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Comment Re:The problem with so-called 'smart guns' (Score 1) 555

A firearm doesn't need to be reliable exactly; it has to accomplish the owner's goals (like any other device). Having a gun can protect you, but people are often shot with their own guns. It's easy to take one away from someone. Making it so that situation is impossible will probably improve the safety of the thing much more than unreliability will hurt it.

Comment Re:Research sometimes does need to state the obvio (Score 2) 262

I don't think that actually applies in this case. People who play games frequently have played with hundreds or thousands of people online, and heard their voices. There is no shortage of data. And if you thought you might have a personal bias, you could just ask someone with similar experiences, as they'll have essentially performed the same observations independently. While there is some value to doing things "formally", that value is probably very low in this case.

Comment Some subtle cultural issues (Score 2) 360

I'm a software engineer in the US, and I've worked at firms with Japanese customers. There are definitely some cultural quirks that you don't see anywhere else.

My current firm has several Japanese customers (and one US bank) paying to keep old Internet Explorer support, and to keep some old versions of the user interfaces alive. Not a small amount either. Their view appears to be that changes to the software product would require retraining people. If you view retraining someone as costing 1000USD per headcount, and you have thousands of employees, then it's a very substantial cost.

Now, part of me says, they're right. Retraining people is "Doing the right thing (TM)". You'll similarly find that the Japanese are the only ones reading our manual, to the point that Google searches in English hit the Japanese pages of the documentation, because they are the only ones with search click-through. Again, "Doing the right thing (TM)". Except, all that training and diligent reading of the manual is a total waste. Everyone else just clicks around, figures things out, and maybe gets help from a coworker or gives us a call.

It seems that Japanese firms are rather burdened by a desire to follow a costly formal process of moving forward. An attitude that would be great for a nuclear power plant, or maybe a bank, but not so good for a normal business.

Comment Re:Locality of self. (Score 1) 269

Not exactly. If you figure out how the basic mechanism of thought in a neuron works, then all you need is that knowledge, a map of the connections in a brain, and you're good to go in terms of modeling the computational portion of the brain. A full understanding of all human biology is a much more difficult task.

Comment Re:Locality of self. (Score 1) 269

You don't need something supernatural to know that it won't be an exact copy. To get the behavior of the brain, you need the drugs its being fed. The human body produces a fairly impressive number of chemicals that seem to affect behavior. You'd need to mimic the rules of that system. The problem there is it quickly approaches being a simulation of all human biology.

Comment Re:Dumbest fear mongering yet on Slashdot... (Score 1) 214

Why even bother with that? There are very few buildings you can't just drive next to or underneath if they have a parking lot. People have already succeeded by just parking, getting out, and walking away. That's not going to change unless we hugely redesign our cities. The only time you need a "real" suicide bomber is if you want to attack something that has real security, and there an AI will be useless unless someone makes one willing to drive through people and security barriers.

Comment Seems Unlikely (Score 1) 394

Google is the largest in the real-time-bidding area, and they clearly care a lot about getting the bids in a short time. They directly suggest that you have machines physically located near their trading locations, and encourage you to peer with their routers: It's possible some of the other exchanges behave badly, but the benefit of waiting longer is going to be fairly small. All their bidders designed their systems to meet that 100ms time window. The benefit of waiting isn't going to be that great when all the heavy bidders already have bids in.

Comment Re:Ad free...until they reach critical mass (Score 1) 225

Premium cable TV you mean? Cable was originally mostly rebroadcasts of transmissions that already had ads in it for people that couldn't get a signal.

Most media companies dream of having everyone paying a monthly fee instead of relying on ads. You have to constantly seek out people to sell ad space to and you're always at the mercy of the price of ads and seasonal changes. The usual issue is that people are totally unwilling to pay anywhere near what advertisers will pay to show them ads. Youtube's per-person income is low enough that some people will probably happily pay.

Comment Silly expectations (Score 2) 287

The expectation of this article is that Google will somehow shortly produce a car which will completely replace drivers in all circumstances. Clearly, that's the eventual goal, but that's not needed to produce something useful. Car companies are already churning out various incomplete solutions that help with highway driving or parking.

I expect their initial product to be something that works as a taxi in semi-controlled circumstances, or something that makes driving more convenient, but which requires intervention some of the time. Either of which would be a viable product.

Early cell phones were overpriced bricks, but they were still useful to some people. It took a huge investment from many companies and quite a bit of time to get to the point where people considered dropping their land lines. Replacing the old generation of technology is not usually a sudden process, but involves a lot of gradual improvement.

Comment Low threshold for success (Score 1) 249

People run businesses where the *only* source of new customers are those targeted ads that apparently "don't work". Clearly, they work well enough, for some people.

If you look at engagement rings, the internet will be filled with engagement ring ads for a week. Obviously, you'll ignore most of them (unless you buy a thousand rings?), but those companies would have gone broke if it wasn't working. They're spending a lot of cash. The thing is, those ads might cost something like $5 per thousand "impressions". If the average sale nets you $300, it's worth your while if the ad works at a rate better than once per 60,000 views. A lot of these companies carefully tweak their bid prices, and sometimes make no sales for long periods because they've been outbid in the areas they're targeting.

Would it be worth running those ads with no targeting? Probably not. People don't buy that many engagement rings in their life. Jewelry companies have always carefully placed ads so that they'd be seen by people who were likely to actually buy jewelry.

Comment Google is pretty good here (Score 3, Insightful) 42

Read Google's privacy policy: It seems fairly readable to me. A list per-service might be theoretically useful, but I doubt a normal human would read through each of them.

But take a moment and look at what Google offers here. Google lets you see most of your data on your account dashboard, view and edit your search history, view and edit what ad categories are targeted at you, sign up for account activity reports, and has fairly readable multi-lingual help pages. That's better than almost anyone else.

Maybe Google's advertising practices or monopoly power are issues, but on the issue of data transparency, I think they passed the "good enough" level quite some time ago. The real issue appears to be that even if a company provides good information, no one will bother to look at it.

Comment Remember the support costs (Score 1) 159

Everyone who self serves by using your bug website is saving you money, if it causes a support call to be avoided. That's not always going to happen, but it's probably avoided hundreds or thousands of avoided support calls.

A lot of people suggested making it only open to customers. That's fine, but recognize there is a cost there. Have you ever tried to get login info for a vendor website at a big company? It's often impossible. Some guy wrote it down on a notepad 7 years ago. What happens is you end up calling or emailing the company directly, possibly spending time confirming your identity, and thus wasting their money. Some companies have tried to mitigate that cost by allowing anyone with an email at a customer domain access, but that only works if they have such a domain.

You should be able to estimate these costs by talking to support and looking at the page view information and customer queries. Just present the information and let management decide. Whatever the outcome, you'll look good if you present the site (and thus you) as having been saving money all this time.

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