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Comment Re:A lack of software freedom can be lethal & (Score 1) 60

So the threat of death is enough for you to argue the status quo standing behind proprietors and denying the user full control of a device they obtained (in Sandler's case wear inside their body) but not enough for you to let the user control. We still don't think that's the case for more common devices that are involved in lot of harm such as cars. In light of what's actually already happened to Sandler, your response is remarkably sycophantic to power.

I think you are mixing arguments. I was making the utilitarian case that the remedy proposed (software freedom) was unlikely to be an effective remedy in this case. I said nothing pro or con about software freedom.

If you want to argue conceptually for software freedom, then Karen Sandler's case is nothing but an anecdote, and we can rehash the usual pro/anti FSF and GPL arguments all day long. Personally I don't view proprietary software as evil or even morally suspect, and I am fairly sure you disagree with that view.

Submission + - Congress Will Consider Proposal To Raise H-1B Minimum Wage To $100,000 (

An anonymous reader writes: President-elect Donald Trump is just a week away from taking office. From the start of his campaign, he has promised big changes to the US immigration system. For both Trump's advisers and members of Congress, the H-1B visa program, which allows many foreign workers to fill technology jobs, is a particular focus. One major change to that system is already under discussion: making it harder for companies to use H-1B workers to replace Americans by simply giving the foreign workers a raise. The "Protect and Grow American Jobs Act," introduced last week by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. and Scott Peters, D-Calif., would significantly raise the wages of workers who get H-1B visas. If the bill becomes law, the minimum wage paid to H-1B workers would rise to at least $100,000 annually, and be adjusted it for inflation. Right now, the minimum is $60,000. The sponsors say that would go a long way toward fixing some of the abuses of the H-1B program, which critics say is currently used to simply replace American workers with cheaper, foreign workers. In 2013, the top nine companies acquiring H-1B visas were technology outsourcing firms, according to an analysis by a critic of the H-1B program. (The 10th is Microsoft.) The thinking goes that if minimum H-1B salaries are brought closer to what high-skilled tech employment really pays, the economic incentive to use it as a worker-replacement program will drop off. "We need to ensure we can retain the world’s best and brightest talent," said Issa in a statement about the bill. "At the same time, we also need to make sure programs are not abused to allow companies to outsource and hire cheap foreign labor from abroad to replace American workers." The H-1B program offers 65,000 visas each fiscal year, with an additional 20,000 reserved for foreign workers who have advanced degrees from US colleges and universities. The visas are awarded by lottery each year. Last year, the government received more than 236,000 applications for those visas.

Submission + - User Trust Fail: Google Chrome and the Tech Support Scams (

Lauren Weinstein writes: It’s not Google’s fault that these criminals exist. However, given Google’s excellent record at detection and blocking of malware, it is beyond puzzling why Google’s Chrome browser is so ineffective at blocking or even warning about these horrific tech support scams when they hit a user’s browser.

These scam pages should not require massive AI power for Google to target.

And critically, it’s difficult to understand why Chrome still permits most of these crooked pages to completely lock up the user’s browser — often making it impossible for the user to close the related tab or browser through any means that most users could reasonably be expected to know about.

Comment Re:A lack of software freedom can be lethal & (Score 1) 60

I don't see anything in your post that makes me believe that if Karen Sandler had access to the code she could make improvements to the device for her particular situation.

First, as another poster has noted, modern implantable devices are extensively configurable, and yet most of them go in with the default settings, because the cardiologist/surgeon don't know enough about each device to tweak the settings. So it is quite conceivable that it could be already be configured to deal properly with a pregnant woman's racing heartbeat.

Second, all of these devices walk a hazard/benefit tightrope. You are dealing with devices that can kill the patient if they fail. The patient might die due to the ordinary surgical complication risk that is always present. The device might function but not actually help them because of their particular physiology. So the validation of the device talks a lot about risk and reward, and the testing will focus on the population most likely to benefit. It is likely that pregnant women form a miniscule market for this device, so they may be considered an off label use - something that was not studied and about which nothing is known.

Think of pharmaceutical ads, and how often you hear the phrase "women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should consult their doctor". That tells you right there that either pregnant women weren't studied, or that they have additional risk factors because of the pregnancy.

To think that access to the sourcecode by an interested layperson could make the software meaningfully better is a stretch. Perhaps getting access to the programming manual for the device would help, but that doesn't require access to the source code.

Comment Re:Lost $800 Million (Score 1) 156

It's the new business model: as long as you can keep investment capitol coming in, you expand like wildfire in the hope that what you do eventually becomes profitable.

As a way to build a new market, subsidized pricing works and may well be justified. When Amazon started, the notion of shopping for books on your computer was strange. For the most part people were used to browsing through their neighborhood bookstore, and it was not at all apparent that an online only store was viable. But by undercutting brick and mortar stores, they got people to try their services, which let them expand and continue to build their infrastructure.

I haven't been paying much attention lately, but I don't think Amazon emphasizes the lowest prices anymore. Now they are all about convenience and selection, meaning that they don't have to subsidize the products they sell.

Similarly, prior to Uber and Lyft, ride hailing on your phone wasn't a thing for most people. At least in my case, it was easy to try, and cheap enough that I gave it a shot. Now my perception of the value it provides has gone up, to the point where I might grumble about a price hike but would probably keep riding.

But had the prices been higher when I initially tried it, it would have been more likely to prevent me from trying it in the first place.

Comment Re:Seems fine (Score 1) 332

...because it allows the various cranks and racists to borrow the goodwill of these sites to create a veneer of respectability around what are ultimately noxious and vile views.

