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Comment Cards on the table (Score 2) 226

Ok, let's be clear about this. This "debate" is about what we suspect is still going on and about what Congress refuses to even ask of what is being done under FISA or the Patriot Act.

Most Americans including myself don't give a damn whether or not the Federal government is spying on the communications in and out of the US if it were actually being targeted at communications with terrorists, certain foreign institutions and foreign governments as part of legitimate national security and international criminal investigations... However the understanding of people that follow how this has been evolving is that this is merely a pretext for mass surveillance of internal communications and sending it over a wire to ease dropping facilities outside the US. Which would be blatantly a violation of the US Constitution if it were ever fully revealed... which is exactly the type of program that has been long rumored and based on leaks seems to have been what has been developed by US spy agencies.

And there are absolutely NO PROTECTIONS for preventing that or for Congress to even know if that is happening as they rubber stamp levels of spending on infrastructure that could and has been rumored to be doing exactly that.

At the very least the reporting requirements could be required to say how many "incidental" collections there are of Americans communications originating or terminating inside the US... I suspect that pretty much that number would be tens of millions of Americans or hundreds of millions of Americans which is exactly why Congress is afraid to ask because they know they would need to shut down mass surveillance if it were ever revealed to them.

For all the talk about how spying on Americans communications with foreigners is wrong... maybe it is. And I think it would be great if the world got together and really worked out how to prohibit mass surveillance in the rest of the world. Ultimately we should hope for a world were civil rights are respected around the world... but at the very least, here at home we need to step back from the police state mass surveillance infrastructure that has been built ready made for mass abuse and then start worrying about how this could infringe on Americans rights abroad.

To do that we need Congress to start by asking the question about how many Americans are having their communications hoovered up by mass surveillance under FISA orders.

Comment Make it a consumer choice? (Score 1) 350

How about instead of allowing telecoms to make business arrangements to speed up or slow down communications, let the FCC establish minimum standards of bandwidth and latency as well as minimum standards of interconnectivity with other networks based on averages of network traffic generated by users. And regulating peering technicalities should also represent the public interest in maintaining a reliable communication network.

And then give the telecoms options to provide so called "fast lanes" or faster service to customers that want to pay for it. Customers should be given the choice if they want to pay more for lower latency. And eventually minimum standards should be increased, in the way that the FCC eventually required higher quality TV broadcasts once the technology caught up.

For this fast lane approach to work to move the technology forward then it has to represent people paying for service that is actually faster and better and not just paying not to get throttled back.

Comment Re:A more core point (Score 3, Insightful) 363

Good points. It was really the whole shakedown of content providers like Netflix and others for daring to make money selling content to Verizon and Comcast customers that was the impetus... as-if those customers that were paying Verizon, Comcast and Netflix somehow needed to be protected by the ISPs from accessing the content they paid for without paying for bandwidth twice.

Comment Re:Simple solution for Google & Facebook (Score 1) 168

Many forums ask users not to "cut and paste" more than a few lines from a story and to provide a link to the original site. Otherwise that runs into copyright issues if users just summarize the whole article. That's the problem. If the original news site doesn't get clicks they don't get advertisers.

Sure and Google has been pretty good about linking to the original articles and providing no more than the first line or headline. This ruling would seem to indicate that anyone linking to a news article (or any website) would owe the destination address some money. Unless this is just about the pictures... I could see that the pictures they use are a bit on the large size of thumbnail, but still I would think the news organizations would want the traffic. Sorry EU, looks like you won't be getting clicks from across the pond... newspapers are going to need to do a lot more advertising.

Comment Re:Simple solution for Google & Facebook (Score 3, Insightful) 168

Stop linking to any news from the group(s) that don't want them "making billions" by linking news articles.

Wonder how long those news agencies will take to change their minds?

Therein lies the rub... Simple to link indexing terms of service to agreement to allow Google to provide links and first lines of text. Do news organizations really not want Google to link to them?

Comment Why? (Score 3, Interesting) 130

So let's discuss the why before we just start regulating stuff that 99.999% of the time will not need any regulation for any public safety, or even ethical purpose.

What is the purpose of regulating computer software? AI in most cases these days means computer software that has been trained with examples to process a data set rather than programmed to process one. It is just more efficient than figuring it out and programming an algorithm directly for more variable input. And once the training is over and optimized the algorithm is usually frozen so that it can be applied in a tested and predictable way. So AI is rarely about algorithms that are trained during production use.

And this part of the proposed definition makes it a blanket definition for all computer software not just AI: "Any artificial systems that perform tasks under varying and unpredictable circumstances, without significant human oversight".

So really hard to see how you regulate "AI" without a blanket regulation on all software development.

If we are talking about simulating complete multi-functional animal brains, especially human, then I think ethics do come into play. Perhaps our discussion should focus on that as something that should be regulated.

