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Researchers Forecast the Spread of Diseases Using Wikipedia

fygment Useless now that it's known? (61 comments)

Now that they've spread the word, will the approach start to be 'gamed' by big pharma or gov't trying to sow the seasonal flu panic?

about a week ago

When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

fygment Valid Assertion? Valid Solutions? (282 comments)

If a person can't verify the validity of the assertion, is it any wonder they will base their opinion on the proposed solutions?

A person is told the sky is falling. They can't verify it, but are told the potential consequences.
Then the person is told the 'needed' solution, say, cut off everbody's right leg.
Well the cure sounds pretty bad, and the impact of the cure on the person is very clear.
So two possibilities: one is unverifiable, the other well understood. Which one would a person choose?

Science and politcs, the former deals in speculation, the latter in tangible consequences. There should not be tangible consequences to mere speculation. That is just wrong-headed. History is replete with examples of 'scientifically supported' facts, resulting in barbaric consequences eg. the atrocities of WWII. We can look back _now_ and say 'the science was wrong', but _at the time_ the science was held up as the justification for action.

about two weeks ago

fMRI Data Reveals How Many Parallel Processes Run In the Brain

fygment Re:analog computer AND nonlinear (91 comments)

Mod parent up AND consider:

a) remember that the use of Independent Component Analysis (ICA) is appropriate for linear processes and therefore must necessarily be, to an unknown degree (until you actually know the underlying distribution), an approximation ie. the more unlinear the process, the less ICA accurately reflects the underlying processes; and

b) the actual processing methodology of the brain is unknown, heck, we do not even understand the encoding used by the brain.

So the article really rests on the assumption that the brain is composed of linear processes operating like a modern digital computer.

Ummm ... no.

about two weeks ago

Why Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist

fygment FINALLY Something Quasi-intelligent from Bio (221 comments)

It's a small step, but it is nice to see that biology, or a small subset of the community, recognises its limitations.

And also tacitly admits that it is not a science, but butterfly (or creature) collection.

Awesome would be to see biology grappling at establishing 'first principles', like physics, so that researchers would be able to theorize intelligently about biological possibilities. and this paper is a first step in that direction.

about two weeks ago

Enzymes Make Electricity From Jet Fuel Without Ignition

fygment No Smoking or Open Flame Near Fuel Cell! (78 comments)

Not only is it a 'fossi'l fuel but the JP line of fuels are highly flammable and aromatic ie. they evaporate easily ... and that vapor (surprise) ignites easily.

about two weeks ago

Space Tourism Isn't Worth Dying For

fygment Same was said about steamships in 1838 :) (594 comments)

Back around 1838, ocean travel by steamships was considered part pipe dream, part cutting edge tech. It was commonly believed you would need a coal-mine worth of coal for the crossing plus it was dangerous. Shortly after the first successful ocean crossings, another steamship (the Moselle) wanted to show off the new tech by doing a full-speed run on the Ohio River before on-lookers lining the shoreline near Cincinatti. The boilers exploded raining body parts and blood down on the surrounding area, with ~149 killed, missing, or injured. Yeah, you can imagine the headlines ... and you also know how prominent, dominant, and safe steamships became as a mode of sea travel.

Life at the edge of tech (except for computer tech :) has risks ... and by the way, those were test pilots in Space Ship Two, persons who were willingly testing out new technology for the future benefit and safety of others.

And ... isn't it weird to see such an article in something as purportedly future thinking as Wired?

about three weeks ago

Will HP's $200 Stream 11 Make People Forget About Chromebooks?

fygment "... solid-state HP Stream..." Solid-state?! (232 comments)

Hell no! I want the vacuum tube version. Better yet, get me a steam powered version with 1.2 cycles per second pistons.

Seriously, since when is 'solid-state" anything but all-pervasive in the world of laptops?

about three weeks ago

The Man With the Golden Blood

fygment Already detected but dismissed? (75 comments)

wonder if a look back over historic records will find more of these that were dismissed as 'testing error' or 'typo'?

about three weeks ago

Study: Past Climate Change Was Caused by Ocean, Not Just the Atmosphere

fygment Really?! Sad and Laughable (185 comments)

No, really, how many of you thought that the whole effect of the ocean was understood and implemented in the existing climate models?

