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Lee Sedol Beats AlphaGo in Game 4 gogameguru.com
1382 points by jswt001  2 days ago   447 comments top 65
mikeyouse 2 days ago 9 replies      
Relevant tweets from Demis;

 Lee Sedol is playing brilliantly! #AlphaGo thought it was doing well, but got confused on move 87. We are in trouble now... Mistake was on move 79, but #AlphaGo only came to that realisation on around move 87 When I say 'thought' and 'realisation' I just mean the output of #AlphaGo value net. It was around 70% at move 79 and then dived on move 87 Lee Sedol wins game 4!!! Congratulations! He was too good for us today and pressured #AlphaGo into a mistake that it couldnt recover from
From: https://twitter.com/demishassabis

argonaut 2 days ago 6 replies      
If it's true that AlphaGo started making a series of bad moves after its mistake on move 79, this might tie into a classic problem with agents trained using reinforcement learning, which is that after making an initial mistake (whether by accident or due to noise, etc.), the agent gets taken into a state it's not familiar with, so it makes another mistake, digging an even deeper hole for itself - the mistakes then continue to compound. This is one of the biggest challenges with RL agents in the real, physical world, where you have noise and imperfect information to confront.

Of course, a plausible alternate explanation is that AlphaGo felt like it needed to make risky moves to catch up.

dannysu 2 days ago 3 replies      
In the post-game press conference I think Lee Sedol said something like "Before the matches I was thinking the result would be 5-0 or 4-1 in my favor, but then I lost 3 straight... I would not exchange this win for anything in the world."

Demis Hassabis said of Lee Sedol: "Incredible fighting spirit after 3 defeats"

I can definitely relate to what Lee Sedol might be feeling.Very happy for both sides. The fact that people designed the algorithms to beat top pros and the human strength displayed by Lee Sedol.

Congrats to all!

fhe 2 days ago 4 replies      
My friends and I (many of us are enthusiastic Go lovers/players) have been following all of the games closely. AlphaGo's mid game today was really strange. Many experts have praised Lee's move 78 as a "divine-inspired" move. While it was a complex setup, in terms of number of searches I can't see it be any more complex than the games before. Indeed because it was a very much a local fight, the number of possible moves were rather limited. As Lee said in the post-game conference, it was the only move that made any sense at all, as any other move would quickly prove to be fatal after half a dozen or so exchanges.

Of course, what's obvious to a human might not be so at all to a computer. And this is the interesting point that I hope the DeepMind researchers would shed some light on for all of us after they dig out what was going on inside AlphaGo at the time. And we'd also love to learn why did AlphaGo seem to go off the rails after this initial stumble and made a string of indecipherable moves thereafter.

Congrats to Lee and the DeepMind team! It was an exciting and I hope informative match to both sides.

As a final note: I started following the match thinking I am watching a competition of intelligence (loosely defined) between man and machine. What I ended up witnessing was incredible human drama, of Lee bearing incredible pressure, being hit hard repeatedly while the world is watching, sinking to the lowest of the lows, and soaring back up winning one game for the human race.. Just incredible up and down in a course of a week. Many of my friends were crying as the computer resigned.

jballanc 2 days ago 7 replies      
So AlphaGo is just a bot after all...

Toward the end AlphaGo was making moves that even I (as a double-digit kyu player) could recognize as really bad. However, one of the commentators made the observation that each time it did, the moves forced a highly-predictable move by Lee Sedol in response. From the point of view of a Go player, they were non-sensical because they only removed points from the board and didn't advance AlphaGo's position at all. From the point of view of a programmer, on the other hand, considering that predicting how your opponent will move has got to be one of the most challenging aspects of a Go algorithm, making a move that easily narrows and deepens the search tree makes complete sense.

keypusher 2 days ago 3 replies      
The crucial play here seems to have been Lee Seedol's "tesuji" at White 78. From what I understand this phrase in Go means something like "clever play" but is something like sneaking up on your opponent with something that they did not see coming. Deepmind CEO confirmed that the machine actually missed the implications of this move as the calculated win percentage did not shift until later.https://twitter.com/demishassabis/status/708928006400581632

Another interesting thing I noticed while catching endgame is that AlphaGo actually used up almost all of its time. In professional Go, once each player uses their original (2 hour?) time block, they have 1 minute left for each move. Lee Sedol had gone into "overtime" in some of the earlier games, and here as well, but previously AlphaGo still had time left from its original 2 hours. In this game, it came down quite close to using overtime before resigning, which is does when the calculated win percentage falls below a certain percentage.

mizzao 2 days ago 6 replies      
Another way to look at this is just how efficient the human brain is for the same amount of computation.

On one hand, we have racks of servers (1920 CPUs and 280 GPUs) [1] using megawatts (gigawatts?) of power, and on the other hand we have a person eating food and using about 100W of power (when physically at rest), of which about 20W is used by the brain.

[1] http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/2169454...

jonbarker 2 days ago 1 reply      
AlphaGo's weakness was stated in the press conference inadvertently: it considers only the opponent moves in the future which it deems to be the most profitable for the opponent. This leaves it with glaring blind spots when it has not prepared for lines which are surprising to it. Lee Sedol has now learned to exploit this fact in a mere 4 games, whereas the NN requires millions of games to train on in order to alter its playing style. So Lee only needs to find surprising and strong moves (no small feat but also the strong suit of Lee's playing style generally).
minimaxir 2 days ago 4 replies      
There were a few jokes made during the round about how AlphaGo resigns. Turns out it's just a popup window! http://i.imgur.com/WKWMHLv.png
Houshalter 2 days ago 2 replies      
We were discussing the probability that Sedol would win this game. Everyone, including me, bet 90% that no human would ever win again, let alone this specific game: http://predictionbook.com/predictions/177592

I tried to estimate it mathematically. Using a uniform distribution across possible win rates, then updating the probability of different win rates with bayes rule. You can do that with Laplace's law of succession. I got a 20% that Sedol would win this game.

However a uniform prior doesn't seem right. Eliezer Yudkowsky often says that AI is likely to be much better than humans, or much worse than humans. The probability of it falling into the exact same skill level is pretty implausible. And that argument seems right, but I wasn't sure how to model that formally. But it seemed right, and so 90% "felt" right. Clearly I was overconfident.

So for the next game, with we use Laplace's law again, we get 33% chance that Sedol will win. That's not factoring in other information, like Sedol now being familiar with AlphaGo's strategies and improving his own strategies against it. So there is some chance he is now evenly matched with AlphaGo!

I look forward to many future AI-human games. Hopefully humans will be able to learn from them, and perhaps even learn their weaknesses and how to exploit them.

Depending how deterministic they are, you could perhaps even play the same sequence of moves and win again. That would really embarrass the Google team. I hear they froze AlphaGo's weights to prevent it from developing new bugs after testing.

sethbannon 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't be surprised if, in a month, Lee Sedol was able to beat AlphaGo in another match. This is what happened in chess. The best computers were able to beat the best humans, until the best humans learned how to play anti-computer chess. This bought them a year or so more, until computers finally dominated for good.
adnzzzzZ 2 days ago 3 replies      
According to the commentary of both streams I was watching, after losing an important exchange in the middle (apparently move 79 https://twitter.com/demishassabis/status/708928006400581632) it seems AlphaGo sort of bugged out and started making wrong moves on an already dead group on the right side of the board. After that it kept repeating similar mistakes until it resigned a lot of moves after. But the game was already won for Lee Sedol after that middle exchange. It was really interesting seeing everyone's reactions to AlphaGo's bad moves though.
versteegen 2 days ago 0 replies      
I found this comment on that thread quite insightful:https://gogameguru.com/alphago-4/#comment-13410

Edit: here's another great one on MCTS: https://gogameguru.com/alphago-4/#comment-13479

emcq 2 days ago 3 replies      
That was really cool! It seemed after the brilliant play in the middle the most probable moves for winning required Lee Sedol to make impossibly bad mistakes for a professional, which would be a prior that AlphaGo doesn't incorporate. I've heard the training data was mostly amateur games so perhaps the value/policy networks were overfit? Or maybe greedily picking the highest probability, common with tree search approaches, is just suboptimal?
magoghm 2 days ago 2 replies      
Right now I don't know if I'm more impressed by AlphaGo's artificial intelligence or its artificial stupidity.

Lee Sedol won because he played extremely well. But when AlphaGo was already losing it made some very bad moves. One of them was so bad that it's the kind of mistake you would only expect from someone who's starting to learn how to play Go.

hasenj 2 days ago 1 reply      
The game seemed to be going in AlphaGo's favour when it was half way through. Black (AG) had secured a large area on the top that seemed nearly impossible to invade.

It was amazing to see how Lee Sedol found the right moves to make the invasion work.

This makes me think that if the time for match was three hours instead of two, maybe a professional player will have enough time to read the board deeply enough to find the right moves.

herrvogel- 2 days ago 2 replies      
Am I right by asumming, that if they would play another game (AlphaGo black and Lee Sedol white), that Lee Sedol could pressure AlphaGo into makeing the same mistake again?
kronion 2 days ago 3 replies      
After AlphaGo won the first three games, I wondered not if the computer had reached and surpassed human mastery, but instead how many orders of magnitude better it was. Given today's result, it may be only one order, or even less. Perhaps the best human players are relatively close to the maximum skill level for go, and that the pros of the future will not be categorically better than Lee Sedol is today.
Bytes 2 days ago 2 replies      
I was not expecting Lee Sedol to come back and win a game after his first three losses. AlphaGo seemed to be struggling at the end of the match.
pmontra 2 days ago 0 replies      
GoGameGuru just published a commentary of the game with some extra insight https://gogameguru.com/lee-sedol-defeats-alphago-masterful-c...

The author thinks that Lee Sedol was able "to force an all or nothing battle where AlphaGos accurate negotiating skills were largely irrelevant."


"Once White 78 was on the board, Blacks territory at the top collapsed in value."


"This was when things got weird. From 87 to 101 AlphaGo made a series of very bad moves."

"Weve talked about AlphaGos bad moves in the discussion of previous games, but this was not the same."

"In previous games, AlphaGo played bad (slack) moves when it was already ahead. Human observers criticized these moves because there seemed to be no reason to play slackly, but AlphaGo had already calculated that these moves would lead to a safe win."

Which, I add, is something that human players also do: simplify the game and get home quickly with a win. We usually don't give up as much as AlphaGo (pride?), still it's not different.

"The bad moves AlphaGo played in game four were not at all like that. They were simply bad, and they ruined AlphaGos chances of recovering."

"Theyre the kind of moves played by someone who forgets that their opponent also gets to respond with a move. Moves that trample over possibilities and damage ones own position achieving less than nothing."

And those moves unfortunately resemble what beginners play when they stubbornly cling to the hope of winning, because they don't realize the game is lost or because they didn't play enough games yet not to expect the opponent to make impossible mistakes. At pro level those mistakes are more than impossible.

Somebody asked an interesting question during the press conference about the effect of those kind of mistakes in the real world. You can hear it at https://youtu.be/yCALyQRN3hw?t=5h56m15s It's a couple of minutes because of the translation overhead.

Angostura 2 days ago 1 reply      
Bizarre. I felt a palpable sense of relief when I read this. Silly meat-brain that I am.
awwducks 2 days ago 0 replies      
Lee Sedol definitely did not look like he was in top form there. I would say (as an amateur) his play in Game 2 was far better. It was the funky clamp position that perhaps forced AlphaGo to start falling apart this game. [0]

I wonder if Lee Sedol can find a way to replicate that in Game 5.

[0]: https://twitter.com/demishassabis/status/708928006400581632

rubiquity 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is a great day for humans. Glad to see all those years of human research finally pay off.
creamyhorror 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here's the post-game conference livestream:


At the end, Lee asked to play white in the last match, and the Deepmind guys agreed. He feels that AlphaGo is stronger as white, so he views it as more worthwhile to play as black and beat AlphaGo.

Conference over, see you all tomorrow.

asdfologist 2 days ago 1 reply      
On a tangential note, apparently AlphaGo has been added to http://www.goratings.org/, though its current rating of 3533 looks off. Shouldn't it be much higher?
kazinator 1 day ago 0 replies      

Lee Sedol doesn't have RAM that can be crammed with faithfully recalled gigabytes of information, and that allow exhaustive, yet precise searching of vast information spaces. The amount of short-term information Sedol can remember perfectly is very small by comparison, and doing so requires a lot of concentration and effort.

Secondly, the faculty with which Lee Sedol plays Go wasn't designed for the exclusive task of playing Go. Without having to load a different program, Sedol's brain can do many other things well.

kibaekr 2 days ago 2 replies      
So where can we see this "move 78" that everyone is talking about, without having to go through the entire match counting?
h43k3r 2 days ago 0 replies      
The post match conference analysis with Lee Sedol and the CEO of deepmind about the different aspects of the game is beautiful to watch. There seems to be a sense of sincerity rather than the greed to win from each of the side.
jacinda 2 days ago 0 replies      
<joke>AlphaGo let Lee Sedol win to lull us all into a false sense of security. The robot apocalypse is well underway.</joke>
overmille 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now that we have two points for interpolation, expectations are down to near best human competency in go using distributed computation. Also from move 79 to 87 the machine wasn't able to detect the weak position, that shows its weakness. Now Lee can try and aggressive strategy creating multiple hot points of attacks to defeat his enemy. The human player is showing the power of intelligence.
hendryau 1 day ago 0 replies      
Has anyone heard the crazy theory that alphago bugged out because of daylight savings (the cutover happened mid-game)? Anyone know the exact time at which alphago made its first wonky move?
yoavm 2 days ago 0 replies      
okay human race, let's sit back and enjoy our last moments of glory!
zkhalique 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow! Incredible! Now we know that they have a chance against each other. I would say that this was a very major point... otherwise we wouldn't know whether AlphaGo's powers have progressed to the point where no one can ever beat it. Now I take what Ke Je said much more seriously: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/1219091...
conceit 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just noticed a pun in the name: All Phago, devourer of worlds. Especially funny as beating a stone could be imaged as swallowing.
conanbatt 2 days ago 1 reply      
This game is a great example for the people that said that AlphaGo didnt play mistakes when it had a better position because it lowered the margin, because it only looks at winning probability.

AlphaGo made a mistake and realized it was behind, and crumbled because all moves are "mistakes"(they all lead to loss) so any of them is as good as any other.

Im very suprrised and glad to see Humans still have something against AlphaGo, but ultimately, these kind of errors might dissapear if AlphaGo trains 6 more months. It made a tactical mistake, not a theory one.

hyperpape 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's worth mentioning that while 79 is where Black goes bad, not everyone is sure that 78 actually works for White (http://lifein19x19.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=12826). I'm sure we'll eventually get a more complete analysis.
yulunli 2 days ago 1 reply      
AlphaGo obviously made mistakes in game 4 under the pressure from LSD's brilliant play. I'd like to know if the "dumb moves" are caused by the lack of pro data or some more fundamental flaws with the algorithm/methodology. AlphaGo was trained on millions of amateur games, but if Google/Deepmind builds a website where people (including prop players) can play with AlphaGo, it would be interesting to see who improves faster.
GolDDranks 2 days ago 1 reply      

> This was when things got weird. From 87 to 101 AlphaGo made a series of very bad moves.

It seems to me, that these bad moves were a direct result of AlphaGo's min-maxing tree search.

According to @demishassabis' tweet, it had had the "realisation" that it had misestimated the board situation at move 87. After that, it did a series of bad moves, but it seems to me that those moves were done precisely because it couldn't come up with any other better strategy the min-max algorithm used traversing the play tree expects that your opponent responds the best he possibly can, so the moves were optimal in that sense.

But if you are an underdog, it doesn't suffice to play the "best" moves, because the best moves might be conservative. With that playing style, the only way you can do a comeback is to wait for your opponent to "make a mistake", that is, to stray from a series of the best moves you are able to find, and then capitalize that.

I don't think AlphaGo has the concept of betting on the opportunity of the opponent making mistakes. It always just tries to find the "best play in game" with its neural networks and tree search in terms of maximising the probability of winning. If it doesn't find any moves that would raise the probability, it picks one that will lower it as little as possible. That's why it picks uninteresting sente moves without any strategy. It just postpones the inevitable.

If you're expecting the opponent to play the best move you can think of, expecting mistakes is simply not part of the scheme. In this situation, it would be actually profitable to exchange some "best-of-class" moves to moves that aren't that excellent, but that are confusing, hard to read and make the game longer and more convoluted. Note that this totally DOESN'T work if the opponent is better at reading than you, on average. It will make the situation worse. But I think that AlphaGo is better in reading than Lee Sedol, so it would work here. The point is to "stir" the game up, so you can unlock yourself from your suboptimal position, and enable your better-on-average reading skills to work for you.

It seems to me that the way skilful humans are playing has another evaluation function in addition to the "value" of a move how confusing, "disturbing" or "stirring up" a move is, considering the opponent's skill. Basically, that's a thing you'd need to skilfully assess your chances to perform an OVERPLAY. And overplay may be the only way to recover if you are in a losing situation.

yk 2 days ago 1 reply      
Apparently AlphaGo made two rather stupid moves on the sidelines, judging from the commentary. Which incidentally is the kind of edgecase one would expect machine learning against itself is bad at learning, since there is a possibility that AlphaGo just tries to avoid such situations. It will be interesting to see if top players are able to exploit such weaknesses once AlphaGo is better understood by high level Go players.
samstave 2 days ago 0 replies      
So I am a completely ignorant of the game go. I mean I've heard about it my whole life but never bothered to understand it ever.

But after watching the summary video of AlphaGos win... I'm fascinated.

I'm sure there are thousands of resources that can teach me the rules, but HN; can you point me to a resource you recommend to get up to speed?

esturk 2 days ago 2 replies      
LSD maybe the only human to ever win against AlphaGo.
techdragon 2 days ago 3 replies      
I was hoping to see how AlphaGo would play in overtime. Now I'm curious, does it know how to play in overtime? Can the system handle evaluating how much time it can give itself to 'think' about each move, or does it fall into the halting problem territory and it was programmed to evaluate its probability of winning given the 'fixed' time it had left.
jonbarker 2 days ago 1 reply      
Would it not be beneficial to the deepmind team to open at least the non-distributed version to the public to allow for training on more players? I was surprised to learn that the training set was strong amateur internet play, why not train on the database of the history of pro games?
ctstover 2 days ago 0 replies      
As a human, I'm pulling for the human. As a computer programmer, I'm pulling for the human. As a romantic, I'm pulling for the human. As a fan of science fiction, I'm pulling for the human. To me it will matter even he can pull off a 3-2 loss over a 4-1 loss.
ljk 2 days ago 0 replies      
Does this mean Lee found AlphaGo's weakness, and AlphaGo wasn't player at a out-of-reach level?
devanti 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder if Lee Sedol were to start as white again, and follow the exact same starting sequences, would AlphaGo's algorithms follow the exact same moves as it did before?
spatulan 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the chances are of a cosmic ray or some stray radiation causing AlphaGo to have problems. It's quite a rare event, but when you have 1920 CPUs and 280 GPUs, it might up the probability enough to be something you have to worry about.
piyush_soni 2 days ago 0 replies      
I am super excited and all about the Progress AI has made in AlphaGo, but a part of me feels kind of relieved that humans won at least one match. :). Sure, won't last for long.
agumonkey 2 days ago 0 replies      
Way to go humans. (I felt that AlphaGo was unbeatable and a milestone in computing overthrowing organic brains... I gave in the buzz a bit prematurely).
uzyn 2 days ago 1 reply      
It seems Lee Sedol fares better at late to end game than AlphaGo. Makes one wonder if Lee might have won the earlier games had Lee pushed on until the late game stages.
_snydly 2 days ago 4 replies      
Was it AlphaGo losing the game, or Lee Sedol winning it?
partycoder 2 days ago 0 replies      
Montecarlo bots behave weirdly when losing.
eslaught 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there a place I can go to quickly flip through all the board states from the game?
codecamper 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow that is awesome news. Very happy to read this this morning. It's a good day to be human.
atrudeau 2 days ago 2 replies      
Move 78 gives us hope in the war against the machines.

78 could come to symbolize humanity.

What a special moment.

makoz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Some pretty questionable moves from AlphaGo in that game, but I'm glad LSD managed to close it out.
another-hack 2 days ago 0 replies      
Humans strike back! :P
vc98mvco 2 days ago 1 reply      
I hope it won't turn out they let him win.
pelf 2 days ago 0 replies      
Now THIS is news!
Dowwie 2 days ago 0 replies      
But, did he pull a Kirk vs Kobayashi Maru? :) (yes, I went there)
repulsive 2 days ago 0 replies      
negativist paranoid skeptic could say that it would be a good move for the team to intentionally make go lose single battle in the moment it has already won the war..
conanbatt 2 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe Alpha Go understood it won the 5 series, so its reading that it can lose the last 2 games and still win and hence plays suboptimal :P
gcatalfamo 2 days ago 1 reply      
I believe that after winning 3 out of 5, AlphaGo team started experimenting with variables now that they can relax. Which will in turn be even more helpful for future AlphaGo version than the previous 3 wins.
antonioalegria 2 days ago 3 replies      
Don't want to sound all Conspiracy Theory but somehow this feels planned.. It plays into DeepMind's hand to not have the machine completely trouncing the human. It's less scary and keeps people engaged further into the future.

Also seems in-line with the way Demis was "rooting" for the human this time they already won so now they focus on PR.

AlphaGo Beats Lee Sedol in Final Game gogameguru.com
670 points by doppp  19 hours ago   260 comments top 34
johnloeber 19 hours ago 9 replies      
This was probably the closest game in the series. Livestream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzpW10DPHeQ

A few months back, the expert consensus was that we were many years away from an AI playing Go at the 9-dan level. Now it seems that we've already surpassed that point. What this underscores, if anything, is the accelerating pace of technological growth, for better or for worse.

In game four, we saw Lee Sedol make a brilliant play, and AlphaGo make a critical mistake (typical of monte carlo-trained algorithms) following it. There's no doubt that with further refinement, we'll soon see AI play Go at a level well beyond human: games one through three already featured extraordinarily strong (and innovative) play on part of AlphaGo.

Previous Discussions:

Game 4: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11276798

Game 3: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11271816

Game 2: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11257928

Game 1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11250871

tunesmith 18 hours ago 7 replies      
By the way, for those who want to learn by themselves, there are a lot of ways to play Go against a computer in a way that is friendly for beginners.

My rough journey so far - on a Mac, but much of this can be done on Linux - I started out playing 9x9 games against Gnugo, giving myself as much handicap as possible (without it resigning immediately), and then removing stones as I improve. I got to the point where I could sometimes beat 9x9 when I started with two extra stones, and then I started with 19x19.

Took me a while to win 19x19 with 9 stones, but then I won by learning a bit more about extending on hane. Then you can improve from there.

After that point, you can also switch to fuego or pachi, which are stronger by default. The end result is it really is easy and possible to learn a ton just by playing against software, tracking your ability throughout, just by picking programs with different strength and handicap levels.

I've also enjoyed using GoGui to pit two computer programs against each other and watch how they play with various handicaps.

Then there's all the puzzles - goproblems.com, smartgo, etc. Finally, there are plenty of ebooks you can buy through smartgo books.

This doesn't get into playing against humans on the various servers, but there's plenty of information about that online.

skarist 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Great game and amazing series/match. This last one was absolutely nail biting. My hat off to the AlphaGo team and to Mr. Lee Sedol. Sedol showed incredible fighting spirit and stamina. Just imagine sitting through a 5 hour game like that last one, with full concentration all the time. And seeing the expression of exhaustion and disappointment on Sedol's face after last moves and his resignation. Phew... I bet that he came in rather confident into this last game, after beating AlphaGo in the fourth, figuring he had found a weakness. And he seemed to have a rather good start, securing a decent territory in the lower right corner. We can all marvel at the machine/software the DeepMind team has built, but still I feel that the real marvel is the human brain. Will we learn anything from this series, about how it functions and evaluates game positions in a stratetgic games? The classic problem/mystery is how extremely good the human brain is at pruning game-trees. Whole branches are thrown out in split seconds and probably never explored. Currently taking a watt-for-watt comparison there is no question about whose "hardware" is superior -> Lee Sedol's brain. But I guess the DeepMind team and the community will take plenty of lessons from this and in a few years span, Lee Sedol's phone will beat him 100% of the time. At least I wouldn't be willing to bet against it, even though we are hitting the roof in Moore's law.
awwducks 19 hours ago 3 replies      
My rough summary of the match, informed by the various commentators and random news stories.

Game 1: Lee Sedol does not know what to expect. He plays testing moves early and gets punished, losing the game decisively.

Game 2: Lee Sedol calms down and plays as if he is playing a strong opponent. He plays strong moves waiting for AlphaGo to make a mistake. AlphaGo responds calmly keeping a lead throughout the game.

Game 3: Lee Sedol plans a strategy to attack white from the start, but fails. He valiantly plays to the end, creating an interesting position after the game was decided deep in AlphaGo's territory.

Game 4: Lee Sedol focuses on territory early on, deciding to replicate his late game invasion from the previous game, but on a larger scale earlier in the game. He wins this game with a brilliant play at move 78.

Game 5: The prevailing opinion ahead of the game was that AlphaGo was weak at attacking groups. Lee Sedol crafted an excellent early game to try to exploit that weakness.

Tweet from Hassabis midgame [0]:

 #AlphaGo made a bad mistake early in the game (it didnt know a known tesuji) but now it is trying hard to claw it back... nail-biting.
After a back and forth late middlegame, Myungwan Kim 9p felt there were many missed chances that caused Lee Sedol to ultimately lose the game by resignation in the late endgame behind a few points.

Ultimately, this match was a momentous occasion for both the AI and the go community. My big curiosity is how much more AlphaGo can improve. Did Lee Sedol find fundamental weaknesses that will continue to crop up regardless of how many CPUs you throw at it? How would AlphaGo fare against opponents with different styles? Perhaps Park Jungwhan, a player with a stronger opening game. Or perhaps Ke Jie, the top ranked player in the world [1], given that they'd have access to the game records of Lee Sedol?

I also wonder if the quick succession of these games on an almost back-to-back game schedule played a role in Lee Sedol's loss.

Myungwan Kim felt that if Lee Sedol were to play AlphaGo once more, the game would be a coinflip since AlphaGo is likely stronger, but would never fix its weakness between games.

[0]: https://twitter.com/demishassabis/status/709635140020871168

[1]: http://www.goratings.org/

vermontdevil 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Ken Jennings just welcomed Lee Sedol to the "Human Loser Club"


Pretty good article here.

malanj 19 hours ago 6 replies      
After the first 3 games I thought that AlphaGo was far beyond human level, but it's a harder call to make now. It seems very unlikely that an AI would be very close to exactly matching a human, one would expect it to be much stronger or much weaker.

Perhaps humans are closer to the "Perfect Game" than we think? http://hikago.wikia.com/wiki/Hand_of_God The top players estimate they would need a 4 stone advantage to win a perfect player.

wowzer 11 hours ago 2 replies      
While what the AlphaGo team has accomplished is nothing short of amazing, I'm not sure if everyone's thinking about this in the right context. While playing there's a "super computer" behind the scenes with these specs 1,920 CPUs and 280 GPUs [0]. Then consider all the machines used to train this neural net. I'd say Sedol's brain is pretty freaking powerful. Also, with that much computing power I would expect AlphaGo to win with the right team and the right approach to solving the problem. It would be very interesting to change the rules and limit the processing power of the computer playing a human.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlphaGo

nichochar 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Guys, this is fantastic, but lets not forget: What "shows how capable the human brain actually is," is:1) The human brain invented Go to begin with2) The long and celebrated history of Go3) The human brain made DeepMind4) The human brain finds value and beauty in all of this, which no machine would
typon 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone else find it funny that the Game 4 in which Lee Sedol won got the most upvotes on Hacker News? We're still firmly with team human it seems :P
Wildgoose 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Four components:

Learning (viewing millions of professional game moves).

Experience (playing different versions of itself)

Intuition (ability to accurately estimate the value of a board)

Imagination (evaluating a series of "what if?" scenarios using Monte Carlo Tree Search)

I think the significant thing about AlphaGo is that apart from some hand-crafting in the Monte Carlo Tree Search routines, this is all general purpose programming.

It may only be baby-steps, but it does feel like a genuine step towards true (general) AI.

krig 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Really interesting and close match, it was great listening to the expert player analyse the game and having the final score be uncertain until very late in the game.

I found the discussion around weaknesses in the Monte Carlo tree search algorithm interesting. It sounds like the opinion from the expert is that there are some inherent weaknesses in how MCTS tends to play moves against theoretical moves from the opponent that don't make sense; ie. that AlphaGo sees a potential win that would only happen if the human player made very bad moves. It's fascinating that the seeming weakness in AlphaGo would come from the algorithmic part of the AI and not the neural net. Could it be that as the neural net becomes stronger and stronger at the game, eventually the algorithmic part of it would become less useful to it? If that's the case, it really feels like this could be the path to truly general AI.

tunesmith 18 hours ago 0 replies      
AlphaGo was strong enough to survive a mistake, not knowing a known tesuji, and still claw back to win by a couple of points. I wonder wonder that means in terms of handicap, maybe it is a stone stronger than Sedol?
trott 18 hours ago 4 replies      
I tried to learn Go a decade ago. After spending some time on it, I came to the conclusion that it's just not an enjoyable game for me. Here's why:

As you can see in this match, games are often won and lost by just a few points (1% of the whole territory). So, not only do you have to count territory precisely at the end, but throughout the game, and this isn't easy to do in your head.

Maybe if you are an autistic accountant, that's fun, but not for me. If I have to play a strategic board game, it will be good old chess. And now that computers are finally beating people at both, there is no longer any need to look at Go as some kind of mythical last refuge of humanity.

zubspace 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Google improved the outcome by putting in large amounts of processing power. What happens, if humans would do the same?

Instead of just Lee Sedol, how about putting the top 10 Go players in a room vs. AlphaGo? Would the chance to win increase?

Maybe we find out, that 3 top go players vs. AI is the optimal way and adding more humans decreases the odds to win the match?

This would lead to following question: Why does AI improve, if we add more processing power while adding more human brainpower decreases their overall power?

Maybe we find out, that 3 good developers working on a project are optimal and more decrease the chance of success?

goquestion 7 hours ago 1 reply      
What's needed to use programs like AlphaGo to enhance human enjoyment of Go (and other games like chess where i have more experience)? I'm more interested in this than in the "man vs. machine" narrative.

Ideally we could take AlphaGo and produce an algo that can smoothly vary its playing proficiency as a human opponent increases in skill. The problem I've seen in chess computers is that setting them to "amateur" results in 3-4 grandmaster-perfect moves followed by a colossal blunder to enable the human opponent to catch up.

Ideally you could use a computer opponent as an always-available, continuously adapting challenger to train hard against all the time.

conanbatt 16 hours ago 0 replies      
One interesting thing happened to me: I got to the game before knowing which side was which color or the result, and I could tell which one was the computer, an exercise I hadn't tried with the previous games.
dopamean 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I've gone from thinking "it will be impressive if AlphaGo wins a game in this series" to "wow, it's pretty impressive that Sedol took a game off AlphaGo." Craziness.
yangtheman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Would it be conceivable that similar type of AI can deploy and manage unmanned military vehicles, e.g. unmanned drones and tanks, and monitor battle progress (assuming that the other side is managed by human)? It wouldn't necessarily be turn-based, but constantly evaluating its moves against changing environment outside its control and reach its objective? I think such future is conceivable and scary at the same time.
brador 17 hours ago 3 replies      
I question how much of it's success is down to the AI/understanding the game/outplaying the opponent vs. simple culled brute force. Especially when they can throw Google level computing power at it and they have mentioned using heat maps and looking at move sets.

It could be argued that it's only AI when it understand the game rules and plays to them without iterating random choices until it finds a hit. Machine learning would be between the two, but still not what many would consider true AI.

eatbitseveryday 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what factors of game play create different advantages. For example, if per-turn time limits are below some threshold, whether humans would be at an advantage. It would certainly make for an interesting game.
mikhail-g-kan 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Yann Lecun commented AlphaGo regarding General AI:


in short - we are at least 1 big step before creating human-level AI

ep103 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone have any suggested ways to learn the algorithmic techniques alphago uses? I've heard monte carlo tree search, and neural nets both mentioned
tetraodonpuffer 13 hours ago 0 replies      
note that form whomever is interested reddit will do an AMA with all the various pro commentators this Saturday it seems, check r/baduk for more information


marcell 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've heard that in Chess, there are specific strategies that are effective against computers, but not against humans. Is this the case, and is it possible to do anything similar in Go?
xefer 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious, if these machines can consistently beat 9-dan players like this, is there talk of creating a 10-dan level?
thatsadude 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The game is amazingly close though.
anocendi 11 hours ago 0 replies      
When it comes to competitive gaming, Koreans were Gods, and now AI has come to top them.

Before we realize it, we will hear Google's StarCraft 2/3 bot beating the Korean World Champion.

haffi112 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Next challenge: Can AlphaGo beat 10 or 100 humans playing together against it?
partycoder 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It was very close though. Lee Sedol resigned in the yose after noticing he was behind by no more than a moku.
ioncube 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Anybody knows the music playing in the background?

-EDIT-Thats what Shazaam was able to recognizeHit Me! - Dreamliner - https://soundcloud.com/hit-me-music-production/dreamliner

pervycreeper 18 hours ago 3 replies      
Could anyone suggest a good introduction to the rules and basic strategies of this game?
guilhas 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Shouldn't Lee have had the opportunity to train 1 year against this AI before the competition?

training (Human vs Human)not the same as (Human vs Algorithm)or (Algorithm vs Algorithm)

nickjj 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Is it just me or is it really lame that Google isn't going to pay Lee?

From the article:

> Lee was competing for a $1 million prize put up by Google, but DeepMind's victory means it will be donated to charity.

So Lee provides Google knowledge that only he is capable of providing due to his extreme skill in the game and Google won't even pay him?

vbezhenar 13 hours ago 0 replies      
What I'm finding terrifying is that we compare best players of entire human population to machine. Even if machine is only barely on the same level, honestly, 99.9% of people probably wouldn't stood a chance against it, no matter how hard they would be trying. Those professional players are best of best.

Now compare that level of AI with average person. Go game might not be directly applicable to our lives, but it's only a demonstration. And it's replicable as easy as copy'n'paste, compare that to amount of time, money and efforts required to grow and train a human.

That future where not only drivers and factory workers are replaced by robots, but anyone who's not doing extremely intellectual work, is getting closer. Factory robot is not that cheap, it requires manipulators, repairs. But cheap office work does not require anything physical, it's replicable extremely fast and gonna cost very low. It's exciting and terrifying feature. It's not going to look well with current capitalistic economical model.

A previously unnoticed property of prime numbers quantamagazine.org
774 points by tcoppi  1 day ago   231 comments top 38
dantillberg 1 day ago 11 replies      
I almost overlooked this article because I got turned off by the opening description in base 10, as there is a lot of math trivia out there that is specific to base 10 which holds little general significance.

But a little further down, the article discusses how this was discovered originally in base 3, and I think it's much simpler to understand in that context, since all primes except 3 (aka 10 base 3) end in just either 1 or 2:

"Looking at prime numbers written in base 3 in which roughly half the primes end in 1 and half end in 2 he found that among primes smaller than 1,000, a prime ending in 1 is more than twice as likely to be followed by a prime ending in 2 than by another prime ending in 1."

mjs 1 day ago 14 replies      
"If Alice tosses a coin until she sees a head followed by a tail, and Bob tosses a coin until he sees two heads in a row, then on average, Alice will require four tosses while Bob will require six tosses (try this at home!), even though head-tail and head-head have an equal chance of appearing after two coin tosses."

How does this work?

crnt2 1 day ago 2 replies      
The results are particularly striking in base 11 - looking at primes below 100 million, only 4.3% of primes ending in 2 are followed by another prime ending in 2 (compared to the 9.1% you would naively expect) with similar numbers for other pairs.

A prime ending in 2 (in base 11) is also unlikely to be following by a prime ending in 5, 7 or 9, whereas it is particularly likely to be following by a prime ending in 4 or 8.

It would be interesting to know what structure there is (if any) in this NxN "transition matrix" for various bases.

 1: ( 1, 4.3%) ( 2, 13.0%) ( 3, 14.3%) ( 4, 7.7%) ( 5, 11.5%) ( 6, 6.3%) ( 7, 18.0%) ( 8, 9.0%) ( 9, 10.7%) (10, 5.2%) 2: ( 1, 10.0%) ( 2, 3.7%) ( 3, 11.3%) ( 4, 14.1%) ( 5, 7.5%) ( 6, 12.1%) ( 7, 5.3%) ( 8, 17.5%) ( 9, 7.8%) (10, 10.7%) 3: ( 1, 6.1%) ( 2, 10.3%) ( 3, 3.7%) ( 4, 12.5%) ( 5, 14.0%) ( 6, 9.2%) ( 7, 12.1%) ( 8, 5.6%) ( 9, 17.5%) (10, 9.0%) 4: ( 1, 11.1%) ( 2, 6.1%) ( 3, 9.9%) ( 4, 4.1%) ( 5, 11.5%) ( 6, 14.5%) ( 7, 7.7%) ( 8, 12.0%) ( 9, 5.3%) (10, 18.0%) 5: ( 1, 9.6%) ( 2, 12.7%) ( 3, 6.3%) ( 4, 11.5%) ( 5, 4.0%) ( 6, 13.6%) ( 7, 14.5%) ( 8, 9.2%) ( 9, 12.1%) (10, 6.4%) 6: ( 1, 17.9%) ( 2, 8.5%) ( 3, 10.6%) ( 4, 5.0%) ( 5, 9.6%) ( 6, 4.0%) ( 7, 11.4%) ( 8, 14.0%) ( 9, 7.5%) (10, 11.5%) 7: ( 1, 6.0%) ( 2, 19.1%) ( 3, 8.8%) ( 4, 11.1%) ( 5, 5.1%) ( 6, 11.6%) ( 7, 4.1%) ( 8, 12.5%) ( 9, 14.1%) (10, 7.7%) 8: ( 1, 12.0%) ( 2, 5.5%) ( 3, 17.5%) ( 4, 8.8%) ( 5, 10.6%) ( 6, 6.3%) ( 7, 9.9%) ( 8, 3.7%) ( 9, 11.3%) (10, 14.3%) 9: ( 1, 8.8%) ( 2, 12.4%) ( 3, 5.5%) ( 4, 19.1%) ( 5, 8.6%) ( 6, 12.7%) ( 7, 6.0%) ( 8, 10.3%) ( 9, 3.7%) (10, 13.0%) 10: ( 1, 14.3%) ( 2, 8.8%) ( 3, 12.0%) ( 4, 6.0%) ( 5, 17.8%) ( 6, 9.6%) ( 7, 11.1%) ( 8, 6.1%) ( 9, 10.0%) (10, 4.3%)

crnt2 1 day ago 0 replies      
Here is my attempt to work through the math and figure out how "surprising" this result is.

Clearly, we should expect that for small primes (< 100e6) it is less likely that a prime ending in K (in base B) will be followed by another prime ending in K - because for that to happen, none of the B-1 numbers in between can be prime.

A (very naive) model of the distribution of primes says that every number n has probability p(n) = 1/log(n) of being prime. Assume that a number n ends with a k in base b. Define p = 1/log(n). Then the probability that the next prime ends in k+j is, roughly,

 q(j) = p * (1-p)^(j-1) * sum_{i=0}^{infinity} (1-p)^(i*b) = p * (1-p)^(j-1) / (1 - (1-p)^b)
In this formula, j takes values 1 to b (where j = b represents another prime ending in k).

For n ~ 1,000,000 and working in base b, under this model we would expect to see around 6.97% of primes ending in k followed by another prime ending in k, whereas we expect to see 13.7% of primes ending in k+1 (it is apparent how naive the model is, since in fact we never see a prime ending in k followed by a prime ending in k+1, except for 2,3). It would not be hard to extend the model to rule out even primes, or multiples of 3 and 5, but I have not done this.

Around n ~ 10^60 the distribution starts to look more equal, as the primes are "spread out" enough that you expect to have long sequences of non-primes between the primes, which blurs out the distribution to be roughly constant.

I think this is what the article is getting at when it quotes James Maynard as saying "Its the rate at which they even out which is surprising to me". With a naive model of 'randomness' in the primes, you expect to see this phenomenon at low numbers (less then 10^60) and for it to slowly disappear at higher numbers. And indeed, you do see that, but the rate at which the phenomenon disappears is much slower than the random model predicts.

I think that is why it is surprising.

c3534l 1 day ago 2 replies      
> This conspiracy among prime numbers seems, at first glance, to violate a longstanding assumption in number theory: that prime numbers behave much like random numbers.

I don't think this is true at all. Take a look at the famous Ulam Spiral: http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/wp-content/blogs.dir/476/fi...

