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Why Does the US Cling To Imperial Measurements?

name*censored* Re:morons (2288 comments)

In Australia, (some) retailers do both (some do inches + metric, others do just metric, no-one does just imperial), but I still have an easier time with inches when it comes to screen size. A lot of the problem stems from the fact that they're made for American markets, so the model number will usually have the inch measurement in it (eg, an AL2216W is 22 inches across).

more than 3 years ago

Hungarian Officials Can Now Censor the Media

name*censored* Re:New World War (185 comments)

regardless of whether the insurance industry's death panels approve.

The death panels that Palin and others talked about

I think that was his point. Insurance companies refuse to insure people depending on their health - in other words, a textbook definition of the "death panels" that Palin & Co were scaremongering about.

insurance companies can't hold a candle to the number of rejected claims by Medicare. Go ask an old person. Medicare has always been the number one denier of claims!

Sampling bias, anyone? The people who can get private health insurance are generally healthier (they have enough money, which indicates that they're gainfully employed, which indicates that they're healthy and young enough to work). As you say, ask any old person. Plus, there's side benefits of having money - you can afford to eat healthily, see a GP for check-ups (and not just emergencies), and live in a safe and healthy area.

On second thought

You have to have a first thought before you can have a second thought. If you try really hard, maybe one day a thought might pop into your tiny little brain!

more than 3 years ago

I Wish My Car Had A...

name*censored* Re:Options (789 comments)

riding is a choice.

That's a flimsy argument - driving is a choice. In fact, for some people, biking is the only choice (I'm talking about people too poor to afford cars, or areas with unreliable public transport and no parking, or people disqualified from driving, or people with health problems which prevent them from getting a license but not from biking).

Cyclists should not be allowed on congested major roads if they can not keep up.

Are you talking about the law, or courteousness? Let's say you were talking about courteousness. I'm guessing that cycling is not an option for you - you may live too far away, or it's too hilly, or you work a job that demands you can come in quickly (eg, on-call sysadmin), or health reasons, or bad climate, or any other number of reasons. I don't begrudge your choice/need to drive - but realise that not everyone's situation is like yours. I'm lucky in that I can do either; but what you're basically saying is that you want to enforce laws that would make cycling illegal for all intents and purposes. That's unreasonable and unfair. So if your attitude is such that you're not willing to reach a compromise that would allow both groups of people to use the road, then how can you expect cyclists to compromise?

But perhaps you were talking legally. Well, I checked the laws in my jurisdiction; whilst there is a uniform minimum legal limit, there's an exemption for bikes so long as they keep to the edge of the outside lane where possible, and don't go on roads where bikes are explicitly disallowed (motorways, etc). Though quite frankly, that doesn't matter. I've never seen anyone get a ticket for riding a bike too slowly, nor can I imagine one being issued (apart from anything, it'd be pretty easy for the offender to get away - no plates to record, more maneuverability than a cop in a car, and faster than a cop on foot).

You said it yourself; "cyclists should not be allowed on congested roads". As the old adage goes - "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride". We can either sit here arguing all day about what should be, or we can talk about what can be. If you continue to talk about what should be, then the problem will never go away. And if you're not interested in an actual solution, one that benefits both parties, then there's no point in talking to you.

You missed a major point in your acceleration theory; cars have much more power than bicycles which more than compensates for the weight difference. I have never been out-accelerated by a bicycle for more that 40 feet(and I do not drive a hot car). Now I am on the cyclist's bumper and limited by the cyclist's speed. The same thing can be said for every other driver in the line that was passed at the stop by the cyclist.

I can usually do nearer 40 meters before anyone accelerating from the lights at a normal rate comes back up on my bum(per). Yes, if they put the pedal to the floor in a halfway decent car, they'll match or best my acceleration. But that's not how most people drive (even if it is technically possible), and they certainly can't take the moral high ground if that's how they're driving. And if they need more than 60m (let's say plus 20m to cancel out the advantage) before the next turn or light, then you're right, they shouldn't have pulled ahead. But it's been my experience that the roads only start to get thin (enough that cars can't easily pass) at the city limits, by which point the traffic's already bad enough that you're not going to get a 60m run.

more than 3 years ago

I Wish My Car Had A...

name*censored* Re:Options (789 comments)

What annoys me most about cyclists is when they sometimes act like motor vehicles and sometimes act like pedestrians depending on which mode is more advantageous; riding through crosswalks; riding on sidewalks to get around traffic.

