some pretty good progress in AI. My android phone "learns" what my face looks like and how to differentiate between other people's faces. Yes, it's pre-programmed with a facial-recognition algorithm, but so are you. If that circuitry is defective, you end up with face blindness.

about three weeks ago

Big Bang Breakthrough Team Back-Pedals On Major Result

TrekkieGod Re:Not the Big Bang (127 comments)

How does spacetime know how fast something is going through it? If there is nothing else other than spacetime and a single photon, what regulates the photon's speed? What is the speed relative to?

The easiest way to answer that is by saying you're thinking about it incorrectly. Our every day experiences leads us to believe that distances are absolute. That time periods are absolute. And if we're talking about the relative speeds in human experience, that's a very, very good approximation.

Turns out reality is weirder. It's not that spacetime "knows" how fast something is traveling through it. It's that space and time don't behave like our senses lead us to believe. So, from our perspective, if energy to use to accelerate a ship wasn't a problem, and we're here on Earth observing it head someplace 10 light-years away, the very earliest that ship will get to its destination will be just over 10 years, as no matter how much energy is used to accelerate it, it's going to just asymptotically approach c, but never reach it.

However, the thing is, it's not really a speed-limit, of how you would think of it. From the perspective of the people on the ship, if energy isn't a problem, you can get to your destination as quickly as you want. Under 10 years? Sure. You can get there in under a second (we'll assume we've figured out how to ensure everyone won't die from accelerating from 0 to close to c, then back to 0 again all within a second). You can get there in a millisecond. If you put more energy into acceleration, you can always get there faster. However, you still never go faster than light. It just so happens that, as you accelerate, you disagree with the people on Earth about how far your destination is. It used to be 10 light-years away, but now, after that huge acceleration, it's only 100 meters away, and you can cover that small distance really quickly at near the speed of light. To you, an infinitesimally small amount of time has passed. To the people on Earth, over 10 years.

TL;DR; It's not that that spacetime is preventing you from going faster, it's that spacetime is a 4-D Minkowsky space, and we're approximating it as a 3D Euclidean space + time in everyday life. That's a great approximation, until you start going really fast. Then it's just not good anymore.

about a month ago

Big Bang Breakthrough Team Back-Pedals On Major Result

TrekkieGod Not the Big Bang (127 comments)

There's a ton of evidence for the Big Bang, the existence of the CMB at all being one of them. That result was meant to be evidence for Inflation, which is used to explain why the universe appears evenly distributed everywhere you look, among other things.

about a month ago

Should We Eat Invasive Species?

TrekkieGod Re:On that note (290 comments)

Let's hope the rest of the earth's species don't adopt this plan to control the invasive naked apes.

I assure you that they try. All the time.

We're not at the top of the food chain because the other species are nice to us. Or because we're nice, for that matter.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Can Star Wars Episode VII Be Saved?

TrekkieGod Re:painted into a corner... (403 comments)

I couldn't take Kirk being promoted from boot ensign to commander of the Enterprise after no time on board.

I agree with you completely. In my mind, it made Kirk less badass. In the original timeline he goes through some shit on his way to captain. As an ensign on the USS Republic, he had to make a choice between friendship and duty, and ended logging a bad mistake made by a friend that cost that friend the chance to ever be promoted to captain; As a lieutenant on the Farragut he encountered the cloud creature, which ended up killing his captain, something he blamed himself for many years afterwards; he spent some time as an instructor at Starfleet Academy, with a reputation for being an incredibly tough teacher; he was awarded several medals and distinctions and had an exemplary record as was read in the episode Court Martial...

By the time Kirk became captain, he had a proven record and the career and life experience to go with it. He was young, but he wasn't green. Then JJ Abrams just went and took all that away from him.

But even that I could forgive if it had been an otherwise good movie. There are actually some real life precedents for stuff like that. Nathanael Greene was promoted from private to Major General straight out. It was the Revolutionary War, and it was an army that was just formed in response to the Siege of Boston, not exactly a well established military, so a bit easier to understand.

about 2 months ago

The Sci-Fi Myth of Robotic Competence

TrekkieGod Re:No! (255 comments)

That's all well and good but what if something jumps out in front of you and you don't have time to stop.

You do realize that Google's car is already, right now better at handling random things popping up in front of it than human drivers, right? Go google info of specific tests, on actual streets, where people previously hidden by obstacles suddenly walk in front of the car, out of nowhere.