You can see that while prime numbers are difficult to predict, they're anything but random. I'm not sure why the article is claiming that mathematicians used to think the distribution of primes was evenly distributed, which is complete and utter nonsense.

valine 1 day ago 4 replies      
Can anyone say what the security implications of this are? Intuitively, it would seem the less 'random' primes appear to be, the easier it would be to factor the composite of two prime numbers.
dr_zoidberg 1 day ago 7 replies      
For those willing to try this over toy code, I did a (horrible, horrible, I'm terribly ashamed of it) quick Python snippet to check it out:

 def primer(): p = 3 while True: is_prime = True for x in xrange(2, p): if p % x == 0: is_prime = False break if is_prime: yield p p += 2 give_prime = primer() primes = [1, 2] # had to separate this into 2 lines because Python primes.extend([give_prime.next() for x in xrange(9998)]) # so we get 10,000 primes primes_dict = {} for i in xrange(len(primes) - 1): p0 = str(primes[i])[-1] p1 = str(primes[i + 1])[-1] key = "".join([p0, "-", p1]) try: primes_dict[key] += 1 except: primes_dict[key] = 1 # let's delete the 4 outliers from the begining del(primes_dict["1-2"]) del(primes_dict["2-3"]) del(primes_dict["3-5"]) del(primes_dict["5-7"]) 
So long story short, my results over 10,000 primes:

 In [57]: primes_dict Out[57]: {'1-1': 365, '1-3': 833, '1-7': 889, '1-9': 397, '3-1': 529, '3-3': 324, '3-7': 754, '3-9': 906, '7-1': 655, '7-3': 722, '7-7': 323, '7-9': 808, '9-1': 935, '9-3': 635, '9-7': 541, '9-9': 379}
And you can clearly see that the tendency to avoid the same last digit is starting to show, thow those that end in 1 are still not showing it completely. Tried with 100,000 primes but the (horrible) algorithm kinda got stuck so I settled with 10,000 to make this a "quick test".

Before you go, please believe me I'm sorry for primer() and give_prime. I'll try to never do those kind of things again.

Edit: I've edited this like 5 times already over little typos and bad transcription mistakes I did all over the place. Should work now.

grandalf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Primes seem to me to be more of an information theoretic concept than a number concept.

Primes are the simplest way to encode specific kinds of graphs that unambiguously encodes all sub-graphs.

If you try to come up with a bit-representation that is equivalently rich it becomes difficult to think of one that is as simple yet preserves the semantics of the factorization tree.

So I guess my point is that the factorization tree of numbers is the fundamental concept, and it's information theoretic. Primes happen to be an encoding of that fundamental concept into integers, but if we found an equivalently rich representation using a different encoding, we might understand primes better. I doubt that the quirks of the encoding has anything to do with the fundamental concept however.

Houshalter 1 day ago 0 replies      
I once was really interested in finding patterns in prime numbers. I got a long csv file of prime numbers from the internet. I used symbolic regression on it, to try to predict the next prime in the list.

Symbolic regression basically uses genetic algorithms to fit mathematical expressions to data. The program I was using, Eureqa, tries to find the simplest expressions that fit, with only a handful of elements. To prevent overfitting, and give a human understandable model.

Anyway this actually worked. Far from perfectly of course, but it was able to get much better than random predictions. It was definitely finding some pattern.

Unfortunately I used up Eureqas free trial forever ago, and I'm not going to pay thousands of dollars to buy a subscription. But I am now thinking of writing my own software to do this, and then running it on a dataset of mathematical sequences like the primes.

personjerry 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wrote some code to compare random numbers to the primes for this property. To generate the random numbers, I apply the Prime Number theorem as a probability to determine if we want to select it, and then compare the stats to that of the actual primes. https://gist.github.com/personjerry/c58483daaf372acbe1fa

 cumulative: 1 to 1: 30768 rand, 28289 prime 1 to 3: 53573 rand, 51569 prime 1 to 7: 44306 rand, 53263 prime 1 to 9: 36968 rand, 32816 prime ratios: 1 to 1: 0.18578027352594872 rand, 0.17048036302934247 prime 1 to 3: 0.323479153458322 rand, 0.3107745710721539 prime 1 to 7: 0.26752407692539926 rand, 0.3209832647330011 prime 1 to 9: 0.22321649609032998 rand, 0.19776180116550257 prime cumulative: 3 to 1: 37015 rand, 38455 prime 3 to 3: 31015 rand, 25900 prime 3 to 7: 53377 rand, 48596 prime 3 to 9: 44594 rand, 53082 prime ratios: 3 to 1: 0.22298058445431052 rand, 0.23161058343823215 prime 3 to 3: 0.18683622387816942 rand, 0.15599308571187656 prime 3 to 7: 0.3215462557454473 rand, 0.2926888028283534 prime 3 to 9: 0.2686369359220728 rand, 0.3197075280215379 prime cumulative: 7 to 1: 44412 rand, 42590 prime 7 to 3: 36923 rand, 45728 prime 7 to 7: 30588 rand, 25886 prime 7 to 9: 53404 rand, 51800 prime ratios: 7 to 1: 0.26863125805222376 rand, 0.25656008288956894 prime 7 to 3: 0.2233331518747694 rand, 0.275463241849594 prime 7 to 7: 0.18501515179008873 rand, 0.15593600154213152 prime 7 to 9: 0.3230204382829181 rand, 0.3120406737187056 prime cumulative: 9 to 1: 53453 rand, 56602 prime 9 to 3: 44489 rand, 42837 prime 9 to 7: 37022 rand, 38259 prime 9 to 9: 30902 rand, 28144 prime ratios: 9 to 1: 0.322266166664657 rand, 0.3413007561413876 prime 9 to 3: 0.2682225410873838 rand, 0.2583000687401261 prime 9 to 7: 0.22320427332907286 rand, 0.23069548124118136 prime 9 to 9: 0.18630701891888632 rand, 0.1697036938773049 prime
Unless I'm doing something wrong, it honestly it doesn't seem like the actual prime numbers have a statistic that deviates from random numbers with a prime distribution. Hence it looks like to me just the result of a) specifying the "next" number which naturally favors the digit after it and b) probability of a given number being prime (prime number theorem).

Jabbles 1 day ago 3 replies      
I'm shocked at how simple a pattern was previously unknown.


JoeAltmaier 1 day ago 2 replies      
Its supposed to be true in every base. But of course in Binary its not true. Every prime in Binary ends in a 1; its followed by another prime that ends in a 1.
taf2 1 day ago 1 reply      
Does this have any ramifications in security? I vaguely understand we rely on prime numbers to create secrets that are hard to guess... So does this in someway make it easier to possibly guess?
ms013 1 day ago 1 reply      
For those who have Mathematica and want to experiment with this, here's a quick function to generate the data:

 f[n_, base_] := Module[ {m, d, dpairs}, d = Table[Last[IntegerDigits[Prime[i], base]], {i, 1, n}]; dpairs = Table[{d[[i]], d[[i + 1]]}, {i, 1, Length[d] - 1}]; Map[#[[1]] -> #[[2]] &, Tally[dpairs]] ]
For the first n primes in a given base, it returns the mapping {i,j}->count for the all pairings of digit i followed by digit j. E.g., for the first million base 5 primes

 {2, 3} -> 68596 {3, 0} -> 1, {0, 2} -> 1, {2, 1} -> 64230 {1, 3} -> 77475 {3, 2} -> 72827 {2, 4} -> 77586 {4, 3} -> 64371 {3, 4} -> 79358 {4, 1} -> 84596 {1, 2} -> 79453 {4, 2} -> 58130 {4, 4} -> 42843 {1, 1} -> 42853 {3, 3} -> 39668 {2, 2} -> 39603 {1, 4} -> 50153 {3, 1} -> 58255

silveira 1 day ago 0 replies      
I created a ulam spiral visualization for this article using JavaScript and HTML5 canvas. The demo and source code are at http://silveiraneto.net/2016/03/14/the-prime-conspiracy-visu...
arghbleargh 1 day ago 0 replies      
It should be noted that from the original paper, the asymptotic formula that Oliver and Soundararajan conjecture still says that each possibility for the last digits of consecutive primes should occur about the same number of times in the limit. It's just that the amount by which the frequencies vary is more than you would expect from the most naive model of primes as being "random".
wallacoloo 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a non-mathematician, this is a pretty neat read. I was distracted by the personification of the numbers though (they have 'likes' and 'preferences', which in my day-to-day vocab are concepts applicable only to things that possess the ability to think). Is this common in mathematical writing, or is this paper an abnormality in that sense?

(I don't mean to nitpick - I'm genuinely curious. I recall seeing the same thing in high-school chemistry, but never in physics, for example, and I'm curious if entire fields see this effect or if it's a product only of the audience being written to).

kordless 1 day ago 0 replies      
I just spent 5 minutes looking for a chart showing the distribution of reserved commands in Python. Didn't find much.

A while back, I read something about different number bases' ability to help find additional primes. The base itself was prime, so maybe 7 or 13. Can't find the article ATM. I hypothesized that prime numbers are "code" provided by this universe to allow us to access other data stored in other primes. Quines of a sort, if you will. One way to invalidate this hypothesis would be to do a mean distribution of basic operators in a simple programing language and compare it to what we are seeing in primes.

hellofunk 1 day ago 1 reply      
>If Alice tosses a coin until she sees a head followed by a tail, and Bob tosses a coin until he sees two heads in a row, then on average, Alice will require four tosses while Bob will require six tosses (try this at home!), even though head-tail and head-head have an equal chance of appearing after two coin tosses.

Now that is particularly interesting to think about.

aaronchall 1 day ago 0 replies      
This phenomenon feels trivial - Think of 3 - X11, X13, X17, X19, X21, X23, X27, X29, X31, X33, X37, X39 - how many of these pseudonumbers will be divisible by 3? I count 4 where X is 0, 1, and 2, one time each for numbers ending in 1, 3, 7, and 9.

Just based on this knowledge, I know that a prime number is guaranteed not to be immediately followed by another one with the same ending 1 time in 2.

I'm not sure these fellows have found anything particularly interesting, but if so, and I have missed something, kudos to them.

Terr_ 1 day ago 0 replies      
> This conspiracy among prime numbers seems, at first glance, to violate a longstanding assumption in number theory: that prime numbers behave much like random numbers.

I wonder if this is really an artifact like Benford's Law, which also involves first-digit-frequency (in any base) and also involves certain kinds of "random" numbers.

To recycle a past comment:

> If you have a random starting value (X) multiplied by a second random factor (Y), most of the time the result will start with a one.

> You're basically throwing darts at logarithmic graph paper! The area covered by squares which "start with 1" is larger than the area covered by square which "start with 9".

jamieb007 1 day ago 2 replies      
"If Alice tosses a coin until she sees a head followed by a tail, and Bob tosses a coin until he sees two heads in a row, then on average, Alice will require four tosses while Bob will require six tosses (try this at home!), even though head-tail and head-head have an equal chance of appearing after two coin tosses."

Counter-intuitive at first but makes sense - the outcomes as a whole converge towards the average (50% heads, 50% tails). Nonetheless, it shows that each toss is related to the others. One can expect that primes are even more related - or at least to the primes that came before.

mjevans 1 day ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to know how well this holds up over different scales.

Does a prediction based on base 3 hold up better over primes under 100 than 1000 and 1000 than 10000?

Is the ratio of how well a base ending sequence is predictive scale to a predictable range based on the base that the prime number field is viewed within?

Just thinking about what might be happening, I would imagine that the answer is yes, but that a lot of crunching would be needed to graph and deduce a relationship to an actual predictive property statement.

CarolineW 1 day ago 0 replies      
jeffdavis 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am surprised this took so long to discover -- wouldn't this be one of the first things to examine when looking for non-randomness?
baby 1 day ago 0 replies      
> Looking at prime numbers written in base 3

I HAD THE EXACT SAME IDEA. But I would probably have reached no conclusion.

lohankin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Possible generalization (example):





Take only remainders, and form a vector a=(2 1 2 0)What can be said about components of the vector for the prime next to p? E.g., do i-th components repel, like the 1-st ones?

Kenji 1 day ago 0 replies      
Soundararajan showed his findings to postdoctoral researcher Lemke Oliver, who was shocked. He immediately wrote a program that searched much farther out along the number line through the first 400 billion primes.

This is how modern computers revolutionized even the most theoretical fields like number theory. Remarkable, I love it!

girkyturkey 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is absolutely incredible. This is why mathematics is so amazing, that something so small can be missed for centuries. All about how to look at things!
caf 1 day ago 0 replies      
So I wonder if a similar pattern is observable for Prime_i and Prime_i+n with some n > 1?
callesgg 1 day ago 0 replies      
It is not quite clear to me how. But to me it seams like it has to do with the fact that we use a number system that has a base.
porcodio 1 day ago 0 replies      
undoware 1 day ago 0 replies      
So, the million dollar question is: how does this affect my security and privacy? Does this pattern mean encryption based on the assumption of the inherent randomness of primes is now less secure? E.g. is there now less entropy in a given set of primes?

I have a premonition of Quite a Bit of Trouble coming down the pipe.

CarolineW 1 day ago 4 replies      
That's bizarre - I tried to submit this four hours ago and was told it was a duplicate. I searched, and couldn't find the original submission to upvote it, and now it's submitted again, after my submission was declined.

I don't understand.

But it's a great result, so I've upvoted it, despite being confused.

mikek 1 day ago 2 replies      
> Quanta MagazineNUMBER THEORYMathematicians Discover Prime ConspiracyA previously unnoticed property of prime numbers seems to violate a longstanding assumption about how they behave.

Zim + Teemo for Quanta MagazineBy: Erica KlarreichMarch 13, 2016Comments (2)

Share this:facebooktwitterredditmailPDFPrintTwo mathematicians have uncovered a simple, previously unnoticed property of prime numbers those numbers that are divisible only by 1 and themselves. Prime numbers, it seems, have decided preferences about the final digits of the primes that immediately follow them.

Among the first billion prime numbers, for instance, a prime ending in 9 is almost 65 percent more likely to be followed by a prime ending in 1 than another prime ending in 9. In a paper posted online today, Kannan Soundararajan and Robert Lemke Oliver of Stanford University present both numerical and theoretical evidence that prime numbers repel other would-be primes that end in the same digit, and have varied predilections for being followed by primes ending in the other possible final digits.

Weve been studying primes for a long time, and no one spotted this before, said Andrew Granville, a number theorist at the University of Montreal and University College London. Its crazy.

The discovery is the exact opposite of what most mathematicians would have predicted, said Ken Ono, a number theorist at Emory University in Atlanta. When he first heard the news, he said, I was floored. I thought, For sure, your programs not working.

This conspiracy among prime numbers seems, at first glance, to violate a longstanding assumption in number theory: that prime numbers behave much like random numbers. Most mathematicians would have assumed, Granville and Ono agreed, that a prime should have an equal chance of being followed by a prime ending in 1, 3, 7 or 9 (the four possible endings for all prime numbers except 2 and 5).

I cant believe anyone in the world would have guessed this, Granville said. Even after having seen Lemke Oliver and Soundararajans analysis of their phenomenon, he said, it still seems like a strange thing.

Yet the pairs work doesnt upend the notion that primes behave randomly so much as point to how subtle their particular mix of randomness and order is. Can we redefine what random means in this context so that once again, [this phenomenon] looks like it might be random? Soundararajan said. Thats what we think weve done.

Prime Preferences

Soundararajan was drawn to study consecutive primes after hearing a lecture at Stanford by the mathematician Tadashi Tokieda, of the University of Cambridge, in which he mentioned a counterintuitive property of coin-tossing: If Alice tosses a coin until she sees a head followed by a tail, and Bob tosses a coin until he sees two heads in a row, then on average, Alice will require four tosses while Bob will require six tosses (try this at home!), even though head-tail and head-head have an equal chance of appearing after two coin tosses.

Can someone explain this?

sparrish 1 day ago 1 reply      
While fascinating, I fail to see how this qualifies as a "conspiracy". Are there definitions of "Conspiracy" in mathematics that I'm unaware of?
tdsamardzhiev 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've thought about that when I was a little kid. True story!
learnstats2 1 day ago 3 replies      
Perhaps I have missed something, but the introductory example seems to follow from simple probability and therefore I do not find it mathematically remarkable.

Say, there is a fixed and equal probability that each number ending with 9 and 1 is prime. I could go along with that assumption, although the fact that primes get less likely as you go higher is potentially relevant.

What the authors consider here is starting with a prime ending in 9.So the next potential prime ends in 1. If only because 1 is the next number to be checked, a 1-prime is more likely to appear next than a 9-prime. The probability of that can be calculated, depending on your assumptions, as a geometric sequence. In any case, P(next prime is 1) > P(next prime is 9).

"Most mathematicians would have assumed, Granville and Ono agreed, that a [known] prime should have an equal chance of being followed by a prime ending in 1, 3, 7 or 9" So - I'm a definite nope on that.

This result appears to be exactly what I would have assumed was the case.

I made my own clear plastic tooth aligners and they worked amosdudley.com
922 points by dezork  3 days ago   131 comments top 38
rl3 2 days ago 4 replies      
Not to be a downer, but was any thought given to the safety of the plastic(s) used?

This is something that's in your mouth a lot and constantly exposed to saliva.

The Dimension 1200es mentioned doesn't appear to be specific to medical applications.[0] The product page lists the only compatible thermoplastic being ABSplus-P430. The MSDS for that basically says the stuff is dangerous in molten form, and beyond that there's very little data.[1] The same company makes "Dental and Bio-Compatible" materials for use with their other products, and these appear to have considerably more safety data.[2]

>The aligner steps have been printed, in addition to a riser that I added in order to make sure the vacuum forming plastic (sourced from ebay) ...

As another commenter pointed out, the vacuum forming plastic is probably the primary concern because the 3D printer was just used to create the molds. The specific type of vacuum plastic isn't mentioned.

Regardless, very neat project.

[0] http://www.stratasys.com/3d-printers/design-series/dimension...

[1] http://www.stratasys.com/~/media/Main/Files/SDS/P430_ABS_M30...

[2] http://www.stratasys.com/materials/material-safety-data-shee...

jeffchuber 2 days ago 1 reply      
Awesome work!

The animation definitely seems the most difficult (and subjective), but also the most cool! Body hacking via computed geometry!

Invisalign (align technology) uses almost the same workflow. Market cap $5.89B.

If you could move the workflow over to something based on WebGL / three.js - you could make this accessible to dentists in developing countries. Could be an awesome open source project.

I think "allowing" it to be used in the US would open yourself up to too much liability though :(

loocsinus 2 days ago 1 reply      
It is smart that you designed the retainers based on maximum tolerance of tooth movement quoting from a textbook. I suggest you take X ray to make sure no root resorption have occurred. Also for those who want to imitate, measure the length of teeth and compare with the arch length to make sure the teeth can actually "fit" into the arch. I am a dental student.
percept 3 days ago 2 replies      
Now that is awesome--those things aren't cheap.

I'm going to send this to my dentist (who's cool enough to appreciate it).

forgotpasswd3x 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is really amazing, man. It's honestly the first 3D printing application I've seen that I can see quickly improving thousands of lives. Just to think of all the people who right now can't afford this procedure, that soon will be able to... it's just really wonderful.
valine 2 days ago 0 replies      
He scans his teeth, animates how he wants them to move in blender, and then 3D prints each frame. That is absolutely brilliant.
daveguy 2 days ago 1 reply      
It looks like the author took into account the safety of the plastic in creating these, which is a good thing. Maybe more so than dentists. You know "silver" fillings aka dental amalgum? They are 50% mercury by weight and are still being used. Supposedly safe because it is inhalation of mercury that is poisonous. Removal of those fillings with a drill can be dangerous. When some guy told me about this and was talking about it being the next asbestos/mesothelioma, I was thinking "sure! That sounds like conspiracy crap!" Then I looked it up on the FDA site like he suggested:


Anti-vaxxers are idiots and it is obvious that vaccines don't cause autism (original study was a fraud). The health benefit of vaccines is as undeniable as the lack of correlation to autism.

That said, dental amalgum is a chunk of mercury in your mouth. FDA says it is safe for people over 6yrs old, but I personally will stay away from it for any future dental work.

wslh 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is an important issue missing in the article (beyond the warning notice): the occlusion. The modification of the dental structure requires a whole functional analysis that goes beyond the teeth.

Anyway, the future is promising and the issues could be solved taking into account all the factors.

minsight 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is just amazing. I was waiting for how it might go horribly wrong, but the guy's mouth looks great.
rashkov 3 days ago 1 reply      
I came across an article here on HN about mail-order Invisalign companies at a fraction of the price. I'm about half way through and very happy with the progress so far. Just thought I'd give a heads-up if anyone is interested
CodeWriter23 3 days ago 1 reply      
The work he did with the impressions, to me, suggests he has experience as / knows someone who is a dental technician. If he didn't, wow, he independently figured out some of their key techniques.

My grandfather used to make dentures, and that casting in the 4th photo looks exactly like the impressions my GF would make. They also used these hinges so they could mate the upper to the lower, so they could adjust any collisions that occurred while opening and closing the mouth.

hamburglar 2 days ago 0 replies      
Having recently done invisalign, I think this is brilliant, but I would have had a really hard time sticking with it through the pain. I would worry too much that I was doing damage. My case was quite a bit more severe, however, so maybe it's less of a big deal if the movements are minor.
teekert 2 days ago 2 replies      
This also seems to have whitened his teeth at the same time ;), typical "before, after".

But on a serious note, I had braces, after the were remove a wire was placed behind my teeth to keep them in place. It didn't stick to one of my ceramic teeth I had from an accident in my youth. The wire was removed and after some months my front two teeth were as far apart as ever. Ok, the overbite didn't return but things will move back at least to some degree over time.

As mentioned before, I myself would never just put any plastic material in my mouth with all the bad things known about plasticisers, bpa/bps, etc.

stefanix 1 day ago 0 replies      
Made my own as well when I was interning at an othodontist.

There is not really much tech required. You can simply cut apart the gypsum model tooth by tooth and align it perfectly with wax and add space for you gum. Finally create a mold and use medical grade silicone to make the tooth straightener.

Silicone also allows for more movement and gives you control of upper and lower teeth in relation to each other.

While this is not rocket science there are considerations about jaw alignment that would be difficult for the amature to get right the first time around in any but simple misalignments.

KRuchan 1 day ago 0 replies      
Kudos to him for doing this, but I am slightly concerned that he has introduced overbite [1] in his jaws looking at the before and after pictures :(

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overbite

racecar789 2 days ago 0 replies      
Another option....have a dentist bind composite material to the couple teeth out of alignment.

Had two teeth done for under $500 10 years ago.

It's a stop gap until braces are an option financially.

squizzel 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it me or did it whiten your teeth. I noticed a big difference in upper plaque between the before and after picture.
zump 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now THIS is a hack.
vaadu 2 days ago 1 reply      
How soon before the FDA says this is illegal or the medical industrial complex lobbies congress to make this illegal?
hellofunk 2 days ago 2 replies      
This is cool but I can't say I agree with actually doing it. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should, particularly in matters of health. If you don't have the requisite experience and knowledge and training, it seems risky to go about something like this on your own.
Tepix 2 days ago 0 replies      
I love this project - well done, and the result speaks for itself! It's unfortunate that you were forced to go this somewhat dangerous route due to money. In some countries dental care like that would be paid for by the health insurance.
syberspace 1 day ago 0 replies      
slightly off topic:how is diy tooth alignment going to affect criminal investigations? on all those crime shows on tv (csi, navy cis, ...) they use dental records to identify otherwise unidentifyable bodies. is this method even used in real life and how would they find any records of your teeth if you fixed them yourself?
yogipatel 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm not trying to downplay how much the hacker/geek in me loves this, however, as a former* dental student, I would highly suggest not trying to pull this off on your own.

First, teeth and their movement is more complicated than it might first seem. You have to think about the entire masticatory apparatus, for example:

There's more root than crown, how does the root move in relation to the tooth? Root resorption is a common problem in orthodontic treatment.

Is there / will there be enough bone surrounding the tooth to support the intended movement?

How will the patient's occlusion (how the teeth fit together) be affected? Part of the Invisalign process is to take a bite registration that shows the upper and lower teeth in relation to each other. This is important, and ignoring it can potentially lead to other complications:

- stress fractures

- supraeruption of opposite tooth

- TMJ pain

Does the patient display any parafunctional habits that will affect the new tooth positions? For example, do they grind, clench, or have abnormal chewing patterns?

Many Invisalign techniques require the placement of anchors, holds, and various other structures attached to the teeth themselves. They allow for more complex movement than the insert itself would be able to provide.

Adjustments are often required mid-treatment. Not everybodys anatomy and biology is exactly the same, so you have to adjust accordingly.

Now, does every general dentist take this into account 100% of the time? No, but theyre at least trained to recognize these situations and compensate for them.

That said, many simple patients dont require any more thought than the OP put in. Its a good thing he looked in a text book and realized that theres a limit to how much you should try to move a tooth at each step before youre likely to run into problems. And if you do run into problems do you think a professional is going to come anywhere near your case?

A few issues I have with his technique:

Unless he poured his stone model immediately after taking the impression, its likely there was a decent loss in accuracy. Alginate is very dimensionally precise, but only for about 30 minutes. The material that most dentists use, PVS, is dimensionally stable for much, much longer (not to mention digital impressions).

Vertical resolution of the 3D print does matter. You might be moving teeth in only two dimensions, youre applying it over three dimensions.

Again, I think it is awesome that someone gave this a shot, and did a fairly good job as well. Im all for driving the cost of these types of treatments down, as well as promoting a more hacky/open approach to various treatments. Just know theres more than meets the eye.

* I decided to go back to tech, theres too little collaboration in dentistry for me to make a career out of it.

ck2 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is definitely for the brave, not me.

Not sure what I would do if we didn't have a dental school.

When I go there I am always surprised to find people who actually have insurance who still go there despite all the hassle.

semerda 2 days ago 0 replies      
Wow this is awesome! Thank you for sharing. Retainers post Invisalign cost between $400-900 for 1 set - total ripoff. This looks like a far cheaper alternative.
scep12 3 days ago 0 replies      
Awesome stuff Amos! It's always nice to see creativity and persistence rewarded with successful results. I really enjoy reading these types of posts on HN.
muniri 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! Definitely not the safest thing to do, but I'm glad that they worked.
justinclift 2 days ago 0 replies      
Cool, that's an idea I'd had in the back of my head for some time too. Good to see someone's gone ahead and done it, and proven the concept. :D
vram22 2 days ago 4 replies      
Interesting article. Waterpik is a related product (as in, for teeth and gums) that a dentist recommended. Anyone have experience using it - pros, cons?
burgessaccount 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! Thanks for the detailed description.
mentos 3 days ago 1 reply      
Are you considering starting a business out of this?
pcurve 3 days ago 0 replies      
this is pretty amazing and daring.

I guess this would work better with those with gaps or very mildly crowded teeth.

Often crowded teeth result in pulling teeth to make room.

darksim905 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very very awesome job :-)
z3t4 1 day ago 0 replies      
Considering opportunity cost of the 100+ hours that probably went into this it would be cheaper to go to a dentist.

He might be able to come up with a better or cheaper method then the currently industry standard though ...

hardtime 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice work. I have braces so...
transfire 3 days ago 3 replies      
Can you chew food with the aligner on?
peleroberts 2 days ago 0 replies      
Direct leak into your gums..
brbsix 2 days ago 0 replies      
Orthodontics is a field known for its protectionism. It'd be pretty foolish but I wouldn't be surprised if you receive a cease and desist.
Encryption, Privacy Are Larger Issues Than Fighting Terrorism npr.org
602 points by Osiris30  20 hours ago   163 comments top 17
jccc 14 hours ago 5 replies      
Before you comment, please consider whether you'd prefer to vent your frustration in online message boards with like-minded people, or spend that potential energy in other ways:

"What you can do about it:

-- You can contact the Obama White House online to comment on strong encryption.


-- You can contact your state Senators and Representatives via the contact information supplied by ContactingTheCongress.org.


-- You can specifically contact Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to express concerns about their bill intended to force companies to weaken or work around encryption under court orders.




Express yourself with the honesty and clarity that the government's charm offensive is lacking."


jacquesm 20 hours ago 5 replies      
> No, David. If I were in the job now, I would have simply told the FBI to call Fort Meade, the headquarters of the National Security Agency, and NSA would have solved this problem for them. They're not as interested in solving the problem as they are in getting a legal precedent.

That's quite the quote, especially given his history of employment.

The weirdest thing about this whole cell-phone saga to me is that the perps are dead, did not appear to be part of some organized group and that very little could be done to them that hasn't been done already based on evidence found on the phone.

Then there is the bit that a lot of the information that is on the phone is also already in the log files of the carriers. It's as if that phone somehow magically is going to yield an entirely new class of information that may not even exist in the first place.

To me it has been evident from day one that this is not about this phone or the data that's on it but just about the legal precedent, getting it in black-and-white from the former head of counter terrorism is quite an indictment of his successors.

Gratsby 19 hours ago 10 replies      
>PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: If, technologically, it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system where the encryption is so strong that there's no key - there's no door at all - then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?

It's so disappointing to me to hear a quote like that from the President.

clarkmoody 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The larger issue, by far, is whether we are a free people.

From the article:

 CLARKE: No, the point I'm trying to make is there are limits. And what this is is a case where the federal government, using a 1789 law, is trying to compel speech. And courts have ruled in the past, appropriately, that the government cannot compel speech. What the FBI and the Justice Department are trying to do is to make code writers at Apple - to make them write code that they do not want to write that will make their systems less secure.
If the FBI gets its way in this case, forcing Apple employees to perform a service for the government, then it sets the precedent for the government to compel anyone to do anything the government wants. When you are forced to work for someone against your will, this is called slavery.

Of course the FBI used a terrorist attack to try and get what it's always wanted, and it will abuse the unlock power in the future if it gets it now, but judges could easily cite this case as a defense for the government to compel other action from the people.

Clarke makes it sound like there is court precedent against this compulsion, but that would be overturned if the FBI wins.

Indeed, encryption and privacy are very important, but our very liberty is more important.

emodendroket 14 hours ago 3 replies      
It seems clear to me that if all the money we spent on fighting terrorism since 9/11 were instead spent on, say, reducing traffic fatalities, it would have saved a lot more people.
exabrial 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"You dont need a gun"

"You don't need encryption"

It's not the bill of needs. I was born with these rights. This is the danger of eroding the constitution, the arguments can be used against whatever issue you want. If we want it changed, do it the right way and pass an amendment. But please, protect the integrity of the most important document we have.

sugarfactory 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I think Apple and all other tech companies that support it move as the FBI (or whoever controls the FBI) expected or wanted.

What was revealed a few years ago was the fact that big tech companies betrayed people's trust. So quite naturally they should attempt to regain that trust. Because if majority of people stop trusting tech companies and start using end-to-end encryption, use of encryption stops working as a signifier that indicates a higher likelihood that the user's doing something wrong. Thus it's crucial to keep ordinary people away from using encryption. In order to achieve this, it's important to make people trust big tech companies again.

In my opinion, this is what the writer of the plot of the dispute between the FBI and Apple thinks.

themartorana 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"You know, we could, at the far extreme to make the FBI's job easier, put ankle bracelets on everybody so that we'd know where everybody was all the time. That's a ridiculous example, but my point is encryption and privacy are larger issues than fighting terrorism."

Ok so replace "ankle bracelets" with "GPS/cell triangulated device" and it's a ridiculous example because what, things that are already real aren't really "examples"?

kiba 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Sometime I wonder if the FBI and other security agencies lost perspectives or they know something that we don't.

Time and time again, their argumentation are not particularly persuasive.

I don't doubt the existence of terrorists, but it seems that they are more boogeymen rather than an actual threats.

And when it came down to it, the power of terrorists is to inspire fear, rather than kill people. They can change us because we felt the need to change.

ccvannorman 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I am surprised that a search for "math" only turned up one result in this thread, about car accidents vs terrorist victims.

Isn't it true that encryption legislation or policy is sort of irrelevant next to the very clear math that says encryption will always be ahead of decryption? Even in a (hopefully avoidable) dystopia where encryption is illegal, would that really stop technology companies from continuing to do what they've always done?

John Oliver has a great segment[1] where he notes that the majority of cheap, available encryption applications aren't even US-based, and so it becomes nigh-impossible for our (or any) government to stop any pedestrian from encrypting.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsjZ2r9Ygzw

kordless 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Encryption and privacy are what make this reality work. You think you are you. I think I am me. This reality's ability to keep those separate is a privacy feature. From a Buddhist's perspective our understanding (Dharma) is that we are, on some level, all the same entity.

One of the early sutras put it this way:

> "Discrimination is consciousness. Nondiscrimination is wisdom. Clinging to consciousness will bring disgrace but clinging to wisdom will bring purity. Disgrace leads to birth and death but purity leads to Nirvana."

Encryption gives the means by which we can enable privacy between ourselves, or what we think of as self. If we enable complete privacy from all others, we drop into a self-world. If we disable privacy, and join all the others disabling privacy, we drop into an isolated type of Nirvana, with the implication everything becomes quite boring. I have compared this in the past to the observed push and pull of public and private cloud business models.

One solution may come via virtual realities where we can arrive at consensus in a fair and measured way without centralized control. It is my belief that immutable data structures backed by encryption, such as a blockchain, are the path out of this mess.

Here's Alan Watts talking about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBOcFwUzIIQ

bicknergseng 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I just had a thought: what happens if Apple complies with the order (say they lose the legal battle or something), but individual employees refuse to build the software? I think the verdict is out on whether or not Apple, a corporation, can be compelled to do this, but what if they can't find anyone to do it?

Just thinking it _should_ be much harder to compel individuals to do something like this than it is to compel a corporation.

shpx 19 hours ago 1 reply      
>We could put ankle bracelets on everybody so we'd know where everyone was all the time.

How does everyone carrying phones not already make this the case?

xrorre 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The Apple situation annoys me because it's no longer about the web. It's about breaking crypto on a device which is vendor-locked. The same thing as breaking homegrown crypto, or DVD crypto; easy and trivial. The fact that Apple doesn't use ephemeral keys and can't simply throw away the key in the event of an incident is worrisome enough.

Real crypto needs to be more compartmented than that. A bank is not secure because of the massive door - it's safe because it would take a thief weeks to empty every safety deposit box.

It's also made even safer when the key is (more or less) thrown away for periods of time and nobody can get it. Even with manual over-ride. Literally somebody could be dying inside the safe and nobody could save them.

In properly implemented crypto nobody should hear you scream.

username3 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Gun rights are larger issues than fighting mass shootings.
ck2 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Other governments are definitely going to force manufacturers to make their phones unlockable or not for sale in their country.

China, Russia, Saudia Arabia, all forced Blackberry to turn over their encryption keys long ago.

US politicians should set an example and say we are NOT going to be like China and Russia and other repressive regimes and that when people's lives are literally on their phones, they have a reasonable right to privacy and protection from search and seizure, you know like in our constitution but ignored everyday.

JustSomeNobody 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Edit:Posted to wrong article. My apologies.
Dropboxs Exodus from the Amazon Cloud wired.com
651 points by moviuro  1 day ago   233 comments top 30
jamwt 1 day ago 6 replies      
I want to point out one other thing about this project, if only to assuage my guilt. And this community of hackers and entrepreneurs seems as good a place as any to clear the air.

There is a necessary abridgement that happens in media like this, wherein a few individuals in lead roles act as a vignette for the entire effort. In particular, on the software team, James and I are highlighted here, and it would be easy to assume we did this whole thing ourselves. Especially given very generous phrasing at times like "Turner rebuilt Magic Pocket in an entirely different programming language".

The full picture is James and I were very fortunate to work with a team of more than a dozen amazing engineers on this project, that lead designs and implementations of key parts of it, and that stayed just as late at the office as we did during crunch time. In particular, the contributions of the SREs didn't make it into the article. And managing more than half a million disks without an incredible SRE team is basically impossible.

riobard 1 day ago 4 replies      
> Measuring only one-and-half-feet by three-and-half-feet by six inches, each Diskotech box holds as much as a petabyte of data

This number is very interesting. Basically Diskotech stores 1PB in 18" 6" 42" = 4,536 cubic inch volume, which is 10% bigger than standard 7U (17" 12.2" 19.8" = 4,107 cubic inch).

124 days ago Dropbox Storage Engineer jamwt posted here (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10541052) stating that Dropbox is "packing up to an order of magnitude more storage into 4U" compared to Backblaze Storage Pod 5.0, which is 180TB in 4U (assuming it's the deeper 4U at 19" 7" 26.4" = 3,511 cubic inch). Many doubted what jamwt claimed is physically possible, but doing the math reveals that Dropbox is basically packing 793TB in 4U if we naively scale linearly (of coz it's not that simple in practice). Not exactly an order of magnitude more but still.

Put it another way, Diskotech is about 30% bigger in volume than Storage Pod 5.0 but with 470% more storage capacity.

That was indeed some amazing engineering.

jamwt 1 day ago 11 replies      
Hi HN! A couple of us from the Magic Pocket software team are around to answer questions if anyone has some.
barkingcat 1 day ago 6 replies      
The word "cloud" loses all meaning in this article.

"The irony is that in fleeing the cloud, Dropbox is showing why the cloud is so powerful. It too is building infrastructure so that others dont have to. It too is, well, a cloud company."

Wait ... so using AWS is "cloud", having your own servers is "cloud" too. Everything is cloudy!

echelon 1 day ago 6 replies      
Unrelated to the content of the article--I've never seen the oft talked about "anti-adblocker interstitial" before. I was surprised to find that the website blocks viewing of the article entirely because I'm running Adblock.

It's an interesting subject. I'll never click on or be persuaded by ads, so they're not really gaining anything by showing me ads. I'm essentially worthless traffic to them no matter how they cut it.

I do understand the problem they're trying to solve, and I would like to pay for content that I find worthwhile. A convenient microtransaction protocol where I _don't have to sign in or interact in any way_ would be nice. (I don't want to waste time interacting with their bespoke account system / sign-on, even if it is "frictionless".)

asendra 1 day ago 2 replies      
So, just for fun. The video quotes "over 1PB" of storage per box.

I count 6 columns of 15 rows/drives. Might be 7 columns even, there's some panels that aren't fully open on the video.

So, 90-105 drives. I'm guessing they are using 10TB drives, although maybe they can get bigger unannounced drives? Roughly, the math seems to check out.

Quite impressive. Guess the Backblaze guys need a Storage Pod 6.0 soon :P (I know, I know, different requirements/constraints)

dikaiosune 1 day ago 0 replies      
steveklabnik also pointed out on the Rust subreddit that there's a Dropbox blog post covering a few more technical items:


hakcermani 1 day ago 1 reply      
Its an amazing remarkable feat indeed to move all those bits live to another location ! But seems contrary to what Netflix did (move everything to AWS ! - http://www.eweek.com/cloud/netflix-now-running-its-movies-ex...) I guess they have their specific usage and reasons ?
myth_drannon 1 day ago 1 reply      
Now that Golang is making headways at Dropbox, I guess Python codebase will diminish in its importance...I wonder how Guido Van Rossum feels about it. First he was at Google but they created Go and he left to Dropbox which was a large Python shop, now they are moving to Go too.
turingbook 1 day ago 0 replies      
I hated the writing style of Wired guys. The blog from Dropbox is much more clear: https://blogs.dropbox.com/tech/2016/03/magic-pocket-infrastr...
matt_wulfeck 1 day ago 0 replies      
The open-source alternatives to S3 have a long way to go, especially since AWS S3 is so simple and reliable. I ran Openstack swift in production once upon a time and I remember the entire system coming down because the the rsyslog hostname did not resolve. Ouch. I'll let somebody else work out those bugs.
dmitrifedorov 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm done with Wired: cancelled its subscription a couple months ago (after many years), now they demand I login to read their web site because I use ad blockers.Done!
virtuallynathan 14 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks like the servers they make use of are purchasable, part of the Dell DSS series - the DSS7000: http://downloads.dell.com/manuals/common/dss%207000_dss%2075...

90x 3.5in disks, 2x compute nodes with 2x E5-2600v3 CPUs.

Spooky23 1 day ago 1 reply      
I'm a recent Dropbox Pro subscriber -- I've been a user for many years.

Really glad to see what's been going on from behind the scenes, and I'm looking forward to seeing what the future will bring to the front end of Dropbox.

Thanks guys!

bane 1 day ago 0 replies      
From a business sense, this is a great move. Amazon's cloud storage offerings are pretty expensive, even with various deduping strategies in place, Dropbox needed both store and move in and out massive amounts of traffic. If DB had reached the point where they could staff the extra over head of doing it themselves, and figure out how to spread the hardware cost out well, it will give them more pricing flexibility in the near future.
iskander 1 day ago 1 reply      
Q: Did the Dropbox devs working on the second version of Magic Pocket encounter any language stability issues with Rust? Did updates to the core language ever break existing code?
steveklabnik 1 day ago 0 replies      
A short mention of their use of Rust appears!
the_watcher 1 day ago 0 replies      
I worked at a company that moved off AWS and the changing a tire on a moving car is exactly how the devops team described it.
ccannon 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I applaud your efforts at answering all these questions and providing very detailed responses.
ldom66 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Unrelated to the article but these portraits are really beautiful! Props to the photograph and studio.
photonwins 1 day ago 1 reply      
I am curious to know, with so many disks densely packed in a 4U configuration, I am guessing there is definitely increased heat generation and not to mention vibration. How do you handle these? Also, does it have any effect on MTBF?
bluedino 1 day ago 1 reply      
>> Transferring four petabytes of data, it turned out, took about a day.

