Author Topic: EP445: Black Swan Oracle  (Read 13040 times)

Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3996
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #25 on: July 14, 2014, 09:10:09 PM
But the oracle's "system" breaks pretty much every rule of predictive models, mathematics, and how complex the world is.

I thought that this was very funny.  I could forgive problem in the story, because I am not an expert in predictive models or mathematics, and I really enjoyed this story.  I thought the oracle was stange at the beginning, but by the end he had me hooked.

BUT being a biologist I can perfectly understand Skeletondragon's feelings.  This is exactly how I feel about every story having to do with evolution/mutants/transgenic people or animals

I can see both sides of the coin.  It would probably bother me more if I were a statistician.  But enjoying a lot of science fiction depends on being able to choose where to allow a little handwavium past the logic sensors.  I can't do that with every story, but was fine with this one.  As a software engineer I tend to have to make that decision in a lot of stories because a lot of writers use computer hackers as though they were literal wizards.

Sounds like we should create a thread for venting where science fiction gets our profession wrong. Probably at the top of my pet peeves is hackers who break into traffic signals and make all the indications green at the same time. Roll into that they do it quickly and typically while moving makes it extra hilarious.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #26 on: July 15, 2014, 03:24:37 PM
But the oracle's "system" breaks pretty much every rule of predictive models, mathematics, and how complex the world is.

I thought that this was very funny.  I could forgive problem in the story, because I am not an expert in predictive models or mathematics, and I really enjoyed this story.  I thought the oracle was stange at the beginning, but by the end he had me hooked.

BUT being a biologist I can perfectly understand Skeletondragon's feelings.  This is exactly how I feel about every story having to do with evolution/mutants/transgenic people or animals

I can see both sides of the coin.  It would probably bother me more if I were a statistician.  But enjoying a lot of science fiction depends on being able to choose where to allow a little handwavium past the logic sensors.  I can't do that with every story, but was fine with this one.  As a software engineer I tend to have to make that decision in a lot of stories because a lot of writers use computer hackers as though they were literal wizards.

Sounds like we should create a thread for venting where science fiction gets our profession wrong. Probably at the top of my pet peeves is hackers who break into traffic signals and make all the indications green at the same time. Roll into that they do it quickly and typically while moving makes it extra hilarious.

Yes!  My company designs processing boards that go into intersection control cabinets and there's some major flaws in that.  Most of them are not wireless capable.  Many of them are not even networked to multiple intersections.

What would actually be potentially realistic is if someone figured out how to spoof a police siren radio signal.  Some cities (including the area I live) have intersection traffic lights that immediately switch to green in the direction from which an emergency vehicle is approaching--I presume it's a radio signal the police car/ambulance/firetruck broadcasts ahead of it.  So, theoretically if you knew how to produce the exact signal the traffic light is looking for, you could do it.  If they do it smartly, presumably it's not just a simple signal but some kind of handshake protocol that can't just be rebroadcast, maybe the day's date run through a particular encryption key or something.



Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3996
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #27 on: July 15, 2014, 03:56:47 PM
But the oracle's "system" breaks pretty much every rule of predictive models, mathematics, and how complex the world is.

I thought that this was very funny.  I could forgive problem in the story, because I am not an expert in predictive models or mathematics, and I really enjoyed this story.  I thought the oracle was stange at the beginning, but by the end he had me hooked.

BUT being a biologist I can perfectly understand Skeletondragon's feelings.  This is exactly how I feel about every story having to do with evolution/mutants/transgenic people or animals

I can see both sides of the coin.  It would probably bother me more if I were a statistician.  But enjoying a lot of science fiction depends on being able to choose where to allow a little handwavium past the logic sensors.  I can't do that with every story, but was fine with this one.  As a software engineer I tend to have to make that decision in a lot of stories because a lot of writers use computer hackers as though they were literal wizards.

Sounds like we should create a thread for venting where science fiction gets our profession wrong. Probably at the top of my pet peeves is hackers who break into traffic signals and make all the indications green at the same time. Roll into that they do it quickly and typically while moving makes it extra hilarious.

Yes!  My company designs processing boards that go into intersection control cabinets and there's some major flaws in that.  Most of them are not wireless capable.  Many of them are not even networked to multiple intersections.

What would actually be potentially realistic is if someone figured out how to spoof a police siren radio signal.  Some cities (including the area I live) have intersection traffic lights that immediately switch to green in the direction from which an emergency vehicle is approaching--I presume it's a radio signal the police car/ambulance/firetruck broadcasts ahead of it.  So, theoretically if you knew how to produce the exact signal the traffic light is looking for, you could do it.  If they do it smartly, presumably it's not just a simple signal but some kind of handshake protocol that can't just be rebroadcast, maybe the day's date run through a particular encryption key or something.