I think we have an societal interest in working to prevent the abuse of animals and people. And it could be that at some point, maybe very soon, we can effectively simulate a human or large animal brain and even good people might fail to realize the real perception of suffering, real suffering, they are causing in a thinking being stuffed into a computer.

That said, do we really want regulations preventing AI from becoming more like us? Is this inherently wrong? As every parent is acutely aware suffering is part of life and learning and we feel for our children because we have been there and understand how hard it can be. It is hard to imagine the human brain learning without negative feedback, without at least some bare minimum of physical and emotional pain.

Is the greater good in preventing any suffering or just limiting it to what is absolutely necessary for us to learn? It seems preventing all suffering is no different than preventing life. And allowing suffering more than what is necessary for life is also wrong.

Is there a golden mean between these extremes? And can that be regulated through the force of government?

Comment Unethical Human Experimentation (Score 0) 102

Doesn't seem like there was real accountability for the harm they apparently caused people during Facebook's unethical psychological experiments on people... "Facebook apologises for psychological experiments on users "

Hiding good news from people to see if it made them feel bad... just fucking with people because you can. Facebook having so much influence and control over people's personal relationships is a threat. It isn't just marketing.

Comment Re:Not hypocritcal (Score 1) 245

A good parallel is Uber and Lyft. They both use the same infrastructure (roads). Should they be required to support each other's services? No. They're competitors. Similarly, Google and Amazon use the same infrastructure (the Internet). Net neutrality should allow them to compete on the shared infrastructure, just as others compete on their shared infrastructure.

Agreed. There is a difference between a level playing field and having players from the other team on your team.

That said, yes this sucks for customers and customer choice and is anti-competitive for companies to be using their market position in one area to be restraining other goods and services.

I would fault both companies... where if Google have not retaliated and acted in the best interest of consumer choice I would have laid the blame squarely on Amazon.

Another reminder of why it can be bad when companies get this big.

Comment Robust, resilient and reliable for a free market (Score 1) 143

Interoperable communications networks with sufficient bandwidth to meet demand are a public good and increasingly have become a public necessity. The FCC should play its role in making sure there are at least minimum standards of connectivity and bandwidth between Internet provider networks. And if they are going to hand off business aspects of the regulation, then they should work hand in hand with the FTC to ensure that paid prioritization and peering agreements between companies are in the best interest of a free market.

We need a robust, resilient and reliable communications network that creates a well regulated free market to maximize consumer choice.

We may not own the Verizon, Comcast, AT&T etc networks, but we do collectively own much of the land their wires cross and the wireless spectrum they also rely on. The US, the states, and localities each have a right to impose conditions for the use of public lands. Those conditions should be as simple as possible and targeted so they create a free market.

And more importantly the US has a responsibility to ensure that we have a robust, resilient and reliable communications network necessary for our national security. National Security isn't just about military communications, but about having a society that has infrastructure that works to keep us strong. A strong military is pointless if critical communication infrastructure becomes so fragmented that it becomes too expensive or fragmented to keep us unified.

A well regulated free market is the most valuable tool for ensuring the most efficient allocation of resources in a free society, where competition and consumer choice create a dynamic marketplace that gives us more and better choices, but without sensible regulations there is no free market. A free market is only free as long as there are plentiful choices and transparency about those choices.

The natural tendencies of monopoly, fraud, theft and coercion all need to be regulated in a free market. The government has a clear role in what kinds of contracts we as a society are willing to enforce... property rights have limits because we as a society are the ones tasked with using force to settle disputes.

I agree that there are good reasons to allow companies to have some paid prioritization and that strict net neutrality is probably counterproductive when introducing newer and better networks that give people more bandwidth at lower latency, but that doesn't mean that we want to go back to walled off networks like AOL and BBN or continue to be dominated by services like Facetime where people can only communicate when they are on the same network or buy into the same devices...

At the very least, the FCC should be looking to make sure that network providers are providing sufficient connections to the networks that their customers are accessing. That is very much a free market regulation. Looking for the bottlenecks is a traditional FCC regulatory role... no different in principle than making sure that companies that license spectrum are using it efficiently and effectively and not interfering with other spectrum uses. These Internet providers are making use of a limited public resource in providing their services.

It is about making sure that the technical aspect of the regulatory role of the FCC is fulfilled without stepping on the role of the FTC in regulating against anti-competitive anti-free market business practices. Something that I hope will come back into balance.

Comment Re:Repealing Net Neutrality (Score 2) 170

What is the problem they are trying to fix by repealing Net Neutrality? I don't get it...

I will bite. I hope this is going to be one step back and two steps forward and not just one step back. But being skeptical is likely the wisest response.

Though I don't agree with lifting net neutrality in this fashion without the FCC actually addressing at least the technical aspects of what minimum standard levels of inter-connectivity we want and need for our telecoms to provide to the country. But I do and did disagree with the blanket approach to Net Neutrality which appeared to focus too much on content and business arrangements rather than the technical aspects that are needed to ensure the robust, resilient and reliable communication system that the Internet is intended to be.

