I've been reading a lot of science fiction short stories lately. Many have been excellent. But some have not been my cup of tea. I've run into a fair amount of melancholic ambiance pieces where nothing much happens. But the stories I tend to enjoy have action, dialog, or at least a steady stream of concrete information. As I've been … Continue reading When to give up on a story
I'm always surprised how contentious definitions, can be. How opinions about what are essentially sounds in language become matters of intense debate. When the IAU (International Astronomical Union) redefined the word "planet" to exclude Pluto, which came about due to the discovery of Eris, a similarly sized body, many people reacted with intense emotion, igniting … Continue reading The utter relativism of definitions
Fellow blogger, Steve Morris, did a post on the importance of admitting when you're wrong. He finished up his post with this challenge: So I had the amazing/stupid idea of putting this into practice on more formal terms. I propose to create an international Admit You’re Wrong Day. As many of you are bloggers, I challenge … Continue reading I was wrong
Related to our various AI discussions, I noticed this news: Robot masters new skills through trial and error -- ScienceDaily. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error using a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in … Continue reading Robot masters new skills through trial and error
I found this study interesting: Do flies have fear (or something like it)? -- ScienceDaily. A fruit fly starts buzzing around food at a picnic, so you wave your hand over the insect and shoo it away. But when the insect flees the scene, is it doing so because it is actually afraid? Using fruit flies … Continue reading Fruit fly fear and AI sentience
John Scalzi, as he periodically does, is responding to reader questions, and one was on his attitude toward Republicans. If you're familiar with Scalzi, then you can probably guess that his attitude toward Republican politicians isn't generally positive. I found a lot to agree with in his post, notably on his social positions such as being pro-choice … Continue reading A Democrat in a two party system
Click through for full sized version and the red button caption. via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. This SMBC reminds me of a concept that I've been debating on ways to express, but a brief comment here seems like the opportunity to do so. We've had a lot of discussions about exactly when we might start to … Continue reading Emotional versus intellectual attributions of consciousness
Last week, I was having lunch with some friends, which included a number of programmers. One of them mentioned an old urban myth, that I hadn't heard in several years, which claims that, due to a programming bug (involving a misplaced semicolon), NASA once accidentally sent a probe into the Sun. I pointed out to my friend how implausible this was. … Continue reading NASA has never accidentally sent a probe into the Sun.