* Posts by Schultz

1738 posts • joined 22 Oct 2007

US warns cryptominers must cut power use to avoid busting US carbon goals

Schultz
Stop

"our problem isn't energy scarcity...because [energy] isn't scarce"

There is a reason why chemists distinguish energy from free energy: Just because energy exists doesn't mean that it can be usefully employed.

So while your statement that "energy isn't scarce" is true, it is also totally meaningless. Usable, clean energy is very scarce. So scarce, that we continue to burn fossil fuels for the majority of our energy needs. So scarce, that we cut down forests for wood pellets. So scarce, that the gasoline price may decide the election outcome in our largest democracies.

The scarcity of clean energy may come to define this century. Already, we saw energy-intense and dirty industry migrate to poorer and less-democratic places -- fundamentally reshaping the development of our world. These forces won't diminish and will define the conflicts of this century. Oil and gas in the black sea may well have tipped the scales for the Ukraine war.

Chemical plant taken offline by the best one of all: C8H10N4O2

Schultz
Stop

...forbidding any liquids ...

So you can punish every innocent coffee drinker in the company or you can punish the select few who were in the room where it happened.

Brain-inspired chips promise ultra-efficient AI, so why aren’t they everywhere?

Schultz
WTF?

But what is it good for?

After reading the article, I was left wondering: But what is it good for?

In my mind, the efforts to simulate the brain in silico is based on old-fashioned transistors clicking away while simulating neurons. But apparently, the idea of neuromorphic chips is to leave those transistors unpowered until a stimulus comes along (see: Nature article on the topic), hence the immense power savings. Clearly, this is only useful when you assume that your computer is going to sit idle most of the time and that you fail to power down while idling. The other touted advantage is highly parallel computing.

The big question then becomes: is it helpful to try to model a brain in order to gain advantages from parallel computing and power-down upon idle, or might one just optimize parallel computing and dynamic power use? The former is clearly advantageous when trying to obtain research funding (addressing fundamental questions), while the latter sounds more promising if you want to develop and sell actual silicon. So my prediction would be that brain-inspired chips will remain an active research area for the foreseeable future, without ever moving beyond the stage of a investors' fad. But I am sure that every neuromorphic brain in this world would like to contradict me on that.

Dutch authorities arrest 29-year-old dev with suspected ties to Tornado Cash

Schultz
Stop

...There are no investors in crypto....

I mildly disagree with that statement. According to the dictionary, investment is: "the action or process of investing money for profit or material result."

You can invest in collectible plastic figurines. You can invest in tulip bulbs. You can invest in crypto. Let's leave it to those with too much money in their pockets to decide whether crypto is a worthwhile investment. We can then have a good laugh in 10 to 20 years' time.

Scientists unveil a physics-defying curved space robot

Schultz
Boffin

Ever used a Skateboard?

Looks like they copied the kickturn (Youtube link).

No momentum transfer? I call bullshit, because that would break the standard model and, to-date, the standard model has been quite robust. It'll take more than a few students playing with robot parts to overturn that ;).

If you think you invented mechanical magic, check for momentum transfer via friction.

Pull jet fuel from thin air? We can do that, say scientists

Schultz
Facepalm

What an achievement ... in hyperbole

The researchers manage to be quite honest in describing their achievement, but at the same time they do an amazing job hyping their research.

Did you catch that they use an area of about 50 nanoWales (2 Tennis courts, or ~1080 square meter) to make a few drops of jet fuel per hour? And they never mention how much energy went into the pumps, valves and motors required to run the whole set-up, so it is not clear that the set-up creates more energy than it consumes.

This is the current reality of our energy transition -- a lot of hyped achievements that are only realistic when you pay no attention to the man behind the curtain (who is burning that cheap hydrocarbon energy to fuel you pipe dreams).

