×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Comments

top

How "Big Ideas" Are Actually Hurting International Development

mpeskett Re:Were Hunter-gatherers doing better (92 comments)

Agriculture developed independently in multiple places. In each case it would have involved former hunter-gatherers deciding to cultivate crops instead. Clearly there was something attractive about the idea or they wouldn't have bothered with it. Probably just something daft though, like having a stable source of food or being able to produce an excess to survive through a lean period, and allow some of the population to do something other than constantly hunt and gather... but who really needs that?

about a month ago
top

Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

mpeskett Re:As a private citizen (213 comments)

To look at it from the opposite end, if your country is abiding by their treaty obligations then they may feel compelled to make laws reflecting it, which you are then subject to. That is of course a pretty big "if" - if they've decided not to abide by it then it becomes a question of what consequences they're either willing to concede to or able to have forced upon them by whoever's on the other end of the treaty.

If your hypothetical asteroid miner were from a smaller country, one less able to dictate terms to the rest of the world, they might find themselves subject to rather more outside interference...

about 3 months ago
top

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

mpeskett Re:AI is always (564 comments)

My point was just that "intelligence" can't be impossible to reproduce algorithmically, because physics is amenable to simulation and has given rise to intelligence.

If it can be produced by a mass of wet jelly sat between two ears, it can be produced by a computer running the right program. The challenge then is to unpick the puzzle of what that jelly is actually doing, and to do so sufficiently clearly to be able to specify that "right program".

Not saying it's easy; it's incredibly difficult. But possible in theory.

about 5 months ago
top

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

mpeskett Re:AI is always (564 comments)

Current algorithms are not Artificial General Intelligence. What we have now are algorithms for domain-specific intelligences.

But in principle, physics can be simulated by an algorithm. Therefore a human brain can be modelled at the particle level and run in simulation. Therefore whatever a human brain is doing that produces intelligence (assuming for now that it does, in fact, produce intelligence) can, in principle, be reproduced by an algorithm, even if it has to treat the brain as a black-box to do so.

Consider that the brute-force approach to algorithmic intelligence. Obviously the real prize is to find the shortcut - abstract out only the necessary elements of what the brain does and express those as algorithms.

about 5 months ago
top

Study: Global Warming Solvable If Fossil Fuel Subsidies Given To Clean Energy

mpeskett Re:Infinite Bank Account (385 comments)

I may be wrong, but I feel like you missed the point of the post above you... the "$20 trillion dollar bank account", I took to be an analogy for the world's fossil fuel reserves. Which, if we want to avert climate change, we probably have to take a significant fraction of and leave it in the ground.

All the focus is on reducing demand by reducing usage, and that would theoretically force fuels to be sold cheaper until the point where it's not economically viable to extract them. But it seems like an indirect approach compared to convincing a government that controls a lot of fuel reserves to just stop drilling them out and leave them buried.

But of course it's not really 'realistic' to expect them to do that - they're sitting on a bottomless well of wealth just begging to be dug up. It would make them uncompetitive to stop, it would mean other nations continue to profit while they sit on their hands, it would weaken their position of power on the world stage... it would help save the ecoystem of the planet, but clearly that's of no particular importance compared to wealth and power.

about 5 months ago
top

Consciousness On-Off Switch Discovered Deep In Brain

mpeskett Re:Brain ZAP! (284 comments)

If you spent most of your prison sentence unconscious, it would make any attempt at either punishment or rehabilitation impossible. Would still satisfy the "removing you from society" goal, and would still offer some deterrence (maybe not as much if prison was now closer to a null experience than an actively unpleasant one), but still... seems like defeating a large part of the point of imprisoning people

about 5 months ago
top

Microsoft Won't Bring Back the Start Menu Until 2015

mpeskett Re:I am using Windows 8 (516 comments)

I'm not certain where it fits into your analogies, but I'm using Windows 8 with Classic Shell and the only time I ever even see Metro is the rare occasion when my touchpad driver forgets that I disabled the "Edge swipe" gesture and that goofy little "Charm bar" sidebar pops up.