When the climate models are provided with both their assumptions, omissions, and error, then maybe we can consider basing public policy on them. Until that time, keep them in the lab and out of public debate because they are nothing more than an opinion ... and we have more than enough of those to go around.

about three weeks ago

Assange: Google Is Not What It Seems

fygment Re:you missed the important point (289 comments)

It's that the tech/cybersecurity companies are actively trying to participate in the shaping of global policies under the belief that the free market is a valid force for doing so. THAT is the scary part, the belief that something so mercurial as the 'free market' should have a hand in shaping the actions of government and policy makers. Furthermore, not only is the concept wrong-headed but those perpetrating it, do so without understanding the wrongness of it all; they believe what they are doing is not evil, even though by other measures, it is.

about a month ago

The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

fygment Ironic (205 comments)

I became a consultant recently (applications of machine learning to big data). After 15+ years of working almost exclusively in Matlab, I switched to javascript/nodejs to get a 'real' programming language under my belt, a language relevant to the web. The fact was, unless I was in academia or a big company, I could not afford Matlab.

Which is interesting, as there is now a slight class barrier for entry to Google ie. you have to have gone to an institution that could afford the licencing.

And no ... Octave, Scilab, etc. are not good alternatives, though Python is (sadly, it's dead slow). Promising is Julia, but it is very very young.

about a month ago

Past Measurements May Have Missed Massive Ocean Warming

fygment Say "No more!" to Climate Posts (423 comments)

Enough already.
The Earth is warmer, probably.
We don't know for how much longer.
We don't know how much warmer.
We don't know how it's happening, mostly.
We don't know why it's happening.

That's climate in a nutshell. Do you want a _government_ ringing in new policies based on that? A government can't even get well understood problems under control ... like say, traffic, or urban development. And if you dare say, "Hey, traffic is hard to model!", well guess what, climate is harder.

about a month and a half ago

Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat?

fygment Not Human Species = Potential Food (481 comments)

The only line humans almost unanimously draw, is we don't each other. And that line is/has/will be crossed when necessary.

We eat whales, dolphins, monkeys, crows, all deemed intelligent. But they aren't like 'us' so they are fair game.

about a month and a half ago

It's Not Just How Smart You Are: Curiosity Is Key To Learning

fygment Ignobel Material .... (83 comments)

... Really? This wasn't suspected, hadn't been demonstrated a million times over? Wow, curiousity an important factor in learning?! Who knew? OH, EVERYONE!

Sadly, there are some real researchers who still aren't funded.

about a month and a half ago

Obama Administration Argues For Backdoors In Personal Electronics

fygment 1984 (575 comments)

Is a book by Orwell.
Read it.
Then look around you.
If you're not scared, then you either didn't understand it, or you are part of the problem.
It is clear where Mr. Holder stands.

about a month and a half ago

Forest Service Wants To Require Permits For Photography

fygment Proposed Policy indicates best solution (299 comments)

It's cheaper to _not_ get a permit?! So what reporter would?
That's one screwed up Service.
Clearly the same brainiacs that came up with that 'deterrent', are the problem. They can't even manage that right!

Solution: get rid of them, put in someone halfway competent, and the resulting improved performance of the Forest Service will mean that you won't have or need whistleblowers and the attendant bad press.

about 2 months ago

Star Wars Producers Want a 'DroneShield' To Prevent Leaks On Set

fygment My shield is called `Bob` as in: The Duck Hunter . (138 comments)

Bob`s a neighbour with a semi-automatic, double-barrel, under-over, 12 gauge shotgun.

Bob likes to shoot quail, duck, skeet, highway signs, and drones.

I asked Bob, ``How can you shoot someone`s expensive drone?"
He replied, " Easy. You just have to lead 'em a little more."

about 2 months ago

Is the Tesla Model 3 Actually Going To Cost $50,000?

fygment $50-80K ... unless subsidized ... (393 comments)

which would be a pretty good investment by the government, backed by the electrical industry, industry willing to gamble on building the infrastructure for electrical vehicles, and environmental interest groups/industries.

It is easy to come up with possible ways of subsidizing the Tesla to keep its cost low, possibly lower than the $35k proposed. It is a technology a lot of people want to see succeed.

about 2 months ago

How Flickr Is Courting the Next Generation of Photographers

fygment Best photogs of 20 yrs ago were 'older' because .. (97 comments)

... it takes time to become a good photographer .... or painter, or sculptor, or any other artist.
It's called 'skill', and it takes time to refine to the point that others recognise it.
Some people have 'talent' and blossom quickly, but that is rare now, just as it was then.

Also the point is completely incorrect; getting in to photography isn't easier today! A decent camera was available for $200 way back 20 years ago. And young folks who were interested in photography, paid the price. Just as young folks today spring $200 or more for their phone.

The actual difference between photography now and 20 years ago? The camera (in the phone) is waaayyyy more portable. And that's kind of it. In terms of quality: film resolution beats cell phone (and all but the most expensive cameras) hands down, lense quality of an old SLR beats cellphone camera by orders of magnitude.

about 2 months ago


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