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Comment: Most developers suck, even more "rockstars" suck! (Score 1) 145

by EmperorOfCanada (#49125251) Attached to: Attention, Rockstar Developers: Get a Talent Agent
Most of the developers that I have met really sucked. While I have met some stunning rockstars who could code up solutions that were magical on so many levels the bulk of the "rockstars" were simply blowhards that were probably more destructive than the worst boring developers. These were people who would literally dig into the kernal of Linux instead of writing a simple python script. But the sure sign that a "rockstar" is in fact just a blowhard is when they become religious zelots for one technology or another. They will make statements like "Procedural coding is so 20th century" or "You must recode your entire well oiled system using language X in order to add that one feature."

These "rockstars" usually come in and create massive amounts of work. Destroy pretty much everything and then leave before the cleanup is barely started.

Whereas the true rockstars will simply come in, quietly code for a short while, and solutions are born. Often these are things that other people can then work with making them better as well. If there is horrible work that does have to be done then again the rockstar will quietly nod, find the few in-house good programmers, spend a weekend or two, and then present a working robust replacement for the terrible system. Not something that is "almost done" (as in half baked) but a complete solution with in-house talent that can work with it.

If anything the surest sign of a rockstar is that there will be little or no squabbling. If there is any squabbling with the in-house developers it will be with the resident blowhard who will be heard saying, "That system won't work, we need to stay the course and use the technology that I have 8 certifications in."

Comment: AI endpoint is key (Score 1, Interesting) 70

There is a point where the first marginal barely even an AI, wouldn't win any Turning contest, largely useless AI will be created. But if the algorithm is evolutionary in nature it could be the point where it then improves itself, then improves itself, and so on until pretty much out of nowhere you have an indisputable AI.

I regularly employ genetic algorithms and can say without hesitation that I have little idea how they got to where they got and the results are often fantastic. But my code is usually a single layer. That is I have a target, I set up the parameters it needs to explore, and then I set it loose. This is because the number of permutations exceed what my computer can handle in a reasonable time (a-la travelling salesmen problem) and a GA will get me close enough much faster.

But if I added a second layer where the GA was noodling with my code then I suspect interesting things could happen; not an AI but I doubt that I could comprehend the code it would generate. This will be the route to an AI. Basically the key will be an algorithm that generates not only code that we can't comprehend but generates the next generation of the GA which generates another generation of the GA and so on until we have code so far removed that when it works it will be just like where we are with understanding the overall design of the brain (we largely don't).

What this boils down to is that I very much doubt that AI will be the step by step process like most of human endeavour where we can see it coming but one where it is like trying to open pandora's box "just a crack". One day we will have an interesting algorithm and that evening we will have AI. Sort of a directed emergent property.

One other bet is that it won't be an "AI" researcher who will build it. It will be someone working on some other NP hard algorithm such as protein folding or image recognition.

To me the only question is one of math. Is there a minimum processing power required for an AI that can deal with a real time universe? At that point we can at least calculate when we might have an AI that is something that needs to be dealt with. I am also fairly certain that the moment we cross that computational threshold an AI will soon follow.

Comment: Blech (Score 0) 194

by EmperorOfCanada (#49107523) Attached to: The Imitation Game Fails Test of Inspiring the Next Turings
The technology in the movie more reminded me of metropolis where the guy is having to needlessly move all the levers. This was a movie mostly about relationships and how it sucked to be gay in mid century England.

It also taught me that if you give an apple to some engineers they will put their careers on the line and entirely stop opposing your ideas that they had previously vehemently opposed.

Maybe the only true to life lesson is that if your government owes you a favour that you can't collect.

Comment: Re:Credibility to rumors? (Score 1) 196

by EmperorOfCanada (#49102721) Attached to: A123 Sues Apple For Poaching Employees
Yes, a number of people are thinking that an Apple/Tesla merger or blending of some sort might be in the works. I think that the two cultures are different in too many ways so I don't think so but who knows.

As for the complexity of steering I was referring to how many cars are switching to a fly by wire system that requires so much less experience engineeringwise. Before when someone would create a steering system from scratch it would often feel "wrong' this was more art than science and required people who could look at a design and know that it wouldn't work. Now you just make it work from an engineering perspective which is easy and then fiddle with the feedback and inputs until it feels "right".

As for when self driving cars really arrive (i.e. can be a taxi) I think that it will be much sooner than later. In that once there are a statistically significant number of cars (maybe 0.001%) and they don't crash then people who lose loved ones to manually driven cars will begin to scream for all SDCs.

Most manufacturers are making the switch to entirely fly by wire designs so adding automatic driving won't be an assembly line challenge. Thus if a viable self driving system comes along the manufactures will be able to implement it very quickly.

