the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Sep-21 today archive

Alterslash picks up to the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

GNU's Former Kernel Maintainer Shares 'A Reflection on the Departure of Richard Stallman'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Thomas Bushnell, BSG, founded GNU's official kernel project, GNU Hurd, and maintained it from 1990 through 2003. This week on Medium he posted " a reflection on the departure of RMS." There has been some bad reporting, and that's a problem. While I have not waded through the entire email thread Selam G. has posted, my reaction was that RMS did not defend Epstein, and did not say that the victim in this case was acting voluntarily. But it's not the most important problem. It's not remotely close to being the most important problem.

This was an own-goal for RMS. He has had plenty of opportunities to learn how to stfu when that's necessary. He's responsible for relying too much on people's careful reading of his note, but even that's not the problem.

He thought that Marvin Minsky was being unfairly accused. Minsky was his friend for many many years, and I think he carries a lot of affection and loyalty for his memory. But Minsky is also dead, and there's plenty of time to discuss at leisure whatever questions there may be about his culpability. RMS treated the problem as being "let's make sure we don't criticize Minsky unfairly", when the problem was actually, "how can we come to terms with a history of MIT's institutional neglect of its responsibilities toward women and its apparent complicity with Epstein's crimes". While it is true we should not treat Minsky unfairly, it was not -- and is not -- a pressing concern, and by making it his concern, RMS signaled clearly that it was much more important to him than the question of the institution's patterns of problematic coddling of bad behavior. And, I think, some of those focusing themselves on careful parsing of RMS's words are falling into the same pitfall as he....

Minsky was RMS's protector for a long long time. He created the AI Lab, where I think RMS found the only happy home he ever knew. He kept the rest of the Institute at bay and insulated RMS from attack (as did other faculty that also had befriended RMS). I was around for most of the 90s, and I can confirm the unfortunate reality that RMS's behavior was a concern at the time, and that this protection was itself part of the problem...

Bushnell also calls Stallman "a tragic figure. He is one of the most brilliant people I've met, who I have always thought desperately craved friendship and camaraderie, and seems to have less and less of it all the time. This is all his doing; nobody does it to him. But it's still very sad. As far as I can tell, he believes his entire life's work is a failure..."

But Bushnell concludes that "It is time for the free software community to leave adolescence and move to adulthood, and this requires leaving childish tantrums, abusive language, and toxic environments behind."

"Not a pressing concern"?

By Harvey Manfrenjenson • Score: 3 • Thread

RMS treated the problem as being "let's make sure we don't criticize Minsky unfairly" [...] While it is true we should not treat Minsky unfairly, it was not -- and is not -- a pressing concern, and by making it his concern, RMS signaled clearly that it was much more important to him than the question of the institution's patterns of problematic coddling of bad behavior.

So, to summarize: The question of an individual's innocence or guilt is "not a pressing concern", since it is more important for us to correct historical patterns of unfairness than it is for us to treat an accused individual fairly.

I'll say this for the author: he is crystal clear in expressing his beliefs. The only problem is that his beliefs are horrifying.

Re:I just don't buy the shit MIT...

By tsqr • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

The computational ability of the human mind is finite. The more of it you use on phrasing your words, the less of it you use on understanding the code.

Nice rationalization. You appear to have entirely missed the point.

Which takes less time to read? Which takes less effort to write? Which one can't be misinterpreted?

Of course, the type of asshole under discussion is more likely to say, "Line 143 is memory leaking crap, you moron," than either of the alternatives you give.

Re: I just don't buy the shit MIT...

By NeoMorphy • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I'm not sure how the previous poster was modded up while you were modded down. I understood what you meant but they interpreted it as a physical only handicap while there are many on the autistic spectrum who are gifted coders but communicate poorly at times. Implying that it is their fault that they have this problem is unfair and reminds me of how bullies like to target people with weaknesses while rationalizing that it's okay, because their target is different from other people. Not all of the U.S. Is like this. There are people who claim they don't hire strong people with social weaknesses, but I suspect they are really just jealous of talented people, and pretending they have power over them is their way of acting out.


By phantomfive • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Erika Christakis is not a powerful women.

Yeah, that's a really bad situation. She did absolutely nothing wrong, except start a dialog supporting free expression. She was right and also extremely respectful about it.

Blame the victim

By Vlijmen Fileer • Score: 3 • Thread

In other words: he "dared" to act normally, which is not accepted any more by a small but growing group of intolerant screechers. He was then attacked over it by said goons, and because he "should have foreseen it", it's actually his own fault.

I'm speechless.

That is basically actively advocating for the downfall of society into some sort of dystopian hell hole.

Home Depot and Lowe's Accused of Scanning Millions of Customers Faces

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
JustAnotherOldGuy tipped us off to this story. The Daily Mail reports: Home Depot and Lowe's are secretly using facial recognition technology to track customer movement in their stores, violating privacy laws in Illinois, plaintiffs in two class action lawsuits say.

The plaintiffs, who are Illinois residents, allege the two big box retailers are using the technology without properly notifying customers or seeking their consent, as required by state law... The collection of the biometric data requires written notification, a statement of purpose for the collection of that data and duration for which it will be kept, and written consent from the individuals from which the data is being collected, the lawsuits both state. Neither store, according to both lawsuits, met the benchmarks set in the Illinois law, also know as BIPA and which was enacted in 2008. "Plaintiffs and the class members did not consent to the disclosure or dissemination of their biometric identifiers," say both of the class actions.

No evidence is provided for the allegations, although the American Civil Liberties Union confirmed last year that Lowe's was using facial recognition, citing mentions in its 2018 privacy policy. However, IPVM, a camera surveillance industry news site, noted that the privacy policy this year no longer has references to the technology... Walmart also was testing the technology, according to the ACLU, and Madison Square Garden was considering using it. The civil rights organization points out on its website that "stores have a strong financial incentive to collect as much information about their customers as they can get. And we do know that when it comes to this kind of cutting-edge technology, which is taking the human race to places it's never been before, the public has a right to know what stores are doing with it, if anything, so they can vote with their feet if they don't like it."

Camera's and AI.

By Arzaboa • Score: 3 • Thread

As I read this, it makes me wonder. When I go to my local Home Depot there are cameras in a few of the isles where they have lots of expensive small items.

These cameras ding at me when I walk past them. The red light comes on. It has a screen that shows what I assume is the video it's "seeing." I see video of myself as I walk past it. It seems clear to me in my mind that I am being recorded.

What never crossed my mind is that they are recording and saving me for later processing. I thought what I was doing was mundane. I did not know that I was sharing anything for the further progression of the store. I figured that someone was going to look for the thief later in the day and that it wasn't going to be me.

