* Posts by Jez Burns

58 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Mar 2009


Drone fliers are either 'clueless, careless or criminal' says air traffic gros fromage

Jez Burns

Re: Cyclists

I've heard it said that up to one in twenty five people is a sociopath - a figure that seems to tally nicely with driving behaviour on the roads if you're aware of the number. Ever had someone on the opposite side of the road who sticks their full beams back on at the last minute knowing there's no consequence for them? Likely you've just passed one of those twenty five. So the reality could be more like 4%er.. It's always chilled me if this is the case that statistically, some of these people - with no ability to feel remorse or a conscience - would be in charge of safeguarding sensitive personal data, safety issues in industry, law enforcement, teaching, government bureaucracy.. and of course flying drones for a hobby. If they're on the psychopathic end, they're also more attracted to risk-taking. Sadly society will always have to make sacrifices to make allowances for the behaviour of these kinds of people.

YouTube fight gets dirty: Kids urged to pester parents over Article 13

Jez Burns

Re: "Intellectual property is a "right" only insofar as the law says it is"

@cornetman: "Artists survived through patronage, an idea that is interestingly coming back in a rather big way."

I'm not sure the ghosts of Van Gogh, Mozart or the countless other artists who died penniless - perhaps with their best work ahead - of them would be too happy about this.

It could be argued that if you rely on rich people to fund art, you just end up with the art that rich people want. At times it is culturally fashionable to be curious and enlightened, you might get pioneering work (the renaissance - though I do wonder what the great artists' work could have been if they didn't need to grovel to the church for a living). While rich people need to tighten their belts, or in periods of unilateral conformity or conservatism, you'll get nothing but stagnation and repetitiveness (the renaissance gave us exceptional art because it was an exceptional time).

If you rely on the generosity of the masses to fund art voluntarily, which a giant mega-corporation are already profiting from, I don't get the feeling many people would want to pay for it.

Jez Burns

Re: Isn't it bad?

Another absurd hypocrisy - if I understand this situation correctly - is that Google seem to be arguing immunity from responsibility for policing copyright infringement (beyond removing content on notification) on the basis of being a platform, not a publisher of content (where the latter would have some editorial or production role in the content). Yet they are using their own platform to editorially direct and produce content opposing Article 13. They are producing content for their own platform on a subscription basis. They are adding their own links to 'factual' information in content producers' videos dealing with controversial subjects. This looks like publishing, smells like publishing and quacks like publishing.. While all visits to their 'platform' benefit them, either through ad revenue or increased market dominance, how can they justify picking and choosing the role of an aggregator when it suits them and being a publisher when it suits them? Their only justification (as far as I can see) seems to be 'the public like it the way it is', and 'we're big so screw you'.

Yet another mega-leak: 100 million Quora accounts compromised by system invaders

Jez Burns

I have yet to read a post anywhere where someone who is called an insulting name responds with "thank you for showing me the error of my ways - as a result of your reply I have looked deep within my soul and now realise I am a moron. Henceforth all my posts will be sparkling with enlightenment and reason".

With acknowledgement of the fact that you get a good proportion of dickheads on any internet forum, there's nothing more tedious as a reader looking for specific information than having to wade through a massive food-fight to get to anything interesting. Quora will know this, and obviously want to avoid their website becoming 'youtube without the videos'. It's a public forum, and so is always going to be full of misinformation and prejudice. While an 'upvoting' system might not be a perfect way of dealing with this, combined with a level of their own policing (which given the volume of posts will have to be pretty simplistic and arbitrary), it's probably about as good as it's ever going to get.

Bad news! Astroboffins find the stuff of life in space for the first time

Jez Burns

"Finding the molecule around stars and cold asteroids, spots where the chances of life are slim, mean organohalogens are probably not reliable chemical markers life."

Space whales?

Sonos will deny updates to those who snub rewritten privacy terms

Jez Burns

Re: Not bad

Given that profit margins in this kind of tech are likely already down to the wire (mostly with cash invested in marketing), a loss of 10% or even 5% of a customer base could have a huge impact on a company.

Hey, remember that monkey selfie copyright drama a few years ago? Get this – It's just hit the US appeals courts

Jez Burns

Re: Devil's Advocate

@Oh Homer: I think the logical fallacy you've used is called 'poisoning the well'. Could you explain how - if you like to own anything or be paid for any work you do - the 'premise of copyright' is ridiculous (beyond a flimsy and nonsensical assertion that all intellectual endeavour is derivative)? If you can make a convincing argument against ownership of stuff (as intellectual property is no different from physical property) I will quite happily have your car, your house, and the shirt off your back.

