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Comment: Re:get the phone apps syncing with desktop Firefox (Score 1) 85

That's my 2 cents, it merely takes $20M to implement.

Plus a lot more to operate the data centers needed to store and sync all that data around. For Mozilla to build that they'd have to find some way to pay for it. Given that people are generally not willing to pay monthly fees for that sort of service, advertising is the obvious option. But to make the advertising effective, it needs to be targeted, so...

Comment: Re: Why do this in the first place? (Score 1) 85

I have a better idea: Just use Android, only write a drop in replacement for Play Services. Pull an Amazon, only invite other OEMs to the party so that they sell your devices, and no walled garden.

How would this be attractive to OEMs? Google already offers an extremely well-developed open ecosystem. Amazon wanted to have their own walled garden, but you're assuming there are OEMs that don't want to do that, but want to have a different ecosystem, and want it enough to be willing to accept smaller sales numbers. What would make them want to do that?

Comment: Re:Different perspectives... (Score 1) 227

by swillden (#49774123) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

I think unrealistic portrayals of sex create bigger problems than those other examples you cite -- though they are problems. The reason I think that is that the other unrealistic portrayals don't affect core human relationships to the same degree. I hope I'm wrong, actually. We'll know in a generation or so.

Comment: Re:Ask Abu Hamsa about allowed speech and the USA. (Score 1) 227

by swillden (#49774091) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

One more point: I find your choice of example to be odd, because the US charges against Hamsa have nothing to do with speech; they're about kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder. The UK's charges against Hamsa are largely speech-related.

Manning or Snowden would have been better examples.

Comment: Re:Ask Abu Hamsa about allowed speech and the USA. (Score 1) 227

by swillden (#49774065) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn
Oh, I'm not claiming there are no problems. Clearly the US does have some big issues at present with some particular forms of restriction of free speech. I'm fairly confident that will get sorted out over the course of the next couple of decades, though. The pendulum is swinging that direction. Not that perfection will ever be achieved, but there really is a strong bias towards protecting freedom of expression.

Comment: Re:I call shenanigans... (Score 2) 402

Coding jobs can be easily outsourced to wherever the going rate for labor is cheapest. Google's "coder shortage" seems completely imaginary. They're an advertising company whose greatest trick was convincing the world they are a software company.

I'm a Google engineer, and both of these statements are incorrect.

Taking the second one first, Google is not an advertising company. It's a software engineering company whose primary products are most effectively monetized via advertising. Or, sometimes I think it might be more accurate to say that Google is a data center company, since building, operating and utilizing enormous data centers at extreme efficiency is Google's true core competency. If and when Google gets serious about competing with Amazon in that space Amazon will have a tough time keeping up.

Google is moving fairly quickly away from advertising, diversifying into products which are sold directly. Note that nearly all of the speculative new projects that have come out of "Google X" are built around goods and services, more than the sort of low-value (on a per transaction basis) information services that are Google's current big products. No big winners have emerged from that effort, yet, but if one or more of them do "hit", you can expect to see it quickly replace advertising as the primary revenue driver. About 10% of Google's revenues these days come from non-advertising products. 10% seems small, but keep in mind that represents $5B annually, and is up from basically 0% just a few years ago. Non-ad revenues are growing faster than the ad revenues, so the percentage of Google revenue derived from advertising will continue falling even without a massive new business.

Further, culturally, Google never has been an advertising company. It's a thoroughly engineering-focused company, top to bottom.

The shortage of engineers is not imaginary. Google legitimately has a hard time finding enough software engineers of the caliber it seeks. Money isn't the issue; few people who receive an offer from Google reject it. In the context of this article, though, the big problem is that the engineers Google can find are overwhelmingly male, and either white or Asian. Mostly white. Studies done by many organizations, including studies done internally by Google, show that diverse teams are more creative and more productive. In addition, Google's culture is surprisingly idealistic, and people in the company consider it a legitimate problem that the company -- especially eng -- is not representative of the population as a whole.

I think part of that latter point derives from the fact that Google engineers are, if anything, too well-paid. Estimates I've seen put the "1%" line at about $400K annual income, and most senior Googlers -- including engineers, not just execs and managers -- are above that line. Getting paid that much tends to make decent people wonder if they should feel guilty at their luck and their privilege. At the same time, it's not like anyone is going to agitate to get paid less. So a better option is to say "Well, the real problem here isn't that I make too much, it's that not enough people have the opportunity to do the same". In particular, women and minorities.

That last paragraph is purely personal speculation, mind you. Laszlo Bock may not agree at all.

