How the Ancient Egyptians (Should Have) Built the Pyramids
They're reinventing the wheel. A better solution is to use an inverted hyperbolic cosine catenary curve.
Magnitude 6.0 Quake Hits Northern California, Causing Injuries and Outages
People who live in brick houses with tile roofs in earthquake zones are just asking for trouble.
Study Finds That Astronauts Are Severely Sleep Deprived
I know Yi So-Yeon, the first Korean astronaut. She said she hated space. She wanted to throw up the whole time, and felt like her head was going to explode. (Both of these symptoms are caused by gravity not pulling things downwards, as well as the vestibular system being screwed up.)
Personally, I have been on a Zero-G "Vomit comet" flight, and it *was* "frickin awesome" until about the 15th parabola, then I started feeling extremely nauseated. I'm lucky we landed before I needed to throw up (some poor shmuck paid $6000 for the flight and had to strap himself into a seat so he could throw up constantly into a bag after the very first parabola). However, I have never felt more motion-sick -- it was *awful* -- and it didn't subside for over five hours after we landed.
Inside BitFury's 20 Megawatt Bitcoin Mine
Almost all hardware manufacturers *do* mine with all the hardware they make. They make it and mine with it even after you have paid for it. They then ship it to you right before the break-even point. There are endless stories out there about missed shipping deadline after missed shipping deadline, mining hardware companies making empty promises, and would-be miners receiving hardware a few months too late, by which point their projected return is orders of magnitude smaller than it would have been due to the increase in network hash rate between when they paid for the hardware and when they received it.
OKCupid Experiments on Users Too
Findings include that ... suggesting a bad match is a good match causes people to converse nearly as much as ideal matches would.
All this means is that OKC's match algorithms suck: there's only a weak correlation between match scores and real-world compatibility (like with every other dating site).
Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'
Building roads all over a continent is one of the fastest ways to decimate species.
Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later
Oh, and the reason I finally got PRK was because I realized PRK cost the same amount as my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and I valued seeing things with my eyes more than through a camera lens. I sold the camera and got PRK.
Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later
If you get Lasik, the structural integrity of your cornea will never be the same as it was. One impact of a branch on your eye, or a tag from your jacket flicking you in the eye, could dislodge the corneal flap... and trust me, that's an injury you don't want to have.
I opted for PRK instead of Lasik for the following three reasons: (1) there's no flap with PRK, so no loss of structural integrity; (2) PRK reportedly causes fewer problems with dry eyes (because you're not severing the nerves within the cornea, just cutting off the nerve endings); and (3) PRK removes less of the cornea than Lasik, making a later "touch up" operation more of an option.
Recovery from PRK was brutal -- for two weeks you can't see anything ("I see men as trees, walking") and it feels like someone has poked both your eyes with their thumbs. Five years later I still have frequent issues with dry eyes -- primarily, I often can't really open my eyes when I wake up until I have put drops in, they're very painful otherwise. Getting salt from the Dead Sea in my eyes recently was excruciatingly painful -- more so than for normal people. I don't have halos at night, but if my eyes are dry I get some glare.
Would I do it again? I think so -- life without glasses is awesome, and my vision is better than 20/20 now. I can live life without glasses for the next 10 years, then only need them while reading once presybyopia sets in. But the dry eyes almost make me say no, maybe it wasn't worth it. I go back and forth on this. And I miss the style factor of wearing glasses, to be honest.
Was Turing Test Legitimately Beaten, Or Just Cleverly Tricked?
Every news outlet is currently covering the story that a chatbot pretending to be a 13-year old Ukranian boy has deceived 33% of human judges into thinking it is a human, thereby "passing the Turing test for the first time".
There are so many problems with the Turing test (even with the numerous refinements to it that many have proposed) that I don't know if it will ever tell us anything useful. The creators of the above chatbot hinted that part of their success in convincing the judges was that “his age ... makes it perfectly reasonable that he doesn’t know everything” -- in other words, to make a believable bot, you can't give your bot super-human knowledge or capabilities, even if this is technically possible to do (e.g. computers can multiply large numbers almost instantly). Limiting computational power to appear human-like is known as "artificial stupidity". The need for artificial stupidity to pass the Turing test illustrates one of the deepest issues with the test, and one that cannot be fixed by simply tweaking the rules: the Turing test is a test of human dupe-ability, not of machine intelligence.