AI-friendly patent law needed 'as a matter of national security', ex-USPTO boss says

Schultz

It'll be a big clusterfuck

Your statements nicely illustrate the problem with 'AI patents': So your novel, patentable method would be to use Tensorflow to recognize cat pictures? (Feel free to substitute the cats with whatever you consider useful.) Or do you really, in your heart, want to patent the idea of using AI for recognizing said cat pictures? Or do you want to only patent the use of your particular training data in combination with Tensorflow? Or maybe the use of any equivalent AI system that could give somewhat similar input-to-output results?

Whatever you try to do, either you get a monopoly for an idea as opposed to a method -- and that would break the very innovation the patent system is supposed to foster -- or you try to patent data or software.

AI is so interesting to so many, because it's a black box that promises to solve all problems of this world. Because it's a black box, it's really hard to prove that it cannot, potentially, solve a particular problem. You could spend decades of your life trying to understand and solve a hard problem. Or you could just use this magic box.

I predict that AI will go out of fashion, gradually, over the next 10 years. All those great AI projects will be extremely successful. (You wouldn't tell your boss otherwise, would you? After all, it's research and it's OK to move the goalposts a bit, innit.) But after a few rounds of funding, the weeding-out will begin.

Toyota's truck brand Hino admits faking and fudging emissions data for 20 years

Schultz
Flame

Just follow your nose...

Walking through the city, it's quite easy to spot the cheating diesels: you can easily smell the emitted soot (smells like the dirty old heavy trucks) and the NOx (a sharp smell, somewhat similar to chlorine) all over the place. If you ride a bike, you can get a really nice dose when following an older SUV. And they smell in summer and in winter, so the 'engine protection' clearly is designed to kick in at a wide range of temperatures (although it's worse in winter). I'd therefore be willing to bet that the list in the article (Volkswagen, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, and Suzuki) is way too short.

I am not sure if the newer ones just have improved diesel engines or if they switched to ordinary gasoline -- most newer SUVs smell a lot less. It's not about which company cheated (all the diesel manufacturers did), but just about who managed to make a transition before getting caught.

No more fossil fuel or nukes? In the future we will generate power with magic dust

Schultz
WTF?

Re: Give it time

With an output of 1 microAmpere, you really need to give it time ... you'll get a full Coulomb of charge pumped in only 11.5 days. Assuming this cell runs against a voltage of a Volt or so, it would produce a full J of power in said 11 days.

So how many microW algae cells would we need to replace a good-sized 1 GW nuclear power plant?

HP pilots paper delivery service for Instant Ink subscribers

Schultz
Go

Manager Logic ...

"… we make more money per customer. It's also a better value proposition for the customer."

Who can spot the unique manager logic in that sentence? They are not lying of course , ... just basing their logic on some unspecified 'value', i.e., not having to carry the paper must be worth, like, 3 cent per page, amIright?

IBM CEO explains why he offloaded Watson Health: Not enough domain expertise

Schultz
Thumb Up

Re: Surprise

So, finally, they found out that clinical healthcare is evidence-driven. It's hard to sell AI magic clouds if success requires successful double-blinded studies.

Better stick to "financial services, advertising, business automation, and video streaming and hosting", where success or failure is hard to measure (it's always the market's fault -- shady, shifty markets). I fully support the IBM management in this and I'll continue to invest nothing into IBM.

Intel to get $7.3b for Germany fab site as TSMC dismisses Europe plans

Schultz
WTF?

Smash n grab

Brings up memories of the last big subsidy grab-and-run operation of Intel and partners in Germany. Back then, a foundry was a paltry billion and a consortium decided to take the billion (why not) and see where the money leads them. Didn't lead anywhere, but it's only taxpayer's money.

I am quite suspicious about attracting investments with large subsidies. You distort the risk/reward calculation with too much money, you'll end up with very risky investments (i.e., investments that probably will not work out). That's Capitalism 1-01. But then, there will be a lot of great photo-ops for the brave politicians before that investment bites the dust. That's the beauty of building billion-dollar infrastructure: it takes so long that only historians can remember the responsible parties by the time it bites the dust.

