* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

885 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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Are Asimov's laws enough to stop AI stomping humanity?

Primus Secundus Tertius
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Re: Not meant to be taken seriously

Asimov's laws are just wishful thinking, with no solid foundation in the laws of mathematics or of physics.

It will need a few more layers of logic before we reach a level that can entertain Asimov's laws.

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Re: Drafting laws

As a Brit, I have often looked at the constitution of the USA in that way.

It is a product of the Age of Reason, aimed at charting the way forward for a new nation. It has lasted a remarkably long time, and deserves more respect in Britain and Europe than it normally gets.

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Re: 0th

@John70

Sometimes it is just easier to pick a random number. When you look not at one road crash but 10,000, it does look random.

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Antarctica declared world's most volcanic region as 91 new cones found beneath ice

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Re: Ocean ridges

@Comedy..

An active volcano can emit 1000 tons of lava per second. If 1% of that is CO2, that is 10 tons per second. Lets estimate there are 1000 volcanoes, if the ocean ridges are included. So 1E4 tons per second, or 3E11 tons per year.

Kind of dwarfs the human output.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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Ocean ridges

I suspect most of the world's volcanoes lie along the ocean ridges; pumping out carbon dioxide into the oceans on a greater scale than men burning coal and oil.

I therefore predict that all those climate change policies imposed on us by campaigners will make s*d all difference to the earth's climate.

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Kremlin's hackers 'wield stolen NSA exploit to spy on hotel guests in Europe, Mid East'

Primus Secundus Tertius
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But it is so difficult to find reliable staff these days!

You don't expect a VIP to do these things, do you?

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Opening document files

A .docx file should be less risky, as it does not contain macros; .docm is for modern macro-infested files.

Microsoft do not make it easy to construct "live CDs". But there is Hiren's boot CD, which includes a word processor that will read .doc files. Alternatively, there is the penguin and friends. All these can also run from USB memory sticks.

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Google and its terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week in full

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@jrd

I have read the full text of Damore's document, including the TL;DR at the front.

In my opinion he seems to be saying that you recruit someone on individual ability regardless of sex or race. But when you are judging company policies and their effectiveness you must use the science of statistics. Unfortunately, few politicians, managers, lawyers, journalists, or internet trolls understand the science of statistics. He even includes a graph to show how variability in any attribute between group A and group B will lead to both groups existing within an average sample, because of the overlap of the probability distributions. But extreme samples will be dominated by one group. The example I use with that graph is the average height of men and women.

Damore wrote a sincere, professional, and courteous document. To be fired for writing that is disgraceful, and I hope Google get legally hammered for their misdeed.

At one time el Reg might have understood his statistical arguments, but those days seem to be long gone.

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Primus Secundus Tertius
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@Adam52

Half the drivers on the road are below average, and in some places it is worse than that.

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Blocking peeps on social media? That's a paddlin' for governors, senators, house reps

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@IMG

"Democracy" is organised when a group of people organise their supporters to post if favour of some internet petition. OK, I was stretching the meaning of the word democracy.

Especially when these organised efforts actually thwart the unspoken sensitivities of the decent apathetic majority. Yes, this does happen, in GB and US.

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The pols are saying thay do not normally block individuals. They do block organised "campaigners" who clog up their inboxes with identical copies of the same parroted message.

"Organised democracy" is very different from personal liberty.

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London Mayor slams YouTube over failure to remove 'shocking' violent gang vids

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Obviously wrong

Any ordinary person with a grain of common sense can see that these videos are obviously criminally wrong. The Mayor is not trying to impose his personal wishes, he is acting on behalf of millions of ordinary voters.

It is time the myopic "freedom fighters" in the computer industry woke up to their civic responsibilities. If they refuse to do that in the British way they may end up doing it the Peking way.

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UK publishes Laws of Robotics for self-driving cars

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Good software design needed

Underlying all the good intentions listed in the report is a requirement that the software design be first class. This means looking ahead during the design stage at all the things that might go wrong, and dealing with them without letting the system crash.

This is much more effort than designing only for when things go right, and is discouraged by most managers. So external validation will be necessary.

