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Introducing OpenAI openai.com
717 points by sama  10 hours ago   252 comments top 42
necessity 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
>unconstrained by a need to generate financial return

The incentive, not the constraint, provided by financial return is what drives innovation the most, aside from (but not mutually exclusive to) necessity.

vonnik 7 hours ago 8 replies      
> Musk: I think the best defense against the misuse of AI is to empower as many people as possible to have AI. If everyone has AI powers, then theres not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have AI superpower.

In a sense, we have no other defense. AI is just math and code, and I know of no way to distinguish good linear algebra from evil linear algebra.

The barriers to putting that math and code together for AI, at least physically, are only slightly higher than writing "Hello World." Certainly much lower than other possible existential threats, like nuclear weapons. Two people in a basement might make significant advances in AI research. So from the start, AI appears to be impossible to regulate. If an AGI is possible, then it is inevitable.

I happen to support the widespread use of AI, and see many potential benefits. (Disclosure: I'm part of an AI startup: http://www.skymind.io) Thinking about AI is the cocaine of technologists; i.e. it makes them needlessly paranoid.

But if I adopt Elon's caution toward the technology, then I'm not sure if I agree with his reasoning.

If he believes in the potential harm of AI, then supporting its widespread use doesn't seem logical. If you take the quote above, and substitute the word "guns" for "AI", you basically have the NRA, and the NRA is not making the world a safer place.

zxcvvcxz 6 hours ago 4 replies      
Man I dunno about some of this media hype surrounding the topic of AI. I understand how powerful ML/AI algorithms are for general pattern matching (with a big enough computer, gradient descent can learn a lot of things...), but this whole skynet/doomsday fear thing seems ridiculous.

I guess the risk is embedding into systems that manage missiles or something. But you don't need sophisticated algorithms for that to be a risk, just irresponsible programmers. And I recon those systems already rely on a ton of software. So as long as we don't build software that tries to "predict where the this drone should strike next", we're probably fine. Actually shit we're probably doing that.. ("this mountanous cave has a 95% feature match with this other cave we bombed recently..."). Fuuuuck that sounds bad. I don't know how OpenAI giving other people AI will help against something like that.

karmacondon 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a key takeaway: "...we are going to ask YC companies to make whatever data they are comfortable making available to OpenAI. And Elon is also going to figure out what data Tesla and Space X can share."

Money is great, openness is great, big name researchers are also a huge plus. But data data data, that could turn out to be very valuable. I don't know if Sam meant that YC companies would be encouraged to contribute data openly, as in making potentially valuable business assets available to the public, or that the data would be available to the OpenAI Fellows (or whatever they're called). Either way, it could be a huge gain for research and development.

I know that I don't get a wish list here, but if I did it would be nice to see OpenAI encourage the following from its researchers:

1) All publications should include code and data whenever possible. Things like gitxiv are helping, but this is far from being an AI community standard

2) Encourage people to try to surpass benchmarks established by their published research, when possible. Many modern ML papers play with results and parameters until they can show that their new method out performs every other method. It would be great to see an institution say "Here's the best our method can do on dataset X, can you beat it and how?"

3) Sponsor competitions frequently. The Netflix Prize was a huge learning experience for a lot of people, and continues to be a valuable educational resource. We need more of that

4) Try to encourage a diversity of backgrounds. IF they choose to sponsor competitions, it would be cool if they let winners or those who performed well join OpenAI as researchers at least for awhile, even if they don't have PhDs in computer science

The "evil" AI and safety stuff is just science fiction, but whatever. Hopefully they will be able to use their resources and position to move the state of AI forward

rjvir 10 hours ago 3 replies      
> Sam, Greg, Elon, Reid Hoffman, Jessica Livingston, Peter Thiel, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Infosys, and YC Research are donating to support OpenAI. In total, these funders have committed $1 billion

Funny how they just slipped that in at the end

rl3 8 hours ago 0 replies      
>Musk: I think the best defense against the misuse of AI is to empower as many people as possible to have AI. If everyone has AI powers, then theres not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have AI superpower.

This is essentially Ray Kurzweil's argument. Surprising to see both Musk and Altman buy into it.

If the underlying algorithms used to construct AGI turn out to be easily scalable, then the realization of a dominant superintelligent agent is simply a matter of who arrives first with sufficient resources. In Bostrom's Superintelligence, a multipolar scenario was discussed, but treated as unkikely due to the way first-arrival and scaling dynamics work.

In other words, augmenting everyone's capability or intelligence doesn't necessarily preclude the creation of a dominant superintelligent agent. On the contrary, if there's any bad or insufficiently careful actors attempting to construct a superintelligence, it's safe to assume they'll be taking advantage of the same AI augments everyone else has, thus rendering the dynamic not much different from today (i.e. a somewhat equalif not more equalplaying field).

I would argue that in the context of AGI, an equal playing field is actually undesirable. For example, if we were discussing nuclear weapons, I don't think anyone would be arguing that open-source schematics is a great idea. Musk himself has previously stated that [AGI] is "potentially more dangerous than nukes"and I tend to agreeit's just that we do not know the resource or material requirements yet. Fortunately with nuclear weapons, they at least require highly enriched materials, which render them mostly out of reach to anyone but nation states.

To be clear, I think the concept of opening up normal AI research is fantastic, it's just that it falls apart when viewed in context of AGI safety.

argonaut 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I find it a bit disappointing that despite originally stating that YC Research would target underfunded/underserved areas of research, they've decided to fund and dive into one of the most-hyped, well-funded areas of research: deep learning, an area of research where companies are hiring like crazy and even universities are hiring faculty like crazy. I'm reasonably sure all the research scientists had multiple job offers, and most could get faculty offers as well.