Algorithm can predict pancreatic cancer from CT scans well before diagnosis

Schultz

... that sounds like a small sample.

I agree; there is a serious risk of p-hacking if you refine your training versus a small control data-set. But this work should be the motivation to start a bigger screening study, which would resolve the issue. So it sounds like a very promising first step and all we have to do is wait another 5 years until the new data has arrived :).

China turns cyber-espionage eyes to Russia as Ukraine invasion grinds on

Schultz
Stop

... if I were writing malware ...

if you were writing malware for any state sponsored group (maybe some deep-pocketed US entities excepted), you'd be told that your code better be ready yesterday because there is a new threat that should be investigated today, at the latest. And what did you do last week to earn your pay?

I understand your reasoning, but I would assume that most state sponsored hackers are ordinary family men who code to make a living and a salary. Not everyone is out to invent the perfect crime. And if you convince your boss that obfuscation is warranted, he might give you a week to delete all comments in your source and rename a few variables.

UK spy agencies sharing bulk personal data with foreign allies was legal, says court

Schultz
WTF?

The site promised anonymity of all my data ...

Anonymity is not privacy. Those junk callers surely had no clue who you are, otherwise they would not not have bothered calling you, right.

That's why you should sign up to Google's / Apple's / Amazon's all inclusive ad targeting program. You'll get more and better targeted calls, each call is worth more to your chosen advertisement partner, and we can all throw a big year-end party when the GDP numbers are announced. And don't worry, even your lack of cooperation will generate value: you never have to take a call, look at an ad, or spend a dime on the advertised products. You will be conveniently billed whenever you buy your groceries or gadgets. So your hard-earned dime can do its part fueling the continued rise of the AdMen without you worrying your small brains about it. Somebody smarter than you, richer than you, made the right call.

First Light says it's hit nuclear fusion breakthrough with no fancy lasers, magnets

Schultz
Trollface

Long Shot

It's always been 30 years until we get that fusion plant. I assume the shorter time-scale for modern fusion concepts owes less to accelerated scientific progress and more to the commercial pressures of investor-backed financing.

So let me be the first to predict that First Light's fusion plant won't be ready before 2050. By then, the successor company Long Shot will be ready to take a second round of financing to initiate another 30 year development cycle.

Wozniak startup to share orbital space junk data

Schultz
WTF?

What is it about 'tech pioneers' and space?

Feels like earth has grown too small for the bunch of them. This increases my appreciation of Bill Gates, who invests his energy and my money (monopoly tax ): into more earthly endeavors.

F-Secure spins out new enterprise security business: WithSecure

Schultz
WTF?

Weak Spot

I always had a weak spot for F-secure, after it helped me to clean up a computer back in the mid-90s. But I never made it into their paying customer base -- the prices were a bit steep. And the current announcements sound like a lot of marketing gobbledigook, so I guess the salesmen finally took over.

Even complex AI models are failing 5th grade science

Schultz
Happy

Up next ...

The custom-trained AI that can solve this specific 5-th grader challenge better/faster than any human. Cue the headline: AI can do anything and will solve all our problems.

Russian demand for VPNs skyrockets by 2,692%

Schultz
Unhappy

...Russians ... probably know a darn sight more ...

When I asked my grandmother about what she knew or believed in the days of the Third Reich, she answered "Oh, we were not very political and didn't to ask too many questions."

If your choices are is to remain ignorant and innocent, to become knowledgeable and complicit, or to go to jail (or worse) -- many will choose ignorance. What would you do?

Europe's largest nuclear plant on fire after Russian attack

Schultz
Mushroom

Evil mastermind or incompetence at work?

It is natural to speculate about an evil masterplan, especially when looking at an immoral person like Putin. But it might be more plausible that the Russian army just wants control of the powerplant to turn off electrical power at will. Leave it to incompetent military commanders to obtain this control and you might have a major nuclear catastrophe at hand. I'd say we have ample evidence for the incompetence and stupidity of the Russian military...

