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efaardvark last won the day on July 6

efaardvark had the most liked content!

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About efaardvark

  • Rank
    Regular AF Member


  • Favourite Anime
    Lots. Off the top of my head (and in no particular order)...

    Ghost in the Shell
    プラネテス (ΠΛΑΝΗΤΕΣ)
    Any "real" science fiction actually
    Angel Beats!
    Clannad: After Story
    Your Lie In April
    Pet Girl of Sakurasou
    Spice and Wolf
    FLCL (original)
    Any Miyazaki/Ghibli
  • Favourite Genres
    Slice of Life
    Space Opera
  • Favourite Character Type


  • Image


  • Location
    Someplace between Santa Monica and Sedna.
  • Occupation
    Data systems engineer
  • Interests
    reading, electronics, science, space, programming
  • Gender

Video Games

  • Favorite Video Game/Series
    Kerbal Space Program

Recent Profile Visitors

4,008 profile views
  1. Well, looks like Chandrayaan-2 launched successfully.  Launches are fun to watch, but the DSN's job doesn't really start until they actually deploy and we start getting data on the ground, and the first few tracks after launch are apt to be .. interesting until the critical spacecraft checkout is done and things settle into a routine.  

     At least it is a swing shift schedule for me so I got to sleep in.  My boss had to be there at 2am for the launch.  :D  OTOH, I'm once again batting cleanup so I get to deal with any issues not caught in pre-launch testing that crop up.

  2. Thank you, USPS.  😠


    1. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      didn't they put it into a cardboard package? if so, what the heck did USPS do?

    2. efaardvark


      🤷‍♂️ A few cm^2 from about a dozen pages or so are simply gone.  Looks like a small dog took a chunk out of it.

    3. Wedgy


      I think you easily have grounds for a complaint here. They should be obligated to replace the damaged item. 

      (we're not going to ignore the juvenile hilarity of it though, right? 😉

  3. I've seen the show. Sorry, but I don't like it. Physically and mentally ancient humans were exactly like "modern" humans. To take everything that was interesting from back then - and there was a lot of it - and say aliens did it is rude and disrespectful to the people who lived back then. The fact that the show is on something called the "History" channel just makes it even worse. Edit: Yes, I believe in aliens. In fact, there are probably lots of aliens in the universe. I also believe in physics, which pretty much means any extraterrestrial aliens have NOT visited the Earth. (Unless we're very wrong about quite a lot of physics that seems to work very well for us otherwise.)
  4. Of course it is. Even national security minions have to behave according to certain rules, and those rules are determined at least in part by the values of we the people. That's one of the reasons why (for instance) the CiC is a civilian, at least in the US. Unfortunately "ethics" is one of those words whose meaning has been perverted by political misuse. For certain groups of people it now means violating their personal sensibility, with little consideration for the larger social context, or even reality. Nor should they. To be sure it is a tough spot to put the guys who would be facing the mob in. I certainly would not want to be one of the guys pulling the trigger against a bunch of clueless morons. At the same time, they have their orders, and those orders should have been issued with due consideration for all factors, including ethics. The clueless morons could be cover for something else after all. And of course large groups of stupid people can be quite dangerous regardless of intent, both to themselves and others. At any rate, I'm sure the people in charge have other options besides bullets, and I fully expect most (hopefully all) of the idiots who do show up will be stopped at the roadblock level, or at least some other, non-lethal layer. Even if it does come to shooting however, I'm mostly ok with that. My only concern at that point would be in the "discussion" that comes later. Even without the political posturing and media circus that would be sure to follow, informed public debate is always a problem whenever anyone invokes the cloak of national security, yet without it we're no better than any other autocratic regime.
  5. Though I tend to agree in the particular case of calamari, and I'm not big on shellfish in general either, I am a fan of grilled salmon. Sashimi is also quite acceptable. There's a place just down the hill from me that does it really well. Imported Japanese chef and everything. I'd partake more often but that sort of behavior gets expensive. I will also defend pineapple on pizza. At least when combined with Canadian bacon. Just in case anyone wants to go there. What I /don't/ get is sweet+salty stuff. Chocolate covered pretzels, salted caramels, that sort of thing. Don't cross the streams.
  6. Wow..


    1. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      I think my two cents might actually be relevant here 😂 My comment in one sentence would be that we are not even close to being ready to actually implement something like this in any reliable way.

      As it happens I both studied and now work in a closely-related field (although my focus has changed from empirical to theoretical/philosophical). I was quite enthusiastic in the beginning, but I can say with quite a high level of confidence afters spending some years in that field that we don't understand the brain. We have accumulated a lot of both empirical data and models, and we do know a lot more then just 100 or even 10 years ago. But we are far from knowing how the brain works when it comes to any function that is a bit more complex than simple neural networks or even action potentials (even those are very tricky if they deviate from the prototypical neurons usually studied).
      When it comes to BMI specifically, there is some interesting stuff going on right now. One of the research groups at my university is working in a particular field regarding BMI which got me interested in it, and we even established a new research group dealing with philosophical problems related to it (although I would not say that I have much expertise when it comes to the technical aspect of BMI). What Neurolink is showing here is promising in achieving the goal of activating certain sets of neurons but their possible application (at least as presented here) a bit oversimplifying how certain functions are represented in the brain (especially when it comes to localization). The basic idea is not new, but how they are implementing ('wireless chips') is something that has been notoriously difficult (but has been researched for quite a few years).