That's a shitty thing to do; but sometimes it's necessary. When the weather's nice, I cycle, and the amount of improvising necessary due to shitty planning and non-stop construction/roadworks is ridiculous. I do sympathise with drivers' frustrations (I don't want to get hit either - plus, I hate those self-righteous lycra-wearing jerks as much as you; they treat "casual" cyclists like shit too, and I cop all of the hatred that those jerks should rightly receive). But sometimes it's simply not possible to cycle 100% legally and 100% considerately.

They basically state that if you can not keep up with the normal flow of traffic you should not be there. Cyclists are not exempt from these laws.

That's a perfect example. As you point out, it's illegal for cyclists to drive on the road, and it's also illegal to ride on the footpath. What should be done? You may think the ideal solution is for us to just drive - but with the hellish peak-hour crawl, do you really want more cars on the road slowing you down and taking your car parks (we're used to leaving home earlier, so we'll be there before you)? Putting all the cyclists behind the wheel is the difference between making you 10 minutes early and 10 minutes late - have you ever noticed how the traffic's especially bad on days with inclement-but-just-as-drivable weather? It's in both our interests to get a decent bike thoroughfare, one that disrupts neither cars nor pedestrians. If cyclists bother you, tell your elected officials to get them their own lane, so they aren't in yours. I realise that this comes across as rewarding bad behaviour, but bad cyclist behaviour is not necessarily born of maliciousness.

Another issue passing on the right when traffic is stopped at a light; I just spent time trying to get around you and now you illegally pass me while I am at a light so I have to do it again.

It may seem like a jerk move, but it's actually the most considerate option in the situation. It's simple physics - a bike has low mass and low power, so they can accelerate quickly but hit top speed almost straight away. A car, on the other hand, has slow acceleration (due to a high mass), but a high top speed. Now, presumably, your proposal is to have cyclists wait between cars, as a car would. But now, when the light turns green, the cyclist can only accelerate as fast as the car in front, but, s/he still has the same (slow) top speed. Pretty frustrating for everyone behind the cyclist. On the other hand, if the cyclist gets to the front of the light, s/he can use the rapid acceleration advantage to race ahead of the motorists, thus impeding traffic much less.

more than 3 years ago

Broadway Musicians Replaced With Synthesizers

name*censored* Re:What is the issue? (319 comments)

Eventually, the software industry is just going to have to face the fact that the days of artificial scarcity are over.

There isn't any artificial scarcity because there isn't any scarcity. The number of possible programs left to write is practically infinite. For starters, we haven't invented a program that can write programs (artificial intelligence) (though realistically the problem would be supplying motivation in a non-programming language), so there's still that to be done. Also, computer programs help nearly every other field (niche/domain specific programs) - so saying that there are no new programs to write implies that no other field is advancing and changing. Thirdly, programs for entertainment (video games, social networking, online games, etc) are a practically inexhaustible domain - you can keep making them until kingdom come. Finally,

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

  - Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents, in 1899.

You're not the first to express this sentiment, and you're not the first to be wrong about it, either.

more than 3 years ago

Given Truth, the Misinformed Believe Lies More

name*censored* Re:This study is nothing but Communist propaganda (961 comments)

I guess I don't even particularly like the 'entertainer' argument.

I for one would like to see how far this argument can be applied. I wonder if you could (literally) shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater and later get off scot-free, claiming "It was just for laughs"? What would happen if you quietly announced yourself as an "entertainer", as all these pundits (both Left and Right) do?

about 4 years ago

Knuth Got It Wrong

name*censored* Re:Are you serious? Do you even know who phk is? (298 comments)

With this level of reading comprehension, you must be in serious contention for the position of slashdot editor. No-one called Poul-Henning Kamp a doof. GP was saying that Poul-Henning Kamp was calling OTHER people doofs (implicit/paraphrase), as indicated by preceding "article summary" and the quotation marks.

