* Posts by wobblycogs

6 posts • joined 7 Nov 2008

Titan's salty waters scupper the chances for alien life


Re: Definition of alien life

You are correct in asserting that just because it's very salty doesn't mean there isn't life but at the same time from what we know of life it seems to make it less likely. Earth is a surprisingly hospitable place for life and yet after 3.6 billion years very little has managed to adapt itself to live in very salty water. You could argue that the reason for this is that all life on earth, at the cellular level, uses (very) broadly the same building blocks and perhaps those blocks can't be adapted for highly salty environments. The problem then is why hasn't weird and wonderful types of salty-environment-loving life appeared on earth?

When we get out into the stars (or even perhaps just the solar system) my guess is that we will occasionally find life on moons / planets that aren't even close to habitable for earth life but they will be few and far between compared to life on earth like planets. Shame we won't live to find out if that's correct.

I/O: New Google design language will RULE OVER 'DROIDS


Useful Document

It looks a bit like Windows 8 (which I agree doesn't work on the desktop) but putting that aside it actually appears to be a good primer for how to develop a usable interface for a touch screen device and that can't be a bad thing.

I don't think anyone would claim that the new interface in Windows 8 was anything but a disaster on the desktop but don't forget that was the first time anyone had really tried to make a single unified desktop across everything from phones to desktops. Microsoft were foolish to have tried the experiment in such a public way but fair play to them for trying. A few more iterations and I suspect we'll be wondering what all the fuss was about.

'CAPTAIN CYBORG': The wild-eyed prof behind 'machines have become human' claims


Re: So much to do, so little time...

I couldn't agree more but I think you, and most AI researchers, are under estimating just how much "programming" humans start life with. Obviously I have no hard evidence, no one does, but watching two young children grow up from birth to four I'd say that evolution has pre-programmed us a lot more than people suspect.

Drawing an analogy between humans and computers I'd say the human POST is about 3 to 3.5 years in duration. The human BIOS provides a basic framework to acquire language, emotions, movement, self preservation etc. The parents role is to install higher level programs e.g. one or more spoken languages, don't touch that particular furry caterpillar etc.

If you look at this from an evolutionary point of view coming out partially pre-programmed makes a lot of sense as it's so much quicker than having to teach everything from scratch every time. That doesn't mean every bit of pre-programming has to become active immediately at birth though, it switches on at the appropriate developmental points.

As I say this is just a suspicion but I really think we need to move away from the idea that we are a blank slate at birth.

Spy back doors? That would be suicide, says Huawei


Why worry about back doors

On this type of equipment I really don't see much point in worrying if there is a back door. If you are sending anything over a public network that you aren't happy for everyone to see you'd better make sure it's encrypted before it leaves your (secure) network, anything else is plain stupidity.

The browser's resized future in a fragmented www world


This death of the PC story is starting to get tired. Yes, there will be a decline in PC usage but it's not going away any time soon. What do most of us sit in front of day in day out at work? A PC. Why? Because it's the most efficient way to get our work done and until a tablet / phone / whatever becomes more efficient the PC will still be here. That's not to say there won't be a decline in sales / usage though, mobile devices are just a better fit for some things (like mobile web access). It's not like bikes completely disappeared because someone invented the car.

MP calls for Jezza Clarkson's head


Go Jezza

While not the finniest thing Mr Clarkson has ever said you have got to admit it brings at least a small smile. I'm sure he has enough money to retire if he wanted and I think if I was in his shoes and didn't get 100% support from the Beeb that is exactly what I would do. While it would deprive us of a quality presenter it might help teach institutions like the Beeb to grow some spine and realize they are going to offend some people some of the time.

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