top Americans Uncomfortable With Possibility of Ubiquitous Drones, Designer Babies
People are wary because they don't see tangible incentive right now. Their attitude will change when they do.
First when they understand they can prevent their children from getting genes that e.g. code for nasty hereditary disease like cystic fibrosis.
Then more people will get on board if they believe they can get genes that reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, caries, code for better eyesight, a stronger immune system etc.
After that I think we'll see offers for genes that code for needing less sleep, of even a cheery and sunny disposition.
And as to what people "want": that's irrelevant. To paraphrase Steve Jobs: don't ask people what they want
... they're clueless about that ... someone with good taste will have to design something ... and people will recognise it as something they wanted all along and buy it.
top VA Supreme Court: Michael Mann Needn't Turn Over All His Email
An revealing comment from someone who even posts anonymously on Slashdot.
First off, you might know that there was a big flap over the NSA hoovering people's personal communications (content plus metadata), and people generally weren't quite satisfied by the argument that if they had nothing to hide they had no reason to object against having their lives laid bare.
And here *you* are, posting anonymously, suggesting that if an academic has nothing to "hide", his entire email exchange is fair game for people abusing the courts to turn what should be a scientific debate into a politically motivated witch-hunt. Something you top off by turning the issue on its head and suggesting bad faith on part of someone unwilling to turn over his entire email database.
Actions of this kind are known as "fishing expeditions' and uniformly considered unreasonable and objectionable as they are aimed only at discovering something (anything really no matter how unrelated to the issue under debate), that conspiracy-theorists might be able to use to villify the defending party.
For your information, proper scientific debates are held on basis of examination of evidence and reasoning, for which scientific publications together with the underlying data are a necessary and sufficient basis. The way this works is: if someone can't (or won't) produce the underlying data, his articles and conclusions suffer a reduction in credibility and hence lose weight in the debate. Besides which, other data sources than his are brought to bear with which to test his conclusions. And both mechanisms have been in action in this case.
Examination of email correspondence is not relevant for scientific debate, and is the exclusive domain of witch-hunts and lynch mobs.
Rethorical questions such as yours (especially when posted anonymously) are used by conspiracy theorists and people who wish to use the instruments of harassment to intimidate scientists that voice politically inconvenient conclusions.
top Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?
There was a legal challenge to the ACA already, and it was defeated in court. In other words: your views on the constitutionality of the ACA aren't shared by the current Supreme Court, and therefore they are pretty much irrelevant. Get over it.
Until there is solid evidence of malversation, rants of the calibre of "Gee
... those numbers are big ... so can they be true" cannot be taken seriously.
Oh, and have you filed your demand to see Obama's birth certificate yet? Be sure to demand that he proves he's got a pulse too. And demand that he be doused with Holy Water too
... just in case, eh?
top How the Internet Is Taking Away America's Religion
Everyone, including the author of the article (which you apparently didn't read) agrees that correlation doesn't imply causation.
However, we do know that religion is transmitted through contact. Both social contact and personal contact. See e.g. [Alderman, Derek H. 2012. "Cultural Change and Diffusion: Geographical Patterns, Social Processes, and Contact Zones." 21st Century Geography: A Reference Handbook (Vol. 1), SAGE Publications (edited by Joseph Stoltman), pp. 123-134.]
This is born out by the empirical data that people who're born in Muslim society tend to take Islam as their religion, whereas people who're born in devoutly Christian, Judaic, Shinto, or Animistic society tend to adopt those. In particular, the hypotheses of "Divine intervention" and "Very Personal Contact With God" aren't needed to model this kind of data. Social proximity (for which spatial proximity is a proxy) does the job adequately and is by far the simpler hypothesis.
Hence it's very reasonable to hypothesize that as social interaction patterns tend to shift to the Internet, transmission of religious beliefs follows suit. This hypothesis is not contradicted by, and dovetails nicely with, the survey data the article refers to.
Another data-point that fits this theory are examples of young or otherwise easily influenced people embracing fundamentalist Islam because of the websites they hang out on. Which incidentally is one of the reasons why organisations like the NSA and GCHQ are so interested in the Internet.
So all in all, the article is somewhere in-between an-interesting-idea-presented-in-a-blog post (it doesn't do any literature review, it doesn't place the question or the data within a recognised theoretical framework (even though suitable and persuasive frameworks such as the one sketched by Alderman exist), it doesn't present the data or the estimation results) and competent research.
But the one thing it's *not* is "Pseudo Science", simply because it (wisely) doesn't make any pretense at being scientific. Note the difference please.
top UK Government Pays Microsoft £5.5M For Extended Support of Windows XP
I think they will. And it may well turn out to be a very cheap option compared to the alternatives.