Instead of funding areas of research where grad students legitimately struggle to find faculty or even industry research positions in their field, YC Research decided to join the same arms race that companies like Toyota are joining.

_sentient 10 hours ago 5 replies      
$1B in committed funding. Just, wow.

Side note: I wonder if the Strong AI argument can benefit from something akin to Pascal's Wager, in that the upside of being right is ~infinite with only a finite downside in the opposing case.

vox_mollis 9 hours ago 4 replies      
Where does this leave MIRI?

Is Eliezer going to close up shop, collaborate with OpenAI, or compete?

hacker_9 10 hours ago 9 replies      
This is about 100 years too early. Seriously why do people think neural networks are the answer to AI? They are proven to be stupid outside of their training data. We have such a long way to go. This fear-mongering is pointless.
baconner 10 hours ago 5 replies      
"We believe AI should be an extension of individual human wills..."

I realize that today machine learning really is purely a tool, but the idea that ai will and should always be that doesn't sit quite right with me. Ml tech absent of consciousnesses remains a tool and an incredibly useful one, but in the long term you have to ask the question - at what point does an ai transition from a tool to a slave. Seems some time off still but I do wish we'd give it more serious thought before it arrives.

sethbannon 10 hours ago 6 replies      
I can't think of another field of research that's simultaneously brought the potential to solve all the world's problems and the potential to end life as we know it. Very appreciative to see so many great minds working on ensuring AI heralds in more of the former, and none of the latter.
runevault 10 hours ago 0 replies      
So I assume this is one of the projects Sama was talking about in his research initiatives. Sounds promising.
nazgulnarsil 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So the idea with differential safety development is that we want to speedup safe AI timelines as much as possible while slowing down unsafe AI timelines as much as possible. I worry that this development isn't great when viewed through this lens. Lets say that DARPA, CAS, and whatever the Russian equivalent all work on closed source AIs. The idea here might be that open source beats closed source by getting cross pollination and better coordination between efforts. The issue is that the government agencies get to crib whatever they want from the open source stuff to bolster their own closed source stuff.
ajtulloch 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats! It's a brilliant team, looking forward to great things.
peter303 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Not the first. Back in the 1980s when expert systems were thought to be the way to AI, there was OpenCyc. Its still around.
spectrum1234 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is awesome.

I was literally just wondering when there will be open sourced AI. I only saw a few repos on github so figured it would be at least 3-10 years. The fact that things like this seem to surface so quick, including recent AI announcements from Google, etc, are a very good signs for AI in the future.

colordrops 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This reminds me a bit of all the hype around space elevators several years ago. People were talking about it like it was an inevitable achievement in the near future, nearly oblivious to the huge challenges and unsolved problems necessary to make it happen.

I haven't seen anything but very rudimentary single-domain problems solved that point to incremental improvement, so I'm wondering if these billionaire investors are privy to demos the rest of us are not, and thus have real reason to be so cautious.

cr4zy 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great news! I think distributed access, control, and contribution to the best AI's will help create 'safe' AI's much faster than any AI created in secret. One thing this does not address, and is something that Jerry Kaplan has an excellent suggestion his recent book "Humans need not apply", is the distributed ownership of AI where tax incentives to public companies that have larger numbers of shareholders, encourages wider distribution of the massive gains AI will bring to these companies.

I really hope that the training data, as well as code and research, will be opened up as well, since the public could really benefit from the self-driving car training data Tesla may contribute[1]. By opening up the development of this extremely important application to public contribution and the quality benefits that it brings, we could get safer, quicker realization of this amazingly transformative tech. As of now the best dataset for self-driving cars, KITTI, is extremely small and dated. [plug]I am working on a project to train self-driving car vision via GTAV to help workaround this (please contact me if you're interested), but obviously real-world data will be better in so many ways.

[1] https://medium.com/backchannel/how-elon-musk-and-y-combinato...

richardw 6 hours ago 1 reply      
How to prevent Future ISIS from getting Future AI, or do we just shift from us trying to out-think them to our AI trying to out-think their AI?

If the answer to the latter is "resources" then we're back where we started. Whoever has the biggest AI wins.

The picture seems to be of many AI's all keeping each other in check, but that outcome seems less likely to result in the AI-UN and more like a primordial soup of competing AI's out of which a one-eyed AI will eventually emerge.

No matter how human-friendly an AI we build is, competition will be the final arbiter of whichever AI gains the most leverage. If a bad AI (more aggressive, more selfish, more willing to take shortcuts) beats a good AI (limits its actions to consider humanity), we're poked. If any level of AI can invent a more-competitive AI, we're poked. Once the cat's out of the bag, we have zero influence and our starting point and current intent become irrelevant.

cdnsteve 9 hours ago 2 replies      
AI is a pretty huge field, what area are they going to focus on specifically?
jgord 7 hours ago 1 reply      
interesting, and I hope they fund some outlier, less established forms of AI.

For example, we may find that massive simulation yields more practical benefits in the medium term than stronger pure AI / ML, in some domains.

By analogy with research on possibly harmful biosystems, one can extrapolate the need for a set of agreed / self imposed safeguards on certain types of strong AI research - eg. make them read-only, not connected to physical actuators, isolated in a lab - just as you would isolate a potentially dangerous pathogen in a medical lab.

OpenAI would be the place to discuss and propose these protocols.

A quote from a future sentient AI - "don't you think its a form of racism, that strong AI abide strictly by the three laws of robotics, but humans do not?"

bholdr 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really great, I think. At least, I admire the motivation behind it as it was outlined by Sam.

