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Comment author: ChristianKl 20 July 2017 03:41:24PM 8 points [-]

Scott Adams claims that exactly what he predicted happened in election night. That's wrong Scott Adams predicted a landslide win for Trump. Losing the popular vote is not compatible with a landslide win.

Scott Adams argues that 'nobody is for less climate science' at 1:32:30. That's false and unfortunately Sam Harris doesn't call him on it. Trump does attempt to defund climate science.

Hearing the discussion about how the red/blue team is going to get Republicans around to accepting climate change, I feel myself wishing that Sam Harris pushes for actual predictions.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 20 July 2017 09:46:16PM 1 point [-]

Only recently seen two instances of sleazier self-promotion.

Comment author: Lumifer 19 July 2017 02:48:19PM 2 points [-]

It is profitable for a botnet -- that is, if someone else pays for electricity.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 19 July 2017 06:05:25PM *  0 points [-]

What with the way the ASIC mining chips keep upping the difficulty, can a CPU botnet even pay for the developer's time to code the worm that spreads it any more?

Comment author: Lumifer 18 July 2017 09:04:38PM *  1 point [-]

I expect them to be nice places to work (because they are not subject to the vulgar and demeaning necessity to turn a profit), I also don't expect them to be making much progress in the near future.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 18 July 2017 11:41:41PM *  4 points [-]

I have spoken to someone who has spoken to some of the scientific higher ups at Calico and they are excited about the longer-term funding models for biomedical research they think they can get there for sure.

I have also seen a scientific talk about a project that was taken up by Calico from a researcher who visited my university. Honestly not sure how much detail I should/can go into about the details of the project before I look up how much of what I saw was published versus not (haven't thought about it in a while), but I saw very preliminary data from mice on the effects of a small molecule from a broad screen in slowing the progression of neurodegenerative disease and traumatic brain injury.

Having no new information for ~2 years on the subject but having seen what I saw there and knowing what I know about cell biology, I find myself suspecting that it probably will actually slow these diseases, probably does not affect lifespan much especially for the healthy, and in my estimation has a good chance of increasing the rate of cancer progression (which needs more research, this hasn't been demonstrated). Which would totally be worth it for the diseases involved.

EDIT: Alright, found press releases. https://www.calicolabs.com/news/2014/09/11/



Comment author: CellBioGuy 06 July 2017 11:07:25PM *  9 points [-]

Postdoctoral position acquired. May be doing some work off a NASA astrobiology grant, eventually.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 04 July 2017 07:25:40AM 0 points [-]

This analysis remains predicated on the assumption that a long-lasting intelligent system is easily visible over cosmological or galactic distances with the sorts of investigations that have already been performed by us.

No it's the opposite. If (as they argue) we don't expect many nearby aliens then it's irrelevant whether or not we would be able to see them.

Comment author: CellBioGuy 05 July 2017 06:56:00AM *  0 points [-]

The perils of posting quickly in the middle of rapid apartment hunting (for a new postdoc position at a university with a bunch of yeast cell biologists AND astrobiologists! YES!).

I was referring to slide 27, with the various probability distribution graphs conditioned on various observations. The 'no colonization' conditional graphs all leave the left low-number tail intact while chopping off the probability bulge to the right of 'one in our galaxy' in various different ways. But this is only valid under the assumption that exponential colonization/galactic scale visibility with a few decades of rather poor observations against the screaming burning backdrop of the astrophysical universe is POSSIBLE. (Allow me to preemptively counter the 'but only one has to be able to' argument, this is an event that would be extraordinarily correlated across everybody). There are vast numbers of possibilities for the fate of intelligent systems that are not rapid extinction or consuming the universe that are insufficiently explored by so many people.

Without these conditional probability bounds, the given probability distribution is distinctly uninformative. It basically says 'with the distribution of probabilities that can be extracted from literature on the subject, no intelligent systems in the visible universe is as likely as thousands to a billion in our galaxy', that little bump on the right side of the distribution is pretty intense). I also happen to think that the given abiogenesis probability distributions are far too wide to the low side, that we have not excluded the possibility of multiple completely independent biospheres in our own solar system at all, and that complex life has some possibility of being limited more by geological/orbital/energetic issues than evolution which introduces interesting bimodality to that probability distribution, but that's just me (and the people whose work I follow).

Comment author: Kaj_Sotala 03 July 2017 05:32:03PM 1 point [-]

you need to talk about geochemical phase transitions rather than accretion of innovations, after which you get explosive changes.

That's what they talk about on the abiogenesis slides, right?

Comment author: CellBioGuy 03 July 2017 06:30:05PM *  3 points [-]

I was talking more about things like the great oxidation (reduced atmosphere and iron in the water to a very little oxygen in the air and hydrogen sulfide in the water) and the proterozoic/phanaerozic transition (low-phosphate oceans with some hydrogen sulfide and low oxygen levels to oxic, high-phosphate very productive oceans and lots of atmospheric oxygen that supports an ozone layer).

