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A Look At NASA's Orion Project

green is the enemy Re:The one good feature of ARM (108 comments)

Can you point to good criticism of the Asteroid Redirect Mission? I can't think of a better way to kick-start in situ space resource utilization, which is what we need for sustained human presence in space. Perhaps you mean the manned portion of this mission? The redirection of an asteroid into a close orbit is a very good idea by itself. Of course, spacecraft sent to study this asteroid and try extracting resources from it should mostly be unmanned (and will be).

4 days ago

Russian Government Edits Wikipedia On Flight MH17

green is the enemy pigs (665 comments)

All sides in this are acting like pigs, the Russians, Ukrainians and the Ukrainian separatists. The Russians are and the separatists are throwing around unsubstantiated accusations. Even the Ukrainians are not releasing the volumes of radar (including military radar) and air traffic control data that surely exist. The worst ones are of course the ones who shot at the plane. Since they are hiding and spewing misinformation, it's obvious they are not even a tiny bit sorry for accidentally shooting down a civilian plane. Their behavior makes it look like the plane was deliberately targeted, truly a work of evil.

4 days ago

Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

green is the enemy Re:Some more info: (752 comments)

The people talking in the background say that the plane exploded in the air (big explosion) and debris was still raining down as the smoke was just starting to come up from the ground. They also mentioned "it's a good thing they brought it," pretty obviously referring to an anti-aircraft missile system.

about a week ago

Aliens and the Fermi Paradox

green is the enemy Re:Progenitors? (686 comments)

Can you speculate why you think space might be competitive? Space resources are mind-bogglingly plentiful. Just the main belt asteroids have enough to support 10 quadrillion people. Imagine dismantling moons or even Mars-sized planets for raw materials. You can sustain unimaginably huge civilizations. Why would there be a need to fight for resources?

about a month and a half ago

Science Moneyball: The Secret to a Successful Academic Career

green is the enemy Re:Meanwhile, on Wall Street (42 comments)

In this case the relationship is not necessarily directly causal. If you can bring in the grant money, you can get a career. The quantity of papers may simply be a consequence of running a successful research program.

about 2 months ago

Robots Will Pave the Way To Mars

green is the enemy Re:Ad astra per aspera (95 comments)

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission seems to be the only serious effort in this area. I applaud them for their ambition. While this mission is being marketed as a stepping stone for a manned Mars mission, it also happens to be a very good way to get started with in-situ space resource utilization. Anyone have any insight on how the plans for this mission are progressing?

about 2 months ago

Google Unveils Self-Driving Car With No Steering Wheel

green is the enemy heavy traffic (583 comments)

I'm curious how automated cars will handle heavy traffic. It's often hard to find an opening to merge into a busy lane, or make a left turn through heavy traffic. Would the automated car wait 10 minutes for an opening? Would it be able to drive aggressively to avoid wasting time like this?

about 2 months ago

Data Mining Shows How Down-Voting Leads To Vicious Circle of Negative Feedback

green is the enemy Re:Slashdot's moderating system (293 comments)

It would be interesting to add a feature that would allow filtering comments based on their number of mods overall. Both upmods and downmods would count the same. The more controversial comments would really stick out. A good compromise between troll filtering and making unpopular opinions visible might be at least a score of 3 OR at least 3 mods total.

about 2 months ago

US Navy Wants Smart Robots With Morals, Ethics

green is the enemy Re:Humans Can Not (165 comments)

Some of these can be answered somewhat rationally.

For example would a moral robot have refused to function in the Vietnam War?

The decision whether to fight in the Vietnam War is political. A robot does not have a vote, so should not participate in politics at all.

Would a drone take out an enemy in Somalia knowing that that terrorist was a US citizen?

If the enemy is judged to be seriously threatening US interests, the drone should take him out, just as a police officer would take out a dangerous criminal.

How many innocent deaths are permissible if a valuable target can be destroyed?

In this case the drone should weigh human lives against other human lives. Can it be estimated how many human lives are at risk if the valuable target remains intact? Not just the numbers but the probability of harm should be taken into account. This type of decision is usually up to the higher level commanders that have more information on hand.

If a robot acts as a fair player could it use high tech weapons against an enemy that had only rifles that were made prior to WWII?

There is no ethical issue here. Use the most effective weapons. Minimize losses on your side. Try to make the enemy surrender with minimal losses on their side (i.e. don't nuke them).

If many troops are injured should a medical robot save two enemy or one US soldier who will take all of the robot's attention and time?

The robot must assume that we will fight until we win. Treating a US soldier contributes to the success of the war campaign, potentially saving many lives in the future. Treating injured enemy soldiers may actually cause losses because the enemies may fight again (if they can't be taken into custody). When including the probability of future losses of human lives, the choice is clear: treat the US soldier.

When it comes to moral issues and behaviors there are often no points of agreement by humans so just how does one program a robot to deal with moral conflicts?

