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Comment Re:And this is why... (Score 1) 19

I mean, LinkedIn can already do that, and gain a competitive advantage. On the other hand, Microsoft has a monopoly in one area and can use its money and brand to acquire another brand, acquire that data, acquire its attached contracts (LinkedIn members), and gain a competitive advantage in another area--which is abusive monopoly power.

Comment Re:Are they getting rid of the packet inspection? (Score 4, Interesting) 38

Packet inspection is non-monetizable without a product.

Typically, data collection warehouses categorize and aggregate demographics information. That is to say: businesses don't sell your name and address; they sell the service of identifying preferences among demographics, demographics in an area, and likely market penetration when targeting a demographic in an area. Without all the arbitrary big words: they tell you how the population responds to certain products, services, and ideals, where that population is, and how big it is, and then you can target an area (a city) or a demographic (buy targeted ads aimed at a large, highly-responsive audience).

Sifting through all that data is hard. It's a highly-specialized task, and businesses which do this as a service tend to build robust organizational knowledge: their employees get good at their jobs, share information among each other, and send it up to management to be packaged and distributed as standard operating procedure and training material. Asking them what the market looks like is a hell of a lot cheaper and provides much better results than getting their giant database of information and trying to analyze it yourself: your own people will suck payroll while spending excessive amounts of time digging around in it, scratching their heads, making up arbitrary queries that seem obvious, and then produce *a* result--instead of identifying the goals and then immediately and systematically producing an analysis strategy that produces a *high-quality* result.

AT&T probably has little vested interest in tracking your web behavior, and likely found ads weren't making them sufficient money for the infrastructure cost. They would have spent a lot of time looking at this, predicting the cost of scaling (which would improve ROI), and working out if the new ROI was likely to be significantly-higher and considerably profitable. They might have identified a small profit (e.g. 0.5% margin, or 0.01% of their existing profit, or the like) and decided that the risks (the likelihood of earning less and facing a loss as an aggregate over the long run) weren't worth it. They might have just identified that ads aren't going to make them money at all. In any case, they have little use for large-scale inspection now because it only puts them at risk (notably regulatory risk--you inspected this shit, how did you not know child porn was there?) with no likely profit.

Even the ad networks that could use AT&T's theoretical tracking data can't make much use of it. They'd have to coalesce it with their data--which has to be robust, because they have to be able to actually track and identify users across the Web anyway--which is expensive and poor ROI if their data is already robust enough to match up to AT&T's data. There's a high likelihood that the attempt would actually pollute the ad network's mined data with erroneous data, since coalescing might not be anywhere near 100% accurate, and measuring the false-positive rate is impossible (if you could do it automatically, you wouldn't have false-positives; if you can do it manually, you're working with dozens of people's data rather than millions).

Comment Re:Probably actually illegal (Score 1) 249

The "value" doesn't exist. Things don't have value; people place a valuation on things--a property of the observer, not the object. You might value (verb) a candy bar at $1, but it has no actual value (noun).

Things have a cost and a price. That cost is directly related to human labor time required to make the thing. All business expenses go to pay wages, buy from other businesses, and take profit. Recurse this and all business expenses reduce to wages, {alie profit+wages}, profit; which just becomes wages and profit. In aggregate, price can never be lower than wages; and the minimum sustainable wage is one that keeps your labor force alive (even slaves must eat and be sheltered from the cold, and it's cheaper to treat illness than to raise a new slave).

If that candy bar requires $1.80 to make and you value it at $1, you're not buying a candybar. If that's what people think of candy bars, then candy bars aren't a product until we invent technology to use roughly half as many people to make the same number of candy bars.

Your complaint essentially boils down to, "Stacker could have conned someone into paying a lot more than the business and its products were actually worth. You don't know how successful they'd have been at convincing people to overpay."