The databases of videos of people grabbing items are big money to companies like Amazon and Google, Alibaba, etc.

I used to be the customer. Now I'm the product. They now record me to train their AI. I feel like I'm being asked to believe that recording me is good for the greater good. Maybe it is when AI will be running the world. Maybe examples of altruism will benefit us.

My worry is what happens when I need bread when I'm the one that is hungry and the world is fed by robots that aren't hungry?

Any decision I make is the biggest decision of my life. -- Carmelo Anthony

Was Cuba's Mysterious Sonic Weapon Just Mosquito Gas?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Remember concerns about possible "sonic attacks" in Cuba? Long-time Slashdot reader kbahey shares an update: In the wake of the health problems experienced over the past three years by US and Canadian staff in Havana, Cuba embassies, Global Affairs Canada commissioned a clinical study by a team of multidisciplinary researchers.

Now, the working hypothesis is that the cause could instead be neurotoxic agents used in pesticide fumigation.

The BBC has more coverage on this, saying it may have been merely mosquito gas.

"The researchers found that since 2016, Cuba launched an aggressive campaign against mosquitoes to stop the spread of the Zika virus," reports the CBC: The embassies actively sprayed in offices, as well as inside and outside diplomatic residences -- sometimes five times more frequently than usual. Many times, spraying operations were carried out every two weeks, according to embassy records...

The researchers are now looking to collaborate with Cuban officials to determine whether any Cubans suffered similar brain injuries...

Question answered

By sjames • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Many people have noted that government officials act as if they've been huffing bug spray...

Now we know.


By tsqr • Score: 3 • Thread

When I saw "mosquito gas" in the headline, I was hoping for a story about insect flatulence.

The Energy Weapon Story

By careysub • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

A fundamental problem with the reports of these illnesses being attributed to with sonic or RF energy weapons is that the U.S. intelligence community has extremely good sensors for both of these things. You don't have to know the exact modulation or frequency, etc. to detect that RF energy in various bands, or sonic energy in various frequency ranges, is present in the supposed target area.

But I have never read a single account reporting that any anomalous energy of either type was ever detected. The lack of detection if any such monitoring was ever done would be conclusive disproof of the energy weapon hypothesis. I conclude one of the following must be true:

  1. Sonic or RF energy was detected but it is being kept highly classified
  2. No attempt at detection was ever made
  3. There was no energy weapon

I am leaning toward item 3.

This is different from detecting chemical contaminants, which lack the sort of broad spectrum universal detection tools. You can however detect suppressed acetylcholinesterase activity if any sort of nerve agent exposure occurred.

Reminds me of "Swap Gas"

By Mindragon • Score: 3 • Thread

Government: Nothing to see here... it's just swamp gas and weather balloons.

Rest of the world: Hmm.

Re:Reminds me of "Swap Gas"

By Guspaz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Why would Cuba attack Canadian diplomats, when Canada is an ally and trading partner? Canada never had a beef with Cuba, that was all on the US. They have no reason or motivation to attack Canada's diplomats.

Ubisoft To Send Cease & Desist Requests To DDoS Services Attacking 'Rainbox Six Siege' Players

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader writes: Ubisoft plans to send cease & desist legal letters to operators of DDoS-for-hire services, also known as DDoS booters or DDoS stressors. The company said it plans on making this step as part of a global action plan to curb DDoS attacks aimed at Rainbox Six Siege multiplayer servers.

The French video game company has been under a wave of DDoS attacks ever since last week when it launched the Operation Ember Rise update for the Rainbow Six Siege game. Along with the update, Ubisoft also performed a reset of multiplayer rankings. Following the reset, multiple players are suspected to have started launching DDoS attacks at the company's servers.

The cheating players have been using the DDoS attacks to trigger server lag and slow down matches. The goal was to annoy opponents, who in many cases would end up disconnecting and receiving a penalty for leaving the match, allowing the player who launched the DDoS attack to gain rank points undeserved. The DDoS attacks have been widespread as several players got wind of the trick and started renting DDoS firepower from online DDoS for-hire sites.

That game is so toxic

By sunking2 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

My son plays it. I've never seen more douche bags than in that game.

Ex-Google Engineer Says That Robot Weapons May Cause Accidental Mass Killings

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"A former Google engineer who worked on the company's infamous military drone project has sounded a warning against the building of killer robots," reports Business Insider.

Long-time Slashdot reader sandbagger quotes their report: Laura Nolan had been working at Google four years when she was recruited to its collaboration with the US Department of Defense, known as Project Maven, in 2017, according to the Guardian. Project Maven was focused on using AI to enhance military drones, building AI systems which would be able to single out enemy targets and distinguish between people and objects. Google canned Project Maven after employee outrage, with thousands of employees signing a petition against the project and about a dozen quitting in protest. Google allowed the contract to lapse in March this year. Nolan herself resigned after she became "increasingly ethically concerned" about the project, she said...

Nolan fears that the next step beyond AI-enabled weapons like drones could be fully autonomous AI weapons. "What you are looking at are possible atrocities and unlawful killings even under laws of warfare, especially if hundreds or thousands of these machines are deployed," she said.... Although no country has yet come forward to say it's working on fully autonomous robot weapons, many are building more and more sophisticated AI to integrate into their militaries. The US navy has a self-piloting warship, capable of spending months at sea with no crew, and Israel boasts of having drones capable of identifying and attacking targets autonomously -- although at the moment they require a human middle-man to give the go-ahead.

Nolan is urging countries to declare an outright ban on autonomous killing robots, similar to conventions around the use of chemical weapons.

Re:WTF ever happened to "Do No Evil"?

By 2TecTom • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

There is nothing evil — nor even unethical — about weapons-development. Firing people for their opinions — unrelated to their duties — now that may be wrong. Weapons-development? No, that is fine, whether you work for Google or General Dynamics.

It started off so ethically, and look at it now

Bullshit. It started off with an awesome search-engine, and that is why everybody liked it. And continues to.

The moment someone creates a better search engine, we'll all switch over and Google will go the way of Altavista.

There is nothing evil — nor even unethical — about weapons-development. Firing people for their opinions — unrelated to their duties — now that may be wrong. Weapons-development? No, that is fine, whether you work for Google or General Dynamics.

It started off so ethically, and look at it now

Bullshit. It started off with an awesome search-engine, and that is why everybody liked it. And continues to.

The moment someone creates a better search engine, we'll all switch over and Google will go the way of Altavista.