Boffins' five eyes surprise: Bees correct colour for ambient light

Jez Burns

Re: The visual equivalent to a noise cancelling microphone.

"It would be interesting to see the world as the eye really sees it"

I suspect as an incomprehensible mess of light and colour moving around like a kaleidoscope. Think the first few seconds of waking up with a bad hangover.. Not sure how accurate this is but I've heard people who have been blind since birth will never be able to 'see' even if their physical sight is restored (after a certain age when most long-term neural connections have formed).

Boeing preps pilotless passenger flights – once it has solved the Sully problem, of course

Jez Burns

MachDiamond, the point of controversy in the Paris airshow case (if it's the one I'm thinking of) is how / if the computer assist arguably responded to make worse a dire situation caused by human error (or breathtaking negligence) in the first place. An AI - assuming an effective one could be built - would not have gotten into that situation. Even then it's not clear anything could have been done to avert the disaster once the wheels had been set in motion.

Just delete the internet – pr0n-blocking legislation receives Royal Assent

Jez Burns

Blanket criminalisation

At risk of sounding tin foil hatted, I expect the government knows full well any new laws allowing internet censorship (not just restricted to pron but also covering libel, secrets and other areas unprotected by the UK's lack of provision for freedom of speech) would be hard to enforce effectively, but a sweet side effect (and what I suspect is the aim) is blanket criminalisation of swathes of the population.

While in extremis, this erodes habeas corpus, broadening the opportunities for targeted silencing, persecution and imprisonment of individuals on any kind of 'shit list', on a mundane day to day level, it opens the door to more intrusive surveillance without effective protection. If it is too hard to spy on, cajole or intimidate individuals with a clean record, and too hard to expand state powers without attracting negative attention, just use 'think of the children' legislation to 'dirty up' as many records as possible - who would object if they have nothing to hide?..

A beer for Renate Samson anyway..

Microsoft nicks one more Apple idea: An ad-supported OS

Jez Burns

Re: Adverts, etc.

Same here - I purchased an OEM Windows 10, switched off Cortana, set all phone-home options to 'nope', decided never to go near Onedrive and have never seen any adverts..

UK cops spot webcam 'sextortion' plots: How vics can hit stop

Jez Burns

Re: sorry no, there are no excuses

Who has suggested new laws? You might find some covering blackmail and extortion if you take a look at the statute books. Pompous moralising and lack of compassion for victims of these crimes (who themselves have engaged in nothing illegal) loses even more of its weight when coming from a position of anonymity - why don't you own your comments? Seems there may be a degree of projection or repressed guilt here..

Helping autonomous vehicles and humans share the road

Jez Burns

Autonomous vehicles would be an amazing thing, but like you said, we don't have autonomous pedestrians, cyclists or roads to suit them. Until everyone by mutual consent agrees to trash the concept of liability (which probably predates fire, and will likely never happen), autonomous vehicles will never come into mass usage in an uncontrolled environment. There will be accidents involving autonomous vehicles leading to death or injury - no doubt orders of magnitude fewer than those of regular vehicles, but at some point, a car's computer will make a 'trolley bus' decision. If a Mercedes built car causes a death, it could be shown logically by lawyers acting for the victim's family that the behaviour causing his or her death was predetermined by the manufacturer. For this reason, it wouldn't surprise me if, without huge legislative changes, the directors of Mercedes could be found criminally liable regardless of contracts between the vehicles operator and manufacturer. Blame is in some ways a compensation afforded to victims by society that helps salve their grief, and society's guilt.

The only alternative is that legislation (agreed by all countries) forces operators of autonomous vehicles to accept legal responsibility for the actions of their cars' AI. If the idea of criminal responsibility was navigated successfully, insurance companies would bear the burden of compensation for injury or death, and as is the case at the moment, would be forced to contribute to a pool to cover payouts to victims of uninsured operators (though the system would have to be vastly improved).

However, will we ever really be morally comfortable with abandoning the idea of blame, and accepting - emotionally, not logically - that the roads are a lottery; that any time, you or someone you care about could have their life snuffed out by a cold, unthinking machine? Could we completely substitute awards of money for feelings of vindication towards another human being in apportioning blame?