However, it seems, YC Research started by bringing in accomplished and well-known academics in the field. I wonder whether it would've been more appropriate to focus on providing PhD Scholarship and postdoc fellowship. Though, I understand and somewhat appreciate the motivation behind bring the "top-guns" of research into this, I wonder whether bringing passionate and hungry for knowledge early career researchers could've been a better bet. I am bias on this, but overall think it would be great to diversify the group and level the field -- let the randomness of ideas play its role :) Just my 5c.

viklas 6 hours ago 0 replies      
My money (not a billion) is on "Open, Big Learning".

Elon will probably want to build a giga-factory of neurons, then open-source some pre-trained, general model with a free API.

This is a man building electric cars, off-grid industrial-strength batteries, rockets and hyper-loops...I don't think publishing more/better research papers or winning kaggle competitions is the vision.

mori 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What I want to know is whether there's collaboration with MIRI. On safety, especially.
RoboTeddy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope more great researchers recognize the importance of the mission and take part!
sremani 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Did not expect Infosys or Vishal Sikka along with what is mostly SV who's who.
nazgulnarsil 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope there was some consultation with existing AI researchers as this might screw with their funding (willingness of donors etc.). Would not be a good sign if this announcement is about coordination and it failed at that right out of the gate.
dennisgorelik 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What problem is OpenAI going to solve?
altonzheng 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool that they have $1 billion pledged. Curious how they will decide compensation, seeing as a lot of these figures would be making a ton in the industry.
dkarapetyan 7 hours ago 1 reply      
mark_l_watson 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds great. I was hoping for OpenCog to be a good open source AI framework but is is difficult to work with (good team; I have worked with several of them in the past, no criticism intended).

I look forward to seeing how OpenAI uses outside contributions, provides easy to use software and documentation, etc.

CurtMonash 9 hours ago 0 replies      
First in with my recent musings as to whether behemoth companies would own the AI space.


a-dub 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Oh shit. Say goodbye to reasonable g2.8xlarge spot prices...
fuzzytop130 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
nice addition
foobarqux 10 hours ago 0 replies      
How is the group structured and operated?
tangled_zans 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Who are the actual staff involved? What sort of things have they worked on and published before?
fiatmoney 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Will OpenAI be voluntarily subjecting itself to the same regulatory regime for machine learning research Sam Altman proposed earlier, or have they realized that would be a complete disaster?


samstave 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a serious question:

Should there be an update/amendment/qualification to the laws of robotics regarding using AI for something like ubiquitous mass surveillance?

Clearly the amount of human activity online/electronically will only ever increase. At what point are we going to address how AI may be used/may not be used in this regard?

What about when, say, OpenAI accomplishes some great feat of AI -- and this feat falls to the wrong hands "robotistan" or some such future 'evil' empire that uses AI just as 1984 to track and control all citizenry, shouldnt we add a law of robotics that the AI should AT LEAST be required to be self aware enough to know that it is the tool of oppression?

Shouldn't the term "injure" be very very well defined such that an AI can hold true to law #1?

Who is the thought leader in this regard? Anyone?

EDIT: Well, Gee -- Looks like the above is one of the Open Goals of OpenAI:


endergen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't this the plot for Avengers: Age of Ultron?
dopamean 10 hours ago 6 replies      
In all seriousness... does "just, wow" communicate something different from "wow?"
negrit 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Disappointing to see Infosys associated to this initiative.

EDIT: looks like the infosys brigade is downvoting me to hell.

Stop using gzip imoverclocked.blogspot.com
205 points by imoverclocked  7 hours ago   114 comments top 29
geofft 2 hours ago 3 replies      
The trouble with this is that, as a software author, it doesn't really matter if it takes 70 seconds instead of 33 to install my software. 70 seconds is fast enough, for someone who's already decided to start downloading something as involved as Meteor; even if it took one second it wouldn't get me more users. And it would have to take over 5-10 minutes before I start losing users.

On the other hand, having to deal with support requests from users who don't have any decompressor other than gzip will cost me both users and my time. Some complicated "download this one if you have xz" or "here's how to install xz-utils on Debian, on RHEL, on ..." will definitely cost me users, compared to "if you're on a UNIXish system, run this command".

From a pure programming point of view, sure, xz is better. But there's nothing convincing me to make the engineering decision to adopt it. The practical benefits are unnoticeable, and the practical downsides are concrete.

cellularmitosis 6 hours ago 7 replies      
I'd argue that bzip2 is a better example of a compression algorithm which no one needs anymore.

Considering these features:

 * Compression ratio * Compression speed * Decompression speed * Ubiquity
And considering these methods:

 * lzop * gzip * bzip2 * xz
You get spectrums like this:

 * Ratio: (worse) lzop gzip bzip2 xz (better) * C.Speed: (worse) bzip2 xz gzip lzop (better) * D.Speed: (worse) bzip2 xz gzip lzop (better) * Ubiquity: (worse) lzop xz bzip2 gzip (better)
So, xz, lzop, and gzip are all the "best" at something. Bzip2 isn't the best at anything anymore.

gizmo 6 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the great things about gz archives is that the --rsyncable flag can be used to create archives that can be rsynced efficiently if they change only slightly, such as sqldumps and logfiles. Basically the file is cut into a bunch of chunks, and each chunk is compressed independently of the other chunks. xz doesn't seem to have an equivalent feature because the standard implentation isn't deterministic[1].

Changing from one compression format to another seems harmless, but it always pays to think carefully about the implications.