There are two primary technologies for pre-emption. One (which is on its way out) is an emitter that sends a specific combination of visible and UV light. This combination is different for every vehicle. It's keyed to specific vehicles so that only ones on the approved list can utilize the pre-emption. It also is a protection against abuse, as it's easy to see patterns out of scale with emergency calls. The second technology would be something that is more wireless but is keyed to a GPS unit installed with a vehicle that can detect turn signals. Again vehicle specific and changes the signals green for specific approaches and red for the rest.

Neither technology would allow a hacker on the fly to make them all green at the same time. There's an autonomous box whose job is just to look at the outputs in the field and runs a logic test. Can this signal indication remain green at the same time as that one? If not, then it dumps the signal to flashing operation. At best they could spoof pre-emption, assuming they know the product brand, have jurisdiction specific codes, among all kinds of fiddly details.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


matweller

  • EA Staff
  • *****
  • Posts: 678
Reply #28 on: July 16, 2014, 02:58:17 AM
Or you could just jump into a township police motor pool yard, copy that info from every car on the lot and USB stick it for later use. Or just borrow cop cars for your nefarious moments. Or just commit crimes in a large vehicle with a snowplow on the front and skip worrying about lights altogether -- a.k.a.: the A-Team protocol.




Gamercow

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 654
Reply #29 on: August 01, 2014, 02:04:22 PM
If The Oracle simply doesn't kill herself (which is entirely up to her no matter how many 9s are after the decimal point), doesn't she become the Black Swan she was looking for?

Alternatively, if she kills herself BEFORE the specified date, she also becomes the black swan. 

Walking away from her statistics and prescience and algorithms would be akin to a sighted person intentionally blinding themselves.  Not an easy decision. 

The cow says "Mooooooooo"


hardware

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 192
Reply #30 on: August 18, 2014, 02:21:47 PM
I wasn't a huge fan of this one, and it had only a little bit to do with the simplistic view of statistic and data mining/modeling. More bothering was the use of tired tropes like wise buddhists and superficial actresses, that stuff really takes me out of the story. The problem presented is interesting in itself, but a nice thought experiment is not automatically a good story.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #31 on: August 19, 2014, 12:34:40 PM
More bothering was the use of tired tropes like wise buddhists and superficial actresses,

I don't know about wide buddhists, but I wouldn't call superficial actresses a trope--the job selects for superficiality on a large part, not that individual actresses can't buck the trend, but I wouldn't expect it on a large scale.  Kind of like corrupt politicians or dishonest salesmen, the job rewards certain traits more than others.



hardware

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 192
Reply #32 on: August 19, 2014, 12:59:08 PM
More bothering was the use of tired tropes like wise buddhists and superficial actresses,

I don't know about wide buddhists, but I wouldn't call superficial actresses a trope--the job selects for superficiality on a large part, not that individual actresses can't buck the trend, but I wouldn't expect it on a large scale.  Kind of like corrupt politicians or dishonest salesmen, the job rewards certain traits more than others.

That might be true enough (although it sounds a bit dismissive), but cliches with some truth behind them are nevertheless cliches - and the problem arises when the characters are reduced to those cliches. It's fine to have a corrupt politician in your story - it's not fine to use politician as a shorthand for corrupt. At least for me.  I guess wide buddhist might be a side effect of all that sitting around on pillows ...



CryptoMe

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1139
Reply #33 on: January 20, 2015, 03:08:45 AM
Well I had a very tough time with the whole concept of the Oracle's prediction for herself. Dodgy statistics aside, all she has to do is Not Kill herself. I, for one, find this a very easy thing to do. ;) But, in all seriousness, I understand that for people who are depressed and suicidal, this is not so easy. On the other hand, the Oracle knew this depression was coming for a long time, in which case, she should have sought out professional help. So, for that reason alone, this one didn't work for me.



davidthygod

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 100
Reply #34 on: January 27, 2015, 09:35:16 PM
I could have used a parental guidance warning on this one.  A few too many unnecessary "fucks" for me to try and listen with kids in the car.   

When I finally got to listen to it, I thought it was ok, the premise was good but the execution left something to be desired for me.  I think the premise left itself the opportunity for massive creativity in the types of questions and answers that she could have received and given, and I was a bit underwhelmed by that section, and the ending was fine but very predictable.  I also agree with the earlier comments about the overly simplistic descriptions of her methods. 

The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.