46GB/s, is my math right?

JackPoach 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder how capital intensive the move is. Isn't Dropbox overall still unprofitable as a company?
jessegreathouse 1 day ago 1 reply      
Is there a link without the anti-adblock crap?
max_ 15 hours ago 1 reply      
whats the "brand new programming language" the writer meant ?
known 20 hours ago 0 replies      
TL;DR Amazon Cloud is expensive;
ignoramous 1 day ago 5 replies      
Key points:

1. Dropbox moved from AWS to its own datacenters after 8 months of rigourous testing. They didn't exactly build a S3 clone, but something tailored to their needs, they named it Magic Pocket.

2. Dropbox still uses AWS for its European customers.

3. Dropbox hired a bunch of engineers from Facebook to build its own hardware heavily customised for data-storage and IOPS (naturally) viz. Diskotech. Some 8 Diskotech servers can store everything that humanity has ever written down.

4. Dropbox rewrote Magic Pocket in Golang, and then rewrote it again in Rust, to fit on their custom built machines.

5. No word on perf improvements, cost savings, stability, total number of servers, amount of data stored, or how the data was moved. (Edit: Dropbox has a blog post up: https://blogs.dropbox.com/tech/2016/03/magic-pocket-infrastr... )

6. Reminds people of Zynga... They did the same, and when the business plummeted, they went back to AWS.

7. Not a political move (in response to AWS' WorkDocs or CloudDrive), but purely an engineering one: Google and then Facebook succeeded by building their own data centers.

planetjones 1 day ago 9 replies      
Oh dear I didn't realise Dropbox had invested all of that time and money moving into their own data centre. From my perspective the future of Dropbox looks bleak. Mass storage with Amazon is much cheaper [edit: from a consumer perspective]. I know Dropbox has superior software that works (as opposed to the poor apps by Amazon and Google) but I imagine a lot of people are like me i.e. Store most of the stuff at the cheapest location and use Dropbox just for docs that you want to sync on multiple devices. Total income from consumers like me equals 0.

Dropbox also had that email app didn't they that they recently announced was closing down - mailbox if I recall correctly.

Can anyone convince me that this move by Dropbox isn't going to end very badly for them?

EDIT: downvoters - is HN unable to have a debate about whether this was a smart move or not.

razster 1 day ago 0 replies      
My reasons for leaving DB was due to their director of board choice. They were great but since then I have found equal if not better services.
tschellenbach 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why would you reinvent a piece of technology offered by various cloud providers? It doesn't make any sense, what a waste of engineering resources (fun exercise though). They should have been able to reach some middle ground with AWS about pricing.

I really doubt their in-house storage backend will be cheaper compared to the lowest rate they can get from one of the cloud providers.

Should All Research Papers Be Free? nytimes.com
630 points by mirimir  2 days ago   304 comments top 41
kriro 1 day ago 7 replies      
If it is funded by government in any way (public university, research project) I think it is borderline defrauding the tax payer that the research funded by tax-money is not free by default. Since close to all research is government funded in some way, shape or form...my answer would be yes in the general case.

I think the long term answer is decentralized publishing. Publish everything you do on a university or private website and let others decide if it's good or not when they want to cite it instead of a peer review that is set in stone. I think people reading papers deciding if they want to cite you are smart enough to figure out if it's good research or not. The peer review process is overrated (and quite often suffers from insider networks). If you decentralize publishing you can also have other researchers upvote a paper to basically approve of the academic standards in the paper.I also think the static nature of papers is a problem. I'd much rather cite a specific version of the paper. I'm thinking about git and pull requests along the lines of "want to cite, fixed layout" or "new research disproves this" etc.

robertwalsh0 2 days ago 6 replies      
Full disclosure: I'm a founder of a company called Scholastica that provides software that helps journals peer-review and publish open-access content online. One of our journal clients, Discrete Analysis, is linked to in the NYT article.

It is incredibly obvious that journal content shouldn't cost as much as it does.

- Scholars write the content for free

- Scholars do the peer-review for free

- All the legacy publishers do is take the content and paywall PDF files

Can you believe it? Paywalling. PDFs. For billions.

Of course the publishers say they create immense value by typesetting said PDFs, but as technologists, we can clearly see that this is bunk.

There's a comment in this thread that mentions the manual work involved in taking Word files and getting them into PDFs, XML, etc. While that is an issue, which you could consider a technology problem, it definitely doesn't justify the incredible cost of journal content that has been created and peer-reviewed at no cost. Keep in mind that journal prices have risen much faster than the consumer price index since the 80s (1).

The future is very clear, academics do the work as they've always done and share the content with the public at a very low cost via the internet.

PS. If you want a peek into how the publishers see the whole Sci-Hub kerfuffle, check out this post from one of their industry blogs - the comment section is a doozy: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2016/03/02/sci-hub-and-th...

1. https://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/jtj2dzMfklULQipRZt_3xaLoFxU...

payne92 2 days ago 4 replies      
I feel especially strongly that papers that result from taxpayer-funded research should be free.
reuven 2 days ago 2 replies      
When I finished my PhD at Northwestern, part of the university's procedure involved going to the ProQuest Web site. ProQuest is a journal and dissertation publishing company.

They asked if I wanted my dissertation to be available, free of charge, to anyone interested in reading it.

Clicking on "yes, I want to make it available for free" would cost me something like $800.

Clicking on "no, I'll let you charge people to see it" would cost me nothing.

Having just finished, and being in debt to do so, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I wasn't rushing to pay even more. So now, if people want to see my dissertation, they have to pay -- or be part of an institution that pays an annual fee to ProQuest. (BTW, e-mail me if you want a copy.)

My guess is that it's similar with other journals. And while professors have more than PhD students, they have limited enough research funds that they'll hold their nose, save the money, and keep things behind a paywall.

Which is totally outrageous. It's about time that this change, and I'm happy to see what looks like the beginning of the end on this front.

imglorp 2 days ago 3 replies      
Some things, like dissemination of knowledge, are truly in the interest of all humanity. It seems criminal that a few hundred people at the publishing houses should benefit at the expense of billions' welfare.
sekou 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Providing more open access to existing research information is just as important as empowering people to share and distribute the findings of their research in formats that both machines and people can understand. I believe we have already produced large amounts of data in wildly different fields of study that can potentially be used with the help of machines (and the diverse perspectives of many humans) to solve problems for which we currently don't have answers.

It looks like the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) bill linked in the article would be a step in the right direction for US citizens. I wonder how other forces (like Sci-Hub) will affect the direction of things to come.

stegosaurus 2 days ago 3 replies      
All everything 'should' be free. At least, that which is not scarce.

The correct question to ask is 'can' all research papers be free - does the world continue to spin, will research still happen, will we still progress, if they are free?

The only reason we even have this debate to begin with is because the producers of this information require scarce/controlled resources in order to survive.

davnn 1 day ago 0 replies      
I think Elbakyan should do everything to make sci-hub easily replaceable. Once it's hosted on multiple places it would be much harder to shut down.

Maybe completely free research papers are not the future but there should be a Spotify for research papers that is affordable for everyone. I hope that Elbakyan will reach her goal and ultimately change the whole industry.

tomahunt 1 day ago 2 replies      
There must be thousands of people who could use free access to research papers: PhDs and Masters now in industry trying to apply the state of the art, engineers who have worked their way into a subject, concerned citizens who want to read the source material.

I am a PhD who'd love to be working in industry, but I'm shit scared that once I leave the gates of the university I'll simply lose touch with the state of the art because the papers will no longer be accessible.

platform 2 days ago 0 replies      
Taxpayer funded research must be free to read.

Also, a research that has been at least partially tax-funded resulting in a publication, must not be usable as an necessary ingredient for a commercial patent.

That is, a patent can include this type of research, but it cannot be a 'necessity' for the patent to be viable. Or, if the particular research, is necessary for a given patent to be viable, the patent must grant no-fees, no-commercial-strings-attached use.

This allows a corporation to establish patents as means to protect itself, while allowing the tax funded research to be used by others without commercial strings attached

bloaf 1 day ago 0 replies      
Yes. They should.

It is in the best interests of humanity to make the knowledge obtained through research available to anyone looking for that knowledge. There is a clear consensus among scientists that the current publishing model is at best inexpedient and at worst hostile to that end.

Most people are asking what good the current publishing model provides, but I think to answer that question we need to ask: "compared to what?" It seems clear to me that the current model is better than having no publishing mechanism at all, but I doubt that anyone seriously thinks that the "none" model is the only alternative.

I think that if we sat down today and thought up a new publishing model from scratch, we would be able to outdo the status quo on just about every "good" people have mentioned here, as well as provide features that the current model is incapable of. I think it is highly likely that we could make a system that ran on donated resources alone.

Some things we might want/have in a "from scratch" model:

1. Direct access to data-as-in-a-database instead of data-as-a-graph-in-a-PDF

2. Blockchain-based reputation system for scientists

3. P2P storage and sharing of scientific data

4. Tiers of scientific information, e.g. an informal forum-of-science, semi-formal wiki-of-science, and formal publications

5. Automated peer review process

6. A better and more consistent authoring tool for scientists

jammycakes 2 days ago 0 replies      
Something I'd like to see here: results published in research papers aggregated and released as open data.

There must be a lot of interesting meta-analyses that aren't getting done because the necessary data is locked away behind paywalls, and usually not in an easily machine readable format into the bargain.

denzil_correa 2 days ago 0 replies      
> The real people to blame are the leaders of the scientific community Nobel scientists, heads of institutions, the presidents of universities who are in a position to change things but have never faced up to this problem in part because they are beneficiaries of the system, said Dr. Eisen. University presidents love to tout how important their scientists are because they publish in these journals.

For me, this is the cog of the problem. People who are in a position to change should push for it.

ycmbntrthrwaway 2 days ago 1 reply      
The main problems with tax-funded research and grants is that money is given in return for citations in journals with high "impact factor". As a result, publishers of those journals are indirectly supported by the state. Instead, government or funding organizations should review the results of the work for themselves, but they are unable to do it, because they usually don't understand a thing about research subject.
cft 1 day ago 1 reply      
Publishing used to cost money when it required physical printing/distrubution/storage of journals. Now all of this is basically free, but they still charge. Most theoretical physicists for example only care about "publishing" in the ArXiv (all free, open source). The traditional publishing is ridiculous.
arbre 2 days ago 4 replies      
Can someone explain me why the researchers themselves don't publish their work for free? The article says they are not paid for the articles so I don't see why they couldn't do that.
return0 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hope this publicitly doesnt lead to swift shutdown of scihub. She provides us with a great service that helps many researchers work faster. We should also commend her for stirring the most lively debate about an anachronistic and dumb publishing system.
mrdrozdov 2 days ago 1 reply      
This isn't the right question. The question is, "Who should be profiting from research papers?" The Journal performs quality control for the sake of consistency and prestige, but the papers and their reviews are put together by researchers, commonly at great cost for marginal personal gain. The article's hero doesn't really care. She needs to read papers, and needs other people to be able to read them, so she built sci-hub (demo: https://sci-hub.io/10.1038/nature16990).
justncase80 1 day ago 0 replies      
I was thinking a good startup company may be an open publication and peer review site. Something where users are non-anonymous and they are weighted by their accomplishments irl. Submissions and peer reviews would be open to anyone but weighted heavily by ranking, which is affected by irl achievements and cumulative quality contributions to the site. Like a combination of stack overflow and wikipedia maybe.

Money would be made by donation (ala wikipedia) and paper submission fees. Perhaps organizational level membership fees, such as universities, etc.

Just an idea I haven't had time to work on.

catnaroek 2 days ago 2 replies      
What follows is just my very uninformed opinion. I'm not a scientist myself, but my interest in CS and math has made me an avid reader of scientific papers and books - whenever they're publicly available, that is.

What publishing houses do is exploit the rules of the social games that scientists themselves willingly play. When the importance of an academic work is judged by the names of its authors, or by the name of the journal in which it is published, or by the presence of fashionable keywords in its title or in the abstract, scientists are giving publishing houses the very rope with which they will be hanged. So, while the behavior of publishing houses is certainly antisocial and most abominable, it is only made possible by the very scientific community that condemns it.

Is there any fundamental reason why scientists can't always submit their papers to the arXiv, and let the web of citations determine their relative importance?

yeukhon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I am still willing to pay for a high-quality printed version of research journals, but for the online access I think we should simply give away because research knowledge should belong in the public domain when you choose to publish the knowledge with a research journal. You are not publishing a paper within your 4x4 walled intrnaet.

But I get it. There is a business cost behind running a journal / magazine (although not all reputable one charge fees!). So here is the radical question: why the fuck do we need 100+ CS-related journal publishers out there? All we need is one.

alkonaut 1 day ago 0 replies      
Let's rephrase the question: should public research funded with public money have results available to those who paid for it?

This isn't Elseviers fault, or the researchers fault or the universities fault, it's the fault of whoever distributes public money to research without having proper criteria for what is expected in return.

erikpukinskis 1 day ago 0 replies      
A better question to me is "Should there be fields where distributing your work for free will harm your academic career?"
ajuc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Science funded by taxes should be free, obviously.
guico 1 day ago 0 replies      
I wonder, in the end what's really holding open-access publishing back? What can we do, as technologists, to help fix it?
jeffdavis 1 day ago 1 reply      
Nothing is "free", the only question is: "who pays, and how does that change the incentives and results?".
pmarreck 1 day ago 0 replies      
How is something that is, in essence, "truth determination and dissemination," not free?
leed25d 1 day ago 0 replies      
Research funded by taxpayer dollars should be free to those who paid for it.
jimjimjim 2 days ago 5 replies      
unpopular opinion ahead: no, and probably not even for taxpayer funded research.

Can you demand a lift in a garbage truck? or in a tank?both of these things are provided for local or central government. why not? because it distracts from the job that they are there for.The same can be said for research (and source code). It takes time, effort and money to publish and peer review research. If journals can't make money providing access to the research who is going to pay for it?

Also there is currently a lot of BAD research out there. Domain experts don't have time to review all of it. Journals with prestigious names act as filters and as sort of priority queues for where you should look first.

baby 1 day ago 0 replies      
You don't want me to read your paper? Charge for it.
tn13 1 day ago 0 replies      
All the state funded research must be in public domain. Everywhere else the one who funds the research must decide what to do with it.
adultSwim 1 day ago 0 replies      
sandra_saltlake 1 day ago 0 replies      
required open access publication
dschiptsov 1 day ago 0 replies      
At least they will get wider and less biased and institution-conditioned reviews.
kombucha2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Chinjut 2 days ago 1 reply      

("Betteridge's law of headlines" fails)

julie1 1 day ago 0 replies      
Should leibniz, keppler, Einstein, newton, flemming, jenner papers should have been free?

Oh they were. And it is thanks to flemming that people stopped dying in atrocious ways over the world from gangrene.

Should citizens be able to access state of the art research about how to prevent vascular disease, dietetic, chemical pollution, effects of fracking, urbanisms to help them make good choices when voting? I do think so.

Because no vote exists without enlighten choices.

Chosing without relevant information on future choice that will impact every one require citizens that can have a constructed opinion. And experts are doing a poor job at being right. (look at the financial regulations made by experts and the long lasting crisis since 2000).

So yes, papers should be free to support the exercise of democracy.

x5n1 2 days ago 1 reply      
What benefit do the publishers provide to anyone? Why do the publishers deserve billions of dollars?
lacker 2 days ago 0 replies      
Why does it cost $3000 to publish an article?? You can put it on Medium for free.
arek_ 2 days ago 1 reply      
Who will produce meaningful research for free?
ikeboy 2 days ago 1 reply      
>The largest companies, like Elsevier, Taylor & Francis, Springer and Wiley, typically have profit margins of over 30 percent, which they say is justified because they are curators of research, selecting only the most worthy papers for publication.

> But that financial model requires authors to pay a processing charge that can run anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per article so the publisher can recoup its costs.

These two facts seem to point strongly to the publishers' being in the right. 30% is not a high number. If they were to lower their prices by 30%, running completely as nonprofits (or whatever number would break even), do you think people's complaints about difficulty of access would go away? If not, your complaining is not about their profit.

And you can't seriously expect them to eat a >$1000 loss on every paper.

Either we need a single party to fund upfront, like the government, or we need some other way to pay for it.

Neural Networks Demystified lumiverse.io
670 points by maxlambert  1 day ago   58 comments top 23
yxlx 1 day ago 4 replies      
I am very interested in this subject but I was unable to finish watching these videos. The background music is incredibly distracting. I have a name for that kind of music, I call it Silicon Valley Music because it is the kind of music used in a lot of startup product videos. The narrator voice style is also pretty much the same that is used in those. I wanted to like these videos but I did not feel that they had any value what so ever. With all of these kinds of videos, I feel like the producers want the audience to feel bliss or learning but that they never actually deliver on that so instead it seems insincere and underhanded.
rayalez 1 day ago 7 replies      
Hey, everyone! I'm the founder of lumiverse.io, it's pretty incredible to see our website on the front page of HN!

I want lumiverse to become an awesome community where people can discover and discuss great educational videos.

We've launched only recently, the site is still in active development, I'm improving it every day. If you have any feedback - please let me know =)

(Also feel free to contact me at raymestalez@gmail.com)

max_ 1 day ago 1 reply      
Every beginner in Neural networks should probablystart with this and follow with Karpathy's http://karpathy.github.io/neuralnets and may be later on http://neuralnetworksanddeeplearning.com/
elsherbini 1 day ago 1 reply      
These are also available on Stephen Welch's youtube channel[1]. He uploaded the last one in this series Janaury 2015.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiaHhY2iBX9hdHaRr6b7X...

protomyth 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice, one suggestion, please ditch the music, its distracting and doesn't play well with speaker's voice.
0vermorrow 1 day ago 0 replies      
My initial feedback would be that the music is way too loud and that I really like that you used Python to show how to construct the bits and pieces.
jordigh 1 day ago 1 reply      
Why have neural networks become synonymous with backprop networks? Is it because those are the most successful? What happened to bidirectional associatve memory and Kohonen maps? Does anyone take the biological inspiration of neural networks seriously anymore?
cjcenizal 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is really great, but like a few other people, I found the music incredibly distracting. At first I thought I had left my Spotify on!
V-2 1 day ago 2 replies      
At the risk of not sounding very clever, I have to admit it's way too fast for me
Achshar 1 day ago 1 reply      
Man the the second video gets steep, quickly.
rdlecler1 1 day ago 1 reply      
To demystify NNs further we need to stop graphically representing spurious interactions. If you can perturb or remove a link win between any two neurons i & j, then that interaction is spurious and shouldn't be represented by in the graphical network representation. Doing this iteratively you can start to better appreciate that neural networks are computational circuits that use thereshold functions instead of logic gates.
therobot24 1 day ago 1 reply      
no one can ever claim there that is a shortage of tutorials with regard to neural nets (and deep learning)
txprog 1 day ago 0 replies      
I liked! Already done the first 3, the music didn't bothered me neither the voice (i'm not a native english at all.). As for the concept explain, it's true that some equation are a little bit out of reach for someone that has less mathematical background. But i understand the concept so far, which are well explained.

I'm not sure i would be able to just write (or decide) the equation for the neural network. On what criteria can you decide this will work better or not? What are your key to make a decision?

JD557 1 day ago 1 reply      
In case the author of the videos is here, do you have plans to add some videos about Convolutional NNs and Recurrent NNs?

I know a lot of developers like myself that know about traditional NNs, but are not familiar with those two.

pawelwentpawel 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's a great short introduction, really worth looking through the code examples that they have on github too - https://github.com/stephencwelch/Neural-Networks-Demystified

There is certainly no shortage of new tutorials bubbling up on neural nets. One of my favorites - https://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/people/nando.defreitas/machinelearni...

rjcrystal 1 day ago 0 replies      
I saw some of the videos and i agree with the suggestions provided here but i really like the simple way of explaining and less mathematical more programmatic approach. It'd be awesome if you could make some neural networks with cuda or any other library like tensorflow or theano. Good luck.
birdwatcher9 1 day ago 0 replies      
get rid of the music and find someone to talk who uses less sibilance
coherentpony 1 day ago 0 replies      
Cool. I have a word of advice, though. The term 'scalar product' when referring to the product of two vectors is a scalar, not a vector. In the back-propagation video you mis-spoke here.

Otherwise, good job.

alexjv89 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome video ! Crisp and to the point
TheAwesomeA 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great videos!

Does somebody know a source for a nice data analytics/machine learning taxonomy or something (grouped by the class of problems the different methods solve)..?

BinaryIdiot 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks really interesting. Thanks! I'll save these to start watching later.
dubmax123 11 hours ago 0 replies      
great content, most annoying music ever!
sandra_saltlake 20 hours ago 0 replies      
Mathematical more programmatic approach.
AlphaGo beats Lee Sedol 3-0 [video] youtube.com
563 points by Fede_V  3 days ago   407 comments top 50
Radim 3 days ago 4 replies      
In a recent interview [1], Hassabis (DeepMind founder) said they'd try training AlphaGo from scratch next, so it learns from first principles. Without the bootstrapping step of "learn from a database of human games", which introduce human prejudice.

As a Go player, I'm really excited to see what kind of play will come from that!

[1] http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/10/11192774/demis-hassabis-in...

bronz 3 days ago 2 replies      
Once again, I am so glad that I caught this on the live-stream because it will be in the history books. The implications of these games are absolutely tremendous. Consider GO: it is a game of sophisticated intuition. We have arguably created something that beats the human brain in its own arena, although the brain and AlphaGO do not use the same underlying mechanisms. And this is the supervised model. Once unsupervised learning begins to blossom we will witness something that is as significant as the emergence of life itself.
awwducks 3 days ago 5 replies      
Perhaps the last big question was whether AlphaGo could play ko positions. AlphaGo played quite well in that ko fight and furthermore, even played away from the ko fight allowing Lee Sedol to play twice in the area.

I definitely did not expect that.

Major credit to Lee Sedol for toughing that out and playing as long as he did. It was dramatic to watch as he played a bunch of his moves with only 1 or 2 seconds left on the clock.

pushrax 3 days ago 4 replies      
It's important to remember that this is an accomplishment of humanity, not a defeat. By constructing this AI, we are simply creating another tool for advancing our state of being.

(or something like that)

Eliezer 3 days ago 19 replies      
My (long) commentary here:



At this point it seems likely that Sedol is actually far outclassed by a superhuman player. The suspicion is that since AlphaGo plays purely for probability of long-term victory rather than playing for points, the fight against Sedol generates boards that can falsely appear to a human to be balanced even as Sedol's probability of victory diminishes. The 8p and 9p pros who analyzed games 1 and 2 and thought the flow of a seemingly Sedol-favoring game 'eventually' shifted to AlphaGo later, may simply have failed to read the board's true state. The reality may be a slow, steady diminishment of Sedol's win probability as the game goes on and Sedol makes subtly imperfect moves that humans think result in even-looking boards...

The case of AlphaGo is a helpful concrete illustration of these concepts [from AI alignment theory]...

Edge instantiation. Extremely optimized strategies often look to us like 'weird' edges of the possibility space, and may throw away what we think of as 'typical' features of a solution. In many different kinds of optimization problem, the maximizing solution will lie at a vertex of the possibility space (a corner, an edge-case). In the case of AlphaGo, an extremely optimized strategy seems to have thrown away the 'typical' production of a visible point lead that characterizes human play...

wnkrshm 3 days ago 0 replies      
While he may not be number one in the Go rankings afaik, Lee Sedol will be the name in the history books: Deep Blue against Garry Kasparov, AlphaGo against Lee Sedol.Lots of respect to Sedol for toughing it out.
Yuioup 3 days ago 1 reply      
I really like the moments when Alpha-Go would play a move and the commentators would look stunned and go silent for a 1-2 seconds. "That was an unexpected move", they would say.
flyingbutter 3 days ago 2 replies      
The Chinese 9 Dan player Ke Jie basically said the game is lost after around 40 mins or so. He still thinks that he has a 60% chance of winning against AlphaGo (down from 100% on day one). But I doubt Google will bother to go to China and challenge him.
kybernetikos 3 days ago 2 replies      
Go was the last perfect information game I knew where the best humans outperformed the best computers. Anyone know any others? Are all perfect information games lost at this point? Can we design one to keep us winning?
jamornh 3 days ago 0 replies      
Based on all the commentaries, it seems that Lee Sedol was really not ahead during the game at any point during the game... and I think everybody has their answer regarding whether AlphaGo can perform in a Ko fight. That's a yes.
bainsfather 3 days ago 0 replies      
It is interesting how fast this has happened compared to chess.

In 1978 chess IM David Levy won a 6 match series 4.5-1.5 - he was better than the machine, but the machine gave him a good game (the game he lost was when he tried to take it on in a tactical game, where the machine proved stronger). It took until 1996/7 for computers to match and surpass the human world champion.

I'd say the difference was that for chess, the algorithm was known (minimax + alpha-beta search) and it was computing power that was lacking - we had to wait for Moore's law to do its work. For go, the algorithm (MCTS + good neural nets + reinforcement learning) was lacking, but the computing power was already available.

partycoder 3 days ago 2 replies      
Some professionals labeled some AlphaGo moves as being unoptimal or slow. In reality, Alpha Go doesn't try to maximize its score, only its probability of winning.
skarist 3 days ago 2 replies      
We are indeed witnessing and living a historic moment. It is difficult not to feel awestruck. Likewise, it is difficult not to feel awestruck at how a wet 1.5 kg clump of carbon-based material (e.g. Lee Sedol brain) can achieve this level of mastery of a board game, that it takes such an insane amount of computing power to beat it. So, finally we do have a measure of the computing power required to play Go at the professional level. And it is immense, or to apply a very crude approximation based on Moore's law, it requires about 4096 times more computing power to play Go at the professional level than it does to play chess. Ok, this approx may be a bit crude :)

But maybe this is all just human prejudice... i.e. what this really goes to show is that in the final analysis all board games we humans have inveted and played are "trival", i.e. they are all just like tic-tac-toe just with a varying degree of complexity.

atrudeau 3 days ago 1 reply      
It would be nice if AlphaGo emitted the estimated probability of it winning every time a move is made. I wonder what this curve looks like. I would imagine mistakes by the human opponent would give nice little jumps in the curve. If the commentary is correct, we would expect very high probability 40-60 minutes into the game. Perhaps something crushing, like 99,9%
niuzeta 3 days ago 3 replies      
Impressive work by Google research team. I'm both impressed and scared.

This is our Deep Blue moment folks. a history is made.

jonah 3 days ago 0 replies      
Cho Hyeyeon 9p's commentary on the American Go Association YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkyVB4Nm9ac
dwaltrip 3 days ago 0 replies      
AlphaGo won solidly by all accounts. This is an incredible moment. We are now in the post-humanity go era.

The one solace was that Lee Sedol got his ko =) however, AlphaGo was up to the task and handled it well.

seanwilson 3 days ago 4 replies      
Super interesting to watch this unfold. So what game should AI tackle next? I've heard imperfect information games are harder for AI...would the AlphaGo approach not work well for these?
partycoder 3 days ago 2 replies      
I don't think Ke Jie would win against Alpha Go either.
hasenj 3 days ago 1 reply      
Seems to be playing at super-human levels.

I'm no where near a strong player but it seems like AlphaGo is far ahead of Lee Sedol.

dkopi 3 days ago 0 replies      
One can only hope that in the final battle between the remaining humans and the robots, it won't be a game of Go that decides the fate of humanity.
starshadowx2 3 days ago 1 reply      
I'm very interested to see what the Google DeepMind team applies themselves to in the future.
awwducks 3 days ago 1 reply      
I am really curious about the reviews from An Youngil 8p and Myungwan Kim 9p. The commentary by Redmond always tend to leave something to be desired.
hyperion2010 3 days ago 2 replies      
I really want to see how a team of humans would do against alpha-go with a 3 or 4 hour time limit.
dynjo 3 days ago 1 reply      
How long before AlphaGo also participates in the post-match press conference I wonder...
yeukhon 3 days ago 0 replies      
I wonder what if you put the top 10 players in a room, team up and play with Alpha-Go. They are allowed to make one move within a 1-hour period and they can only play up to 8 hours a day. I wonder what the outcome would be.

Anyway, I think AlphaGo is a great training companion. I think Lee felt he's learning.

Finally, I also feel that while experience is crucial, the older generation would flush out by the younger generation every decade. I wonder if age really play a role in championship - not that AlphaGo isn't considered a 1000 years old "human" given it has played thousands of games already.

gandalfu 3 days ago 0 replies      
Its a matter of language.

Our model of representation of Go fails at expressing the game/strategies of AlphaGo is showing, we are communicating in the board in different languages, no wonder everyone looking the at games is stomped by the machine "moves".

Our brains lack the capacity of implementing such algorithms (understanding such languages), but we can still create them. We might see in the future engine A played against engine B and enjoy the matches.

No one is surprised by a machine doing a better job with integer programming/operational research/numerical solutions etc.

mikhail-g-kan 3 days ago 0 replies      
Interestingly, I feel proud of AI, despite humans lost. It's the progress toward our end as classic human species
zhouyisu 3 days ago 2 replies      
Next move: how about beating human at online dating?
asmyers 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if the AlphaGo team is saving the probability of winning assignments that AlphaGo gave its moves?

It would be fascinating to see how early AlphaGo assigned very high probability of it winning. It would also be interesting to see if there were particular moves which changed this assignment a lot. For instance, are there moves that Lee Sedol made for which the win probability is very different for the AlphaGo moves before and after?

xuesj 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a milestone of AI in history. The ability of AlphaGo is amazing and far beyond to human.
eemax 3 days ago 1 reply      
What happens if you give the human player a handicap? I wonder if the games are really as close as the commentators say, or if it's just a quirk of the MCST algorithm.
asdfologist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ke Jie's gonna be next.


"Demis Hassabis, Google DeepMind's CEO, has expressed the willingness to pick Ke as AlphaGo's next target."

jcyw 3 days ago 0 replies      
We had Godel on the limitation of logic and Turing on the limitation of computation. I think AI will only change the way human calls intelligence. We used to call people who can mentally calculate large numbers genius. Lots of that has to be re-defined.
Huhty 3 days ago 0 replies      
Full video will be available here shortly:


(It also includes the videos of the first 2 matches)

theroof 3 days ago 2 replies      
Is anyone also asking themselves when they'll be able to play against this level of AI on their mobile phone? Or formulated differently: when will an "AlphaGo" (or equivalent) app appear in the play/app store?

In 2 years? In 1 year? In 3 months?

yodsanklai 3 days ago 0 replies      
All this excitement makes me want to learn a little bit about those algorithms. I don't know anything about neural networks (but I've already implemented a chess game a while ago). Would it be difficult to implement a similar algorithm for a simpler game?
arek_ 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was using machine learning in computer chess some time ago. My commentary: http://arekpaterek.blogspot.com/2016/03/my-thoughts-on-alpha...
mzitelli 3 days ago 0 replies      
Congratulations to AlphaGo team, curious to see if Lee Sedol will be able to defeat it in the next matches.
cpeterso 3 days ago 0 replies      
Does AlphaGo run in the cloud or is it a machine onsite at the match? I wonder how small AlphaGo could be scaled down and still beat Lee Sedol. How competitive would AlphaGo be running on an iPhone? :)
eternalban 3 days ago 0 replies      
My impression is that Sedol was psychologically defeated at 1-0. Computational machines don't crack under pressure - at most they get exhausted.
ganwar 3 days ago 1 reply      
Incredible news. We have all heard all of the positive coverage and how tremendous it is. What I find interesting is that how come nobody is talking about the potential of AlphaGo as a war strategizing AI?

If you provide terrain(elevation etc.) information, AlphaGo can be used to corner opponents into an area surrounded by mountains where AlphaGo is sitting on the mountains. We all know what happens after that.

Don't want to kill the party but I am completely surprised with the lack of chatter in this direction.

pmyjavec 3 days ago 0 replies      
If one allowed AlphaGo to train forever, what would happen? Would it constantly just tie against itself ?
Queribus 2 days ago 0 replies      
Was I in a "prophetic mode" yesterday? ;)))
oliebol 3 days ago 0 replies      
Watching this felt like watching a funeral where the commentary was the eulogy.
awwducks 3 days ago 0 replies      
I guess the next question on my mind is how AlphaGo might fare in a blitz game.
ptbello 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone have insights on how a game between two Alpha-Gos would play out?
tim333 3 days ago 2 replies      
Kind of a shame the tournament isn't closer.
Queribus 3 days ago 0 replies      
Strictly speaking, "just" because Alphago finally won, that doesnt mean it was right when claiming being ahead already.
scrollaway 3 days ago 1 reply      
If, as you believe, this post was "assigned" points (which only HN staff can theoretically do), what do you believe you will achieve by flagging it?
Honda's $20k Civic LX now offers self-driving capability for highway use wsj.com
447 points by davidst  1 day ago   276 comments top 32
ben1040 1 day ago 13 replies      
This looks like the "Sensing" feature that Honda has implemented on some of their other vehicles. I just bought a 2016 Accord that does the same thing -- there's a camera mounted on the windshield, another camera in the front grille, and a radar sensor on the front bumper.

Calling it "self-driving" is kind of a misnomer and I think the article kind of blows it out of proportion.

It will track the car in front of you and keep a safe following distance, keeping either the maximum cruise control speed you've set, or whatever speed the vehicle ahead of you is driving, whichever is slower. It will accelerate or brake accordingly. It will also attempt to stay in the lane by using the onboard cameras for tracking the lane markings.

The lane keeping assist is not nearly as autonomous as the article makes it out to be. It does not like to work on sharper curves on the freeway, for one -- the system will disengage and tell you to steer manually. It still wants you to keep your hands on the wheel. It must be looking for very very subtle movements on the wheel, because the system will yell at you if you take your hands off the wheel for longer than 10-15 seconds.

All in all it's a pretty cool feature for longer road trips (keeping in your lane can just get kind of tiring, even with cruise control) but it's not the sort of autonomous driving that the article here paints it out to be.

kazinator 1 day ago 4 replies      
Americans could rather use a robot highway driving instructor.

"Consider moving over to the right line; you're driving at the speed limit, and a speeding car is approaching; you may confirm this in the rear-view mirror."

"I have detected that you came to a full stop at the end of a generous freeway entrance ramp in light traffic. Suggested future action: look over the shoulder as early as possible and match the speed of the traffic."

"Suddenly exiting out of the left lane is dangerous. Please know which exit you're supposed to take, watch for its approach early, and change lanes ahead of time. If you miss an exit, do not make a sudden, dangerous action. Look for an alternate route or U-turn starting at the next exit."

Someone1234 1 day ago 3 replies      
Just for comparison, you can get a Subaru Legacy Premium with Eyesight for $25,835 (or a Crosstrek for thereabouts, and an Outback for $2-3K more), since at least summer 2015. So nothing Honda are doing here is revolutionary technologically, they're just bringing the same technology to a new market ($5K cheaper), which is still something.

I highly recommend that if you invest in THIS technology that you go all in and get the blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alerts. I have had a Subaru with Eyesight for over six months now, and I don't regret buying it and definitely like the blind spot/cross traffic alerts, they're legitimately useful day to day.

I will say one downside of this system is what I call "alert fatigue" particularly lane drift warnings, ice warnings, traffic pulled away warnings, etc. You can disable many of these, but it would be my only whine.

I have had automatic braking pre-warn me a handful of times, but not had it activate yet except when I pulled into the garage and the dangling tennis ball confused it and even then it only slowed me slightly. You get a yellow warning then red, then brake, and most of the warnings are legitimate I am just ahead of them.

Lane keep assist and distance based cruise control are like crack. It feels like you just get on the freeway, push a few buttons, and the car almost drives itself.

mikeash 1 day ago 5 replies      
The article really wants to compare with electric vehicles, for some reason. The subheading says "they are being snapped up faster than electrified vehicles." This is repeated in the article, which says the relevant options packages "are being snapped up at a far higher rate than electrified vehicles." Discussing the Q50's technology package and how many buyers opt for it, it says "Thats three times as many people who pay extra to buy a hybrid-electric version."

What's the deal? Is this just because Tesla happens to be the one with the best system at the moment? It doesn't make any sense to me, and really distracts from the article's main thrust.

TrevorJ 1 day ago 9 replies      
The real problem with self-driving cars is the car to human handoff. Over the long term it's incredible unlikely that humans will be any good atall at remaining aware and 'up to speed' on the current situation in the event that the car needs to give control back to the driver due to road conditions, hardware failure, or sudden situation that it cannot contend with.
stcredzero 1 day ago 5 replies      
In the early 2000's, I was hanging out sometimes in western North Carolina, and there was this young woman who has in the habit of getting together with some friends and driving around the clock to get to Colorado and back on short trips, instead of flying. I'm wondering if this technology isn't going to be used for such purposes.
CoffeeDregs 1 day ago 1 reply      
Conversations about self-driving have focused on zero defect rate in-city self-driving vehicles, but a lot of these technologies are reaching Pareto-efficient levels of usefulness. I don't need my car to drive the first and last miles; I'd be perfectly happy if it just drove on the highway.

And why do humans drive long haul trucks for anything other than the first and last miles? Trucks should drive themselves between depots at the edges of metros and then humans can drive them into the city. https://www.mercedes-benz.com/en/mercedes-benz/innovation/th... "Self steering"... How long before that moniker is replaced by "Self driving".

And why are humans delivering packages? They might not be for long: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-starship-delivery-robot-id...

It's going to shock our economy once industries begin constraining roles to the level at which robots can be "good enough". After figuring out how to manage them, we'll start to see robots deployed in force.

As parents, my wife and I are talking about this a lot as we think about how to raise our kids (and we are emphatically hands-off parents)...

bliti 1 day ago 1 reply      
The elephant in the room is this one:

When will highways be upgraded/updated for self driving? I don't mean V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) capabilities, but properly painted and maintained lane lines, reflectors, and signage. The infrastructure is just not there. You can't simply rely on a car's sensing abilities for self driving.

raz32dust 1 day ago 0 replies      
Am I missing something? Why is this top news? There are several cars out there with adaptive cruise control. In fact, I think most mainstream cars offer it as an option now. It's pretty impressive but calling it "self-driving" is hyperbole.

Subaru's eyesight is technically even more impressive considering it does image processing to detect vehicles, whereas most of these systems are based on radar. Although I don't see the point because radar is more reliable IMO. Unless you use some features which only camera can provide (stop at traffic lights?), which Subaru doesn't yet do. From whatever research I did before buying a car, Volvo's system (uses both radar and camera) seems to be one of the best overall, along with Mercedes, and Subaru being a close third.

ekpyrotic 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a interesting proposition for Honda, but really not that new. Even the price is not /that/ new.

In fact, this is technology that has been sold at around the same price point in the industrial transportation sector -- think of logistics and lorries -- for quite a while. This is where the majority of the innovation is taking place.

For example, just this week it has been revealed that the UK Govt will likely to announcing tomorrow funding for driverless truck convoys in the North of England. What's the price differential between these intelligent trucks and regular trucks? $0.

In fact, so much innovation is taking place in the industrial sector that just last week Toyota announced that it has hired the FULL workforce of Jaybridge Robotics, a firm that specializes in autonomous industrial vehicles, mainly in the agricultural sector.

If you want to understand the tailwinds in the sector, follow the b2b and industrial segment of the market. Technologies and trends are already starting to filter down.


I also want to plug my email newsletter Driverless Weekly (http://driverlessweekly.com) while I'm at it. It's a once-weekly summary of the top news stories in the autonomous vehicles sector.

ipsin 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about whether this is going to be a net win or lose for safety.

If users treat these automated cruise systems as a "magic self-driving device" when it can potentially make mistakes or hand back control when it's confused, drivers are going to die.

If people "really want to look at their cell phones", and they take this as the tool that lets them pay no attention to the road, it better be up to that task.

Negative1 1 day ago 0 replies      
The title is a bit misleading. I have a 2016 Civic Touring that has the Sensing Package. It's effectively a sensor package (cameras in the top-middle of the windshield and below passenger-side headlight) with integration with the steering and powertrain systems and very basic logic.

When you turn it on the car basically tries to stay in your lane by looking at the lines on the road. It actually tells you when it can and cannot see the lines. When it detects you going outside of the lane (without using your signal) it takes control of steering and corrects for you. You can also set it to stay within some distance of the car in front of you and it will control your speed. Supposedly, it will also auto-brake if you are in danger of collision but I haven't had a chance to test that yet (and hope not to have to).