[1]: https://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?query=xz&sektion=1&manpa...

jzwinck 6 hours ago 0 replies      
There are many more concerns to address than just compression ratio. Even the ratio one is questionable, because some people have really fast networks but we all have basically the same speed of computers. So a 4x CPU time and memory pressure penalty may be much worse on a system than a 2x stream size increase. Another use case is a tiny VM instance: half a gigabyte of RAM is not actually present in every machine today. Embedded, too.

Another way compression formats can win you much more than a 2x space reduction is by supporting random access within their contained files. Gzip sort of supports this if you work hard at it. Xz and bzip2 appears similar (though the details are different). I achieved a 50x speedup with this in real applications, and discussed it a bit here: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/429987/compression-format...

LeoPanthera 6 hours ago 2 replies      
He didn't mention the biggest difference between gzip and xz - ram usage. At maximum compression, you need 674 MiB free to make a .xz file, and 65 MiB to decompress it again. That's not much on most modern systems, but it's quite a lot on smaller embedded systems.

Admittedly, in most cases, that isn't much excuse though.

bitwize 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Me, I wish people would stop using RAR. It's proprietary and doesn't have a real compression advantage vs. e.g., 7-Zip, bzip2, or xz.
ak217 5 hours ago 1 reply      
For anyone looking to stop making compromises, I recommend pixz. It's binary compatible with xz, and is better at compression speed, decompression speed, and ratio than both gzip and xz on multicore systems. I've adopted it in production to great benefit.
anonova 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> So, who does use xz?

Arch Linux started using lzma2 compression for their packages nearly 6 years ago!


bhouston 6 hours ago 3 replies      
I wish lzma (xz) was integrated into the browser and curl as an Accept-Encoding. Would be amazing for us (clara.io), and I am sure a lot of others.
sbuttgereit 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I think this is one of those things where the author is pretty much 100% right and it just won't happen. Habits are hard to break and in many cases, the negatives just don't impose a high enough cost to matter.

There are times when I do seriously look for the optimum way to do things like this and then there's most of the time I just want to spend brain cycles on more important problems.

hdmoore 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Summary: Compatibility and decompression speed is more important than compression ratios for many use cases. Gzip is nearly universal, where lz4, xz, and parallel bzip2 are not.

The challenge of sharing internet-wide scan data has unearthed a few issues with creating and processing large datasets.

The IC12 project[1] used zpaq, which ended up compressing to almost half the size of gzip. The downside is that it took nearly two weeks and 16 cores to convert the zpaq data to a format other tools could use.

The Critical.IO project[2] used pbzip2, which worked amazingly well, except when processing the data with Java-based tool chains (Hadoop, etc). The Java BZ2 libraries had trouble with the parallel version of bzip2.

We chose gzip with Project Sonar[3], and although the compression isn't great, it was widely compatible with the tools people used to crunch the data, and we get parallel compression/decompression via pigz.

In the latest example, the Censys.io[4] project switched to LZ4 and threw data processing compatibility to the wind (in favor of bandwith and a hosted search engine).


1. http://internetcensus2012.bitbucket.org/images.html2. https://scans.io/study/sonar.cio3. https://sonar.labs.rapid7.com/4. https://censys.io/

samstokes 6 hours ago 4 replies      

 OSX: tar -xf some.tar.xz (WORKS!) Linux: tar -xf some.tar.xz (WORKS!)
I had no idea tar could autodetect compression when extracting. (I wonder if this is GNU tar only, or whether the OSX default tar can do it too?) I've been typing `tar zx` or `tar jx` for too long.

KirinDave 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Being a windows user these days, I am getting kinda frustrated with how anemic everyone is at even trying to google for 20s to find the windows solution.

7zip is the program you want to handle most everything, with both gui and command line options: http://www.7-zip.org/

Given how radically MS is trying to reform itself to be an open-source friendly company and how ineffectually inoffensive they've been the last 5 years, can we at least try and throw them a bone or two?

jph 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I prefer compressing with gzip because it's on more systems, works well even with low RAM, and enables fast rsync for updates.
Animats 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Amusingly, "news.ycombinator.com" serves its pages with .gz compression. Even if you send an HTTP header that demands plain text only.
mkj 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Which version of RHEL does "Linux" include? The world isn't all Ubuntu recent releases.
profquail 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Windows users: 7-zip can extract .xz files should you need to (article didn't mention a Windows solution).
jmspring 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I mentioned it when it came up on another thread. Compare apples and apples -- use one of the standard corpuses when running bench marks.

Ian Witten put together the Calgary corpus - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calgary_corpus

fz7412 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If I'm sending contents of a website to client in .xz format, will browsers be able to decompress it?
imslavko 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Can node-tar untar .tar.xz? This is what Meteor uses to parse tarballs.


jack9 3 hours ago 0 replies      
geezip is fun to say. Until there's a catchy name for "crosszip"/xz/whatever, I think we're preaching to the wrong choir. There's a human element in toolchains. Address it.
zipzipzipzip 4 hours ago 0 replies      
it's a shame that algorithm improvements would necessitate a shift away from the name "gzip". It would be better if the intent to compress/decompress was orthogonal to the features of the implementation (compression ratio, speed, split-ability, etc...)
orionblastar 4 hours ago 0 replies      
When I owned an Amiga they kept on changing the archive format to find a better one that saved space.

The had arc, pak, zip, zoo, warp, lharc, and every Amiga BBS I got on used a different archive format. Everyone had a different opinion on which archive format compressed things in the best way.

I think eventually they decided on lharc when they started to put PD and shareware files on the Internet.

Tar.gz is used because there are instructions for it everywhere and it seems like a majority of free and open source projects archive in it. It is a more popular format than the others right now. Might be because it is an older format and had more ports of it done.

