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chauvinj's Profile

chauvinj's Avatar Joined over 7 years ago
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Go to: Male circumcision is a weapon in the sperm wars

chauvinj's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by chauvinj

"In some African and Micronesian cultures, young men have one of their testicles crushed. "

Holy shit.... :|

Fri, 06 Jun 2008 09:33:00 UTC | #179968

Go to: Dumb and Dumber: A discussion between Ben Stein and Glenn Beck

chauvinj's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by chauvinj

That's the first time I've ever seen anyone whip out a retractable back scratcher to scratch themselves mid-interview...

Mon, 05 May 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #166544

Go to: EXPELLED!

chauvinj's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by chauvinj

Sorry, I love PZ Myers as much as the next guy. But in what world is he more noticeable than Richard Dawkins???

Nonehtless, I had a good laugh at this.

Thu, 20 Mar 2008 21:20:00 UTC | #140012

Go to: Out of the Blue

chauvinj's Avatar Jump to comment 201 by chauvinj

In the 1950s when people started doing AI research, there were those who were happy to say, "in about 10 years, we'll have a computer that thinks." Turing was one of the more cautious researchers and suggested that by the turning of the century we'd have something that will pass the Turing test. They were all wrong. Scientists in the 1950s also said that methods for treating nuclear waste were just around the corner; that never happened either. (We have now resorted to digging big holes in the ground, burrying the stuff, and hoping for the best, becuase we have come to see the truth: science has no clue how that kind of waste can be neurtralized.) Scientists said that the biochem revolution in agriculture would eliminate hunger; that never happened either (since hunger is more of a socio-politcal-econmonic problem than a scientific one).

One of the things you realize when you look at the history of ideas (especially the history of science) is that there is no shortage of people who are full of themselves (or at least full of their own ideas). I would be willing to bet a lot of money (say, about $10,000) that we will not have a computer that can talk to us like a real human in the next 10 years (as the fellow in the story claims). I think we will get there eventually, but there is still too much that is unknown. To start, the blue brain project simply assumes that current neuroscientific, computational, and philosophical insights are adequate. It also assumes that if you throw enough computational power at a problem, you will solve it. I doubt both of these assumptions very much. We only discovered the variation in synaptic reliability in the 1990s, and there are more new things being discovered about neurons and how they work on a regular basis. Whatever these folks are modelling with blue brain is almost sure to be an outdated view of neuronal function by the time the modelling is "complete." We don't know enough about the brain to be claiming that we can model everything about it. Moreover, I don't care how much computational power you throw at your modeling exercises, if your knowledge of what you are trying to model is incomplete, then your model will fail since all that computational power will be implementing false assumptions. I'm not saying the project is totally useless: it will likely fail with flying colours, and that failure may highlight how much we still have to learn. In that way, something will be learned (but not much).

It bothers me when scientists make such outlandish claims. It reflects poorly on all academics, making us look cocky and incabable of doing on honest assessment of the prospects of our research. This bothers me since people are less likely to take our research seriuosly (and less likely to fund it) if we are thought to just be making wildly irresponsible claims. Well, that's enough ranting for a Monday morning...

Mon, 10 Mar 2008 07:14:00 UTC | #133994

Go to: Berlin gallery in Islam art row

chauvinj's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by chauvinj

I can't help but equate this to childish school-yard behaviour.

"Mrs. [insert name here] Billy punched me because I didn't want to play the game the way he wanted me to play it!"

Except when this behaviour happens in the school yard, Billy goes to the Principle's office. When muslims get offended and throw a hissy because society doesn't want to conform to their rules, there is unfortunately no Principle or teacher to put them in detention or make them write lines...Pathetic really.

If anything, I just wish they would grow up. Everytime someone dares to stand up to these people they risk having their life threatened. How is it that we have come to tolerate this behaviour? This is completely unaccepable, juvenile behaviour. We all know what happens to the spoiled child when the parents give them all they want because they throw a fit if they don't get it. They become worse and worse...I fear for what may happen if this behaviour continues to go unchecked...

Sun, 02 Mar 2008 13:13:00 UTC | #130175

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