It boots to the Desktop mode, I have all the default full-screen Metro apps replaced with my own programs, it has the familiar old start menu and control panel and everything. For all intents and purposes, I don't need to know it's Win8. The one thing that hasn't quite gone back to the way it used to be is the network connect/disconnect dialog - that still opens up a full-height sidebar with the names of nearby wireless networks. But I can live with that.

about 7 months ago
top

UK May Kill the EU's Net Neutrality Law

mpeskett Re:Why are they in the EU again? (341 comments)

I'd kindly ask the British pro-EU majority to stand up.

Right here. Especially when the EU is trying to legislate something like net neutrality and the useless gang of cunts we call a government decides to veto it.

about 7 months ago
top

Does Relying On an IDE Make You a Bad Programmer?

mpeskett Re:Isn't the real proof (627 comments)

I can't actually find an "edit post" button.

There isn't one. I've never been 100% sure whether this is deliberate and intended to promote careful checking before pressing submit, or if it's just because something in the code has been broken since forever.

about 10 months ago
top

The FBI's Giant Bitcoin Wallet

mpeskett Re:Bitcoin post = win (177 comments)

Or to borrow some actual slashdot headlines...

Formhault C has a huge bitcoin debris ring
Scientists print bitcoin
Police pull over more drivers for bitcoin tests
Apple pushes developers to bitcoin
NASA schedules space walks to fix bitcoin pumps
Bitcoin exchange value halves after... wait, I did this one wrong
Unreleased 1963 bitcoin on sale
Want to fight allergies? Get bitcoin

Dammit, it still works, I would read every single one of these.

1 year,2 days
top

The FBI's Giant Bitcoin Wallet

mpeskett Re:Can it be invalidated? (177 comments)

Ownership is established by knowing the private key for the wallet/address. The FBI gained that key --whether by keylogger, wiretap, plea bargain or $5 wrench is unclear-- and transferred all the funds to an address under their exclusive control.

So from the point of view of the bitcoin protocol, the FBI were the proper owners (they knew the key) and therefore weren't obstructed from making that transfer. Likewise they wouldn't be obstructed from further use of the address they control unless a majority of miners collaborated to refuse to include their transactions in blocks *and* refuse to mine on top of any chain that included such a transaction in a block mined by somone else.

Which would, strictly speaking, be a breach of protocol - you're supposed to always mine on top of the longest chain. But nonetheless possible if they patched the mining software to selectively ignore particular addresses. But that would seem like a bad precedent to set and a bad capability to build into the network.

1 year,2 days
top

NSA Says It Foiled Plot To Destroy US Economy Through Malware

mpeskett Re:NSA failed to halt subprime lending, though. (698 comments)

Well, Google reckons the population of the UK is about 63 million, so I would of course be happy to pay my fair share, which comes to... approximately 24 cents, so long as you're willing to pay the cost of posting it to you of course.

1 year,3 days
top

EU Plastic Bag Debate Highlights a Wider Global Problem

mpeskett Re:England (470 comments)

How about we go back to cardboard boxes instead of the damned plastic packaging

Probably heavier and bulkier for the same amount of contents, so the trucks transporting goods to the store will carry less stuff (so there will be more trucks) and burn more fuel. Same with using glass bottles instead of plastic. With food, you also run the risk of increasing damage done to anything fragile, like fruit, if they're not fairly snug in their package - so bundling them loose into bigger boxes means more waste from the squashed/bruised ones.

There may well be better options for packaging; the way the world works now is set up to incentivise minimising cost rather than environmental impact, but some costs also have environmental impacts attached or correlated (fuel especially). It's not as simple as just "get rid of plastic".

1 year,21 days
top

Fusion Reactor Breaks Even

mpeskett Re:bbc? (429 comments)

If your "match" has to be fuelled by your "fire", then it's still a bit of an issue.

What they have is a pellet of fuel absorbing energy from a bunch of lasers, then emitting energy by fusion, and having the energy out higher than the energy in. The problem is that the lasers used more energy than was absorbed by the fuel, and the energy out can't be 100% efficiently collected into electricity generated.