The whole thing is more like a driver assistance system and if you take your hands off the wheel for more than 15 seconds or so a bunch of alerts start going off and the system disengages. After using it for a few months I think this is probably a good idea. There are quite a few places in the SF Bay area that have worn out and faded lines on the road and once the system loses sight of the lane markers it just stops working. Not a great moment to have your hands off the wheel or your eyes closed. ;-)

For the price its incredible that Honda offers something like this. Suburu offers something similar but the next best thing is buying a Tesla for much more. I treat it sort of as insurance on long trips. If I start dozing off or am distracted the system keeps me in check but it is not reliable enough to be truly autonomous. So yeah, it can sort of drive autonomously.

As a preview of the future it gives me hope and it's possible this may be the last car I actually buy (when cars drive themselves it could very well become a service industry).

bliti 1 day ago 0 replies      
This is an expansion on cruise control capabilities and not self-driving. Its a step up, of course. But not what the title may make you think.
girkyturkey 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I have yet to drive a "self-driving" or even "self-monitoring" car and the thought of doing so terrifies me. I know technology is good and it can do great things, but helping me drive is something I don't enjoy the idea of. What happens if, however unlikely, someone were to hack my car? They could potentially crash my car and leave without a trace. I think we really need to take a step back and ask if the benefits outweigh the potential costs/risks.
bengoodger 1 day ago 0 replies      
I've owned three cars with automatic cruise control for the past decade. This isn't exactly new technology, perhaps only at this price point.

The first car I had with this, an '06 Infiniti, was only able to slow to a crawl, not a full stop. So while it was useful on the highway it was useless in stop and start.

The second car, a '11 BMW, added "Stop & Go" to the formula. Great? Not quite. What would happen is that the car would come to a full stop, and then a timer would run, and if the car didn't start moving again within 10 seconds the cruise control would shut off, and to resume you'd have to push the pedal. This was especially maddening when stop & start traffic is inconsistent and the stops last 10.5 seconds. Basically the idea of being able to set & forget was completely undermined by this and driving with the feature on was more stressful than driving with it off and just doing everything manually. A complete bust. I don't know why it does this but I can see it being some combination of the product team needing to ship the feature in the state it was in, and legal requirements.

The problem with both of these implementations is that they promised to alleviate some of the issues with past "auto-drive" features (and you should consider Cruise Control to be the very first auto drive feature), but introduce their own. If you want the user experience of set & forget, you need very predictable conditions if you want any of these mass market systems to work for you, and unfortunately that's just not the way the roads are.

I think I have the feature in my latest car too, but I've given up and decided to enjoy manually driving, and just wait for fully autonomous vehicles.

usrusr 1 day ago 0 replies      
How do we as drivers keep up with the rising levels of automation? It's challenging but doable for owners, but imagine jumping from a pain old 1990s car into a flashy new rental with all the bells and whistles... With a bit of exaggeration, one might make a case for individual type rating, like airliner pilots need to have.

Before we reach fully autonomous driving, we might see an age of widespread "car illiteracy", with more and more people who have a driver's license, but who have completely lost touch with the state of the art in car UI concepts. With not enough time on automatic transmission, people here in Europe occasionally even struggle with something as simple as park/neutral/reverse/drive (don't ask my where I got that)

dsmithatx 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sounds like these cars are far from self driving. Just some added safety features that resemble self driving but, are dangerous to use without a foot near the break and hands on the wheel.

I think this sentence pretty much says it all, "For instance, some owners have posted videos of hands- and foot-free driving on YouTube and the car inevitably makes a mistake.".

It sounds like these features are going to end up being abused and probably causing serious fatalities. As we have seen people want to txt and even watch movies while driving. These new features will allow wreck less drivers to pay less attention to driving and more attention to how many Instagram followers they have.

I'll be sure to pay more attention to people driving Honda civics when I'm on the highway.

yalogin 1 day ago 0 replies      
This looks like the same functionality the Tesla Model S has. One of the big draws for the new Model S cars. So much so that people are getting rid of their older Teslas because they did not have the autopilot.

I thought it's only a matter of time before autopilot becomes common place but it looks like its happening sooner than I thought. The good thing is this has nothing to do with the car being electric or not. But the main thing is, if Tesla thought its going to be a differentiator in terms of calling their cars "luxury" its going to be a problem for them. Given that the internals of the Model S itself are not particularly luxorious they need to think about it.

sweetbabyjesus 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Exciting title, disappointing marketing piece for Honda. WSJ has joined the ranks of Forbes promoted content levels.
jtouri 1 day ago 2 replies      
There was a startup that for $10,000 it was a third party option package that was self driving. I wonder how it is doing with all these car companies that create their own options for self-driving.
winter_blue 1 day ago 0 replies      
> The Obama administration has proposed spending $4 billion to accelerate autonomous-car technology during the next decade.

Hmm, what are they spending it on? There's a lot of money being spent on developing this technology already by multiple private companies. I assume it's for something else...

IMO government research money should go into stuff that private industry is unwilling to fund, like pure math, theoretical physics/CS, and other things that have very long-term yield/results timelines.

a_imho 15 hours ago 0 replies      
the self driving car is a concept I have a hard time appreciating. It sounds cool, and offers enormous technological and legislative obstacles to overcome, yet I can't figure out the fundamental problem they will solve - compared to the attention they get. For any use case I can imagine (minus the cool factor) we either have more efficient solutions already, or there are better alternatives to investigate. Plus I figure, most people still like to drive.
encoderer 1 day ago 0 replies      
It might take a while before self driving is widely available, but self stopping is here today. It's now standard equipment in all new Mercedes -- including cars selling for about $30k. I have an entry-level Mercedes and it includes blind spot radar, lane tracking, and collision avoidance that will stop your car automatically if you're distracted or incapacitated. These features are available widely from most automakers now.
sandra_saltlake 20 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm impressed, I'm much more relaxed than before - and that means I'm actually able to just look ahead and think about the road, not about what I'm doing.
nashashmi 1 day ago 0 replies      
The conversation on this HN thread makes me wonder about the future generation who will never learn how to drive.

And then I feel sorry for the generation in between who will be confused with automatic driving happening only sometimes.

Such interruptive learning or even worse, never having learned, has the power to change culture for the worst.

pnut 1 day ago 2 replies      
The impending dawn of the autonomous car era is the reason why I am not marching on Washington for rail investment.

This is really one time where cynical cheapskate politics may hasten rapid, positive societal change.

johnchristopher 1 day ago 0 replies      
Curiously I'd rather pay a premium for a car that can park itself flawlessly. Or drive itself around town while I am busy doing things in said town.
spike021 1 day ago 0 replies      
If it's a much cheaper car than the alternatives, would the self-driving capability be implemented with lower-quality hardware and/or software?
collyw 1 day ago 2 replies      
Is it legal to let these cars drive themselves?
embro 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sadly there is no such thing as an electric Civic.I wish my 30K Nissan Leaf had it.
ams6110 1 day ago 0 replies      
No thanks. Just something else to go wrong.
Animats 1 day ago 1 reply      
From the article: "as long as lane markings remain visible and another vehicle is in front of the car." That's more like platooning, which was demoed two decades ago in Demo 97 [1], than self-driving. Are there more details about how this works, especially about autopilot disconnect and user takeover? Tesla's system is known to have trouble with offramps.[2] (Tesla customers are very forgiving. "It's a beta", one says in their forum.)

Honda's follow-the-leader system avoids some of Tesla's problems. Radar systems for not rear-ending the car ahead are already pretty good, and many are already on the road. Lane following by lane markings isn't that reliable, but restricting it to following the car ahead handles traffic jams nicely while locking out most of the hard cases.

The deployment of self-driving systems which are much dumber than Google's is worrisome. I've written before of the "deadly valley" of automated driving. This is another "deadly valley" system. The deadly valley begins where the driver can take their hands off the wheel and tune out. It ends where the automated system can correctly handle more situations than a human driver.

Google is trying hard to get to the far side of the deadly valley. That's good. Look at the problems they're having. Their only known fender-bender in autonomous mode was when the vehicle was trying to deal with a drain blocked with sandbags and very slowly maneuvered around it, to be hit by a bus, while in a wide lane at a right turn, because the AI misjudged the likely behavior of the bus driver. Google's dealing with the hard edge cases. Cruise, on the other hand, ran into a parked car in San Francisco when the autopilot lost lane tracking, veered left, overcorrected right, and the driver took back control too late. That's a more basic failure.

It also shows the problem with semi-autonomous systems. Expecting the driver to compensate for failures of the automation will not work.

Volvo Car Group President and CEO Hkan Samuelsson says that the company will accept full liability whenever one of its cars is in autonomous mode.[3] He has it right. This needs to be a requirement before the "move fast and break things" crowd gets on the road.

nonmarked-ramp[1] http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/.../pavements/...[2] https://forums.teslamotors.com/de_DE/forum/forums/careful-wh...[3] http://fortune.com/2015/10/07/volvo-liability-self-driving-c...

More code review tools github.com
474 points by Oompa  10 hours ago   117 comments top 21
js2 9 hours ago 13 replies      
It would be nice if GitHub supported a Gerrit-inspired code-review process, where instead of having to choose between:

1) piling new commits onto the existing branch/PR, or

2) force-pushing and completely losing the old commits on the server

You could instead push into a "magic" ref-spec and the server would retain the original commits, but also the rewritten commits, such that a PR can have multiple revisions. This is somewhat hard to explain unless you're familiar with Gerrit and its "patch set" workflow.

Why? Because my preference is to rewrite history in order to address code review comments, such that what is finally merged leaves a clean history. But it is also valuable during the code review process to be able to look across the revisions to make sure everything has been properly addressed.

The only way to do both, today, is to create a new branch and PR for each "revision". i.e. new-feature, new-feature-rev1, new-feature-rev2. Then close the original PR and reference it from the new PR. A bit tedious.

willchen 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Does anybody else feel like GitHub has released more features in the last month than the last 6 months? I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence with all the attention they've gotten on HN, but these improvements are much appreciated!
numbsafari 9 hours ago 6 replies      
I'd love it if there was a way for me to queue my comments before submitting. I often keep my comments in a separate textedit/nv window and then go back to put them in since I want to keep track of questions that arise as I'm reading, but I don't want to pepper someone with comments that would be resolved 200 lines later in the diff.
danpalmer 9 hours ago 3 replies      
This is a great step in the right direction. I use GitHub for code review every day, and it has historically been very poorly designed for thorough reviews. These changes look great, I just hope that we get some sort of checking-off of review points, and accept/reject functionality.
eridius 3 hours ago 0 replies      
These are some nice changes, though there's still plenty of things I want GitHub to make better about code reviewing.

One of these changes, and one that annoys me every single day, is when I get an email about a comment, the email doesn't include any context (e.g. it should include the previous comments on that line and probably the hunk as well). And when I click "View on GitHub" to see it in context, if the commit is now on an outdated diff, I get taken to a page that doesn't show the comment at all. It takes me to the Files view, but the Files view doesn't show outdated comments. If the comment is on an outdated diff then it really should take me to the Conversation view with the comment in question expanded.

alexwebb2 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Did they kill commit-level comments?

I can no longer make comments on a given commit - the entry box at the bottom is gone. Looks like you have to scroll all the way back up to the top, switch to the "Conversation" tab, and then make a PR-level comment instead of a commit-level comment.

I hope I'm missing something here, because as it stands now it's a big step backwards.

stormbrew 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Only related to review in a somewhat indirect way, but I really wish the commit view on github (as well as other git tools) had an equivalent of --left-only command line option to git-log. It's incredibly useful for viewing a high level of the history of a repo that uses merge bubbles, and lack of tooling around doing just that seems like that main reason people do things like squash their branches before merging to master (which is where I think it connects back to review).
forgotpwtomain 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't say I'm a fan. If I select a single commit, instead of giving me a list with a single commit check-marked, it gives me only that single commit and an option to 'show all commits'. So to change the commit you are viewing requires clicking 'show all commits' (waiting for them to load) and then selecting the other commit you want to view (which should just be a check box).

Also it totally baffles me that these actions all require server-side requests. It's really a lot easier to go to the old commits tab, and to ctrl click an open tab for each commit then to use this new feature.

At one point Github offered the best and cleanest UI of all the alternatives - but I doubt this will be the case for long at this rate.

pizza 8 hours ago 0 replies      
If next to every file, Github also listed its filesize, I would know exactly what file to begin looking at when I encountered a new repo (to a good approximation -- in any case, I would be able to intuit better decisions with a combination of filenames, the information in hypothetical README.md's, and filesizes than just READMEs and filenames alone..)

Maybe this doesn't scale or something? It's something I've felt necessary for a while though. Maybe their user testing has concluded otherwise?

willchen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I've noticed some open source projects (particularly Angular 2) follow this convention where they never actually "merge" the PR, but rather rebase it into their main branch and have a message in the commit to close the PR.

The advantages seem to be that you get a cleaner git history, and you can keep all the "in-between" / WIP commits that tell the story. Is this done through an automated tooling or is someone manually rebasing it into master? It seems to be a really useful practice so I'm curious how people do it. It would be great if GitHub could offer this natively, as I think many power Git users appreciate the benefits of rebasing over merging.

jakub_g 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'll plug my work as always when talking about the topic:

I wrote a small script for Chrome/Firefox that I found useful for reviewing big PRs on GitHub. It gives you possibility to expand/collapse files, mark files ok/fail in order come back to them later.

It works with mouse and keyboard (though I've noticed there are some issues with tab order after GitHub upgraded their code, and small UI glitches, I'll try to have a look at them soon)

It's a hack on top of GitHub so it needs maintenance every couple of months, but overally it does its job well IMO.

I don't have much time to hack on it anymore, but community contribs are very welcome. I wrote some potential ideas for improvements as GH issues in the repo. AMA if you're interested.

[1] https://github.com/jakub-g/gh-code-review-assistant

guelo 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Sometimes when I submit a PR and I get a lot of feedback I get lost making sure I've addressed every comment. My #1 feature request would be being able to mark comment threads as resolved. The outdated comment feature sometimes works for this use case but mostly it doesn't.
netcraft 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish it were possible to put comments directly on a line of code in any commit / repo outside of a PR. Sometimes someone wants me to review their code that they aren't submitting anywhere.
Negative1 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice additions. Can't help but feel at some point you'll be able to edit and compile code directly on Github (with some sort of compiler/CL backend). Has Github ever discussed integrating Atom directly into the site?
hwangmoretime 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Code review is something all of us do, but all of us do differently. Anyone know of any nice frameworks, articles, or blog posts for code review? I'm particularly interested in the case where knowledge transfer is a high priority in the code review.

My current side project integrates feedback theory [1], to provide scaffolds and other cues to help and remind reviewers to give high quality feedback. Thus, my interest.

1: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=%22The+Effects+of+Feedb...

artursapek 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome to see GitHub stepping to the plate with these updates. IMO the biggest thing missing in the PR's diff view is a git blame column beside the changes, so if someone is writing good commits I can glance through the entire diff and see which changes were introduced together and why.

Just a feature request, and I know how annoying those can be on the receiving end. Great updates either way.

debacle 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd like block-level comments and maybe even an in-commit commit function (the ability to commit to a PR branch while in the PR). That's all I really care about.
pearlsteinj 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been pleasantly surprised at how fast Github has been moving since that critical open letter came out. For a giant company like Github they've been releasing developer tools very quickly.
xkarga00 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Github, can you please bring the search bar back (w/o the need to log in)?
Jemaclus 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the biggest thing I want is pagination for extremely large commits. Any ideas if that's gonna happen?
fiatjaf 7 hours ago 0 replies      
No matter how much they do, people will still complain.
Amazon Echo, home alone with NPR on, got confused and hijacked a thermostat qz.com
396 points by potshot  4 days ago   144 comments top 24
bdhe 4 days ago 3 replies      
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Douglas Adams in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. A man not just ahead of his time, but humorous about it too.

> The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitiveyou merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope. It saved a lot of muscular expenditure of course, but meant that you had to sit infuriatingly still if you wanted to keep listening to the same program.

imglorp 4 days ago 15 replies      
Wow, this is a new DDOS attack vector. Get an ad on broadcast radio saying stuff like "alexa, order more milk", or "okay google, send a text to xxxxx".
eddieroger 4 days ago 2 replies      
What's really great about this is that it's a joke on the future that's been predicted so many times already, my favorite of which being the last vignette on Disney's Carousel of Progress. The future family is talking about points in a video game, and the oven hears it and turns the temperature way up, ruining another family Christmas dinner - the joke being that this convenience was finally going to make Dad able to not ruin dinner.
userbinator 4 days ago 0 replies      
Somewhat related story: me and some coworkers were talking in a room where someone had a Windows 10 laptop being used to present some data. We were talking as usual when the laptop suddenly decides to open a browser to a Bing search with what looked like a few (badly) voice-recognised words of our conversation. That was a rather awkward moment, given that we were discussing some extremely confidential information, and not helped by the "did someone say 'Hey Cortana'?" the laptop's owner promptly blurted out. If I remember correctly, none of us said anything that sounded remotely like that phrase, yet it activated.

It's now company policy that built-in microphones have to be disabled, and only external ones are allowed to be used when necessary.

brebla 4 days ago 1 reply      
Am I reading this correctly? Amazon essentially built a better integrated version of "The Clapper" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ny8-G8EoWOw
mmanfrin 4 days ago 5 replies      
I think they need to pick a different name. 'Alexa' is very easy to trigger with other names, and reliably activates when I am watching any show with a character named 'Alex', 'Alexy', etc.

One side effect I've noticed is that they seem to have tried to account for it, which has made the Echo less responsive to actual requests; a few times I've stood in front of it yelling 'ALEXA' trying to get it to stop and it does not respond.

minimaxir 4 days ago 1 reply      
Interestingly, the same thing happened about 2 years ago with the Xbox One: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/06/13/kinect_vo...
scott_s 4 days ago 2 replies      
This happens to me with Siri and podcasts - I listen to podcasts in my car, through my iPhone. Occasionally what people say will sound close enough to "Hey, Siri" that it stops the podcasts and and answers whatever question it could extract from the talking following what it thought was "Hey, Siri".

It's repeatable, too. One time it happened right as I was parking, on an episode of This American Life. (Or Serial. Or Planet Money. Yeah, yeah, I listen to a lot of NPR shows.) So I kept rewinding back over that part, and it kept triggering Siri.

chucksmash 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes when you try to recognize speech you wreck a nice beach.
tlrobinson 4 days ago 1 reply      
I, for one, am looking forward to the day Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Now can hold full conversations with each other.
mrbill 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had the wake-word on mine set to "Amazon" and then made the mistake of watching an online training video for AWS....

Had to stop it and change the wake word back to "Alexa".

dredmorbius 4 days ago 1 reply      
I see a tremendous future in direct-to-voice-response advertising. Particularly for purchase-capable systems.
sxates 3 days ago 0 replies      
I had something similar happen watching Battlestar Galactica on my Xbox and Kinect a few years back.

The show went through the opening sequence, then announced "Previously on Battlestar Galactica" at which point the xbox rewound back to the beginning of the show.

zanok 4 days ago 0 replies      
It reminds me of the Toyota radio ad that would place iOS into airplane mode.


beedogs 4 days ago 1 reply      
I guess I must be from the wrong generation, because none of these voice-activated products make any sense to me whatsoever. I really just can't see the point.
joeblau 4 days ago 0 replies      
I had a pretty funny story a few months ago. I was watching San Andreas and there is one part where Paul Giamatti (Dr. Lawrence Hayes) yells "ALEXI..." and sure enough Amazon Echo turns on. I had to stop the movie and turn the Echo off because the it subsequently tired to process everything the movie was saying after the trigger word.
jkot 4 days ago 1 reply      
That is a serious security issue, many apps and webpages have permission to use speaker.
grogenaut 3 days ago 0 replies      
I was on a PS4 launch title. We seriously considered writing things like "Xbox Off" into the script. Also that "Alexa buy me a motorcycle" commercial supposedly triggers it all the time.
yorwba 4 days ago 1 reply      
For most voice control applications, trigger words are enough to reliably detect owner intent, but it seems Echo needs a better mechanism. Maybe adding cameras and looking for eye contact would work?
nialv7 4 days ago 1 reply      
I don't understand why would anyone think having a remote control system without any form of encryption or authentication is a good idea.
MikeTLive 4 days ago 0 replies      
listening to XM radio, they frequently have station identification announcements.

"Siri us xm..."

with the iphone plugged in to charge while driving to work hilarity ensues as it cuts out the audio to speak of whatever it thinks was asked.

sandra_saltlake 3 days ago 0 replies      
That is a serious security issue
ljk 4 days ago 0 replies      
Wow 30 Rock predicted the future!
Work for only 3 hours a day, but everyday plumshell.com
494 points by NonUmemoto  2 days ago   141 comments top 27
err4nt 2 days ago 4 replies      
I have experienced a similar thing while freelancing or design and web development. I used to work 16 hours some days and less hours others, but then sometimes I would need to work and found it hard to kick it into gear.

I think creativity is like a well, and when you do creative work its like drawing that water out. If you use too much water one day, the well runs dry. You have to wait for the goundwater to fill it up again.

Not only did I begin viewing creativity as a limited resource I create and have access to over time, but I noticed that some activities, like reading about science, listening to music, and walking around town actually increase the rate at which the well fills up.

So now I have made it a daily habit of doing things that inspire me, and I also daily draw from the well like the author said - but Im more careful not to creatively 'overdo it' and leave myself unable to be creative the next day.

Viewing it this way has helped a lot, for all the same benefits the author listed. Im in a rhythm where I dont feel I need a break on the weekend, I just still have energy.

JacobAldridge 2 days ago 5 replies      
If I told you that every car needed 8 gallons of gas to drive 100 miles, you'd point out I was wrong - so many different makes and models, not to mention variables from tire pressure to driving style.

Yet for the potentially even more complex range that is different people, it amazes me that so much of the advice is didactic - we all need 8 hours sleep, 8 glasses of water, and 8 hours of work with breaks is optimal.

The closest I get to advice is 'learn your body and what works for you'. Thanks to the OP for sharing what works for him.

wilblack 2 days ago 3 replies      
I started contract work last fall. I set me rate assuming a 25 hour work week. At first I tried working ~4 hrs / day everyday day. I quickly realized this did not work for me. Working everyday, even just a little is not sustainable for me. I have a family and they are still on the 9 to 5 schedule, so working even a few hours on weekends cut into my family time which is important to me. So now I force myself to take at least one weekend day off with no prgramming. This is hard because I love to program. Also I have a hard cutoff time during the week days at about 5:30pm when my wife and kid get home. I usually feel like I want to keep working but that forces me to stop (at least until my daughter goes to bed). So now I work 5 or 6 days a week but seldom exceed 6 hours/ day. Most days are closer to 4hrs. It's great at this pace because I usually always feel like i want to keep programming so I don't get burnt out. And if I do have an off day I just don't work.

The problem I am running into now is what do I do with my spare time? All my hobbies are computer based (video games and Raspberry Pi projects) but I am trying to minimize my screen time in my off hours. This will get better in the spring and summer as the weather gets better but during winter on the Oregon Coast going outside is hit or miss.

And I hear you about not being able to go to bed until I solve a problem I am stuck on, that drives me crazy.

jiblylabs 2 days ago 3 replies      
As a freelancer, I understand where some of the comments "As a freelancer this won't work" are coming from. However, the last year I've flipped my freelancing model where I offer a more productized service with a clearly defined scope and set price. Instead of doing design work for $XXX/h, I'll deliver A,B,C within Timeframe Y, for Price $XXXX. With clearly defined services, I've actually been working for the last 12 months using a similar model, usually constraining myself to 4h/day with weekends off. My productivity + revenue have increased dramatically. Productizing your service makes it easier to market and generate leads, while it gives you the flexibility to work the way you want and actually free up time. Awesome post OP!
susam 2 days ago 3 replies      
I agree with this article mostly, although 3 hours a day might be too little to make good progress with work for some people.

This article reminded me of my previous workplace (about 7 years ago) where my manager discouraged engineers from working for more than 6 hours a day. He recommended 4 hours of work per day and requested us not to exceed more than 6 hours of work per day. He believed working for less number of hours a day would lead to higher code quality, less mistakes and more robust software.

Although, he never went around the floor ensuring that engineers do not exceed 6 hours of work a day, and some engineers did exceed 6 hours a day, however, in my opinion, his team was the most motivated team on the floor.

shin_lao 2 days ago 1 reply      
3 hours a day is just not enough for everyone.

For some projects it's perfectly fine but some tasks can only be done if you focus for a large amount of time on it, work obsessively on it until you reach a milestone.

The greatest work I have ever done, was always done when I retreated like a monk for several weeks, cutting myself of the whole world and working almost non-stop on the task until I made a significant breakthrough.

Then I go back to the livings and share the fruits of my work, and of course, take a well deserved rest for several days.

The trap into most people fall is that they are confusing being active and working.

andretti1977 2 days ago 2 replies      
I agree with the author with some exceptions: when you are working as a contractor or freelancer for someone else's project maybe 3h/day is not acceptable. When you've got externally imposed deadlines 3h/day may not be sufficient.

But i agree that working less than 8h/day could be really more productive. I also liked the "less stuck for coding" topic as "...it is sometimes hard to go bed without solving some unknown issues, and you dont want to stop coding in the middle of it..." so maybe forcing themselves to stop could be a solution.

Anyway, i would really like to work 4 or 5 hours a day but keeping holidays and weekends free from work and i think this can only be achieved if you can pay your living with products of your own such as your apps and not by freelancing (i am a freelance and i know it!).

But i enjoyed the idea behind the article and i will try to achieve it one day.

dkopi 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty sure this has worked for the author, and it will work for a lot of other people as well, but a lot the benefits raised can still be achieved when working more than 3 hours a day.

A few points are raised in the post:1. If you only work 3 hours, you're less tempted to go on twitter/facebook/hacker news.

True - but that's really a question of discipline, work environment and how excited you are about what you're working on.It's perfectly possible to perform for 10 hours straight without distractions, just make sure to take an occasional break for physical health.

2. Better prioritization.

Treating your time as a scarce resource helps focus on the core features. But your time is a scarce resource even if you work 12 hours a day.Programmers are in shortage. They cost a lot. And the time you're spending on building your own apps could have been spent freelancing and working for someone else's apps.Always stick a dollar figure on your working hours. Even if you're working on your own projects.You should always prioritize your tasks, and always consider paying for something that might save you development time (Better computer. better IDE. SaaS solutions, etc).

3. Taking a long break can help you solve a problem you're stuck on.

Personally, I find that taking a short walk, rubber duck debugging or just changing to a different task for a while does the same.If I'm stuck on something, I don't need to stop working on it until tomorrow. I just need an hour or two away from it.

rmsaksida 2 days ago 4 replies      
I mostly agree with the author, but I don't see the point of stopping yourself when you're "in the zone". Why lose the flexibility?

What works for me is having a baseline of 3 or 4 hours of daily work, and not imposing any hard limits when I want or need to do extra hours. This works out great, because I have no excuses not to do the boring routine work as it's just a few hours, but I also have the liberty of doing obsessive 10h sessions when I'm trying to solve a tough problem or when I'm working on something fun.

jacquesm 2 days ago 1 reply      
There is a much better alternative: work really hard for 2 to 3 months per year and then take the rest of the year off. If you're doing high value consulting you can easily do this. You may have to forego some luxury but that's a very small price to pay for the freedom you get in return.
jjoe 2 days ago 0 replies      
It reads like someone who isn't doing much of realtime support. This works great for projects that haven't been unveiled or even ones that require little ongoing maintenance like a game. But if I worked 3 hours a day, my clients would crucify me.

Sadly, it isn't always possible.

maxxxxx 2 days ago 1 reply      
When I was freelancing there were a lot of days when I didn't do much but then there were days when I got into the flow and worked 2 or 3 days almost straight. Most of the time this ended up at around 40 hours/ week on average but in spurts. This was probably the best work environment I have ever been in.

I hate about the corporate workplace that it doesn't accept any kind of rhythm but treats you like a machine that performs exactly the same at all times. Nature is built around seasons and so are humans. They are not machines.

I would much prefer to have a time sheet where I can do my 40 hours whenever I feel like it.

joeguilmette 2 days ago 0 replies      
I work on a remote team and I am only accountable for my output. I end up working 15-25hrs a week. Sometimes more if something is on fire.

I usually work 7 days a week, but invariably a couple days a week I only work an hour, checking email and replying to people.

The work I do is of better quality, I'm happier, and I easily could work at this pace until the day I die.

shanwang 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm about to quit my day job and work on my own projects. I planed to maintain a 9-6 working style by going to a library with wifi. Reading this post I'm now thinking maybe I can experiment with different work routines and see which one is more productive for me.
LiweiZ 2 days ago 0 replies      
I work 4-5 hours everyday but everyday on my own project. I wish I could have more time on work since most of the rest time I have is allocated to housework and taking care of two little ones. I guess the key is to control your work pace. When a sprint is needed and you are ready for it, a two-week with 90-100 hours in each week would not be a bad idea. Just like running. Listen to your body, pick your pace and keep going towards your goal.
a-saleh 2 days ago 0 replies      

I actually had similar routine while at school, but it was 6 hours a day total. 3 hours in the evening, usually just before I went to sleep, might be 19-22, or 21-24 and 3 hours in the morning when I woke up and continued for ~3 hours and then left for lectures.

I started doing this because I realized that I am no longer capable of pulling all-nighters. And it worked surprisingly well :-)

spajus 2 days ago 2 replies      
How to pull this through when you are paid by the hour?
TensionBuoy 2 days ago 2 replies      
3 hours is not enough time to get anything done. I'm self employed. I go 12 hours straight before I realize I should probably eat something. I love what I'm doing so I'm drawn to it all day, every day. At the end of the day I've hardly made a dent in my project though. 3 hours is just getting warmed up.
amelius 2 days ago 1 reply      
> Making money on the App Store is really tough, and people dont care how many hours I spend on my apps. They only care if it is useful or not. This is a completely result oriented world, but personally, I like it.

I would guess that, if the OP had a competitor, then the OP would be easily forced out of the market if that competitor worked 4 hours a day :)

Shorrock 2 days ago 0 replies      
One size certainly does not fit all, however, my one take away is that this is huge benefit to paying close attention to what works best for you and optimizing your life around that. When you focus on productivity and happiness (often the 2 are linked) ignoring, when possible, schedules dictated upon you your quality of life will improve.
1123581321 2 days ago 0 replies      
I read an essay several years ago that suggested working three focused hours a day. But, it suggested slowly increasing the hours worked while keeping the same level of focus, and doing restorative activities in the remaining time. The idea was that this would "triple" productivity.
abledon 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is so true of people who give 100% every moment they work, but can't work long hours without feeling drained. compared to someone who goes at 50% and can manage the 40hr/work-week, I wish this method would become more recognized.
mrottenkolber 2 days ago 0 replies      
What about work 11 hours a week and be happy? Works for me, and I am a freelancer.

Edit: I usually do three blocks of three hours each and one two hour block each week. I find three hours perfect to tackle a problem, and a good chunk to be able to reflect upon afterwards.

JoeAltmaier 2 days ago 0 replies      
"Work for only 3 hours a day, but every day".

'everyday' is an adjective

jamesjyu 2 days ago 0 replies      
Work hard. Not too much. Focus on what's important.
xg15 2 days ago 1 reply      
So no going out for drinks where you might have a hangover the next day?
logicallee 2 days ago 7 replies      
Historically, working 24 hours a day (I include sleep because after a certain number of hours you even dream of code or your business) for 1 year typically accomplishes more than working 3 hours per day for 8 years. Or 1.5 hours per day for 16 years. There is just some kind of economy of scale.


EDIT: I got downvoted. Come up with whatever standard of productivity you want (ANY standard that you want) and adduce a single human who in 16 years times 90 minutes per day accomplished more than I can find a counter-example of someone doing in the same field in 1 year. 1 year of 24 hours a day strictly dominates 16 years of 90 minutes per day, and you cannot find a single counterexample in any field from any era of humanity. Go ahead and try.

oh and by the way, in 1905 Einstein published 1 paper on the Photoelectric effect, for which he won his only nobel prize, 1 paper on Brownian motion which convinced the only leading anti-atomic theorist of the existence of atoms, 1 paper on a little subject that "reconciles Maxwell's equations for electricity and magnetism with the laws of mechanics by introducing major changes to mechanics close to the speed of light. This later became known as Einstein's special theory of relativity" and 1 paper on Massenergy equivalence, which might have remained obscure if he hadn't worked it into a catchy little ditty referring to an "mc". You might have heard of it? E = mc^2? Well a hundred and ten years later all the physicistis are still laying their beats on top.


Your turn. Point to someone who did as much in 16 years by working just 90 minutes per day.

Closer to our own field, Instagram was sold for $1 billion about a year after its founding date, to Facebook. Point out anyone who built $1 billion in value over 16 years working just 90 minutes per day.

Handful of Biologists Went Rogue and Published Directly to Internet nytimes.com
368 points by srikar  11 hours ago   124 comments top 24
dekhn 9 hours ago 6 replies      
When I first found out about the web, early 90's, and it was "obvious" that the role of the web was to expand scientific publishing. I expected that everybody would publish latex files (raw source, not PDFs) in computationally accessible formats, with raw data in easily parseable, semantic forms.

That didn't really happen as expected. In my own chosen field (biology) it happened much more slowly than I hoped- physics (with arxiv) was far better. However, just getting PDFs on biorxiv is only a small part of the long game. I did not appreciate the huge importance placed on publishing in high-profile journals has on one's career trajectory and how large a role that would play in slowing the transition to free publication and post-publication review.

The long game is to enable the vast existing resources, and the new resources, to be parsed semantically by artificial intelligence algorithms. We've already passed the point where individuals can understand the full literature in their chosen field and so eventually we will need AI just to make progress.

nickbauman 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Uh ... isn't this what Tim Berners-Lee meant when he created the world wide web was that scientists do this exactly? It's like he handed a machine gun to us cavemen scientists 25 years ago and we've been collectively clubbing him in the head with it ever since.
blakesterz 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I was working in academia back in 2002 and I remember talking about this crazy open access thing, and blogs, and wikis, with the folks on the tenure committee then. I remember thinking how fast this tenure/publishing thing will change in the next few years. And here it is 13 years later and there's a headline about a HANDFUL of biologists going rouge and daring to publish a PREPRINT!? I know there's been quite a bit of progress, but I'm still surprised at just how little things have changed.
reporter 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I just uploaded three articles in the last two weeks to BioRxiv. The papers were previously just sitting in review. I have already received several emails thanking and informing me that my work is influencing the manuscripts they are writing - more citations. Overall the experience has been an extremely positive experience for me. I don't really see any downsides. So excited for the revolution.
slizard 8 hours ago 0 replies      
While this is nice in that it sets the example (and provides publicity to bioarxiv) it's not a couple of Nobel laureates that post one out of dozen(s) of papers/year published that will make the real difference.

The system is aged and inefficient (some would even argue it's rotten) and IMO comprehensive changes are needed. Like racial or gender discrimination can't be addressed without changing the social rules people live by, the current academic system that's rather elitist, non-inclusive, discriminatory, often more biased and less fair than many think needs to change substantially.

Such change will be aided by important people setting examples (and often going back to their old ways). However more substantial change is needed on multiple levels, most importantly: academic leaders and funding agencies (run by the former) need to stop looking at who's who and how many Nature/Science/insert-your-fancy-journal papers does the person have. For instance, the culture of applying for grant money with work that's half done to maximize one's chances needs to stop and so should the over-emphasis of impressive and positive results.

Additionally, publishers exploiting everyone need to die out and as long as these researchers "go rogue" with a single paper (rather than for instance committing to publish 100% preprints and >75% open access), not much will change.

hwang89 8 hours ago 3 replies      
What's the best way to support and reward these researchers? Something we can do in the next five minutes while they have the reader's attention.
jackcosgrove 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I know the "wisdom of crowds" is passe, but the continued success (all things considered) of Wikipedia and open source software really makes me question the value of quality gatekeepers. I know I'm biased because I work in software and the costs of mediocrity in this industry are less than in others, but I think we could speed up innovation and discovery if we opened up science and made it more publicly accessible and collaborative. At some point the gatekeepers are just protecting their turf and hold back progress.
pnathan 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I talk with a doctoral candidate in Chemistry regularly about the different paper cultures. It's amazing how different different disciplines are... her accounts of Chemistry is that (I synthesize) they are extremely locked down and research is very much aimed towards granting patents. Knowledge sharing to the broader chemistry community does not appear to be a key goal.

It was a huge shock to me, coming from CS: knowledge sharing has such a high value in our community.

cs702 7 hours ago 1 reply      
When a mainstream publication like the New York Times has a positive article about Nobel-prize-winning scientists bypassing the choke-hold of established journals by directly publishing preprints online, you know it's the beginning of the end for the old, bureaucratic way of publishing scientific research.


chrisamiller 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This article is a little bit breathless. In the academic circles that I run (genomics, computational biology, cancer), bioArxiv is not "going rogue". It's becoming pretty common, and will continue to increase in popularity as the FUD surrounding preprints and high-impact journals begins to dissipate. i.e. Nature won't accept my paper if it's on bioArxiv! (Yes they will).
mirimir 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Even cooler, I think, are "working papers". In my arguably limited experience, this seems to be popular mostly in economics. As I understand it, authors are soliciting comment from peers, and thinking becomes long-term collaborative. It's a conversation, not a paper. Maybe scientific research can become even more open and collaborative, using the GitHub model or whatever.
devy 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me who think that this NYT title reflects the negative view of releasing research results in preprints by using the phrase "went rogue"?

Speeding up the knowledge sharing and to solve more problems more quickly is a good thing IMMO. As the same article pointed out, Physicists has been releasing research results in preprints since 1990s.

kusmi 7 hours ago 0 replies      
So it was put online without peer review? Papers can always be submitted by the author to PMC using NIHMS if the journal doesn't do it. However the paper must go through a journal because they arbitrate the peer review.
return0 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That is great (or, to be honest, it's way past time for this, this shouldn't be news). But we need to go beyond that. The PDF format is a relic. We need a platform where scientists can directly edit their articles. Figures should be replaced by interactive visualizations where possible. This would solve the problem of data availability and allow other researchers to have direct access to the data shown in a plot.
tevlon 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Does somebody know why we are still using pdfs for papers ?I know a lot of people that are trying to parse PDF files and it is an awful process.

If somebody is looking for an idea for a new venture, this is a problem, yet to be solved !

larakerns 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This needs to happen in more scientific fields, like a field-specific consensus publishing platform. Everyone agrees to publish their research to benefit everyone else.
the_watcher 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The concerns over "peer review" seem ridiculous to me. The peers who would review it would still have access, and it would open it up to exponentially more people.
batbomb 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Why not just use arxiv.org?
p4wnc6 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't that innovative. Creationists have been doing this for years.
timrpeterson 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Nobel prize winning scientists can go rogue. Until these same rogues hire incoming professors based on their own biorxiv papers this is a small advance.

This whole thing needs to start at the level of the funding agency, namely NIH. Publishing in a good journal is a prerequisite to getting a grant. Try getting an R01 on a Biorxiv paper. Not gonna happen.

danieltillett 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If I was an evil journal editor I would use the metrics on biorivx to accept or reject papers. This would make it easy to predict the future impact factor and help you game the impact factor of your journal.
zem 8 hours ago 2 replies      
can someone explain this bit:

> If university libraries drop their costly journal subscriptions in favor of free preprints, journals may well withdraw permission to use them

withdraw permission to do what exactly, and enforced how?

cmurf 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What about ODF? The Open Document Foundation has been separate from the content creation applications for a couple of years now.
dfraser992 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Information wants to be free, BITCH... But seriously, given the increasing "media savviness" of subsequent generations (from Baby Boomers who grew up with TV, to Gen Y for whom the Internet is a given), the general ability across the spectrum of humanity to synthesize disparate information sources and filter them, compare and contrast, decide what is 'truthy' vs actually true... is increasing. Given all the information scientists have to process... What if machine learning was applied to this problem? The role of traditional gatekeepers is breaking down. I see this is the publishing industry - lots of content, most of the self-published books are awful, but books like "Wool" are able to rise to the top.

At least I hope humanity is getting more sophisticated. What is the median of the age of Trump supporters and the one sigma std dev? That would be an interesting statistic.

A man overrides his camera's firmware to bring rare pictures of North Korea back m1key.me
434 points by jorge-d  1 day ago   163 comments top 36
Laforet 1 day ago 7 replies      
The pictures are not bad, but the captions are incredibly cringe and condescending. Of course he would not bother to tell us how to disable the delete in the firmware. Seriously, I mean, thousands of people have gone on these state-sponsored package tours in North Korea and we see the same set of trains, roads, hotels and attractions that they have really got boring.

One photography project I do found interesting is the set below commissioned by Getty Images. The photographers they hired found a loophole in their visa conditions, managed enter NK from Russia and reached Pyongyang on trains rarely used by tourists. They were able to interact more with the locals since the border guards as well as people en route have not been "coached" to speak to foreginers and the whole thing came out feeling much more genuine than these tourist flicks.

Selected pictures featured in Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3210256/Fascinating-...

Photographer's Portfolio: http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/search/events/573232783?exclude...

