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Halting Problem Proves That Lethal Robots Cannot Correctly Decide To Kill Humans

tendrousbeastie Re:I think (333 comments)

Surely, all of those are definitions of a civilian.

about two weeks ago
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Creationism Conference at Michigan State University Stirs Unease

tendrousbeastie Re:It makes you uneasy? (1007 comments)

I think people should keep in mind that science doesn't try to prove thing - it tries to disprove things.

A theory is proposed, and it is scientific if and only if it makes testable, unique, quantifiable predictions. Those predictions are then tested and if they are shown to be 'not wrong' then we keep the theory.

At some point with most theories a prediction is found that does not pass the test, and then the theory is modified or replaced.

None of this implies that the theory is proved correct, only proved not wrong.

Religion doesn't do any of this - it does not make any testable predictions. So, there are valid reason to prohibit religion from the arena of science, but not really valid reasons to prohibit religion from the arena of truth.

(oblig. disclaimer - I am an atheist)

about a month ago
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Decades-old Scientific Paper May Hold Clues To Dark Matter

tendrousbeastie Re:"The data come from" (93 comments)

It isn't, I'm afraid. A 'herd' or a 'flock' etc. are a grammatical class called collective nouns, which are indeed treated as singular. The word 'data' isn't (and here I am refer to the single word 'data', not some collection of many datums).

You can tell that they're not the same thing, try saying "A data indicates that..." - it doesn't feel at all right does it? The fact that it only work when prefixed by 'the' tells us that it is a true plural noun and not a singular.

However, language being something that is subject to perpetual change though, it is something that 50 years form now will probably be very different. Many (most?) people do feel more comfortable conjugating 'to be' in the singular for the word data ( "the data is" rather than "the data are" ) so it is clearly undergoing some change at the moment.

about a month ago
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Torvalds: I Made Community-Building Mistakes With Linux

tendrousbeastie Re:The language in the old west (387 comments)

Apologies - I am posting to undo the mod I just left. I had modded informative, but I should have realised that this conversation is off-topic so I should have left it alone mod-wise.

about a month and a half ago
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Journalists Route Around White House Press Office

tendrousbeastie Re:If I were president... (111 comments)

Yes, but so long as we also accept that the President is also the person who, as an individual, is most able to try and change the system.

about a month and a half ago
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Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

tendrousbeastie Re:Let me get this right (839 comments)

In the UK we have VAT (Value Added Tax), currently at 20%.

It is not applicable to food, clothing, utilities (electricity, gas, etc.) and a very few other things, but is applied every other consumer retail transaction (things you might buy with cash or credit card)

In principle this exempts the bare necessities, but includes everything else.

It does not apply to capital spending, investments, property, etc, but then these fall under other tax categories (stamp duties, capital gains, etc.)

Just trying to give some context to the discussion.

about a month and a half ago
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How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything

tendrousbeastie Re:TFS BS detector alert (795 comments)

Watch out for the infinite regress though...

about 2 months ago
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You Got Your Windows In My Linux

tendrousbeastie Re: What's wrong with Windows Server? (613 comments)

It is though in part an issue of reputation - nobody claims that IE6 + 7 and older were secure; even Microsoft accepts that they are insecure.

But OpenSSL gets/got an implicit guarantee of security from its OSS nature.

Everyone knew IE6 was awful at security. People just trusted that OpenSSL was OK because of the OSS argument.

"Many eyes make all bugs shallow" is true, but relies on there being many eyes looking our for all of the bugs (not just those in the most obvious of systems).

about 3 months ago
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Information Theory Places New Limits On Origin of Life

tendrousbeastie Re:Empirical Data Trumps Information Theory (211 comments)

Information does travel through space at a velocity faster than c - see the EPR paradox, which was subsequently questioned by Bell, and then experimentally tested by Alan Aspect (sorry I don't know the correct French spelling for his name).

Based on the evidence, quantum information does seem to travel faster than c.

Given the paradox of the wave-function collapse within the Copenhagen interpretation of QM (once a particle is measured it takes on a definite set of properties, which means that the wave-function must collapse everywhere simultaneously) it suggests that quantum information is transfered instantaneously.

about 3 months ago
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UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

tendrousbeastie I love this debate (427 comments)

I agree with you entirely, rational debate about the facts and their support is entirely subsumed by the factional rivalry. But, there is a great and similar split in the followers of String Theory - those that assume it to be the only and obvious explanation of the world vs. those that don't even consider it science. The only difference is that because ST doesn't touch upon public policy there is a larger third community - those who don't care.