At a minimum, all software should be put through an official driving test.

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Re: What should it do when it is suddenly blind?

@Lysenko

A long time ago, when diesel lorries used to emit thick black exhaust fumes, I was driving one night. I could see a lorry coming the other way, lit up like a Xmas tree. What I did not see, because it was night, was its thick black exhaust.

As we passed, suddenly I could see nothing. I was doing about 50mph, totally blinded. I started braking, and after a second or so emerged from the smoke without incident. Angry, mind you.

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UK waves £45m cheque, charges scientists with battery tech boffinry

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Long timescales

The example I give to non-scientists about long timescales is the transistor.

The first working transistor was built in 1947 or 48. They did not make a big difference to ordinary life until the late 1960s when numerous transistors could be put onto one integrated circuit. But the fundamental physics of the transistor is the quantum mechanics developed in universities in the 1920s.

So in this major example there is a gap of forty years between university research and practical payoff.

I support the earlier comment by Phil O'Sophical that the government should encourage, by paying for it, the study of STEM subjects.

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The Reg chats to Ordnance Survey's chief data wrangler

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@andy28

the best isn't what people want will pay for.

FTFY

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In the Pearl River Delta's electronics souks, AI lets the haggling happen

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Re: Differences

On holiday in Brazil, I heard a tour guide talk about the differences in Portuguese as spoken in Portugal and Brazil. In general terms it reminded me of the differences between UK and US English. The New World takes it more slowly, and has some different words.

Every other country in middle and south america speaks Spanish; but on another occasion I was told that each version of spoken Spanish is different and recognisable. Maybe the written languages are closer, as is the case with good English in the UK and US.

Arabic has many versions, as I found in repeating a Moroccan word to an Iraqi.

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Security robot falls into pond after failing to spot stairs or water

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Re: A picture tells . . .

Some of us wonder whether it really was an "accident".

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Brit military scolded for being too selfish with sexy high-end tech

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Stagnant salaries

I moved out of a defence company many years ago because everybody's salary had received no big increase for years. That was the result of MOD procurement.

What I saw in my career was the government destroying the scientific civil service: partly by cuts, but also by turning them into "managers".

I don't see things changing until the government is in a 1940 situation, with a realistic probability of defeat by a determined enemy. They were then so petrified they actually listened to the scientists and engineers, though in some cases Churchill had to order the offending bureaucrat or general to do that.

Meanwhile I enjoy my retirement - until some conqueror triumphs.

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AI vans are real – but they'll make us suck at driving, warn boffins

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Automate the signals

What we need now, not in 10, 20, or 50 years time, is some AI in the bloody traffic lights, so that they work in the interests of the ordinary driver as opposed to the interests of the police, the bureaucrats, road safety campaigners, pedestrian campaigners, or cycling campaigners.

Can anyone explain why cyclists, the slowest traffic on the road, are allowed pole position at traffic lights rather than being relegated to the rear where they belong?

And why do the lights at some junctions have the green light cased in a box so it is almost impossible to see?

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Re: Complete or not at all...

"Either you need to make the AI as bloody-minded as real drivers or you need to eliminate real drivers from the equation".

Doing the first should achieve the second, rapidly.

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Hackers able to turbo-charge DJI drones way beyond what's legal

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Re: Beware of cats

I once read a story of a cat that killed snakes.

It would walk in circles round them at a safe distance. The snake's head would follow, so its body got more and more coiled. Eventually it reached its limit and had to uncoil. At that moment the cat pounced.

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Beware of cats

My sister's cat recently caught a drone. Pretty good for a ten-year-old cat.

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UK Parliament launches inquiry into NHS WannaCrypt outbreak

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Re: Perhaps time for some El Reg readers to put pen to paper?

It is easy to write a Requirement spec that says the software shall be compatible with future upgrades to the OS and the toolchain.

It is easy for the supplier to assert in a "design document" that the software will be compatible ...

When the upgrade comes you find that actually no thought was put into the design of the product and how it might be updated. Too many "design documents" are nothing more than a restatement of the requirements.