(On-topic:) This article headline was nicked from a reddit thread from yesterday (Poul-Henning Kamp has commented on this thread; or at least someone claiming to be him has).

It would have been nice if the submitter/editors here had read the article instead of re-phrasing the more-accurate "You're doing it wrong" headline. Poul-Henning Kemp is expressing his exasperation at the fact that no-one has noticed this optimisation technique in the ~40 years that it's been valid, and attributes it to a failure in the programing culture and programming education. conspirator57's summary may be a little ruder than the article (which is astonishingly un-antagonistic), but conciseness always sacrifices pleasantries.

more than 4 years ago

Stock Market Sell-Off Might Stem From Trader's Fat Finger

name*censored* Re:SELL! (643 comments)

I very much suspect that the panic would work AGAINST the workaholic trader.

Firstly, the only people left trading are also banking on the world not to end, so they're not going to sell cheap (or at all, your scheme relies on a bear market). The only shares that would be sold would be ones for companies that aren't expected to recover from the panic, which causes their share price to plummet, which means that if they weren't going to recover before they CERTAINLY won't recover now.

Secondly, even if they could get money, it's extremely unlikely that it would be worth anything. Any retailers who own large stocks of supplies would either horde, or gouge (to take advantage of the massive surge demand that resulted from the panic, the decrease in supply from some of your competitors choosing to horde, and to compensate for the inherent risk of trading during a panic). Now, mix a panicky and stressed crowd, the anger from being charged more than usual, and the fact that there's no consequence for crime, and you've got yourself one fine recipe for a massive looting spree. Hell, even if the retailer were totally honest, the crowd might loot them for the fun of it, or because they're the only honest retailer in town and the crowd is upset that they're out of stock.

Even if the world DIDN'T end, the people who have money after the crisis would become pariahs (they only have money because they stole it and/or hoarded it), and popular opinion would demand the complete devaluation of pre-crisis money; a full financial reset. A lot of infrastructure was destroyed during the crisis (either by neglect or violence), so the financial reset would be but a drop in the bucket. (By the way, the clean-up is the time to quietly profit - there's a whole lot of property with corpses or social outcasts for owners, and the restoration of state-sanctioned property rights means you don't have to worry about guarding your possessions). Of course, this all depends how much warning was given for the end of the world.

more than 4 years ago

Stock Market Sell-Off Might Stem From Trader's Fat Finger

name*censored* Re:SELL! (643 comments)

It reminds me a little of a throwaway comment Stephen Hawking made in the recent series Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking - he was asked not to speculate on the end of the universe in a certain lecture series for fear that it would affect the stock market. Really? Even if the universe was going to end in our lifetime, and no-one had noticed before now (oops), what kind of fool would hear the news and immediately worry about his or her stock portfolio? What are you going to do with your money after the universe ends? You would think (if people behaved rationally) that the stock market would grind to a halt when every trader says "Screw this, I haven't got much time left and I'm not going to waste it here".

more than 4 years ago

Battlefield Earth Screenwriter Accepts Razzie

name*censored* Re:Why? (295 comments)


there is no extra step called profit

I think you misunderstand the point of Scientology, friend. The ONLY step is called "profit".

more than 4 years ago

Seinfeld's Good Samaritan Law Now Reality?

name*censored* Politician's "thinking" (735 comments)

Do stupid laws and frivolous lawsuits make you too afraid to help someone in trouble? No problem, we'll just pass another ill-thought law! What could possibly go wrong?

more than 4 years ago

For GUIs, Just the Right Degree of Realism

name*censored* Re:It depends where you want to draw the line. (256 comments)

Apart from maintaining cross-system compatibility (and/or preventing a peculiar form of psychological lock-in by training your users to not understand foreign interfaces), there are certain realities that just make the interface conform to a particular standard. For instance;