When you think of it, paying 6 million pounds to postpone the conversion of a few million XP boxes (which the UK government isn't yet ready to do) for a year or risk even greater vulnerability than XP has now, isn't expensive.
Of course considerations like these are usually lost on Open Source advocates whose mental horizon is limited to the idea of installing Open Source operating systems on PC's without ever considering what those machines are supposed to do. I.e. what applications they must run and who the people are that must use them (and their training and learning ability
... or the lack of it).
top Bugs In SCADA Software Leave 7,600 Factories Vulnerable
... I had always understood that SCADA vulnerabilities were caused by amateurish system design (connecting SCADA systems to the Internet using cheapo consumer-grade routers, without precautions like stealth, VPN's, whitelist callbacks, etc.) and shoddy system management (factory default passwords, obvious passwords, dictionary passwords, no passwords).
And now this! In some cases the actual software seems to have security holes too. Shocking, shocking, shocking!
top Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?
ATM's don't need a browser, so in those cases your comment is irrelevant.
For other kinds boxes, just remove the browser and tell people to surf using their tablet or the shared machine down the hall.
Those whose work absolutely requires them to use a browser you can provide with more modern boxes.
Still way cheaper than replacing every single XP box.
top Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?
Because, as will be understood by anyone but the most naive hobbyist, the cost of switching applications for a few million boxes is enormous.
Counter to what some people seem to think, running XP isn't an end in itself. In the real world you run XP in order to run certain applications, right? Applications that typically won't run on Linux (closed-source Windows-only stuff) and may not even run on Windows-7.
Besides upgrading would be really expensive.
Ripping out several million boxes, reformatting they disks, installing Linux, dealing with a substantial percentage of cases where the hardware breaks when you unplug them or on which the more recent kernels won't run is very expensive. So expensive in fact that the license cost for a Windows copy will be completely dwarfed by the cost of handling the hardware and installing Linux.
By the time you're done installing the OS you'll find your troubles are only beginning. You'll find that your old applications (that you built into your business) won't function anymore. You might be able to write one single application for ATM's that runs on Linux or or a more recent version of Windows but you won't have time to test that thoroughly (enough) and you'll replicate that application millions of time. Good luck! For ordinary office machines you'll be facing a big bill in reinstalling all the old packages and even more (training !) if you decide to upgrade the applications too. And then you can watch your office performance sag as everyone starts learning their way around the new apps.
Chances are you'll lose a lot more money handling, migrating, training, and pushing updates to all those millions of boxes than dealing with any security problems that may start to arise in the next two years.
That, in a nutshell, is why it makes financial sense to just isolate the, shortly very vulnerable, XP boxes behind firewalls than to upgrade them.
In fact I think you might even be able to insure yourself against cost of problems when you continue using XP at a rate that's much lower than the cost of migrating.
top WikiLeaks Cables Foreshadow Russian Instigation of Ukrainian Military Action
Take any issue at all. Take a random sample of of possible outcomes. It's statistically unavoidable that some of them will more or less hit home.
Even better, take Paul the Octopus (see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... ), who correctly predicted the outcome of several soccer matches and was offered a job by a UK bookmaker for his performance.
I fear it makes as much sense to credit Paul for deep psychic insights into soccer as Mrs. Palin for an astute grasp of international politics. Perhaps I'd rather take my chances on Paul.
about a month and a half ago
top Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience
If Whole Foods (often) are a waste of money, they aren't actively dangerous (well, except to your wallet).
Laugh if you will, at people's gullibility, and then read up on the Radithor patent medicine (see
Of course it's well known that the food industry isn't worried about health effects of what it sells. They're happy to simply put in whatever ingredients make a product sell. Just look at all the stuff that contains sugar (often disguised as "corn syrup" to avoid having to print the word "sugar" on the label).
And "naturally risen" meat isn't all bull either (pardon the pun). It's because standard commercial beef is quite likely to contain antibiotics (see e.g.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/... ). The reason is of course that feeding animals antibiotics raises production, so it's cost-effective.
It's also grossly irresponsible and really should be banned on the spot. Why? Serving up diluted amounts of antibiotics ensures (through natural selection) that those bacteria that survive the initial onslaught are immune to those same antibiotics. And where do those bacteria and residual antibiotics end up? Well
... in animal poop and from there in surface waters, sewers and oceans. And via the slaughterhouse (if they're a teensy bit careless about separating out intestines in the thousands of carcasses they process each day) in your steak.
Given that those dirty little critters actually exchange pieces of DNA, it's easy to see how whole families of bacteria that live in sewers, surface waters and seas can gain resistance to antibiotics. Which is why we're now facing a crisis with perfectly ordinary bacteria being hard to treat when they cause an infection (just Google for MRSA). Or being even being impossible to treat, so that people with a weak immune system (elderly, post-surgery patients) die from infections that had stopped being a threat when antibiotics were discovered some 70 years ago.
