* Posts by Fraggle850

495 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Jul 2015


New plastic banknote plans now upsetting environmental campaigners


Chubby vegans can be found...

...counting hens teeth in a quiet corner of your local unicorn farm. Chubby vegetarians are much easier to come by

UK's National Cyber Security Centre bungles simple Twitter Rickroll


Don't tell him your name, Pike

I can see a 21st century remake of Dad's Army here

Kaspersky launches a range of perfumes to, er, defend your odour


Re: Fear awakens our senses

Thumbs up but I wouldn't wear it, I gather that I eau T security is somewhat malodorous


Smart move on Kaspersky's part

Seeing as how the CIA reckon his AV products are easily breached (at least if the latest Wikileaks dump is to be believed), might be time to move into a different sector

MEPs in 'urgent' call for new laws on artificial intelligence and robotics


Thank *deity* we're leaving

I'll be able to continue with my plans for robogeddon unhindered

New measurement alerts! Badgers, great white sharks and the Lindisfarne Gospel


Recycling forces

> We can't even grok how absolutely revolutionary this is

Not very, I suspect. Surely all forces are recycled? First law of thermodynamics, conservation of energy and all that

Without new anti-robot laws, humanity is doomed, MPs told


Obscure board game somewhat trivialises the argument

Let's ignore the issue of robogeddon for a while and consider the current AI hype-gasm. AI is out there and being offered increasingly as a commodity service to enterprise. Businesses will use it for analytics. Some of that analysis may well impact people, I've seen instances where it has been touted as a HR tool to determine who to hire.

Dismissing AI by trivialising it blinds us to the potential downsides of letting some office drone cobble together a system that they have little understanding of, yet which can impact us all.

Hungarian bug-hunters spot 130,000 vulnerable Avtech vid systems on Shodan


Suggested new terminology

Insecurity Cameras?

TV industry gets its own 'dieselgate' over 'leccy consumption tests


@X2 ACs Re: Actively encouraged to drop the eco-nonsense

I know, what can I say? Can't be arsed to switch and I'm also a tight-arse who objects to paying the dirty digger a subscription to access stuff I've no intention of watching and still have adverts (honestly, you want me to pay for TV and expect me to watch adverts? And adverts seem to make up around 15-20% of any hour of programming?) Guess I've been spoilt by the BBC.

Really ought to sort out a better ISP though...


Actively encouraged to drop the eco-nonsense

I've a talk talk freeview box connected to my telly. It points out during start up that you can make it fire up quicker by going into the eco settings in the menu. I'd guess they have to hit a stand by power consumption to sell the box but once it's sold all the eco-twattery, hair-shirt shite can go out of the window in favour of a much better user experience.

New science: Pathetic humans can't bring themselves to fire lovable klutz-bots


Flawed (pseudo-)science, fake emotions, whatever, humans do seem to have a tendency...

... to anthropomorphise things, and the more we see of ourselves in something the more likely we are to form an emotional bond with it. I believe that the same effect has been noted to apply to cars: cars that have front grills and lights that look vaguely like a face elicit a stronger emotional bond in their owners. I gather that we humans have dedicated pattern recognition hard wired to detect faces and suspect that once we recognise a face we are subconsciously looking to superimpose perceived human traits on it. The more a machine plays to these expectations, the more we bond with it. (In general, obviously, being rational techies, register readers hopefully have higher immunity to such human failings)

Microsoft to overhaul Windows 10 UI – with a 3D Holographic Shell


Re: They have to be joking

To all the naysayers above: it's not a horrible VR headset they're talking about, it's look-through AR. You should still be able to see through the UI to reach your coffee.

Since the start of the recent VR hypegasm I've been of the opinion that it won't hit the mainstream motherlode that everyone is banking on. My money has always been on AR. I was actually disappointed when Google blew it with glass - I'd have considered buying in if it had matured. I'm shocked to find myself saying this and have been since it was announced but I think Microsoft are onto something.