Photographer's written account of their travel (in Chinese), plus a few candid shots that Getty refused to buy:https://www.zhihu.com/question/19972643/answer/81163727

easong 23 hours ago 7 replies      
I went to North Korea in January as an American (incidentally on the same tour as the kid who is currently being detained there and in the same group). As mentioned in the article, Americans can't go on the train, so I can't speak to his experiences specifically, but I have a few reactions to this.

1. He probably didn't need to modify his camera firmware - I took pictures of basically whatever I wanted and they didn't look or care. The only exception to this was the (singular) grocery store, which I thought was hilarious because it was actually pretty nice. (With surprisingly good food, too! I'm still snacking on some of the candies I bought there.) I went on a helicopter ride and took a bunch of pictures of anti-aircraft guns and the like hoping that they would make me delete them and I would have a story to tell, but no such luck.

2. There's a big difference between the different tour companies. Some of them really sold the dystopian totalitarian state experience, with extremely strict guides who yelled at people on the tour and checked everybody's cameras and so on. The people on those tours seemed to have signed up for that experience and were, I think, happy to receive it. My group was drunk off our collective asses literally 24/7, our guides were making dick jokes, a guy wandered off on his own on New Years Eve and didn't get back to the hotel until ~3am after getting in a fistfight with a cab driver, and it was generally a party. It seems to me like the author of this article went in looking for a dystopia to photograph, and the tour company gave him one.

3. North Korea is poor as hell, obviously has a horrible government, etc. If you've been to other extremely poor parts of the globe it's obvious that it's a poor country trying to pretend to be a rich one. The successful example of neighboring South Korea makes their failure to provide for their citizens even sadder. But I would guess total quality of life is comparable or better in the DPRK than many other places I've been. (Somalia, nasty bits of Bangladesh, etc)

4. The citizens and possibly government are (not totally unreasonably) terrified that the US is going to invade and crush them like ants at any given moment. I think this drives a lot of their government's malinvestments.

lingben 1 day ago 4 replies      
NK is really a surreal place, no matter how much you learn about it, something new will still shock you

for example, I watched a documentary about a Western eye doctor who went there pro bono to do cataract surgeries

the thing was, when he gave people their sight back they didn't thank him, they went up to a picture of 'Dear Leader' and wept and prostrated themselves in a cathartic show of gratitude

sveiss 1 day ago 0 replies      
The photographer shared this set on Reddit around a month ago and included some additional commentary in the thread.


It was, and is, a fascinating series of photos.

hohohmm 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Pictures are okay if not just generic NK photos, definitely not rare, and the captions, wtf?

"At night, the elderly Chinese dance in the streets in unison avoiding any displays of individuality."What is this? To avoid any display of individuality??? I just marvel at this wishful thinking. They do that in unison because it's fun to do activities with other people sharing the same interest. If i'm playing Starcraft with a bunch of friends, am I avoiding display of individuality? Why can't the biased eyes just state the obvious that the elderly are just enjoying themselves.

Honestly I've seen way better NK photos and way better wishful NK journalism. Why is this even on Hacker News?

jonah 1 day ago 1 reply      
A couple rail fans booked a train from Vienna to Pyongyang in 2008.

Their travelogue is fascinating although it can take some effort to wade through the train-schedule minutia and whatnot if you're not into that but well worth it for the uncensored images.

"The forbidden railway: Vienna - Pyongyang - - - 36 hours in North Korea without a guide..."


EDIT: Direct link to skip the European and Russian part of the trip and go directly to crossing the border:


x1798DE 1 day ago 3 replies      
What a weird title for this. He doesn't even say that that actually happened, just that you can override your firmware to make the delete button not work.
Blackthorn 1 day ago 1 reply      
In case anyone was wondering some of the ways rural Chinese were dealing with the aborted-their-baby-girls problem...

> If you're caught escaping by the Chinese, they send you back if you're a man. But the captured women are referred to as "pigs", and sold to Chinese men

jorge-d 15 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of people expressed concern about the title. I just would like to say that it does come from a misunderstanding about the original article I read the story from [1], as I expressed in another comment [2].

I've discovered plenty of North Kore related stories in HN that people already cover in the comments section [3] or other submissions [4] [5].

I thought that given these two points this story would be quite interesting here in HN. As of the title, knowing now that it's not exactly true I let the mods choose a more appropriate one if needed.

[1] https://twitter.com/Dimitri_Jorge/status/709705048150949888

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11288584

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11287297

[4] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5091962

[5] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2541189

hellofunk 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Most interesting comments by the photographer:

>"Anyone who composes a work that has not been assigned to the writer through this chain of command is by definition guilty of treason. All written works in North Korea must be initiated in response to a specific request from the Workers Party."

>"After the Korean War, North Korea was economically a more attractive destination than South Korea, and many people, including 100,000 ethnic Koreans from Japan, were welcomed into North Korea."

>"in North Korea you only travel big distances by bus or train, when you get permission."

>"This was one of the most strange moments - when we finally arrived in Pyongyang. Through the courtains of the compartment window, we looked at a surreal scene that appeared like something out of a theatre in its perfection and artifice. Elegant men, beautiful women, walking in a simulated hurry, travellers without a reason (ours was the only train that day), all to impress us and so that the station doesn't look empty."

eulji 20 hours ago 1 reply      
WOW. What an ignorance.

1) NK's ICBMs program is much more advanced than SK's2) Young generation is openly doubting the regime3) There's a lot of smuggling of SK's soap operas and music4) Their nuclear research is top-notch considering the circumstances5) All other parties involved (US,China,Japan,South Korea, Russia) are all to be blamed for suffering of 25 millions of people living in an artificial skansen of communism.6) Praising the great leader is one way how to protect yourself and your family when the "democratic, cool westerners" are not going to help you.

And the guy is openly preaching China for being much more advanced ? NK's regime is scary but the one in China is even scarier. They are pragmatic criminals that embraced the art of trade.

US and SK should have invaded and liberated the NK long time ago. They are as much part of the problem as the NK's leadership is.

ivanb 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice. Here is what I see if I just consider the pictures: very clean cities and countryside, disciplined and healthy people living their simple lives. People work and serve their country. Everyone is poor but equally so. No apparent inequality. People get education and perform arts. Of all poor places on Earth it doesn't look like it is the worst.

So this is how it looks to me if I put aside the usual "North Korea is evil" media context.

sakopov 23 hours ago 0 replies      
North Korea looks like the Soviet Union of the 1950s. It's just amazing how stuck in time this place is.
hnfmr 22 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks very much like late 1970s, early 1980s in rural areas of China. For me they are reminiscent of my childhood, when rural areas were still not affected by air/land/water pollution.
nether 1 day ago 1 reply      
When my cousin visited the DPRK, she said that all the paper there was like tissue, and that anything made there of plastic would shatter when dropped. Really limited manufacturing abilities.
rdl 23 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if the North Koreans who get killed for letting a device slip by them which then is used to mock their security will be told exactly why they're being tortured/murdered, or if it will just happen. :(
forgetsusername 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I was mostly struck by a "civilized" backdrop (used loosely) with nary a billboard or piece of litter in view. If I didn't know better, I'd say it looked quiet nice there. But I know better.
dominotw 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I am on my way to get my US Citzenship in couple of years. I've been dreaming about visiting NorthKorea almost everyday for past 3 yrs.

Would visiting NK cause me any trouble getting my US citizenship?

ReedJessen 20 hours ago 0 replies      
This is the craziest thing I have the read in this recent memory: "Anyone who composes a work that has not been assigned to the writer through this chain of command is by definition guilty of treason. All written works in North Korea must be initiated in response to a specific request from the Workers Party."
yequalsx 1 day ago 5 replies      
Visiting a country with concentration camps is morally reprehensible. His visit helps to finance and prop up the deplorable North Korean regime.
ksrm 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Also check out this person's many photos from all over North Korea: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kernbeisser/
necessity 1 day ago 1 reply      
Beautiful colors. If you didn't mention "firmware" I'd have guessed some professional grade film was used.
swang 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Wait, NK women are sold off to the Chinese if they're caught in China? Is this well known?
l33tbro 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Admittedly an aside, but why the author's little jibe about Sigma lenses being amateur? My 18-35mm outperforms Zeiss and Canon glass that is 3 times its price.
jecjec 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I can't do it right now but I plead to those of you with the resources and skill to spin up mirrors of this website to do so. I expect imminent problems.
sriram_iyengar 22 hours ago 2 replies      
all i see is - less population- no traffic- clear air and very less pollution- farm and live easy- walk and cycle and stay fit- great childhood of enjoying countryside

Overall, they are 117th in life expectancy with 65years+. My greatest and largest democracy as well offers just the same.

Don't get any of this living in the greatest democracy's top Urban city !

sedeki 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I am still amazed that NK actually tells people to look like busy travellers at the train station.
lfam 1 day ago 0 replies      
People are carrying heavy things around the city. They don't even have carts or wagons with wheels.
ZoeZoeBee 1 day ago 3 replies      
It is amazing what a generation of brain washing and isolation can do to the perspective of a nation. Amazing to hear a quarter of the population is mentally deficient due to malnutrition, no wonder they believe the world is in awe of their accomplishments. I chuckled when I read they believe payments form other nations (International Aid) are their spoils from war.

Topographically what a beautiful country, I hope some day the North Koreans are afforded an opportunity at freedom.

a_c 1 day ago 0 replies      
Next time north korea with be confiscating the camera instead..
jecjec 21 hours ago 1 reply      
OP produces possibly the greatest work of North Korean photography;

Comments: "This isn't that big of a deal. I've seen better."

tiatia 21 hours ago 0 replies      
jaseemabid 23 hours ago 0 replies      
topspin 1 day ago 1 reply      
True paradise. No commercial billboards. Few cars. Obesity cured. Low energy use. Cooperative domestic politics. Free healthcare.

And all it takes is a couple gulags. Brilliant.

dang 21 hours ago 1 reply      
This comment and far too many others you've posted are an abuse of HN, not because of the positions you take but because HN isn't a forum for screaming your politics at other people.

Since you've ignored our requests not to do this, I'm banning your account. If you don't want it to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

Experimental support for WebAssembly in V8 v8project.blogspot.com
377 points by AndrewDucker  14 hours ago   252 comments top 35
titzer 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Standard caveats apply here. It's experimental: a couple bugfixes are already in flight and we're working hard on improving the startup time.

Overall a huge thanks to our friends at Mozilla and Microsoft and Apple, with whom we've worked closely with over the past year to make this a reality.

xigency 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Finally, a reason to go into JavaScript development with a background in compilers! I can see the need for cross-compiling tools and certain special skills for performant web development in the future, especially since even with complete adoption of WebAssembly this will still create a split between browsers that support it and browsers that don't.

From glossing over the wasm spec, it seems it's designed for C++ compilation, which in the environment I do development, is totally impractical. It sounds like a TypeScript to WebAssembly compiler isn't on Microsoft's radar. In that case, it might be time to work on some tools for analyzing syntax and start annotating types, because compiling from ECMAScript to WebAssembly would be a great boon in production.

fizzbatter 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Anyone know how difficult Rust -> WebAssembly will be, compared to C++ -> WebAssembly? I'm hoping to switch some of my Go code to Rust, as i imagine Go -> WebAssembly will be much further out _(GC and all)_, so i'm hoping Rust is much sooner in the pipeline.
gregwtmtno 12 hours ago 6 replies      
I see the comments here are overwhelmingly positive, so I will keep an open mind. That said, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but this runs binary code loaded over the internet in your browser? As a free-software advocate, this concerns me.
iLoch 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Hmm, I wonder if and what people will switch to when they're not forced to use Javascript. Now any language could become a server side + client side language like JS is now.

Will I have the ability to write a library in one language and use it in another as long as they both compile to wasm?

spriggan3 10 hours ago 3 replies      
So who's going to be first to recreate an entire Flash runtime for WASM? ;)
sp332 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Are there any plans to run WebAssembly outside of a browser? Would it be difficult (once the binary format is nailed down) to distribute a standalone program?
dccoolgai 9 hours ago 1 reply      
For all the complaining about it, I think I will actually be a little sad to see Javascript go. It wasn't perfect, but it had a powerful unifying effect on the Web Community when we could write, share and learn about our code in a higher-level scripting language that we could all read. (Even if there were some surprising little quirks that took a while to get used to.) Despite the stated intention from WASM - there is just something fundamental about AST trees - no matter how well you pretty-print them - that doesn't allow sharing and shared learning the same way. As a run-of-the-mill guy who makes my bread maintaining websites as much as greenfield-developing them, I feel like I'm in for a bit of a rough ride trying to decipher and debug binary/AST code compiled from Perl (or whatever). Guess I'll have to suck it up and learn to do it, though.
Touche 12 hours ago 1 reply      
So when is Google going to deprecate Native Client?
systems 13 hours ago 10 replies      
does this mean i wont have to learn javascript, css, d3, svg, typescript, jquery, etc ... to make webistes and web apps
megaman821 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Would there be any benefit to compiling dynamic languages with GCs (like Python or Ruby) to WASM? It is cool that is technically possible, but this looks like a target for C, C++, and Rust code.
legutierr 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone who is familiar with WebAssembly development know what kinds of things Dynamic Linking (mentioned among the future features) will enable? For instance, would it permit the creation of optimized WebAssembly libraries written in C++ that could be called by a JavasSript program (say, for things like image processing)? Would it eventually permit library sharing between, say, a Python runtime compiled to WebAsembly and JavaScript in the browser?

Because that would pretty cool.

amelius 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Will WebAssembly allow us to create custom video codecs? Or is there still a bottleneck somewhere that makes this unrealistic?
formula1 11 hours ago 3 replies      
More importantly, will rust compile to wasm one day?
iagooar 11 hours ago 1 reply      
When I read news like this, I think: this is the cool stuff you should be doing, not maintaining a lousy e-commerce shop...
tracker1 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't help but to think that this could be a huge win for binary modules in node.js, as it could finally allow for cross-platform, prebuilt binary modules without the tight coupling and build dependencies that are currently needed.
crudbug 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Giant Leap for Web Platform.

How is the mapping from wasm to asm done, at all?

Are they directly mapping from web world to native world in a sandbox ?

Illniyar 13 hours ago 2 replies      
This is moving fast.

Does anyone know if theres a webassembly to js compiler to support legacy browsers?

batmansmk 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It is a wonderful news. Firefox version is ready too.
hutzlibu 11 hours ago 2 replies      
This is great news! And a nice working demo ...And a general question about wasm - since typescript can be strictly typed, would it benefit much, if it would be compiled to wasm?
tadlan 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Question please: Even though there is stated desire to support python etc vm, this will be hampered by the need for the client to download the large VM vs native code that can be distributed itself, correct?
BinaryIdiot 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh man I'm very excited about this! Great job all around!

Web Assembly should make code more portable and faster on the web. No more transpiling to JavaScript (which honestly is a hack; going from one language to another language which is then compiled). If you want to use CoffeeScript, even though I dislike it, you'll be able to compile directly to WebAssembly instead.

I can't wait until this is fully baked with DOM access, etc.

xhrpost 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I know programmers sometimes write directly in assembly for certain performance enhancements and certain hardware access. Is there a foreseeable reason someone would program directly in WebAssembly though? I realize that's not the reason this technology exists, just curious.
spriggan3 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Great news, this is the beginning of the "Javascript Less" movement.
shurcooL 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really exciting, because it's going on a great path and it's a matter of time before all this is available out of the box!

Is anyone working on a Go to WebAssembly compiler yet?

z3t4 12 hours ago 1 reply      
It might sound like a stupid question, but is it faster then vanilla JavaScript!?
bobajeff 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder if Google has any plans on using C++ in any of their web applications now.

Might help them improve Google Docs a lot if they could utilize some mature C++ libraries from a desktop word processor.

noiv 12 hours ago 1 reply      
That three major browser teams implement and publish a new standard/technology at the same time is exciting. OTOH I can't believe we start over again with Assembler (a machine language).
kin 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there any news for WebAssembly on mobile browsers?
randyrand 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone gonna write an LLVM backend for this? =D mouth waters
neals 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this in a state where I can go and try making experiments in webassembly?
ilaksh 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Nim, which is objectively the best programming language, is perfect for Web Assembly.
moron4hire 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is going to be huge for the WebVR community. The demo actually ran great on my janky laptop, whereas the ASM.js version at a lower resolution ran at the considerably crappy level I had come to expect of Unity HTML5-built apps on an Intel integrated GPU. Faster = more efficient, also, so equivalent demos should burn less battery power on my smartphone as well, which means less heat build up, which means a longer time before the GPU throttles down.
anthk 13 hours ago 6 replies      
The day WebAssembly is pushed into mainstream I'd use a web browser with no support for it at all.
Dells Skylake XPS 13, Precision workstations now come with Ubuntu preinstalled arstechnica.com
343 points by bpierre  3 days ago   232 comments top 43
ThePhysicist 3 days ago 11 replies      
I think it's really impressive what Dell has put together here. As my old Thinkpad T430 is nearing it's fourth anniversary I have been looking for an upgrade for a while and compared different options with a focus on lightweight, powerful laptops with good Linux support. And so far the XPS 13 seems way more attractive than the new Lenovo Skylake laptops (e.g. the 460s), which have lower resolution displays (some models still start with a 1.366 x 768 (!) display, which is just ridiculous in 2016), less and slower RAM, smaller hard drives and -as far as I can tell from the specs- less battery life as compared to the XPS 13 but are actually 300 - 400 $ more expensive, even when choosing three year guarantee for the XPS. The only thing I don't like about the XPS is Dell's guarantee, which is "send in", meaning that I probably won't see my laptop for a few weeks if it has to be repaired, whereas Lenovo will send a service technician to me who will usually be able to repair the laptop immediately (I already had to make use of this service twice, once to exchange a noisy fan and once to replace a broken display bezel).

I guess I'll wait for Apple to reveal the new MB Pro line before making a decision, but it seems that for the first time in 10 years my next laptop will not be a Lenovo/IBM.

jaseemabid 3 days ago 2 replies      
> They come with Windows by default, but you can pick Ubuntu instead and shave about $100 off the price.

How awesome!

jpalomaki 3 days ago 2 replies      
I was surprised to notice that the XPS 15 comes also with quad core CPUs and supports 32GB max memory. Interesting option for those looking for desktop level performance in reasonably sized package.
boothead 3 days ago 2 replies      
Any info on when this (or the XPS 15 with linux) will be available in the UK? I just had a look on Dell's website, and as expected it's still a shower of shit WRT finding what you want.

I bought one of the first or 2nd gen XPS 13s and loved it. However the experience of buying from Dell was awful and customer service was so intractable as to be useless too.

latch 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've oft wondered if these would sell better without the Dell branding. Put a nondescript logo on the back (no word), remove all "Dell".

This really annoyed me years ago when I spent a small fortune on a beautiful TV that had "COMPANY" in white letters on the otherwise perfect dark bezel.

siscia 3 days ago 9 replies      
I am a little scared by the touch screen, I have never had one and I don't think I need it...

Anyway the extra complexity that come with it doesn't makes me comfortable...

Any experiences so far ?

kylec 3 days ago 1 reply      
Apple better hurry up with Skylake MacBooks, these look very tempting.
tholford 3 days ago 1 reply      
Bought a used first or second gen Developer Edition XPS13 last year, installed Mint 17.2 on it and have been very pleasantly surprised. Pretty much just as functional as my old MBP for half the price :)
krob 1 day ago 0 replies      
If you're not looking for an ultra book. I've got a 7510 Dell Precision Laptop base. i7-6820HQ supports upto 64gb of ram in the laptop, 2 ram slots above keyboard, 2 below. Supports 1 m.2 epci nvme, 1 sata3. I've Samsung 950 Pro NVME 512gb ssd, 1 2tb Samsung Evo 850. I don't believe the NVME works w/o AHCI booting. My experience with linux on this laptop was bar none one of the best. I did have to install ubuntu 15.10, but everything worked without a hitch. This laptop also worked with optimus graphics chip switching. Quadro 4gb DDR4 M2002 chip. Battery is really impressive. Monitor is 4k matted. It's probably the best laptop I've ever owned. Since I purchased it, it now comes with usb type-c w/ thunderbolt 40gbit support. So you can get a really nice fancy docking port for it. Also I've a 2014 macbook pro fully loaded and this is only 1lb heavier than that was. You can also get a xeon chip on this platform. http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/precision-m7510-workstatio...
forgotpwtomain 3 days ago 1 reply      
I have a new XPS 15 running the 4.4 Kernel - Skylake is very buggy as is the broadcom wireless firmware.

Also slight physical tremors can cause complete system crashes. I would stay away from it.

davidw 3 days ago 3 replies      
I've been very happy with the various XPS 13 systems. This one looks even better. Most likely my next computer.
arca_vorago 3 days ago 0 replies      
I have ordered a few midline desktops from dell for testing their Ubuntu setup. In the end I wiped and installed my own, and the eula that pops up on first boot was fucking ridiculous, I mean I know they like tonpush the boundaries for self protection, and I understand things like wanted to keep any issues in their jurisdiction and stuff like that, but clauses in the eula stated you waved all rights including constitutional ones (yes, the word constitutional was used in the actual eula,) agreed to forfeit any trial by jury or anybother legal procedure except private arbitration in Dells jurisdiction, and some other stuff that really bothered me to see as the first thing that popped up on first boot.

Lots of it is obviously totally unenforceable and wouldnt stand in court, but they put it in there anyway just because they can get away with it.

Does no one do reasonable eulas/tos?

nickpsecurity 3 days ago 0 replies      
History repeats: the Dell Inspiron that just crapped out on me (somewhat) after years of use was their first Linux model. It also had Ubuntu by default. Great laptop. Interesting enough, after all the updates, I'm having trouble finding something that works out of the box that's not Ubuntu. It's running Fedora fine right now but software management is totally different from my Debian-based experience. Might ditch it. ;)
Mikeb85 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's nice to see Dell beginning to actually adopt Linux and Ubuntu. I always kind of figured part of the strategy of going private was to be able to move away from the status quo of being just another Windows vendor... By offering choice and eliminating lock-in, they can go after techie types and serious users who otherwise would have probably just bought a ThinkPad or MBP.
giovannibajo1 3 days ago 1 reply      
The previous models didn't support DFS in wifi 5ghz making them unable to work in high density wifi environments. Actually what's worse is that they randomically lose connection on a DFS AP (when the channel gets into one of the DFS-reserved ones they can't access). So you basically have to force them on 2.4 or disable DFS on the APs.

This applied to both the Broadcom and Intel wifi. Any chance these models are better in this regard?

mistat 3 days ago 0 replies      
Are these available in Australia yet? I can only ever find reference to the US store
davidy123 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is great, but Thinkpads have always had good Linux support. I have a friend who bought the previous XPS 13 Ubuntu edition and it had all kinds of problems which are only being worked out now, problems that aren't present on most Thinkpads.

I got the X1 Yoga one month after it came out, installed an alpha version of Ubuntu 16.04 on it and everything just works, including the touch screen.

manaskarekar 3 days ago 2 replies      
I've had great luck with Dells for Linux support. Lubuntu on Latitudes has run flawlessly over the years.

It is unfortunate that Dell chose to use small arrow keys and at the same time overload the arrow keys with the 'Home-End-PgUp-PgDown'. Hard to believe this layout was chosen for their Latitude and Precision lines too.

jgalt212 2 days ago 0 replies      
I have a new (purchased Dec '15) XPS 15. And despite having dual booted about 10-15 different PCs and laptops (mostly Dell and HP) have thus far have had zero success getting Ubuntu on my new box. I suspect it has to do with two internal hard drives, but I've sort of given up at this point (I bricked the first box, and Dell sent me a new one) and relegate this otherwise very nice laptop to the accounting department to run Quickbooks and Office.
Ruud-v-A 3 days ago 0 replies      
Ive been running Arch Linux on the non-developer edition XPS 15, and Ive experienced very little problems. Occasionally the touchpad does not work, and sometimes headphone audio is silent. Other than that, everything works like a charm, even the Broadcom WiFi adapter.
otar 3 days ago 2 replies      
One tiny detail that bothers me is that there's a Windows logo on the keyboard. It could be Tux or Ubuntu logo.

Tux Penguin sticker solved my problem on my XPS 13, but would be nice to see it coming out of the box.

_RPM 3 days ago 0 replies      
I seriously can't tell if this article being here is an advertisement. Is it possible the site owners have been paid to have this post here?
yitchelle 3 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone share their experience when compared to Macbook Air?
Timshel 3 days ago 2 replies      
Looked really good until they had to botch something: let's put hdmi 1.4 and no DisplayPort, it's not like we're selling 4k screen ...
dblooman 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is there a 13 or 15 inch laptop without a number pad that supports Ubuntu for less than 500 that uses an Core i5 Skylake CPU?
pascalo 3 days ago 1 reply      
For all the people dealing with shitty dell customer support on the phone, try using their @dellcares twitter account. Had a broken acreen glass and later a faulty fan on my 2014 xps 13, and they sent around a technician each time, all via twitter. Much less painfull than hanging on the phone. Excellent customer support.
rcthompson 3 days ago 0 replies      
The placement of the webcam in the lower left corner is truly idiotic.
ciokan 3 days ago 1 reply      
Just got the xps 15 (9550) yesterday which had windows on it. Installed ubuntu 16.04 beta and works very well. I had huge problems trying to install any lower version of ubuntu & variants.
moonbug 3 days ago 1 reply      
At the other end of the spectrum, the 5" Inspiron 3552 that comes with Ubuntu, which I'm typing this on, is quite the best 200 dollar laptop you can get.
tiatia 3 days ago 0 replies      
I use an XPS 13 with Kubuntu.

I have no experience with preinstalled Linux, but similar to Android, I would be afraid of presinstalled crabware. Just remove the windows and make a clean install.

jkot 3 days ago 3 replies      
Price is not that great. 16GB RAM version is more expensive than Windows edition at my local shop (Prague). At least it has Intel wifi.
nivertech 3 days ago 0 replies      
I waiting for Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 4th gen with Skylake CPU. Anybody knows if it's already available?
natch 3 days ago 2 replies      
Does this have a magsafe-type connector for the power cord?

I did look for it in the review but maybe I missed it.

modzu 3 days ago 0 replies      
looks great on paper, but the 2015 xps13 had some serious issues like useless webcam and trackpad...

it's the laptop that flipped me to mac. wont go back.

intrasight 3 days ago 0 replies      
Is it less expensive than one with Windows?
Vlaix 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now make a laptop with a keyboard and touchpad that justifies me stopping frankensteining my old machines to keep them alive.

That chiclet keyboard and phone-sized pad nonsense is very limiting.

cttet 2 days ago 0 replies      
The keyboard though.
Raed667 3 days ago 0 replies      
The only thing holding me back is the CPU.
bliti 3 days ago 0 replies      
How much does this thing cost?
tunichtgut 3 days ago 1 reply      
Hell, its about time!
andreaso 3 days ago 4 replies      
Does it really matter that much what distro it ships with? As long as the laptop ships with any distro preinstalled that hardware tend to be properly supported by the Linux kernel, allowing you to feel safe about installing any other (up-to-date) distro.
akerro 3 days ago 0 replies      
Why is this a news? I bought two laptops before, both of them came with Linux, one Asus one Dell.
xkiwi 3 days ago 2 replies      
If anyone needs or have to install windows 7 on DELL brand laptops for any reason, I highly recommend you to wait until you confirm it can be done.

I have Dell XPS/Precision 11 and 13, the problem is the Windows 7 have difficulty to boot from UEFI, and you will stuck because AHCI is not supported by these DELL's BIOS.

Toddlers Kill More People in the USA (with guns) Than Terrorists Do theguardian.com
316 points by plg  16 hours ago   414 comments top 35
pjc50 15 hours ago 12 replies      
Since this is today's gun argument thread, I'll just point out that the UK is currently commemorating the 20th anniversary of its first and last "mass shooting" incident, at a school in Dunblane, Scotland.

The ensuing total ban on handguns and further restriction on gun licensing mean that mass shootings are nonexistant, firearm murders are extremely rare (about one per year in a country of 60m), shooting of suspects by police is extremely rare (police are not routinely armed, except for anti-terrorist patrols at strategic points with MP5s), and of course firearm accidents and suicides are less common as well. Sadly suicide is a problem in the farming community; farmers often have shotguns for pest control purposes and deer culling.

cm2187 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Terrorism is like a mosquito in a room. Hearing its buzz will drive people nuts but the actual harm caused is negligible.

But right now people are pretty much ready to throw their basic rights and freedom away in the hope it will make the buzz go away.

The worst part is that attacks like the Paris attacks are pretty much impossible to prevent unless we transform our democracy into a totalitarian state...

lhnz 16 hours ago 8 replies      
This doesn't mean toddlers are more dangerous than terrorists. It means there are more toddlers.

I don't think the internal logic of the argument works anyway. Do people react to terrorism solely because of the perception of present danger? I always thought terrorism was feared because it signalled that a group of people would prefer to dominate their host with violence than to assimilate into the predominant culture.

Increasing terrorism is a sign of increasing difficulties assimilating. The ultimate worry is that in 100 years our countries will be split into separate warring tribes.

Edit: Everybody is misunderstanding me. I'm not saying that "terrorists are more dangerous than toddlers!" or "gun control is bad!". I'm saying that people fear terrorism for different underlying reasons than its impact on fatality, and that understanding this will help communication between the right and left (perhaps allowing your arguments to be heard across political lines.)

imgabe 13 hours ago 5 replies      
To play devil's advocate, which gun law would have prevented this person from getting shot by her toddler?

As a gun rights advocate, she presumably has been around guns for a long time and should have been well versed in how to handle them safely. I doubt there's any training that could be mandated that would exceed the experience she already had. Short of banning guns entirely, which would require a constitutional amendment, I don't see what the proposed solution is.

She should definitely be facing some harsh penalties for negligence and endangering a minor if she isn't already. In general, I think it makes more sense to have laws that punish people for bad things that actually happen, not for things that might, conceivably, possibly lead to something bad happening.

No amount of legislation is going to prevent idiots from being idiots.

justin_vanw 13 hours ago 1 reply      
More people in the US die every year from television than die from terrorism in the last 10 years.

I don't mean by being sedentary contributing to heart disease. I mean physically killed by a television falling on you.


This article is misleading. Virtually nobody dies of terrorism. Virtually nobody dies from toddler shootings.

ikeboy 14 hours ago 0 replies      
1. The source for this article is http://www.snopes.com/toddlers-killed-americans-terrorists/, which says

>Broad counts indicate that 21 toddlers shot and killed themselves or others in 2015; 19 Americans died at the hands of potential or suspected Islamic terrorists.

Even taken at face value, that's 21 to 19.

That page is itself a bit confusing. They count the number of deaths by Islamic terrorists while evaluating a claim that merely says foreign terrorists. The guardian then spins that into terrorists, not specifying foreigners. Glancing over https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_J... and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents,_J... turns up the following:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charleston_church_shooting, 9 deadhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_Springs_Planned_Paren..., 3 dead

Neither seem to be by foreigners, so snopes is not wrong, just confusing. The guardian is flat out wrong. The numbers are 9+3+19=31 versus 21 for toddlers.

2. The fear of terrorism is of the tail. People aren't that worried over the 10 people who die in an attack, comparatively. They're worried about the 3000 people that die for a large scale attack, even if it's less likely.

I bet if you took the last 25 years, terrorist deaths would be more than toddler gun deaths. If the latter is around 25 a year, we have a total of 625, versus 3000 from 9/11 alone.

agarden 14 hours ago 6 replies      
What interests me about the gun debate (if one can call it that), is that there are ways of dying that are considered acceptable risks and ways of dying that are not. If you are driving your kids across town and get t-boned by a drunk driver and everyone dies, that is considered a tragedy. But no one will advocate giving up driving. Something really bad happened, everyone move on with your lives.

Or when a relative dies because of a medical error, they might be rage at the particular doctor at fault, but there isn't a general outcry against hospitals or doctors. Everyone will still urge you to go to the ER at first signs of a serious problem.

But if a lunatic shoots a few people in a public place, then guns should just be banned altogether and there is a general outcry and the POTUS needs to visit the victims to console them.

Maybe someone can enlighten me why the risk of gun deaths is so much less acceptable (to a portion of the population) than the risk of death by automobile.

EDIT: Skiing is purely entertainment. About 41.5 people die a year in skiing accidents[1]. This, too, is considered an acceptable risk.

[1] http://www.nsaa.org/media/68045/NSAA-Facts-About-Skiing-Snow...

valine 14 hours ago 3 replies      
Gun ownership is less about protecting individuals from other individuals, and more about protecting our society from governments that want to oppress it. You could make the argument that no such power exists today, but that's besides the point. Powerful, oppressive, nations have existed before and they could exist again. An armed population is our last line of defense.
jfaucett 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Using the argument form of this article you could make any number of outrageously nonsensical claims. The form is basically X does Y more than Z, where X occurs vastly more than Z in some population.


1. white caucasians commit more crime in the Canada than all other ethnic groups combined!

2. In Sweden the common cold is more lethal than HIV!

In my opinion article exemplifies the antithesis of a decent argument or even ligitimate journalism.

protomyth 13 hours ago 1 reply      
And more toddlers die in backyard swimming pools than by any terrorist. Once again, the CDC has an amazing list[1] of what kills US citizens in the USA. Violence doesn't even make the top 15 anymore. Self-harm is at position 10 and we really need to work on that. Plus, all the places with the most restrictive gun laws in the US are the most violent and have the most murders. Stop blaming an object, and start blaming the policies of government that create a cycle of crime.

1) http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/deaths.htm

anexprogrammer 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is more a reflection of how vanishingly rare either event is than a compelling argument for fewer guns.

In a population of 300m or thereabouts some people will die in some very peculiar ways. We can dig up some of the rarer ones to compare with terrorism.

That said some limitation of US gun ownership law does seem sensible. But this story is no more than gossip.

jasonkester 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This will no doubt be framed as a victory for our Pro-Gun society.

After all, ubiquitous gun ownership has so diminished the rampant terrorism problem facing the USA that fewer people in 2015 were killed by terrorists than by small children. Compare that to, say, 2001, when thousands of people were killed by terrorists on average each month, and you can only see a victory in todays improved pro-gun climate.

I don't hold out much hope for a return to reason any time soon.

axelfreeman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This link in the article is more interessting that this article himself. http://www.snopes.com/toddlers-killed-americans-terrorists/
matwood 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Most things that kill people in the USA kill more people than terrorists do. The comparison is purposely sensationalistic and cheapens the argument much like 'think of the children.'
BFatts 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Soon as I got to "rightwing scapegoat" I stopped reading. Sorry, but if it included "leftwing wacko" it would be the same with me. If you can't get your point across without trying to be witty and calling Florida, USA's penis, you don't deserve my attention.
lliamander 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Many people have rightly pointed out that terrorism, being a tail risk, should not have such an out-sized influence on policy or lead to the erosion of civil rights. If that is your take-away from this article, good for you.

Some people, including the article's author, then go on to argue that because of a different tail-risk (toddler's shooting people with guns) we should ban* all guns. This is a terrible argument. I am not saying there are no good arguments out there, I am saying this is not one of them.

*Yes, I said ban. Guns are already regulated, no proposed legislation would prevent this incident, and bans are the explicit end goal of most pro gun-control groups[1]


kelvin0 15 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. - Marc Aurelius.
sobbybutter 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The statistics are always misinterpreted; they can't be considered in the same domain. Terrorists fall in the risk domain that is subject to tail events. Toddlers with guns don't. In plain English, you're not going to see a 10x increase in deaths one year from toddlers playing around with guns, while that's very possible with terrorist activity. In fat-tailed domains like terrorism, single, extreme events make up the entire mean, so just because something bad doesn't happen for a short period of time doesn't mean it's any safer. All it takes is one extreme terrorist event to do some serious damage.
amelius 14 hours ago 0 replies      
This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "but think of the children!" :)
njharman 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This says more about the minuscule threat terrorists pose than the rate of firearm accidents.
emblem21 13 hours ago 0 replies      
In a world full of corporate sponsered politicians who make the laws without regard of the masses, a power mad executive branch that uses state of the art tech to monitor everything in an attempt to detect precrime, the mass incarceration of males based on balance sheet projections, and wide spread police brutality, and growing geopolitical unstability due to interventionalists refusing to allow the markets to reflect risk, it is no wonder the fourth estate and their loyal cadre of narrative worshippers want to totally eliminate gun ownership.
dheera 15 hours ago 2 replies      
How exactly do we define "terrorist"? For example, why is the San Bernandino mass shooting NOT considered terrorism? Because more people were killed in that single incident than were shot by toddlers in all of 2015.
jron 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Lightning Kills More People in the USA Than Terrorists Do
tmaly 13 hours ago 1 reply      
You have to remember only law abiding citizens in the US follow the gun laws.

If a bad guy breaks into your house in the middle of the night, the police response time is not enough to save you and your family. If you want to protect your young child in this case, its better to lawfully own a gun and have proper training on how to use it.

throwaway21816 14 hours ago 0 replies      
There are more toddlers in the USA than terrorists in the USA. This is pretty inconsequential.
marknutter 15 hours ago 0 replies      
When was the last time a toddler killing someone led to the passage of something like the Patriot Act or the creation of a department like Homeland Security. Terrorism isn't about killing as many people as possible, it's about instilling terror in your enemy and all the negative stuff that goes along with that. Comparing it to accidents involving guns and toddlers is lazy.
puppetmaster3 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes the legal system is wrong or even miss used: ergo,lets shut down the legal system.

Sometimes a car kills: ergo, lets ban cars.


joesmo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Any discussions of guns in America that doesn't delve into the differences between states is bound to be uninformed just like this article. You want to see what gun control looks like in America? Go to New Jersey. We have gun control. You cannot leave your house in New Jersey with a gun. The laws and their enforcement are so draconian, you cannot safely even go to the gun range with your very legal gun. This is what gun control looks like in America. We have some of the worst ghettos and gun violence in America because we have gun control, because the only people stupid enough to have a gun on them in New Jersey are criminals. This isn't some hypothetical. This has been reality for decades here. So before some uninformed idiots make idiotic generalized statements about guns in America, I'd like to invite them to New Jersey and see how safe and wonderful their gun-controlled vision of America is.

No one could possibly make such arguments if they really considered the outcome of their actions, but most Americans are too stupid to do that generally and can only consider their own fantasies as reality. That's how we ended up in this situation of draconian drug and terrorism laws. Americans consider what they want to happen as what will and what is happening, despite a flood of evidence to the contrary. Then they write idiotic articles like this without even doing research and finding out what really happens when you have gun control in America.

When there's a researched, well-thought out article on gun control, maybe there'll be something to discuss. Until then, we're wasting words on both sides. Conversation my ass.

FussyZeus 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the latest in a line of articles (and arguments) for that matter that completely fails to address the gun culture we have in the United States. It paints a picture that people who have guns are just these crazy old hicks, ha ha look at them with their silly guns.

First of all in large areas of the country (and around the world) guns can be useful tools of survival or hobbies, including around where I live. We have shooting ranges, gun safety courses, numerous retailers that sell them, and no mass shootings either alongside a healthy and large hunting population. Guns are important here is the takeaway.

It's awfully sad what happened to Jamie Gilt and that toddler is probably going to have some serious issues to work out as they grow up, but let's be clear: she left the gun loaded in an accessible area. That was her choice and now she's paying for it.

Second of all, the problem with this article is that it's basing all of it's arguments in the rational. Guns are dangerous; yeah, we know, they're literal killing machines, that's what they're for. Guns are unnecessary; maybe where you live and we could get by without them too, but we don't want to. We LIKE the guns, that's why we spend large amounts of money on them. In Australia they made big steps in what many consider to be the right direction with a buyback program, but if that was offered here I can honestly say I wouldn't go for it. I bought my guns for a reason; I want them here.

You know a Toyota Camry would probably be much safer and much more economical and better for the environment than a Charger with a V8 engine, but the argument of safety, economy and environment completely misses the reasons I would buy the Charger; it's fun and I like it. And I feel it's an essential part of our freedom to make certain that people are allowed to choose what they WANT instead of what is necessarily the best decision FOR them.

My $0.02.

iraldir 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The simpsons did it
Kenji 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Obvious answer: Ban toddlers rather than end-to-end encryption.

On a more serious note, the gun deaths in America are a cultural problem (being careless with weapons, not locking them away properly, etc). No ban will fix culture. There are ways of improving the world without bans. I loathe the kneejerk reactions like "someone was harmed by X - BAN IT FOR EVERYONE!". What happened to self-responsibility? Why can't we just educate people and encourage them to train in the safe handling of guns? It's not that hard.

melling 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Another ape shit HN statistics story. How about we derive a different title?

Your odds of being killed by a terrorist and by furniture are the same.


"Toddlers with guns kill more people than people killed by furniture."

JustSomeNobody 15 hours ago 2 replies      
> Growing up here myself didnt prepare me for how distinctly, viscerally frightening it would be to raise children in a gun-obsessed nation.

