* Posts by Seajay

21 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Apr 2012

Former Post Office boss returns CBE to sender over computer system scandal


Re: So what was actually wrong?

There were lots of bugs, and people accessing systems and making mistakes (according to previous judgments).

Some interesting stuff here: https://www.benthamsgaze.org/2021/07/15/what-went-wrong-with-horizon-learning-from-the-post-office-trial/

UK air traffic woes caused by 'invalid flight plan data'


Yeah - so part of the problem stems from the fact that the world has duplicate waypoint names all over the place (despite ICAO and other bodies work to remove them), and the standard just requires them to be geographically distant. In this instance they were apart by 4,000 nautical miles.

Basically the software has to extract the UK part of the route from the (perfectly valid) flight plan - the failure here came in the logic that extracts the entry/exit waypoints in UK airspace, where the exit waypoint doesn't have to be specified, but can be searched for the next location. In this flight plan it appears the next waypoint was a designation which matched the UK entry waypoint (also outside UK airspace), a situation which the software appears to have had no handler for other than "last resort" log and halt. (Crash!) It then moved over to the backup system, which processed the same data and did the same thing. It required the manufacturer to be able to help pinpoint the specific flight plan that had caused the crash and then get it back into service.

Full preliminary report is here - fascinating reading if you're into that sort of thing.


Voyager 2 found! Deep Space Network hears it chattering in space


Re: But how?

Voyager has a system called Attitude and Articulation Control Subsystem (AACS) which is responsible for maintaining orientation etc. It has various systems in it, including a "Sun Sensor" and "Star Tracker" both used for attitude reference. There's an article here on how it was designed to be autonomously fault tolerant given that communicating with earth was critical for mission success. https://arc.aiaa.org/doi/epdf/10.2514/6.1981-1812 (requires sign in after abstract)

This article has some more details as well... https://hackaday.com/2023/07/31/just-how-is-voyager-2-going-to-sort-out-its-dish-then/

Effectively the star tracker keeps its eye on the Star "Canopus"- which is conjunction with the direction of the Sun, allows it to orient itself.

FCC boss says 25Mbps isn't cutting it, Americans deserve 100Mbps now, gigabit later


Don't worry, the UK have this...

...we're right up there in the international internet fast lane... with a minimum service obligation of 10mbps!

"The Government have defined a decent connection as one that can deliver 10 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed"


OpenAI pulls AI text detector due to it being a bit crap


Re: either that or they get along just fine in life, using the tools they have to hand

Interesting... does it though? "...if they can't do tasks without AI as a crutch, then that reduces the usefulness of the work force..."

The point is, if they are using tools to do the job anyway, then the job is being done. So are they less useful or just resourceful in using tools to help them? We all use tools to make things easier - this is just another step!

If on the other hand the tools mean they are doing the job badly, won't that be self limiting? (I'm not stating any of this as fact, but I do think it's an interesting discussion, and not necessarily as clear cut as it appears!)


Barking up the wrong tree?

Attempting to determine if something is AI written or not seems doomed to failure in the long run. Sure, at the moment it might be possible to discern some patterns (although obviously even this is difficult given the article), but as AI generation improves this will become so it is indistinguishable from human written text.

Instead of trying to spot AI text in terms of student submissions, you really need to look at how students are assessed, and what new and maybe even so far untried methods there might be for determining knowledge and understanding.

If you want to be really radical, you could say that those who "cheat" by using these tools will be found out eventually - either that or they get along just fine in life, using the tools they have to hand - and is that such a bad thing either? Discuss.

8K? That’s cute. This display has 600 million pixels


Re: Holy Bezels, Batman

If you zoom in it appears they aren't actually bezels, but gaps between the screens. The bezels themselves are quite narrow.

AI's most convincing conversations are not what they seem


Re: Long live Turing

Is that truly fair though?

Set those people against a very large proportion of the human population, and they would also "fail". Many of their questions would probably be met with blank stares, shrugs of shoulders or grunts of "don't know", if not full on "what the f*ck you on about - yer talkin' sh*te man".

Where does the requirement for the computer AI to far exceed the average human come from? It doesn't "prove" sentience if it could - in just the same way as I don't think you would claim those "intellectually challenged" people you mention are *not* sentient. Why do they get a lower bar? Are we trying to measure different things?


It's a very difficult philosophical problem isn't it - especially as few people seem to be able to define the terms, threshhold and expectation we actually have for something "not us" to meet. We have lots of words being thown about, intelligence, sentience, consciousness, wisdom, etc...

