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Comment: Re:Release of documents (Score 1) 159

by mephox (#44326669) Attached to: MIT Attempts To Block Release of Documents In Aaron Swartz Case

Presumably there's always the danger of someone, somewhere remembering that there was a document that was supposed to be there. Especially a lawyer on the opposition. Some piece of paperwork that is part of the bureaucracy that serves as a flag in a folder as thick as a thigh that, if missing even by accident, raises warning flags.

Also, shredding papers and burning papers tends to raise eyebrows among the staff who may or may not be in on your scheme and, if not, may just tip off the authorities.

There are layers and layers of paranoia that a more practiced paranoid than I could get into about what might or might not raise warnings about missing paperwork.

Comment: Imagine This (Score 1) 88

by mephox (#44326609) Attached to: When Metadata Analytics Goes Awry

Purely speculative and all conjecture. I know nothing of the algorithms involved and make the following assumptions about the meta-data and the algorithms.

Meta-data
1: Geo-location of the event/person
2: Time of the event/person
Algorithm
3: Compare location +1 correlation.
4: Compare time +1 correlation.
5: Location compares street.
6: Time within 1 day.

Given these very simplistic assumptions. We have two people. We'll call them Good Steve and Evil Steve. They have never met, never seen each other. One lives at Street A #15 and is homebound (GS), the other, ES works at Street A #12 and is plotting embezzelment. Abreviated to GS and ES for the purpose of the demonstration.

Day 1, City A, Street A #12: ES makes 4 calls, which get logged.
Day 1, City A, Street A #15: GS makes 2 calls, which gets logged.
Correlation between ES and GS: 6.

Already, the correlation between ES and GS is 6 after one day. Because they're on the same street, just a few street #s away from each other.

Suppose this goes on in the same way for a few months. Say 3. The correlation is 540 after three months. Now, say that the person that ES was calling has half that, assuming calling the same person. In the ensuing metadata analysis after the embezzlement is discovered, there is a link formed between ES and GS that is GREATER in this admittedly VERY simple model than that of ES and the person ES was conspiring against. Another example, say this sort of thing happened but ES called a bank, and GS called the same bank after or before ES. There becomes a tenuous link between the bank, ES and GS based on both location and time and even number called, a stat not directly recorded by this algorithm.

The actual reality should be far more complex, but I would imagine a meta-data analysis would rely on more rules with finer resolutions among other things... At least I hope so, so that the probability correlations of a connection between two people or a person and a group of people is more solid and worth investigation than the example I demonstrated as a worst case scenario.

In some cases metadata can be useful, but I do not think it is for any reasonable, serious leg for investigations to stand on. Certainly it is useful in an investigatory sense to draw lines between connected people and groups, but an investigation is necessarily an activity that takes place AFTER something has gone down that requires investigation. It is NOT for government to do an ongoing investigation into its citizens without due cause, oversight and a full accounting after the fact.

To do otherwise would be to invite the temptation to use the knowledge and insight such an ongoing investigation would make available to tamp down on things the government in power would really not prefer to allow. It's not hard to imagine a far religious right government doing so, but we must also be wary of the far left as well. To allow the left also to tamp down on private and personal freedoms would be as bad as the far right doing the same.

To make it more amenable to the lovers of LOTR out there...

It is analogous to Frodo offering the ring to Gandalf. Here's the quote:

I dare not take it. Not even to keep it safe. Understand, Frodo. I would use this ring (knowledge) from a desire to do good... But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.

Comment: Re:ah the anti-NSF crowd again (Score 2) 307

by mephox (#43591195) Attached to: SOPA Creator Now In Charge of NSF Grants

Not to burst your bubble regarding places with strict anti gun laws but they don't all have higher crime rates (for violent crimes anyway). Mexico has massive violent crime issues and strict gun control, whereas England has strict gun laws and they have a much lower rate of violent crime. Of interesting note, in Switzerland, where there isn't gun registration, they have a very low rate of violent crime overall. Seems to me that the violence has a lot more to do with other factors than just the legality of firearms. Source: http://www.quandl.com/society/oecd-murder-rates

Indeed. Like homogeneity of society. Switzerland and England are pretty homogeneous population wise. Religion, social mores, etc have evolved over centuries in pretty unbroken consistency.

Pretty much the entire western hemisphere is less than 200 years old (in terms of societal maturity. I'm not counting the early colonial era, as it's about as far removed from pre-revolutionary America as the first pilgrims were from the native Indians - in a societal sense) and is a conglomerate of nations, religions, languages and social mores. That's not to say that the homogeneous societies don't have pockets of radical non-conformity, but they tend to be smaller than the whole segments of dissimilar populaces in the United States.

I would hazard to guess that Mexico, despite 'looking' more homogeneous is about as fractious as we are, though the fragments of society have more in common with each other than most of our segments of society. It would be more interesting to see a correlation study between the homogeneity of nations and the level of violence within its bounds.

I am not an expert on societal differences, but I play one on the Internet (and pay attention to TED talks, read a lot, etc...)

Comment: Re:Not all programmers are suitable for all projec (Score 3, Interesting) 326

by mephox (#43576955) Attached to: Hiring Developers By Algorithm

No one is good at everything

I've worked with legendary programmers throughout my career and I can tell you this --- you must understand the strong points of a particular programmer (even the legendary ones) so that you can tap into his potential and let him/her perform

That "hiring by algorithm" is indeed a new way of looking at things, but it does take experience - excellent programmers all comes with their own particular quirks - and you need to provide them the room to stretch, the freedom that they need, in order to get them to do whatever they are good at

Interesting... You describe programmers much like other people describe artists. This is not a bad thing. I see programming, as a programmer, as part art, part science. Programmers need a deep understanding of logic and not a small bit of creativity to solve problems.

Comment: Patent Validity (Score 3, Insightful) 228

by mephox (#43448137) Attached to: Will the Supreme Court End Human Gene Patents?
It would be nice to see a Human Health and Well-Being clause for patents of things like this, shortening (though not eliminating) the monopolistic period during which companies can claim sole profits on a product which could save lives. With a stringent set of rules, of course such as providing that the patent actually includes something that cures or treats a disease/condition that is life threatening and thus shortening the road to genericness.

Comment: Pictures taken from low globe orbit. (Score 2) 181

by mephox (#43417671) Attached to: Iran Plans To Launch an 'Islamic Google Earth'
I wonder if their Photoshop skills are up to the task. And what about their satellite? Will they just have a camera in a dark room occasionally use the flash take a picture of a spinning globe? Because that would be awesome. I suppose occasionally, you will be able to see the hand of God reaching out to give the globe a spin.

Comment: Re:"oops" (Score 1) 99

by mephox (#43407795) Attached to: Hackers Swipe Unreleased Game From Ubisoft
I came here to say this... Why... Why put a 'secret game' on a public facing server that is used to serve up games for the consuming masses? I understand they're hackers and they surf the interwebs and can get around your puny "Don't look here" signs by going around them, but surely it must have occurred to someone, somewhere within Ubisoft that putting that there would have been a bad idea. Unless... It wasn't really an April Fool's stunt and their marketing was just so poorly timed as to start on the day that happens every year when everyone tries to dupe everyone else. Genius!

Comment: Gattaca (Score 1) 902

by mephox (#26993201) Attached to: Designer Babies

I'm surprised that no one, at least in the comments that I can see, has mentioned Gattaca. Surely I'm not the only one whose first thought was, "Wow, this sounds an awful lot like how the society in Gattaca got started going so wrong."

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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