Use utilitarian ethics. Not many rules are required. When estimating potential future human lives lost, assume your side is going to win. Do not venture into politics. (Of course there could be something terribly wrong with this reasoning, so fire away.)

about 2 months ago

Asteroid Impacts Bigger Risk Than Thought

green is the enemy comets (172 comments)

The article authors say that most of the dangerous asteroids are already being tracked (additional tracking efforts under way), and can potentially be deflected since collisions can be predicted decades into the future. That's only a half-truth. Comets in the outer solar system are too dark to detect in their present locations, but can arrive at Earth very quickly. There will not be enough time to deflect them... Statistically, what percentage of impacts are from objects originating in the outer solar system? Is that even possible to determine?

about 3 months ago

Ad Tracking: Is Anything Being Done?

green is the enemy Re:solution (303 comments)

There is potentially a Scenario 4:

Most of the content of the website is user-generated. The main costs are for hosting. There are free accounts and paid accounts. The paid accounts bring in the majority of the revenue. They differ from free accounts by relatively minor, but convenient perks, like greater bandwidth from the server, or ability to post more often. Free account holders still have access to all the content. People eventually value your service enough to pay a small monthly fee and get the perks. There are no ads, period.

This model can work for Slashdot, Facebook, YouTube and many others.

about 4 months ago

Can Science Ever Be "Settled?"

green is the enemy cannot be "settled"? (497 comments)

This discussion turned out mostly useless because the concept of "settled" was not well defined. Taking the definition to be "completely describes reality", all evidence points to this being impossible. My question is why is this so? Is this a fundamental property of nature? Has this property itself been studied?

about 5 months ago

Hubble Discovers Water Plumes Over Europa

green is the enemy Re:Hmmm (74 comments)

The radiation environment around Europa most likely breaks apart any complex molecules that came from the ocean. The best possibility is a lander that would dig into the regolith. Unfortunately, looks like the Juno mission will not help even with locating landing spots on Europa. Its camera is too wide-angle.

about 7 months ago

A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

green is the enemy Re:So you prefer two wrongs (1030 comments)

Don't forget that oil/gas and food subsidies are a military strategy. We don't want to be too dependent on imports of these strategically important commodities. Solar panels, however, hardly qualify as strategically important.

about 8 months ago

Warning At SC13 That Supercomputing Will Plateau Without a Disruptive Technology

green is the enemy subtlety (118 comments)

A bit of humor in one of the linked articles?

To eliminate the wire-like or metallic nanotubes, the Stanford team switched off all the good CNTs. Then they pumped the semiconductor circuit full of electricity. All of that electricity concentrated in the metallic nanotubes, which grew so hot that they burned up and literally vaporized into tiny puffs of carbon dioxide. This sophisticated technique was able to eliminate virtually all of the metallic CNTs in the circuit at once.

Bypassing the misaligned nanotubes required even greater subtlety.


about 8 months ago

Warning At SC13 That Supercomputing Will Plateau Without a Disruptive Technology

green is the enemy Re:Does disruptive mean affordable? (118 comments)

The problem is heat. Simple as that. Currently there are no technologies more power efficient than CMOS. Therefore there are no technologies that can produce more powerful computers than CMOS. If a significantly more power-efficient technology is found, the semiconductor manufacturers will absolutely attempt to use it.

about 8 months ago

Why Not Fund SETI With a Lottery Bond?

green is the enemy Re:Well (191 comments)

I would suggest that such aliens have something better than radio to use.

I'm curious what can we imagine the aliens could use to communicate. I found this bit on neutrino communication. It also mentions axions (which might not even exist). Gravitational waves are suggested in the comments. Are there any other potential communication technologies we can read about?

about 8 months ago

NVIDIA Announces Tesla K40 GPU Accelerator and IBM Partnership In Supercomputing

green is the enemy DRAM bandwidth (59 comments)

NVIDIA seems behind AMD in moving to 512-bit wide GDDR5: this K40 still has 384-bit. Also worrying is whether significant performance improvements will really be possible beyond that point. GPU code is notorious for easily becoming DRAM bandwidth limited. Cache on the GPU is very small compared to the computing resources.

about 8 months ago

Why Letting Your Insurance Company Monitor How You Drive Can Be a Good Thing

green is the enemy Re:No recourse? (567 comments)

You are correct. This technology smells unethical and might need to be banned. We need statistics on whether these devices really decrease accident rates, and over the long term too. Trying to discipline the drivers by encouraging fewer hard stops may have an effect on accident rates, but that effect might be the opposite of expected. Why? People drive mostly in "autopilot" mode: basically letting learned reflexes control the car. If the driver tries to constantly think about the quality of his driving, his reaction time may become actually worse. This is something that is worth studying statistically.

about 8 months ago

Why Letting Your Insurance Company Monitor How You Drive Can Be a Good Thing

green is the enemy Re:Huh (567 comments)

Don't forget to look at the ethical implications of this technology. If it does not lower the accident rates, it is unethical. Why? If accident rates stay the same, the insurance premiums will also stay the same in aggregate (or average). The only effect of this technology for the society is that some people lose some privacy due to the monitoring device. This is a net negative effect. We need the data on whether this technology really does decrease accident rates. Then we need to make a value judgement on whether the reduced accident rates (and insurance premiums) are worth the loss of privacy. It might actually make sense to ban this technology if statistically significant accident rate reduction cannot be observed.

about 8 months ago


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