A tale of two dishwashers: Buy one, buy it again, and again

Schultz
Go

It's the AI takeover

Don't worry, this is just the first step of AI initiating their takeover of the world. You will soon be able to circumvent all interactions with those intelligent Ads by installing your personal AI, which will competently handle all advertisements thrown your way and, conveniently, take care of all your shopping needs.

A few years later, after that tragic accident of your neighbor asphyxiating underneath his auto-delivered appliances, the last human will succumb to an overdose of twinkles. That was after the AI overheard you saying that 'you could actually live on that stuff'.

UK science stuck in 'holding pattern' on EU funding by Brexit, says minister

Schultz
Facepalm

EU ... deliberately making it difficult?

I think there is a perception problem among Brexiteers. Brexit is difficult, a point hat should have been obvious from the beginning. Not because the EU tries to make it difficult, but because the subject matter is difficult.

It's made difficult by the fact that Britain wants to stay part of a globalized economy, part of an international research community, ... things that have been built within the EU. Other countries have spent decades to find their place in the international community (e.g., Switzerland or Norway participating in some EU activities but not others). It involved a lot of haggling about benefits and cost and the resulting agreements always involved compromise and a lot of good-faith negotiations. The Brexit deal spelled out a lot of those compromises and now it's time for both sides to show they negotiated in good faith and stick to the agreement.

There are no easy win-win questions here, where the EU can just step back and let the British do as they like. If French fishermen are blocked from fishing in British waters, it's a loss for them. How are you going to spin it as a win for them? If the flow of goods between Ireland an Britain is not controlled as agreed-upon, it will disrupt trade and politics. Explain to your Irish neighbors how they win anything if Britain reneges on the agreement.

Brexit is a mess and it will stay messy for a while longer. Eventually we will get used to the mess and ti will be the new normal. Not because it started raining unicorns, but because everybody accepted their loss and moved on.

Prince of Packaging HP Inc snaps up zero-plastic bottle maker

Schultz
Boffin

Advertisement Gold

Please beware of the likes that sell you all-natural stuff in big print. No-plastic bottle? Sure, but there may be a lot of processing and chemistry involved in getting that "It's Not-Plastic" to hold water. Whether that is environmentally friendly or economically sensible can be hard to tell because all you get is the Advertisement Information Package.

A relative, who at the time was running research in a big manufacturer of aroma and fragrances explained: "We develop all-natural processes to create all those artificial flavors, because the manufacturers want the 'all natural' label. Lot's of extra chemistry, wasted energy, and effort." That's because you have to come up with 'certified, all natural' ingredients for your chemical reactions. It's still chemistry, but you replace graphite with charcoal, ...

Most of it is a big scam and the bigger the Ad-Print, the bigger the volume of hot air that needs to be covered. Note, I don't have any particular information on Choose Packaging and maybe their technology is great. But I won't believe it until I see a deeper analysis of what they do.

Instant Ump: HP Inc's subscription ink services hiking prices from next month

Schultz
Happy

"Print ink continues to be in short supply"

Fortunately my strategic toner reserve will last another year.

Indonesia bars financial institutions from offering crypto services

Schultz
Mushroom

Getting closer to a bank run?

If enough investors pull out, could we have the equivalent of a Bitcoin Bank Run? If you consider Bitcoin a currency, then its value is upheld by trust. No reason why that trust should survive forever, even though it seems like there are lots of fools and their money to keep the thing running for quite a while. If it's an investment (and let's face it, people 'invest' into crypto), the same issues apply.

As opposed to government-backed currencies (or established companies / commodities), crypto schemes are only backed by private entities without any meaningful history that would foster long-term trustworthiness. And don't tell me that you don't need trust crypto, because crypto ... If people stop accepting your currency, the value goes to zero. The value is tied to others accepting your currency and not tied to a nice picture on a dollar bill or a nice crypto scheme on somebodies computer.