All arguments aside, this is just... really? I mean, come on.

theworstshill 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Mass shootings are a small price to pay for real freedom. Imagine the type of societies that could evolve in Russia/China/etc... if the population was heavily armed. Corruption/Cronyism? Less likely since there is a real chance you might be shot by an unhappy citizen.
neonhomer 15 hours ago 6 replies      
I always hate these kind of articles. As a US citizen there's only rule when it comes to firearms and that's the 2nd Amendment:

"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Until a new Amendment is passed to revoke this individual right, all arguments are invalid.

Re: Obama on Fetishizing Our Phones jonathanmh.com
357 points by jonathanmh  2 days ago   324 comments top 28
tomlongson 2 days ago 10 replies      
A key promise of Obama's campaign for the presidency was to run the most transparent government- however the only person to really deliver on that promise was a whistleblower. Secret courts, secret domestic spying, and now calls for weakening of the digital equivalent of the safe shows that he either was not honest about transparency, or has radically changed his opinion since becoming POTUS.

Maybe it's that he decided to use his political clout to pick healthcare as his signature in American history, not wage war against the NSA, but either way it saddens me to have campaigned for someone who has empowered a surveillance state instead of fight against it.

Liberty literally means "freedom from arbitrary or despotic government or control", and freedom in the information age means the liberty to communicate and store information. Anything to compromise that makes us all more vulnerable to control in all parts of our lives, not just those stored in zeros and ones. I believe America can be "Land of the free, home of the brave", but not without digital liberty.

eigenvector 2 days ago 3 replies      
> So if your argument is strong encryption, no matter what, and we can and should, in fact, create black boxes, then that I think does not strike the kind of balance that we have lived with for 200, 300 years.

Mr. Obama, you are the one who upset the balance with secret, dragnet surveillance of nearly all communications. That's not the bargain the public has had with law enforcement for the last 300 years. Widespread, end-to-end encryption is simply the natural reaction to the arms race you started. We would have never come to this point if the government had kept surveillance within court-supervised bounds.

cromwellian 2 days ago 11 replies      
Obama has a meta-point however that proponents of the absolutist position don't seem to want to face. Democracy relies on transparency. Many of the progressives who are rallying in support of absolute right to privacy are some of the same people who constantly criticize Swiss bank accounts, Cayman island financial shenanigans.

But if companies were to implement the same sorts of impenetrable encryption, on every device, all the way down to the corporate desktop, in a way that not even the company executives themselves can read the email of their own employees, then lots of regulations the government applies to companies would be mooted.

Taken to the extreme, if all communication is digital, and 100% impregnable, and people maintain good OpSec, then it will be hard to impossible to execute lawsuits or regulatory investigations into malfeasance because they'll be no paper trail.

The end result of going full tilt on crypto is cryptoanarchy. This was pretty much well argued in the 90s among the cypherpunks community. Most of the libertarians and Objectivists were salivating over how strong crypto protocols would end fiat currency, end taxation, end regulation, and so on.

So how far as a society are we willing to take this? Does it just extend to private data? Does it extend to transactions? To payments you make for things? To transfers of money? To business transactions? Will Democracy be able to audit nothing of the interactions of citizens or our institutions in the future?

You don't have to agree with Obama's position to see that cryptoanarchy and Democracy are on a collision course, and it makes sense to discuss the possibilities openly without just plugging your ears and taking an absolutist position that demonizes anyone who disagrees.

thom 2 days ago 2 replies      
We're going to fight hard so our grandchildren have really secure email in a world where everything they do and every word they say is uploaded to the internet, transcribed and annotated in realtime by swarms of drones controlled by other kids that, only 50 years earlier, would have been at home doxxing people on Twitter.

Privacy will die, not because it's undesirable or a bad idea, it'll die like copyright and DRM - because it's technically and economically easy to defeat, and people will be motivated to do so. What's more, those people will be hard to catch - after all, the drones will be communicating over very strongly encrypted channels.

[Please refute - I genuinely have nightmares about this future]

downandout 2 days ago 3 replies      
In the end, they are going to introduce laws that make it illegal to implement end-to-end encryption. This sucks, but it's going to happen. France is already moving to do it [1], and in the US, John McCain and others are also calling for similar laws [2]. They will all start off saying that it will be controlled carefully etc., as Obama keeps saying, and then it will be used with reckless abandonment.

What this essentially means is a move to Android for criminals, terrorists, and anyone that wants privacy (since Android allows installation of apps that have not been approved by a gatekeeper bound by the laws of the countries it operates in, whereas iOS does not by default). Open source Android apps with strong encryption will be built in countries without such laws. All of this will likely be the downfall of a few lazy drug dealers that don't want to give up their iPhones, but since the cat is out of the bag and apps with end-to-end encryption already exist and will continue to be built, the governments making these moves will not actually catch any reasonably intelligent terrorists that install and use these apps. They will, however, gain exactly what they want: the ability to conduct surveillance on most people in the world whenever they want.

[1] http://fortune.com/2016/03/04/french-law-apple-iphone-encryp...

[2] http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/senator-mccain-joins-...

tudorw 2 days ago 4 replies      
One strong point that comes out is reference to the transitory nature of governments, just because you trust yours now (!), does not mean you can trust future incarnations, don't give this kind of power to an unknown.
joelhaus 2 days ago 1 reply      
Rather than rhetoric, it would be nice to see more HN arguments based on the strongest possible counterarguments [].


thoughtsimple 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is akin to the politicians that don't want to believe the science around global warming. They believe that if they just deny it, they will turn out to be correct. Obama is doing the same with "golden key" encryption. It is not that the experts are correct and know what they are talking about, it is just that they are disengaged and being stubborn.

"I'm the President of the United States of America and if I say that there must be math that gives me what I want. If you don't invent it, you are disengaged."

plcancel 2 days ago 1 reply      
A couple of other fun quotes:

"And what we realized was that we could potentially build a SWAT team, a world-class technology office inside of the government that was helping across agencies. Weve dubbed that the U.S. Digital Services."

Yes, that's a great analogy! Go with that!

"And this was a little embarrassing for me because I was the cool, early adaptor President."

Cooler and adepter!


SwimAway 2 days ago 3 replies      
Obama, our manipulating word artisan of a president yet again attempting to use strong language (i.e "fetishizing") to polarize our view.
a3n 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is not a fetish. This is a conflict between a government that has gotten away from the "we serve the citizens" mentality, and gone to "we'll do anything we want, routing around the constitution whenever we want, and use "serving citizens" as the excuse, and the citizens who should be able to specify, to any level detail that we want, exactly how those "servents" will serve us. It seems to be sliding away from us.
aldeluis 2 days ago 2 replies      
This interview with Snowden has been broadcasted tonight in Spain. Ended just minutes ago.


shitgoose 2 days ago 1 reply      
so they tell us that we have to arrange our private lives in such way that it would be easier for them to investigate/persecute us, if sometime in the future they decide that we are guilty of breaking their laws.

[with great sadness]: how low have we fallen if we seriously discussing this instead of grabbing pitchforks.

brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
This has been the default position of US government across administrations at least since the 1976 Arms Export Control Act. Nothing has changed except that "the terrorists" have replaced "the communists".

It doesn't matter who says it.

Mandatum 2 days ago 0 replies      
If law was adopted to require backdoors - those who are privacy conscious would simply move their data to countries that allow for strong encryption as well as deniability.

It'd still pose an issue for when people are accessing their data, however depending on your setup this will be very hard to prove from a third-parties perspective given ample security precautions taken (ie using an offshore VPN all the time, data never full accessed locally).

For larger tech companies, I'd assume setup of a new company structure offshore and sensitive data handling to be "outsourced" offshore too (ie parts of the EU, other OECD countries).

jonathanmh 2 days ago 0 replies      
I honestly didn't expect this to be seen. /me is humbled and reading comments
1024core 2 days ago 0 replies      
I hate it when leaders get all upset when the balance is shifted away from them, and yet are perfectly fine when the balance tilts in their favor.

FTA: "then that I think does not strike the kind of balance that we have lived with for 200, 300 years."

200 years ago, it was not possible to cast a dragnet and catch everyone who was doing Something Bad(tm). The government had to get a warrant to open mail; today, the NSA can sift through billions of messages (metadata, they say) in a second.

Even considering US Mail: you could not keep track of who was sending whom mail, at scale. But today, every letter that is mailed has its front and back scanned (for reading the address); but more importantly, these images are saved for future use.

All of this is possible thanks to technology. And when the balance was tilting in their favor, the Establishment was quite happy. But when the balance tilts the other way, suddenly they're crying like a spoiled child whose toys have been taken away.

You can't just throw tantrums when things don't go your way. If the technology permits E2E encryption, they'll just have to live with it and find other ways to catch criminals.

kailuowang 2 days ago 3 replies      
Would like to see more detailed logic in the original post. For e.g. why specifically the parallel between physical world and digital is flawed.
exabrial 2 days ago 0 replies      
"You don't need encryption"

"You don't need a gun"

Oddly enough both are classified as munitions.

x5n1 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obama, the technology, sir, is absolutist. You can have it one way, with privacy, or another, complete lack of it. That's how things are, and you are, with all due respect, stupid for arguing otherwise.
wl 2 days ago 0 replies      
All this talk about "warrant-proof spaces" presumes that they're something new, when in fact they aren't. In the past, conversations in private tended to not be reduced to tangible form and were lost to law enforcement unless they had the foresight and the warrant to bug the location. Now that so many of our communications are mediated by technology, they are by necessity reduced to a tangible form. Secure end-to-end crypto merely takes us back to the status quo antebellum.
basicplus2 2 days ago 0 replies      
Obama, like all the recent US presidents is just a puppet.
awqrre 2 days ago 0 replies      
I used to think that Bush was bad and Obama was good... I'm really upset that I was wrong and that now Bush appears to be the better of the two.
studentrob 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let's get the facts straight about encryption and security. The DOJ needs our help, and we need theirs

We need a grassroots movement here. I know we have the EFF and Apple and a slew of others. But we all need to be writing about this to have our voices heard.

I am in between projects and writing about this extensively online. Would anyone like to work together to organize facts and promote discussion in a concerted manner? The goal would be a) to make a concise message that is understandable by a non-techie, b) back it up with facts and primary source, and c) seek out public figures who can share our message. I have a running summary of events here which I will put in a github repo [1]

Dear technologists:

The task of educating the public and our government on encryption may be even harder than you think. Everyone needs to understand the issues at stake in order to make up their own mind, and it could take years to educate the general public about encryption.

We can expect to continue seeing terrorists attacks in the news regardless of what laws Congress passes. This much we know, and this is, of course, out of our control. However, uninformed law enforcement will blame encryption and they will blame technologists for not allowing them to catch these attacks. Unless all law enforcement truly understands the technology, then they will always blame citizens for fighting for their right to privacy.

Of course, we know this is about security vs. security, not security vs. privacy. Privacy is a secondary focus for many. But law enforcement believes our primary focus is privacy.

My primary concern is that law enforcement does not know how to keep us safe in a world where criminals can sometimes communicate with smartphones across the world in a way that cannot be monitored with a warrant. Regardless of whether Cyrus Vance, James Comey, Loretta Lynch or Obama truly understand this or if they are putting up a smoke screen, the fact is that law enforcement across the country trust them the most. Non-technologists will be more moved to understand the security and economic implications of forcing backdoors upon Americans and US phone manufacturers. For the most part, they are not going to see eye to eye with us on privacy concerns. Lindsey Graham has already changed his view. We can share facts with others and let them make up their own minds.

Some damage is already done. The fact that Vance and Comey have been fighting this for so long is going to make it difficult for them to go back and convince officers of the law that technologists were right, and they were wrong. Many officers will continue to feel snubbed by the tech community.

If we're to advance to the next level of our mutually trusting society, we must all understand encryption technology and its implications. To the extent that we do not all understand encryption, and the ease of which it can be used regardless of government mandates, we will continue infighting and not progress together.

The idea that technologists feel the issue is black and white or absolutist is absolutely incorrect :-). Math is black and white, but our public safety and security is not. It is a complex equation that must be balanced, and we have that focus just as President Obama does. The difference between us and the DOJ is we understand a few more pieces to the equation. I'm open to the idea there are pieces that technologists do not know about, and I encourage the administration to share these details with us. Until all the details are on the table, we won't be able to come up with a solution together. Let's focus on discussing and sharing the variables and their weights. Given information, people can make up their own minds.

If backdoor laws are passed, it's not the end of the world, but our industry will suffer while non-technologists struggle to understand why terrorist attacks continue to occur. It'll be another 4-8 years until we can dig ourselves out of that hole. Let's keep the great country we have and bring facts to the table for open discussion.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/SandersForPresident/comments/49otvu...

pasbesoin 2 days ago 1 reply      
Fetish. Rubber hose "security". Coincidence?
Patronus_Charm 2 days ago 1 reply      
Obama always telling people what to do. Its just not a good look.
ecma 2 days ago 3 replies      
This is incredibly naive bordering on puerile. To suggest that POTUS' view on this is without nuance is to miss his point. POTUS went on to cite existing warrant mechanisms and their underlying principle:

"And we agree on that, because we recognize that just like all of our other rights ... that there are going to be some constraints we impose so we are safe, secure and can live in a civilized society."

I'm not suggesting that this means POTUS and the government have the right answers at the moment. Despite that, we can't ignore the important role law enforcement plays in society, the requirements in support of their role, and the complexities surrounding the right to privacy. We need people advocating for the right balance, not just getting each other frustrated.

OP may have worries other than US law enforcement being from another country. This is one of the /many/ complexities in this space.

mozumder 2 days ago 10 replies      
I think a lot of libertarians miss the fact that many of the communications monitoring aspects that the administration is proposing includes authorization by court order.

It's not like your communications are being monitored by random government employees at will for no reason. There's a specific safeguard here for personal privacy, and that's through a court order.

If government is monitoring your communications, then there's a pretty dammed good reason, as determined by a judge.

Sure, you might call that final safeguard as not enough or susceptible to corruption, but once you do that, you cease to be able to function in a society.

Judicial review is the "trust zone" that citizens are expected to have on society. If you don't trust judicial review, then there's no hope left for you to function in a normal society filled with other people. If you don't have such a "trust zone" in government, then you are basically forced to build your own army to protect you, since you don't trust government.

Since having your personal army is stupid, your best option is to make sure judicial review cannot be corrupted.

Ontario announces that it will begin a basic income trial in 2016 sciencealert.com
290 points by evo_9  3 days ago   276 comments top 23
CydeWeys 3 days ago 18 replies      
Can someone explain to me why universal basic income seems to be more popular than negative income taxes these days? To use some examples I'm picking out of my hat:

1. Universal basic income: Everyone gets $10K per year.

2. Negative income tax: Everyone gets $15K per year, phased out linearly across an income of $60K (i.e. if you earn $0 you get $15K, if you earn $20K you get $10K, if you earn $40K you get $5K, and if you earn $60K then the negative income tax is fully phased out).

Why is 1 preferable to 2? Is it just that it's less susceptible to tax fraud? Note that the amount that an unemployed person gets in UBI is less, because the same amount of money is being distributed to more people, even millionaires.

elcapitan 2 days ago 7 replies      
While I can understand the benefits of basic income, it still bugs me that this might massively undermine democracy and turn out to be a point of no return for a society. Once every single voter has an incentive to vote for politicians that promise increases of their basic income, each election will turn into a competition on increasing that type of spending. It's basically a massive redistribution scheme. This is different from welfare systems, which only support a small number of people who actually need it.
thedevil 3 days ago 9 replies      
This basic income idea has been popping up a lot lately. And there's some merit to it, but there's some major problems too.

The biggest problem I see is giving people cash. Why not instead give each adult a voucher for housing (just barely adequate for cheap housing) and each person $5/day food stamps (or something similar), regardless of income.

Everyone gets a lower stress level this way. The risk of being homeless or hungry go to near zero. It doesn't matter if you're unemployable, or starting a business, or between jobs. You know you're going to be okay.

While giving people cash seems to have the same effect, it doesn't. At least here in the US, money problems are (mostly) a money-management problem. Many people use any cash they get to pay for whatever seems the most pressing at the moment - whether it's rent or a big screen TV. People buy the TV when they have money and rent isn't due yet, then have a little unexpected expense and can't pay rent. The stress level hurts them, hurts their families, causes increased expenses (e.g. payday loan).

My parents were like this, in six-figure-income years and in dead-broke years. It hurt us quite a bit. And "loaning" them money NEVER helped - they'd pay the mortgage today and then buy the TV when the next payday came in. And there's LOTS of people like this, which is why there's a payday loan on every corner.

Now, we've taken care of my mom by covering her housing and utilities directly. And her stress level is down a lot. It works great. This would have also helped me a lot when I was a student. And it means more startups - since all startups would be "ramen profitable" by default. And in the US, we could fund this with about a 10% tax (probably less if we took some funds out of SS, disability, section 8, etc.).

allengeorge 3 days ago 0 replies      
The linked budget announcement says simply that the government will begin consultations on how best to test and implement a Basic Invome scheme in 2016, not that it'll actually trial it this year. Not that a trial will begin his year. And, given the so-so response towards Ontario's supplemental pension plan, I wouldn't take support for this scheme as a given.
mladenkovacevic 3 days ago 2 replies      
I have nothing against basic income as long as there are incentives and opportunities to motivate people to do better for themselves either financially or creatively.

As an Ontario resident it'll be interesting to see if this goes into effect and what the long term results are.

Can we get another province to try a libertarian approach and we can compare notes in about 25 to 50 years?

nokya 3 days ago 2 replies      
We will be voting to implement the same mechanism in Switzerland in next June. Fear campaigns by right-wing parties are intensifying.
d0m 2 days ago 0 replies      
I'm from Montreal where there's already income to families not making enough money. This is great but obviously some people abuse the system and use it to drink beer all day so some Montrealers don't like the idea of using their taxes to give them money.

But one very important point that people don't know is that giving basic income like that, even if abused, reduce criminality. When you have no money and are desperate, you're more likely to start doing illegal actions. Economically speaking, when you start thinking about the cost of more criminality, you realize that it's a pretty good deal to give basic income.

Not everyone here agrees with what I just said - most people don't even know that - but I think that in itself is a great reason.

manishsharan 3 days ago 5 replies      
Given the fact that the Canadian economy isn't doing well and the government is running deficits, how are we going to pay for this ? What are we going to cut ? What taxes are we going to increase? Given the fact that value of CAD has dropped significantly which has led to increased food prices, how will this not hurt the working poor and the middle class ?
shurcooL 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wonder how many people would use this as on opportunity to be able to spend more time working on open source.
avz 3 days ago 3 replies      
The often raised argument in defense of UBI is the automation of production.

Well, work isn't just about producing goods. We work to solve problems. And there are plenty of problems and challenges that machines won't solve for us ranging from cancer and dementia to clean energy to global warming. Not to mention some nice-to-haves for the long-term like space colonization, life extension or nanotechnology.

Saying that humans should not need to work is like saying this is it. We're done here. This is the world we want.

ZoeZoeBee 3 days ago 0 replies      
The title of the article is completely misleading.


From the Budget:>One area of research that will inform the path to comprehensive reform will be the evaluation of a Basic Income pilot. The pilot project will test a growing view at home and abroad that a basic income could build on the success of minimum wage policies and increases in child benefits by providing more consistent and predictable support in the context of todays dynamic labour market. The pilot would also test whether a basic income would provide a more efficient way of delivering income support, strengthen the attachment to the labour force, and achieve savings in other areas, such as health care and housing supports. The government will work with communities, researchers and other stakeholders in 2016 to determine how best to design and implement a Basic Income pilot.

I find it quite interesting they are presupposing a Universal Basic Income, will strengthen attachment to the labor force instead of decreasing it. Human Nature suggests other wise.

marcoperaza 3 days ago 1 reply      
I think there's a real opportunity for a grand compromise between the left and right here. If a basic income/negative income tax is bundled with abolishing most or all other government handouts and retirement plans, small government minded people like myself could get behind it.

One thing I worry about is that this could cause massive inflation and a recession (stagflation) as people drop out of low-wage work in droves. What percent of society will decide to live on solely the basic income if it's high enough to pay for basic expenses? Work is virtuous and builds character. Idle hands are the devil's playthings.

And what would it do to our democracy if a huge portion of the population is living on someone else's dime and not even trying to join the workforce. Isn't it fair to call them children? What insight could they possibly have in the democratic process except to vote their own immediate monetary interests? I believe in universal suffrage, which is why this is a conundrum for me.

shitgoose 2 days ago 0 replies      
Being already over 300 billion CAD in debt, it only make sense for Ontario to spend a bit more. Looks like Ontario government gave up hopes to repay the debt, so who cares - a basic income more, a basic income less...
Pxtl 3 days ago 0 replies      
A challenge with Ontario is that the province is already on hard financial times and the current government is politically beholden to the bureaucracy. The financial idea of mincome is that the government can shut down a bunch of over-managed social programs in favour of a unified simple payment direct to the residents...

...but there's not political will to shrink the government complexity and capture this savings, which means mincome in Ontario is the fiscal policy equivalent of this xkcd comic:


hippich 3 days ago 2 replies      
Simple question - in ideal world where UBI replaces welfare system, what happens to person, who takes UBI check, spend it all in casino and next day is due day for rent, health insurance, no food in refrigerator, etc?
vamur 3 days ago 3 replies      
Basic income should be done like in the Expanse (e.g only for those with no/minimal income) and it should be dynamic - percentage based on the current economy size. It should also be spent only on domestic products to stimulate local economy. Otherwise, it will be another Ponzi scheme like the current pension systems.

Which would be a shame since it's a good idea and necessary due to technological advances.

refurb 2 days ago 2 replies      
I wonder if "payday loan" companies would jump all over basic income? "Can't wait for your next month's basic income check? We'll get you CASH right now for only a small fee.* We're here to help you!"

*Annual interest rate of 1200%

johnny_kinds 3 days ago 7 replies      
The issue with basic income is in the long-term. When more and more generations of people start to depend on it (I've seen it with welfare in my hometown), it becomes a crutch and will stifle their future success.

Eventually, there won't be enough people giving back into the system and the whole thing will collapse. Before this happens, taxes will continue to be raised in people in lower income brackets.

The politicians love it though. It creates an instant voter base. Why would a person, receiving free money, vote for someone that will take it away?

Because of things like this, I wish we had laws in place that all voters had to at least 1) work some sort of job (it doesn't matter what it is) and 2) proof they paid income taxes.

guylepage3 3 days ago 0 replies      
Definitely excited to see this trial take place.
foota 3 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like someone beat YC to it :)
sageikosa 3 days ago 1 reply      
In social science, society is the guinea pig.
eliteraspberrie 3 days ago 7 replies      
For context, Ontario has no natural resources. We have always been an export economy. With globalization and automation, manufacturing is mostly gone, and it's creating social problems. We have a fundamentally different view of the role of government here, we believe government should promote quality of life and happiness. Yes it is socialism and we don't apologize.
ra1n85 3 days ago 6 replies      
Basic income seems to come from the right place from people that support it.

I do think it's misguided benevolence, though. I hope that largely removing adversity and creating dependence aren't viewed as trivial changes here. People need to be challenged. We need to consider the more subtle ramifications of this. Humans have always labored. Work is in our blood.

On asking job candidates to code philcalcado.com
328 points by lnmx  16 hours ago   451 comments top 52
hnrodey 14 hours ago 6 replies      
I'm going through the interview process this week at two different companies. One of the companies I found through an ad on Stack Overflow whereby they publish two programming "exercises/puzzles" with the opportunity to earn $100 for a correct answer to each puzzle ($200 total for two correct answers). While I spent more than eight hours on both puzzles, I found them to be thought provoking and I learned stuff in the process so I don't feel like I wasted any time and I got a check in the mail for $200. My code was reviewed by their dev staff so they had immediate feedback on my programming ability and high confidence to bring me in for an on-site interview. I like this process and consider it worthwhile.
MangezBien 5 hours ago 5 replies      
Interesting. I applied to DO about ten weeks ago. I had an initial phone screen, and they sent me a code challenge. I completed and turned in the challenge. Then I heard nothing for two weeks. I reached out to my contact there, and she got back to me a week later saying, "I've been waiting on feedback - sorry it's taking so long! I just pinged the manager again this morning." That was the last I heard from DO.

I feel like I wasted the half-day I spent on their code challenge. I don't expect a job, but a simple "Thanks but no thanks," would be nice.

neoCrimeLabs 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I just want to create a well documented simple resful API for applicants to use. If an applicant wants to apply for a job they have to write code in the language of their choice to apply using the API. Upon successful application, request their SSH public key and supply a git repository they can check their code into. A hook script will email me upon successful commit.

A moderately experienced dev will not spend much time to apply, and frankly would probably enjoy the interface better than most job application websites. :-)

A lesser experienced dev will end up spending more time, but really if they are successful we would still want to look at them.

jcadam 13 hours ago 31 replies      
A couple of months ago I did a 'homework' assignment for an interview (it involved writing a simple REST service in go, even though I have at least one personal project demonstrating exactly this skill -- to an even greater degree -- in my github profile). During the phone-discussion after turning in the project, the mid 20-something lead developer couldn't find anything to nitpick (I could have) and even told me he thought I was a better programmer than him. The conversation went very well and I felt confident I would receive an offer.

Now, what do you suppose happened next? I never heard from them again and all of my attempts at communication were ignored. I'm starting to think my age is becoming a factor (mid 30s) -- and also these kids have no sense of respect and professional courtesy. I'd like to say this was an isolated incident, but that would be a lie.

Stupid me just spent his Saturday doing another such project, though at least this one presented a more interesting problem. I swear, if I find out I had my time wasted again I'm going into consulting. Or maybe I'll go to truck driving school. Or open a cafe. Screw this "employee" stuff.

The fact that so many employers treat candidates like this tells me that the whole "it's hard to find good developers" line is a lie.

overgard 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I definitely wouldn't call myself an expert, but in my career I've probably interviewed a few hundred people. I think people way over-complicate this stuff by trying to be too clever.

To me, the most useful question is this: "here is an example project that we'd be likely to do, how would you build it?" Then you just let them walk through the steps they'd take.

From there you can launch into why they made the choices they made, trade-offs, philosophy, etc. When you hear people explain how they would make something real, you start to learn a lot of things about them without even needing to ask, and so you're less likely to get scripted answers. They're also probably in their comfort zone at this point, so you get to see them in a more real way.

I don't necessarily mind "homework" style projects, but I tend to shy away from that sort of thing as it's not always respectful of the candidates time.

Two questions I usually avoid (but see getting asked all the time): puzzle questions, and language trivia. I don't ask puzzle questions because I've never seen it correlate to something useful. Most puzzles require an "aha" moment where your subconscious bubbles up some kind of answer, but the easiest way to short circuit that part of a persons brain is to put them in front of strangers with a time constraint. Puzzles might give you a clue as to a persons overall IQ and confidence, but it won't tell you a lot about how they can do the job.

Puzzle questions are also "expensive", in that they usually put a candidate on edge, and they set off the candidates bullshit detector. Let's keep in mind that we're going to reject the majority of candidates, statistically speaking, but you still want them to think highly of your company. If they feel like they're being rejected for a BS reason, you've just created animosity towards your company. It's important that the people you reject still feel respected.

I don't ask language or framework trivia, as I don't think it's useful. I might lob a softball about a framework just to make sure they've actually used it, but I'm not going to ask something hard.

im_down_w_otp 12 hours ago 1 reply      

I've created from scratch: new CRDT data-types for geospatial problems, new highly-available transaction patterns that provide useful causal history and atomic visibility, large-scale messaging platforms (400k ops/sec), high-throughput machine learning pipelines, lock-free lightweight-process mailbox implementations, and an end-to-end build pipeline for generating bare-metal rumpkernels to be parallel deployed to N-number of Minnowboard Max devices. Among other things.

If you asked me to do homework to prove to you that I can "program", I'd have a brief discussion with you about how misguided that seems, thank you for your time, and walk away.

I mean fully "hundreds of connections" to a socket pool? Are you serious? If I submit a solution that can do "hundreds of thousands of connections" that includes QuickCheck tests for your protocol and my implementation, Ansible scripts for deployment and orchestration, and a Makefile that builds it, tests it, bakes it into a unikernel, and drives the Ansible scripts to push it out and start the end-to-end load test, do I get to be CEO or something?

Why is tech hiring so full of strange, meaningless obstacle courses? Do we just collectively not have better ideas?

orng 15 hours ago 5 replies      
I really hate having to solve these kind of programming challenges. I've already sent you my CV, with references from former/current employers and co-workers. Call them up if you are worried that I'm lying on my rsum, don't waste my time by making me work for the chance of maybe getting a job as only payment. Doing multiple interviews already takes up enough of my time, seeing as I'm the one who has to commute to your location.
sixtypoundhound 14 hours ago 1 reply      
The real problem here isn't coding interviews; its how we (hiring managers) approach the entire question.

The goals of a technical interview should be:- Confirm the credentials presented aren't complete BS- Validate they know enough to be immediately helpful- Assess their long term potential (brains, social skills)

Coding challenges tend to be good at the first two points but very questionable for the third. Incidentally, given that I'm seeing a 50% washout rate from a basic SQL code question (supported by confessions from candidates that they fabricated credentials/experience), you would be silly not to include some form of practical test.

The third point (potential) is best measured by talking with them about a project they really cared about. For those who cannot share work examples, pick a good side project. Don't get hung up on the content - focus on their passion. You'll get a better view of my capabilities if you chat with me about building an ad server, mobile optimization, or SEO analytics (real world projects I care about) than with a contrived example.

As for the github profile of code shrugs why? Seems like a bit of a cult to me. I'm happy to sharing anything that's useful (and do so on my blog) but don't have the free time to spend developing code for the sake of "work samples". My work samples run on production servers as commercial projects, thank you very much..... Suspect many other good candidates are the same.

dandersh 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorry but I will not write any code for you.

Furthermore, after providing ZERO feedback in the past when I have provided github links, offline code samples, personalized cover sheets, etc. to prospective employers this also will not be done. I'm not going to worry and beat myself up because you can't be bothered to provide feedback even when requested to do so.

Homework for programming jobs is just like homework for school: it is not used to judge competency but to demonstrate that your time is not your own as it belongs to someone else. In the case of programming jobs the homework assignment also acts as a filter to weed out employees who will not be properly subservient to the employer.

jetcata 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I am in the midst of my job search, fortunately I'm not currently working (due to an international move) so I have more time.

So far, I have completed around 12 1 hour phone coding tests, the same amount of 30 min chats with recruiters, I have 8x 5 hour on-sites scheduled, have spent about 4 long days on one take-home assignment, 6-8 hours on another, and have two more assignments to complete, both of which I estimate will take over 8 hours each.

I haven't had a weekend for the past 2 weeks because I've been working on assignments and I'm pretty stressed and exhausted.

This process has made me consider changing careers because it's so exhausting. When companies give you take-home assignments I don't think they realise how many things you have going on at the same time.

Additionally, I've found that a one hour coding test has allowed companies to move faster in the process with me than those who have given assignments. When I receive an offer from a company I am happy with then I will tell those companies with assignments I haven't finished that I won't be moving forward with them and they will miss out on a great candidate!

gorpomon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
On paper (or blog), having a candidate write code for an interview is better than a BS whiteboard session.

In practice, it means I spent 20 hours on my last piece of sample code I submitted to a job I was excited about. Only to be told no thanks, with the feedback of:

"Your app meets what we spec'd out, but it differs from our style."

And to be clear, after I repeatedly asked for what they were looking for in this code, they replied "we are purposely providing nothing except functional requirements to see what you produce".

I could have given them exactly what they want, but I guess they'd rather just wait and hope that someone magically codes the same way they do?

Honestly I should have billed them after that.

innertracks 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Last week, I finished 2-3 hours of on-site interviews which required a flight and an overnight stay after an initial phone screen, a phone technical interview, and a short technical challenge online.

I was surprised how a couple really basic concepts evaporated from my head during the in-person white boarding. The questions though were reasonable and the interviewers were friendly. All in all a positive experience just an incredible investment of time it seems for all concerned.

The take away is I need to practice solving problems on a white board with just 3 hours of sleep. The sleep deprivation part might be the most important factor to simulate.

Hm. Maybe bourbon? Or a good cider?

tptacek 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Like the author, having run a hiring program for several years based on coding challenges designed to mimic the work the team does (ie, work sample tests), I do not understand why any tech company does developer hiring in any other way.

I particularly like how this team iterated on their uploader problem, abstracting it out to a socket server and providing a test suite for it. Reacting to ambiguity by abstracting the problem was clever. And, of course, a great illustration of how a standardized hiring tool can, like any software project, be iterated on and improved --- unlike a free-form whiteboard interview.

ClayFerguson 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the reason so many companies resort to asking candidates to do a programming project for the interview is because they are lazy and don't want to take time to interview someone, or they suck at interviewing, or both. Bottom line, if you can't judge someone's ability by talking to them it's YOUR fault. You suck at interviewing. Last time I was looking for a job a company I was interested in gave me this massive assignment and I just told them to take a hike. I'm not spending all day writing some code for you for free sorry. Sure there are lots of horrible programmers out there, and you'll end up hiring them if you suck at determining what their skill level is via a conversation. But I hope other GREAT developers follow suit with me. Refuse these stupid programming challenges.
aprdm 14 hours ago 3 replies      
A startup in Berlin gave me a code challenge that would take at least 20 hours, I had even to deploy in specific version of the libraries, they give the datasets and etc.

I was very suspicious of being an actual feature development. I've said I would only do that if they would pay me to.

They answered that they feel very sorry for me because a lot of the candidates feel the coding challenge very challenging because they can learn new stuff and they love it

go figure

Tunabrain 15 hours ago 21 replies      
> As brain-dead as I was after eight hours at my project, [..]

Is giving out an 8+ hour programming project as part of the application process really considered good hiring practice? If you apply to five jobs, you're expected to spend an entire unpaid work week writing code that doesn't benefit anyone? If a company receives 20 applicants, their ideal candidate selection wastes a collective work month?

I don't really understand this ideal. What's the point of maintaining an online portfolio and a github profile full of code if companies prefer to waste your time writing a pointless uploader?

Hermel 15 hours ago 3 replies      
In my experience, asking candidates to read and explain someone else's code is a much better indicator than letting them do some whiteboard programming.
verelo 9 hours ago 2 replies      
A lot of people here seem to suggest it is unreasonable to ask someone to do some coding in an interview given that you've shown a series of projects and provided references. Unfortunately I've been through a variety of interviews where I feel the conditions which I was asked to code were unreasonable (whiteboard, overly complex problems while under pressure, using a language I was not comfortable with or just academic problems that are rare in the real world), but I really think confirming their ability to write code, beyond things like github repos etc, is an important step of hiring a developer (because i've seen great github repos and references, but ended up with developers that are very, very average)

I've only hired tens of people, and while that is not a massive sample size, I'm still astonished by the simple questions we ask that people get stuck on. The one that continues to shock me:

"In any language of your choice, write a function that takes an array of ints and returns the sum of those ints (If you use a language such as php do not use array_sum)"

I'm just looking for something like:

function sum($ints) {

 $sum = 0; foreach($ints as $i) { $sum += $i; } return $sum;

Then we follow up with something like: "lets say your input array contains [4,-7,0], walk me through the code"

And we finally ask "talk to me about some things that could go wrong at runtime that might cause issues with this function". Expecting people to talk about overflows (maxint?) or if its a dynamic language like php, checking for non-integer values.

I estimate that around 50% of people get ruled out during the "coding" exercise mentioned above. It is astonishing that these people even apply for developer jobs.

dhd415 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I can see the value from a hiring perspective in asking candidates to code, but it's no panacea. The bias in the interviewing process that so many acknowledge still bleeds through into many of the coding projects in the form of prescribed languages or frameworks. I suppose there's some merit to that if the intention is to screen for experience in a particular language or framework, but it does run counter to the commonly-expressed sentiment that companies are looking for smart developers who are able to learn new technologies rather than developers who have happened to use particular technologies.

As a candidate going through the job search process now, though, I have to say that it gets tiring to do a project or programming test for every different company. I can juggle more traditional applications (phone screens, on-site interviews) at a time than applications that require coding projects as I'm limited by the number of 4-hour (or 8-hour or whatever) blocks of time I can devote to completing a project for each one.

jessegreathouse 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I think a coding test is the wrong approach. Typically a coding test is too simple to be meaningful, or too difficult to be practical.

Instead I would have a Mock PR in a github style discussion forum. Have it be a contrived example of some things that could be improved or some things that could spark really good discussion. Give the mock PR link to the candidate and ask them to Peer review the code. Make the discussion and comments of the the candidate the basis for which you determine their aptitude. If they have a lot of depth in their critique then you can be relatively confident how they would interact with the team in a real work scenario.

bewe42 14 hours ago 0 replies      
If a company asks me to do 8 or more hours of artificial coding test I usually refuse, unless I really want to work for this company (because it is well known in the community, which are few).

However, I'm happy to work on any real task for a reduced or limited fee. It's a win-win: the company gets to know the candidate under real conditions, has an actual task solved at a reduced price, and the developer does not give away his/her time for free. Plus, if it works out, the candidate has learned already the first steps about the company's system and process and can directly build on it.

I'm always wondering why not more companies do this.

dpeck 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I just instituted a coding assignment with our hiring (exceptions made for those with extensive github/similar open source contributions), and so far only have had three candidates do it, but I'm a fan.

Mine is crafted so a really competent developer could get it done in 30 minutes, and intermediate 2 hours and a junior probably not finish. I tell them to send what they have in after two hours that I'm as interested in seeing the structure and thought process than the final result. It seems much better than having someone do it at the office or one a whiteboard for accessing basic competence.

Yes it sucks, but after you get bit once or twice by hiring people who knew all the right words but can't actually produce something useful you get a lot more open to it. I'll gladly take the time to take you out to lunch to discuss the job and code assignment and give feedback afterwards, investing a couple of hours into finding your next job shouldn't be this huge ordeal and gives off a diva vibe I don't want in my organization anyway.

afarrell 14 hours ago 0 replies      
One thing which I've wanted to see a company try is to give someone code to read and asking them to walk through how they would go about understanding it. I've done this once when I worked at MassChallenge and was trying to hire a more senior engineer to work above me and I felt like it gave me a good idea of his ability to talk through problems and work with others, but that was only one interview and I'd like to see a larger sample size.
randcraw 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Calcado describes his wish that the candidates be "more T-shaped", and not just worker bees with narrow skills. But I see no mention of ways his more successful hires "branched out" and expressed wider interests or capabilities, presumably in in domains outside computing.

Here, do the T branches apply only within computing, like knowing more than one software tool? If so, I think that's not what Tim Brown meant.

Presumably an interview seeking signs of "T-branching" would propose higher level questions, like business acumen or domain curiosity or spontaneous Q&A to better understand or elaborate the requirements needed to solve a representative problem. Otherwise the "T" just equates to broad software skills.

thedz 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't mind a 2 hour or even maybe a 4 hour assignment, but a project estimated at 8 hours?

Yeah, either you pay me for that time, or I'll just look elsewhere.

(And granted, that might exactly be what the company is looking for: a way to reduce the amount of applicants they have to sift through)

herval 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The process I've seen working best to this day was at Pivotal Labs: pair for a half hour to one hour with 3 different people in the team you're being hired for. You get to measure everything, from communication skills to cultural fit. Perhaps pair on an internal tool, or even better, an open source project (in which case the candidate gets an extra incentive for not wasting their time).

If you're dealing with too many candidates, issuing a simple 1-hour coding challenge will weed out the uninterested (and won't favor people that have 4-8 hours to devote to a huge coding challenge).

tetraodonpuffer 13 hours ago 2 replies      
not sure why there is so much resistance here about doing an 8 hour test, I might be in the minority but for a traditional whiteboard interview I would spend a lot more than 8 hours revising algorithms and so on, and have a lot of stress due to whiteboard coding not being anything like real coding.

Being able to take a Sunday to work on a challenging problem in my own editor / computer / dev environment sounds great! I wish that all companies added in their job ads something like 'if you want to skip the whiteboard send us your solution to this problem together with your resume' where the problem is a representative problem of the type of work they do, then you spend the interview discussing your solution as opposed to playing algorithm-roulette.

It would also cut down the uncertainty when you see a job ad where they ask for all sorts of different languages / skills, if you have fun doing the coding test, it's likely you'll enjoy working there, and vice-versa (in which case you might decide not to even apply)

justinhj 7 hours ago 0 replies      
A few years ago I was given a programming test after an initial phone screen with a HR person. They said do it in any language, and it had a fancy framework that let you edit and test the solution before you sent it.

I chose Clojure since I was learning it at the time. The problems were easy and I made working solutions, but the framework wasn't working. I gathered some call stack data and sent it to the people that make the tool. They thanked me for the feedback and later fixed the bug.

I sent the completed code by email to the company with a note about what had happened. Showing clearly that my code works in the form of some tests.