Does that mean it's always going to stop in time? No. It means it's going to stop in time more often than a human driver.

Does that mean the car will never make 'bad' choices, and enter into an avoidable accident? No. But it will be involved in less avoidable accidents than a human driver.

Does that mean it will be able to make choices such as, "child or dog" as to what to hit? At this stage, probably not, and it'll drive to avoid both, maybe hit the dog, maybe hit the child, maybe hit both. How often do you run into questions like that when you're driving in your daily commute? I'm going to say that ethically the number of lives that will be saved in the far more numerous, more traditional accidents that a driverless car can completely avoid better than humans are worth that child's life.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Can Star Wars Episode VII Be Saved?

TrekkieGod Re:painted into a corner... (403 comments)

TOS is a product of the culture of the 50s and 60s and was in some important ways hobbled by being so. It was always way too cerebral and libidinous to be a lot of fun...I'm in a theatre for two hours, you need to entertain me, outsmart me and give me something to think about for a long time after.

Which is it? Do you cerebral and intelligent so that you can have something to think about for a while, or do you want mindless fun?

There's nothing wrong with mindless fun movies. Sometimes I want to shut my brain off and be entertained by James Bond. But there is a place for cerebral movies. Now, to be honest, none of the Star Trek movies fit that bill, unfortunately. Even the original movies went the action route, they didn't really follow the footsteps of the cerebral star trek episodes. What JJ Abrams did was to turn the action into CGI-fest, which is ok, and turned the mindless action into something that will actively prevent you from suspending disbelief, which is not ok.

Seriously, if I could have turned my brain off and enjoyed the action, it'd be fine. But he kept jolting me awake with things like "a supernova that threatened to destroy the galaxy". Does he realize how big galaxies are? That stars go supernova and hypernova regularly? Because your average Star Trek viewer does. Or how about the second movie where they stop a volcano eruption with a "cold" fusion device. Where "cold" means it makes the volcano cold and freezes the lava. Which for some reason stops the eruption, because it's about temperature, not pressure, right?

I can't shut down my brain if the movie keeps saying stupid shit that forces me to analyze what they're saying. If they just had gone the other way and explained less, it'd be an improvement. But then, it would also be nice if they didn't fill it with plot holes. That also forces me to analyze the movie.

Look, you want to make a Star Trek movie that is pure action, to bring in the non-nerds to the theater? I'd rather have the cerebral Star Trek movie, but I'm actually ok with it, because that's the strategy that every other Star Trek movie took. We just have the ability for better special effects now. But the JJ Abrams movies were horrible. If they didn't have the Star Trek label to them, they would still be fucking horrible movies. I'm not raging against the reboot, I don't care that he rebooted the franchise. I care that he made two really bad movies. If they had handed over the franchise to Uwe Boll, they might have turned out better. Well, at least it couldn't be worse.

What about Star Wars? Could he make good Star Wars? Probably not, because he has no incentive to. The absolute crap he puts out is generally commercially successful, so that's what's he going to do again. What bothers me is that the best Star Wars stories are not the movies, but they're in the expanded universe. So here they have the opportunity to make Episodes 7,8,9 by making a movie version of the Thrawn trilogy (and yeah, recast the actors as younger people, give the old actors cameos if you want). Instead they go the opposite way and completely break with expanded universe. That doesn't bode well for what JJ wants to do with them.

about 2 months ago

FBI Need Potheads To Fight Cybercrime

TrekkieGod Re:ended pretty much by the end of the 80s (319 comments)

A combination of forces has pretty much made the liquid lunch history(at least in technical fields). Neoprohibitionists (MADD, which is no longer about driving, but about drinking, per se), employer paranoia about "impaired employees", etc.

Not really. I have a beer at lunch once in a while. I do so in plain view of my boss. The way some of you guys describe jobs, I really wonder why you don't leave. You're in a technical field, jobs really aren't that hard to find. Take a pay cut, go work for a startup, get more freedom. Still a ton of work and insane hours, but you're not going to get your boss writing you up for an official warning from HR because you had a beer during lunch.

Now, though, you get text messages during your (working) lunch asking for a response "soonest", and somehow I think that if you texted back "sorry, getting a couple pints with the guys, get back to you tomorrow", the next text would be "we'll ship your stuff to you at the last address you had on file with HR".

