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Comment Dump channels (Score 1) 200

I don't care what channel something is on. I just want my TV to present me with a slection of programmes I do like - given my watching history - and some suggestions for others I might like. When I choose one, just show me the dam' programme. That's all! If I then specify that I want more, don't ask me any questions: just get it.

Comment UBI is a one way street (Score 4, Insightful) 910

The point about UBI is that it provides enough to get by on.

That is fine as a temporary measure, but run the play through for a generation and see where it leads. The first thing that happens is that you have children growing up in an environment where there is no history of earning and no expectation of it. That leads to the question: why bother with an education? Once you start questioning that and consider the costs - books, all the stuff the "other kids" have, trips, the cost of transporting your offspring to school - it all adds up. And to what end? You don't have a job, the next generation is even less likely to have one - why expend energy and time learning stuff that will be no use.

After that we're really sunk: we have a generation who might just have picked up the basics: speech, a little counting, but who needs nothing more. Even if they are only a proportion of the population they are significant: not least because they will have a vote. But not only do they have no skills, they have no ability to pass on to their kids anything of themselves.

Sure, there would be machine learning available - but why bother, if you will never need that information or any skills.

Comment Decision subject to change (Score 1) 366

Since the occupants of the vehicle will have no input (except possibly as witnesses, but probably worse witnesses that the vehicles instruments and recorders) there will be nobody in the frame for liability except those who were killed or injured by the collision and the organisation who defined the vehicle's behaviour in that situation.

If that court finds there was any way that the vehicle makers could have avoided the "accident", they will assign liability and costs. So we can expect that on the one hand will be the technical, legal andfinancial might of an international, multi-billion-$$$ company - and on the other the grieving (and possibly penniless) family of the injured party. It doesn't take a genius to see which way that "justice" will go (in the USA, at least - other countries will find differently).

However, once a vehicle's occupant is the one making a claim, exactly the same power dynamic will come into play. But this time in reverse: with the company claiming that the occupant suffered because the vehicle took a decision in favour of the safety of others, I guess the case law and the whole future of the self-driving car's legal position will be decided by who wins, what claim, first?

It will come down to a flip of the coin. Sounds like it will be a good time to become a lawyer - just make sure you pick the right side.

Comment Feral or nurtured (Score 2) 76

From the article:

an approach called deep-learning, in which the program learns how to do tasks independently rather than being pre-programmed with a set of rules by a human.

So while humans learn many of life's most important things: how to use a fork, how to speak (and occasionally: listen), how to clothe ourselves. hpw to obey the law, by being "programmed" with a set of rules by a human, this machine figured it out by itself.

I can see that this has application in some areas, but to be a good member of society shouldn't we want certain aspects of co-existence, values and social behaviour to come from rules, rather than each person or computer coming too its own conclusion about co-operating?

Comment Re:Where's the love and support? Where's the tea? (Score 1) 200

this is the move to home automation expanding and growing

It's not home automation at all.

You still have to go to the kettle, and fill it with water. You still have to stop what you are doing to brew your tea. You still have to find a clean cup to put the tea in.

REAL home automation would know when you want a drink. It would make it for you. It would deliver it to you (where ever you are in the house) and pick up the dirty cup afterwards, wash it and stack it back in the cupboard.

This is just being a slave to your gadgets.

Comment Discontinuity of thought (Score 2) 252

Considered by the literary establishment, and frequently by non-SF award-giving institutions, to be trashy, pulpish, commercially driven lightweight gutter fiction,

The "establishment" scorn SF because it is about ideas, whereas mainstream fiction is about relationships.

Books about ideas require the reader to think, while books about relationships require that the readers feel. Thinking is much harder.

Comment Re:Money, money, money (Score 1) 497

Yes, I can categorically say you love The Mars Trilogy more than I do, since I've never read it.

As for the rest, I doubt that world public opinion could allow a commercial enterprise on Earth from abandoning the people IT had sent to Mars. You appear to still be thinking of this as a national / american enterprise. It isn't.

Comment Money, money, money (Score 2) 497

The shuttle programme cost about half a billion $$$ per launch, just for 1 vehicle to LEO.

Let's assume that with a decent design, efficient management and commercial flair the cost of a Mars mission is about the same - per journey: take-off to landing.

Let's also assume that for every populated launch, there is another that just carries supplies. The cost for 100 people to the red planet is about $1Bn - $10m per head. Now, I am sure there are plenty of people who would pay that amount. There are also many more that we (as the occupants of Earth) would be willing to raise the capital to send them - whether they want to go or not.

But to sustain $20Bn or more investment for 40 - 100 years before you have a viable colony needs more financing than one single internet outfit can provide - there are only so many millionaires who would be willing to walk away from their lives here on Earth. That kind of investment would only come from a nation or a religion.

It would also seem likely that some time after Musk got his operation running, there would be other operators entering the game. They would be setting up alternative colonies, for their own reasons and with their own goals in mind. It occurs to me that for a competing group, the simplest, least risky and cheapest route would be to NOT start up themselves, but to infiltrate or take over Musk's operation and then gain control of the colony (either by force, commercial shenanigans on Earth or indoctrination of the colonists) once it became self-sufficient.

Comment Security: GOOD, Vandalproof: ZERO (Score 1) 126

The other side of corporate espionage is denying a company access to its own databases, research, customer lists, ledgers and everything else that is required to keep a company going.

While this device is very good at preventing other people fromgetting that data, it's the worst design possible for preserving it in the face of adversity. All that a bad person would have to do to put you out of business, if you relied on this device, is to say "Boo!" and all your data disappears.

Of course, if you have a backup then that has to be at the same level of "security" as this PC or it becomes the weakest link. Instead it's the most breakable link - which is merely another form of weakness. The same goes for restoring all your lost data: if you rebuild the lost data from across a network connection, that has to be untappable, too. I don't think the people who built this have thought it through properly.

Comment ACCESS, not affordable access (Score 1) 180

The commission has also set a target for all European households to have access to download speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2025,

All this means is that ISPs will put a new, premium, service on their portfolios, priced at whatever it would cost them to install - or whatever they choose: either to make a killing from, or to discourage uptake.

There is nothing in this target to say the provision has to be affordable. So if an ISP in an out-of-the-way place, maybe halfway up a mountain, decides it would cost them €250,000 to provide their half-dozen subscribers with 100MBit/s connections, they would price the product accordingly.

As such, this is just a wish, but not a practical requirement that EU citizens must be given this sort of speed, for the tenner-a-month they are paying for "ordinary" broadband, now.

Comment Re:When will IT training become formal curriculum (Score 2) 103

It will never hit the curriculum because schools could never retain IT competent teachers. As soon as they were sufficiently highly skilled to teach any sort of IT class that was relevant, they'd be off to work in IT, rather then remain a teacher.

This is the exact same reason why companies don't train their (IT) staff. What is the point in spending money to make it easier for them to leave you?

Comment Note to operatives (Score 1) 299

Before deploying a "porn finding" dog, make sure to leave your collection in the police car.
The last thing you'd want to happen is the dog detects your thumb drive, or your phone - which given it's proximity is much more likely.

Or, worse: it detects your supervisor's phone / tablet / sd-card which then has to be taken in as evidence.

Yes, I know this mutt only detects residual fumes off electronics - if it actually "detects" anything at all that it's not pointed at. But the possibility of it grassing up its owner is too amusing.

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I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky