By Soulskill from Slashdot's gotta-do-one-more-daily deptartment
writes "Geoffrey Miller has an interesting hypothesis in Seed Magazine that explains Fermi's Paradox — why 40 years of intensive searching for extraterrestrial intelligence have yielded nothing: no radio signals, no credible spacecraft sightings, no close encounters of any kind. All the aliens are busy playing computer games. The aliens 'forget to send radio signals or colonize space because they're too busy with runaway consumerism and virtual-reality narcissism,' writes Miller. He says the fundamental problem is that an evolved mind must pay attention to indirect cues of biological fitness, rather than tracking fitness itself, and that although evolution favors brains that tend to maximize fitness (as measured by numbers of great-grandkids), no brain has capacity enough to do so under every possible circumstance. 'The result is that we don't seek reproductive success directly; we seek tasty foods that have tended to promote survival, and luscious mates who have tended to produce bright, healthy babies. The modern result? Fast food and pornography,' writes Miller. 'Once they turn inwards to chase their shiny pennies of pleasure, they lose the cosmic plot.' Miller adds that most bright alien species probably go extinct gradually, allocating more time and resources to their pleasures, and less to their children, until they eventually die out."
Who here doesn't think a TNG-style Holodeck would lead to the downfall of our civilization?Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's please-answer-in-earth-hours deptartment
An anonymous reader writes "How many hours a week should a full-time programmer program? Trying to program anywhere near 40 wears me out. On a good week, I can do 20. Often, it is around 10 or 15. I'm talking about your programming session at the console, typing — including, of course, stopping and thinking for a minute, but not meetings, reading programming books, notes, specifications, etc., which by comparison feel like lunch breaks. I rarely get called to meetings (which is good) but that means to keep my brain from overheating I spend several hours a week surfing the web (usually reading tech news but also a few stops on Facebook, email, etc). I should add that I am interrupted a few times per day. Me and another guy maintain an intranet site of a couple dozen web apps for an I.T. department, so we work on a few different things: phone calls, bug fixes, feature adds, as well as writing new web apps from the ground up, all in a days' work. And I know that wears a person out more than if they had just one project to work on. I wonder if programming is like mental sprinting, not walking, so you can only do it in bursts. Am I normal or stealing?"Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's and-everybody-loves-the-king deptartment
An anonymous reader writes "The ongoing poitical turmoil in Thailand has inspired the country's Ministry of Information, Computers, and Telecommunications to issue a stern warning that all users of the Internet in Thailand must 'use the internet in the right way or with appropriate purpose and avoid disseminating information that could create misunderstanding or instigate violent actions among the public', that 'all popular websites and social networks such as facebook, twitter, hi5 and my space [sic] will be under thorough watch,' and that 'Violators will be prosecuted by law with no compromise.' Thailand has draconian anti-lèse majesté laws which are routinely abused in order to settle political scores and silence dissent, and recently implemented a so-called 'Computer Crimes Act' which appears to be almost solely focused on thoughtcrimes and censorship, rather than dealing with, you know, actual crime. Several Web forums have recently been shut down, their operators charged because they failed to delete 'harmful posts' quickly enough to suit the Thai authorities."Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's what-think-ye? deptartment
databuff writes "Predictions are critical to modern life. Police predict where and when crimes are most likely to take place, banks predict which loan applicants are most likely to default, and hotels forecast seasonal demand to set room rates. A new project called Kaggle facilitates better predictions by providing a platform for forecasting competitions. The platform allows organizations to post their data and have it scrutinized by the world's best statisticians. It will offer a robust rating system, so it's easy to identify those with a proven track record. Organizations can choose either to follow the experts, or to follow the consensus of the crowd — which, according to New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki, is likely to be more accurate than the vast majority of individual predictions. The power of a pool of predictions was demonstrated by the Netflix Prize, a $1m data-prediction competition, which was won by a team of teams that combined 700 models. Kaggle's first competition is underway, and it is accessing the 'wisdom of crowds' to predict the winner of this May's Eurovision Song Contest."
Understandably, participation requires registration.Read Replies (0)