Of course the industry resists. They're not responsible for public health or MRSA, they're responsible for their own bottom line (see e.g.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/... ). Which is why the FDA is embarking on a campaign of voluntary reductions.
Reading labels (if you can be bothered) gives you a lot of information you need to make sensible choices in what you eat. That's why we have food labeling regulations (which incidentally are severely criticised by some libertarians as "undue interference with the markets").
Even then there's little defence against people who seek solace in bogus science. But it's better to light a candle
... etc. One very interesting site I have found that debunks various "power" food additives is this one ( http://www.ergo-log.com/ ). They genuinely impressed me by truthfully and insightfully reporting on scientific publications concerning food supplements. They know their stuff, both from a (bio)chemical point of view and from a statistical (and experimental design) point of view. Not a light read, but Recommended. about a month and a half ago
top Slashdot Asks: Do You Label Your Tech Gear, and If So, How?
The one or two things I really want labelled in a way that won't come off, I engraved my name on using a Dremel tool.
There's an added benefit of making the thing you label less attractive to others (depending on where you put the engraving).
top German Chancellor Proposes European Communications Network
If she doesn't know already (she's a Ph.D. in Physics after all), somebody ought to tell Mrs. Merkel that this European Network already exists. You just have to configure the routers to prevent EU-internal traffic from using nodes outside the EU.
The interesting thing is that (as far as I know) this won't stop the flow of metadata and intercepts towards the NSA. Why not? Well, I believe that each and every EU country has bilateral deals with the US to share raw data in bulk. The British, the French, the Dutch, the Danes, the Germans (!), the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Polish. And err who else matters over there?
They're doing this for approximately the same reason as Singapore and Korea do it: they need the assistance of the US. Read: their security services want intercept data from parts of the communication network they can't monitor but the US can. So they do a deal: they give the US the intercept data (and metadata) they have access to in return for intercept data they don't have access to.
Therefore metadata and intercepts from all over the globe will continue to flow towards the NSA with the consent of those EU countries. Germany included.
What might happen though is that they'll be able to negotiate a better deal with the US is they act together than by having a lot of bilateral deals.
top Snowden Used Software Scraper, Say NSA Officials
I don't agree with your argument that not knowing the exact location of files you want in a huge system, and then writing a query that will probably get everything you want alongside a lot of stuff you're not primarily interested in, implies that you're going on a fishing expedition.
Far from it. In fact if you're looking for illegal data-collection methods you know the mechanism but not the location, the name of the program, or the actual method.
Most database queries and WWW search engine queries work like that. Especially when the figure of merit is "don't overlook something we want to know about" and "minimise the effort on the query" instead of "minimise the number of hits returned".
After all, you can carry gigabytes of data with you on a USB stick and you can sift through it later when you're about to publish...
... given the constraints I'd say it would be very hard to argue that Snowden went on a fishing trip.
top Snowden Used Software Scraper, Say NSA Officials
You're probably right about the NSA trying to make this point. Whether they have succeeded is another matter.
It's obvious that for someone trying to extract documents from the NSA network stealth is essential. Not spending too much time at work fine-tuning queries or wading through lots of material you don't have any business looking at is a start. Therefore using some sort of script or other software tool for the job is practically a necessity.
The suggestion that Snowden's "take" contained a disproportional amount of files related to military goings-on (as opposed to spying on US citizens) would need substantiation. Probably in the form of a copy of the script/tool he used plus the search terms used *plus* the ratio of military to non-military material in NSA's systems.
For example, it could very well be that search terms that cover how the NSA collects its data (Snowden's focus in publications) will return large amounts of militarily-oriented hits without specifically targeting military stuff. After all, NSA runs a large number of monitoring stations, most of whose data feed goes into military assessments rather than anti-terrorism related ones (I hear). So this mil/non-mil ratio would have significant impact on the ratio of mil/non-mil stuff that Snowden's query got him.
Somehow I doubt that NSA would like to divulge that ratio in a public court.
top Nobel Prize Winning Economist: Legalize Sale of Human Organs
Whenever there is a way to make money off X (here X is selling donor organs) there is a premium on abuse. I.e. making X happen while seriously harming people.
What harm to people? Well: generally ensuring someone with a useful organ dies far before their time (gives best quality organs) and have that organ harvested. If there's money in it someone will do it.
How will people abuse organ trade?
First off, you can go and kill people who aren't in a good position to defend themselves and who won't be missed and harvest their organs. Who? Take e.g. runaway children or orphans, illegal immigrants, homeless people, generally anyone without a social network, and (as previous posts mentioned) people in Mexico, Latin America, and certain countries in South America who antagonise someone who can arrange a murder.