  1. Rectangles. We've often dreamt of 3D interfaces and interfaces with crazy geometries, but rectangles are just superior - they scale, tessellate, and can be programmed simply (you need only four coordinates - either X*Y,W*H or X1,X2:Y1,Y2), and rendered easily. Windows don't just have to tessellate with other windows, but also with their contents! Circular interfaces might be novel, but they make very poor use of available space (they don't tessellate with their contents or other windows), are harder to program and render, and require the window contents to be a certain shape and position (ie, don't scale well). Not only that, but even the devices dictate rectangles. If you had a totally circular interface, you'd need a circular screen for it. Which means a circular computer (or rectangular sabot, which is a bad option for portables). And circular devices don't pack or port so well. As for 3D - it looks great, but until we have 3D screens AND peripherals to interact with them without getting gorilla arm, we have to use simulated 3D, which is cumbersome, computationally expensive and has no inherent usability advantages (besides the fact that humans can think in 3D easily).
  2. Windows. A computer, by definition, is multi-purpose. You need some way to pare the functionality out of the computer. Now, modern computers are far, far too complex for any one entity to be able to supply the entire gamut of functionality, from kernel all the way to kid's games (and even if they could, democracy and capitalism have shown us that competition means better products). Enter third-parties. Now, how do you divvy up the workload? The only realistic way is to make each each third party supply one piece of functionality - viz, applications. Ah, but now you want your application to "play nice" with the other applications, since functionalities might compliment one another (eg, web browser + music player + text editor). So, all the application designers have to code to some standard implemented by the system designer ("don't worry about decorating or positioning your window Mr. Application Designer, we'll take care of that"). This benefits all parties - application vendors don't have to keep reinventing the wheel, system designers can make their product more consistent and therefore more attractive to the end user, who enjoy said consistency. And what is a window if not a system-designed container which controls the geometry of each application (so as not to conflict with other applications), and decorates it with various user overrides?
  3. Menus. Well, you need some way to start and control applications. Now, you could use a number of things; hotkeys, desktop icons, contextual, or sidebars.
    • Hotkeys. Hotkey environments exist, but they're not popular, because of the massively steep learning curve.
    • Desktop Icons. Desktop icons are nice, but they're inaccessible once you have an application obscuring them (plus, you'd need to constantly spawn and remove desktop icons based on system status - eg, task management).
    • Contextual. Contextual menus (a la fluxbox) are good, but they have a small learning curve (ever seen a new fluxbox user exclaim "how the hell do I do anything on this damn thing?"?), PLUS they're inaccessible once applications are running (they're contextual, so once you're off the desktop, your menu reflects your application).
    • Sidebars. Sidebars are good - they're obvious ("What does "start" do? Oh, it opens a menu for starting things!"), they're always accessible - they're clearly the best choice for most people (disclaimer: I prefer hotkeys, but I'm not your average computer user).

    Now, where do you put a sidebar? Well, unless you want it to get in the way of applications and interrupt workflow, you put it somewhere discrete - ie, to the side.

Your circular spoke idea is interesting, but it wouldn't work as a primary or default menu. Having said that, I'd be interested in seeing it as an optional hotkey-triggered overlay at the centre of the screen - perhaps you can have two (either as two different circles, or as concentric circles). Maybe if it dynamically "grew" (radial increase) to accommodate menu expansions, that'd be neat. If I weren't so busy/lazy, I'd write a compiz plugin (hopefully someone less lazy/busy will read your idea and pick up the slack ;)).

more than 4 years ago

Religion in Video Games

name*censored* Re:a game that tells the truth about religion (523 comments)

Cyberax (705495) posted:

Nope. It's religion. Every religion breeds extremism. So the blame's well placed.

During the Black Plague, the disease was spread by the fleas which rats carried. Back then, people blamed (amongst other things) rats. These days, however, we (correctly) blame the fleas for being the actual carrier. See,

  • Not every rat is necessarily a danger
  • The rat is not directly carrying the disease
  • There are other means of infection besides rats

Where am I going with this? Surprise! This is an analogy for religion/extremism. Religion/rats may be a common carrier of extremism/fleas+plague, but it's not technically correct to blame rats/religion. Congratulations, you think as those you have disdain for (medieval-ers are a subset of religious folk)! Paradox!