Then, on the basis of this they didn't proceed.

vblord 14 hours ago 2 replies      
When we hire, after a few phone interviews we give the programmer an in person coding exercise that is very basic. Open a file and parse data, etc... They can use the internet. It's very basic. 80% of the candidates cannot do that. I'm not exaggerating. Maybe I'm missing something here, but it's pretty astonishing to me.
bryanrasmussen 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I've only had to do 4 of these, as they aren't that popular in my corner of the earth yet, but I didn't like them, I have a kid and stuff to do and I can't spend my time doing 4 hours extra on the weekend unless it is a job I really, really want.

First out of the 4 I did what was asked but got refused because I didn't clean up the code afterwards ( I thought I'd been cool for demonstrating some lesser known functionalities of the language and API I was dealing with). If I've spent 4 hours doing it, I don't want to spend 2 hours making it really pretty.

Second out of the 4 I misunderstood the instructions so I went in and 'fixed' their code to make it work they way I thought they wanted it ( was maybe too tired since it was late at night after a day of working on a personal project) This was actually a job that was close to one I really, really want.

Third out of the 4 I can't remember anything about it now.

Fourth out of the 4 they really liked what I did and we had a great interview, and then I got turned down because they thought I wasn't really that interested in their company (which was true, I was just fulfilling a job search requirement while getting my startup going)

Aside from that I interviewed at a social analytics startup one time and we ended up talking data mining and they asked me to do a 2 weeks project with them to do a POC of sentiment mining Twitter/Facebook. I gave them what my consulting fees would be, but they seemed really interested in me doing it for free as conditional for pursuing employment there. So I never got to try that coding exercise.

lfmunoz4 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Good for initial screening, but should not take more than 30 minutes. Else IMHO laziness or incompetence asking a programmer to do an assignment. Any good manager/developer/interviewer can sit with a candidate for 1-4 hours and determine if his skill level and personality match the job requirements.
makecheck 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, you cant give people stuff to do offline because they cheat (youll see the whole thing show up in no time as a Stack Overflow question). And you cant avoid coding questions during interviews because it is astounding how much people lie on rsums; seriously, even people who describe their background as Advanced Knowledge of $LANGUAGE, can choke when asked to do the most trivial things in $LANGUAGE.

I try to ask questions that arent completely ridiculous, but definite tests of knowledge. And in my mind I judge correctness not so much on remembering obscure syntax but on how they approached the problem, and how much time it seemed to take them to start doing something. I always ask about things like how they approach debugging, testing, etc. because these are important too and they tell you a lot about how likely the person is to be able to handle any problem you come up with.

mjt0229 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if maybe instead of asking people to code on the fly, it would make more sense to ask people to review, analyze, and explain some existing code.
Toenex 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the 'simplified job description'. All too often a job description is simply a list of technologies the last guy claimed to be using/have used/knew something about.
dmitrifedorov 8 hours ago 0 replies      
That article is the best advertising for not working for DigitalOcean. The management doesn't understand what makes a good programmer.
TheOneTrueKyle 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently spent 4 weeks of my life interviewing for one of the bigger video games companies for their web dev team.

After those 4 weeks, I didn't get the job. Around the 3rd week I felt like my time was wasted. I want to work for this place, but if I want try again later in life, I probably won't because it took up way too much of my time with little to no value.

It sucks that I'm required to sacrifice my personal and vacation days to find potential new employment.

bcg1 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> we would ask you to use just your languages standard library, no third-party libs or frameworks... With the problem description, we sent to candidates a functional test suite, a binary that when started would try to connect to the candidates server implementation, open lots of sockets, sends lots of messages, and verify the results against what the problem description stated. The candidate was instructed only to send their submission once it passed the functional test on their local box.

Incidentally, this is exactly how the "Sun Certified Java Developer" certification was structured. You were only allowed to use java.* and javax.* packages provided as part of the JRE, and even among those things like the SQL packages were off limits. Instead of sending a test suite, they provided an interface you needed to implement and then when you submitted it, they had some sort of test suite that tested your code for conformance to the spec (and if it failed, you failed). If it passed, someone would manually review your program to make sure it made sense with respect to the requirements (which were intentionally somewhat vague, like real requirements) and if you passed that step, you had to write an essay about WHY you made certain design decisions (like sockets+serialization vs. RMI, etc).

This was by far the most challenging and fun task of its type that I've done, and to this day if I see that someone has that certification I know that they have what it takes to get things done. This methodology should really be utilized more, although for many companies the overhead of designing such a challenge would be way over the top. Makes me think that things like https://www.stockfighter.io/ have a future in our industry.

joantune 11 hours ago 1 reply      
"It turns out that most people would put together a Rails app with more lines on their Gemfile than lines of actual code they wrote. Worse"

- how is this worse then rewriting the wheel? write code only when you must

encoderer 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't usually ask candidates to write code for free. They're professionals and I expect them to _review_ code with me -- some of theirs and some of ours -- but not write it. I find that asking a candidate to write code for no true economic purpose that I will lightly read and then throw away does not inspire somebodies best work and I can gain more insight by an exercise where i have them read an explain code to me.
BBlarat 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I like Jeff Atwoods approach[0], hire the candidate for a short project (2-3 weeks) let the candidate a feel for the product and team while getting paid. And at the same time let the team get to know the candidate. I would love to go through a hiring process like that :)


pnathan 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My main hope when talking with a recruiter person is that we avoid the kabuki theater. at this point: I'm good at some stuff, poor at others. My resume is an adequate description of things I am good at. I'd like to talk personality fit now, thanks.
lmm 13 hours ago 0 replies      
"Language standard library" seems like a very arbitrary standard to impose. Some languages have a very large one, others a small one. Wouldn't it be better to specify what "primitives" you wanted the code to use? (e.g. must use raw sockets vs. may use a http library vs. may use a basic json-parsing library vs. may use a full json object mapper)
zby 12 hours ago 0 replies      
"we sent to candidates a functional test sute, a binary that when started would try to connect to the candidates server implementation, open lots of sockets, sends lots of messages, and verify the results against what the problem description stated"

Codility.com is a software as service company that automates this.

p4wnc6 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As I mentioned in another comment on this thread, one of the biggest issues is framing programming as a low-status, commodity activity.

I doubt Digital Ocean does this since they want good people, but a lot of firms absolutely design their hiring process to create an upper hand and lower your status before you even walk in the door -- especially if you're an experienced engineer.

Short timed tests or whiteboard hazing are the worst version of this. These are the most blatant attempts to commoditize software labor down into a fixed set of "primitives" like data structure trivia or riddles. This is what organizations like HackerRank exist to do: allow big companies to suppress wages by creating these sorts of commodization filters. They don't attempt to capture the value of creative problem solving at all -- because the company is not pricing the value of creative problem solving into the budget for the position, since it's a rank-and-file commodity job.

For this reason alone, you are better off flat out rejecting anything like a HackerRank test or similar online, interactive, short timed test. I would absolutely go so far as to even refuse to write code on a whiteboard if asked to do so in an in-person interview. It's fine to talk about how to solve a problem and spec things out. But the minute it becomes focused on actual fucking syntax, it's game over. You are now a cog.

Longer-form tests are a lot harder to evaluate from the candidate's point of view. Now you are asking for a significant chunk of my time, without paying me. And I am still at the mercy of whatever you happen to think constitutes a valid test. I might look at your take home test and thing, "wtf? this has nothing to do with real world work." Where does that leave me? Of course I want to impress the hiring staff, but I also don't want to get roped into a bad job, and a team that hires me to do real world work by using contrived coding examples is probably not a good place to be.

Personally, I think it's a lot more useful to talk about code that already exists. Either example code form the candidate, or example code that you give to them along with some time to study it.

Engineers read code more than they write code anyway, and right when you hire someone, even if you're a bleeding edge start-up, their short-term impact is a lot more predicated on their ability to read code and quickly learn a new system, not so much writing a bunch of stuff from scratch.

It's also pretty hard to fake competency when reading and discussing actual code. If you don't know how something works, you just don't know. You probably can't just google how the internals of some highly-specific ad hoc code works, unlike data structure trivia (which is yet another reason why it just doesn't matter how much data structure trivia you have memorized).

Basically, my overall conclusion is that when someone asks you to code in a short, timed setting, they are basically lighting a cigar, fingering their handlebar moustache, kicking their feet up on the table, and saying "dance monkey dance."

Unless you are literally desperate for the job, you should reject it right away. You are being positioned so that no matter how well you do on the test, you are but a lowly code typist and they will not take your attempts at negotiation seriously.

yandrypozo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This article sounds pretty good, we need more people like you, but I think the next step for DigitalOcean is not hire for resume, or at least giving a chance to make one of those coding tasks
LoSboccacc 13 hours ago 0 replies      
we use this http://play.elevatorsaga.com/ because it's extremely easy to understand, is open to multiple solution and immediately sort out both who doesn't understand queues, priorities, closures but most importantly who has completely no empathy and win level pushing numbers instead of satisfying clients.

it also takes very little time to introduce and solve which is a plus since we prefer to give it out in-office. but we do tell the candidate beforehand that there will be a 15 coding challenge so they don't panic.

merb 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Flavio is a nice Guy! He wrote a great scala Database library, lately. (quill)
CaRDiaK 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Not writing code for a potential employer or being asked to in an interview is a warning flag to me personally. I feel better if they do, as they've seen the goods to influence their decision on the hire. It's more about "How does this person think, how do they approach the problem". How can you measure that unless you're there? I see a lot of "I shouldn't have to do that". Well yeah, ok. But if you're any good, you shouldn't have a problem with that either.
logfromblammo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
You don't have to determine whether I am good at writing software. I put that right on my resume.

You just have to determine whether I am a liar--or, more generously, simply unable to assess my own abilities accurately.

ebbv 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand the appeal of having candidates write code as part of the application process, but in my view it's useless and worse, it will drive off some of the best potential candidates you could get.

First, why is it useless? Because it is an artificial and contrived exercise and not real work. Even if you design your requirements to mimic your real work environment, there's something key missing; the candidate has no knowledge of your team and your environment. How I would write code for my current team vs. how I would write code at any other job I've been at is different. You're basically asking the candidate to take a guess at what kind of paradigms your code reviewers like and what they don't like and hope it works out. One team might find use of closures smart and great, and another might find it unintuitive and adding unnecessary complexity. Your applicants have no way of knowing and just have to hope they write code your team likes.

On top of that, one contrived exercise is not a good way to get an idea of a persons' actual skill and knowledge. I'd much rather have a 30-90 minute conversation with someone where nobody writes any code than to review a contrived example. I get the appeal of the programming task, it can be done asynchronously and thus doesn't require any developer time until you go to do the review. But is it really saving you much time? Anyone who's code doesn't pass unit tests or any other automated level of screening wouldn't probably make it very far into a conversation either.

If I have an applicant spend 1-4 hours writing a code example I've had them use at least as much and probably more of their time for far less benefit than if I had simply called them up on Skype and talked to them about programming. The conversation will reveal not only a lot more to me about their actual skill set, but also their personality and how they might fit into my team. Now I realize teams doing exercises aren't skipping the conversation step, but I'm advocating for skipping the programming task step and going right to the conversation if someone's resume is solid and they can intelligently answer some basic questions (a handful of questions that should take no more than a couple minutes to answer, not an essay.)

Second, why would I say it drives off good candidates? Because I know a lot of really good developers (including myself) who skip any job posting that requires writing code as part of the application process. Why do I do that? Because it tells me the team behind this application is immature. They haven't yet gotten to the point in their careers where they realize these exercises are a waste of everyone's time. That means there's probably going to be a lot of other young dude bullshit in the team that I'm not interested in dealing with.

mixmastamyk 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Watch the recent coreos post/video, the CTO is probably a smart and nice guy but he looks about 16.
sauronlord 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The best candidates are too busy kicking ass and getting lured away with huge sums of money - and not waste time working for free.
Why do we work so hard? 1843magazine.com
359 points by wslh  3 days ago   197 comments top 36
burgessaccount 3 days ago 8 replies      
This will sound moralistic, and I don't mean it that way, but I think this relates to our general lack of clear values as a society. With religion absent in many people's lives, not much has stepped in to take up the slack and say "what really matters is being a good person" or "what really matters is wisdom" or "what really matters is family". So we're left with the messages we ARE getting, which are from a combination of advertising (what really matters is having a lot of money/nice things), Hollywood (what really matters is being good at shit) and the news cycle (which focuses on careers and especially major careers). "Mom gets home from work and has a fun late afternoon with her kids, spending no money and getting nothing much done" isn't a story we ever see upheld as a great, positive way to spend our time. So we pursue the things we do see people praising and talking about - promotions, money, milestones, important-ness.
buf 3 days ago 15 replies      
I moved to SF in 2008 as a poor college grad. Since then, I've spent all of my time in startups. It's an unhealthy addiction and it's going to kill me.

I was the third engineer at Eventbrite, and I spent years working many extra hours. After 4 years, it felt like I worked 10 years.

I quit and moved to Europe to try to leave the startup scene, but a month later, I found myself the CTO of a startup in London. The addiction continued. Eventually I found myself back in SF. I'm on my 3rd CTO role now. We're about to raise a series B.

More than I'd like to admit, I want to stop this madness and just enjoy life. Hang out with my family. Perhaps move to Denver or Austin to maintain some semblance of tech life, but get out of the madness. I've been looking at houses in Denver for over a year. And it depresses me.

I know that it can't happen. I know that I'll be working like this until my health prohibits me.

lquist 3 days ago 2 replies      
You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?""I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.


madengr 3 days ago 2 replies      
I enjoy designing RF/Microwave hardware and I am paid well to do it. I plan on doing it till I keel over. I have a state of the art lab at work, and a nice lab at home. I'm passionate about electronics and really wouldn't know what else to do.
iokevins 3 days ago 1 reply      
Excellent article; at 3,860 words, it's a bit long, but recommended.

Here's a much shorter response, with more pathos:

"Oh. And if your reading this while sitting in some darkened studio or edit suite agonizing over whether housewife A should pick up the soap powder with her left hand or her right, do yourself a favour. Power down. Lock up and go home and kiss your wife and kids."

-- Linds Redding, "A Short Lesson in Perspective"

Read the whole thing:http://www.lindsredding.com/2012/03/11/a-overdue-lesson-in-p...

Animats 2 days ago 2 replies      
Competition. It's not that we really have to work that hard to produce a product or service. It's that we have to work really hard to beat the other people trying to do the same thing.

Increased productivity doesn't help, because everybody is still running flat out to compete, at a higher level.

itsAllTrue 3 days ago 7 replies      
The only reason I work hard is to surround myself with people I respect.

When I find myself pushed into situations where irritating people have crept into the mix, and no one seems to be willing or able to do anything about that, I look for an exit.

Boss' nephews. Obnoxious assholes who constantly talk about getting laid. Bitchy careerist ladies who constantly demand bullshit, and seem to foment panic with every breath they can muster. Narcissistic retards dumb as a bag of hammers, but smug to the core about everything they do, which usually turns out to be sitting on their asses all day, looking up trivia about sports. Weirdos who can't seem to bathe themselves, even though they're like 40 years old?

I work hard to separate myself from these people.

iopq 3 days ago 2 replies      
I wish I wanted to work a lot. I just kind of force myself to do it, even if it's something I'm excited about.
yason 2 days ago 0 replies      
Work is a good excuse around which to build your life. The excuse approaches perfection in occupations such as programming which is getting paid for what would basically be your hobby. Andas any excuseit is, as lovingly ever-favoured by your mind, easily used to avoid facing things in life, and edges in yourself. Staying busy is the opposite of having enough. It is doing versus being. When you do, you're trying to achieve something. When you be, you're liable to realise that you aren't missing anything, and that the keys to your life are found within yourself. People need both flavours but work rarely offers the latter.
gedy 2 days ago 0 replies      
> "Of all things, hard work has become a virtue instead of the curse it was always advertised to be by our remote ancestors... The necessity to work is a neurotic symptom. It is a crutch. It is an attempt to make oneself feel valuable even though there is no particular need for ones working."

C. B. Chisholm

pasbesoin 2 days ago 0 replies      
I worked hard -- or, long -- because I had a shit personal life and neighbors who made it miserable to be at home. And, I was taught early and thoroughly that there was nothing I could do about such things.

Let me tell you, it is a terrible way to live.

Working hard and smartly and with fun, which I occasionally got to do, was something different and immensely satisfying.

But, if you are "working hard" because life sucks. Get your life in order. The sooner the better, not just for you, but ultimately, for your career.

Anyone who says you can't. Or that you have to "pay some sort of dues"? Fuck them.

As I overheard in the cafe, the other day -- my paraphrase may not be as snappy as the original: There's one choice where the outcome is 100% certain: Not choosing. Making no choice, taking no action, no chance.

The young-ish fellow was advising another young fellow on whether to ask a girl out.

As someone who's ended up spending his life alone -- and, is that "not by choice", or, per the above, precisely by choice. Let me tell you, there is no more important choice.

Family, friends, lovers, work and interests that matter (however, and, big or small). There is no more important choice. "Work hard" on those.

jensen123 2 days ago 1 reply      
What about getting laid? It's no secret that women tend to find rich men attractive. Or men with a high social status. I wonder how many men work hard because of this?
arca_vorago 3 days ago 0 replies      
Because in a poor economy the most job desperate set ceilings for themselves they dare not touch. I know people who produce millions in profit a year, on 50-60k salary with any bonus over 3k for xmas is unheard of. Disparate power between employee and employer. I personally the problem is people dont understand the correct process of negotiating a contract.

In essence, making people desperate makes robots that are handy, but the lack of reward incentive creates demonstratably worse worke product.

bikamonki 3 days ago 0 replies      
It really depends. Most times you just need the money. Sometimes you have nothing better to do. Many times you just keep doing it because you are used to doing it. A few times is your dream job and you just can't stop doing it. Work is more than economics, is not a function of money. Work is action. My father is a 73 'retired' professional and scholar, now serving as a congressman, and already thinking what to do next. Action is life and you should never stop it: work til you drop.

Another question would be: why do we keep working so hard for money when technology could already solve many of our needs?

bitmapbrother 3 days ago 1 reply      
Whenever I read topics like this I always think of Office Space.

Bob Porter: Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately.

Peter Gibbons: I wouldn't say I've been missing it, Bob.

Tempest1981 3 days ago 2 replies      
Some people thrive on "solving puzzles", which is sort of what engineering is.

For better or worse, there are an infinite number of puzzles to solve.

esfandia 2 days ago 1 reply      
This is what I've realized lately about job satisfaction:

Purpose, autonomy, work/life balance: pick 2

ACow_Adonis 3 days ago 2 replies      
There's several issues intertwined here. The easy ones are those market forces I experienced at the relative bottom of the pay-scale and at the smaller end of the company scale: you're asked to work harder and more hours because it makes more money/profits for your employer to get you to work as long as possible for as little as possible.

However, I think there's two more aspects I think I can contribute.

Firstly: some kind of social identity. I've worked in a fair number of fields and a fair number of jobs, so being attached to a job or thinking of "myself as a particular profession" seems quite alien. But a fair number of my colleagues saw/see themselves as possessing a particular identity, and work/professions defined that for them. We have a very powerful social indoctrination that you are your job: we have titles, little boxes for "profession" on forms, and many people have internalized the messages that "you are what you are employed as", and that you need this external direction/identity to tell you what to do (I don't want to retire, what would I do with myself?!), and that their social identity is formed through their work/networks. Its a bit of a self-fullfilling prophecy, because as we move away from community oriented networks, people's social networks do become defined by where they work. Even if you manage to get out of the ratrace, you discover that your friends are still in it, so they don't have time to spend with you and you can't identify with some of their everyday struggles if you aren't going through it also. I should also note that people who gained this identity through work took retrenchment and change the hardest psychologically, and its easy upon reflection to understand why.

The second aspect though is this: generating the impression of work. I don't know whether its base human psychology (I think there are good arguments from anthropology that it isn't) or a culture-bound phenomenon, but I believe two things: that most humans still have a fundamentally reptilian-brain/cargo-cult psychology that is pretty close to the marxian concept of a labor theory of value, and that in modern large-scale professional life, metrics able to easily tie a worker or professional's inputs to outputs/profits accurately aren't commonly available.

So there is a social/cultural aspect here: how do most people judge how much you're bringing to the workplace? If you're not working in a widget factory, most people's have a heavily weighted proxy to just look at "how busy you look".

Would any CEO, politician, or professional in our culture, ever, justify themselves in taking their salaries by saying everything was running smoothly, and their job was to sit there, like a good taoist-esque ruler, just sitting and facing the horizon and not interrupt? The very idea is absurd, even though we must admit, I think rationally, that in some situations at the very least, that may be the most reasonable course of action. No, instead we justify such by "hours work put in" because it seems to be both a good cultural proxy, and I suspect because, even if its pretty bad, at least its a good cultural value to motivate the lower-downs into being good workers.

But it is of course, on an intellectual level, obscene and ridiculous. And it results in the promotion and workplace culture that I've experienced now at a lot of firms and professional workplaces.

Fresh out of university (economics), I was under the belief that government was generally wasteful. And I worked there, and I saw that it was, and it is, and all was good :)

But I didn't know true waste until I worked for the larger private corporations. We'd hire 15 men, 10 consultants, 4 managers, and support staff to do in 2 years what I could probably do with a skilled team of 4 in my area in government in 12 months. Am i being a little bit hyperbolic, maybe...

When I worked in government, the 2-3 staff would tell you something was bullshit, bitch, take a long lunch break, but get something done...maybe not everything, but something. They weren't salespeople.

In private sector professional firms, people will just lie and say everything they do is productive and a success. Its a hustle, its a sale. They'll come in to the office and rather than eat with their families at home, they'll eat breakfast at work while still not doing anything. They'll go to conferences and say "how great we are!". They'll come up with as many jobs and tasks as they can, and the efficiency of what they do is totally irrelevant. They still play solitaire on their computers. They get tonnes of people to proofread documents n times with n meetings (before eventually switching back to the original version). They'll restructure before restructuring back. They'll fire. They'll hire. It doesn't matter, just do STUFF.

The philosophy is just spend all the money you have and get your staff to do STUFF, expand your empire as much as possible, make everyone work, be seen to work, take credit for everything good, disown everything bad.

To them, long hours wasn't/isn't inefficient or a sign of intellectual failing, its a sign of how awesome you are, and you come in early and you stay back late not because you're doing anything (indeed, amongst the honest ones, there is a haunting realisation that your job, or at least the hours you're putting into it, maybe isn't actually producing anything, or might even be creating more work...), but because its a culturally-structurally reinforcing meme.

I'm not saying that all this culture is universal amongst us, or our workplaces, or our societies. But its there, and I think its all having a pretty powerful impact on our relationship with work, labor, and status...

agentgt 2 days ago 0 replies      
It has been discussed many times why work makes us happy and the most compelling is flow: https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?la...

It was also covered in the documentary "Happy".

I actually was thinking the article would discuss more in detail this or even just put a citation (he cited Keynes and Marx) but instead it went on a long personal anecdotal comparison after comparison.

I also was hoping the author would discuss the developing trend of people working from home and how that relates but.. nope.

IMO the article was too long for my liking. A fairly disappointing read.

DrNuke 2 days ago 0 replies      
Earth is a small rocky ball among billions in the void. We don't know why we are here and what happens next. Stick your head into a mission (work, religion, family, whatever you like) and don't think about that.
holri 2 days ago 0 replies      
The answer can be found in this excellent analysis of modern economics by E.F Schumacher from 1973:


binarycrusader 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's easy to spend a few hours on work (especially in the computing field) and feel a sense of accomplishment; not so much with life.

Programming often feels like a series of little victories to me, and it's much harder to achieve that outside of work.

prirun 2 days ago 1 reply      
One thing that would help is if our governments, all governments, would stop spending money they don't have, and therefore stop devaluing currencies. When the Fed "buys" $4T in mortgages to relieve banks from holding any risk, where do they get all that money? They don't - they just "print" it, by clicking on a computer. And in the process, they devalue everyone's wealth.

Take a look at this chart: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/12/14/a-brief-history-of...

Yes, things are not quite as volatile since 1930, but also note that there is only inflation, whereas before, there was deflation to balance out the inflation. I know everyone says deflation is the devil. I'm not so sure about that.

mx4492 2 days ago 1 reply      
Alexis De Tocqueville had some thoughts relevant to this: https://youtu.be/Rzr3AOtFA8o
ezequiel-garzon 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm curious: why did The Economist choose the name 1843 for its magazine? The About page doesn't say. Anybody know the significance of that year? Thanks.
stegosaurus 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't want to be a serf.

Working is the only way I know of for me to accumulate capital in order to become financially independent.

The more I do, the faster I accumulate capital, the more years of my life I'll spend able to do what I want to do.

It doesn't feel like a choice to me. The alternative is to live a mediocre life and always have one eye on my "responsibility" towards my capitalist overlords.

rogersmith 1 day ago 0 replies      
"They are asking about a job. I am thinking about identity, community, purpose the things that provide meaning and motivation. I am talking about my life."

Wow, leaving aside the complete "first world problem" approach that makes this relevant for like maybe 1% of the world population at best, this guy didn't just drink the Kool Aid, he's literally douching with it.

yugai 2 days ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of hard work being done that is personally rewarding (money and fame) and either meaningless or destructive in a broader sense (ecological destruction, social destruction, unethical activites, fraud). Lehman brothers were very successful and was greatly rewarded before the financial crash.
tim333 3 days ago 0 replies      
Good article. I've moved a bit from the five-year-old daughter's position to the "thinking about identity, community, purpose the things that provide meaning and motivation" stuff. Still working on it.
wapapaloobop 2 days ago 0 replies      
PG noted that getting rich is largely about running errands. In fact most of what society regards as 'work' is like this. What one needs is a hard problem to work on.
myth_drannon 2 days ago 0 replies      
Read more Bukowski books, who knows maybe slowly you will heal yourself from this addiction. Also a great read How to Be Idle/Tom Hodgkinson
erikb 2 days ago 1 reply      
I like the explanation, but I don't like the idea of telling everybody that things where different in the past. When most people were farmers they also worked more than 12 hours a day, since you need to take care of such a big place. When most people were factory workers people also worked more than 12 hours because the boss thought it would make him more money if you worked more (and with simple, mechanical work that's actually true). The kind of work changed, as well as the reason. But we always worked too much.

And there is one reason he didn't mention: When you don't work so much, you need to figure out what to do with your time. You can't watch movies all day. Nobody can do that for a long time. So you need to think hard about other reasonable things to do. And thinking is painful and scary.

vermooten 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't. I stopped after I realised that with my skills and experience I can get a job any time.
bronlund 2 days ago 0 replies      
They want to keep us busy!
normalist 2 days ago 1 reply      
Get Work Done Syndrome is truely a modern notion entirely absent from the laissez faire peasant farmers of yonderyear who tilled soil in return for a long glass of summer wine at the end and maybe a 20 minute long smoke of fine tobacco. Modern notions of work involve McDramas taking place in every western household where first world problems really are a truely despotic problem indeed. Master slave relationships engender this and it leads to a domestic tilling of the soil in the fields of suburbia, working for McJobs with a McPay. The kind of real work; that of some spiritual understanding, or mastering the body, or doing shadow work of the mind; 'Dumping all your ailments on a plate for those to ponder' is entirely absent in the west, where it is assumed that only those more credentialed shall offer answers, and none else. The East might have these problems just not as severe, and I worry about the encroachment of americanisation into the Eastern mindset and rich tradition and approach to existential crises.
Managing two million web servers joearms.github.io
382 points by timf  2 days ago   116 comments top 16
klibertp 1 day ago 0 replies      
OMG, guys, this is getting really strange. Half of the commenters here read the word "process" and jumped to their own conclusions, possibly true in general, but obviously wrong in the case of Erlang.

It bears repeating: Erlang processes are not OS-level processes. Erlang Virtual Machine, BEAM, runs in a single OS-level process. Erlang processes are closer to green-threads or Tasklets as known in Stackless Python. They are extremely lightweight, implicitly scheduled user-space tasks, which share no memory. Erlang schedules its processes on a pool of OS-level threads for optimal utilization of CPU cores, but this is an implementation detail. What's important is that Erlang processes are providing isolation in terms of memory used and error handling, just like OS-level processes. Conceptually both kinds of processes are very similar, but their implementations are nothing alike.

frik 1 day ago 2 replies      
With the same speak, you could say Facebook mangages billions of PHP web servers, though no one speak like that. (PHP has a shared nothing architecture; HHVM works simlar to the Erlang VM, if one can say so)
mpweiher 1 day ago 1 reply      
Beautiful way of putting it. Also very close to Alan Kay's vision of "object oriented"

"In computer terms, Smalltalk is a recursion on the notion of computer itself. Instead of dividing computer stuff into things each less strong than the whole like data structures, procedures, and functions which are the usual paraphernalia of programming languages each Smalltalk object is a recursion on the entire possibilities of the computer. Thus its semantics are a bit like having thousands and thousands of computer all hooked together by a very fast network." -- The Early History of Smalltalk [1]

I also personally like the following: a web package tracker can be seen as a function that returns the status of a package when given the package id as argument. It can also be seen as follows: every package has its own website.

I think the latter is vastly simpler/more powerful/scalable.

What's interesting is that both of these views can exist simultaneously, both on the implementation and on the interface side.

[1] http://gagne.homedns.org/~tgagne/contrib/EarlyHistoryST.html

stephen_mcd 2 days ago 1 reply      
I really love the idea of explaining the actor model as tons of tiny little servers compared to a single monolithic server. I tried to make the same comparison recently when I talked about adding distributed transactions to CurioDB (Redis clone built with Scala/Akka): http://blog.jupo.org/2016/01/28/distributed-transactions-in-...
andy_ppp 1 day ago 1 reply      
I get the feeling that people reading this and saying "it's just kind of like a pool of PHP FastCGI instances or Apache worker pools" etc. Do not understand that Phoenix + Elixir can serve minimal dynamic requests about 20% slower than nginx can serve static files. This is very very fast.

It also leads to better code due to being functional, lots of amazing syntactic sugar like the |> operator and the OTP can easily allow you to move processes (these basically have very little overhead) to different machines as you wish to scale. Pattern matching and guards are also incredible.

I really do not want to write anything else!

akkartik 2 days ago 5 replies      
This article got me to go figure out precisely what Erlang processes are. Tl;dr - they aren't OS processes. So it is still conceivable that an error in Erlang can bring down all your web servers.


rodionos 1 day ago 2 replies      
The title is somewhat misleading. I clicked expecting to read how someone is managing 2 mln web server instances such nginx or apache. I was curious what kind of company would claim that.
DougWebb 1 day ago 0 replies      
In the late 90s I implemented the same concept for a web application written in Perl. (It's still running today.) There were three tiers to it:

Tier 1: a very small master program which ran in one process. It's job was to open the listening socket and maintain a pool of connection handler processes.

Tier 2: connection handler processes, forked from the master program. When they started they would load up the web application code, then wait for connections on the listening socket or for messages from the master process. They also monitored their own health and would terminate if they thought something went wrong. (ex: this protected them from memory leaks in the socket handling code.) When an http connection came in on the socket, they would fork off a process to handle the request.

Tier 3: request handlers. These processes would handle one http request and then terminate. When they started, they had a pristine copy of the web application code (thanks to Copy-On-Write memory sharing of forked processes) so I knew that there was no old data leaked from previous requests. And since they were designed to terminate after a single request, error handling was no problem; those would terminate too. In cases where a process consumed a lot of memory it would get released to the OS when the process ended. We also had a separate watchdog process that would kill any request handler that consumed too much cpu, memory, or was running much longer than our typical response time.

This scaled up to handling hundreds of concurrent requests per (circa 2005 Solaris) server, and around six million requests per day across a web farm of 4 servers. That was back in 2010; I don't know how much the traffic has grown since then but I know the company is still running my web app. This was all very robust; before I left I had gotten the error rate down to a handful of crashed processes per year in code that was more than one release old.

BTW, while my custom http server code could handle the entire app on its own, and was used that way in development, for production we normally ran it behind an Apache server that handled static files and would reverse-proxy the page requests to the web app server. So those 6 million requests per day were for the dynamic pages, not all of the static files. That also meant that my web app didn't have to handle caching or keep-alive, which simplified the design and makes the one-request-then-die approach more viable.

z3t4 1 day ago 2 replies      
I would like to see the code for the chat or presence server. I have a hunch it will look different depending on the experience of the programmer.

I'm especially interested in how they manage state. Because when you do not have to manage state, everything becomes easy and scalable. With state I mean for example a status message for a particular user.

kennydude 1 day ago 1 reply      
> why does the Phoenix Framework outperform Ruby on Rails?

Ruby is known to be a slow language. Most things will easily outperform it

smaili 2 days ago 6 replies      
Could someone explain how in the context of the article, "process" differs from a "thread", in say Java or Python? Or are they one in the same?
siscia 1 day ago 0 replies      
A little while ago I wrote an extremely short introduction to distributed, highly scalable, fault tolerant system.

It is marketing material for my consulting activity anyway some of you can find it interesting.

The PDF is here: https://github.com/siscia/intro-to-distributed-system/blob/m...

The source code is open, so if you find a better way to describe things feel free to open an issue or a pull request...

rasengan 1 day ago 3 replies      
I can't help but think this is madly in-efficient with cache misses and the like.
sandra_saltlake 1 day ago 0 replies      
processes do not share memory, but threads may be,
yandrypozo 1 day ago 1 reply      
does anybody know how to undo an upvote here in HN ?? This reading was a terrible waste of time :(
jondubois 2 days ago 7 replies      
You don't need to "crash the server" in response to an error from a single user - It is sufficient to just close the connection and destroy the session.

I doubt that erlang spawns millions of OS processes because that would be extremely inefficient due to CPU context switching. So in reality, all erlang is doing behind the scenes is closing the connection and destroying the session... It's not actually crashing and restarting any processes... You can easily implement this behavior with pretty much any modern server engine such as Node.js and tornado.

The Next Front in the New Crypto Wars: WhatsApp eff.org
314 points by panarky  2 days ago   202 comments top 16
jessegreathouse 2 days ago 9 replies      
If the government wins any of these court battles, it's only a matter of time until one-way encryption is outlawed. It follows logically that if criminals/terrorists can't use iPhones to securely communicate, then they'll just move on to the next convenient encryption app. The government will continue to order companies to break their one-way encryption until the government realizes they're playing musical chairs and then they'll issue an executive order to ban one-way encryption outright. The precedent allowing them to do so, will be all of these initial court battles vs Apple, whatsapp, and whoever else gets defeated. In the wake of these events regular people, like you and me, will be harmed by hackers and commercial companies exploiting this new world without one-way encryption.
fweespee_ch 2 days ago 1 reply      

> The Justice Department and WhatsApp declined to comment. The government officials and others who discussed the dispute did so on condition of anonymity because the wiretap order and all the information associated with it were under seal. The nature of the case was not clear, except that officials said it was not a terrorism investigation. The location of the investigation was also unclear.

Just in case anyone was wondering if this was terrorism related, it is not. I suppose next is OpenWhisperSystems / Signal, etc.

I'm glad I've stuck with GnuPG for anything truly sensitive.

rsync 1 day ago 2 replies      
All computer code can be rephrased in common written (english, perhaps) language. I'm not talking about pseudocode, I mean an actual translation layer from, say, C to english phrasing that specifically describes the computer code to be written.

And at that point it's just speech. I don't mean "like speech", or "something sophisticated people should recognize as speech", or "code is speech" ... I mean, it's just plain old speech. Just very boring, long-winded (and extremely precise) descriptions of computer source code.

So perhaps there will be some pain and perhaps there will be some years before it finally gets to the supreme court, but in the end, it's just speech.

Will they change the 1A ? Would they ?

axihack 2 days ago 1 reply      
Can anyone point me to where WhatsApp app is actually confirming they are implementing E2E encryption and how?

I couldn't find anything on the oficial web/blog, the single mention on security is this FAQ[1] which is about server/device encryption.

A friend also told me E2E is only available for US users but unfortunatelly I can't confirm this because of the lack of communication from WhatsApp.

[1] https://www.whatsapp.com/faq/en/general/21864047

Edit: fixed typos

trulyWasteful 2 days ago 1 reply      
No one can stop me and my peers from sending meaningless garbage data to each other.

So, if it simply looks encrypted, but acctually contains randomized meaningless shit, how can anyone prevent me from bahaving in this manner, and claim that I've done harm?

I've paid for the service, and I can spam it with trash as I see fit.

rmc 2 days ago 0 replies      
If cases like this go in the US Gov's favour, it'll further damage the US tech industry. It's already illegal for EU orgs to use US tech companies for personal data!
ycmbntrthrwaway 2 days ago 1 reply      
Please stop calling it crypto wars. Calling something a "war" justifies wartime measures, just as it happens with terrorism, drugs and things like that.
lordnacho 2 days ago 2 replies      
What does "undue burden" mean? Wouldn't it be very simple for WhatsApp to remove the encryption in the app? (Anyone can write an unencrypted app.) Could they be forced to do that?

IMO that would be awful.

krylon 1 day ago 1 reply      
I find it disturbing how the intelligence and law enforcement community seem to think there is some kind of natural right for them to snoop on people.

In case of the good old phone system, the very way that worked maked wiretapping very easy. The same was true for physical mail (one major reason why most states created and held on to the monopoly on mail for so long).

With email and IM this is - again due to the way this works - a lot more difficult. Artificially restricting encryption just so they can keep on doing things the way they're used to is a bad idea, and kind of naive, too.

alias240 2 days ago 0 replies      
A part of me wonders if I should believe this, and the story about the Apple case. Or maybe it is all just a conspiracy to gain our trust.
brudgers 2 days ago 0 replies      
The important aspect of this and the Apple scenario is that the encryption requires a benevolent third party. Encryption that relies on Eve...well, she has three faces.
1024core 2 days ago 1 reply      
If the USG can force Apple/Whatsapp to decrypt some communication, what prevents the PRC from doing the same? Will we see Tim Cook arrested the next time he goes to China?
eyeareque 2 days ago 1 reply      
The only reason the government "gave up" in the previous crypto war was because they decided to find ways to break or weaken crypto to their needs. I don't think this time will be any different, one way or another they will get access to our data.
throwaway0209 2 days ago 1 reply      
Here the local drug dealers encourage use of a app called Wickr. Does anyone know how the encryption compares to WhatsApp?
venamresm__ 1 day ago 0 replies      
There are alternatives to one way encryptions. Think of steganography and communication between the parties being indirect.
sandra_saltlake 1 day ago 1 reply      
Please stop calling it crypto wars..
Yann LeCun's comment on AlphaGo and true AI facebook.com
318 points by brianchu  2 days ago   199 comments top 32
Smerity 1 day ago 5 replies      
Preface: AlphaGo is an amazing achievement and does show an interesting advancement in the field.

Yet ... it really doesn't mean almost anything that people are predicting it to mean. Slashdot went so far as to say that "We know now that we don't need any big new breakthroughs to get to true AI".The field of ML/AI is in a fight where people want more science fiction than scientific reality. Science fiction is sexy, sells well, and doesn't require the specifics.

Some of the limitations preventing AlphaGo from being general:

+ Monte Carlo tree search (MCTS) is really effective at Go but not applicable to many other domains we care about. If your problem is in terms of {state, action} pairs and you're able to run simulations to predict outcomes, great, but otherwise, not so much. Go also has the advantage of perfect information (you know the full state of the board) and deterministic simulation (you know with certainty what the state is after action A).

+ The neural networks (NN) were bootstrapped by predicting the next moves in more matches than any individual human has ever seen, let alone played. It then played more against itself (cool!) to improve - but it didn't learn that from scratch. They're aiming to learn this step without the human database but it'll still be very different (read: inefficient) compared to the type of learning a human does.

+ The hardware requirements were stunning (280 GPUs and 1920 CPUs for the largest variant) and were an integral part to how well AlphaGo performed - yet adding hardware won't "solve" most other ML tasks. The computational power primarily helped improve MCTS which roughly equates to "more simulations gets a better solution" (though with NNs to guesstimate an end state instead of having to simulate all the way to an end state themselves)

Again, amazing, interesting, stunning, but not an indication we've reached a key AI milestone.

For a brilliant overview: http://www.milesbrundage.com/blog-posts/alphago-and-ai-progr...

John Langford also put his opinion up at: http://hunch.net/?p=3692542

(note: copied from my Facebook mini-rant inspired by Langford, LeCun, and discussions with ML colleagues in recent days)

fallingfrog 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't know if I'd agree that unsupervised learning is the "cake" here, to paraphrase Yann LeCun. How do we know that the human brain is an unsupervised learner? The supervisor in our brains comes in the form of the dopamine feedback loop, and exactly what kinds of things it rewards aren't totally mapped out but pleasure and novelty seem to be high on the list. That counts as a "supervisor" from a machine learning point of view. It's not necessary to anthropomorphize the supervisor into some kind of external boss figure; any kind of value function will do the trick.
sago 1 day ago 3 replies      
Ah, the joys of arguing about artificial intelligence without ever defining intelligence.

It is the perfect argument, everyone can forcefully make their points forever, and we'll be none the wiser whether this AI is 'true AI' or not.

hacknat 2 days ago 5 replies      
I think we need more advances in neuroscience and, I know this will be controversial, psychology before we really know what the cake even is.


