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Comment: Re:Expensive (Score 3, Interesting) 44

I suspect that this will be one of the most expensive treatments ever.

There is no particular reason to believe this will be expensive. It is just some RNA, which can be inexpensively replicated. Even if it is patented, it is likely that someone else can some up with a similar technique, making it a competitive market, and driving down prices.

If you really want to be a pessimist, you should instead focus on how this is going to bankrupt Social Security. People are going to retire at 65, and then collect benefits for the next 55 years.

Comment: Re:Don't let perfection be the enemy of good enoug (Score 1) 42

by plover (#48953971) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

They could certainly send 50 times as many messages, but they'll improve their return on investment if they target all of them at people who are more susceptible to their message in the first place. Given the cost of the Big Data systems they may only be able to afford to send 10 times as many instead of 50 times, but as long as their message is 5% effective instead of 0.1%, it's still a vast improvement on ROI.

Comment: Re:Don't let perfection be the enemy of good enoug (Score 1) 42

by plover (#48953955) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

That's a great question. Do you think 80% accuracy is good enough for medical use? If you're a doctor facing an unfamiliar situation, and your data says treatment X helped 40% of patients it was tried on, treatment Y helped 35% of them, and all other treatments (Z, W, etc.) helped no more than 30%, but you know the data might only be 80% accurate, what treatment do you choose? Are those ratios even meaningful in the presence of so many errors?

Consider the case where the patient's condition is critical, and you don't have time for additional evaluation. Is X always the best choice? What if your specialty makes you better than average at treatment Y? Maybe that 20% inaccuracy works in favor of the doctor who has the right experience.

It could it be used for ill, too. What if you know you'll get paid more by the insurance company for all the extra tests required to do treatment Y? You could justify part of your decision based on the uncertainty of the data.

In the end, historical data is just one factor out of many that goes into each of these decisions. Inaccurate data may lead to suboptimal decisions, so it can't be the only factor.

Comment: Re:Color me surprised (Score 1) 42

by plover (#48953757) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

You seem to be belaboring this mistaken impression that analyzing Big Data somehow replaces thinking in the board room. It does not. Big Data is a tool that can help provide evidence of what people have done in the past, statistically correlated to potential causes. Big Data doesn't decide "hey, let's buy GM." People make those decisions, and they try to make them based on the information they have -- and Big Data can be a good source of that info. But people can be idiots, they can be talented, they can be anywhere on the spectrum. Do not blame the tool, or the accuracy of the tool, just because it's capable of being swung by an unqualified, incompetent idiot.

As a friend of mine is wont to say, "A fool with a tool is still a fool."

Comment: Re:Who has a financial interest in this one then? (Score 2, Insightful) 72

by ShanghaiBill (#48953439) Attached to: Nuclear Safety Push To Be Softened After US Objections

I can't think of a reason ANYONE would want the nuclear power generation industry to be less safe than it possibly could be

I can think of a reason: Perfect safety costs infinity dollars.
Real life involves tradeoffs. There are no perfect solutions.

Comment: Re:Double Irish? TAX ALL FOREIGNERS!!! (Score 1) 531

No, there's plenty of rationale for such a tax. There are one trillion such reasons - our annual cash deficit

Arbitrary and confiscatory taxation will indeed raise money in the short term. In the long run, it will push businesses, investment, and jobs, out of America. America is a business friendly country, and we have prospered because of that. But many other countries are working hard to be more business friendly, while America is moving in the opposite direction. We are in the process of killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

America as a whole, should learn from what happened in California. It used to be one of the most business friendly states. But California pushed more and more taxes and regulation on to business, and ramped up social spending. Today it is considered one of the least business friendly. Most semiconductor manufacturing is gone, many moves are made elsewhere, businesses are leaving, and unemployment is stuck several percentage points above the national average.

Comment: Re:Color me surprised (Score 2) 42

by plover (#48952505) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

When you're dealing with statistics, you ought to recognize that 92% accuracy is a huge improvement over a random distribution. You do not use big data to select a target for a sniper rifle, you use it to point a shotgun.

And just like your faulty GM CEO analogy (I assume you felt the need to apply a car analogy for the benefit of the slashdot crowd) only an idiot would send someone off in the woods blindfolded and have him fire his shotgun in a random direction hoping to bring home some kind of food animal. You still have to know what you're hunting for, you still have to know how to hunt, you still have to make wise decisions. It's just a tool, not a sage.