Secondly, offer poor but otherwise healthy people who desperately need money for their children or spouse the following deal: we'll buy your organ (for a reasonable amount), we'll give your family the money, but you agree to be put to sleep so that we can harvest your organ. Illegal in the US, but who cares? You can always take a (voluntary) trip to Mexico or to Columbia to fulfill your end of the bargain.
And how would you like for e.g. the FARC (Google Columbia) to collect its "revolutionary taxes" by kidnapping "enemies of the people" and cutting out their organs? The market doesn't care where the product came from, right?
Besides which the whole idea is totally redundant.
Simply make organ donorship the legal default and you'll have lots of donor organs. And legislate that only people who themselves have signed a legally binding agreement to be a donor after they die (regardless of their families' wishes) qualify for donor organs.
This whole idea is "free market" taken outside the area where it's beneficial.
top Record Wind Power Levels Trigger Energy Price Fall Across Europe
Consumers aren't affected as in Europe they typically have contracts with their utility companies for fixed rate delivery of electricity. I hear it's around $0.30 / KWh.
The ones affected are the companies that actually own power plants to generate power and sell it to the utility companies, as they are the ones who see their earnings fluctuate between $0.50/MWh to $60/MWh.
And guess what? These market conditions make it hard to impossible to make a profit out of modern clean gas-fired power plants. I know of at least one example (The Netherlands) where an ultra-modern gas-fired plant had to be closed down and dismantled because it couldn't compete. It was a plant that could both supply a base load and respond quickly to variations. It could compete very well as a peak-load plant
... but not as a base load supplier. Unfortunately the market for peak loads had shrunk to the extent that it could no longer be operated at a profit.
The plants best suited to survive in this market are old, dirty, written-off coal plants (base load) and old dirty written-off peakers. Oh irony
... abundant (but quite volatile) green power kills off the cleanest and most modern fossil fuel plants first. I bet the Greens don't like that.
top The Startling Array of Hacking Tools In NSA's Armory
I'm surprised by what I saw, heard, and read about NSA interception technology.
This stuff goes far, quite far, and to quote Jacob Applebaum: "I can't remember voting on any of this stuff, or even having seen a public debate on it".
How about you?
top Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change
I thought that this was understood, but good to make it explicit.
top Is the World Ready For Facial Recognition On Google Glass?
The mistake that people focused on technology make is the extent to which unwanted behaviour can be repressed.
It all depends on what society at large thinks is a worthwhile price to pay. Take file sharing (of copyrighted files) for example. It's perfectly possible to stamp it out: just legislate to allow the MPAA and RIA to demand all ISP's to install monitoring software and match whatever you upload to a database of signatures of copyrighted works. The Snowdon papers show that it's very likely that the infrastructure is available to do just that.
Encryption is of course to be outlawed for use by private citizens. US-style "damages" will pay for the enforcement effort and file sharing will be killed in short order.
Of course there are such pesky things like the first amendment that would get in the way, but those are only *legal* and *political* obstacles, not technological ones. Which means they can be removed whenever people feel like it. And people's perception of what is or isn't acceptable can be changed by abuses of technology.
For example, it's perfectly possible to legislate that whoever uploads your mug without your consent is liable for damages (freeing the ones pictured from having to prove any actual damages) and legislate that all and any ISPs and hosting companies must give their full cooperation and assist anyone who can show that their picture has been uploaded without their consent to identify the perpetrator. That would also necessitate the end of anonymous internet access.
What you really mean is that you don't wish for this to happen, not that it can't happen for technological (or political) reasons.
If you thought that no amount of political pressure can effectively take away your rights to upload pictures of people, just wait until the first pedophile ring is discovered scouting schools for attractive "candidates" using Google Glasses and putting the lot online for perusal.
Unfortunately people have a way of abusing new technology in ways that lead to hitherto unheard of legal constraints.
top Sun Not a Significant Driver of Climate Change
The thing with Science is that you amend established theory in the light of new evidence or improved analysis of existing evidence. And that's what we see here.
Of course you never bothered to glance at the article before grabbing your keyboard, but if you had, you would have seen that this study tries to see which hypothesis about what factor was the main driver of climate the best fits the reconstructed temperatures over the past 100 years (based on observations).
The reason why we conduct studies like these isn't to identify the drivers of climate in the past hundred million years. It's to identify the main drivers now and in recent times, such as the past 100 years.
The question of what the driver of climate has been in the past 100 years is one open to investigation and debate. To be blunt: that case wasn't closed after you finished your geophysics course.
Counter to your claim, this study finds that assuming insolation was the main driver of climate over the past 100 years is not consistent with reconstructed temperatures.
I think you do a genuine disservice to any informed debate on what the cause of the (observed) global warming by donning a mantle of quasi-authority and (a) confusing the question of climate drivers on a geological timescale with those happening now and (b) dismissing a study you never even bothered read.