I just don't see anyone going "Oh, look, its on Twitter, so it must be true".

Social platforms allow like-minded people to connect. It doesn't have any additional power of persuasion that you are attributing to it.

But since most people tend to self select news sources that they agree with, it is very easy to get pulled into a more and more monolithic world view. Someone who is politically conservative might genuinely approach the issue of climate change with an open mind, but if they start with articles about climate change they find on right wing websites I can pretty much guarantee that they will see an echo chamber of sites and articles that all tell them it is a vast hoax and nobody really believes in it. So they think they are doing their own research, but all the results they see come from people telling one side of the story.

Comment Re:Less than 1/3 the output (Score 1) 587

The US developers, though only a year or two out of college, easily outperform even the "mid-level" developers from India. The price our company pays for Indian developers is about 1/3 the cost of US developers, but so far, we have not been able to make the math work. Even 3 Indian devs cannot produce the same quantity and quality of output as a single junior US developer.

If you're paying the Indian developers 1/3 the money you pay US developers, why not simply hire European developers for the same cost...?

Probably because there is not the same level of infrastructure around offshoring to European developers. I work with an offshore team, and the entire company there is dedicated to working with US companies. They skew their working hours to match the US, they market themselves in the US, and they train their staff on US specific rules (such as HIPPA or PCI) so that they can provide people that are useful.

If I wanted to replace my Indian team with a group of Polish developers tomorrow I suspect I would have a much harder time finding a similar provider.

Comment Re:In a world... (Score 1) 310

I find I rarely use the navigation feature in my car (i.e. have it give me directions to something). But having the map with the traffic overlay is very handy. I don't need turn by turn navigation to get home from work, but being able to see the state of the freeways as I drive home is nice.

Comment Re:Well this is exciting (Score 1) 104

"I don't think the bank itself as a corporate entity made any money. This was employees trying to game the company for personal bonus money and to meet performance targets."

so the bank was giving bonus's and performance targets for things that didn't make them any money?

The bank was giving bonuses for things that they thought would make them money. Like many metrics and incentives, they were measuring something that was intended as a proxy for profit (since by the time the profit occurs they can no longer easily link it back to the individual). It was inevitable that the employees would do their best to game the system by pumping the metric, whether that led to profit or not.

Wells stated that they refunded something like $2.5M in fees that were charged to fraudulent accounts. However, I would assume that many people let themselves get talked into accounts that they didn't need, and have been paying fees on them ever since. They aren't fraudulent per se, more the equivalent of the new car dealership trying to sell you rustproofing and paint sealant that you don't need. So Wells is likely still generating income from accounts that are essentially useless, and only the result of high pressure sales tactics.

Comment Re:and this is news because? (Score 1) 194

Other questions still to be answered: Did google & microsoft do the same thing? So far, they've said 'no comment'. Which isn't good.

According to an article at Ars Technica, they have both denied it:

A spokeswoman for Microsoft, Kim Kurseman, e-mailed Ars this statement, and also declined further questions: “We have never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic like what has been reported today about Yahoo.”

For its part, Google was the most unequivocal. Spokesman Aaron Stein e-mailed: "We've never received such a request, but if we did, our response would be simple: 'no way.'"

Comment Re:"Deep learning" (Score 1) 139

Can we stop with this "deep learning" bullshit now? It is just algorithms. Every moron has to interject "AI" or "deep learning" or "neural nets" into their program description. This is really stupid "research" anyway. Is this what passes for research in CS now?

Of course it is just algorithms - that is what all computer science is. And in some cases those algorithms were known 20 or 30 years ago, but things that were computationally infeasible at that time are now trivial.

And it is important to note that some of these algorithms work in ways that are very different than human vision, where humans are almost unable to understand how neural nets arrive at an answer.

One fascinating example I saw on TV (I think it was 60 minutes) was that humans are unable to recognize faces that are upside down. They demonstrated this most vividly by showing the reporter a picture of her own daughter, and asking her to identify the face - she was unable to. Basically human visual processing is very optimized in surprising ways, so it is not at all surprising to me that software can do things that humans can't.

Comment Re:Some sensible things (Score 3, Interesting) 168

Things like SELinux or Mac's Gatekeeper or any Unix-type OS can be set so that only specific applications have access to certain hardware.

I wouldn't trust Mac, as it's closed source. But I don't blindly trust my Linux-based systems, either, as they run on closed hardware. Comey and the Three Letter Agencies have made open hardware all the more necessary.

Open Source is perhaps modestly more trustworthy, but things like the obfuscated C contest and the fact of very long lived bugs in core elements like SSH prove that open source is no panacea. Whether done by the US or somebody else, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that there are intentional backdoors injected into lots of open source projects, and that it is done skillfully enough that they haven't been noticed.

Comment Re:People's instincts are correct (Score 1) 367

Experience, of course, comes from making bad choices.

Your 'bad choices' might very well lead to an extiction-level event for humanity.

I think the extinction level event you refer to only comes about in case of a monoculture - where a huge percentage of the gene pool has some identical characteristics, and a disease evolves or is created to attack that characteristic.

Which might be an argument for a more wild west approach to gene editing - let a thousand flowers bloom, so that genetic diversity is maintained.

Or a corporate model. Imagine an iPhone like event every year where the latest genomics products are unveiled, so that while I might have "BetterEyeSight 2.1", and my wife is a few years younger and has "Better EyeSight 3.0", and you have "iSight+ 4.0". Same output, but different mechanisms, and genetic diversity is maintained.

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