      When you take these aspects together, I think even if we successfully implanted even much more complex devices, we are still far from knowing how to use them in order to achieve something we want ("to tap into those representations") in any reliable way (meaning without serious dysfunction or non-functions). This can be used for research which might one day enable a much more successful implementation of course, but we should be realistic as to the actual mid-term achievements we can expect from it, given the current state of knowledge. This is disregarding the huge ethical issues concerning malfunctions and risks.

      So yeah, interesting stuff but as it often is with publications or innovations, the actual immediate usefulness is still quite 'hypothetical'.

    2. efaardvark


      I totally agree that we don't understand the brain.  It has had literally hundreds of millions of years to evolve, and genetic algorithms are notorious for producing idiosyncratic designs.  I'm reminded of one research project that used a large chip with an array of identical circuits that was used to develop some software using a "genetic" process to evolve the software.  Each bit of software was slightly modified/mutated and assigned one of the array elements to use, then evaluated against the software design criteria.  Evolve, repeat.  It worked extremely well, with the best software being roughly 5x as good as the software developed using more conventional means.  Then they tried to figure out why.  Turns out that the "evolved" software had figured out that the supposedly identical and independent hardware cells were NOT compeletly independent and was actually using the undocumented interaction between cells to achieve its results.  :)

      So yeah, there have been and will be moments of confusion and misunderstanding on a science and engineering level.  Politics and public sentiment will no doubt also play a big role beyond that.  (Though both will be decades behind in actual understanding that's never really mattered before.)  That said, there is progress being made as well.  I view this as basic research.  There are goals, and the researchers know enough to think and expect those goals are attainable.  I tend to agree, but there's a HUGE grey area (no pun intended) that they need to navigate through before they get where they want to go, and plenty of opportunity for things like frustration, serendipity, and even tragedy along the way.  It will not be easy or quick.  It will definitely be interesting, and very likely extremely useful, though perhaps not exactly in the way(s) expected at this point. 

      I do think that the gross motor areas they are targeting now is a good first step.  They're not trying to put anything INTO the brain, just read the motor signals that the brain is outputting.  That's ambitious enough, but also limited enough, that they can make progress towards their goals in a reasonable time frame, and if they reach those then they'll be in a good position to move on from there.  Clearly though Musk is thinking beyond that however.  "Having the option to merge with AI is important."   😮 

    3. Illusion of Terra

      Illusion of Terra

      the grey area pun was hilarious 😂

      I totally agree. And I think targeting something like the motor cortex is a pretty reasonable starting point since it at least seems to be less complex than, say, the hippocampus (or at least the parts they are investigating).
      This reminds me of people who lack substantial parts of their brain but show little to no impairment. A senior neuroscientists in our department told us of a case from someone who literally lacked most of what we consider to be a full brain but showed almost no symptoms. Such cases make brain science quite difficult because of the huge flexibility it portrays. But this is not to disregard the huge advancements, both in research and treatment, made in the last decades.

      Merging with AI, at least what people would usually understand, is however something I don't think will happen in our lifetime. Would be extremely interesting though to see what kind of effects it would have.

  7. @The History Kid Think of it as evolution in action.
  8. 9 years putting Middle Earth in Minecraft..... https://youtu.be/gevxyGv511g
  9. This looks hazardous... to my free time. (Mixing Stardew Valley/Harvest Moon with Minecraft.) https://www.curseforge.com/minecraft/modpacks/farming-valley
  10. A Joule is a measure of work energy. It is about equal to the kinetic energy of an apple dropped from a height of 1 meter as it hits the ground. A human being radiates about 60 joules per second of heat energy.

    A Joule is equivalent to 1 watt for 1 second, or a watt-second. A watt-second uses the same units as the kilowatt-hours on your electricity bill, and the power company could just as easily bill you in Joules as in kWh. If you use 1 kWh then you've used enough energy to light a 100W lightbulb for about 10 hours, or about 3.6 million Joules, or enough to get my car about 3.3 miles down the road.

    Yes, it has been a slow shift, now that you mention it.  :D 

    1. Wedgy


      Oh gee, don't give them ideas. Some mad scientist is going to learn how to use this heat generation and next thing you know we're being put in human harvest power plants. 

    2. efaardvark


      I saw that movie..

      (Not a very likely scenario I have to say.)

    3. Wedgy


      Science fiction has spoken! 

  11. Pretty much any of the Studio Ghibli are worth a rewatch basically anytime.. Nausicaä, Totoro, Witch's (Kiki's) Delivery Service, Laputa, Grave of the Fireflies, etc. When I was younger I thought stuff like Maison Ikkoku and Rocky Joe were good and I watched both a couple times, though I don't have much of an interest in a rewatch now. Ikkoku was vaguely along the same lines as Youkai Apartment or Mahoraba, even Sakurasou, though not as good as either Youkai or Sakurasou. More like Kawai Complex maybe. Rocky was fighting/sports-themed. Another great series (IMHO) was Ghost in the Shell. Planetes. (While I'm mentioning space themes, interested parties might also check out Space Brothers. Also stuff like Rocket Girls and Moonlight Mile come to mind, if you can find them. RG is G-rated, but MM is NSFW.) And yes, Trigun. That's just what shook loose when I rattled my head, and I'm sure I'll remember more as soon as I hit the button. YMMV...
  12. They delivered lunch to us operations folks here supporting the Chandrayaan-2 launch. However, as it turns out the launch itself was scrubbed due to technical difficulties. The schedule was pretty much cleared for the launch so there's really nothing to do for the rest of the shift, but plenty of grub. Best possible outcome IMHO.  :D

  13. No. I've thought about it, but my time is overbooked as it is.
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