It may take a while, or maybe the crypto schemes will just fade away -- but I predict that a nice cataclysmic run will wipe out most crypto schemes at some point within this generation (or the next). There is, of course, only one way to accelerate the run: talk about it wherever you can. Erosion of trust can be a self-fulfilling prophecy :).

Korea gives a $7.5bn nod to the metaverse and AI projects

Schultz
WTF?

Somebody help me understand ...

What is the metaverse good for? A quick Google search indicates it might add a lot of advertising opportunities, help you shop, hold a video-conference, and play games. But advertisement is not something many people enjoy, the one-click shopping experience is already patented, and games already have their virtual worlds. So what exactly will be revolutionized by the Metaverse?

Is it all about advertisement and who gets their share of that $763.2 billion cake?

Windows boss Panos Panay talks up 'new era of the PC' – translation: An era of new PCs

Schultz

A market ready for disruption ...

MS is playing a dangerous game: they are not developing OS functionality that their customers would appreciate, but they develop functionality that serves their own interests. There is a lot of inertia in this market: it takes time to learn navigating a new OS and it's scary that you might loose access to older data and software. But eventually a competitor may figure out what the customer wants and start offering a better product. And that better product might run better on a much smaller and cheaper computer -- once all the undesired crudware is removed.

OpenShell has been working on a classic replacement for Windows 11's Start menu

Schultz

Why the taskbar must be on the side:

Any serious text document I work on, or code, will stretch beyond the bottom of my screen. If you take away from the vertical real estate, I'll waste more time scrolling to find the relevant part of the text.

For quite some time, MS tried to steal my productivity by reducing useful vertical screen space: taskbar, window titles, menu bars, ribbons, status bar .... it's quite ridiculous.

I guess it's all right for watching youtube.

Tesla driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after deadly Autopilot crash

Schultz
Headmaster

<auto> from Greek autos, reflexive pronoun, "self, same" ...

and the word-forming element auto- is used to express "self, one's own, by oneself, of oneself". So the direct meaning of autopilot is a system that pilots itself. Merriam Webster defines autopilot as

: a device for automatically steering ships, aircraft, and spacecraft; also : the automatic control provided by such a device"

: a state or condition in which activity or behavior is regulated automatically in a predetermined or instinctive manner

So the established meaning of autopilot is quite clear. The Tesla autopilot is not an autopilot in the traditional meaning of the word and its name is misleading. Whether this is a sufficient excuse to unsafely drive a car is a completely different question and will now be properly addressed by the US judical system.

Alibaba gazes into crystal ball to spy coming advances in AI and silicon photonics

Schultz
Boffin

AI, AI, everywhere

So there was one significant scientific success for AI, namely protein structure prediction -- and that success was based on decades of algorithm development that were folded into the AI magic sauce. Then there are many examples in science, where you can replace existing data analysis (fitting or recognition) with AI, but we are still waiting for any significant advantage of AI showing up anywhere. (And that's not for a lack of trying, because your AI grant gets funded, while your boring old proposal is rejected.)

So do I expect great things from AI in science? No. By its very definition, science is about creating a testable hypothesis and then testing it. AI will find it's place in the computational toolbox but it won't magically create a shortcut for the (admittedly slow) fundamental progress that we came to expect from scientific progress.

Still, there'll be a lot of money being spent and made in the field, so I can't really blame Alibaba to join the choir of AI converts.

North Korea worried a lot of countries when it said it test-fired a hypersonic missile in Japan's direction

Schultz
Paris Hilton

Wondering ...

I don't want to defend the North Koreans, but I wonder whether a rocket that flies / glides towards its target can be called a ballistic missile? The dictionary definition of a ballistic missile seems to be:

"a missile with a high, arching trajectory, which is initially powered and guided but falls under gravity on to its target."