If that explanation didn't sway you, try this -

Nope. It's ________ . Every ________ breeds extremism. So the blame's well placed.
Nope. It's politics . Every political alignment breeds extremism. So the blame's well placed.
Nope. It's sports teams. Every sports team breeds extremism. So the blame's well placed.
Nope. It's text editors. Every text editor breeds extremism. So the blame's well placed.
Nope. It's skub . Every jar of skub breeds extremism. So the blame's well placed.

See how easy it is? I'm sorry if that screws with your pre-conceived notions, but the fact is that religion is merely a manifestation of the problem, not the problem itself.

Anonymous Coward posted:

And religion easily provides the most convenient excuse to do so. Prohibitions against killing obviously don't work. Rational arguments are useless against someone who claims that god has spoken to him because he has it on higher authority than anyone else. Religion goes well with the uneducated because it teaches people to take things on faith - once you get people to swallow that, you can pretty much tell them anything.

No other system comes close. Education is the best way for some immunity against religions and quasi-religious cults (see the comment on Stalinism elsewhere). I'm close to defining religion as any system that doesn't put humans first.

Bang, hit the nail on the head. If I hadn't posted here, I'd mod this up (though if I hadn't posted, you wouldn't have replied, so it's self-defeating prophecy). Yes, the largest problem with religion is it's almost tailor-made for exploitation. You could try crafting another system of exploitation, but it would end up being another incarnation of religion (see: Cults of Personality, which operate exactly as exploitative religions do). The mind-boggling irony is that although the vast majority of modern mainstream religions preach peace, they seem to have been twisted into weapons of hate. If I made bets, I'd bet that the promise of peace is the "bait" and the hatred is the "switch". But I digress.

more than 4 years ago

Religion in Video Games

name*censored* Re:a game that tells the truth about religion (523 comments)

There's an obvious difference here. The Christians persecute others to spread their religion. Atheists persecute others for other reasons. In this case, it was to spread political ideas rather than religious ones. Religion is a direct cause of many murders while atheism cannot be blamed for it because there's nothing in the ideology about committing murder in the name of any superstition.

... Unbelievable. You come within a hair's breadth of the astonishingly-obvious-yet-no-one-sees-it fact that the problem is not religion, it is extremism, of which religion is only a subset (though when I say subset I should say intersection, since at least one religious person doesn't want to go on a killing rampage). Yet you suddenly take a 90 degree turn and start rambling about how religion encourages murdering, even though it's explicitly banned in many (perhaps most) major religion and is only justified by twisting the words and intents of said religion (which is easy if your audience are uneducated peons, as they were during the Crusades/Inquisition).

Besides which, this should have rang alarm bells:

Atheists persecute others for other reasons

Quite frankly, I don't care if they're persecuting others to spread religion, spread ideology, or to sell chocolates. I don't care what they call themselves. The whole damn problem is the persecution. The reason, by comparison, is unimportant and interchangeable - that's the whole friggin' idea behind Skub vs anti-Skub.

more than 4 years ago

AU Senator Calls Scientology a "Criminal Organization"

name*censored* Re:Should they get off tax-free? (511 comments)

I'm not GP, but this really bugs me:

So you're argument is pretty much bunk. Rich people don't pay as much taxes as the poor or middle class right now, and my proposal is not to keep to the status qou. The opposite in fact.

So, you've basically said

  1. We are in System A, which has problem X
  2. I propose System B
  3. System B is not the same as System A, therefore System B does not have problem X

Really, this kind of black-and-white "not A therefore B" extremism (which is really a large family of bad arguments) is perhaps the biggest generator of problems in our democratic/capitalistic (ie, the masses decide) society. To wit:

I don't see why we need to punish the successful.

Tax is not a "punishment". (In theory) tax should be "We (the government) need money for services that are (arguably) untenable in or unsuited to private enterprise, how are we going to get it?". It's not "Hey, I don't like that guy, let's rob him! *cackle maniacally*". You are again making the "NOT A THEREFORE B" mistake by conflating "tax" with "punishment", because they both fit into the broader category "authorised arbitrated unpleasantness based on behaviour". But just as a motorbike is not an automobile (despite their many similarities), TAX IS NOT A PUNISHMENT, IT IS AN UNFORTUNATE NECESSITY.