Even if people are killed by faults in mechanical devices every day, these devices don't make decisions. The public might see deaths from AI as akin to a death squad of robots, randomly executing people on their doorstep every few days - at least that's how it could be framed by the media.

Most readers here would probably accept the logic that statistically a vastly reduced overall road death rate would be a price worth paying for this kind of lottery. But picture a situation where a young pregnant single mother (a nurse) and her little girl are killed by an AI on their way to school, leaving her other three children orphaned. Can you imagine how the media would frame it? How public opinion could change overnight? I'm pretty convinced that without a completely controlled environment to operate in, autonomous vehicles would be dead in the water after a single incident like this, no matter how much effort went into dealing with the liability issues. People would stop buying them, companies would stop selling them.

How much would it cost to create controlled environments for the exclusive use of automated vehicles (fenced roads with controlled junctions for crossings etc)? In urban areas we don't have the space to assign exclusivity to many roads without a huge uptake in automated vehicles (before which public opinion might turn against them in any case). For freight transport maybe, but then is it more cost effective to upgrade and improve autonomy in rail systems?

The automotive industry should probably concentrate on automated enhanced safety systems long before thinking about self-driving cars.

'Pavement power' - The bad idea that never seems to die

Jez Burns

Don't forget that the 6 million+ tonnes of soil nutrient-depleting chomped up trees (2014 figures) need to be shipped over from the US to feed Drax alone. Assuming a load of 45,000 tonnes per shipment, that's 133 transatlantic trips, burning ~200,000 gallons of heavy oil each way: 1675342 tonnes of oil burned to feed one power station in a year. Of course, coal ships will burn the same fuel, but as you'd need to ferry almost double the quantity of woodchip to achieve the same energy output as coal, it seems likely that transport of the stuff alone negates any benefits of burning it in terms of emissions - not just the widely hyped gaseous plant fertilizer, but the nasty particulate stuff that clogs up your lungs.

Obviously the people running this scheme will know perfectly well how wasteful and environmentally damaging it is. So what's the point in doing it? Renewable subsidies - eye watering sums of money for the great and the good and all their pals, all doing their bit to save the world, of course..


Dear Tesla, stop calling it autopilot – and drivers are not your guinea pigs

Jez Burns

Re: Do we want to advance or not?

"Common sense has to compete against a childhood of watching Knight Rider."

You absolutely nailed it - have a beer.

Google-funded group mad that US Copyright Office hasn't abolished copyright yet

Jez Burns

The behaviour of Google is worse than the file sharing sites - at least they didn't have the sheen of legitimacy and the ability to influence legislation. If there is 'north of a billion dollars per year', that money will only ever go to the big players in the publishing industries. Music and content creators (apart from those with the most generic, middle of the road, audience friendly products) are generally left begging for scraps, not having a clue what is happening to their rights, and if having the time or inclination to chase them, becoming lost in a labyrinthine maze where they have to put all their trust in large corporations to treat them fairly with absolutely no accountability - you can imagine how that works out. If you can shut down piracy in murky, underground conduits for sharing, why shouldn't it be possible to shut it down when conducted brazenly by the world's largest corporations?

Imagine a world where the only restaurant you could eat in was McDonalds. Some people wouldn't have a problem with that I guess, but culturally, the behemoth content pirates of the world are taking us there whether we like it or not..

Google's AI finds its voice ... and it's surprisingly human

Jez Burns


That is really impressive, especially given the use of neural networks that will give it more room to evolve. As other commenters have pointed out, the rhythms and timing are still a bit off. I guess that's because these things are largely context sensitive in natural human speech. Still, there are rules that can be followed (and perhaps they already try to) involving the cadences and timings of different types of words following each other (nouns / verbs etc.), along with sentence / paragraph structure and amount of breath available before needing to pause.

'Alien megastructure' Tabby's Star: Light is definitely dimming

Jez Burns

Re: What is important is what was not said ...

I like that thought. It's possible in this scenario that the swarm might not be built by an alien civilisation to harness power for their technology, but built by itself to harness power for itself.

What do self replicating machines do when they've replicated to the point that exhausted their fuel source? Better pull down the blinds..

Teen faces trial for telling suicidal boyfriend to kill himself via text

Jez Burns

Therapists have therapists everywhere - personal therapists and supervisors. It's sensible, and professional supervision is a required part of the job.

