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Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity

curril Re:Profitable, if self-contradictory (549 comments)

5. No statement ascribing a mental predicate can be derived from any set of purely physical descriptions.

Meh. Hume's Law doesn't really apply to that statement. That's the same as the Chinese Room argument against strong ai. It is more wishful thinking than a valid thesis. It is very easy for a collection to have properties that its individual elements do not. A simple example is that a set of objects can be assigned a number corresponding to the number of objects in the set, whereas that property isn't meaningful for a single object. Once the collective property is defined, it is very easy to logically derive it from the collection of individual objects. So a particular mental state can be assigned to a particular set of neurons firing and, assuming that you have a good neurological model of the mind, you can therefore derive mental states from physical descriptions in the same way you derive results in calculus once you have defined concepts like limits.

To come back to the point of the thread, attempting to save humanity is meaningful even if it may ultimately be unsuccessful.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life Organization With Free Software?

curril Re:Tiddlywiki (133 comments)

The TiddlyFox plug-in for FireFox is supposed to work on Android, I have used the AndTidWiki app on Android with the older version. The main problem is getting it to save the file as browsers work to prevent that for security reasons.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Life Organization With Free Software?

curril Tiddlywiki (133 comments)

TiddlyWiki is a self-contained app stored in an HTML file that you can store on a USB, Dropbox, or elsewhere. People have written GTD add-ons for it and it is easy to write your own customizations. There is an Android app to help run it on Android systems and the new version uses HTML 5 with option to use node.js to make it even more powerful.

about a year ago
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Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two To Six Millennia Ago

curril Re:Thus spoke the sage on the stage... (637 comments)

There are many threats to our life and health in the modern environment. Cars, electricity, toxic compounds under the sink, industrial machinery, and so on. It takes intelligence to navigate these dangers and accidents are a significant cause of death for people of reproductive age, thus evolutionary selection for intelligence. Granted, most modern humans would be ill suited for surviving on the savannah, but the article's assumption that Athenians would be better suited for rapidly reading road signs and adjusting for oncoming traffic is a bit much.

about 2 years ago
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Oracle and Google Spar Over Whether Programming Languages Can Be Copyrighted

curril Precedence in case law? (316 comments)

Google should look into the case of Loglan versus Lojban. The creator of the constructed language Loglan sued and lost against the creators of Lojban, a derivative language with similar grammar but with different words. Especially relevant since Loglan/Lojban was designed to be easily read and interpreted by computers.

more than 2 years ago
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Google Glasses Announced

curril Re:Always thought I'd love Augmented reality (249 comments)

Line of sight overlays as you describe would be very hard to implement in glasses because the camera would have to track eye position as well as doing object recognition. So process the image, identify the road or billboard to be overlaid, and then place the overlay on the glasses in a position that will correspond to the objects location for you eye's current position--all in real time. Those overlays they do for video of sporting events are for fixed cameras pointing at known objects with plenty of computing horsepower that doesn't have to worry about eye position.

more than 2 years ago
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Mathematically Pattern-Free Music

curril Re:Mathematics of Ramsey (234 comments)

Yeah, theory aside, the speaker was just multiplying by 3 modulus 89 so values less than 30 will always be followed by a higher value, a pattern that was easy to hear in the music. The speaker confused a lack of repetition of distances between notes as being a total lack of pattern.

about 3 years ago
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Crowdsourcing the Censors: A Contest

curril FaceBook doesn't care (111 comments)

This is a well-studied "Who watches the watchers?" web of trust type issue. While there is no perfect solution, there are a number of good approaches. This page on Advgato describes a good trust metric for reducing the impact of spam and malicious attacks. It wouldn't be that big of a deal for FaceBook to incorporate some such system. However, it would require FaceBook to actually care about about being fair to its users, which it doesn't. FaceBook exploits for financial gain the tribal desires of people to band together and be part of a group. So FaceBook's really uses its abuse policy as a way to force people to follow the rules of the bigger and more aggressive tribes. Such battles actually help FaceBook to be successful because it strengthens the tribal behaviors that benefit FaceBook's bottom line.