I don't see why we need to punish the successful. Especially, those who worked damned hard to get it.

Some people are poor because they deserve to be.

Not every poor person is a lazy bum, and not every rich person is a hard worker. Now whilst I have no specific moral objections to tax in and of itself (I don't like it, but don't find it immoral), you regard it as a "punishment", and therefore imagine that you're "punishing" people simply for being poor - and conversely, rewarding people for being rich. Which would be fine if everyone who was poor deserved it - but for the third time, NOTHING IS THAT BLACK AND WHITE (even you admit there's not 100% correlation). Is it that you have no ethical quarrel with "punishing" people for probably being lazy (in which case, you are a frighteningly heartless person), or do you simply ignore corner cases (ie, another incarnation of the black-and-white mistake)?

As for the actual point you were trying to make about tax reform, I'm not going to enter into that. I'm merely going to point out that

  • Reducing the tax rate on luxury items to the same rate as non-luxury non-essentials
  • Removing the tax on non-essentials
  • removing the tax on income
  • Removing the tax on property
  • Removing the tax on possessions

means a MUCH smaller tax revenue (unless you plan to simply make the figures your tax proposal extremely high, which will probably create a black market and public outcry). Although many here might support reducing tax and reducing services (and this is an argument I *DEFINITELY* don't want to enter into), no government would never agree to it, in the same way that no employee would ever agree to take a massive pay cut just to make a moral stand (especially when morals are highly subjective - an argument I don't want to enter into because anyone who argues for universal morality is a damned moron, and I have better things to do than argue with morons).

more than 4 years ago

The LHC, the Higgs Boson, and the Chicago Cubs

name*censored* Re:Well, duh! (194 comments)


R.E.M. - ItEoTWAWKi(AIFF).mp3

ftfy, ac.

more than 4 years ago

Student Loan Interest Rankles College Grads

name*censored* Re:Tough Shit. (1259 comments)

I mean shit, except of the very latest tech(which they don't teach in schools anyways) most things you can just buy a good book on... ok, buy the cheaper one published in India ;)

Perhaps universities are being phased out as the gatekeepers of knowledge; however, that doesn't mean that they're no longer useful.

  1. Firstly, universities serve as a respected reference - someone "self-taught" has already ruled themselves out of a massive segment of the market (I don't have figures, but I'd estimate at least 2/3). Many companies have no time, bureaucratic policies or plain old lack-of-knowledge on the part of interviewers which disallows any on-the-spot interview tests that lets the applicant show what they know (remember - anyone can claim to be self-taught and waste interview time when they're not qualified, it's easier from the company's POV to just disregard the lot of them). A university degree easily allows an applicant to (theoretically) show that they're suitably qualified to do the job.
  2. Secondly, a university degree guarantees that the person knows all the knowledge they should know - someone self-taught may be smart and eager, but that doesn't guarantee that they know everything they need to know. Without someone qualified to tell them what's required, they only have books to go on (which may miss relevant parts, overstress irrelevances, be incorrectly targeted or simply out-of-date).
  3. Thirdly, a university degree is an opportunity for social networking that simply isn't available to the self-taught - you can't deny that (now more than ever) the hardest part is getting your foot in the door.
  4. Fourthly, a university has equipment which is not necessarily available to the average person. Some industries like IT are lucky, because all they need in 95% of cases is a $300 desktop and an internet connection - but most, if not all other industries need expensive equipment beyond the reach of the average Joe.
  5. Finally, a university degree teaches you to "jump through hoops". Although the corporate hoops are very different to the hoops of academia, the principle is the same. Self-taught people rarely ever learn such hoop-jumping - why bother compiling proper bibliographies when you know your work is your own (and no-one else is there to check it anyway)? Why bother learning the latest industry mantras when your current method produces good results?

more than 4 years ago

Making an Open Source Project Press-Friendly

name*censored* Do your own damn work (169 comments)