Jez Burns

Re: No she didn't kill him in any way

Horseshit - argumentum ad absurdum. This wasn't a one-off, or a message sent in a fit of anger, and she was by definition fully aware of the victim's mental state.

You have to worry about the psychology of someone who expresses concern over legal precedents that might curtail online / remote abuse.

Docker hired private detectives to pursue woman engineer's rape, death threat trolls

Jez Burns

Re: Utterly unacceptable

Also a very small number of sociopaths, angry narcissists, antisocial loners (or teenagers - same difference probably) using an anonymous broadcasting platform with unlimited reach can have a hugely disproportionate influence. While not wanting to minimise the impact of hateful behaviour on victims, I wonder if the term 'endemic' is used wisely here. Even a small degree of fallout for the perpetrators (who are by definition cowards) would likely solve the problem.

Net scum lock ancient Androids, force users to buy iTunes gift cards

Jez Burns

Re: Tight

My TV is a 70 year old projector with a grandfather clock hooked up to it..

Kanye West: Yo, DNS... Imma let you finish, but this gTLD is one of the best of all time

Jez Burns

Re: All part of his new career?

I thought his new career was providing the voice of the 'confused.com' robot?

Tell Facebook who's the greatest: YOU are!

Jez Burns

"The pioneers of social media used it to exclude opinions they didn't like - quite proudly demonstrating their intolerance and control-freakery."

Sounds interesting but I missed that one. Could you expand on it?

Register readers mostly too ashamed to cop to hideous hoard horrors

Jez Burns

Cable hell

Each time I dispose of an old SCSI or Parallel cable, another two spring into existence to take its place. I've just given up now and made them a home.

Massive study concludes: 'Global warming is real'

Jez Burns

Why would this deal any kind of 'blow' to AGW sceptics? The idea that those sceptical of claims of a 'catastrophic' 4-6 degree potential increase of global average temperature over the coming century as a result of anthropogenic CO2 emissions would hold that global temperatures have remained static since the 'little ice age', or that they have not increased, is a fiction designed to smear their credibility. Whenever sceptics have pointed this out, they have been tediously and meaninglessly accused of 'moving the goalposts' (as if this whole issue was some kind of football match).

Sceptics would raise as a concern the lack of correlation between satellite measurements of tropospheric temperature and the land-based temperature datasets, shared by the Hadley Centre, NOAA, NASA GISS and indeed BEST (who have at least tried to factor measurement uncertainty into their statistical models). The urban heat island effect may not have been dealt with properly in any of these datasets (due to vague classification and oversimplification of definitions of 'urban' and 'rural'), which could account for the discrepancy. Or perhaps satellite sensors are inadequate for measuring surface temperature? As a common or garden sceptic with no axe to grind, I would like to know without being shouted down by some imbecile for exercising my scepticism, or treated like I was engaged in some sort of competition for righteousness.

Sceptics would generally argue that there is no observational evidence of a meaningful correlation between PPM fluctuations in CO2 levels and global average temperatures in the industrial era. They would argue that global average temperature is an irrelevant metric in any case (especially as around one third of the raw data used to compile the global average shows no trend, or a decreasing trend in temperature in different regions). They would argue that averaging the output of computer models pre-loaded with assumed temperature 'forcing' parameters for factors such as CO2, ozone, solar activity, soot and so on that are based on a combination of dubious paleo-climate reconstructions, curve fitting to known temperature trends, or output of other computer models is an absurd exercise in circular reasoning, and has no predictive value whatsoever. They would point to the failure of all climate models used by the IPCC to date to reflect reality as confirmation of this view.

They would argue many other things, none of which are remotely addressed, or dealt a 'blow' by the BEST study. I continue to be sceptical and interested - not in 'denial' of anything (including the possibility of AGW), just suspicious and vigilant when it comes to arguments launched from a platform of mindless cheerleading, alarmism, unquestioning acceptance of authority, refusal to address legitimate questions, bizarre lumping together of scientific and political belief and the kind of mischaracterisation of critics seen in the headline of this article.

Apple plan to rate shops etc by number of iPhones visiting

Jez Burns

Good question..

I'd like to know the answer too. Also why should I have to turn off a useful feature just to retain my privacy? How easy / hard will it be to opt out, and what does 'opting out' entail? Does it mean the data will not be gathered, or just that gathered data will not be used for marketing? Quibbles about privacy and anonymity, see my post below..