I can't agree with anything you claim, violence simply begets more violence. Even in cases of self defence, violence is rarely, if ever, the best option. You're obviously not familiar with Morihei Ueshiba and Aikido, but you've most likely heard of Gandhi, so you should be aware there are realistically better options than resorting to violence. Violence is merely the last and usual response of the incompetent. Weapons development is merely the advancement and reliance upon violence. The only end to an arms race is mutually assured destruction. Hardly a sought after outcome. People really need to stop spouting such uninformed militaristic justifications. It's dangerous and ridiculous.I doubt if you will get this, but many, many others do.

As for the search engine argument, the two founders of Google built the best search engine at the time, but they also started the company with the motto "Do No Evil", and Google has absolutely no business being involved in the development of lethal weapons that no one really needs. There's quite a few options in the search field these days, google isn't the "best" in all areas anymore, especially where privacy is concerned. You seem a little naive, giving all the allegations Google is embroiled in. Google is so well capitalized, it's not going anywhere, even if there are better engines.

Advocation and furtherment of violence is ethically wrong. No matter how you slice it.

May and might.

By malkavian • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's the realms of risk management. Quite correct to say "X may happen". But where, on the spectrum of possibilities? People have been aware of this risk for a goodly long time, and there are literally hordes of people working on solutions to make it as unlikely as possible.
What I'm seeing increasingly is people having absolutely no concept of where on the spectrum of risk things are, and marking any risk as unacceptable. This is, of course, impossible. With that kind of thinking, at the start of humanity, someone would have been looking at how to create fire, and people would have mobbed them that it was crazy to do that, as just think of all the people that would be killed by fire, and thus stopped the development of the ability to start fire.
They would, of course, have been right. Over the millennia since that time, countless people have died by fire. However, the lives protected, nurtured and ultimately saved by it are far greater.
I'm all for people opening the cans of worms, and saying "there's a risk here that people need to pay attention to". That's good practice.
Shutting everything down because you see a risk that you don't have the ability or training to put into correct context is very bad practice.

Self Driving Car + Load Of Explosives = Kaboom

By Crashmarik • Score: 3 • Thread

Really she must be a political engineer looking to move into management because this is issue came went and had been decided over 50 years ago. It was too late when the first smart bomb was invented and you really have to look at the world with your eyes closed to not understand that it's been that way since WWII when both sides were already deploying smart and semi smart weapons.

Hell B. F. Skinner managed to turn pigeons into a guidance system for anti ship bombs.

I really want to see how she plans to stop anyone who wants to from weaponizing one of these little single board robotics/vision processing platforms

Isaac Asimov already solved that problem

By rossdee • Score: 3 • Thread

The First Law of Robotics

Like a bottle of chlorine gas?

By Tough Love • Score: 3 • Thread

A bottle of chlorine gas can cause mass killings, and it is dumb as a rock. Maybe dumber. Doesn't stop us from sending bottles of chlorine gas to public swimming pools.

In Hong Kong, Protesters and Police Are Now Doxxing Each Other

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
As protests continue to rock Hong Kong, social media sites are now being used to share names, photos, phone numbers, ages and occupationa of individuals "on both sides of the protest line," reports the Guardian: Supporters of the Hong Kong government have sought to identify masked protesters at demonstrations, while protesters themselves also appear to have taken part, sharing private information about police officers and their families across Telegram... Hong Kong's privacy commission said it had received 1,376 complaints and 126 enquiries between 14 June and 18 September regarding personal information being leaked online, according to Stephen Kai-yi Wong, privacy commissioner for personal data. While journalists have become a high-profile target, about 40% of cases involve police officers while the rest concern government officials, community leaders, the families of police officers, and other citizens, Wong said....

Craig Choy, a spokesperson for Hong Kong's Progressive Lawyers Group and a specialist in data protection law, said the high volume of cases was unprecedented in Hong Kong... The privacy commission has referred nearly 1,000 cases for criminal investigation and consideration for prosecution. Eight people were arrested in July for doxxing police officers, according to Hong Kong Free Press. Choy said doxxing of police began after officers stopped wearing badge numbers on their uniforms when they attended protests -- leading protesters to attempt to identify officers independently as police tactics and arrests began to escalate.

Re:Not going to end well

By meerling • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The turnover of Hong Kong to China had restrictions on it. Certain things had to be maintained until a certain time, which is still far away.
China has been continuously violating that agreement, much to the detriment of the residents of Hong Kong.
The HK people are seriously pissed over getting F'd over by China, despite the agreements to not do so.

On the other hand, China is showing they don't give a F about their international agreement to obtain HK. They also have an ideological need to not show any tolerance for deviation from the standard rules they set for the populace. HK having any variations from that is something that the Chinese government can't stand, and foolishly thinks that it undermines their entire rule. (Too nearsighted to see that violating their agreement undermines their authority far more of a threat than a newly returned region having some limited autonomy.)

Do you really think China will act rationally?
I don't. They murdered people in Tienanmen Square, and suppress knowledge of those events from their own people, why in the heck would anyone think they're going to give in to HK? After all, they got away with it at least once so far.

Of course this is even bigger than Tienanmen Square, but that just means it's going to end up being a much bigger mess. China is already at fault and upping the ante against civilians that are in the right to protest. This will end in blood.

Re:Pigs out of uniform

By meerling • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Not in the US. They'd still go after you as a cop killer, despite the police acting in violation of the law.
Don't forget, this is the country where cops decided to beat the crap out of an unresisting man and charged him for "assaulting an officer" because they got his blood on their uniforms when they nearly beat him to death.

Goals of waving American flags

By LaughingRadish • Score: 3 • Thread

This practice of waving American flags in Hong Kong is strange. I hear noises along the lines of protesters trying to force the government out and institute a new one that will apply for Hong Kong to become a territory of the United States. Won't that be a grand can of worms?

Re: Not going to end well

By Ogive17 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
I was in china a few years ago. The youth absolutely know what is going on. They seem to be biding time until the ruling generation is gone. Similar to how we are waiting out the baby boomers in the US.

Re:Pigs out of uniform

By SvnLyrBrto • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The charges for the bleeding on the uniforms were actually destruction of public property... one each for the four cops he bled on while they were beating him. And he wasn't *just* an unresisting victim. He was in jail in the first place on a totally false charge, invented from whole cloth (In reality: Driving While Black.). The cops invented a fictional warrant against him as pretext for arresting him in the first place, beat the living hell out of him, and then destroyed the videotape from the camera covering the room where they did so.

Does America's First Commercial Offshore Wind Farm Portend a Clean Energy Revolution?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Slashdot reader Dan Drollette describes visiting one of North America's biggest experiments in renewable energy, off the coast of Rhode Island.