Comment: Re:In other words, you're doing it wrong. (Score 3, Insightful) 42

by drinkypoo (#48952451) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

This is what scares most people, or at least me, about ideas of using big data to predict criminals or otherwise mess up people's lives.

It's not a problem to use big data to try to figure out where to focus. But you have to subject the results to some sanity checking, and before you actually impact someone's life, perhaps even some common sense. Shocking idea, I know, and the reason why it's still a problem.

Comment: Don't let perfection be the enemy of good enough (Score 4, Interesting) 42

by plover (#48952397) Attached to: Test Shows Big Data Text Analysis Inconsistent, Inaccurate

The difference between "92% accurate" and "accurate enough for my task" are profound.

If you were using these kind of analytics to bill your customers, 92% would be hideously inaccurate. You'd face lawsuits on a daily basis, and you wouldn't survive a month in business. So the easy answer is, "this would be the wrong tool for billing."

But if you're advertising, you know the rates at which people bite on your message. Perhaps only 0.1% of random people are going to respond, but of people who are interested, 5.0% might bite. If you have the choice between sending the message to 10000 random people, or to 217 targeted people (only 92% of whom may be your target audience), both groups will deliver the same 10 hits. Let's say the cost per message is $10.00 per thousand views. The first wave of advertising cost you $100. The second costs you $2.17. Big Data, with all of its inaccuracies, still improves your results by a wide margin.

Way too often people like this point out that perfection is impossible. They presume that "because it's not perfect, it's useless." The answer is not always to focus on becoming more accurate, but to choose the right tool for the job, and to learn how to recognize when it's good enough to be usable. At that point you learn how to cope with the inaccuracy and derive the maximum benefits possible given what you have.

Comment: Re:Double Irish (Score 4, Insightful) 531

What is to stop companies registering themselves elsewhere so that they are no longer US companies

Obama's solution is to make the laws even more restrictive by banning companies from leaving. Basically, erect a "Berlin Wall" for business. Of course, this is economic insanity, but it wins him plenty of applause from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the party. Here is an article that explains the issues pretty well.

Comment: Re:Double Irish? TAX ALL FOREIGNERS!!! (Score 3, Insightful) 531

If they don't want to pay any tax they are free to leave society

Wrong. They are not free to leave. The Obama administration prevented AbbVie from leaving, and is fighting efforts by other companies to leave.

stop stealing our free education and training

So if an Italian buys a car from a factory in Britain, he is "stealing education" if he doesn't pay tax to America?

Comment: Re: Problems with the staff (Score 2) 151

by drinkypoo (#48952279) Attached to: The Pirate Bay Is Back Online, Properly

problem with Noscript et al, is the same problem with softwalls like Zonealarm - the content is already downloaded to your computer for the parser to analyse before it's passed to the rendering engine. It's already in your system.

Well, yes and no. The script embedded in the html or whatever is already in your system, but any linked script files hosted on a dodgy domain don't actually get downloaded at all, at least on Firefox. In the past this was impossible on chrome by design, but I'm told it works properly now. The flash and most of the script is never in fact downloaded to your PC at all.

Comment: Re:Double Irish? TAX ALL FOREIGNERS!!! (Score 5, Insightful) 531

Because hiding your profits overseas is some sort of essential liberty, right?

The profits were earned overseas, mostly from products and services created by non-Americans and sold to non-Americans. There is no rationale reason for America to be taxing these profits. No other country has this kind of extraterritorial tax. Most economists agree that it is counter-productive, and just encourages companies to base their headquarters somewhere other than America. Business taxes should be based on where the economic activity occurs, not where the business is registered.

Anyway, this proposal has ZERO chance of passing a Republican Congress. This is about electoral politics, not tax policy. The loser here is Hillary Clinton. To win in the general election, she has to position herself as a moderate centrist, that can win in the Midwest, and maybe even pick off a Southern state. But by steering the Democratic party into hare-brained anti-business claptrap, Obama is diminishing her ability to do that.

It is contrary to reasoning to say that there is a vacuum or space in which there is absolutely nothing. -- Descartes

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