The great oxidation is looking like it almost certainly was NOT due to the recent invention of oxygenic photosynthesis, but was instead a geochemical tipping point that came when the slowing geology of the earth and the steady oxidation of crustal sinks could no longer absorb all the biogenic oxygen and the very-small-compared-to-the-crust atmosphere whipped into a new state long after the oxygenic photosynthesizer drivers that ultimately caused it were in place, triggering massive biochemical shifts across the biosphere in a short time.

The proterozoic/phanerozoic transition is looking more and more like it could have been an interesting earth-system-scale flip that had something to do both with a major increase in exposed above-water landmass (coming from the growing continents and steadily thinning oceanic crust causing a sudden shift when the ocean level fell to a level that exposed large plains rather than just mountains) and an intrinsic bistability of ocean chemistry such that there are two stable states, one with low primary productivity/oxygen and one with high, that you can only flip between via some kind of shock. Multicellular animals as we know them may simply not be a viable strategy in the low-productivity low-oxygen state, and predators that can drive evolutionary arms races of the sort that probably drove the Cambiran explosion certainly are not. As such, the late emergence of multicellular heterotrophs on Earth (there is evidence for multicellular photosynthesizers for over a billion years, last I saw) is not necessarily due to them being HARD, but due to the need for the geosphere and the chemical environment to go through some phase transitions first, some driven by slow buildups of material over time and some possibly more stochastic. They show up remarkably fast after those phase transitions are complete.

EDIT: I don't understand the assertion in the linked slides having to do with abiogenesis that genetic systems that were precursors to ours could've been more stable than ours. LUCA had our genetic system, full stop, and is certainly older than 3.7 gigayears at the VERY least, for all we know it could be back to 4.4 gigayears. Our genetic code also bears the imprint of an explosive period of waaaaay pre-LUCA evolution in which it was optimized to be literally one in a million in terms of resistance to mutational damage. What came before LUCA was unstable and fell into a stable state, not the other way around. Furthermore there could be other stable biochemistries, without the need to posit going directly here (though I will go out on a limb and say I suspect protein will be everywhere there is water as a solvent and that genetic polymers are likely to have phosphates, hah).

EDIT 2: Okay now I see what you are referring to about transitions in abiogenesis, treating it as a chemical event with some odds per unit volume per unit time. A reasonable analysis, better than most, but neglecting it as a self-reinforcing PROCESS rather than a singular event. There are other schools of thought, though. There are others who, treating living things as dissipative systems that are a channel through which to discharge persistent chemical disequilibrium and our core biochemistry as being able to do so at a remarkably low level of organization, see abiogenesis as a form of breakdown into the preferred state of a planet out of equliibrium and under chemical stress. The idea being that even though the breakdown is stochastic, it is still the preferred state you are pushing the system into via putting a stress on it. See Dr. Eric Smith for a discussion of the idea from one direction (there is a lot of diversity in ideas on this front):



EDITED VIDEOS, wrong but still relevant link earlier

Comment author: CellBioGuy 03 July 2017 04:41:22PM *  0 points [-]

This analysis remains predicated on the assumption that a long-lasting intelligent system is easily visible over cosmological or galactic distances with the sorts of investigations that have already been performed by us.

EDIT - BTW, there's a lot of interesting evidence coming out for the ease of abiogenesis, and that thinking of earth's biosphere evolution in terms of 'it took 4 gigayears to get to get X, what if thats just rare' is the wrong way of thinking about things - that you need to talk about geochemical phase transitions rather than accretion of innovations, after which you get explosive changes.

Comment author: Pimgd 28 June 2017 02:27:39PM 2 points [-]

Ethereum is working on proof of stake, which boils down to "I believe that this future is what really happened, and to guarantee so, here's $1000 that you may destroy if it's not true."


Key quote for me:

"in PoW, we are working directly with the laws of physics. In PoS, we are able to design the protocol in such a way that it has the precise properties that we want - in short, we can optimize the laws of physics in our favor. The "hidden trapdoor" that gives us (3) is the change in the security model, specifically the introduction of weak subjectivity."

Comment author: CellBioGuy 28 June 2017 09:50:29PM 0 points [-]

Is a solution in which control of the network is secured through the same private keys that secure the stores of value an option?

Comment author: cousin_it 28 June 2017 09:15:11PM 0 points [-]


Comment author: CellBioGuy 28 June 2017 09:24:41PM *  9 points [-]

Most of the interesting-tasting or psychoactive chemicals that plants make are there to ward off being eaten or infected. Caffeine and mint oil are among the plant insecticides, all sorts of other things are toxins to vertebrates. By virtue of being megafauna we can tolerate amounts of toxic stuff that will kill smaller organisms by mixing them with other foods, and our particular biochemistry happens to be particularly strong against some (and weak against others, just try to eat hemlock). Stuff we can tolerate but still has effects on us (caffeine, capsaicin) can be interestingly psychoactive, stuff that doesn't hurt us can be interesting to taste (mint, cinnamon, garlic), and there's interesting correlations between spice use and parasite load in food (that could be confounded six ways to mars)...

Comment author: CellBioGuy 28 June 2017 09:14:59PM 0 points [-]

Why so many of our spices are toxic to other animals and insects.

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