As the only commercial offshore wind farm in North America, Block Island is "setting the stage for what could be a rapid explosion in the number of commercial offshore windmills on the entire East Coast of the United States, assuming they leap the latest set of ever-changing legal hurdles set by fossil-fuel friendly regulators in Washington, DC." The goal of the Block Island test wind farm -- which started construction in the summer of 2015 and started generating some power in December 2016 -- is to see if it is technologically, environmentally, and scientifically possible to transfer offshore wind power technology from Europe to North America... This five-turbine, 30-megawatt endeavor has been effectively acting as a multi-year, real-world experiment in offshore wind power for the United States, paving the way for offshore wind farms on the northeast coast and the mid-Atlantic that could each be as much as 600 times the size of this test site, with hundreds of turbines generating electricity for hundreds of thousands of homes from just one full-scale, industrial-sized wind farm. There are more than a dozen large offshore "wind lease areas" suitable for wind farms currently up for bid from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, stretching from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Massachusetts alone is soliciting contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind development (half have now been sold), which is more than 50 times the size of this pilot project off of Block Island.... Once it is built and running, the Massachusetts project off Martha's Vineyard alone will provide enough energy to power at least 230,000 households, or about a third of the state's residential energy demand.

Other states are working on a similar gargantuan scale. All told, there are 28 offshore wind projects in the works on the East Coast, with a total capacity of 24 gigawatts, or 24,000 megawatts. To give a sense of the massive size of the generating power of the wind farms now in the works, the first commercial civilian nuclear reactor in the United States -- Massachusetts' Yankee Rowe Nuclear Power Station, now decommissioned -- generated just 185 megawatts at its peak. But after decades of false starts and tangled litigation, a sea change appears to be occurring for offshore wind in the United States, as this country races to catch up with Northern Europe, where this renewable energy source has become increasingly mainstream and increasingly cheap... And these offshore wind projects could have a big impact on the environment. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that the newly contracted wind farms would offset carbon emissions equivalent to removing about 270,000 cars from the road. They could play a key role in reducing the region's climate change footprint, while allowing the New England economy to grow...

Consequently, this handful of windmills in one test plot have been closely watched, studied, and debated, from multiple points of view, by many different "stakeholders," as the parlance goes -- including Wall Street analysts, investment firms, engineers, economists, sociologists, fisheries experts, environmental activists, historic preservationists, ornithologists, marine mammal biologists, Native American tribes, scallopers, long-liners, oystermen, sport fisherman, real estate investors, the tourism industry, and homeowners. And, of course, lawyers. Many, many lawyers...

The article notes that often windmill power companies "can piggyback on existing infrastructure, in the form of the high-tension power lines built for decommissioned nuclear plants or retired coal-fired plants such as the 1,500 megawatt Brayton Point Power Station on the mainland -- the last coal-burning plant in Massachusetts, which was shut down in May 2017..."

After talking to several locals, he concludes that "If there is a common thread to the comments, it is that the windmills are quiet and distant, and that with a steady and predictable source of power, islanders no longer have to worry about blackouts or brownouts... If nothing else, wind had turned out to be more reliable than ferrying barrels of diesel fuel to a generator located on an island 13 miles out to sea."

Cheap, plentiful, reliable

By Kernel Kurtz • Score: 3 • Thread

Of course that means different things in different places, but as long as my energy supply remains all of the above I don't care if it comes from gas, nuclear, hydro, tidal, solar, wind or vegan organic pixie dust (in my case it is mostly all hydroelectric).

Many people on this planet - billions - don't have any of the above. Any solution that does not work to improve that is not a solution at all.

Before all the anti-American posters chime in

By Solandri • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
  • Winds at the U.S. and European latitudes blow predominantly from West to East.
  • Europe is blessed with an enormous continental shelf. A huge chunk of the shelf nearly as big as Europe itself is less than 200 meters in depth, with large parts of it less than 80 meters deep. England and Ireland aren't so much islands, as they are parts of the continental shelf which happen to stick above water.

These combined mean that offshore wind is relatively easy to build off of Europe, and even building close to shore gives access to unimpeded ocean winds. This is important for minimizing the length of underwater power conduits.

  • The U.S. only has a significant continental shelf on its East coast. Because of the predominant wind direction, the winds on this shelf are obstructed by land. To get clear winds requires building far offshore. The exception is around Cape Cod/Nantucket, where the shoreline is east-west, meaning going a few dozen miles south gives you access to winds which have been unimpeded by land for a hundred miles. Which not surprisingly is where most of the U.S. offshore wind efforts have been focused.
  • The U.S. west coast has a sharp dropoff near the coast. I'm in Southern California, and if you head just a few miles out, the water depth is already 1 mile. The islands here are in fact mountain peaks which rise from the ocean floor 1-2 miles below. Offshore wind here is almost completely unfeasible, despite the clear ocean winds.
  • Oregon and Washington have about 30 miles of continental shelf, so offshore wind could be viable there. However, those two states contain most of the hydroelectric power in the U.S. So there's very little incentive for them to build additional power generation, much less generation which will cost 2x-3x more than the hydroelectric power they already enjoy.

So Europe is really much better suited for offshore wind than the U.S. Just like the southwest U.S. is much better suited for solar than Europe.


By munch117 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Funny to see how the lefties are getting angry, when facts are presented.

You're so intent on starting a shouting match, that you're getting shrill just talking to yourself.

You do realise that's what you did: Replied to your own post, complaining about the tone of the debate..

Re:Off shore wind has high maintainance costs

By UnknowingFool • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
No. Britain has replacing decommissioning their coal plants for decades now. In the last 5 years it has gone from 30% to 5% last year.

If you have to ask then the answer is probably no.

By blindseer • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

What's the rule on questions in headlines? The rule is that if the headline takes the form of a question then the best bet is that the answer is no.

Offshore wind is more expensive than onshore wind, and that is almost certain to remain true. Offshore wind power might be cheaper than nuclear power right now but that can change with new nuclear power technologies, developing economy of scale, and shifting prices in material costs.

One problem wind power is likely to run into is the production of rare earth metals. While a windmill does not require the use of rare earth metals it does mean a lack of them will make the windmills heavier and less efficient. The rare earth metals are found in ores that are also high in thorium and uranium. There are laws in the USA concerning the mining and disposal of this uranium and thorium that makes rare earth mining expensive. When these laws are fixed to lower the costs of obtaining rare earth metals, because we will have to fix them at some point, then the costs of obtaining uranium and thorium for nuclear power will also get lower.

Lowering the costs of wind power is insufficient for a "clean energy revolution" because this does not address an inherent problem of wind power, it's unreliable. To address this means having a reliable energy source on standby or some method of energy storage. This need for storage or backup power is rarely considered on claims of X being cheaper than coal.