Holy shit, tomorrow?? Yeah, I wouldn't blame them for firing you in that case, I would too. The guy you're responding to said a couple of drinks, not get plastered and blow the afternoon off. Somehow I think if you instead texted back, "sorry, I'm currently at lunch. I'll get to it as soon as I'm back in the office," it wouldn't be that big of a deal. It's still a workday, dude.

about 2 months ago

Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable

TrekkieGod Re:My PC cannot be conscious the way I am (426 comments)

Even if machines eventually acquire a form of consciousness, how would *we* know? Who would believe a machine's claim to be conscious?

Well, you can't really prove you're conscious. I don't even mean proving it to me, I mean you can't prove it to yourself.

What if every decision you make is made before you realize it? What if what you think of as consciousness, what you think of as your decision making process, is merely a byproduct of packaging that decision up for dissemination to other parts of your brain that need to know about it, but weren't involved in the making of the decision. Maybe you didn't even make the decision for the reasons you think you've made it. You think you decided to get the high deductible insurance over the low deduction insurance because you have enough money saved up to pay the deductible if you have to, so paying a smaller monthly premium makes sense. In reality, your brain structure is wired up to prefer lower payments, and you would have made that decision whether you had the money available to pay for the deductible or not. In fact, you did make the decision immediately, but as your brain was packaging up that information, it consolidated it with other related facts you knew, like how much money you have saved up. That information happens to mesh with the decision that was made completely independently from "you", as you think of yourself, from your "consciousness." So it justifies the decision, and that wiring on your brain thinks it's now MAKING that decision as a result of it. If, in fact, you didn't have enough money to cover the deductible, you would have made the same decision, because the decision was already made, and simply have filed that information on the cons column of what you *think* is your decision-making process, but is really just a filing operation.

There's really no way for you tell the difference between your being conscious vs. a purely deterministic computation that has the side-effect of treating a high-level summary of a complex process as the actual driving component of all the process. I personally believe that's actually what happens, because otherwise it requires us to invent this weird concept of consciousness which nobody has a good strong definition for.

about 3 months ago

Mathematical Model Suggests That Human Consciousness Is Noncomputable

TrekkieGod Re:Memory is more like dynamic RAM. (426 comments)

Not retrieving memories is what causes them to decay. Ever hear of refresh?

There's no reason it can't be both.

Picture this scenario. Last week you saw a green Tesla leaving your neighborhood as you were coming back from work. It's a sufficiently rare care that you noticed it, but it's not an interesting enough event that you gave it a second though. Today a friend of yours calls you up and says he bought a new car, a Tesla. He says, in fact, that he was so excited about it he immediately drove to your place to show it to you, but you weren't home. You haven't retrieved that memory in that whole week, but you immediately recall it now and say, "man, I remember that! I just missed you. Green, right?" That's when he says, "nope, it's blue."

This confuses you, so you start thinking about that memory. Could it have been blue? What are the odds it was another Tesla, when you know your friend dropped by with his at about that same time? Now you're going to be trying to picture that memory with the car colored blue, maybe you'll start with something that could be bluish green. You're constantly retrieving that information and trying to make it mesh with the new info you've received. This weekend, you actually see your friend's car. Now you try to put that blue together with your memory.

Eventually, you're going to actually remember a blue Tesla leaving your neighborhood. The act of thinking about it often and trying to make that memory agree with the other information you've acquired is going to change the actual memory. It doesn't matter why you saw a green car. Maybe it was a different Tesla. Maybe the sun was shining and the glare made you see a different color. Regardless your original memory was green...but it decayed to blue once you added that information and kept retrieving it over and over again.

This is why there's a problem with false memories in eyewitnesses. Once you tell them that a memory is important, and you start questioning them about it, they're going to retrieve that memory. Then they're going to have natural gaps in either the memory, or the information, because they didn't get a good enough view. But they're going to be under pressure to remember EVERYTHING. So they think about it. They subconsciously supplement what they remember and fill in the gaps with details from other memories, with deductions about what must have been happening at that time, with their biases, with whatever the person questioning them is trying to lead them to the end, their memory will have degraded into a mixture of what they actually witnessed and what they created in their mind. But they won't be able to tell the difference. They'll argue with you, they'll say, "I KNOW what I saw!" in the face of conflicting testimony, in the face of video evidence. Because, as far as they know, they remember it.