Comment: Re:Credibility to rumors? (Score 3, Insightful) 196

by EmperorOfCanada (#49094163) Attached to: A123 Sues Apple For Poaching Employees
Apple's expertise in cellphones was considered to be a joke when they were rumoured to be working on a phone. People pointed at them and laughed saying, "Motorola and Nokia will eat them for a snack."

There were huge scholarly style articles breaking down the myriad of reasons apple couldn't succeed. I even read an interview with a blackberry employee who said that when they saw the iPhone they were all relieved that it was going to be a flop as they knew with certainty that it could only have a 1 hour battery life as a computer plus a screen plus a transmitter would require a battery that was much larger than the one that must be inside. Then the guy said that blackberry crapped its collective pants when they got their first iPhone and found that it had a pretty good battery life and that inside the thing was mostly battery as Apple had managed to uber shrink the computer/transmitter part and that the screen was really thin.

I am not saying that Apple will succeed but that to suggest that they will fail because they haven't been doing this for 50 years would be foolish.

That said; one of my theories is that they don't really intend on building a production car but to build awesome prototypes that will teach them what an all electric self driving car will be like and how apple could sell things that will make it better. Plus they will no doubt build up a portfolio of car patents that will pay for the whole effort.

But on the other hand, self driving cars combined with electric cars combined with new materials such as aluminum and carbon fibre are a transition point for the automotive industry. This might allow a competitor such as apple to completely end run the industry because all those years making gas driven drive trains and the complexities in making a great steering system all vanish in this transition. This might then leave the car companies with a legacy of old school engineers who have "seniority" a legacy of pension costs, a legacy of factories not suitable for modern materials, a general lack of computer knowledge, and a legacy of sleazy dealerships. All things that would hold the old school people back.

Comment: In Canada, not a problem (Score 4, Informative) 196

by EmperorOfCanada (#49094097) Attached to: A123 Sues Apple For Poaching Employees
Our supreme court made a supremely wonderful decision on this very issue. Basically they said, that people in Canada have the right to work for anyone they want, where they want, and when they want. Also people are free to communicate thus can "poach" all they want and that any contract to the contrary would be a rights violation and thus those parts are null.

This particular decision actually even went further by saying that poaching clients was fine as well as long as the contact information was reasonably in someone's head.

The result would be that the only place that a non-compete could stand would be if there was another aspect such as the sale of a business. So if someone sold their business for $10,000,000 and then violated an agreed to non-compete there could be a lawsuit to recover some portion of the sale price. But they couldn't get any kind of injunction that would violate your constitutional rights only a monetary judgment.

So while our rights tend to be viewed as less black and white than the US constitution I was pretty much bouncing in my seat and clapping my hands when this decision came down the pipe as a serious blow against corporate tyranny.

Comment: Re:No overlap for mindshare (Score 1) 318

by EmperorOfCanada (#49092251) Attached to: Java Vs. Node.js: Epic Battle For Dev Mindshare
Yes, my toolset is usually Python and C++ but I have a large codebase with PHP and it is just too easy to keep adding PHP to it. My dream though would be to go to Python for a huge amount of stuff but it just doesn't cut it with much of what I do as well as C++ does.

I would hate to work for a company with too many languages or too few. I suspect that if productivity were to measured by the number of languages in general use that there would be some magic number; much like having two monitors is more productive than one. (I still want to try 3).

Comment: Re:No overlap for mindshare (Score 1) 318

by EmperorOfCanada (#49087209) Attached to: Java Vs. Node.js: Epic Battle For Dev Mindshare
Very interesting. Probably one of the best replies I have ever had on /. I do have one comment on project managers. Smart people don't need to be managed which is why one of the best developers (often in the position of manager) told me that a great project manager is there simply to deflect and isolate his team from the company. This is why I especially mentioned project managers in the same breath as stodgy companies. I have friends who work for stodgy companies and they pretty much need manager approval for every semicolon. Whereas I have friends who work for companies where they use the bulk of Beck's original XP and are amazingly productive with exactly zero people with a title manager.

Your comments now have me ready to take a solid look at node.js.

Comment: No overlap for mindshare (Score 4, Interesting) 318

by EmperorOfCanada (#49082303) Attached to: Java Vs. Node.js: Epic Battle For Dev Mindshare
Node.js and Java couldn't be much more different in the types of programmers/clients that each attracts. A typical Java client would be a somewhat stodgy to extremely stodgy company where the programmers are completely wild and out of control because they don't wear ties with their dressshirts. These same programmers either work in large pools of programmers for the company or are doing contract work for a large stodgy consulting company.

A Node.js programmer might not own a dress shirt and works for a company that mightn't have ever printed an org-chart. The only stodgy companies using node.js would be where they completely outsourced their web infrastructure to a young hungry up and coming development company that has another decade or two before it becomes fully decrepit and stodgy.