There is no future in which we can do without nuclear power and maintain our modern economy. Offshore wind will remain more expensive than nuclear power because of the material costs, need for storage, and labor costs. This is highly unlikely to change.

We have politicians now screaming like banshees about how there are "science deniers" holding up the expansion of wind and solar power development in the USA, as well as other nations. The claim that wind and solar power will solve our energy needs is denying science. Science tells us that nuclear power is safe, plentiful, reliable, inexpensive, low in CO2 emissions, low in pollution, and just generally has a low impact on the environment and the economy. The worst thing we could do to the environment is abandon nuclear power. Because science.

SpaceX Tries Buying Out Homeowners Around Starhopper's Texas Launchpad

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
SpaceX "built its experimental spaceport in and around Boca Chica Village, a decades-old community of about 20 elderly residents," reports Business Insider.

But now "SpaceX is trying to buy as much of Boca Chica Village as it can and move people out...following an accidental brush fire, public-safety notices warning of the possibility for explosions, and a push to have the Federal Aviation Administration approve orbital-class launches with larger rockets." "When SpaceX first identified Cameron County as a potential spaceport location, we did not anticipate that local residents would experience significant disruption from our presence," the letter said. "However, it has become clear that expansion of spaceflight activities as well as compliance with Federal Aviation Administration and other public safety regulations will make it increasingly more challenging to minimize disruption to residents of the Village... SpaceX is offering you three times the independently appraised fair market value of your property," the letter said. "The offer is good through two weeks from the date of this letter...."

For those who commit to a sale, SpaceX said it would cover closing and other real-estate costs. It also comes packaged with an additional perk. "SpaceX recognizes that your close proximity to its operations has offered a unique opportunity to experience at close-hand the development of what will be the world's most advanced rocket. In appreciation of your support, we will offer all residents of the Village who accept the purchase offer the opportunity to continue their connection with the development of Starship by extending an invitation to attend future private VIP launch viewing events that are unavailable to the public."

Homeowner Cheryl Stevens complained to CBS News that the company has encroached on their neighborhood. "They're behaving as if this is Cape Canaveral. And it's not. It's not a military base. It's just a regular neighborhood, and a public beach, and a state highway. And suddenly, because they're here, stop the presses. Everything has to change for SpaceX."

SpaceX issued the following statement to CBS News: "We are entering a new and exciting era in space exploration and Texas is playing an increasingly important role in our efforts to help make humanity multi-planetary.

"As we develop Starship -- the world's most advanced launch system ever -- we are listening and responding to our neighbors' concerns and are striving to minimize disruptions as much as possible. We are working closely with Cameron County to facilitate public safety and provide regular road and beach closure updates to the public through a telephone hotline and on Cameron County's website."

If it were a military base...

By meerling • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
They are acting like a company trying to get what it needs for it's future development.
If it were a military base, which is a government thing, they'd just use Eminent Domain, take your land, give you some insufficient quantity of money, and move your ass out whether you wanted to go or not!

Re: 3X market value

By drnb • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Three times Market value means squat when you are in a paid for home that you couldnâ(TM)t pick up in s similar location for that much.

Perhaps you need to look up the phrase "market value". Its not what they paid for it decades ago, its not what the tax agency values it at for tax purposes, its what it is worth *today* on the retail market. What a real estate agent would say you could get for it. Plus SpaceX is paying the fees for the sale.

SpaceX is being a cheap mother fucker. They could relocate those people into high, better homes in more desirable locations plus ...

With 3X market value plus fees that is basically what SpaceX is doing. These people will have the option to upgrade home and location.

You have to wonder what PR moron suggested trying to force these people out

No one is being forced. SpaceX is making an offer.

Re: Heard this one before

By Kaenneth • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

2 weeks to accept the offer, with plenty of time to move after.

the offer HAS to be limited, because otherwise others will buy the houses for 3x, hoping to get 9x, then 27x...

Not a bad deal, honestly.

By Vandil X • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I'm in my 40s. Still paying on a mortgage. If SpaceX offered me 3x the appraised value of my house, plus relocation expenses, and the VIP space launch stuff, I'd simple say "throw in a Model Y for the wife and you have a deal."

And then, I get a new house. A fantastic car. A great story to tell my new neighbors and family. AND I get to watch multiple milestone Starship launches.

I can just as easily tell new kids to get off my lawn at my new place.

Could A Scalp-Zapping Cap Help Reverse Male Balding?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"An electric patch makes hairless mice grow fur and may reverse balding in men when fitted inside a specially designed baseball cap," reports New Scientist: At the moment, men who don't want to go bald can treat hair loss using minoxidil lotion, finasteride pills or hair transplant surgery. But minoxidil doesn't work for everyone, finasteride can reduce sex drive and fertility, and surgery is painful and expensive. Stimulating the scalp with electric pulses has also been shown to restore hair growth. However, it isn't a very practical treatment because it involves being hooked up to a machine or battery pack for several hours a day.

To overcome this hurdle, Xudong Wang at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues have developed a wireless patch that sticks to the scalp and generates electric pulses by harnessing energy from random body movements. The 1-millimetre-thick plastic patch contains layers of differently-charged materials that produce electricity when they come into contact and separate again -- a phenomenon known as the triboelectric effect. When the flexible patch was attached to the backs of rats, their movements caused it to bend and stretch, activating the triboelectric effect. The resulting electric pulses stimulated faster hair re-growth in shaved rats compared with minoxidil lotion and inert saline solution...

Wang also tested the patch on his father, who has been going bald for the past few years. "It helped him to grow a lot of new hairs after one month," Wang says. His team has now designed a baseball cap that encases the whole scalp in the triboelectric materials to stimulate hair growth, and is seeking approval to test it in men in a clinical trial... However, the hat will only work in men who are currently losing their hair or have recently become bald, because the skin loses its ability to generate new hair follicles after many years of baldness, Wang says.

Someone will get rich

By mamba-mamba • Score: 3 • Thread

Who knows if this will work. Probably not. But NOTHING is too ridiculous to sell to men worried about balding. So this will likely be a money-maker for someone!

Makers of Plant-Based Meat Alternatives Respond To Criticism of Healthfulness

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Last week NBC News ran an opinion piece by a certified nutritionist arguing that plant-based/meat-free alternatives at major fast food chains " aren't actually any healthier."

Bloomberg got a response from two of the major meat-substitute companies: According to Impossible, the attacks are all part of a "smear campaign to sow fear and doubt about plant-based meat." The company said its burgers and other offerings are better for people than animal products, delivering as much protein and bioavailable iron as beef without the associated downsides. And "processed" criticism doesn't fly, it said in a statement, given that all food involves some kind of processing. Beyond makes similar claims about its foods. "We know that consumers are increasingly pulling away from red and processed meat because of the levels of cholesterol and associated health baggage," said Will Schafer, vice president of marketing. The company also touts what it calls a simple production process that's more humane and sustainable than livestock production.