Refreshing memories in order to keep them alive is all well and good, but if every time you refresh them, they're a little bit corrupted, a little bit changed, then they're going to decay.

about 3 months ago

Why Tesla Really Needs a Gigafactory

TrekkieGod Re:volume (193 comments)

Their factory will only "drop battery costs dramatically" if it runs at full capacity. Its capacity is about 500,000 cars per year, while Telsa has only sold 25,000 cars in total.

The factory isn't for Tesla vehicles only. Tesla and Panasonic (the factory is a join venture) intend to supply other electric vehicle manufacturers with cheaper batteries. So the potential market is much greater.

about 3 months ago

Why Tesla Really Needs a Gigafactory

TrekkieGod Re:resell value already bad (193 comments)

An electric car is pretty much a write off the moment you drive one off the lot.

I suggest you try searching for used Model S prices, before just offering your reasoned-out guess as fact. Year-old vehicles are going for incredibly close to retail. So much so that it doesn't make sense to sell back to Tesla at their Best Resale Value Guarantee, which assures that the depreciation is going to be less than equivalent BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus or Jaguar vehicles.

about 3 months ago

Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

TrekkieGod Re:So - who's in love with the government again? (397 comments)

You might want to read that article. In particular, "But he added that distillers grains aren't likely the sole cause, because on some operations, the foam will emerge in some buildings but not others, even when all the hogs are getting the same feed mix."

I think far more disturbing than the feed the hogs are eating is their living condition. If the hogs weren't all jammed up in a building living atop their own manure, the foam wouldn't be particularly dangerous, even if its composition remained the same. Also, less problems with disease transmission between them. If we're going to raise the cost of meat, I'd rather do it by giving the hogs a bit more space than by making the feed more expensive.

about 3 months ago

Tesla Model S Has Hidden Ethernet Port, User Runs Firefox On the 17" Screen

TrekkieGod Re:Should void warranty (208 comments)

t if you lost the touchscreen while moving on the road you could be in a lot of trouble.

What part of, "I've personally rebooted while driving" did you miss? Everything continues to work just fine. Headlamps, doors, regenerative breaking. The air suspension doesn't start suddenly doing anything. I can accelerate and slow down, as well as steer just fine. And when the touchscreen comes back online, it still has the powerplant data you're talking about, the watt/mile shows data collected while the screen was rebooting, because that functionality doesn't reside there.

The touchscreen computer, and the front panel computer for that matter, is the interface to that functionality, it doesn't control the functionality. My phone can control the headlamps and doors for the Tesla, but if I shut my phone off, it doesn't impact anything. Same for the center touchscreen. What you're saying is the equivalent of saying that an exploit in a browser means an exploit in the server you're connecting to with said browser. There *could* be an exploit to the actual important stuff in the car, but being able to execute code on the touchscreen doesn't imply that.

about 4 months ago

Tesla Model S Has Hidden Ethernet Port, User Runs Firefox On the 17" Screen

TrekkieGod Re:Should void warranty (208 comments)

If you jailbreak your car, however, and inadvertently change something that impairs reliability, you're compromising the safety of everybody else on the road. Everything (including braking) in Tesla cars is tied into the software, and this is not something you should mess around with.

Bullshit. Tesla has stated that the computer that controls the 17" and panel LCDs are completely separated from the important stuff in the car. They'd be stupid not to. Case in point, you can reboot both systems by holding left and right buttons on the steering wheel. You can do so while driving, I've personally done it. The music stops playing, and you need to put your gps destination in again after it finishes rebooting. If you reboot the panel screen, you lose your speedometer until it boots back up. Steering, acceleration, braking, cruise control, it all continues to work normally.

Yes, you can change driving settings from that interface, but it doesn't mean the functionality resides in that interface. It just passes the message through to much more robust computer handling actual car functions, and I'm sure said messages are sanitized to the extreme on the receiving end.

about 4 months ago

Job Automation and the Minimum Wage Debate

TrekkieGod This is not a bad thing (870 comments)

Many minimum-wage jobs are reportedly at high risk, including restaurant workers, cashiers, and telemarketers. A study rated the probability of computerization within 20 years: 92% for retail salespeople, 97% for cashiers, and 94% for waitstaff...