I think that fundamentally the difficulty with the AGM debate is that it is very hard (i.e. impossible) to separate the policy issues from the science issues.

about 3 months ago
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UN Study Shows Record-High Increases For Atmospheric CO2 In 2013

tendrousbeastie Re:Time for GATT Article XX tariffs (427 comments)

Surely, when the UK has a population of around 65 million, and China has a population of around 1400 million it makes a difference. We are talking about influencing government policy. So, we spend a huge effort changing UK policy, and at most we can effect a reduction in an output of:

7.7t * 65m = 500.5 million t ... while at the same time China is outputing:

7t * 1400m = 9800 million t.

The entire UK output is 5% of China's. If the UK can reduce its output by 20% (hugely unlikely, as just holding steady seems impossible to do), while the Chinese increase theirs by just 1% then the two effects cancel out (to some rounding error that I can't be arsed to calculate).

Focusing on those countries who are both raising their output the most and also have the largest populations (hello too India) seems perfectly sensible.

about 3 months ago
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PHP 5.6.0 Released

tendrousbeastie Re:It's powerful, but.. (118 comments)

I assume it is an ironic joke.

Historically calculating the date of Easter was a hugely difficult and complicated task for medieval scholastic monks - one that involved a huge amount of time and controversy.

about 3 months ago
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Tech Looks To Obama To Save Them From 'Just Sort of OK' US Workers

tendrousbeastie Re:Read that statement as follows: (441 comments)

"It's probably the most fucked up thing I've ever seen approved by HR to put up on the wall in an Engineering Department."

Why?

about 3 months ago
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Cosmologists Show Negative Mass Could Exist In Our Universe

tendrousbeastie Re:Negative mass- not antimatter, but odd (214 comments)

Would an opposite reaction to inertia mean that an object becomes easier to accelerate the more massive it becomes?

about 4 months ago
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Cosmologists Show Negative Mass Could Exist In Our Universe

tendrousbeastie Re:Negative mass is weird (214 comments)

Out of interest, if there were pair creation events of involving particles of negative mass/gravity how would we detect them?

I'm not being critical, I'm curious - how would a particle accelerator, or a bubble chamber or whatever, look different with a negative mass particle?

about 4 months ago
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Bill Gates To Stanford Grads: Don't (Only) Focus On Profit

tendrousbeastie Re:Also focus on (284 comments)

I've just modded the parent binarylarry +1 funny, and modded you down -1 off topic.

Then I posted this message, nullifying both of them.

Which I think brings balance back to the universe.

about 5 months ago
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HP Makes More Money, Cuts 16,000 Jobs

tendrousbeastie Re:Steve Jobs Was Ruthless, so cry ... (288 comments)

"but go back to our grandfather's days and you would find social responsibility (which was hard fought for, during the union days). companies DID care and they DID shoulder the burden during hard times, because they saw value in the INVESTMENT in their work force! it was common for people to work at the same company for 20, 30 even 40 years!

find anyone like that today. I dare you. if you find someone working 20 yrs at the same place, its extremely rare."

It works both ways though. Most companies know that a great majority of their workforce will leave for a better job if they have the opportunity to do so. It is rare for people to spend 20 years at the place even when they have the chance.

Employers might not have much long term loyalty but neither do employees - I'm not sure in which direction (if any) the causality works.

about 6 months ago
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HP Makes More Money, Cuts 16,000 Jobs

tendrousbeastie Re:Steve Jobs Was Ruthless, so cry ... (288 comments)

"HP puts 185 watt power supplies and changes the freaking components on the fly to save $.005 based on market conditions on the same model. So you can ahve +32 different combinations of the the HP 8500???! Sucks when you create an image as I never know which site at work has which HP 8500. They all ahve different hardware which is most likely defective."

But your company bought them, presumably in part because they where a good value purchase, which shows that there was a demand for such a range of products.

Your company could have chosen not to buy them and to buy something else instead, which if done in large enough numbers would cause HP to change its offering.

about 6 months ago
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How Concrete Contributed To the Downfall of the Roman Empire

tendrousbeastie Re:Economic reasons (384 comments)

The Huns is a good proximate cause, but of course had the same situation occurred two hundred years earlier the Romans would have easily seen the Vandals off. A deeper explanation is needed as to why the Romans couldn't defend themselves against a simple Germanic barbarian tribe on the run.

about 7 months ago

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