The statement from South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that "the North is also banned from making any launch using ballistic missile technology" sounds very much like an attempt to associate a squared peg with a round hole. We always consider the West as the straight negotiators, dealing with duplicitous North Koreans. But sometimes I feel that the Western powers are quite liberal in interpreting the rules. Not an approach that will endear you to the other side when it comes to the next set of negotiations.

Google joins others in Big Tech: Get vaccinated – or you're fired

Schultz

Anonymous (often falsely attributed to Mark Twain)

I'll have to remember that quote out of memory (free).

After deadly 737 Max crashes, damning whistleblower report reveals sidelined engineers, scarcity of expertise, more

Schultz
Stop

"scientific testing" of safety is done by the manufacturing companies

There is nothing wrong with companies performing scientific testing of their products and then forwarding the results to the regulating agencies. Proper scientific tests will give reproducible and reliable results (that's the 'scientific' part in the phrase).

The real problem is fraud, cheating, and systematic cutting of corners - - with the government agencies firmly looking the other way because they are underfunded, understaffed and under pressure to facilitate the business of the industry they regulate.

International Monetary Fund warns crypto-related risks could soon become systemic

Schultz
Boffin

Re: you mean

As we dish out blame for the Greek crisis, let's not forget the glorious role of Goldman Sachs in the story. The banks (not just European ones) were happy to game the system to make a quick buck and couldn't have cared less about the wider economic implications.

BTW, we haven't really solved the bank problem yet. For me the problem was best epitomized in a quote from Paulson (Goldman Sachs chair), who defended the banker's outrageous bonuses during the crises with the words "We need to pay the best salaries to attract the best and brightest". Indeed, they hired the best and brightest (including some of my fellow natural science graduates), who then proceeded to make themselves and their banks very rich and the rest of the world a lot poorer.

Do you really want the best and brightest administering the money flows of this world? You might be surprised that they find creative ways to divert those money flows into their own pockets. Imagine a world where Einstein, Watson&Crick, Turing, Heisenberg, Tesla, and their fellows became bankers with the goal to get themselves insanely rich, consequences be damned.

Give me a boring and reliable banker. I am willing to pay for his services as long as he doesn't run a shady get-rich-quick scheme with my pension funds.

The nub of the issue: Has your ThinkPad's TrackPoint gone TITSUP*? You aren't alone

Schultz

... constant surprise to me that people want to use them

You train your muscle memory once to figure out the track point (takes about a week) and you'll never again have to move you hands off the keyboard. I did that some 20 years ago and have been stuck with ibm/Lenovo laptops since.

How to destroy expensive test kit: What does that button do?

Schultz
Go

"Don't Touch That Button!"

That's why, back in the days, we had a prominent red "professor's button" installed in our experiment. You could push it, turn it, and watch the signal jump up and down while the normal distribution of particle counting did its magic.

I assume my students have similar jokes these days ...

The dark equation of harm versus good means blockchain’s had its day

Schultz
Boffin

"It's incredible how normalised climate alarmism has become..."

No, it's incredible how some otherwise literate persons still can't understand the reality of climate change. So many scientists waste their time presenting the physics of climate change in simple layman-digestible terms, presenting the data in simple digestible terms, ...

But I guess for some this is not about science but about politics. And there are no scientific facts in politics, only opinions. So while I respect your political opinion, I pity you for your lack of scientific understanding.

Schultz
Stop

"almost free [...] power"

I wish I lived in your world of almost free power. In my world, unfortunately, El Salvador still burns fossil fuels for some third of its electricity production. And renewable energy also rarely qualifies as free, unless you can get someone else to pay the bill.

Should be easy to win the rights to .tv when you're name-checked in the contract's tech reqs – right, Afilias?

Schultz
Trollface

There is gold in them hills ...

and Afilias seems to be happy to shake hands and grease palms to get the exclusive mining rights.

Nice to know that they "have not met with the technology minister or the technology ministry in private to provide advice or documents regarding the .co tender.” I mean, we have moved on since the good old days of the gold rush. Now we know that such meetings should involve independent advisers that bill for the invaluable service of creating a degree of legal separation between the generous benefactor and the greasy hands.