What is intelligence? Ability to answer questions and work out problems? Would an IQ test show intelligence? Computers can be programmed to ace those, and expert systems can be very good at answering questions! Are they "intelligent" then?

What is sentience? The ability to feel things? Many animals are said to be sentient - they don't require language (a lot of our discussions seem to be about the ability to communicate using language - is that required for any of the above?). At what "level" of animal does sentience stop/start?

What's conscsiouness? No one knows how the internal monologue or consciousness comes into being. We also can't know for sure if anyone else has one - we just have a general agreement that everyone must have - based on what? How they answer questions, and because they're built the same way as us?

What about when we sleep or are in a coma - have we ceased to "be" during that time?

I don't know any of the answers at all - I just think the whole thing is fascinating, and I'm not sure I've truly heard what we're looking for when people say "artifical <insert term here>", or how we would know or prove it's there. Truly fascinating.

Thumb Up

Re: Sentience? Meh...

This is a good point... not only that, but cats are clearly both intelligent and can "think" - but also neither would show up in a Turing Test. We seem to be relying on the ability to communicate through language - but is that actually required for intelligence/sentience?

Google calculates Pi to 100 trillion digits


Re: They'd get a shock...

If they were truly random, it would be no more improbable to have all zeros than any other combination of numbers of course.

Must watch: GE's smart light bulb reset process is a masterpiece... of modern techno-insanity


Re: Simple

Ah yes... ♫ ♪ 0118 999 881 99 9119 725…3 ♪♫

A once-in-a-lifetime Opportunity: NASA bids emotional farewell to its cocky, hardworking RC science car on Mars


Re: sent to space in 2004... carrying pieces of the World Trade Center

I think they were building it right about the time - more info here


Ticketmaster gatecrash: Gig revelers' personal, payment info glimpsed by support site malware


The third party don't need the credit card details. However, the "chatbot" javascript from the third party will have been included in the ticketmaster webages. If that javascript coming from the third party is then hacked, it can basically do anything it wants on the ticketmaster page - including keylogging everything that happens and sending a copy to wherever the bad actors want it to go.

Ticketmaster's own processes for credit card details etc may be secure, but the third party code obviously wasn't

Android apps prove a goldmine for dodgy password practices


Re: XKCD has been totuting the complexity angle for years

I think it falls to dictionary attacks because instead of picking totally random words, people tend to pick real phrases instead. So the title of a movie, or their favourite band, or a line from a poem. That's easy to crack with dictionary attacks.

What is being suggested in the xkcd is not vulnerable to dictionary attack however - if you actually select random unconnected words, the entropy is very large.

Guilty: NSA bloke who took home exploits at the heart of Kaspersky antivirus slurp row


Re: all this focus on pho...

Shirley the bigger concern is that their developers are able to get that off their secure network...

That is serious - and don't call me Shirley.

Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report


"To me, that looks like a way … to draw a cock'n'balls visible from the ISS."

That just made me spray tea all over my desk. Just imagining the crew of the space station watching, as selective blackouts draw that 700 mile long picture across the UK...

PayPal peed off about Pandora's 'P' being mistaken for its 'PP'


Re: For once I am with the plaintiffs

...until the planet was wiped out by a disease from a dirty telephone (having sent the telephone sanitisers off world on the B Ark). So in truth, it was only those on the B Ark that survived after all!

Middle-aged US bloke pleads guilty to iCloud celeb nude photo hack


Re: They gave him their password

Not really - the person who steals your house keys from the car, breaks into your house and nicks your stuff is still breaking the law - whether your insurance company will give you the money back is a completely different thing. Same here. Whilst you may be a bit dim in giving out your details to a phisher, that doesn't make it lawful for the phisher to use them. As with an unlocked house, just because you CAN access a computer system doesn't mean that it is lawful for you to do so.

Tito's Mars mission to use HUMAN WASTE as radiation shield


Re: Pragmatic

Fairly sure I don't drink 100 gallons of water a day...

Basic instinct: how we used to code


Was I the only one to have something different?

My first computer was a TI-99/4a which my Grandad bought me for Christmas in 1982. It had solid state cartridges for games etc, but also could be programmed in TI-BASIC (plus I had the "extended basic" cartridge). I remember spending ages on one project, only to get half way through my fantastic game concept, for the machine to tell me it had run out of memory... AArrggh!

I did then rewire the joystick ports to connect to home made pressure pads under the carpet made out of bin-liners/bubble wrap and tin foil, so that I could sound an alarm and record when my 'orrible little brother was sneaking into my bedroom - that worked really well actually... :-D