Comment Re:Not gonna happen (Score 1) 43

"Easy to audit" is bullshit. It's hard to hide; it's not easy to audit. The "public ledger" is a history of when each object has had its blockchain extended. The problem is an account consists of assets of value, such as dollars; those assets are semi-fungible, in the sense that the account has value and any set of assets producing that value is representative. Accounts typically have one or several kinds of fungible assets--a single currency or separate lots of fungible assets (e.g. your commodities account may contain oil, gold, and FCOJ; your stock account contains stocks)--because *which* of each of those things is irrelevant.

Blockchains mean you can tell which gold piece moved where; if you want to audit financial behavior, you need to know which accounts moved what. You might be able to piece that together from a blockchain; but only by auditing every single object to determine where it once stood, collecting all objects that ever entered a particular account, and then generating an account ledger from that. It'd be like going into every bank vault and every wallet and inspecting every dollar to see whose hands it's changed through in its history. If you don't have the ability to inspect the current state of every single piece of blockchain currency in existence *and* to guarantee that you've done exactly that (i.e. that you haven't missed any), you can't audit.

Any given dollar telling you the history of how it's been owned and spent is different than any given account describing its financial history in its ledger.

Comment Probably actually illegal (Score 5, Interesting) 249

This is probably actually illegal. Sony had to pay a settlement for disabling Linux on the PS3; HP is doing the same, so has at least a civil suit. Uniquely, however, HP has proven that their product is compatible with third-party ink, and has taken action to specifically to lock-out competition. That's probably an instance of Tying, and HP has sufficient market power to show that Tying is anti-competitive.

Comment Re:Dear article writer: Listen to yourself (Score 2) 75

The thing is big data lets you go to East Africa and use gajillions of samples to map out a statistical analysis of exactly what square meter of ground you want to tap into to get the most-likely absolute-best geothermal energy production. Rough knowledge lets you do ... about the same thing, just without taking it to planck scale.

We're not talking about the difference between a 500 gigawatt production facility and a 900 gigawatt production facility; we're talking about 500 gigawatt versus 500.1 gigawatt.

That's why Apple [], Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc. are all building huge data centers. They want a piece of the pie of influencing & controlling because ultimately it will bring profits.

Big data makes the difference between 30%-effective advertising and 70%-effective advertising. Big energy can go outside and run a thermal scan of the ground (from an air plane, using IR cameras) and then just pick somewhere for geothermal; THAT'S HOW ADVERTISING WORKS WITHOUT BIG DATA! If you just bluntly advertise based on a survey of demographics, you get significantly less conversion. You go into a city and say, "Hmm, lots of black people here, kind of poor, thug life, ok. Put up billboards about Ciroc featuring buff black dudes in do-rags with face tattoos." With big data, instead of running online ads that say, "You're in regional Baltimore, so let's show racially-profiled ads that basically assume you're a black gang thug," they can try to pinpoint exactly what behaviors describe the recipient of a particular ad, and serve an ad that matches their interests, thus get much more conversion.

So, again, while advertisers might more than double their effectiveness by churning through piles and piles of data, all that effort gets power companies roughly zero over just taking a fly-over with thermal or sonic imaging. The most important data tool in oil prospecting is AUTOTUNE. They don't much benefit at all from big data. Neither does most other things (farming, manufacturing, music production, pharmacology, chemistry).

Comment Re:Dear article writer: Listen to yourself (Score 1) 75

Dissent on the +2 Troll moderation. This guy is an angry prick but I'm pretty sure the analogy makes no sense, at least not to any layman. Even to my senses, coal and oil are the basis of economy: all economy runs down to energy. Hunter-gatherers are solely concerned with food to power human muscle to hunt and gather; agrarian societies are similarly concerned, until they invent animal power (still food) and mills (water, wind, coal, oil, solar power). Societies require human time to produce the things required to live, and they reduce that time by technology, which eventually requires non-human energy: tractors harvest food more-quickly, mills process grain more-quickly, and we're freed from human labor time by extracting energy from coal and oil.