I'm pretty sure we'll start seeing several claims per year that a bot has "passed the Turing test", followed by a flurry of discussion about what was actually tested and whether the result is believable or even meaningful, until it becomes so cliche'd to say that your bot passed the Turing test that nobody with a halfway decent AI would actually *want* to claim that their AI passed a test of this form.
Hopefully we see the day when the Turing test is inverted, and we realize we need a test to establish that someone is a "genuine human" and not a bot ;-) But until then, we still have a heck of a lot of work to do!
In Physics, FTL = Faster Than Light. Nice pun.
Cellular Compound May Increase Lifespan Without the Need For Strict Dieting
(1) So since it works in worms, it will work in humans?
(2) And of course nature never thought of this before or tried this before. Reminds me of a TV character in the 80s (was it ALF? or Steve Urkel?) who was modifying car engines to get 200mpg. Trouble is, 500 miles down the road, the engine fell out of the car.
(3) Maybe nature doesn't want us living for 200 years? See (2).
Why Scientists Are Still Using FORTRAN in 2014
Forget Fortran, I want to know why anybody in their right mind is still using the obtuse juggernaut mongrel of a language known as C++ in 2014. (Even with the 11 and 14 versions don't make things any better, they only wallpaper over obtuse features with other obtuse features... very few people alive truly know all the weird quirks of C++ inside and out.)
Bill Would End US Govt's Sale of Already-Available Technical Papers To Itself
A 2560x1440 VR Headset That's Mobile
Low motion latency (not above half the frame interval) is far more important than resolution. None of these headsets are there yet.
Google Unveils Android Wear
You could also look out the window. That's the other thing on the wall that looks like a monitor, only it's 3D.
Who's On WhatsApp, and Why?
I just got back from traveling through Bedouin country in Jordan, and several Bedouin men who live miles from civilization without wired electricity and whose extent of knowledge of technology is how to drive their truck and charge their feature phone from solar panels separately told me that they use WhatsApp to communicate with other Bedouin families and friends. The cost savings over SMS is key, but the brilliance of WhatsApp was the decision even in this day and age to implement Symbian and J2ME clients.
If I Had a Hammer
This is ridiculous. The capabilities of man + machine will always be greater than the capabilities of a machine by itself, so we're not going to run out of intellectual jobs just because machines can do smarter things. Machines, including computers, are just power tools for the brain. (And I say this even as a full-time AI researcher with a PhD in the field, developing new AI algorithms for my day job at a major tech company.)
How Asimov's Three Laws Ran Out of Steam
The real problem with Asimov's Laws is that for them to be followed, they must be understood, and we are so far from being able to build any system capable of genuinely understanding anything that it is not realistic to believe we can impute laws with social nuance to an algorithm anytime in the immediate predictable future.
Mounting guns on robots that run computer vision algorithms to detect and kill humans, however, is last decade's technology.
(Disclaimer: I am an AI and NLP researcher at Google.)
Kdenlive Developer Jean-Baptiste Mardelle Has Been Found
An open source project stuck in "refactoring hell". Seems to have happened to Inkscape too. Such a waste.
Heavily refactoring projects of this size rarely brings any benefit for the users, it's just technical masturbation. If you're lucky, you will after a few years end up with a project that does the same things as before, most likely it will have acquired some bugs as icing on the cake.
That's why when we don't like code, we should start reimplementing it from scratch immediately.
Reuters: RSA Weakened Encryption For $10M From NSA
Since there are only about three people in the world that could actually tell you whether one set of elliptic curve constants are inherently more secure than another set, I'd say they deserve the $10M, probably a lot more. (Whether or not what they did is ethical is a totally different issue. It clearly was not ethical to betray the whole world's trust like that, especially for a company where half their core business is verifying trust.)
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