Years ago, when I tried to get authors of design documents to explain how rather than to state what, I was told by management to stop obstructing the project plan.

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"someone to go out there and actually pull out their cheque book"

That someone is the taxpayer, i.e. me. I am also asked to restore student grants, double the size of the armed forces, spend billions on roads, spend billions on guards for driver-only trains, and pay for everybody's grandma to live in a hotel.

Which should I do first?

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One thought equivalent to less than a single proton in mass

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Re: Confused units

@bob

Wrong question. How high is a Chinaman.

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HMS Windows XP: Britain's newest warship running Swiss Cheese OS

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@Ben1892

I commented here when the photo of that XP screen was published back then: that the XP screen is a well-known cover-up for TAILS linux. I ask again, what are they doing with TAILS?

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Skynet? More like Night-sky-net. AI hunts for Milky Way's turbo stars

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Rarities

Not many of them: about 20 out of about 10**11 stars in the galaxy.

Maybe we will learn more about the galaxy from the vast majority of stars measured by the Gaia probe.

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UK parliamentary email compromised after 'sustained and determined cyber attack'

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@ coloured surprised

The allegations against Edward Heath and Lord Brittan (both deceased) remain unproved and unlikely.

When I was a small child I was very angry when some grown-ups ignored my views just because I was a child. But there are some people whose vews should be ignored. In the history of these child abuse allegations, there have been too many cases where the uncorroborated evidence of one person has led to proceedings that have come unstuck.

Yes, there have been cases, for example in Rotherham, where police have ignored justified allegations. But the eventual convictions came after testimony from several parties. And the guilty men were ordinary criminals, not politicians.

Where police have acted, or inacted, wrongly they should be censured for lack of judgement, not failure to follow procedures.

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Intel's Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs have nasty hyper-threading bug

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Microcode is hard

In about 1981 a computer manufacturer - not Intel - trained me and a colleague (we were in an outside company) to create new microcode for their processor.

Microcode is hard. Components of the CPU are running in parallel, some taking several clock cycles, and the microcode designer must take account of these things.

I am sure modern Intel CPUs are much more complicated than anything from 1981. I hope they have better development tools, including simulators, than we did. But now I wonder if there are bugs or design weaknesses in those tools.

Or, I suppose, it could just be undue timescale pressures on the microcoders.

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BOFH: Putting the commitment into committee

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Agency Query

British Omni-Functional Holdings seems to have a high turnover of bosses. Has the agency that supplies replacement bosses not begun to wonder what is happening?

Or is this a cunning plan by the agency to move the people it does not want off its books?

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2 kool 4 komputing: Teens' interest in GCSE course totally bombs

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If they are bright enough to read the news, they will have read how computer jobs are outsourced at the drop of a cost analysis presentation. Also, their older relatives may be able to tell first hand stories of outsourcing.

So why bother, when you are not really wanted?

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BOFH: Halon is not a rad new vape flavour

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@ J 27

I was once appointed Fire Representative for the large office where I worked. Maybe my boss wanted me to be last out of the building if there had been a fire.

So we were sent on a Friday afternoon course on the Dangers of Fire and Safety, which included demonstrations of various type of fire extinguisher. Water, foam, CO2, yes; but not halon, we were told it was too expensive for a demo.

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Banking websites are 'littered with trackers' ogling your credit risk

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Re: UK banks tracking......

That is why I use a live CD Linux system for online banking.

1. It contains no keyloggers etc.

2. It contains no personal data other than what the bank already has in relation to my login.

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Re: "let us track everything you do, we will stop annoying you with those pesky pop-ups. Nice."

@AC / written record

If any of this "rich internet experience" ackamarackus was sincere, they would know that you probably did deposit £100,000. But no, none of that is for our benefit, it is just numebrs for the advertising managers.

So you then deposit 100,000 of something else. Not nice.

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In detail: How we are all pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered – by online biz all day

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Probabilities

It was neatly phrased by the denizens of the New York underworld so pithily described by Damon Runyon: all life is 6 to 5 against.