Jez Burns

Working for Apple?

Of course this is all to enhance the user experience, create synergy between brands blah blah blah... nothing to do with making a shitpile of cash for a company who already have more in the bank than the US government.

I don't care if this is anonymised - they don't seem to grasp that this isn't the issue. There is A) the principle that once you kick the privacy door off its latch, it's very easy to boot it wide open. B) The fact that I don't want to work for fucking Apple. By helping to make them money through the sale of my usage / location information, I feel like I'm being co-opted. They already treat other businesses (like the music, publishing and software industries), as cash cows to be milked until they dry out. It's starting to appear this isn't enough for them and their grubby fingers are making a grab for their own users.

I'm an iPhone user, and I think it's a great product, but it's heading for the bin if this crap continues.

Fukushima: Situation improving all the time

Jez Burns

BBC coverage

I couldn't believe the lack of clarity and the constant tone of paranoia in the BBC coverage of this crisis either. I wouldn't normally bother getting annoyed about this kind of thing enough to write 'Tumbridge Wells' style complaints, but I get the feeling the mainstream media are desperate to milk this for all it's worth, and cause mass fear and anxiety in the process. I sent this to them, but I somehow doubt it'll get published:

"What is wrong with you (the BBC)? There is no information in your reports, just knee-jerk scientifically illiterate alarmism, unfounded and disproportionate insinuations about possible food and water contamination (presenting normal safety precautions as warnings of impending doom), and lazy speculation dressed up as reporting, achieved by linguistically conflating the terrible tragedy of the earthquake and tsunami with the real, but hardly catastrophic crisis at Fukushima. I get the impression the BBC and other news organisations are tangibly disappointed by the lack of human culpability in the earthquake and tsunami, and are almost willing there to be a real nuclear disaster in order to obtain some juicy hand-wringing headlines and prance around like some sort of vindicated Cassandra, able to point a finger of blame for the whole natural disaster at mankind. Please compare the lazy and ill-informed BBC coverage of this incident with the sober, scientific, informative and rational coverage from The Register and hang your heads in shame."

One third of Russians say Sun revolves round Earth

Jez Burns

It's who you ask?

And in other startling news, over 97.4% of priests surveyed - who are active publishers in theology - expressed a belief in God.

DARPA inks 5-year-mission solar strato-wingship deal

Jez Burns
Thumb Up

Primary objective:

To unsettle the enemy by beaming Joe Satriani style twin-axe power-rock over a 200 mile radius..

Boffins authenticate Apple 'Antennagate'

Jez Burns

Far from a lemon IMHO

I read everything I could, thought about it for ages, checked one out and bought it. I have no particular devotion to Apple, use some of their gear but readily accept the flaws and the good points, just like anything else. IMHO Apple's response to the antenna issue has been arrogant and appalling, and has left them rightly open to a massive amount of criticism. When I bought the phone I knew all about the antenna issues, but had no idea, thanks to Apple's obfuscation and out-of-control rumours and speculation everywhere, whether it would be a big or a small problem.

I live in the Midland's countryside with weak 3g reception. I found immediately that bridging the gap between the two antennas caused a massive signal drop. If I moved my finger so much as a couple of millimetres away from the antenna gap, the signal was restored. This in my mind rules out general RF interference from the body as the problem- it really is an antenna bridging issue.

On the other hand, I've found it pretty easy not to hold the phone in a way that would bridge the two antennas (I wouldn't hold the phone that way anyway, other than browsing / text messaging). I've also ordered a case, which I would use in any event as the phone would almost certainly smash if dropped on a hard surface.

In every other respect, I've been utterly blown away by the phone - particularly good points for me are the speed and the display which are both amazing. The reception, when held 'normally' is pretty good. It's horses for courses really - if you're not prepared to be restricted in the way you hold the phone, or to get a case for it, I wouldn't bother buying one. For me, this isn't a problem, and in every other respect the phone is about as far from a lemon as you can get. It's a shame really, as Apple deserve a lot of credit for pushing the boundaries so far.

Please don't flame me! I have no axe to grind, I'm utterly unbiased and technologically literate - this is just my opinion and I'm hoping it might clear things up for anyone else considering buying one..