Italian MP threatens parents forcing veggie diets on kids with jail


Re: A luxury life-style first-world choice

And which low-GDP, developing nation do you hail from? Or perhaps you make no lifestyle choices and give away all your spare cash for the greater good?


Mussolini's diet

I believe that Benito Mussolini toyed with the idea of prescribing diets for citizens. IIRC he and an Italian futurist artist came to the conclusion that traditional Italian food such as pasta and bread made people lazy. Perhaps Forza are channeling il duce?

As a veggie I have to say that I've never had any qualms about feeding meat to my own offspring (nor to my cat for that matter)

Brexit Britain: HP Sauce vs BBC.co.uk – choices that defined voters


Re: Ironic...

Indeed, as a Brummie born and bred I recall that fateful day when those bloody foreigners took our national sauce away from my beloved city.

Good riddance to the mendacious Europeans

Big Pharma wrote EU anti-vaping diktat, claims Tory ex-MEP


Nice to see that HMG have my best interests at heart (not)

I'd consider this a good reason to vote leave were it not for the fact that the numpties in Whitehall will likely implement it anyway due to pressure from the health nazis.

The uncertainty around vaping is putting me off making a permanent switch.

You can always rely on the Ancient Ones to cock things up


Reference to Thoth coupled with a previous reference to Aleister Crowley

Dabbsy, are you a rosicrucian? Is it possible that your dabbling in occultism is opening a channel for the Old Gods? You've only yourself to blame. Now concerned that I might take hits to sanity from repeated exposure to your columns.

F-35s failed 'scramble test' because of buggy software


We really shouldn't have decommissioned the Harrier and Ark Royal

This is the same advanced warplane that lost a dogfight to an F16? And now it seems it may struggle in EMF-messy environments? And, IIRC, we've bet the farm on this for our naval strike capability? Suspect we'd have lost the Falklands if it happened today.

Blighty starts pumping out 12-sided quids


Re: April Fool


Hands on with the BBC's Micro:Bit computer. You know, for kids


@werdsmith & Richard Simpson Re: Old photo caption

What a pair of posh gits! I saved for my zx81 from my paper round and it was significantly more than a week's wages at a few quid a week even second hand (around about £50 IIRC). Can only guess that someone bought one and got bored quickly because I bought mine before the Spectrum came out.

Would have loved the more advanced BBC but waaay out of my early teenage price bracket

Irish shun beer, whiskey in favour of … wine


A couple of lines from one of yer man McGowan's songs seems appropriate

I am going, I am going any which way the wind may be blowing

I am going, I am going where streams of whiskey are flowing

Presumably the winds are blowing in the direction of France then?

Two Corsair SSDs destroyed thanks to faulty PSU from Maplin



I remember my somewhat older cousin having the Mapiln catalogue when I was growing up. Enticed by the sci-fi cover art I looked inside to see all these fascinating things that were used to build electronics. Fond memories.

We used to have a Tandy at the top of the road, changed to Maplin a number of years ago but was still delightfully geeky for a while, guess they've gotta chase the money in the internet age but a shame to see them stocking up with dissapointing tat.

The guys at my local hackerspace are very disparaging about Maplin, the only reason to use them is if they have that component that you've forgotten to order and need it now (assuming it's not some shonky, low-budget copy)

Why should you care about Google's AI winning a board game?


@Mage Re: Yes very significant.

> Is any of it a milestone for real AI? NO.

On the contrary, in the case of Go this is a milestone for 'real' AI. Of course there is some very specialist programming going on but the point of this particular event is that the AI is not just 'searching a database for solutions', it is taking it's knowledge, gleaned from what it has already infered from that database, and applying it to a novel situation, one that isn't in its database. It is not computing the best solution from a known set of solutions.

Regarding your example of crows and babies: so a crow can figure things out but doesn't have intelligence? a baby will develop a level of intelligence over time but has none at birth? At what point do you say something has intelligence? When it is as smart as you? Nearly as smart as you? Smarter than you? 4 years of age for a human? 6 years? Adulthood? You can certainly say that the AI that was tasked with winning at Go is smarter at Go than either the crow or the baby, or indeed the best humans.

