Archive | June 2014

Bad beef

Not sure how much to be concerned about mad cow disease in the US.  The article is a little scare mongery and doesn’t seem to have an entirely accurate grasp on prions.  However, it does seem like the US isn’t investigating and regulating beef to sufficiently insure it is safe of contamination from mad cow.  This is par the course for regulation in general for food from what I gather.  However vCJD is a bit worse than most other things one has to worry about with food these days.   I think if mad cow were to become a real problem regulators would be able to control it, but it isn’t clear they’d be able to before-hand.  Regardless it seems like it is another point in favor of grass-fed, non-factory farmed beef.

Evil seat belts!

Who knew they were so dangerous!



Passing Turing

A lot of hoopla is being made about the supposed passing of the Turing test.  Supposed because it passed a particular test set up, which may or may not have been an adequate simulation of Turing’s abstract test.  Then there is the question of whether passing is actually an indicator of any real intelligence or thinking.  Regardless, this is a milestone of sorts, though we’ll have to see if it is repeatable now.

Personally, I think a properly rigorous version of the Turing Test would be a good test for intelligence, but I doubt this was rigorous enough.  From previous transcripts of when judges were fooled I could see how in some cases they might be if the actual human wasn’t cooperative.  I wasn’t able to find transcripts between the judge and the human confederate for recent tests to see how they compare.  However, to be an adequate test, the humans would have to be cooperative.  If they are trying to fool the judge too, then it is more of measure of the human than the computer.  The depth of the depth and nature of some of the interactions also seem to be too limited.  The 5 minutes does come from Turing, but I don’t think he was envisioning roughly 1 simple exchange per minute.  I certainly don’t think that is sufficient interaction.  Perhaps when the transcripts to this test are released we’ll see something different though.

The limited interactions of this set up of the tests allows programmers to write programs to fool the judges instead of programs to exhibit intelligence.  In this case it was to pose the program as someone who could not communicate intelligently.  While this is a clever tactic to “winning” it doesn’t meet the purpose of the test.  With more depth a judge would be able to dig enough to make the distinction between an entity that didn’t communicate intelligently because of cultural/language/etc barriers and an entity that wasn’t capable of intelligence.

What’s the difference?

The mass shooting(s) and open carry demonstrations have me wondering what is the difference between the people who choose one vs the other.  In the end both are trying to empower themselves.  Both seem to have irrational fears and hatreds.  Is there a difference in kind or is it just a difference in degree?  I don’t know.  I suspect it is the ameliorating and exacerbating factors.  What does the person have to live for?  What avenues can they expect will actually let them feel powerful?  How can they actually conquer those they fear and/or hate?  The murderers seem desperate, as if they think they have no other reasonable route to achieve the power they crave.  The open carriers however don’t seem to be at the point.  They are otherwise happy suburbanites, simply malcontent that they aren’t cowboys and worshiped for it.  But how far will they go if simply carrying a big gun around doesn’t get them what they want?  What if the looks of fear and disgust no longer give them their fix?  What happens when they realize that a lot of that disgust is people thinking they are pathetic losers?  I hope nothing happens and am sure the vast majority of these people wouldn’t decide to assuage their insecurities by killing a lot of people.  But if even one does, that’s one too many.