It's not just a question of paying some high ignition energy then reaping self-sustaining free energy thereafter - without solving the problems, it isn't self-sustaining; you can't power the lasers from the output of the generator, not even close. Well, not yet. It's a milestone, just not an endpoint.

about a year ago
top

Red Cross Wants Consequences For Video-Game Mayhem

mpeskett Re:oddly, I support this (288 comments)

There are consequences in GTA - if you kill enough cops they send you a free helicopter as a prize.

about a year ago
top

New High Tech $100 Bills Start To Circulate Today

mpeskett Re:What a farce (302 comments)

The only stuff in the universe that cannot be counterfeited is energy.

Why not use angular momentum?

about a year ago
top

StumbleUpon Claims They've Stumbled Onto Profits

mpeskett Re:I have no idea what StumbleUpon is (31 comments)

It's a toolbar button that takes you to a semi-random web-page, picked based on other people clicking the buttons to say that they like it, and also to put it into a category. In practice it ends up like channel surfing for the internet - keep hitting the button until you see something that looks like it might be half interesting, then move on as quickly as you arrived. From what I've heard from site owners, it's a good way to direct a spike of traffic to a single page but a lousy way to actually increase your readership.

If they've now monetised it successfully, presumably they've stepped up how aggressive the paid-for insertions are since I last used it. They were already somewhat jarring - the quality level on the whole wasn't high but the ads were always a moment of "Who in the name of the blind idiot god submitted this bullshit? Oh, another ad, fuck that, moving on"

about a year ago
top

Google Speeding Up New Encryption Project After Latest Snowden Leaks

mpeskett Re:Google, Money, Mouth (248 comments)

For high paranoia while avoiding having to cast runes as a source of randomness, deploy airgaps - type your plaintext message on a disposable device, which you never connect to any network or removable storage. Ideally run it from read-only storage, so that your message only ever touches volatile memory. Run the encryption and copy out the encrypted version (ideally by hand, or maybe by print+OCR if that's impractical)

Afterwards, ensure that any trace of the message is gone by repeatedly overwriting the contents of memory. For maximum paranoia you ensure that the memory isn't readably by running it throuhg a woodchipper, collecting the fragments, and sealing it all in epoxy which you then encase in concrete and drop into either a deep unmarked hole in the middle of nowhere, the depths of the ocean, or the mouth an active volcano... or launch into the Sun if you've got the budget.

Throughout, be vigilant for side channels - maybe the image you installed on your airgapped computer was compromised, and it's finding some creative way to communicate with the mothership. Maybe it's modulating CPU usage to make the temperature of your room fluctuate (detectable via IR), or maybe the noise your fingers make on the keyboard can be picked up as subtle vibrations that a sensitive laser pointed at the window can detect.

And of course, to be safe against goons with a $5 wrench, you also need to have forgotten the message and the key yourself. I recommend either wiping it from memory with a pint or two of lab ethanol, or extending the concept of a one-time pad to the human brain, by lobotomising yourself after sending.

about a year ago
top

Google Speeding Up New Encryption Project After Latest Snowden Leaks

mpeskett Re: Google, Money, Mouth (248 comments)

The integrity of the mathematical basis for cryptography is one of the few things we likely can trust. Assuming it's been reviewed thoroughly by benign and competent experts, an open-source implementation of that theory should also be okay to trust. Further assuming that it's been compiled faithfully, by an uncompromised compiler, you can probably trust the binaries to match the source that implements that cryptography.

The part where the NSA/government mostly seem to be able to work their way in, is at the point of key distribution - certificate authorities and major service providers handing over their keys and allowing access. Not by breaking the crypto (which promises that your message will only be readable with the right key) but by subverting it's implementation.

about a year ago
top

World-First: Woman Becomes Pregnant After Ovarian Tissue Graft

mpeskett Re:Good and bad. (87 comments)

Look at the right period in history, and myopia would have been a serious impairment. Guess we'd have been better of not inventing glasses, and not allowing the short-sighted to breed.

about a year ago

Submissions

mpeskett hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

mpeskett has no journal entries.

Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?