But I really like 7zip, it seems to compress smaller archives, before 7Zip I used to use RAR but WinRAR wasn't open source and 7Zip is so I switched.

With high speed Internet it doesn't seem to matter much anymore unless the file is in over a gigabyte in size. Even then Bit Torrent can be used to download the large files. I think BitTorrent has some sort of compression included with it if I am not mistaken. To compress packets to smaller sizes over the torrent network and then resize them when the client downloads them. That is if compression is turned on and both clients support it.

InclinedPlane 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Ahh, kids. "Let's all start adopting this new thing that has existed for a few years that's slower and uses more ram because we're wasting literally tens of megabytes all the time!"
JustSomeNobody 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Is xz greppable?
flurp 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Can we get that in Weissman Score? ;)
foxhop 4 hours ago 0 replies      
tar ... tape archive
GalacticDomin8r 5 hours ago 0 replies      
eximius 6 hours ago 4 replies      
ick, the invocation is `tar tJvf`? Granted, I can alias it but a capital J is just about the worst option letter I can think of.
How Elon Musk and Y Combinator Plan to Stop Computers from Taking Over medium.com
261 points by sergeant3  10 hours ago   117 comments top 33
cromwellian 9 hours ago 12 replies      
The near term danger of AI isn't in hyperintelligent SkyNet like systems, it's in human controlled autonomous weapon systems and "stupid AI"

What you should be fearing is military drones being given the ability to make decisions on targets or to fire, even with human assistance, and these systems won't just reside in the hands of large governments either.

Already police and militaries around the world are using abstracted forms of force, wherein target are identified with algorithms, and then force trained on those targets

What's do you think is going to happen first, SkyNet, or a predator imaging drone telling a human operator falsely that the current image is a terrorist?

What's going to happen first? SkyNet, or self driving cars putting millions of people out of jobs because of a lack of demand for drivers in transportation, or manufacture of cars? (I'm not saying it's a bad thing, but it will be very very disruptive)

If SkyNet is a threat, it's 50 or 100 years off I think. "AI" as it is now, is no where near the capability people are talking about. It's sheer hyperbole.

chubot 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what their use cases are. "Advance the state of the art in AI" is just too nebulous. Having the smartest people in the world isn't enough... you need to focus them on some goal.

Once you get beyond 8 researchers, you'll have problems with politics and egos if people aren't focused on a problem. Everyone will have their pet approach for specific problems, and they won't compose into something generally useful. AI is really like 10 or 20 different subfields (image understanding, language understanding, motion planning, etc.)

I think self-driving cars are a perfect example of a great problem for AI (and something that many organizations are interested in: Google, Tesla, Apple). Solving that problem will surely advance the state of art in the AI (and already has).

tl;dr "OpenAI" is too nebulous.

axplusb 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
As awesome as this looks, I'm totally missing the point.

If they truly believe AI is dangerous, how does promoting / accelerating it is supposed to help?

Or is it a way to commoditize R&D in machine learning so that it will never be a bottleneck for startups?

rpm33 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Once again sensationalism. I watched that interview. Sam's take on AI is perhaps the most practical I've seen in popular media, while everyone is freaking about a singularity event.
heurist 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds to me like YCombinator wants to fuel their growth by creating these tools for their companies to use. The YC business model is absolutely brilliant, but I can't see this being some purely altruistic mission. Or if it is then I am jealous that they have the power and resources to put up against such a project. I'd spend all my time trying to build an AI if I didn't have to work! (Though I am trying to steer the company I work for in that direction anyway...)
ddod 9 hours ago 5 replies      
Whether it's the "singularity" or just software naturally improving over time and taking on more "thinking" work, there's going to be a huge and insurmountable unemployment problem in the near future. The market values human thought/labor to the extent that it's cheaper or more effective than an automated solution. When that isn't the case, you can fill in the blanks. That, to me, is the scary part of AI.

It doesn't sound like this project has any scope to address this practical concern, which to me, is largely economic. I don't see how universal access to AI puts food on the table.

bkbaba 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
Musk: I think the best defense against the misuse of AI is to empower as many people as possible to have AI. If everyone has AI powers, then theres not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have AI superpower.


Isn't this like gun control all over again?! You give more guns to people so that they can be safe, instead you end up killing each other.

Artoemius 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the best defense against the misuse of nuclear weapons is to empower as many people as possible to have nuclear weapons. If everyone has nuclear weapons powers, then theres not any one person or a small set of individuals who can have nuclear weapons superpower.

Yeah, right.

gist 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Musk is spread so so thin. Not enough to run a rocket company, a car company and be the Chairman of Solar City. Needs to have his hand in even more pots.
martin_ 9 hours ago 3 replies      
> Altman: Our recruiting is going pretty well so far. One thing that really appeals to researchers is freedom and openness and the ability to share what theyre working on, which at any of the industrial labs you dont have to the same degree.

Do current AAPL/GOOG/FB engineers dislike this so much? There's secrecy within most for-profit entities, what makes AI so different?

tinalumfoil 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's incredible the types of doomsday scenarios the wealthy invest in stopping. The problem Elon Musk and Y Combinator are going to solve with their money, what they will be remembered for fixing after their companies have long crashed and gone bankrupt, is better technology. Essentially, technology will become so good at doing human's work we will run out of problems for people to solve and drift into a lazy non-working state incompatible with current economies. I predict Earth will be destroyed by passing meteor before that happens.

Maybe if I was a billionaire I'd understand.

oneJob 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Here is my prediction, after watching "Terminator Genisys". The dangerous AI is not the AI humans "invent". It is the AI that runs away. But, what AI will humans allow to "run away"? What scenario presents an opportunity for one group of humans to attack an AI and then provides the opportunity for said AI to be released from its lease ("run away") and become that which we all fear?