Small crime doesn't pay, but that shouldn't discourage bigger minds to pursue their hopes and dreams. Right?

Russia's orbital insanity is almost beyond redemption – but there's space for improvement

Schultz

...gamma ray amplification by stimulated emission of radiation...

Surely, a functional graser is right around the corner. Attosecond XUV pulses already reached the 100 eV regime, so it's just a question of decades. Unfortunately the pulse energy will be stuck in the range between 'undetectable' and quite tiny. Not they way to go if you want to make things go kaboooom or fussssh.

Russia blows up old satellite, NASA boss 'outraged' as ISS crew shelters from debris

Schultz
Stop

Wikipedia is a source that any idiot can contribute to ...

So that makes it just as fallible as every other form of human communication. The problem is not that idiots can contribute, the problem is that an increasing number of idiots fail to check their believes and fall ever-deeper into the idiocy trap.

Cisco requires COVID-19 shots for all US staff – even remote workers

Schultz

"natural immunity is WAY better"...

.... in the same manner as walking beats driving, eating grass seeds is better than eating heavily cultivated grains, and you should of course never eat any animal that wasn't caught in the wild.

Oh, I almost forgot, please eat you food raw, it's more natural and must therefore be way better than cooked.

Boy, do I miss my garden Eden.

Patients must know how their health records are used – and approve any sharing for research

Schultz
Boffin

Public good versus personal harm

This discussion is tricky, because the harm you fear to incur by sharing your personal health data (e.g., denied employment) is highly personal. But the benefit is only meaningful on a society wide scale.

There is enormous value in population-wide medical data collection: How can we assess the effectiveness of lifestyle choices and medical procedures on health if we don't have population-wide data? Without good data, you can't tell whether a homeopathic remedy works better than chloroquine or a vaccine. Individuals suffer and die randomly, but society-wide you can identify correlations and deduce causation. After collecting the low-hanging fruits of medical progress (hygiene, antibiotics, ...) and the corresponding increase in population-wide health and life expectancy, future progress requires tackling medical problems that are statistically 'rare' (cancer, chronic disease) and where the outcome of single cases won't teach us how to tackle the larger problem.

In an ideal world, society should collect the relevant data and use it only to tackle societies' health issues, maybe in an academic setting with clear rules-of-conduct. In the real world, certain entities see fit to use any available data for personal / corporate / political profit. We live in this non-ideal world and the resulting lack of trust explains the overwhelming majority opinion in this forum. Can we move closer to that ideal world scenario, or should we just accept that our personal liberty comes with a significant cost in public health and well-being?

IBM US staff must be fully vaccinated by December – or go back to bed without pay

Schultz
Boffin

Re: Shorter development and new technologies

It's a combination of two factors. First the development and testing period was far shorter than any previous vaccine in history. Secondly, the most widely deployed types use technologies (mRNA and adenovirus vector for Pfizer/Moderna and AZ, respectively) which have never received approval for use in humans in the past.

Those are two god points, but let me address these issues:

(1: fast development) -- Please note that (a) we are now 2 years beyond the development and still don't see any problems, (b) the technology was developed for more than a decade with the aim to create flu shots, so the development wasn't really that fast; they just had to insert the new coronavirus RNA, (c) the development was accelerated by a few billion dollars. That buys a lot of development man-hours.

(2: new technology) -- RNA vaccines have been explored for quite a while but never got the big investment to race it to the market. Still, it was unclear if this technology would work, hence all the clinical tests. This is exactly the reason why we have government agencies and specialized institutes that investigate and certify drug safety. Unfortunately, a lot of people now think they are smarter than those professionals. I don't say that the professionals can be wrong, but they have a pretty good track record (and here I am looking beyond the US to many other excellent medical institutions, worldwide).