Twitter bomb joker found guilty

Jez Burns


Two notable things about this case - firstly that Paul Chambers wasn't convicted of a terrorism offence, therefore it couldn't be argued that he caused any security scare or disruption, or that his message was taken as a gesture of intent to bomb an airport. If he was, he could have argued his case and won. The fact that he was convicted under the 2003 Communications act makes the decision even more sinister. Secondly, he was tried by magistrates rather than a judge and jury. Magistrates have become the PCOS's of the judicial system. They are by and large untrained, legally illiterate political appointees, frightened to come to any decision that might upset the state or media.

It is no accident that the Government who passed the nasty Communications Act (amongst many other equally oppressive laws) is the same one that has put in a concerted effort to abolish jury trials and massively increase the recruitment of magistrates. Real judges, the High Court and House of Lords (despite the bad press they all get) have been fighting a quiet, dignified but ultimately losing battle against abuse of power by the state for years.

If the State, and by extension it's burgeoning bloc of patrons in the Police, CPS or Judiciary want to bring you down, the whole system is geared towards allowing them to do so. Chamber's conviction is likely to be quashed on appeal. In the meantime, hopefully a change of UK Government might help redress the damage that has been done to civil liberties over the last decade.

Aussie smoko-proofing drug prevents ill effects of cigs

Jez Burns

"should do the decent thing and remove themselves from society sooner rather than later"

Nice to see people like you hiding under a cloak of anonymity whilst spouting vapid, mean and generally twatty groupthink bullshit like this. You really are a coward.

Atheists smite online God poll

Jez Burns

@Graham Bartlett

Amen to that!

State attorney nabbed in car with stripper, Viagra and sex toys

Jez Burns
Thumb Up

Just in case..

"a Viagra pill and several sex toys". Corning said he had them with him "just in case".

His father had said "Son, these might just save your life one day.."

Increase in comms snooping? You ain't seen nothing yet

Jez Burns


Great post! What is really worrying is that the Government (from the PM to Whitehall to the police) don't even feel under any obligation to explain the motives for their spying- anti terrorist, criminal or other. If you refuse to justify something, perhaps it is because you can't. They have at no point been given permission by society to take unfettered surveillance powers, yet seem to take it for granted that this is what they are entitled to, without question or scrutiny. This level of arrogance is astonishing and unsettling. They seem to treat the 'civilian' population as children, perhaps knowing that in doing so, we will behave like good children, believing unquestioningly what we are told, accepting unlimited intrusion into our lives and being seen and not heard.

There has never been any clear evidence that this level of surveillance is an anti-terrorist measure. The last few anti-terrorist operations (and you have to assume they have been conducted with heavy surveillance) have not exactly been a roaring success, with entirely innocent people being arrested without any evidence, then gagged with Control Orders or threatened deportation when it looks like any embarrassing truth might be revealed. Of course, any fight against potential domestic bombers is an crucial one, but it has yet to be shown that powers beyond those already available to the police and Government (and I remember terrorist atrocities being far more common in the '80s) are necessary or even helpful.

This feeling is strengthened when even the Government's own anti-terror justifications for increased surveillance come across as lame and half-hearted, falling back on 'anti-fraud', 'anti-gang', 'anti-criminal' soundbites, peppered with logical fallacy when held up to scrutiny.

We can only conclude in the absence of any other evidence that a policy of blanket surveillance and interception is being pursued by those in power for its own sake, not as a means to any useful end. That they (Government and civil service) believe they have an automatic right to power and a monopoly on control. Anything that happens outside that control (such as internet communication) angers and terrifies them.

Then again, maybe it's always been like this, and the growth of the internet and mass communication has merely given us the illusion of freedom when in reality it has never really existed.

Bezos begs forgiveness for Amazon's Big Brother moment

Jez Burns

Re: On the doubleplusgood side

Were you reading the special version with the big letters and pictures? It's, like, so not the Matrix is it?

Boffin predicts pee-powered cars

Jez Burns
Thumb Up

One of the

coolest things I've ever heard.

German old timers torture financial adviser

Jez Burns
Thumb Up

Film rights?

I'd pitch it as "Cocoon meets Reservoir Dogs"

The Moon? We're going nowhere, says NASA official

Jez Burns

@John Smith

"(note in accountancy land a mis-entry of 1 too high in 1 account matched by 1 too low in another equals a discrepancy of 2)"

Really interesting- didn't know that, thanks! Any indication whether in NASA's case this was too high or too low?