Comment: Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 1) 402

Friend of mine, his wife is a dentist, she's pulling in nearly 300k a year.

I make better than 300K per year as a software developer, when you include base, bonus and stock grants (which I view as variable cash bonuses, since I have them sold automatically the instant they vest). And I don't have to stick my fingers in peoples' mouths.

Comment: Different perspectives... (Score 1) 227

by swillden (#49772379) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

Whatever you think of the various sides of this argument, it's interesting to me to look at how different the sides are.

The US is, on average, far more concerned about pornography and other sexual issues than the UK, but there is not and never will be any significant discussion of government-mandated filters, outside of specific situations like government-run schools. The reason is our belief in the importance of free speech. Although there are plenty of Americans who would like to ban porn, no one at a national level says it out loud. No one seriously talks about it even at local, highly homogeneous levels, because everyone knows it won't fly.

The UK is somewhat less prudish than the US, but is perfectly willing to carve out large exceptions to free speech wherever it's convenient. Therefore, British pols do talk seriously about trying to ban porn, except for adults who opt out.

Europe (as a whole; there are exceptions) is even less concerned about free speech than the UK, but apparently considers porn to be something worth fighting for, to the degree that they're willing to invest at least a little effort in fighting to keep porn available to kids in the UK.

FWIW, I think porn is bad. Conceptually, there's nothing wrong with human sexuality, but porn presents an extremely distorted view of human sexuality. I think regular consumption of hardcore pornography, particularly by adolescents, skews expectations and perceptions in ways that have negative consequences. That said, I have no interest in trying to ban it. I do filter it on my home network, but that's a half measure which mostly serves as an early warning system (I get notified of attempts to get to porn sites) which offers a chance to talk the issues over if I find my kids looking for it.

All of which mostly says that I'm a fairly typical American parent: concerned about porn but unwilling to take the strong anti-freedom steps needed to effectively ban it :-)

Comment: Re:Banksters (Score 1) 720

by swillden (#49770527) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Of course the owners of the bank take the hit when fines are levied. Who else would?

How about the individuals that committed the crimes?

That's certainly fine with respect to crimes that justify criminal punishment (e.g. prison). But if regulators choose a market-style punishment (fines), then they're just acting as a market force, and that's a consideration for shareholders as owners.

Do you know how corporate boards work? They're designed to shield the management level executives from any such governance by the shareholders.

Utter nonsense. Yes, in some cases that may be the effect, but it's certainly not the design. Your cynicism has gotten the better of you. By design, boards of directors are intended to serve the same role that elected political representatives do for citizens of a nation; to represent the interests of the voters. It's not feasible for every governmental or corporate decision to be voted upon by the whole body, so they choose representatives. A proper board of directors takes a dim view of executives acting against the interests of the shareholders, and boards that fail their jobs badly enough do get ousted.

Plus, the fines paid by the shareholders are only a tiny fraction of the money the corporation made from these illegal activities.

That just indicates that regulators are not making the fines large enough. If regulators want to use financial penalties, they have to make them large enough that bad actions are unprofitable.

Comment: Re:Missing the key point (Score 1) 402

by swillden (#49770359) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

You're assuming that simulating the structure of an organic brain is necessary to accomplish the same functions. That's like assuming that simulating legs is the only way to construct a self-moving machine, just because that's the way that nature has done it. Evolution produces workable schemes and fine tunes them; but it clearly suffers from the local maximum problem, while the scientific approach to generating knowledge is much less prone to that limitation. You're also ignoring the fact that the basic construction of our computers is orders of magnitude faster and more energy-efficient than the neurochemical processes that drive organic intelligence. That fundamental difference in materials has to make a difference at larger scales, I think. There are likely other questionable assumptions underlying your guess.

Your assumptions may be valid, but we have no way of knowing. I suspect they're not, myself. What is certainly true is that we won't know until we understand how intelligence works.

Comment: Re:Banksters (Score 1) 720

by swillden (#49768003) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Remember, it's the shareholders that pay these fines. And no one in the bank corporation is held accountable.

What an odd thing to say. Of course the owners of the bank take the hit when fines are levied. Who else would? And it's up to the owners of the bank to decide how to hold their employees accountable.

Comment: Re:Missing the key point (Score 1) 402

by swillden (#49767895) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

Very well put. I came here to make this post, but now I don't have to.

One quibble, though:

nobody has any hardware that there is any reason to believe is within several orders of magnitude of being able to run one, etc.

We also have no reason to believe that we don't have hardware completely capable of running one, and haven't for quite some time. Until we have some idea how intelligence works and how to construct an AI, we really can't have any idea whether or not our hardware is sufficient.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.