To me it feels like this whole topic got blown up due to politics and not due to any rational or reasonable fears. Fortunately I don't live in the US and we only get the echoes of that whole excitement where I live.

Schultz
Boffin

Vaccine skepticism: A problem fueled by ubiquitous data and rarefied understanding

I was initially baffled by vaccine skeptics. How can you question the safety of vaccines that have been administered to billions of people in hundreds of different countries? The medical professionals managed to identify a few-in-10-million side effect of lethal blood clots for some vaccines in some sub-populations -- so clearly the health risks of these vaccines are monitored very closely!

But I think I figured out the problem that leads to comments such as the one by SimonHayterUK: People have access to lots of data online and start interpreting it without the skills and efforts required to actually understand it. Scientists will scour data from VAERS or Yellow Card reports to determine actual vaccine health effects and separate those from reporting artefacts and noise. That's how they can link blood clots to Astra Zeneca vaccines and young people. Laymen will scour data from VAERS and Yellow Card reports and conclude that we are all Doomed, that COVID is fake, and that pregnant women will have schizophrenic teenagers in 2035.

So we are all Doomed. Not because we will be killed by a non-liability clause, but because we don't trust the professionals who get paid to analyze the data properly and instead revert to hysterical fear-mongering.

If it's going to rain within the next 90 mins, this very British AI system can warn you

Schultz
Boffin

Re: "AI" is the solution -- But for what problem?

90 minutes forecast of rain sounds a bit unambitious to me. Where I live, the weather forecast quite reliably predicts rain (down to the hour) some 12-24 hours ahead. If I look at the weather radar, I might be able to extrapolate some 90 minutes without much training. Is this a case of an AI solution searching for a problem? Did they find a prediction gap at 90 minutes before rainfall that they can address?

I expect a lot more solutions of this kind in the near future: all that AI money requires reports to be written and success to be demonstrated. I am sure the researchers will spend the required time to find -- and solve -- problems you have never been aware of.

It's fashion in science, it's a recurring phenomenon and it always plays out by the same script. If you can read about the importance of some scientific field in your daily newspaper, you can take a bet that the important work has already been done. By that time, the serious scientists already laid the groundwork, solved the hard problems, and convinced the (generally skeptical) community that their work is the best thing since sliced bread. The fields then blossom, fertilized by generous financial support to the legion of less-innovative scientists that walk the well-trodden paths and plow the fields of yesteryear's innovation. A decade later you end up with a lot of Dutch tulips, and sometimes a turnip.

Japanese boffins say they've created plastic optical fibres to reach places that might break glass

Schultz
Boffin

"Critically, the materials are said to have less requirement for forward error correction"

I must be missing something here:

(1) The material surely doesn't need forward error correction, but the data transmission might become more reliable with FEC.

(2) The degradation of information as it is transmitted through a cable (fiber) is distance dependent: Errors accumulate as the path gets longer. Clearly the plastic fibers are meant for short distances, because the optical quality of plastics is usually inferior to that of high quality glass. So I would expect that for a comparable fiber lengths, the polymer fiber would accumulate more errors. Maybe they compared a meter-long polymer fiber to a km-long glass fiber? Or maybe something got lost in translation.

Elizabeth Holmes' Theranos fraud trial begins: Defense claims all she did was fail – and that's not a crime

Schultz
Happy

What a feel-good story!

Let me see in how many ways this story makes me feel good:

A lot of rich investors lost their money, because they were greedy and didn't understand science. ✅

Lying and thieving corporate executives are prosecuted. ✅

We get such a nice reminder of how the size of peanuts depends on the size of your nuts. ✅ ("Ms Holmes walked away with nothing" versus Elizabeth Holmes living on grounds of $135m Silicon Valley estate.)

Get the popcorn ready, this promises to be entertaining!

LA cops told to harvest social media handles from people they stop, suspect or not

Schultz
Black Helicopters

Welcome to the internet age...

... makes the old way of collecting personal information look a bit quaint.

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