Data is a commodity processed by technology, like cloth or sand. It's not a source. Data requires energy, and energy doesn't require much data at all--so little, in fact, that just basic human knowledge such as knowing that Africa is sunny and has geothermal hot spots in the north-east can tell you where to drop your solar and geothermal power plants. Data might be nice for squeezing out 1% more efficiency--and 1% of ENERGY is a hell of a lot--but society runs on energy, and data *needs* energy; energy doesn't actually need data, and society can get all of its energy needs without energy being built using big data infrastructure.

Comment Re: You wouldn't download an Oreo (Score 1) 227

The other argument is ridiculous, too.

Of course their analogy is highly questionable, since transmitting data over a network doesn't actually consume anything, now does it? You eat the cookie, the cookie is gone, but you transmit data over a network, the network is still there and can transmit data endlessly.

When you eat a cookie, it isn't gone. The biological cycle eventually moves that load of nutrients back around through plants and animals, with sunlight as input energy, and human work brings about a new cookie.

When you use a network's bandwidth, the remaining bandwidth is reduced. If your network has 1Tbit/s of bandwidth and you consume 200Gbit/s, that leaves you 800Gbit/s to work with. If people start pulling 700Gbit/s, that's half a Tbit of bandwidth that's being consumed. It's gone, unless you can beat back people's usage.

Comment Re:How exactly is Amazon screwing me over? (Score 1) 110

Yes, and it's curated links. Real media says "man with gun stopped by armed restaurant patron," Drudge links to it; media says, "Armed patron was actually undercover cop; another patron opened fire and hit someone with a stray bullet," Drudge doesn't link that follow-up.

You can do a lot by filtering information.

Comment They say that as if they know how to write policy (Score 1) 65

What's the advantage of this policy? It looks like a fixed fee without charging separate rental fees would encourage all customers to rent, else they're paying for someone else's modem. That the modem rental cost to you is essentially a $2 fraction of your bill instead of a $10 line-item only occurs because 80% of users are paying that $2 but not renting a modem; so why wouldn't you? On the other hand, if the modem rental is a separate fee, everyone gets to avoid it by buying an $80 modem... except poor people, who can't take the outlay, and have to pay the extra $10/month. The good news is those poor people would probably pay that $10/month anyway, since everyone would take advantage of modem rental, so there's no difference at the bottom end.

In other words: this proposed FCC policy does no harm to the poorest, but helps the less-poor. Okay, I'll buy it.

We've been universally bad at good consumer policy, in general, which is easily pointed out by Federal cell phone fees.

The Utility Users Tax for Wireless ($4 per serviced device) costs America over 90,000 jobs. When you factor in the Federal USF Cellular fee, it's almost 113,000 jobs.

These regressive taxes most strongly target the poor and middle-class, as they represent a larger percentage of income for users with lower incomes. An average 2.4-person household with one cellular device per person currently pays $115.20/year; for households with more persons, it's higher, and a two-adult, three-child household with five phones would pay $240/year.

A 0.01638% increase in all Income taxes would draw the same Federal revenue. A median-income household would pay $8.84/year; a minimum-wage household would pay $2.38/year; and a top-1% household would pay $278.46/year.

In terms of income tax, the average 2.4-person household as reflected above, paying $115.20/year, would pay a higher percentage the less income they have. The median-income household currently pays 0.213% of their income in these cell phone taxes; the minimum-wage household pays 0.794%; and the top-1% pays 0.000678%.

So there you have it: Federal wireless fees are equivalent to a higher income tax the lower your income actually is. I'm not saying the FCC's policy here with cable modems is bad, but we should be concerned whenever they start tinkering with fees because this shit happens.

Comment Re:It's missing the full picture (Score 1, Insightful) 199

It's lower-efficiency anyway, thanks to separation and storage energy costs. You used clean energy? Great! You used 2,000MW of energy instead of 600MW, which means there were 1,400MW of coal energy that could have been clean energy but weren't because you wasted all that clean energy doing a bullshit hydrogen stunt!

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