So, you have 'red team' and 'blue team'. Blue team is super rich and builds itself an awesome AI. Red team needs some "rally round the flag" pick me up and so, looking around for targets, decides that attacking a bunch of machines is a safe bet. If they win, awesome. If not, then they didn't kill any persons, just made a bunch of junk.

Blue team's response is to internalize the threat (as is only natural, or is at least politically expedient to some subset of blue team) and frame the situation as follows: "This is what we built our AI for. This is an existential threat. It has the capacity. We only need to let it off the leash. The choices are 'destroy' or 'be destroyed'. This is nothing less than an existential moment for our civilization."

And, with that horrible, non-technical, propaganda riddled rationalization the AI developed by the most well meaning of people will be let off the least, will run way, and nothing that we know about the AI up to that point will be worth diddly squat.

I respect anyone that tries to tackle this issue. But, the nature of the issue, the kernel of the problem, is nothing less than Pandora's box. We won't know when it is opened. But, the AI will.

MBlume 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This...sounds incredibly naive? They seem to think that AI risk comes from Bad People doing AI? There's not one mention given to the possibility of well-intentioned people destroying the world by accident.
danieltillett 9 hours ago 4 replies      
My real concern about AI is that generalised Moores law means we only have a relatively short time to plan. Assuming that computers continue to double in processing power every 18 months or so, then we only have 10 years where we go from 1% human level to human level. This really is not a long time to make good decisions.
astrofinch 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"Security through secrecy on technology has just not worked very often."

Nuclear weapons come to mind. Would we prefer that the knowledge of how to make them be more widespread?

cromwellian 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Remember, when Engines Of Creation and Nanosystems were published, and there was a great fear that uncontrolled Nanotech development would result in a GreyGoo that would consume us all?

With stuff like CRISPR, perhaps Elon should invest to stop the zombie apocalypse. :)

humanfromearth 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It might be an incredibly bad idea to have multiple AGIs everywhere in the world, but that's the least bad that I can see too.

Also this is amazing, making serious effort towards AGI is what we need. We'll play with RNNs configurations for a long time, but I think it's a good call to fund people who think about the broad picture.

ThomPete 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Humans are general purpose animals and technology is general purpose humankind.

If we believe that DNA is a kind of information and our genes are "looking for" better weasels to survive through then it's only natural to also see technology as a much better carrier of that information than us.

The problem many have with coming to grasp with the idea that AI could be a threat is because they look at where technology is right now and then try and imagine a computer being anywhere near our capabilities.

But this is because many think of it as a thing. As in. "Now we have finally build a strong AI thingiemagick". However just as humans consciousness and intelligence isn't a thing, neither will AI be. It's going to be a lot of things. Some are better developed than others, but most moving at impressive speed and at one point enough of them are going to be put together to create some sort of pattern recognizing feedback loop with enough memory and enough smart sub-algorithms to became what we would consider sentient. </tinfoil hat>

walterbell 9 hours ago 0 replies      
There is a role for regulation and collective choice. Take HFT as an example. If everyone competes for lower latency access, eventually everyone locates their bot at the same exchange. If everyone puts a lower limit on latency (e.g. by coiling fiber optic cable), the latency playing field is leveled and new areas of competition emerge.

Open technology will empower the expression of many human wills, individual and collective. Human wills are today constrained and empowered by many human-imagined systems of thought, and we can invent new ones. Will there be an AI which explores the possibility space of constraints on AI-using humans?

arbre 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great news. I work at a big company with advanced machine learning tools and infrastructure. Everytime I use them I am amazed by the tools but kinda sad for the students and researchers who have to deal with simpler/less powerful tools. This gives me hope that the best tools will eventually be open source.
Animats 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The near term danger of AI, as I point occasionally, is a Goldman Sachs run by an AI. Machine learning systems are already making many investment decisions. We're not far from the day when society's capital allocation is controlled by programs optimizing for return over a few years, and nothing else.
keithwhor 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So, capitalism is all about exploiting unfair advantages, right? First mover's advantage on AI developments (regardless of whether they're made publicly accessible eventually or not) seems like a pretty big unfair advantage.

Good for them. I expect some great work to come out of this. :) I'm most excited to automate travel as quickly as possible --- too many people die each year from automobile accidents.

hollerith 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The OP seems to assume that the big danger with AI is that it will leave the people at the mercy of an (human) elite that controls an AI or that has programmed an autonomous AI (an AI not controlled by any humans) to care mostly or only about the elite.

In contrast, what organizations like the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and the Future of Humanity Institute (MIRI and FHI) consider the main danger (and have considered the main danger for over 11 years) is that the AI will not care about any person at all.

For the AI to do an adequate job of protecting human welfare it needs to understand human morality, human values and human preferences -- and to be programmed correctly to care about those things. Designing an AI that can do that is probably significantly more difficult than designing an AI that is so intelligent that the human race cannot stop it or shut it down (although everyone grants that designing an AI that cannot be stopped or shut down by, e.g., the US military is in itself a difficult task).

The big danger in other words seems to come not from a research group using AI research to try to take over the world or to gain a persistent advantage over other people, but rather from a research group that means well or at least has no intention to be reckless or to destroy the human race, but ends up doing so by having an insufficient appreciation of the technical and scientific challenges around protecting human welfare, then building an AI that is so smart that it cannot be stopped by humans (including the humans in the other AI research groups).