So all in all, no matter what brilliant, cost-effective, robust moderation/abuse system you design or crowd source, the very, very best that you can hope for is that somebody at FaceBook might pat you on the head and thank you for your efforts and say that they aren't interested in your contribution at this time.

more than 3 years ago
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Using Prime Numbers to Generate Backgrounds

curril Re:Why prime? Any irrational numbers should be fin (180 comments)

Well, the images do have to be an integer number of pixels wide, but if the ratio between lengths approximated an irrational number you would expect long periods. Even relatively prime numbers would work. Tiles of length 7, 15, and 16 won't repeat for 1,680 pixels. Basically, if you want to create a nice, non-repetitive pattern of overlayed tiles, make certain that the smallest common multiple for all of the tile sizes is larger than your expected screen width.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Engineer Releases Open Source Bitcoin Client

curril Re:Bitcoin is good, but problematic. (280 comments)

I really like BitCoin, But the biggest problem is the "goldrush" is over.

Yeah, BitCoins are something of a fad like Beany Babies where an artificially restricted supply allows early adopters to make money off of late comers who foolishly think that they can make money off of people coming after them. From an economic standpoint, BitCoins are simply collector's items. Collecting BitCoins isn't much different than, say, collecting 1973 pennies. There are a limited number of them and their value is primarily determined by the demand for them from other collectors.

The rigid nature of the BitCoin supply is very appealing in today's economy as people want to acquire assets that retain value. Unfortunately, most people have a hard time understanding that value is not determined just by supply, but by demand as well. The very fact that the cash value of BitCoins is going up right now is evidence of this. Most of this demand, however, is not from people who want to use BitCoins, but from people who see them as an investment. After a while the number of new investors will peak, demand will go down, early investors will cash out, supply will go up, and the market will crash.

I doubt that BitCoins will ever see much mainstream use for conducting transactions, primarily because of the complexity of using them and because their unregulated nature will prevent them from being a stable currency. The fact that all transactions are public will discourage shadier operations from using them. They might see some use in online games where BitCoins could be used as the in-game currency.

more than 3 years ago
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CS Profs Debate Role of Math In CS Education

curril Re:Do you want computer science, or engineering? (583 comments)

Which is really the way it should be broken out. Computer Science should be about the math, theories, and algorithms that make up computation, and computer software engineering should be more about building applications. Sort of like how traditional engineering relates to physics.

more than 3 years ago
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Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity

curril Re:I don't understand the appeal (517 comments)

Uhm, if the average price of goods goes down relative to the currency, that is, by definition, deflation. While you can argue that it is justified by a higher standard of living, it is still deflation and it will still have all of the problems that deflation has, namely discouraging borrowing and spending.

The real issue here for you seems to be that you want to be assured that whatever currency you manage to accumulate will have the same purchasing power tomorrow as it does today. The only way to do that with currencies subject to inflation is to put the money in a savings account or other investment vehicle whose interest rate compensates for inflation. You think that using BitCoins as a currency would get around that problem, but it doesn't. Assuming that somehow, some way the value of your BitCoins is the same tomorrow as today, then they will be worth more in inflated dollars and you will be taxed on the difference so that you will still end up with less. In fact, in any well-regulated free market, you can expect that if the demand for a fixed, nonrenewable commodity, be it BitCoins or Picasso paintings, remains the same, then its value in an inflated currency will be about the same as it would be if you had started a savings account instead.

more than 3 years ago
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Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity

curril Re:I don't understand the appeal (517 comments)

It's all fine and dandy to not to trust the government to regulate the money supply, but I fail to see what BitCoins do to avoid the problem. If the government wanted to, it could buy up a lot of BitCoins, decreasing the supply available for market functions, and then the government could dump in BitCoins from its reserves to increase the supply. If the government is having a hard time getting enough BitCoins to build up its reserves, it could just tax people. Even if the government stayed completely out of the BitCoin market, there is nothing preventing a group of individuals getting together and doing the same thing for their own benefit.

more than 3 years ago
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Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity

curril Re:I don't understand the appeal (517 comments)

Deflation is also a problem because it discourages spending since your BitCoin will buy more tomorrow than it does today. Moreover, if enough people used BitCoins then there will be people who loan and borrow BitCoins, thus the debt problems of deflation will arise as well.

more than 3 years ago
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Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity

curril I don't understand the appeal (517 comments)

