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Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

zmooc Don't fear the singularity (447 comments)

I don't think the technological singularity - if there's such a thing - should be feared. You may, however, want to fear widespread pseudo/artificial/whatever intelligence. Or just call it plain automation. Because it's going to take your job well before there's a technological singularity. And the challenges that need to be overcome to get us there are much easier than copying an amoebe. You don't need to be able to copy an amoebe in order to be able to do just about anything a human does better than a human.

We don't need to be able to copy amoebes for technology to take over the jobs of the drivers of all kinds of vehicles, all logistics personell, most IT personell, most construction workers, most car mechanics, all fast food personell, most military personell. You name it. And we're getting there fast; in fact replacing all these people would not really be so much of a technological challenge; it's now simply a matter of economics.

Prepare for a job in entertainment, (health) care, science or automating the hell out of anything or be without one in a decade. For quite some time, humans may still compete on the job market with general purpose robots, maybe they always will, but those jobs will inevitably be plain dull; computer tells you what to do, you do it, repeat. And there's all the reason to fear that...

4 days ago

Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

zmooc Re:Temporary (488 comments)

I don't agree. There's enormous potential for storage, either by those wind power producers themselves or by independent market parties. The situation is temporary in the sense that these storage capabilities need to be built and this takes time. Existing storage solutions (most notably pumped hydro) show that this is both technologically and economically feasible. In fact so much so that dedicated international powerlines (e.g. the NorNet cable) are built specifically to get cheap power to those storage facilities.

That's the large scale. On the smaller scale, many European countries are updating local infrastructure (e.g. electricity meters) to enable households to plan their electricity use when the most power is available (e.g. make the fridge extra cold, charge your car, start the washing machine, fill the boiler or simply charge your own electricity storage). And the other way around is possible too: at times when electricity demand is high, empty your cars' batteries or dedicated storage, turn off the fridge or increase your CHP output and and mane some money.

Also, even those large scale "grey" power plants can still be economical. However, their electricity will be much more expensive, obviously, since keeping an expensive plant on standby is not cheap. This is also a great incentive for those power companies to start working on storage.

Also note that while this may be true for some countries (e.g. Germany), "(...) make renewables profitable legislators had to massively shaft everyone else with punitive measures (...)" is not true for all countries and was not a requirement for getting all this "green" power online at all.

about two weeks ago

Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

zmooc Temporary (488 comments)

This can only be a temporary problem. If those guys have a properly functioning electricity market, energy storage companies will bite. Obviously, this would work much better if end-users/suppliers were actually billed the actual electricity price instead of some kind of average. That way, they could change their behavior to match it or even consider storing their self-produced electricity. This could get a major boost if the electricity prices would be available in real-time to your fridge, washing machine, car charger and solar batteries.

What could also help tremendously, is if the countries around them shared the same ambition. If not, they will keep stuffing the hole until a major electricity dip comes around sometime mid-winter and the Danes will blackout.

about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Choosing a Data Warehouse Server System?

zmooc But what do you need? (147 comments)

Sounds like you're very good in the buzzword-department but have no idea what you're doing at all.... What kind of data are we talking about? Lots of writes? Lots of reads? Is the data suitable for splitting up? What kind of queries will you need to run? Do you need uptime? Or consistency?

Also if you're looking at MSSQL or Oracle, you obviously DO NOT HAVE Big Data. Big Data is data that cannot be dealt with using regular RDBMSes. Do you really have or plan to have multiple terabytes of data? If not, you don't have big data.

Based on the information you've given us we cannot give you any advice at all apart from stopping what you're doing and hiring an expert.

about three weeks ago

"Ambulance Drone" Prototype Unveiled In Holland

zmooc Re:People are the problem (82 comments)

Anybody can use the AED's in use in the Netherlands; they are fully automatic and tell you exactly what to do.

about a month ago

We Need Distributed Social Networks More Than Ello

zmooc Re:We had a distributed social network (269 comments)

Thank you sir. That's exactly what we need; we just need to take the web back using open standards.

