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Comment: Big Data stupidity (Score 3, Interesting) 65

by alispguru (#49537397) Attached to: New Privacy Concerns About US Program That Can Track Snail Mail

A lot of our problems today are the result of people in power fundamentally misunderstanding what Big Data is good for.

We used to assume it was impractical for the Government to keep records of everything we do in the public sphere. Those things have gone from possible to practical to inevitable, mostly due to Moore's Law.

Just because you have everything recorded, doesn't mean it's useful, though. Technologists who should know better talk about searching these records to find the "needle in the haystack", selling the vision of complete records + powerful search tools = Total Awareness.

What they conveniently skip over is:

* All records have inaccuracies
* If the inaccuracy rate is higher than the occurrence rate of what you're searching for, the search is not useful

Consider medical screening tests. If you have a test with a false positive rate of 1 in 1000, it is useless to use such a test to search for a condition that happens to 1 in 1000000 - 999 times out of a thousand, the test will say you're sick when you're fine.

Now, consider:

* The error rate of address OCR


* The rate of secrets being exchanged via US Mail

Anyone in the Government who can't produce an estimate of those two numbers shouldn't be allowed anywhere near those records - it would be like giving a child a loaded gun, or a politician a Twitter account.

Comment: Re:Can we get some all-white/all-black schools too (Score 1) 599

Most men and women enjoy mixing, as it happens.

Not when we're between 6 and 11 or so we don't! That's the age when girls have cooties!

WARNING!!! If you are a boy in this age range, you must stay away from these creatures during this time period or you could get cooties, too!

Damn, I didn't know people were so uneducated in serious medical matters like these. Stay safe, citizens!

Comment: Re:Black and White? (Score 1) 599

Do you have any argument to show that the same thing would happen now?

Simply that human nature doesn't change that quickly and the separate facilities will soon be funded inequitably because of that. Show me any time in the past where that hasn't happened instead. I should think the paucity of examples where schools were funded equitably despite race and the huge number of examples where people still act like asshats because of it would convince you.

Comment: Re:Why store the patient's Age instead of Birth Da (Score 1) 184

You think you're funny? Laugh it up. An age? Simple subtraction, right? Not quite...

Start with kids under an arbitrary cutoff limit (often customizable by HC org, department, and/or provider whose ages need to be given in months. Then you get bitching from neonatologists who want the age of kids under some other arbitrary limits to be displayed in days. This is for a relatively simple concept.

Now, multiply the whole thing by about 25,000 concepts (many more complex than "age"), riddle the whole thing with massive amounts of subjective judgement, toss in prima dona providers, constantly changing governmental regulations, constantly changing clinical standards, constantly changing knowledge and technology, and you can start to see how stupid your comment about age starts to look. It's a difficult domain to program for - try it sometime and see.

Comment: Re:answers: (Score 2) 91

Actually, I don't give a rat's ass about games, just the antisocial tendencies they seem to encourage among some of their devotees - it's not the game, it's the asshattery. And as long as the asshats of gaming band together and are a problem for the rest of the web, I'm sure your fellow non-asshat gamers will eventually isolate you as well. Have a good time playing with each other, you little homoerotic man boys.

Comment: Re:not very often that i agree with carly fioni (Score 1, Informative) 653

No - he's actually wanting Cook to not speak out. Period.

We see here how Republicans love free speech. maybe they should run their party in Saudi Arabia - after all to not do so elsewhere, where things are even worse for Liberty and Freedom would be hypocritical.

Maybe North Korea, too.

Comment: Re:What bit of this pandering do you agree with? (Score 4, Insightful) 653

As human beings, we have limited agency. Tim Cook's words hold great sway here in the US. Much less in a place like Saudi Arabia.

Why do you want him to waste his political capital in fruitless words about the House of Saud and their backwards religion when he can affect change here and now? Why are Republicans all about doing ineffective things? I guess Sean had an expert in that when he brought in Fiorina as a guest!

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"