BitCoin enthusiasts seem to fall into the same category as gold standard promoters. You can't run a modern global economy with financial instruments based on a rare commodity. Only 21 million BitCoins will be generated, which will cause deflation once that limit is reached. The only way a government could use BitCoins is the same way they used to use gold, ie. buy up enough of it to have reserves that can be used to pump money into the economy when it needs it. BitCoins won't be more stable than modern fiat currencies because they will have all the problems associated with gold, such as hoarding and dumping. BitCoins are interesting as an attempt to create an electronic form of cash, but hoping to build a stable economic platform on them is foolish.

more than 3 years ago
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Bing Is Cheating, Copying Google Search Results

curril Bing's approach easily spammable (693 comments)

Spammers can just load up the Bing toolbar, search on the terms that they want to point to their site, and then click on their site where ever it shows up in the results. They can write a script to do it from multiple computers multiple times to create a strong signal, strong enough to bump up their site in Bing's results, especially in searches where other signals are weak or conflicting. Even legitimate sites would be tempted to use this approach to see if they could bump up their rankings from the second page to the first page.

more than 3 years ago
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An Anonymous, Verifiable E-Voting Tech

curril Re:His idea seemed bad to me (236 comments)

This does not guarantee both anonymity and security. The public database must reveal the true vote of each receipt, otherwise there is no way for third parties to verify that the public vote totals match the ballots. In that case, there is no need for icons or colors or encryption. Just give each voter a certified copy of their uniquely numbered ballot and publish a copy of all ballots after the election. Third parties can verify vote totals, voters can verify that their votes were counted, and anyone wanting to remain anonymous can shred their copy at the voting booth, losing the ability to verify their vote.

about 4 years ago
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Study Finds That Video Games Hinder Learning In Young Boys

curril Re:What about the parents? (278 comments)

The study seems to demonstrate "Putting a playstation in a house that didn't have one before causes decreased learning ability relative to not putting in a playstation"

Still room to quibble with that conclusion. The study artificially changed the environment of a house by putting a Playstation in it. The residents of the house would be well aware that they were part of a study, and would attach some importance to the use of the Playstation. They might even allow homework and other academic pursuits to slide in an effort to "do well" in the study of Playstation usage.

This "Observer Awareness" affect is a real problem in studying human behavior. Television rating companies have to deal with the fact that people change their viewing habits when they know they are being studied. Anthropologists have to deal with people acting differently when they know that they are being observed.

Additionally, people treat objects that they get as a gift differently than they treat something they purchase. Perhaps most parents who purchase a Playstation do so well aware of what gaming is and how to incorporate it into their children's lives without affecting their studies, whereas parents who receive a Playstation out of the blue may not know the pitfalls.

So, while this study is not without merit, I would hesitate to say that it establishes anything more than the obvious--that playing video games can distract from academic work. A more thorough study would look into the actual amount of time spent playing video games and the types of games played. It might also look into the affects of video gaming on non-traditional academic skills like hand-eye coordination and general problem solving ability.

more than 4 years ago
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The Ultimate Limit of Moore's Law

curril Limit not well-defined (418 comments)

What the article doesn't appear to take into account is the difference between quantum computing and conventional computing. A quantum computer doesn't carry out conventional binary operations so comparing the two is tricky. Doubling the number of q-bits a quantum computer can process effectively squares the number of equivalent binary operations it can carry out in one computation, but quantum computers are limited in what kinds of binary operations they can compute simultaneously. So saying that a there is a fundamental limit on the number quantum operations per second doesn't necessarily give you a meaningful limit on the number of binary operations per second. You need more information, such as the number of linked q-bits and the types of binary operations being performed.

more than 5 years ago
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Anti-Frostidigitation: Heatpipe Gloves

curril Other reasons for cold hands... (324 comments)

Hands also get cold because they have a much higher surface area to volume ratio than your torso and hence lose heat faster. Because of this your hands might be cold even when you are sweating if the outside temp is cold enough. Circulation in your hands also depends on oxygen need, so if the muscles in you hands aren't doing much work, there won't be as much blood flow to them and they can get cold even when the rest of the body is doing fine. To see this, just clench and unclench your fist repeatedly when your hands start getting cold, and they should start feeling warmer. The work itself will also warm the hands somewhat. Some people have poor circulation all the time from smoking, injury, or other reasons and will get cold hands even in temperate weather.

In other words, peripheral vaso constriction as a mechanism to protect the core body temp is just one of several reasons why your hands might be cold, and so the relatively small amount heat lost by these gloves is unlikely to increase the risk of severe hypothermia for most people in most common situations.

more than 10 years ago

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