There's a lot of competition out there and on its way for Beyond and Impossible, including from Kellogg Co. and Tyson Foods Inc., which sold its stake in Beyond before that company went public. The Native Foods vegan chain and Ted's Montana Grill, co-founded by Ted Turner, are making their own veggie burgers, emphasizing what they call "whole" ingredients. "It just seems to go against the grain to me if you want to eat healthier that you would choose manufactured, chemically-produced products," said George McKerrow, Ted's chief executive officer and co-founder... Gene Grabowski, a partner at the communications firm kglobal, predicted a long fight between the real-meat and fake-meat forces. Much is at stake. A Barclays reports estimates the plant-based sector could reach $140 billion in sales globally in the next decade.

The director of nutrition at the nonprofit consumer advocacy group the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told Bloomberg that it's not any healthier to order an Impossible or Beyond burger when eating out.

"The bottom line is that all burgers at restaurants are too high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium, whether beef or plant-based..."

Much better for you but indirectly.

By Gravis Zero • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Climate change is a serious health hazard and the use of livestock is far from insignificant in that regard. Cattle specifically emits significant amounts of methane but it's more than just that because there is an entire cycle in which they are involved. In addition to that, cattle is heavily subsidized indirectly which means the plant burger is really FAR cheaper.

The truth is that the entire cattle industry is terrified that they are soon to be displaced and doing everything in their power to stop the wheels of progress from crushing them.

Re:If you like salt

By green1 • Score: 5, Informative • Thread
Except that the salt causes high blood pressure thing has never actually been shown true in scientific studies. It's one of those things that "makes sense" so was assumed to be true, but hasn't really been backed up by any research.

That said, as with anything, moderation is probably warranted, but looking at every mg is probably more effort than it's worth.

Re:Vegetables pretending to be meat

By Kernel Kurtz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

makes no sense to me. Why not just enjoy them for what they are? There are tons of good vegetable dishes out there without any need to try and pass them off as anything else.


But even if we allowed that assertion as a given, said (alleged) good vegetable dishes are part of what an omnivorous creature such as a human being seeks to eat to be satisfied. Vegetables masquerading as food (ie. meat) are intended to fool the part of the brain capable of thought into believing it occupies a body that ate something worth eating.

The best veggie burgers I have eaten - bespoke house made patties at vegan restaurants - don't taste anything like beef, but are quite delicious in their own right. Granted there are some awful mass produced veggie patties out there as well, which is probably what turns so many people off the whole concept, but the idea a "good" veggie burger tastes like a beef burger seems counterproductive. If you want a really good veggie burger, Beyond and Impossible are not it. They fail both at being as good as beef, or as good as a veggie burger can be.

Re:Vegetables pretending to be meat

By Ol Olsoc • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

They're also claiming it's healthy and it's not, Beyond Beef has something like 4x the sodium, 20% more saturated fats and at least as much calories. It's also not using table salt for its sodium, it's using massive amounts of potassium chloride

First off, you are going to need to explain how this food gets it's Sodium content from Potassium. Is this like alchemic transmutation or something? Sodium is an element, Potassium is an element, and the twain are not the same.

As to your claim that Potassium Chloride is some sort of stomach irritant, well, it's part of some life critical electrolytes. Your heart health depends on it. Use your powers of Google-fu to check it out. As well, I take potassium Chloride every day for leg cramps.

Anyhow, my wife and I enjoy Veggie burgers pretty often. A nice Veggie burger topped with Cheese, and several slices of my home made bacon rounds it out. Yummy!

Eat what ya like in moderation, folks. None of us get out of this place alive. Although a vegan diet might make it seem like forever.

Re:Red flag

By skoskav • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I get a request for a "clinical source" which provides a link to wikipedia.

You're missing the point. On the section I liked to, those numbers inside the brackets point to health guidelines and systematic reviews -- the creme de la creme of scientific evidence. Those are what I'm referring to.

Sorry but I don't think you will benefit from any work I can put into this. If you were really interested in the subject beyond just following authority you would have easily found not one buy many sources of information that shows why accepted authority is wrong.

There are a few good lay-reading sources around. Chris Masterjohn is one of the best. This article is a few years old but still a good overview. And if you want "clinical sources" then the references are worth looking into.

I think you've been tricked. The Weston A. Price Foundation is a mishmash of pseudoscientific beliefs, where its authors, fully engaged in confirmation bias, set out to evangelize about the crank teachings of its old-timey dentist founder. Also note that the article you linked to references a bunch of single small and weak studies -- I didn't see a single meta-analysis or systematic review, which are pretty vital if you're trying to construct a guideline. Chris Masterjohn is also plugging his own nutritional products and $1500 consultations, making him incredibly biased.

Oracle's New Supercomputer Has 1,060 Raspberry Pis

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Tom's Hardware: One Raspberry Pi can make a nice web server, but what happens if you put more than 1,000 of them together? At Oracle's OpenWorld convention on Monday, the company showed off a Raspberry Pi Supercomputer that combines 1,060 Raspberry Pis into one powerful cluster.

According to ServeTheHome, which first reported the story, the supercomputer features scores of racks with 21 Raspberry Pi 3 B+ boards each. To make everything run well together, the system runs on Oracle Autonomous Linux... Every unit connects to a single rebranded Supermicro 1U Xeon server, which functions as a central storage server for the whole supercomputer. The Oracle team also created custom, 3D printed brackets to help support all the Pis and connecting components...

ServeTheHome asked Oracle why it chose to create a cluster of Raspberry Pis instead of using a virtualized Arm server and one company rep said simply that "...a big cluster is cool."

Act now!

By pi_rules • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Due to the magic of installing Oracle Linux it is now valued at $78 million and requires a $100k/month support contract.

Act now before the deal expires! Larry needs a new Mig.

"...a big cluster is cool."

By drinkypoo • Score: 3 • Thread

"...a big cluster is cool."

No number of raspis can make Oracle cool.

Re:wheeeee free marketing

By Crashmarik • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Solar Powered
Orange Man Bad.

Per core license

By Njovich • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

Better not install Oracle database on that thing, licensing would likely be around the size of the GDP of a medium size country.

Re:1,060 Raspberry Pis?

By jwhyche • Score: 4 • Thread

I really have underestimated Raspberry Pis. I have always thought them to be toys suited for little more than hobby work and game emulators. Not good for any serous work. Is this thing, the 1060 Pi cluster, really a viable system? Would ti compete with a x86 cluster of the same number of nodes?