However, I think one or two major things are currently missing. The first is that the browser needs to be involved - in order to be able to properly authenticate on all your friends' walls/blogs/homepages, we need it to be automated: we need your browser to be able to tell any website you want it to where your online identify "lives". Furthermore, we need those online identies to be able to trust and communicate with each other - for example in order to access your "wall" as an RSS feed in order to show it on your newsfeed, your friends' provider will need to authenticate with yours.

Furthermore, we need a much broader protocol for those "online identity providers" to be able to fully replace functionality currently offers by Facebook/Whatsapp/Flickr/LinkedIn etc.

Without these two things, this will never work. But with them not only social network functionality can be fully replaced, but we can probably do away with logins on websites and filling out our address or payment info in webshops as well.

about a month ago

Fusion Reactor Concept Could Be Cheaper Than Coal

zmooc Re:The $50,000 question... more energy out than in (315 comments)

Waste heat already is quite a lot: 15 terawatt. Global warming equals something like 250 terawatt. If energy consumption keeps growing about 1.5% / year like it has for the past few decades, it will take about 80 years (T+80) for waste heat contribution to overtake the heat flux from earths interior. 40 years later (T+120) our waste heat will equal the total energy used by photosynthesis. In about two centuries from (T+200) now it will have risen to values comparable to what the greenhouse effect does today. Two more centuries later (T+400) we'll finally quality for our Kardashev Type I medal according to some and yet two centuries later (T+600) our energy consumption will surpass the total solar irradiation. In theory, because by then we'd be fried unless we have our giant space coolers in place. About two millenia (T+2500) later our power requirements will outshine the sun.

about 1 month ago

Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

zmooc Ridiculous (463 comments)

What's ridiculous here is that charges will not be pressed *because* the officer did not violate Vehicle Code section 23123.5 (which prohibits operating electronic wireless communication devices while driving) since it "does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle".

Apparently they totally failed to check whether the dude might have violated the law that says you should not kill people by driving over them with your car, which he obviously did violate.

Apparently killing people with your car is illegal UNLESS you're doing it while operating an electronic communications device in a police car; in that case you actually get a reward: the job you applied for over a year ago. How odd...

about 3 months ago

Google Introduces HTML 5.1 Tag To Chrome

zmooc Re:talk about "old tech" (94 comments)

It's much more than that; the images contained in a TIFF file cannot be downloaded separately while the images contained in a picture-tag can. This way I don't have to wait for ages when browsing on my phone while I can still enjoy top quality images on my desktop. That was already possible by allowing the webserver to serve a different pictures based on the User Agent, but that's ugly and it doesn't allow the user to choose the bigger file after all. Furthermore, this new tag allows the browser to select an image based on the speed of the connection, potentially making the web much more responsive in general.

about 3 months ago

Man-Made "Dead Zone" In Gulf of Mexico the Size of Connecticut

zmooc Re:Get the neutient right at least (184 comments)

Stop phosphorus runoff

Peak phosphorus is expected by 2030. Total depletion a few decades later. This problem will solve itself and while doing so it will probably solve the overpopulation problem as well;-)

about 4 months ago

After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart

zmooc Re:I don't blame them for being mad. (219 comments)

Germans have always had more of an issue with "being spied on" than others do. For example, Germany is one of the only countries in which taking a picture with others on it is illegal unless you've got permission from all subjects!

Also, Germans have major issues with Google Streeview and they were the ones that sued Google for receiving their wifi-broadcasts.

I think they've taken this privacy-thing a bit too far, though...

about 5 months ago

Study: People Would Rather Be Shocked Than Be Alone With Their Thoughts

zmooc Re:Sad, sad times... (333 comments)

For the record I would have ZERO problem doing this at all... in fact I could think for hours...