Why do reporters think they're better than everyone else? No-one else has access to a high-ranking developer just to hold their hands and walk them through a project when that information is already out there (the other users seem to get along fine, or you wouldn't have heard of the project). Just because you're the modern equivalent of the loud-mouthed town gossip, doesn't make you special. Regardless of what journalist screed (the number of articles I've seen of journalists portraying themselves as fantastic heroes and the amount of journalistic fraternity/nepotism makes me sick) and corporate PR departments (they're using you, duh) say, you're not special. No-one gives a flying fuck about your "deadline". Deadlines are your problem and you should take it up with your boss if it's unworkable. There are millions of bored schoolkids with blogs chomping at the bit to take your place. If you're to stand a chance of staying afloat you have to offer something they won't - quality research (which takes time and effort). Remember that you're here to serve us, and you have more to gain than us*, not the other way around. [/rant]

* You may think that reporters are vital for "The Year Of The Linux Desktop", but I'm not buying it. Firstly, large F/OSS projects like mainstream distros do have many, many press avenues, and yet 2009 still isn't YOTLD. Secondly, YOTLD is an utopia us *nixers want where we get all of the good stuff associated with popularity (better hardware vendor support, mainstream acceptance of F/OSS principles, increased interoperability, richer software library, more developers/code contributors/bug fixers) without any of the bad stuff (malware, brainless users, bigger stakes on the developer Ego Wars, more hardware/software support nightmares, more pressure, more "boring bits" and less coding fun, etc). If YOTLD is delivered by reporters (instead of by technical merit and word-of-mouth), it will be because they dumbed it down, and we'd get mostly disadvantage and only a few of the advantages. Basically, YOTLD is a wet dream where society changes to be more computer literate, and most/all of our current IT nightmares die because everyone's using their brain. This is not as unlikely as you think - nowadays everyone's kid is a techno-wiz. Even if "techno-wiz" only means "I can work the myspace and the msn", the perception of ability alone might be enough to overcome their trepidation of computing, and allow them to try new things (ie, Linux).

more than 4 years ago

Team Aims To Create Pure Evil AI

name*censored* Re:How do you define evil? (527 comments)

First of all, actions do not embody good or evil.

I'd strongly disagree with this. A person is known by their actions. I can confidently describe Stalin or Pol Pot or Hitler as evil, yet I have no way of seeing their intentions (I can infer them from their actions, but there's always a chance I could be wrong in my inference). In your example, you say "what if I swerved" (blah blah blah) - any impartial onlooker would realise you were essentially choice-less (and chose what you regarded as the lesser of two evils), and therefore not vindictive. Or, with the person praying for the blind kid to be hit by a bus - if he does nothing about it, how could you know if he wants it? And if he doesn't believe what he thinks is evil, and no-one else knows, how can you say it's evil?

Here, you can either claim that evil is a moral absolute, or accept that morality is at least somewhat relative, and therefore is decided by consensus (usually societal consensus). I would argue that absolute morality is both impossible and ridiculous. For example, was it evil of cavemen to slaughter animals in a crueller way than we do now, or even evil of them to enjoy the thrill of the hunt (a thrill which is almost certainly responsible for our current existence)? Is the morality of wartime unjustifiable by the morality of peacetime? What about someone with obsessive thoughts (obsessive-compulsive people suffer from horrible thoughts, many of which may be considered "evil", and use compulsion to deal with it)? Furthermore, how can you be certain that your morality is the right morality? Even 100 years ago, society considered itself civilised, yet practised discrimination - and don't claim we don't still discriminate against some people, I'm sure there are thousands of people with paedophilic thoughts/desires who'd disagree if they had the guts to admit their desires.

However, you raise an interesting point. My gut definitely tells me that what all your examples think are evil, but I suspect that it has more to do with recognising the precursor to evil actions than the thoughts themselves being evil in and of themselves. Until they act on it, I wouldn't call their thoughts evil, simply the precursor to evil. I would agree that evil takes a measure of intention, but intention alone is not enough - not only can it not be measured, but in many cases, it's necessary and/or involuntary.

This work's primary benefit is to get people to think about the nature of evil.

Well that I'd agree with. But I suspect that Bringsjord is fully aware of that. Evil is an important tenet of the human psyche, for better or worse, and AI research could do with insights into the human psyche (which is unfortunately the only sufficiently intelligent thing we have to work with).

more than 4 years ago


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