Today is Code for America's 'National Day of Civic Hacking'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The biggest day of the year for civic technologists, the National Day of Civic Hacking, is Saturday, Sept. 21, and, as such, affiliated groups across the country are preparing their events," reports Government Technology: The National Day of Civic Hacking, simply put, is a day in which civic technologists and others interested in serving their communities come together in the service of tech projects aimed at doing just that. This is the seventh year for the event, which is organized in large part by the national nonpartisan and nonprofit civic tech group Code for America (CfA). This year, CfA has once again convened its many member brigades in the service of the National Day of Civic Hacking...

To help facilitate projects, CfA&'s brigade network has identified three potential starting points for participants. The first is mapping out the record clearance project from the user's perspective. With many jurisdictions doing things like decriminalizing marijuana, there have become new opportunities for record clearance. The idea here is to be centered on the user's experience seeking conviction relief from government agencies.

Next, the brigade network suggests developing a services usability scorecard for evaluating the accessibility of the expungement process and policies in states. Finally, they also recommend creating a user-friendly know your rights website, complete with digital resources for those who have criminal convictions on their records.

If you're in the U.S. this web page offers to find a local event near you. (I attended my local event in 2013.) GeekWire notes this year one event will even be held at Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond.

Related news and updates on social media will be using the hashtag #HackForChange

Never heard of it

By drinkypoo • Score: 3 • Thread

Too bad this story didn't come in a timely fashion, or i might have had time to make plans to participate.

Developer Takes Down Ruby Library After He Finds Out ICE Was Using It

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A software engineer pulled a personal project down after he found out that one of the companies using it had recently signed a contract with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The engineer, Seth Vargo, cited the ICE's "inhumane treatment, denial of basic human rights, and detaining children in cages," as the reason for taking down his library. The project was called Chef Sugar, a Ruby library for simplifying work with Chef, a platform for configuration management. Varga developed and open-sourced the library while he worked at Chef, and the library was later integrated into Chef's source code.

Earlier this week, a Twitter user discovered that Chef was selling $95,000-worth of licenses through a government contractor to the ICE. The news didn't go well with Vargo, who, yesterday, September 19, took down the Chef Sugar library from both GitHub and RubyGems, the main Ruby package repository, in a sign of protest. "I have a moral and ethical obligation to prevent my source from being used for evil," Vargo wrote on the now-empty Chef Sugar GitHub repository. Vargo's actions didn't go unnoticed, and in a blog post published later in the day, Chef Software CEO Barry Crist said the incident impacted "production systems for a number of our customers." The Chef team fixed the issue by scouring some of the older Chef Sugar source code and re-uploading it on their own GitHub account.
Following public criticism of the contract, Chef Software CEO Barry Crist responded by saying the company had been a long-time ICE collaborator for years, since the previous administration, long before ICE became the hated agency it is today.

"While I understand that many of you and many of our community members would prefer we had no business relationship with DHS-ICE, I have made a principled decision, with the support of the Chef executive team, to work with the institutions of our government, regardless of whether or not we personally agree with their various policies," Crist said.

"I want to be clear that this decision is not about contract value - it is about maintaining a consistent and fair business approach in these volatile times. I do not believe that it is appropriate, practical, or within our mission to examine specific government projects with the purpose of selecting which U.S. agencies we should or should not do business," Crist added.

Re: Fragmentation

By sarren1901 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

So a person with zero immunization records and likely needing many vaccinations should just be released into the country with a court date?

Yeah, they have such huge incentive to show up. About the only way to verify anything they say about themselves very well may be scouring over their social media on their cellphones, except at the claimed level of desperation, none of these people have cellphones.

So really, you have zero way to verify who this person is, where they are from and where they are intending to go. You don't even know if the child(ren) with them are actually theirs.

Just letting everyone that shows up in and giving them a court date is a joke. That's open borders with a bunch of window dressing to make it look like some kind of process.

We have legal ways to immigrate here. I work with both green card holders and naturalized citizens so it's clearly very possible.


By 0100010001010011 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

What's worse is that's how this started. A company started selling a commercial option that somehow depended on a public, GitHub repo.

Chef Software CEO Barry Crist said the incident impacted "production systems for a number of our customers."

If I'm paying "Chef" to run their product they damn well better be self hosting everything.

Re: Fragmentation

By ebrandsberg • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Maybe, just maybe, they should go after the people hiring the illegal immigrants, so there is no opportunity to get a job here, so they just go home? Oh wait, they tend to be Republicans, can't do that.

Re: Fragmentation

By phantomfive • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

So a person with zero immunization records and likely needing many vaccinations

What country do you think these people are coming from that they haven't been vaccinated? Do you know what country doesn't vaccinate?

I'll give you a hint: New York City has more cases of measles than Mexico.


By HiThere • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Well, those supporting immoral actions deserve to, at minimum, be mocked. And his justifications are for maintaining business relationships with ICE are, while not frivolous, certainly not of the same level. So being mocked is less than he deserves.

That said, he is within his legal rights. That I may think he's an immoral bastard doesn't change the law.

This is a problem that FOSS has had to deal with since day one. There probably *is* no good solution. And if you put in your license that some government can't use your software for some purpose, they'll just forgive themselves for breaking the license.

India Is Planning a Huge China-Style Facial Recognition Program

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
India is planning to set up one of the world's largest facial recognition systems, potentially a lucrative opportunity for surveillance companies and a nightmare for privacy advocates who fear it will lead to a Chinese-style Orwellian state. Bloomberg reports: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government will open bids next month to build a system to centralize facial recognition data captured through surveillance cameras across India. It would link up with databases containing records for everything from passports to fingerprints to help India's depleted police force identify criminals, missing persons and dead bodies. The government says the move is designed to help one of the world's most understaffed police forces, which has one officer for every 724 citizens -- well below global norms. It also could be a boon for companies: TechSci Research estimates India's facial recognition market will grow sixfold by 2024 to $4.3 billion, nearly on par with China.

But the project is also ringing alarm bells in a nation with no data privacy laws and a government that just shut down the internet for the last seven weeks in the key state of Kashmir to prevent unrest. While India is still far from implementing a system that matches China's ability to use technology to control the population, the lack of proper safeguards opens the door for abuses.

Re:No Running Water

By flyingfsck • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
"Crushing poverty" - No problem for Hindus: If you behave and be a good person, then your next life will be better.

Re:Fuck India

By Freischutz • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Fuck India. Leave the people of Kashmir alone you motherfuckers!