I bet you cannot do this on a deadline set by others in an environment you're not familiar with. You're just going to sit and wait for the researchers to come back in and announce that your "thinking" period is over. This experiment obviously fails to create the conditions that are needed to be properly alone with your thoughts.

I would absolutely not be able to concentrate in this setting even though I have no trouble at all to be alone with my thoughts for extended periods.

about 5 months ago

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal By Google Over Street View Data Collection

zmooc But why? (113 comments)

I really don't get this. You get a radio transmitter, start transmitting stuff en then go complaining that others are listening. Anybody, corporations like Google included, should have the absolute right to do whatever they want with any electromagnetic or other radiation that reaches their bodies or equipment. Any restriction on that would be the modern-day equivalent of prohibition to look at things. If you don't want me to see your stuff or receive your radio waves or listen to your sound waves, just don't be so rude to transmit them towards me, even penetrating my body.

about 5 months ago

Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

zmooc Dark matter? (347 comments)

So photon's act like matter at bit more often than we expected, right? How much of dark matter/dark energy problem can this phenomenon account for?

about 5 months ago

Even In Digital Photography Age, High Schoolers Still Flock To the Darkroom

zmooc Re:It's a hipster thing (240 comments)

It's not (only) a hipster thing; it's mostly a budget thing. Many photographers want to work with a properly large camera (35mm full frame, medium format (60x60mm) etc. Since most of us don't have the budget to shell out at least several thousand bucks up to well over $10K for a proper camera, our only option to get large format quality is to use old school film.

Said differently: digital has only surpassed film quality in a cost-effective way for very small sensors and/or large volumes of photographs (where the cost of developing film starts to become a factor).

about 5 months ago

Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

zmooc Re:Meanwhile, in reality world... (784 comments)

That's not what that link says; it says it has been losing mass "since at least 2002". While it is obviously losing mass now, it has most probably not "been melting for decades". We don't have any serious data on that before 2002, when GRACE was launched. Funny how the real facts get in the way of a good misinformation campaign.

about 7 months ago

Australian Government To Standardise On Drupal

zmooc Re:Those poor bastards (102 comments)

4.) Rich content editing - Good, finally they found one reason to standardize their CMS onto every agency - because this is such a huge problem with CMSes - wait, what? No, it's not.

As far as I'm aware, all available editors are based on contenteditable functionality, which has been bug-ridden for years and simply was not designed to offer a rich content editing experience to the end user of a CMS. Yes, this is a huge problem with CMSes, including Drupal. For this reason, this is not fluff, pointless of misleading, it is an outright lie.

about 7 months ago

Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?

zmooc Gameability (800 comments)

One thing I believe was not mentioned in the article (though I only quickly scanned it) is that if such cars start behaving too predictively, they can be gamed. Once we know that a car will do whatever it can to avoid a collision with a pedestrian, it will be extensively gamed; cars will be tricked into doing stupid things.

So when the decision who to hit comes up, the only way to be reasonably safe is to determine who's not following the rules and to hit that one. Any other rules will be gamed extensively. This will become a major hassle to adoption of autonomous vehicles; they will probably need to drive much slower than actual humans to avoid getting into such situations continuously, especially in built-up areas where any parked car could hide an annoying car-bully trying to trick your car into acting like an idiot.

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

zmooc My tech stuff that fails to break (702 comments)

Sony Clie (1999)
Pentax K-5 (2011)
Megallan GPS (2000)
Samsung BW laserprinter (2003)
Subaru Outback (1995)
Yamaha Clavinova (1988)

Apart from the Pentax DSLR I have not encountered similarly sturdy stuff recently... built to last mostly appears to be a thing from the past:|

about 7 months ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Handle Unfixed Linux Accessibility Bugs?

zmooc Use windows (266 comments)

Just use windows. It doesn't really work any better but at least they don't break core functionality a few times a year and then take months to fix it...

Ok maybe I'm exaggerating and this is only an Ubuntu problem; it's been years since I've been annoying-bug-free for more than 3 months with...

about 8 months ago


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