I actually think the major AI breakthrough will come from either of those two fields, not computer science.

deegles 1 day ago 0 replies      
I would like future competitions between AIs and humans to have a "power budget" for training and during gameplay. For example, a chess grandmaster that has played for 20 years would have spent X amount of energy training. The AI should get an equivalent budget to train with. During gameplay, the AI would get the same 20 watts [1] that a human has. This would drive the development of more efficient hardware instead of throwing power at the problem :)

[1] http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2009-11/neuron-comp...

pavanky 1 day ago 5 replies      
Can someone more knowledgeable explain why biological systems are considered unsupervised instead of reinforcement based systems?

While it seems intuitive that most individual "intelligent" systems in animals can be seen as unsupervised, isn't life itself driven in a reinforced manner?

maxander 1 day ago 0 replies      
It sounds reversed to me- shouldn't the "cherry" be supervised learning and the "icing" be reinforcement learning? At least insofar as reinforcement learning is closer to the "cake" of unsupervised learning, as there is less feedback required for a reinforcement learning system to work (a binary correctness signal rather than an n-dimensional label signal.)

It might also be argued that most "unsupervised learning" in animals can be broken down into a relatively simple unsupervised segment (e.g., an "am I eating nice food" partition function) and a more complicated reinforcement segment (e.g. a "what is the best next thing to do to obtain nice food?" function.) I'm sure someone like Yann LeCun is familiar with such arguments, though.

kzhahou 2 days ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised he'd make such an optimistic statement. I think a better analogy would be:

We figured out how to make icing, but we still don't really know what a cake is.

grumpy-buffalo 1 day ago 9 replies      
I wish the term "true AI" were replaced with "strong AI" or "artificial general intelligence" or some such term. We already have true AI - it's a vast, thriving industry. AlphaGo is obviously a true, legitimate, actual, real, nonfictional example of artificial intelligence, as are Google Search, the Facebook Newsfeed, Siri, the Amazon Echo, etc.
Houshalter 1 day ago 4 replies      
No one is claiming that alphaGo is close to AGI. At least not anyone that understands the methods it uses. What alphaGo is, is an example of AI progress. There has been a rapid increase in progress in the field of AI. We are still a ways away from AGI, but it's now in sight. Just outside the edge of our vision. Almost surely within our lifetime, at this rate.
sytelus 1 day ago 6 replies      
If you look at how child learns, it's huge amount of supervised learning. Parents spend lots of time in do and don't and giving specific instructions on everything from how to use toilet to how to construct a correct sentence. Lots of language development, object identification, pattern matching, comprehension, math skills, motor skills, developing logic - these activities has huge amount of supervised training that runs day after day and year after year. There is sure unsupervised elements like ability to recognize phonemes in speech, tracking objects, inference despite of occlusion, ability to stand up and walk, make meaningful sounds, identify faces, construct sequence of actions to achieve goal, avoiding safety risks from past experiences and so on. However, typical child goes through unparalleled amount of supervised learning. There was an incidence of a child who got locked up in a room for over a decade and she didn't developed most of the language, speech or social skills. It seems unsupervised learning can't be all of the cake.
Animats 1 day ago 0 replies      
What we need next are more systems which can predict "what is likely to happen if this is done". Google's automatic driving systems actually do that. Google tries hard to predict the possible and likely actions of other road users. This is the beginning of "common sense".
javajosh 2 days ago 4 replies      
Is anyone working on an embodied AI? Even a simulated body might help. Ultimately intelligence is only useful insofar as it guides the body's motion. We often tend to minimize the physical act of say, writing down a theorem or actually applying paint to the canvas, but there are certain actions like playing a musical instrument that certainly blur the distinction between "physical" and "mental". Indeed, even 'purely mental' things like having an "intuition" about physics is certainly guided by one's embodied experience.
scotty79 1 day ago 2 replies      
> As I've said in previous statements: most of human and animal learning is unsupervised learning.

I don't think that's true. When baby is learning to use muscles of its hands to wave them around there's no teacher to tell it what should its goal be. But physics and pain teaches it fairly efficiently which moves are bad idea.

It has built in face detection engine and the orienting and attempting to move and reach towards it is clear goal. Reward circuit in the brain do the supervision.

Sergej-Shegurin 1 day ago 0 replies      
(1) Adversarial learning is unsupervised and works great.Most of language modeling is unsupervised (you predict next word, but it's not real supervision because it's self-supervision).There're many works in computer vision which are unsupervised and still give more or less reasonable performance.See f.e. http://arxiv.org/pdf/1511.05045v2.pdf for unsupervised learning in action recognition, also http://arxiv.org/pdf/1511.06434v2.pdf and http://www.arxiv-sanity.com/search?q=unsupervised

(2) ImageNet supervision gives you much information to solve other computer vision tasks. So perhaps we don't need to learn everything in unsupervised manner, we might learn most features relevant for most tasks using several supervision tasks. It is kind of cheating but very reasonable one.


(3) We observe now just fantastic decrease of perplexity (btw, it's all unsupervised = self-supervised). It's quite probable that in the very near future neural chat bots write reasonable stories, answer intelligibly with common sense, discuss things. All of this would be just a mere consequence of low enough perplexity. If neural net says smth inconsistent it means that it gives too much probability to some inappropriate words i.e, it's perplexity isn't optimized yet.

(4) It's quite probable that it would open a finish line for human-level AI. AI would be able to learn from textbooks, scientific articles, video lectures. Btw, http://arxiv.org/pdf/1602.03218.pdf gives a potential to synthesize IBM Watson with deep learning. May be, the finish line to human level AI has been opened already.

flashman 1 day ago 1 reply      
If artificial intelligence is the cake, true AI is the ability to argue about whether cake is a useful analogy.
fiatmoney 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's also a huge issue around problem-posing and degrees of freedom, that doesn't necessarily get better as your AI tools improve. Go has a fairly large state space, but limited potential moves per turn, well-defined decision points, limited time constraints, and only one well-defined victory condition. The complexity is minuscule compared to even something relatively well-structured like "maximize risk-adjusted return via stock trades".
kailuowang 2 days ago 3 replies      
Can someone elaborate the difference between reinforcement learning and unsupervised learning? It seems that I mistakenly think that human learns through reinforcement learning, that we learn by the feedback from the outside world. I mean without feedback from aldult can a baby even learn how to walk?
Geekette 2 days ago 0 replies      
The statement that he's critiquing does reflect the wider-spread, overly simplistic view of AI. Contrary to hype, recent events represent only partial development/peeling of the top layer from the AI onion, which has more known unknowns and unknown unknowns than known knowns.
LERobot 2 days ago 0 replies      
Totally agree, it's a bit like when some physicists were convinced that there wouldn't be other great breakthroughs after Maxwell's theory of electromagnetics. Maybe Yann LeCun is the Einstein of Machine Learning? haha
esfandia 1 day ago 1 reply      
It seems that AI does well when the problem and the performance metrics are well defined: chess, Go, various scheduling problems, pattern recognition, etc. At the very least we can track, quantitatively, how far off we are from a satisfactory solution, and we know we can only ever get closer.

"True", or general-purpose AI, is harder to pin down, and thus harder to define well. I'd argue that the moment we have define it formally (and thus provided the relevant performance metrics) is the moment we have reduced it to a specialized AI problem.

megaman821 1 day ago 4 replies      
It seems to me one of the higher hurdles for creating a general purpose intelligence, is human empathy. Without it you are left with creating a nearly infinite-length rules engine.

When you ask your AI maid to vacuum your house, you would prefer it not to plow through closet door to grab the vacuum, rip your battery out of your car and hardwire to the vacuum, and then proceed to clean your carpets. If you don't want to create a list of rules for every conceivable situation, the AI will need to have some understanding human emotions and desires.

rdlecler1 1 day ago 0 replies      
We keep trying to engineer AI rather than reverse engineering it. The thing with living organisms is that the neural network underlying the intelligence of living organisms is a product of evolutionary design of an organism situated in the real physical world with laws of physics and space and time. This is where the bootstrapping comes in. Unsupervised learning is built on top of this. Trying to sidestep this could prove difficult to get to General AI.
jonbarker 1 day ago 0 replies      
To be fair AlphaGo never decided Go was a fun and worthy challenge; Lee Sedol, however, did.
johanneskanybal 1 day ago 0 replies      
Click bait titles aside it's an amazing achievement.
kafkaesq 1 day ago 0 replies      
A beautifully concise statement of an incredibly common misconception as to the current state of the field.
_snydly 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have Facebook blocked for the next week (because, you know, productivity). Can someone post LeCun's comment here?
chriscappuccio 1 day ago 0 replies      
Like, duh.
juskrey 1 day ago 0 replies      
True life has no rules
ronilan 2 days ago 1 reply      
The cake is a lie. Obviously :)
daxfohl 2 days ago 0 replies      
Once an AI algorithm (even just one for Go) realizes that it can hijack the bank accounts of all the world's other 9 dan players in order to demand an analysis of its planned move, and figures out how to do that, then we've made the cake.

N.B. the genericity of the deepmind stuff that is the basis of AlphaGo makes this seem not entirely far-fetched.

Yum, cake.

justsaysmthng 1 day ago 0 replies      
Stop looking at the red dot. Take a step back and look around you."True" AI is here and it's been here for some time. You're communicating with it right now.

It's just that we find it so hard to comprehend it's form of "intelligence", because we're expecting true AI to be a super-smart super-rational humanoid being from sci-fi novels.

But what would a super-smart super rational being worth 1 billion minds look/feel like to one human being ? How would you communicate with it ?

Many people childishly believe that "we" have control over "it".You don't. We don't.

The more we get used to it being inside our minds, the harder it becomes to shut it down without provoking total chaos in our society. Even with the chaos, there is no one person (or group) who can shut it down.

But "we" make the machines ! Well... yes, a little bit..

Would we be able to build this advanced hardware without computers ? Doesn't this look like machines reproducing themselves with a little bit of help from "us" ?

Think about the human beings from the Internet's perspective - what are we for it ? Nodes in a graph. In brain terms - we are neurons, while "it" is the brain.

But it's not self-aware ! What does that even mean ?

Finally, consider that AlphaGo would have been impossible without the Internet and the hardware of today.

And that "true" AI that everybody expects somewhere on the horizon will also be impossible without the technology that we have today.

If so, then what we have right now is the incipient version of what we'll have tomorrow - that "true" AI won't come out of thin air, it will evolve out of what we have right now.

Just another way of saying the same thing - it's here.

Is this good or bad ? Well, that's a totally different discussion.

Stop Using the Daylight Savings Time stopdst.com
298 points by pbkhrv  2 days ago   153 comments top 29
wlesieutre 2 days ago 4 replies      
Maybe it's just me, but the way these statistics are worded is setting off my skepticism alarms:

> Between 1986 and 1995, fatal traffic accidents rose 17% the Monday following the switch to Daylight Saving Time.

Accidents rose 17% that Monday? Does it mean 17% more than any other day, or just that the raw number for that Monday is 17% higher than it used to be? Because they worded it like the latter.

For all this page says, accidents were up 17% every day of the year over that decade.

EDIT: Wikipedia says total US traffic deaths were lower in 1995 than 1986, so I'll chalk this up as poor wording. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_i...

manigandham 2 days ago 4 replies      
All these articles seem to keep gloss over the actual issue: the switch between standard time and DST twice a year.

People are fine with the time system, especially since timezones themselves are somewhat arbitrary in their regions. DST is actually more comfortable to live with by allowing for more daylight after work hours. It would be better to just switch to DST permanently and avoid the constant frustrating changes.

yes_or_gnome 2 days ago 9 replies      
It's the switch that everyone hates. Instead of ending DST, can we agree to stop using Standard Time?
anexprogrammer 2 days ago 4 replies      
Both sides of the Atlantic these sort of articles crop up regularly. Move to summer time year round and so forth.

What is always forgotten is latitude, and that we forget to learn from history and experience.

In Southern England, or California I doubt it's much more than an annoying relic of olden days. But I don't think anyone has true statistics on whether it is or not. Go north and it starts to matter and accident rates go up when you don't have DST.

The UK had an experiment of staying on summer time between 1968 and 1971, introducing British Standard Time. At the end of the period, the vote was to restore the old way, by a large cross party majority.

I believe at the start of the expermient it was generally thought it would confirm the sense of getting rid of summer time permanently. Switching clocks twice a year is annoying after all.

legulere 2 days ago 4 replies      
As a European that's living further up north than most Americans: Sorry, but no!

I don't want to get up totally in the night in the winter. And in summer I want to be able to use the long evenings with the sun still up instead of getting up too early.

Except one, the cited effects are all about the switch from winter time to summer time.

ianbicking 2 days ago 1 reply      
DST is about the compromise between two reasonable scheduling systems: in one you use a 24 hour day with a clear landmark (noon, when the sun is highest in the sky). In another model you use sunrise as a natural beginning to the day.

Sunrise is a bit complicated, and in winter it compresses the afternoon more than many people would like. Also hard to build the necessary clocks. So we simplify things and make a compromise between the two systems, and we get DST.

fsiefken 2 days ago 1 reply      
I live by Wintertime since a few years now under the motto "if you want to change the world start yourself". So only half a year you have to shift your calendar. Main reason for me is that I can easier read the time from the position of the sun in the sky (I don't use a watch).I've my computer, tablet and phone shifted to mediterranean Tunis as they don't have DST there since 2009.http://www.timeanddate.com/news/time/tunisia-cancels-dst-200...
executesorder66 2 days ago 3 replies      
Why can't they just leave the time alone, and change their working hours during summer and winter?
bgentry 2 days ago 2 replies      
That's "Saving" time, not "Savings" time.
koolba 2 days ago 4 replies      
While we're at it let's get rid of leap seconds.

... and switch the entire planet to a single timezone (UTC).

... and require everyone use the same text encoding (UTF-8).

... and pick a single format for separating fields in numeric fields (commas for 000s and dots for decimal points).

dheera 2 days ago 0 replies      
I just do my entire calendar in UTC, and keep all my devices in UTC. No daylight savings. I pretty much refuse to use it. It also wreaks havoc on my logs and things.
kirian 2 days ago 0 replies      
A recent article in the Washington Post (Wonkblog) making the case for "Why daylight saving time isnt as terrible as people think". US centric. The argument uses the data of number of days with "reasonable" sunrise and sunset times based on latitude/longitude when using DST or not.


minikites 2 days ago 1 reply      
My favorite counterargument:


>If we stayed on Standard Time throughout the year, sunrise here in the Chicago area would be between 4:15 and 4:30 am from the middle of May through the middle of July. And if you check the times for civil twilight, which is when its bright enough to see without artificial light, youll find that that starts half an hour earlier. This is insane and a complete waste of sunlight.

>If, by the way, you think the solution is to stay on DST throughout the year, I can only tell you that we tried that back in the 70s and it didnt turn out well. Sunrise here in Chicago was after 8:00 am, which put school children out on the street at bus stops before dawn in the dead of winter.

DST is the only sensible option in my opinion.

shmerl 2 days ago 1 reply      
I agree, DST causes more problems than any benefits from it.
qjighap 2 days ago 0 replies      
I live in a a pocket region doesn't have Daylight Saving. This year we added the town of Fort Nelson to our little time zone. Nobody concretely seems to remember why we started to do this, but it is generally agreed on that we do it for business reasons. Much of our business is tied to our neighbors to the east in a different time zone. With the winter months typically being more busy. Coordinating resources is much easier given this system. I thought I would throw a counter argument into the ring, although I would state it is an edge case.

Also, I am thrilled about news being at 11 again.

weaksauce 2 days ago 0 replies      
Let's switch to dst all the time. It's really nice to have an extra hour of light during spring and summer but we lose an hour when the days are shortest during winter. (Where I am in California)
transfire 2 days ago 0 replies      
Split the difference (30 mins) and be done with it. Please.
sugarfactory 2 days ago 1 reply      
I think Daylight Saving Time is a bad idea in the same sense that (abusing) global variables is a bad idea in programming.

In programming, changing a global state in order to achieve something is almost always a bad practice because it affects everywhere and sometimes in unpredictable ways. Instead of abusing global states, we invented object-oriented programming, which I consider as a way to keep states locally (inside objects).

So if someone wants to save daylight, that should be achieved locally for example by changing school schedules.

xirdstl 2 days ago 0 replies      
I can't help but think some of these statistics are ridiculous fear mongering, particularly the heart attacks.

"Get rid of DST! If you get up an hour earlier than usual, you might die!"

toast0 2 days ago 0 replies      
There's actually a bill in the California Legislature to present removal of DST to the voters[1], DST was imposed on the state by the voters in 1949, so it must similarly be removed by the voters.

[1] https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtm...

donatj 2 days ago 2 replies      
I've always been curious where the federal government gets the power to define what time it is? If we simply ignored it would there be fines, or does it not have teeth?
mshenfield 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was most interested by how the generated the tweets with my state and county representatives. The scripts is all in js/app.js and uses maxmind's geoip lookup to get back location information. It then uses the Sunlight Foundation's api with the loaction information to pull back the twitter ids for the reps. Cool stuff.
sanqui 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's a shame the website seems to focus on the U.S. only. I would support it and link it if it were a worldwide effort.
mbfg 2 days ago 0 replies      
Love DLST personally, don't want to get up in the pitch black in the winter, but want long light in the evenings in summer. perfect.
beefsack 2 days ago 3 replies      
It might seem crazy and impractical, but I feel that daylight savings is treating a symptom and removing time zones altogether would be treating the cause.
enraged_camel 2 days ago 2 replies      
This whole conversation got me thinking... Why not abolish time zones altogether and have the entire US be on the same time zone?
paulddraper 2 days ago 0 replies      
It's Daylight Saving, not Daylight Savings.
stevesun21 2 days ago 0 replies      
So far I know that Chine made this choose long time ago.
bitwize 2 days ago 1 reply      
DST will never ever be abolished in this country. A major part of the reason why is evening sports games become more difficult to schedule.

In the USA, sports aren't just sports. They're more like sacraments, tentpole observances which help to shape the order of society.

Mozilla Servo alpha will be released in June groups.google.com
308 points by dumindunuwan  1 day ago   57 comments top 14
jerf 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Congratulations to both the Servo and Rust team for making it this far. You set out to slay not one, but two of the biggest dragons in all of software engineering, at the same time, and while you may not be done yet, you, uh, err.... have the lance definitely sliding pretty far in and the dragons are definitely noticing and quite upset?

Sorry. The metaphor kinda broke down there. Point is, congratulations. Rust+Servo is one of the most absurdly ambitious projects I've seen in the last twenty years, to make a new browser engine and a new systems-level language. The level of success achieved even to this point is astonishing. I know the road is still long, but I wish you the best in finishing this journey!

pcwalton 1 day ago 7 replies      
To echo what Paul said, this will not be a browser you will want to use as a replacement for all your day-to-day browsing. If you try to, you won't end up happy.

Web compatibility is a long road, and it's crucial for us to be able to know what missing functionality is most important and the places where we need to focus on performance the most. The purpose of the package is to help us find and prioritize bugs and missing features. We want to know which sites are the most broken (and, even more importantly, which missing features are breaking those sites). From the Web developer side, we also want early feedback on use cases that may be slow today, so that the browser engine can eventually become a great experience for everyone.

paulrouget 1 day ago 2 replies      
To be clear, this will be a very early release (nightly builds) of Servo with a HTML UI (browser.html). You won't be able to replace your current browser with Servo just yet :) there's still a long way to go. The goal is to make it easier for people to test Servo and file bugs.
gedrap 16 hours ago 3 replies      
A year or so ago, I've read that servo project is fairly easy to contribute to even if you have no prior rust knowledge, other than the core basics, and are willing to learn it as you go. The reasoning was that there are tons of core functionality missing, therefore there are plenty of low hanging fruits.

I was wondering, is it still true (or ever was true)?

stp-ip 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Any plans to make the browser cache aware of cross domain resources? Basically a hash based cache, where as long as the hash is valid it can be used from a hash based caching pool. This could be integrated with SRI to reduce unnecessary network load without compromising user privacy.Will not provide complete privacy, but might reduce exposure to 3rd party CDNs.

If something like this is implemented, providing frequently used resources via a plugin, privacy aware CDN or even a custom CDN similar to https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/decentraleyes... would be possible.

savanaly 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Could someone in the know clarify for me what the difference is in aims of this new Browser ("Servo") and Firefox? The Servo landing page said its aims are

 Servo project aims to achieve better parallelism, security, modularity, and performance.
But aren't those the goals of every browser?

Sanddancer 23 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there any chance we'll get a browser with support for discretionary access controls in the render processes? Given that pretty much every OS supports locking down rights processes have, it would be a big win, security-wise, if the OS could catch anything the browser doesn't.
bobajeff 1 day ago 1 reply      
I wonder if the other browser vendors are working on a similar parallel browser engine? Perhaps using some custom version of Clang that applies Bjarne Stroustrup's C++ Core Guidelines to errors/warnings.
bhauer 1 day ago 1 reply      
Awesome. I've not been following it as closely as I should. Is there an ETA on Windows builds? Or is it too early to say?
dkhenry 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I am more interested to see how a major Rust project holds up when its attack surface gets larger. So the question is when does Servo get added to the Pwn2Own
zobzu 20 hours ago 2 replies      
interestingly its not using mercurial, bugzilla, etc. basically none of the mozilla stuff
BenoitP 14 hours ago 1 reply      
What does he mean by meta bug?
shmerl 1 day ago 1 reply      
What about Firefox based on Servo?
sonnyp 1 day ago 1 reply      
firefox.html not servo
GNU Gneural Network gnu.org
311 points by jjuhl  2 days ago   105 comments top 20
_delirium 2 days ago 5 replies      
I agree with the general motivation that having too much AI research in the hands of software companies who keep it proprietary harms transparency and progress. But there is already a lot of neural-network free software, so why another package? For example, these widely used packages are free software, and seemingly more featureful: http://torch.ch/, http://www.deeplearning.net/software/theano/, http://pybrain.org/, https://www.tensorflow.org/, http://leenissen.dk/fann/wp/, http://chainer.org/
rck 2 days ago 0 replies      
The implementations look odd. A network consists of a collection of neurons, which are implemented individually as structs. The forward pass through the network is a series of nested loops, and the gradient descent implementation doesn't use backpropagation - it uses finite differences to approximate derivatives, which is known to be inefficient. Given the overall design of the library, it isn't really clear what you would use it for in practice.

I hope that future versions take inspiration from other open source machine learning libraries, which show how to use linear algebra and backpropagation and are much more effective.

arnorhs 2 days ago 0 replies      
- It's nice that GNU is taking on such a project

- FANN seems like a pretty good alternative

- The value of the software at the big "monopolies" lies within the data, not necessarily the software

- This needs to be in some publicly accessible repo. Downloading a zip file and submitting patches? I thought we, as a society, were over that way of building OSS.

fche 2 days ago 4 replies      
The "ethical motivations" section is out of place here. Its moaning about "money driven companies" (as though money were a bad thing), or "monopoly" (which does not exist in AI), just reflects badly upon the project.
dcuthbertson 2 days ago 1 reply      
Aw. It should have been named the GNU Gneural Gnetwork, gno?
mankash666 2 days ago 0 replies      
This team should focus on a SPIR-V back-end and remove vendor lock in from NVIDIA for CUDA IN tensor AI software. A GPL licensed AI library without GPU acceleration isn't attractive outside academia.
Aeolos 1 day ago 1 reply      

Am I mistaken, or is the source repository for this project just tarballs checked into CVS?

latenightcoding 2 days ago 2 replies      
Love it!If you want to play with state-of-the-art machine learning software, this is not for you.But if you want a clean implementation of neural networks in C that has a GPL license and no non-free components, this is a good start.
mmf 2 days ago 0 replies      
At this stage of things, I think it's more forward looking to open source trained models. Not only they are beginning to be the real core of future building blocks (see, e.g., trained word2vec vectors) but also the contain the real complexity in a NN, i.e., the are the "real function" you would want in a library.
akhilcacharya 2 days ago 1 reply      
Is there more being done to promote GPU acceleration on non-CUDA platforms? I feel like this would be more useful than yet another FOSS NN library.
tajen 1 day ago 0 replies      
Talking about this, GNU/the FSF should start drafting an OSS license for neural networks. Like APL Afferro for cloud services, the specifics of neural networks is that data is strategic.

APL -> Guaranty of OSS for the desktop

APL Afferro -> Guaranty of OSS for the cloud

??? -> Guaranty of OSS for NNs

fnfhdjcnx 2 days ago 1 reply      
I'm glad the FSF is finally getting concerned about proprietary AI, but it's going to take a lot more than a single neural network package to get caught up in this arms race.

I wish they had taken the initiative much sooner.

stevenaleach 2 days ago 0 replies      
Funny.. The majority of AI research is currently using open source libraries (Theano, Lasagne, Torch, Keras, Scikit-Learn, Nolearn, etc. etc. etc.)

Now Google does have access to a whole lot of data that the rest of the world doesn't. and FB, Google, and etc. have more than a bit of a hardware advantage... for now, at least. Distribute a shared system over a P2P infrastructure, and you can change that. Perhaps rather significantly.

anonbanker 2 days ago 1 reply      
If you were an AI (software), and you had to pick a license to release your source code under, one would assume you would pick the GPL, as it retains as much freedoms as a piece of software could ever expect in a world full of us.
walkingolof 1 day ago 0 replies      
Isn't the problem that in our age of supervised training, the algorithms are not the competitive advantage, but the data ?
sandra_saltlake 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice that GNU is taking on such a project..
jjawssd 2 days ago 0 replies      
I wish them good luck
overmille 2 days ago 0 replies      
rand1012 2 days ago 2 replies      
Anyone else notice how GNU's website is stuck in 1993?
Show HN: Podcat Imdb for podcasts podcat.com
331 points by hijp  11 hours ago   94 comments top 56
JayeshSidhwani 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great product. Wish it had better discovery. A simple filter-enabled page of all podcasts will make it more usable!
slg 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is something that I have wanted to exist for a long time, but is a pretty massive undertaking because there are so many small niche podcasts.

The podcasts I spot checked all looked fairly accurate, although you do need to be careful with common names. Jordan Morris [1] is the name of a podcaster/comedian, a soccer player, and a singer. All of their profiles are combined into one. In order to separate those out you would need to do some analysis on the genre of the podcasts. The podcasts that talk about sports are probably talking about the soccer player, etc. It is also tough to rely on common lookup tools like Google because the Jordan Morris that is a podcaster is probably the least famous of the three but is clearly the most relevant for your site.

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordan_Morris

yk 8 hours ago 4 replies      
I really like the idea, but (to give some feedback) I don't think one can call anything the imdb for x without a best/worst 250. And ratings and explore by category and I want a pony... (Also the site is somewhat unfriendly for NoScript users, apparently one has to allow apple.com to get search working, which is counter intuitive. But of course noscript users should expect some trouble.)
Jordrok 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat idea, I'd love to see this take off. I imagine it's going to take a lot of work to reach Imdb-level comprehensiveness though. Until a certain threshold is met, it's going to be hard to beat Googling (person's name) + podcast.

Here's my anecdata:Searched for John Oliver and got no relevant results.Searched for Andy Zaltzman and got his cricket podcast.Searched for The Bugle and found it, but no links to the aforementioned hosts.Searched for John Bain and got his picture + a mention from a podcast I didn't recognize.Searched for TotalBiscuit and found The Co-optional Podcast and other CynicalBrit stuff.

Hmm...I wonder how many bits of my own identifying info I just leaked there... Oh well.

MichaelApproved 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Great idea and something that's missing with podcasts. I took a look at some names and noticed you have missing data. For example, Christian Finnegan is a regular on Keith and The Girl podcast but he's only listed twice https://www.podcat.com/people/zXNOK2

Here's his profile for our podcasthttp://www.keithandthegirl.com/guest/40/christian-finnegan

You can scrape our guest list herehttp://www.keithandthegirl.com/guests/

or you can use our API endpoints to pull json content. Here's the doc but I can make tweaks, if you need https://github.com/KeithAndTheGirl/API/wiki/Keith-and-The-Gi...

doctorcroc 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome product. I love that podcasts are getting more attention, with companies creating discovery platforms like http://producthunt.com/podcasts.

One suggestion - would be really nice to have categories for podcasts. Much like movies, it is difficult for niche/indie movies to compete with the super well funded hollywood productions. For example, we produce a software podcast (http://softwareengineeringdaily.com) and it would be a huge benefit to be able to search for Tech specific shows and see what's relevant to you.

Keep up the good work!

chao123 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The criteria for a good podcast in my perspective should support us to Create custom stations of your favorite radio and podcast that update automatically when new episodes become available. At the same time, you can Use the On-The-Go playlist to play just the episodes you want. Im addicted to CastBox APP downloaded from Google Play cuz I really enjoy the bus time with audio books, breaking news during breakfast and free music for my bedtime. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.podcast.po...
cjensen 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Overcast[1] has an index. At least for the incredibly small subset of podcasts I looked at, Overcast is a more complete index.

Podcat does not seem to get the names of podcasters correct. For example, searching for Marco Arment links to only some episodes of 'Build and Analyze', which is Arment's old podcast where he appeared in 100% of episodes.

Podcat appears to index names if the given name is name-checked in a podcast's episode text. That's going to be a spam target.

Potentially Podcat could be a great thing. Interesting work.

[1] https://overcast.fm

badthingfactory 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is well executed. I attempted to build something very similar about a year ago. I had a decent prototype, but found it rather difficult to aggregate a complete listing of podcasts scattered around the internet.

The world needs a centralized podcast app other than iTunes. Keep up the good work!

tsyd 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I like how the people behind the podcasts, the hosts and frequent guests are catalogued. It's an interesting way to browse for episodes and podcasts that I haven't seen done anywhere else.

Shameless plug: I've been working on a similar project (https://podcast.party/) that also lets you subscribe to podcasts to keep track of which episodes you have played/unplayed.

Falcon9 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I want this website so badly!

Please keep it up and continuing to find a way to make it more complete. Right now I can find appearances by Daniel Negreanu by searching in iTunes, but not through Podcat. Also it would be awesome if there were a way to include information beyond the RSS feed of a podcast - for example Arcade Outsiders only includes information from the most recent 20 or so episodes, though there have been 89+ episodes overall which are all still available with information on the Arcade Outsiders website.

Another possible feature: strip out the repetitive portions of episode descriptions on the results page when the displayed text is always the same for all the results on the page.

sf_rob 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Feature Request: Episode ratings.

This is awesome!

brndn 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I would love a way to browse through podcast categories. From the homepage, I was looking for a 'tech' link or something to find some that would interest me. Great start though. Good luck.
addedlovely 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice one! I made myself a slightly lighter, curated version, a few months back...bit unfinished, but one massive json object containing hours of goodness.


zeemonkee3 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks cool, very fast search and I like the idea of referencing names (presumably through name-checking of episode summaries?). I worked on a side project a few months ago[1] as I just wanted my own personal webplayer. It's OK, but has the limitation that it only works with podcasts that have discoverable RSS feeds; many are behind the walled gardens of iTunes or Soundcloud or other proprietary platforms unfortunately. As it's really to scratch an itch for my own needs it doesn't do ratings/comments/recommendations which would be on my todo list for a more complete app. Are you planning on adding these features in the near future?

[1] https://podbaby.me

UnfalseDesign 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I love the concept. There still seems to be some room for improvement, though. When searching for "Tom Merritt", it only shows podcasts that "mention Tom Merritt" as opposed to podcasts he's been in or hosted. I plan on checking back in a couple months to see how it has come along. Love the idea, though!
bosie 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I got an error when I tried to look at a podcast:https://www.podcat.com/search/955198749

"Sorry, but something went wrong."

metasean 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Funny automation fail:

The tech podcasts I listen to frequently end with recommendations.

One of the recommendations in the latest JavaScript Jabber is for a Taylor Swift album.

Podcat attributes the entire episode to Taylor Swift

JJ Episode Details: https://devchat.tv/js-jabber/202-jsj-donejs-canjs-with-justi...

Podcat Episode Details: https://www.podcat.com/podcasts/D13bdo-javascript-jabber/epi...



Since most of my podcasts are technical (as I assume many other HN readers' podcasts are) many of them also have video. Sometimes only specific episodes have a video component (e.g. Lately in JavaScript), and sometimes every episode has a video component (e.g. JavaScript Air).

All of the ones I listen to that have video versions also provide an audio-only version, but the host or guests occasionally still refer to something on the screen.

So, it would be nice to be able to filter on episodes that do or don't have a video version.

TillE 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Love the idea, but this seems like it would require a ton of work for it to be remotely comprehensive.

In addition to the missing data, the false positives are an issue. First podcast I checked was Second Captains, which incorrectly lists Rafael Nadal, Donald Trump, Mike Tyson, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc as guests.

sandebert 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It's broken on mobile, right?

I tried searching for Patio11, because... well, Patio11. :-) Didn't see a submit button so I pressed enter. Nothing happened. Tried a couple of times, including accessing the page by "Request desktop site". Same result.

Tested with Chrome 49.

bornwithabeard 7 hours ago 0 replies      
wow, this is terrific. It's something often discussed with friends that someone needs to do this - but we never offered ourselves up due the absolutely massive undertaking it would be. Super excited that someone's done this though.

I hope the site keeps growing - It'd be great to have some of the suggestions already made to be part of it.

the "top 250" would be interesting and for me personally, I'm not sure how much faith I'd put into it: I'm quite finicky when it comes to podcasts. I have a couple of podcasts that I listen to religiously, but I also have some podcasts that I subscribe to, but would only download depending on the guest for that episode, and then there's some podcasts that are right up my alley, interest wise, but something as simple as one of the person's voices/accent is so off-putting that I disregard it completely. With movies, it's easy to say "that movie isn't for me, but I can understand the praise it's receiving", but I don't think podcasts really work that way

mrmondo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Fantastic! I've wanted this for ages! It'd be cool if you could work to integrate with overcast somehow?
1123581321 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm noticing many omissions and errors from my friends' podcasts (which aren't all that popular, so understandable.) Rather than list the issues here, I'm wondering what's the best way they can improve the data for their shows and personas overall.
throwathrowaway 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope this site catches on!

Is there any tool to search for podcast by length or format?

I really like the Writing Excuses podcast (from suggestions on HN) and would like to find others in the same format on different topics. Short podcasts with well thought out analysis and answers.

spencer48 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Sooo rad! I love the little illustrations that guide you through the site
diminish 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Yeah, impressive... what percentage of the podcasts do you think you cover? I have searched for some programming related podcasts, but could'nt find..
rpwilcox 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat idea!

Missing some pretty obvious data: probably should make sure Adam Curry and Dave Winer's stuff is complete, for example.

(Although I guess you're an old foggy podcast listener when you search for the "Daily Source Code"...)

GrayCodex 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow. Thanks for filling up such an obvious gap in content database. Loving the topic/mention based search, looking forward to great things in this aspect.

Although first requested feature would be ability to sign, make profile for listened podcasts and preferably add notes/review/ discussion about a specific episode.

Thanks for the product. Looking forward to its growth.

pkghost 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome work! Feature request: swipe through pages of recommend podcasts on the front page (would be especially sweet on mobile).
lfx 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Neat site! I was looking for something similar for a while.

Feature Request: Episode date in search listing.

michaelmior 10 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks great. It would be awesome if you could add a direct link to the XML feed for the podcast since it's a pain to pull it out[0] and super useful for those not using iTunes.

[0] https://gist.github.com/aderyabin/4479240

ericrius3 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I love this so much.... finding certain podcasts have changed my life so much, and I've been wanting something like this for a long time. Thank you! I really look forward to watching this app evolve!
austinhutch 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The people search is something I've wanted for a while now, you've done a fantastic job in executing it!
weisser 3 hours ago 0 replies      

Where's the ability to track what you've listened to so far?

dmschulman 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea!

Feature request: I know that many podcasts I listen to have comprehensive show notes for each episode, it'd be great if there were an easy way to tie in or link to the information in the show notes on a per episode basis!

giancarlostoro 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Weird, website seems to be blocked by my schools network apparently having to do with Usenet. No idea what that's about.
xasos 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is awesome! I'm sure if you open up the API, many people would want if for their respective players (this would be awesome with Overcast.fm, for example)
xd1936 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic! I wish I could add missing info, like a wiki.
Abstain 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Definitely something I can see myself using on a regular basis. Awesome work.
heywire 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Something strange is going on with scrolling. When I scroll quickly down the page, it jumps back to the top. Looks like a great resource, looking forward to checking it out in detail later!
hijp 10 hours ago 2 replies      
creator here: I'd love to speak to anyone that has their own podcast to find out what you need. feel free to email me at podcastcatalog@gmail.com

thank you for all the feedback and support!

johns 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's a good data source for you http://interviewed.io/
frsandstone 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Love this!

Feature request: Ability to see information on podcasts not currently in the RSS feed.

Sometimes podcasts start to discontinue old episodes and being able to see this information is a pain point for me.

cubano 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been enjoying podcasts for many years now, so this seems like a wonderful resource...great work guys/gals!

If anyone is looking looking for something different and educational and entertaining, check out Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. It's amazing, and I've been a fan of his for a decade now and he keeps getting better and better.

Kiro 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Where is the Top 250? I've never listened to a podcast and want to listen to the best one there is.
clorisu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd -really- like this idea, if only it allowed saving podcasts, rating them, and reviewing them.
mrborgen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great! The search on Apple's own app is just horrible. I'm gonna use this one for sure. Well done!
caoilte 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't this just a thin skin on iTunes?
Aqwis 11 hours ago 1 reply      
So how do people get added to this site?
mijustin 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow. The search is surprisingly fast and accurate (even when searching for people).
nelmaven 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks interesting but there's no feedback for empty search results.
Dobbs 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Its missing bikeshed.fm and I don't see a way to add things.
megido 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Would love to see reviews/ratings of podcasts
jkot 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Search does not work for me. I have malware filters, so check domain its loaded from
NoMoreNicksLeft 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Dammit, suckered in by the headline. I need a database with metadata for Plex, but other than the image itself, there's nothing here. No blurb, no genre, nada.

Will say that I thought I had it stumped with one radio program, but I typed in the name and it came up.

Is this thing going to have a rest api or something?

yeukhon 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Encryption [video] youtube.com
323 points by XioNoX  1 day ago   86 comments top 10
dcw303 1 day ago 2 replies      
Like everyone on this site, I've been following this story too closely to get any new info from this segment, so I couldn't tell if this will convince people. It was up to the always high standards of Last Week Tonight though.

I really hope the message got through to his audience. We need every single non-technical person in the world to understand this clearly if we have any hope of getting the US Government to back down.

mangeletti 1 day ago 3 replies      
I hoped he would have touched on one more important and oft overlooked point:

Encryption is not a secret. It's accessible to criminals, and criminals don't give a shit about "backdoor" laws.

In fact, I'd venture to guess that there is great encryption software already available on jail broken iPhones.

anc84 1 day ago 3 replies      
What a shame that Signal is not mentioned as encryption app.
thwarted 1 day ago 5 replies      
He used phrasing like "widely thought by experts to be impossible" (13m2s) a few times through this piece. Which cryptographers and cryptography experts think, in 2016, that a crypto system could be created that is, baring bugs, completely secure right up until the point where you don't want it to be? He showed clips of legislators asking for magic crypto unicorns (10m). Is this some kind of 4 out of 5 cryptographers think it's an "impossibility", and do we really think that that remaining one is actually an expert?

Or is this just an attempt at "fair and balanced" reporting, implying that, while they couldn't find any "experts" to take the opposite side, there must be some out there. John Oliver doesn't usually do that though.

Tempest1981 1 day ago 3 replies      
Awesome summary of the issue. All it takes is 1 disgruntled/bribed/blackmailed employee, and everyone could be compromised. Not worth the risk.
aauchter 1 day ago 2 replies      
Would it be possible to build devices that could be unlocked a fixed number of times across all units (say 1,000 times). Devices could be heavily hardware encrypted, but unlockable with an encryption key, a portion of which comes from a publicly monitored blockchain/distributed ledger, that when used reduces the number of future uses.

This way, the government could be granted access for extreme cases, but without the potential for abuse or mass surveillance. Once there were 1,000 check-ins, not more keys could be generated.


pointernil 1 day ago 3 replies      
So there is an effort estimate to ADD what the authorities need?

Does this indicate the crypto is already broken?

What's hindering the "intelligence community" from doing it on their own on case by case basis?

Did they already do this?

Does Apple win disproportionately marketing wise by staging it self as the sound and secure provider?

senectus1 1 day ago 3 replies      
any chance of a non-geoblocked link?
Shivetya 1 day ago 2 replies      
Okay, while I am in full agreement that no back door is warranted why does Apple get a pass of their actions with regards to China? The rumor mill claims it means possibly handing over source code used to drive devices. If true, how would they not do the same for US officials?

I certainly don't believe they should write the code request by the government but at the same time are they going to keep that stance in all markets?

fufefderddfr 1 day ago 0 replies      
Video spam. Late night show bullshit.
       cached 16 March 2016 04:11:01 GMT