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Comment Re:Buzzword du jour (Score 1) 62

Advances in large scale chips capable of running neural networks have not slowed down, though. Microprocessors haven't gotten faster because the clock speeds haven't been rising, and there's only so much you can do to boost performance per thread by throwing more transistors at it. There may be some hype but there's a lot of things that are suddenly working. It really is true that there has been more progress in the last 5 years for AI than the first 50.

This may "just" be pattern recognition but it's stupendously better than before.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 868

That's indeed the kind of ideas that is now floating around. I rank it in the category of Iraq coming to kill us all, with the same combination of inflating the threat and at the same time regarding the opponent as a pushover. I think Colin Powell has made some sensible comments on that. Russia is paranoid about us, about NATO. We scare them. They are a small power, we're a big one that is surrounding them more and more, and then sabre rattling is a sensible response.

That doesn't explain why they weren't rattling their sabers a few years ago. The Economist has a recent article that does offer an explanation that covers that as well The thesis is basically that domestic troubles caused by a weak economy have motivated Putin to seek ways to distract his people from domestic concerns. Specifically, he's tried to recapture the superpower position of the Soviet Union. He can't, really, because Russia isn't the Soviet Union. Without the central planning structure to force the massive overproduction of military resources, the Soviet Union wouldn't have been the Soviet Union, either.

But his people don't really realize this and, frankly, the rest of the world tends not to realize it much, either. So Putin can rattle his rusted and broken saber and the rest of the world reacts as though he was the mighty Soviet Union. Except... there is one area in which is military isn't so rusted or broken: nuclear weapons. Oh, his nuclear armament is aging and dilapidated, but it's still very real and Russia has the technological wherewithal to build highly functional nukes and missiles to carry them. Russia can't afford to build very many of them, but it doesn't really take all that many.

So, as it becomes more and more apparent that Putin doesn't really have the conventional forces to make the world treat Russia with the fear and respect that the Soviet Union got, he's almost certainly going to be making more and more use of the nuclear threat that the world can't ignore. And that will help to keep his people feeling like they're a major world power again, which will keep him in power.

Is this true? I don't know. Makes sense to me.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 140

Hangouts used to have seamless SMS/Hangouts.

No, it was never seamless in the sense that iMessage is. The seams were harder to see, and that was exactly the problem that motivated the clear separation; the failure modes of the combined messaging were subtle, hard to understand and opaque to users. The upshot is that the combination made Hangouts messaging appear to be unreliable.

Actually, iMessage isn't really seamless either. It breaks badly if iMessage thinks the destination device is an iPhone but it isn't. It's very good in a pure-Apple world, though.

Comment Re:Uh..... the price tag?! (Score 1) 163

Well, you're paying for what we computer people call "The Microsoft premium". As we all know, Microsoft's products aren't just designed to be powerful, but to have a design aesthetic that makes them just a little bit special compared to the competition. Apple has always been known for their powerful, but pedestrian, beige or gray thrown together boxes, with no thought given to how a device should look or feel or its usability. Whereas people buy Microsoft not just for the quality, but to own something a little special and little different from the boring old me-too machines from everyone else. A machine that looks friendly, and is friendly.

It's an ethos that may mean Microsoft only gets 2-3% of the market with its Lumia phones, or Zune music players, or Surface tablets, but it ends up getting the right 2-3%, discerning customers willing to pay more for a better product, who'll eventually influence those around them to do the same thing.

For more details, see my blog, Brave Plasma-sphere.

Comment Re:and if I shoplift a rack full of CD's it's just (Score 3, Insightful) 88

Because copyright law is bunch of crude analogies hacked together that used the physical encodings of information as a proxy for a creator's financial interests in a work. It worked great in the age of print when mainly you were talking about books which were cheap to mass produce but expensive to copy.

But today, conceptualizing an author's rights to a work as a monopoly on copying leads to nonsensical results. Suppose I download a song to the same computer twice, as can easily happen. Technically because the thing I did wrong was copying, I infringed *twice*; however it hardly does twice the harm to the author's interests. On the other hand if I copy that song once but listen to it a thousand times, you could reasonably argue I'm doing more harm to the author's interest than if I downloaded it a thousand times but *never* listened to it.

It's all just a way to get content creators paid; a ridiculously complex and arcane way, but it's familiar because it's traditional. You can't expect it to make sense, especially by trying to draw subtly different analogies.

Comment Re:RANT! (Score 1) 188

Only because that subset is artificially limited.

People don't "need" better internet because the ISPs strangle out the competition. Netflix v Comcast was well documented. AT&T meters all of it's traffic, while zero-rating their own individually purchasable items. The current ISPs are doing everything they can to prevent people from moving into the 21st century of connectivity.

Yes, that's why almost no one uses Netflix and Netflix is going out of business.

And that's just talking about today, right now. Give it another 5-10 years, when people are streaming 4k movies in 3D, or whatever the "next big thing" is. Should we wait till then to upgrade our infrastructure? Or just let the ISPs keep running through the same 30 year old lines?

If everyone pre-pays for their next 10 years of broadband bills, I'm sure the ISPs will install the next 10 years of equipment. Other than that, why should they setup anything they don't intend to use in the next year or two?

Comment Re:RANT! (Score 5, Insightful) 188

What did electricity compete with? Darkness and ice deliveries. What does fiber compete with? Services that are already roughly comparable to fiber.

Who needs electricity? Everyone who doesn't have it. Who needs fiber? A small percentage (10% ?) of people who want to do something a regular cable/DSL 25Mbps connection isn't good enough for -- and who can't already get better service.

Fiber is an incremental benefit for a smallish subset of people.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 140

Hangouts does everything you describe. It's what I use all the time. It is seamless across my phone and table and my PC. And it is seamless across windows, linux and apple.

It is seamless between SMS and the internal delivery system, and the conversations are synced to my gmail account allowing me to search them.

I like Hangouts and use it constantly, both personally and for work (I work for Google, where it is arguably the primary means of communication), but it isn't quite as seamless as iMessage in one respect: SMS integration. In iMessage there is no distinction between SMS and iMessage messages; they're all just messages. If they can be delivered via Apple's infrastructure, they are, if not they're routed via SMS. With Hangouts, SMS and Hangouts chat messages are distinct. They look similar, but they're different in subtle ways.

Of course, Hangouts clearly is superior to iMessage if you or your friends use non-Apple devices, because Hangouts works on a much wider variety of platforms, and for those who understand the distinction it's *good* to know what is SMS and what is not, because SMS is inherently unreliable -- and in some parts of the world SMS is also ridiculously expensive while data is cheap.

So, although depending on your context Hangouts may be better than iMessage, it's definitely not as seamless in a pure-Apple world as iMessage is.

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