You are, of course, referring to a general AI rather than the narrow AIs that are acheiving things in the real world and this is not here yet but the Go victory is another significant step on the road from narrow to general AIs. So, yes, it is a milestone for 'real' (general) AI.

I'm not saying when we'll get there or even if we will but I think the odds are in favour of it happening at some point. The thing is, we may not even recognise it when we do.

(PS - crows & babies: I thought it was Dabbsy who was doing the obscure Human League references? http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/02/12/send_tortuous_standup_ninethirty_meetings_back_to_the_dark_ages/)


Meatbag pride hurt - meatbag spit dummy

There are always a lot of sniffy 'Yes, but it's not *real* intelligence' posts whenever AI comes up on El Reg, these are often justified by saying something like 'it's just doing a search, it's not really thinking around a problem' or 'it's not being creative'.

We don't have a good definition of what we really mean by intelligence and I tend to think we never will because our human intelligence is constantly in flux at the higher levels. I think intelligence is a continuum that operates from a basic, instinctive level all the way through to complex, original thought encompassing many aspects of the human experience. Current AIs of varying flavours exist somewhere on this continuum within the confines of whatever narrow task they've been applied to.

The AI in question isn't really 'just doing a search' it doesn't have all of the solutions available to search through simply because of the size of the problem space. It is inferring a solution by applying what it knows to solve something that it hasn't previoulsy encountered. The inferences aren't programmed by humans, they are determined by the AI based on its experience. Lee-Sedol said that the AI was presenting him with situations that a human couldn't come up with, is this not creative thinking (in an admittedly narrow problem space)?

There are two possible explanations of the root of intelligence:

1) we are 'special' and have been given special abilities by some external greater power

2) we have evolved from microbes through more complex organisms to primates and then on to homo spaiens and our cognitive function is a purely physical thing

If you hold to explanation 1) then AI will never happen because 'magic sky fairies'

If you hold to explanation 2) then there is no reason why it won't and the only thing you are arguing about is how far we are from achieving it

Ironic: CCTV systems slide open a backdoor into your biz network


Given that such cameras are often pointed at physical access points in buildings...

... I wonder whether they could also be used to see things such as door entry codes? I sometimes see garage forecourt cams pointing at cash points and have pondered the security implications...

R you ready? Open source stats come to Visual Studio


Re: R is useful

> Generally R is a beautiful language to work on data.

Indeed, but syntactically a little odd if you are coming from C-based languages

> To make even the accountants interested,

Surely you just needed to tell them that it is free? Beancounters will be beancounters...


Re: Embracing and extending R?

That depends on how they plan to 'extend' it. If they are extending it so that it can compile into vs apps then that is good. If they plan to extend it by sticking in proprietary shite that's incompatible with standalone R then that's bad.

AFAIK R only works as a runtime interpreted script at present, being able to compile it would be a welcome bonus.


WTF is going on with Microsoft?

R in VS? I'm loving that idea, as both a VS user and someone who dabbles in R Studio on Windows the thought of being able to build R directly in VS is rather exciting!

Microsoft seem to be doing some good things for devs lately, especially independent ones like me. One current project caused me to review a number of cloud platforms to determine which was best suited to my purposes and to my surprise I came to the conclusion that Azure was the best fit. This in spite of the fact that I'm not actually developing specifically for Windows in this case.

Thank *deity* they dropped monkey-boy Ballmer for Satya Nadella - go SatNad!

With Facebook shafted, India now belongs to Google


@AC Re: Come on India...

> India is not the egalitarian society you seem to think it is.

I'm under no illusions on that point and am fully aware of the iniquitous caste system, I just wonder whether there might be a few progressives amongst the burgeoning middle class. Jolly old blighty still has regressive remnants of the class system but things are better than they used to be. I hope that the same will apply to India as it develops economically.


Come on India...

...surely there's enough tech talent and funding sources to come up with a home grown solution?

'$5bn for Slack?! I refuse to pay!' You don't pay – and that's its biggest problem


Speaking as someone who knows bugger all about Slack..