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Forcing digital forensics to obey 'one size fits all' crime lab standard is 'stupid and expensive'

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Re: "compliance bureaucracy"

I worked for ISO9000 software companies.

ISO9000 seemed to be based on the idea that good paperwork is proof of a good product. Sure, when you delve into a disaster project the paperwork is poor or non-existent. But bad software design will not be fixed by meetings that are scrupulously minuted, with actions duly chased up.

Many a good piece of software has come from a flowchart on the back of an enveloope.

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Ex-MI5 boss: People ask, why didn't you follow all these people ... on your radar?

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Re: IRA

@boltar

the Islamic terrorists do have a stated aim: to establish a world-wide caliphate. But the vision gets lost in the torrents of blood.

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Re: Says it all

@PickledA

"In the cold war, SOE was irrelevant."

A long time ago I visited SAS HQ. We were shown into a room decorated with flags from all round the world; I assumed they were souvenirs of places they had visited. I recognised East Germany and Poland.

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The internet may well be the root cause of today's problems… but not in the way you think

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Re: Same old problem

@allthecool

My remedy is different. Replace religion with apathy.

I would make speeches promoting apathy if I thought anyone would listen.

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Re: This article proves its own point

Well said, sir or madam AC.

I am not a natural sympathiser with the policies and values of the government of mainland China. But this article made me feel they have a point: that one should actively defend one's position. Indeed, the Chinese government seems to adopt the Dalek(*) policy to those whose opinions are different. They don't seem to have as many terrorist incidents as western countries.

(*)Dalek policy: exterminate them. BBC Children's Hour programme, but suitable for 90 percent of grown ups.

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Re: The internet is to blame.

The C. of E. is a wonderful institution, because it somehow promotes such apathy.

"Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice"?? Not at the weddings and funerals I have attended, not unless they decided to hire a choir.

Apathy may not make the world go round, but it prevents it from grinding to an acrimonious halt. Every country needs a C. of E.

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Re: Optional religious wars were ended?

@Schofield

No, religious wars were not "a handy excuse". They were deadly serious efforts to save the immortal souls of those who lived under mistaken regimes. They were led by anointed Kings who ruled by the grace of God (Latin, dei gratia, as noted on British coins). That applies not only to European Kings: Chinese Emperors ruled under the mandate of heaven; some Arab Kings claim descent from the Prophet.

No, I don't accept that religious posttion. But it is mighty difficult to argue with somebody who does.

A moslem said to me once: "We have the Jewish religion, Christianity, and Islam. Why do people not just accept the latest version?"

But why should they accept any of those, in this scientifdic age?

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Hyperloop One teases idea of 50-minute London-Edinburgh ride

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I see they mention the old chestnut of Spain to Morocco.

That crosses the divide between two tectonic plates. It will be an engineering wonder if something that works gets built there.

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Microsoft totters from time machine clutching Windows 10 Workstation

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Micro megajargon

What do you mean, Microjunk Windoze?

Let me offer you Makrotuff Slipperyware.

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BA IT systems failure: Uninterruptible Power Supply was interrupted

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240 Volts??

In my young day it was 220V. Then, ca 1968, it was upped to 240V. That fried a lot of light bulbs, making work for the working man.

Then, ca 1996, the EU standardised on 230V. That left a lot of light bulbs running until eternity, so they had to invent an eco-scare to force people to keep replacing light bulbs.

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Healthcare tops UK data breach chart – but it's not what you're thinking

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Education or what?

A fortune is spent out of my taxes on something called "education". In modern schools this is supposed to include basic computer skills.

So why are so many people making so many mistakes?

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Re: As long as someone admits to having an incident.

@Sir Sham

I recently had hospital treatment. They gave me a form with name/address of GP etc., and invited me to make corrections.

I did that, but on all subsequent appointments the old erroneous data were still there.

So yes, haphazard data are definitely a problem.

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British prime minister slams Facebook and pals for votes

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Re: Media editing

Yes, yes, all very well for dealing with intellectuals, but tell that to Al Capone and his ilk.

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Re: If

@AC

Every institution has its relics. The Labour Party has the Right Honorable Jeremy Corbyn MP.

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