@Stuart Halliday

Yeah, not to mention how lucky they were not to get fried in solar ratiation. Perhaps back in the day, any risks were worth taking to get ahead of the Commies?

Branson breaks ground on US rocketplane spaceport

Jez Burns

Billionaire builds playground / theme park for the super-rich..

Hasn't he seen Jurrassic Park, West World etcetera? This is bound to end in tears.

So what we do when ID Cards 1.0 finally dies?

Jez Burns

@Bronek Kozicki

Your arguments in favour of an ID card system (simply to allow proof of address) are totally redundant. The idealised system you propose is not the one being considered by the UK government, which is an ID card tied into a necessarily monolithic database system with access necessarily granted to tens of thousands of anonymous officials. Even if it was, the positive aspects you set out do not even touch on the potential negatives. It is facile to bring other countries with an ID card system in place into the argument. For one, they do not have the same system in place as that proposed by the UK Government. Secondly, where is the evidence that the ID system of other countries is not already open to abuse / being abused. Thirdly, the implementation of a massive database backend, which is the true point of contention in the ID cards debate appears to be a Europe-wide, not just UK-centric plan. Citizens of EU countries, with or without ID cards should be equally concerned. If they are not, then like you, they are being breathtakingly complacent.Citizens of EU countries, with or without ID cards should be equally concerned. If they are not, then like you, they are being breathtakingly complacent towards their privacy and liberties.

Having said that, maybe you are a part of a minority who find the prospect of state intrusion and control of your life comforting?

Jez Burns

@David Bell

When I was a teenager (around 15), me and my mates came up with a cunning and foolproof way of obtaining beer and cigarettes, which would outfox any ID scheme imaginable. We'd simply bribe an adult to purchase them for us in return for a cut of the booty.

Actually, scratch that. I propose implanting an RFID chip into the hand of anyone under the age of 18 that can pass information to an RFID chip implanted in the fabric of any beer can / cigarette packet, bongo mag etc. These can both then register with terminals hidden in pub tables, park benches, bus stops, which will alert the authorities in the case of minors making use of such contraband. Of course, any such scheme could be entirely voluntary- if you don't have the ID chip you just can't purchase any unsavoury items. The chip will only activate in the case of interaction with said goods, so privacy will not be an issue.

Underage drinking never really did me any harm anyway, it just led to a well developed sense of paranoia. The prison doctors said I might be eligible for a liver transplant in a couple of years anyway, so all good!

Jez Burns
Thumb Down

Gets one point, misses a more important one

This is a really interesting and informative article, and one that for a change addresses the technical rather than simply the moral issues of the ID card. So maybe it's inappropriate to start banging on about this side of the debate in a comment here, but are the two actually separable? Is it not possible that the architects of the ID card scheme are perfectly aware of the possibility of retaining a degree of privacy for the holder with clever use of software, but that this is actually undesirable for the state looking to implement it? Every UK Govt proposal relating to the ID scheme appears to confirm that the ID card (and more importantly, associated database system) has one simple function- to eradicate privacy altogether. The concept of privacy itself is an anathema to a state looking for micro-management of a population, scared to death by the shadows of terrorism and uncontrollable individualistic behaviour. If you doubt this, just listen to what the architects of the scheme say:

""The realm of intelligence operations is of course a zone to which the ethical rules that we might hope to govern private conduct as individuals in society cannot fully apply"

Quotation taken from Register article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/17/damian_green_imp/

Granted, this refers to Government communications monitoring, but what is an ID card, linked to a system of databases, if not communications monitoring?

My worry is that more sensible proposals for the implementation of ID technology such as this, while coming with the best of intentions, will merely give the state an excuse to sweep any moral objections to the scheme under the carpet. Once established it will be very easy to do away with any built-in privacy protection and steam ahead with the scheme as it was originally intended- to use an automated process to red-flag and monitor any citizen who has the potential to step 'out of line'. What line, the state is free to decide at any given time.

Imagine! Government to legislate against badness

Jez Burns


I don't think any of the people posting here seriously believe the Government intend to lock up parents for spending all their money on beer rather than their kids. They are mostly pointing out the ludicrousness of a government producing empty and nonsensical legislation which could never be enforced, just to pass on a 'message'. As for it not being something negative, check out my post above for ideas about how it could be exactly that..