A few other jobs that were lost to technology:

The knocker-up was a person whose responsibility was to go out to people's houses and wake them up so they could get to work on time. Alarm clocks eliminated the need for them.

Acoustic locators were people who listened to acoustic mirrors to detect incoming aircraft before radar was invented.

And sure, we can talk about buggy whips. The point is, quite a few jobs and entire industries no longer exist as a result of automation. We can start throwing our shoes at the machines like during the industrial revolution, or we can enjoy the benefits they bring us, accept the growing pains, and adapt to the new world. Personally I don't want to have to pay some guy to come knock at my window every morning so I can go to work. I hope I live long enough to talk to the younguns about all the ridiculous jobs that used to exist when I was their age.

about 4 months ago

Is the Tesla Model S Pedal Placement A Safety Hazard?

TrekkieGod Re:Tesla (394 comments)

Teslas didn't use to do that, until enough people complained that the car didn't behave like other automatics they were used to. Sigh...

So now it's an option, you can switch creep on or off. I imagine most people have it off. Much safer that way. I've seen a video of a car having a minor crash, then starting to move again on its own into oncoming traffic and having a major crash.

People weren't really clamoring for creep. They were complaining about the lack of a hill hold feature, and we got creep instead. When I drive a stick, I can use the clutch to hold the car as I switch from brakes to accelerator. On the Tesla I'm going to run into the idiot who stopped an inch from my bumper behind me at the stop light as the car rolls backwards on the hill, if I don't have creep on.

about 4 months ago

Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences

TrekkieGod Re: Ridiculous. (914 comments)

That's my favorite DS9 episode, right there. It's like TNG's Inner Light, but very dark.

about 4 months ago

Ukraine May Have To Rearm With Nuclear Weapons Says Ukrainian MP

TrekkieGod Re:A bit late (498 comments)

No, the sensible thing would have been to have gotten rid of them ALL on BOTH SIDES in the heady years right after the Wall fell. Now a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has passed, all because some people refused to let go of the Cold War. Now we're stuck with the fucking things, and more and more countries are desperate to get them because they see them as their only defense against a U.S. or Russian attack.

Oh, please. It shouldn't really be possible for someone to be that idealistic.

The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be rid of all nuclear weapons everywhere was gone the moment physicists realized that maybe such a thing would be possible. From that point forward, somebody was going to figure out how to make one and invest the money, because it's too good of an advantage to have. After the cold war ended, if everyone had agreed to get rid of all their nuclear weapons, the game would be to either figure out how to hide a few without the other side knowing, or how to build new ones in secret. It's simply not feasible to prevent this from happening, the policing power isn't there. it's the equivalent to software piracy in the torrent age. You can make it illegal all you want, you can have several people who either agree with the law or want to avoid punishment, but you really can't ensure that NOBODY will do it. Because you can't monitor everything and everyone all the time.

Another thing to consider is that nuclear weapons have probably brought more peace and stability than they've done damage. MAD actually works, and if it weren't for nuclear weapons being invented the cold war wouldn't have been just a bunch of proxy wars everywhere. It would have turned into World War III in the middle of Europe. The existence of nukes made the cost far too high, which actually promotes peace. The last time nukes were used where in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when there was no threat of retaliation. Get over it, it will never be used again, and the only reason it will never be used again is because multiple people still have them, so it's not just a question of who can rebuild their arsenal quicker.

about 5 months ago

Ukraine May Have To Rearm With Nuclear Weapons Says Ukrainian MP

TrekkieGod Re:Last Heroic Act (498 comments)

If you are about to die (or your country is about to dissolve), what would stop you from trying to get a parting shot off at the enemy who is destroying you?

The knowledge that there's a difference between a government and a people. That even if your government is about to be dissolved, and your territory taken by a foreign enemy, the people living there will largely survive...unless you do a dumbass thing like an attack which won't actually win the war for you, but will cause retaliation which will kill those people who would have survived the invasion otherwise. Those people include your family and friends.

You don't use a nuclear weapon if you're not assured that you'll destroy their retaliation capabilities. It doesn't make any sense, it doesn't win you anything. It doesn't even win you the satisfaction of making them suffer, because you're going to be responsible for the suffering of your own people in that mix.

about 5 months ago


TrekkieGod hasn't submitted any stories.


TrekkieGod has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>