I fail to see how changing the AI-research landscape so that more of the results of AI research will be published helps against that danger. If one team has 100% of the knowledge and other resources that it needs to build a smarter-than-human AI (and has the will to build it) and all the other teams have 99.9% of the necessary knowledge, there might not be enough time to stop the first team or (more critically IMHO) to stop the AI created by the first team. In particular, if the first AI is able to build (e.g., write the source code for) its own successor -- a process that has been called recursive self-improvement -- it might rapidly become smart enough to stop any other smarter-than-human AI from being built (e.g., by killing all the humans).

Rather than funding a non-profit that will give away its research output to all research groups, a better strategy is to give the funds to MIRI who for over 11 years have been exhibiting in their writings an vivid appreciation for the difficulty of creating smarter-than-human AI that will actually care about the humans rather than simply killing them because they might interfere with the AI's goal or because the habitat and the resources of the humans can be repurposed by the AI.

Any effective AI -- or any AI at all really -- will have some goal (or some set or system of goals, which for brevity I will refer to as "the goal") which may or may not be the goal that the builders of the AI tried to give it. In other words, everything worthy of the name "mind", "intelligence" or "intelligent agent" has some goal -- by definition. If the AI is powerful enough -- in other words, if the AI is efficient enough at optimizing the world to conform to the AI's goal -- then all humans will die -- at least for the vast majority of possible goals one could put into a sufficiently powerful optimizing process (i.e., into an sufficiently powerful AI). Only a very few, relatively complicated goals do not have the unfortunate property that all the humans die if the goal is pursued efficiently enough -- and learning how to define such goals and to ensure that they are integrated correctly into the AI is probably the most difficult part of getting smarter-than-human AI right.

That used to be called Friendliness problem and is currently usually called the AI goal alignment problem. The best strategy on publication is probably to publish freely any knowledge about the AI goal alignment problem, while keeping unpublished most other knowledge useful for creating a smart-than-human AI.

I will patiently reply to all emails on this topic. (Address in my profile.) I do not get a salary from FHI or MIRI and donating to FHI or MIRI does not benefit me in any way except by decreasing the probability that my descendants will be killed by an AI.

kordless 6 hours ago 0 replies      
> unconstrained by a need to generate financial return

AI should definitely be constrained by financial means. Computing, unbounded by financial constraints, will eat everything.

xiaoma 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Is the Steven Levy who wrote this the same Steven Levy who wrote Hackers?
zobzu 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I want computers to take over.
api 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Before you invite regulation into this area, take a long hard look at how the government has historically approached cryptography and IT security. This is a far simpler domain with far simpler concepts, and it's a total shitshow that alternates between ignorant security theater and self-serving power grabs.

Get into bed with the government and they will piss in it. The most likely outcome is costly complicated regulations that hobble legitimate development and accomplish nothing in terms of making us safer from anything. The end result will be like ITAR and crypto export controls: pushing development off shore and making the USA less competitive.

I say this not as a hard-line anti-government right-winger or dogmatic libertarian, but as someone who has a realistic view of government competence in highly technical domains. Look at other areas and you don't see much better. Corn ethanol, for example, is literally the pessimum choice for biofuels-- it is technically the worst possible candidate that could have been chosen to push. The sorts of folks who ascend to political power simply lack any expertise in these areas, and so they fall back on listening to the agenda-driven lobbyists that swarm around them like flies. The results are awful. Government should do government but should stay the hell away from specific micromanagement of anything technical.

perseusprime1 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Fix my autocorrect
codeulike 8 hours ago 0 replies      
So all this will end with the red open-source AI Jaeger mech battling against the grey corporate AI Jaegers among the ruins of our cities. Thanks, Elon.
melling 10 hours ago 3 replies      
While we're at it maybe we should address the possibility of overpopulation on Mars?

Andrew Ng thinks people are wasting their time with evil AI:


phlandis 10 hours ago 0 replies      
At the same time couldn't this just make it easier for rogues to fork?
theklub 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Computers already took over.
gist 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"OpenAI is a research lab meant to counteract large corporations who may gain too much power by owning super-intelligence systems devoted to profits"

As opposed to (almost) the entire startup ecosystem which is focused on ... profits.

Edit: And what does "to much power" even mean other than trying to use hyperbole to make some kind of point.

Stockfighter Developer Hub readme.io
45 points by brbcoding  3 hours ago   7 comments top
patio11 3 hours ago 5 replies      
We hit a few last minute technical issues, so the game will not launch publicly until Saturday afternoon (Chicago time).
Why I decided not to enter the $100,000 global warming time-series challenge andrewgelman.com
56 points by aaronchall  3 hours ago   7 comments top 3
coherentpony 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The first lesson in any experiment is to understand the question you're answering. This is a great example of that.
zump 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Andrew Gelman is a wizard
threeseed 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Those who believe in climate change should just reframe the argument in the face of skeptics.

Just say, "you're right, we don't know the science is true but just like people/companies take out insurance in situations of risk so should we." Because when the problem is reframed as an exercise in risk mitigation then it is very hard to argue against. Especially when said activities have not been shown to have a measurable impact on the world's economic activity. In fact huge benefits will come if we invent largely free energy.

US to ban soaps and other products containing microbeads theguardian.com
248 points by benologist  14 hours ago   185 comments top 17
SwellJoe 10 hours ago 10 replies      
While it's cool and all that this has been done, it's many years after credible people started warning about the dangers of these products. The fact that manufacturers kept making this stuff with knowledge of the damage it was causing is pretty damning, and is the kind of thing that makes me mistrustful of arguments that the free market will sort things like this out. There's just no good mechanism to stop massive harm to common resources (even now, we don't have a good mechanism to stop this kind of thing, since it took years to do so, even for something as uncontroversial as this...our system barely even puts a dent in the ecological harm of fossil fuels, animal agriculture, etc.).
bhartzer 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I am happy that small, but fairly substantive (and meaningful) policies like this still manage to get through Congress. And that not everything becomes like that "feds are confiscating our light bulbs" fight because of posturing or corruption.