There is no competition for mindshare between these two. Maybe, just maybe, there are a tiny few companies right in the middle of these two extremes that would go one way or the other but in all probablity these middle companies are using PHP, Ruby, or Something Microsoft.

But the reality is that Java is competing with Microsoft's C# and maybe other JVM languages such as Scala. Whereas Node.js is competing with PHP, Ruby, Python.

All I could say to product/project manager at a fortune 500 company who wanted to switch their system from Java to Node.js is "Good Luck." And the same with someone who proposed Java at a young startup that had a successful Node.js codebase. In the later I could maybe see a switch to Python but the first would and will potentially not be switching from Java for the next decade or three.

Comment: What anti consumer feature is next? Sterilization? (Score 1) 370

by EmperorOfCanada (#49028367) Attached to: Samsung Smart TVs Injected Ads Into Streamed Video
I am not sure that Samsung could have come up with features that would make me want to buy their TV less unless they simply went with slapstick comedy. Spontaneous combustion? Radiation hazard? Randomly calls in SWAT teams?

Or maybe they have more subtle comedy offering coming where they partially morph your face onto all the fat and ugly people who appear on your screen. Or send subliminal messages suggesting that your spouse should have an affair.

But for now they at least seem to be violating our privacy coming and going. I wonder what MBA thinking results in this crap. There are many reasons I would never buy a GM but onstar sits right at the top of the pile for similar reasons that I will not now buy a Samsung TV.

Comment: What stopped Senator Joseph McCarthy? (Score 1) 239

by EmperorOfCanada (#49023737) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Will It Take To End Mass Surveillance?
An excellent place to start would be to look to see what stopped Senator Joseph McCarthy and the equally insane House Un-American Activities Committee. Senator Joseph McCarthy couldn't have shown much better that people like him exist and the system shouldn't exist that enables them. The present day NSA insanity is a Senator Joseph McCarthy wet dream. He had to claw and scrape for the pittance of data he had which the NSA would now laugh at as a joke as they probably gather more data in millionths of a second than Senator Joseph McCarthy gathered the whole time he terrorized the US.

Lessons that should have been learned from the House Un-American Activities Committee is that they could do far more damage than the people they were hunting ever dreamed they could.

So we have the NSA doing their damnedest to repeat history so the key would be to repeat history as to how to stop it. The key seemed to be when the Senate voted to censure him which was such a wonderful humiliation that the asshat died from alcoholism a few years later. So what the senate should do is to identify the few key players who are supporting the NSA and turf them this would then take the wind out of their civil rights violating sales making them an easy target for further reforms that should one by one effectively shut them down.

The final key would be to make a complete list of all the things good they have done and a complete list of bad things they have done. I suspect that in the end that it would be like a surgeon who used a 9mm pistol as his primary method of surgically removing zits. Yes he got the zits but the collateral damage was just not worth it and it would have been better for him not to have operated at all.

To me this is quite simple. Terrorists are first and foremost defined by their criminal activities. Thus use the traditional laws to go after and punish them. I don't care why the guy put a bomb in his underwear. He put a bomb in his underwear!!! I don't think that it counts as misdemeanour if looked at as just a normal crime. I don't care why the guy shot the cartoonist. He shot someone. If any of the above was part of a larger plan then there is a conspiracy which is another serious crime. If there is enough evidence to get a wiretap then a judge will issue a warrant. These are not complicated things. If anything makes it complicated it might be that it involves having to liaise with some international counterparts.

Comment: Why do people want them down? (Score 1, Interesting) 400

by EmperorOfCanada (#49014403) Attached to: An Argument For Not Taking Down Horrific Videos
The key question is why do governments want them down so badly?

The government so desperately wants these videos down and routinely makes claims that these videos are radicalizing people (not proven but still doesn't change anything). But this doesn't make sense. The videos don't really cost money. They aren't going against some vested interest of a lobby group. So why are they so desperate?

The answer is clear. They make the bureaucrats look bad. How can they claim that any given battle has been won or an area "pacified" if videos crop up showing their opponents doing what they want where they want? Bush jr claimed that the war was over but very quickly both the media and the internet proved him very very wrong. But if he had complete control over the information we might have only been able to speculate as to why so many soldiers were dying in "accidents". Instead he was humiliated and his legacy largely ruined.

And this is the crux of real power; the control of information. Look at the power that Snowden has managed to take away. Not all of it but even in the UK the courts have just delivered a gut punch that mightn't ever have happened without his release of the information and caused such potential for a power shift.

So while I don't really want more power to groups like ISIS. I am 100% sure that I don't want more power in the hands of the US or any other western government. So ignore any argument that they might make about keeping the children safe and remember that this is a quest for power over information pure and simple.

There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence. -- Jeremy S. Anderson