I realise that you used the word 'motherfucker' as an incest themed insult (in fact you English speakers have a disturbing tendency to work sexual intercourse into every sentence that leaves your lips) but please be advised that it a poor insult. You see, from the point of view of set theory, guys who fuck their own mother are only a tiny edge case of the set of all 'motherfuckers'. For example, all you have to do to become a 'motherfucker' is to sleep with a woman who is a mother, any woman who is a mother. Furthermore, any of you guys who are married, who have at least one child, and are still having sex with the mother of your child are by definition 'motherfuckers'. So you may want to consider another and less ambiguous choice of insult.

Re:No Running Water

By PolygamousRanchKid • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Crushing poverty and a lack of simple services like running water in much of the country and this is their priority....

Remember, for a long time India was ruled by UK, which is ruled by system of aristocracy. This dovetailed very well with the primordial caste system in India, and under UK rule, it morphed into something even more extreme. For instance, only people of a certain caste could get civil service jobs.

If you are an aristocrat, your best strategy is to keep the lower classes in poverty. If you help those people out of poverty and give them simple services, they might get rebellious.

Poverty is an aristocratic tool to control the poor.

Ground Reality

By Vaibhav Dalvi • Score: 3, Funny • Thread
My best hope is like all good things here - the cameras will soon get stolen and sold on secondhand market/ chor bazaar. I.e. assuming a Camera Scam does not happen in the first place, where money was paid for but no cameras are present. Anyway win win for the public! :J

Birthday problem

By swillden • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Moral issues aside (not that they should be put to the side, but there are plenty of others talking about them), I wonder how they think they can make this work. Also, a correct understanding of the problems I'm going to discuss raises a whole new set of moral questions.

There's a central problem in matching systems that is known in computer science and math as the "Birthday Problem". Suppose you're at a party with 40 people and someone asks you if you want to bet him $10 that no two people at the party have the same birthday. Assuming you don't have any knowledge of the birthdates of the people at the party and you're equally certain that the other person doesn't either, do you take that bet? There are 365 possible birthdates (we'll ignore leap years for simplicity) and only 40 people present, so naively it seems like a good bet. It's not. It's awful. The probability of a birthday "collision" among 40 people, assuming birthdates are uniformly distributed, is nearly 90%.

The reason this is so gives you a hint toward why this is a problem for face recognition and other matching systems: 40 people at the party means there are 40*39/2 = 780 pairs of people. The "only 40 people but 365 days" naive calculation your brain might have done is valid, but it's a different problem. If the bet had been about whether there was anyone at the party that had a specific randomly-chosen birthday, the odds would be 40/365 = 11%. But the bet is that some pair of people have the same birthday, and there aren't 40 chances, there are 780.

(The way to calculate the actual probability here is to look at the probability that everyone has a unique birthday. The first person can have any birthday, so 365/365. The second person can't have the same birthday as the first, so there are only 364 possibilities, so the odds of two people not having the same birthday is 365/365 * 364/365. Add a third person and it's 365/365 * 364/365 * 363/365. So for n people, n < 365, the probability of zero collisions is (365!/(365-n-1)!) / (365^n). The probability of one or more collisions -- pairs of people with the same birthday -- is therefore 1 - (365!/(365-n-1)!) / (365^n).)

Any biometric matching system fundamentally converts data about part of a person into a vector, a point in n-dimensional space (for some n). The scanning and conversion processes are fuzzy, though, so it's a slightly different point every time, but the systems are designs such that all the scans and conversions for a given person produce points that are close to one another in n-space. When a pair of points (say, one from a database of known people and one from a camera image of an unknown person) are compared, the system computes the distance between them and compares the result to a threshold. If they're close enough, the system says they're probably the same person.

Any given biometric acquisition and matching system has error rates: it produces both false positives, erroneous matches, and false negatives, erroneous non-matches. These are called the False Accept Rate (FAR) and False Reject Rate (FRR). Obviously, both are dependent on the choice of threshold distance. Looser thresholds increase FAR and decrease FRR, tighter thresholds do the reverse. When the threshold is adjusted so the error rates are equal the resulting rate is called the Equal Error Rate (ERR -- yes, I know the acronym doesn't match). The ERR is a measure of the overall accuracy of the system.

You can think of the ERR as dividing the n-space of biometric scans into roughly 1/ERR "buckets" that are analogous to days in the birthday problem. A common ERR is 1/50,000, 2E-5. Now, 2E-5 is pretty good if you're matching one person against one stored point (called a template). It means that the system is right 99.998% of the time. But if you're matching a person against a database of k other people, it quickly begins to suck as k grows. If k=1000, the probability that a random person not in the database will "match" someone in the database is 2%,

Mysterious Magnetic Pulses Discovered On Mars

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
Initial results from NASA's InSight lander suggest that Mars' magnetic field wobbles in inexplicable ways at night, hinting that the red planet may host a global reservoir of liquid water deep below the surface. National Geographic reports: In addition to the odd magnetic pulsations, the lander's data show that the Martian crust is far more powerfully magnetic than scientists expected. What's more, the lander has picked up on a very peculiar electrically conductive layer, about 2.5 miles thick, deep beneath the planet's surface. It's far too early to say with any certainty, but there is a chance that this layer could represent a global reservoir of liquid water.

On Earth, groundwater is a hidden sea locked up in sand, soil, and rocks. If something similar is found on Mars, then "we shouldn't be surprised," says Jani Radebaugh, a planetary scientist at Brigham Young University who was not involved with the work. But if these results bear out, a liquid region at this scale on modern Mars has enormous implications for the potential for life, past or present. So far, none of these data have been through peer review, and details about the initial findings and interpretations will undoubtedly be tweaked over time. Still, the revelations provide a stunning showcase for InSight, a robot that has the potential to revolutionize our comprehension of Mars and other rocky worlds across the galaxy.

Why does TFA not understand basic astronomy?

By garyisabusyguy • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

>>a robot that has the potential to revolutionize our comprehension of Mars and other rocky worlds across the galaxy.

I mean how the holy fuck are we going to jump from sending a robot to a single planet to the entire damned galaxy?

Sure, the nice thing is to just assume that they meant Solar System, when they said Galaxy... I meant one is about 100 BILLIONS times as big as the other one...

Re:Why does TFA not understand basic astronomy?

By Gavagai80 • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

There are Mars-like worlds across the galaxy. Understanding Mars will in fact give us understanding of worlds across the galaxy. They're all made of basically the same stuff, there's no reason to expect them to be radically different just because they're in a different solar system.

not saying its aliens but...

By 0111 1110 • Score: 3 • Thread

I'd check to see if the magnetic field modulations can be interpreted/decoded as a message. Maybe it will decode to the galactic coordinates of the Oumuamuan home world.