Differentiation of services has been built right into the protocols. One reason there are QoS bits in the header on an IPv6 packet is so the networks can prioritize traffic. And yes, even to charge more for higher priority traffic. Now that was more so envisioned for things like emergency calls or things that needed less latency or putting lower priority on packets that could be delivered at a higher latency at a later time. But as I understand it, paid prioritization for a better QoS or paying less for deliver later QoS was considered right from the beginning of IPv6... In many cases there is a higher cost to hardware and networks that deliver packets faster, though to some extent delivering faster is less expensive from a hardware, electricity and memory caching perspective.

However, that doesn't mean we want telecoms making decisions about peering with other networks (or not peering) based on content and business arrangements that harm consumer choice. But I do see some real use cases where end users themselves might want all the networks from point A to point B to get a little something extra for prioritizing certain packets and delivering a better overall experience. And it has benefited technology in general to establish a virtuous cycle where early adopters can pay more early on for improved services that are rolled out to everyone else at affordable prices later. So, a blanket prohibition doesn't make sense either.

The devil is in the details of the regulation and what comes next. We really should want to see a more equitable society where we aren't metered at every turn for bandwidth and quality of service. And charged hundreds of times over for bandwidth and service we are already paying for. Or throttled so that only the top paid tier of services can actually make good use of the full Internet. The playing field is far too rigged as it is.

But probably some of those details should come from the Federal Trade Commission and are more about lack of options and what it means to have local monopolies where people don't have meaningful choices of Internet access providers where the rules of a free market would otherwise help weed out bad business practices and choices that customers don't want. The government interest is in fostering a free market. If local monopolies are the only Internet option, then regulation must prevent extension of anti-competitive practices.

And probably the FCC should really be getting down to the technical details of exactly how telecoms connect up their networks and regulating them to make sure that they are providing the necessary connections for the communications their customers want. Just as they do with spectrum to maximize the usefulness of limited spectrum to the public.

For simplicity, "Net Neutrality" has been an easier way to regulate, but it probably isn't the best possible way. That said, I don't see the FCC moving towards the more hands on technical approach of regulating the Internet like they regulate spectrum. I think you could get to a net neutrality like approach under the regulatory framework of minimum standards for ensuring a robust, resilient and reliable national communication system rather than with a blanket prohibition on companies making money providing lower latency higher bandwidth connections to some customers and partners.

Like I said the devil is in the details and unfortunately it looks like the FCC is going to throw the baby out with the bath water before they come up with a workable set of new regulations.

Comment Re:7y (Score 1) 236

Unfortunately socialists and communists have pushed to define a "free market" as pretty much the opposite of what it is supposed to mean.

Is that what they're calling republicans these days?

Yes, Republican and Democrats alike seem so entangled in various special interests that they define the "free market" in both positive and negative ways however they find convenient to make political hay without regard to what it actually means to try and have a free market and police it effectively.

Democrats largely seem to focus on what they perceive as lack of regulation in the market today... while Republicans focus on over regulation. In reality the market in the US is highly regulated by Federal, State, Local and even psuedo-Independent groups that have some delegated government powers. So Democrats are mistaken when they call for "more regulation" and Republicans are mistaken when they call for "less regulation"... what we need is better regulation and consistent enforcement to create a more free market.

Many of the ills and imbalances of the market are due to poorly crafted regulations, and poor enforcement of those regulations that undermine it being an effective free market. One one side people see these as the fault of "the free market", on the other they see the problems as being the result of regulations and to one extreme they don't see the need for policing of any rules.

In some ways both sides are right and both sides are wrong, but still, the point should be that an idealized free market is one where goods, services and currency are traded freely with the simplest possible sets of rules that can actually be enforced in a fair and equitable way. An ideal free market is the ideal way that goods, services and money are traded in a society that values freedom and free will. A free market is based on informed free will and choice and not coercion, fraud and manipulation.

We see some of the problems... Lack of effective and fair anti-Trust regulations where for some goods and services that are necessities and there is no choice in the marketplace due to anti-competitive collusion and market manipulation. Corporations given legal structure and standing by the government allowed to grow in size and scope such that they control too large a portion of the market. Court enforcement of fraudulent contracts such as those with Terms of Service that require arbitration using arbitrators hired by the service provider outside the courts without any effective court oversight of the obvious conflict of interests. Enforcement of ambiguous contracts that provide prices after the service is rendered like those of providers of medical services that charge prices double or triple what other customers are paying without providing those prices up front before non-emergency services are rendered. You can't have a free market without at least some price transparency, at the very least disclosure of prices to the person you are selling some good or service to.

It isn't lack of regulations or over regulation that causes these issues, it is poorly constructed regulations and lack of enforcement.

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