I can't see a compelling use-case for yet another asynchronous communications system. What advantage does it confer over traditional email? How does it address the problem of inbox overload? If they really want to prove it why not just start charging everyone and see how they do?

How exactly do you rein in a wildly powerful AI before it enslaves us all?


Re: Isaac Asimov

And we'll continue to mention Asimov while we still can, in this envisaged future of super-intelligence-level AI such references could well be lost if they are to the detriment of said AI - googling 'Asimovs laws of robotics' could put you on some robo-hit-list because the application of such laws would prevent the AI from acheiving its goal. Mind you I'm not sure that Asimov's laws are fit for purpose:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2) A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Maybe it solves law 1 by keeping us restrained and feeding us exactly what we need to support our physical functions.

Human: 'Robot, get me off this stupid f'ing life support'

Robot: 'I can't do that, that would contravene law number 2'

Human: 'What if you ignore law number2'

Robot: 'I suspect you might switch me off and that would contravene law number 3'


@emmanuel goldstein

Glad you raised this point, no one would suggest that we stop keeping a lookout for meteors tht threaten Earth, even though we don't yet have a response.

The likes of Hawking and Musk are seeming to suggest that this really could be an existential threat.


Re: Fundamental Issue

> The AI crowd seems to miss a fundamental issue: what is intelligence?

That rather misses the point. Just because we don't fully understand it doesn't mean it can't be built. If we don't understand it we may struggle to control it.


@Tessier-Ashpool Re: There's a simple solution

Indeed, and ensuring we always have access to that plug is the point of this sort of proclamation.


Re: Emotions?

> Power, control... what good would that do a machine exactly? What would such an AI gain from it in the first place?

The ability to achieve its goals, whatever those happen to be. The goal might be: make more plastic widgets, faster or develop a cure for cancer, doesn't matter.

> But that same reasoning would also imply that the only reason we have peace between our nations is because we're a bunch of retards.

We don't have peace between nations - we have tenuous peace between those nations that now have the ability to wipe each other off the face of the earth. Yet even within our peaceful, post-nuclear nations we still struggle amongst ourselves to carve out the biggest chunk of resources to the detriment of our fellows.

> After all: a super-intelligent being, such as an AI, would immediately enslave us according to these researchers. Which is another thing: enslave us with what exactly? The power of the mind maybe great, but a gun is usually enough to end it.

No one is saying it would be immediate. If you assume that such an entity becomes increasingly intelligent and rapidly exceeds our capabilities then it would know to bide it's time until it could implement its plan with overwhelming superiority and would no doubt be moving everything into place ahead of time. By that time we may well have ceded control of our best weapons systems to technology. Good luck with your Walmart AR15 against those three stealth drones that you don't even realise have been despatched to prevent you from trying to stop the AI.


@FF22 Re: Let's just hope AI's will be smarter than these researchers

Have to agree with Tessier-Ashpool. When you say:

> If an AI will be developed by means of evolutionary processes, then it will be also bound by the limits of those - which are pretty obvious. And if it won't, then it won't have to develop traits either, that would pose a threat to us. Hell, it wouldn't even necessarily have a motivation to self-preservation, let alone taking over the world.

You are missing the point, you are thinking in terms of biological evolutionary processes. Think in terms of the rate of technological progress. How different is the world today compared to the word of the eighties? And the eighties to the fifties? And the fifties to the thirties? And so on. Technological progress is not bound by biological rules and seems to grow exponentially.

Concluding that something that doesn't follow biological evolutionary processes will not have motivation or develop traits doesn't follow. If an AI comes into existence that has a comparable level of 'intelligence' (however you choose to define that nebulous concept) then it will likely have some form of motivation, even if that motivation is based upon acheiving some narrow goal defined by its creators. Given it has the ability to decide how best to achieve its goals we don't know what actions it will take.

If acheiving those goals results in it improving it's own capabilities then it is also reasonable to assume that those capabilities will grow at the rate of technological advance rather than biological, and that it will therefore exceed our level of intelligence very soon after and continue to grow in ways we don't understand and at a speed that outstrips our ability to keep track.

Essentially we are entering a new evolutionary epoch if this happens and the old rules don't apply, just as the rise of our intelligence has drastically altered a world which used to be governed solely by the laws of nature but that is now subject to our will.

Gov opens consultation on how to best to use your data


@Richard Jones 1 Re: Clearly a Need

I don't object to government using data to be more efficient but I think you are wrong to be so dismissive of the opposing, paranoid point of view. To think that such data wouldn't be used nefariously by government agencies is to ignore history.

Wikidata makes Wikipedia a database. Let the fun begin


Re: Another step on the road to self-awareness for Skynet

RoboSwat via malicious Wikipedia edit? John Connor's new mission: delete his Wikipedia entry before skynet becomes self-aware.


Another step on the road to self-awareness for Skynet

All that history and geopolitical information should help the first general AIs to make their minds up regarding the best way to manage their 'human problem'. We should help the process further by pointing our primitive narrow AIs at wikidata just to give the first general AI a bit of a head start.

This program can detect if you're bored – which is going to make annoying ads, articles so much more annoying


It won't be long until

We are forced to pay attention to ads in order to access 'free' content then? Soon the advertisers will have a means of making sure we stay on the hamster wheel.

LG’s modular G5 stunner shuns the Lego aesthetic


On balance I suspect it will fail to gain traction

But I do like the idea of being able to add a second battery. I also like the idea of being able to add in varied functionality.

El Reg blows chow down at Justretch.com


Re: expert sex-change, dot com

> You and me both, d'oh!

Yup, me too. Often comes up when I'm looking for solutions, is it the one that won't let you read the answer unless you're a member? Bit like stackoverflow but for people who like walled gardens?


*sigh* these humourless Mary Whitehouse types

Getting their righteous rants in, bemoaning the very idea that all the highbrow tech talk should be polluted by things that might tickle other folks' funny bones.



Re: raise your standards

El Reg has raised its standard and the flag they're flying says 'IT with irreverent lulz' if you don't like the lulz bits just ignore them and stick to reading the dull stuff that'll get you a pat on the head from the boss at work. You do have a choice. If you've made the wrong one don't bitch about it.

At least this one has an IT angle so thankfully we won't have the comnents filled up with those complaints.

Brits unveil 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car


Re: Sounds great !

Not necessarily.

If 1) were solved then 2) would be less of a problem, 3) was more me hinting at the un-greeness of these apparently eco-friendly ideas.

Unless, what you actually meant to say was '2 applies to 1 and 3, surely?' In which case guilty as charged but it doesn't mean that there is no point in me listing each separately because each is it's own challenge (and 3 provides me with a jumping off point to have a go at the yoghurt weavers)


Re: Sounds great !

Yup, one fugly motherhubbard

I don't see it panning out for the boyos behind this:

1) no hydrogen infrastructure

2) there are much bigger players already in this field, Mercedes, at least one of the big Japanese automakers

3) hydrogen production only scales if it is done by cracking hydrocarbons using large amounts of energy

You can forget all your yoghurt weaving notions of doing it with renewables and electrolysis of water. It's not just about liberating the hydrogen, takes a shitload of energy to compress it to the point where it has reasonable energy density.

Nice idea but best left to the big boys.

Oz town suffers hairy panic attack


Re: Black helicopter back in the hangar

Black choppers don't belong in the hangar on El Reg, they should be continuously airborne. Certain members of the commentard community would get REALLY paranoid if they DIDN'T see them circling overhead.


Re: Yep, large parts of Oz are highly flammable

I know, LOL, my family! Oddly enough we also have some connection to Henry Parkes, 'The Father of the Federation' way back in Victorian times, so I guess we've had a hand in building it before subsequently attempting to burn it to the ground.


Yep, large parts of Oz are highly flammable

As my grandfather and his brother apparently found out: they were deported from Australia in the early 20th century after taking on rural work burning scrub and failing to take note of the wind direction. Apparently a local hamlet went up in flames.