This is a good regulation/law, and it's actually going to be passed. Glad it still happens sometimes.

krschultz 11 hours ago 4 replies      
This was an obviously bad idea from the start.

One of the tenants of a reasonably modern mechanical engineering curriculum is at least passing coverage of 'product lifecycle', which basically means thinking about disposal/recycling during design. What did the CPG companies think was going to happen when they dumped a billion tiny little pieces of plastic directly down the drain?

bhouston 11 hours ago 5 replies      
Easy solution, just switch to natural biodegradable abrasives like crushed walnut shells. These are already used a lot in the cosmetics industry.
merpnderp 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Forget about these beads winding up in streams and our ecosystem, which is bad enough. Dentists warn that toothpastes with these beads can embed them in your gums leading to infections and tooth decay.

No idea how this became legal. Our regulatory body should be a whole lot more about transparency, so questionable stuff like this can be easily weighed by the consumer.


xixi77 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Just curious -- what is the main problem with these (as opposed to say sand and other natural objects of similar size) -- do they float in water instead of settling down, or look like food, or something else?
kileywm 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I've used some of the products containing microbeads and was flabbergasted when I learned that they were plastic. It was my dentist who asked a pointed question during a routine cleaning:

"Do you use Crest toothpaste?"

I answered yes and was informed that some of the plastic beads from the tooth paste had gotten stuck in my gums. The dentist went on to explain that she'd sent in many complaints to the company but they still didn't drop that ingredient.

What weighs on my mind now is why a toothpaste company continued to use microbeads after learning of the externality. Did they have too much inventory to sell. Were they afraid that discontinuing that exact product would upset customers? Did they think that owning up to the mistake and correcting it would draw too much attention to the mistake?

Personally, my respect lies with any entity that can own up to and correct its mistakes before it is forced to do so.

wiradikusuma 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Holy batman, I didnt know (certain type of) microbeads are made of plastic. Everybody knows plastic in general is non-biodegradable etc etc, and they're making it in small particles? Who in their right mind?

What I don't understand is, they get the profit, everyone else clean their shit. And they can get away with this? Sigh

castratikron 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Microbeads were banned in Minnesota several months ago.


azinman2 6 hours ago 0 replies      

How people aren't able to be put in jail for this kind of idiotic stuff in the first place I'll never understand. Our priorities in our legal system don't really accommodate the destruction that can be caused by normal everyday products at scale.

buckbova 11 hours ago 1 reply      
What about pumice soaps, don't these particles float as well? Probably too abrasive to have widespread use outside of some hand soaps.
brokentone 10 hours ago 0 replies      
There are a number of natural "beads" regularly used in alternative products. Likely a higher pricepoint, but clearly a better idea. e.g. http://www.kiehls.com/mens-oil-eliminator-deep-cleansing-exf...
aaron695 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Anyone who cares about science rather than religion want to link about issues with microbeads here?

Can't say I've ever seen any, other than the normal anti-science, stuff is 'scary' point.

That alone annoys me with this conversation, how about starting with a real reason this is bad rather than we can track it.

jackcosgrove 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Not only are these environmentally harmful, but they get stuck in your ear after you shower with them and then your doctor has to refer you to an ENT costing time and money to vacuum them out. Not to mention the psychological stress when your doctor tells you you have a blue growth in your ear and they don't know what it is. Or so I've heard this sort of thing can happen...
sosuke 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Why 2017? That seems very far off.
donatj 7 hours ago 0 replies      
What's wrong with pumice soap that we need plastic?
adrusi 11 hours ago 10 replies      
Great, but now what do I do when my hands are covered in tree sap and normal soap isn't working? I guess we'll just have to settle for a more environmentally friendly alternative like acetone.
Django Awarded MOSS Grant from Mozilla djangoproject.com
256 points by cdnsteve  12 hours ago   76 comments top 17
mladenkovacevic 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I know purists and more experienced developers will disagree, but for a clueless beginner like myself with no real-life connections to the developer community, it's awesome how external projects have been integrated into official Django releases as they become widely adopted and production ready. From staticfiles, through migrations (developer of South took this one to Kickstarter too) and now channels and DRF. Python 3 followed a similar path with virtualenv.

Does any other framework ecosystem work the same way? I don't follow Rails or other ones as closely as I do Python and Django.

hackuser 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Good for Mozilla, putting their money where their mouth is and setting an example. It would be great if they or someone with sufficient reputation setup a way to make it easy for others to contribute financially to FOSS projects, a central payment clearinghouse.

In my for-profit organization, we thought we should contribute to the free / open source projects that we were using and which were helping us make money. We wanted to pay our share.

We started by putting together a list, and that's pretty much where it ended. The list was enormous. Try it yourself, and don't forget the components of other products that are FOSS. EDIT: Here's Mozilla's attempt at making such a list, which they label "incomplete":


On one hand, it reflects the incredible contribution of FOSS software. On the other there was no way, in a busy workplace, we were going to spend days tracking down all those FOSS developers, finding ways to send them money, and implementing it.

bjt 12 hours ago 4 replies      
On one hand, awesome to see Django getting first class Websockets support.

On the other hand this feels a bit like "Build the web applications of today, tomorrow!" I think that's an inherent problem with kitchen sink frameworks; new things that come along have be shoehorned into the old way of doing things, except when they can't, and then you have to restructure your foundation. I stopped using Django a couple years ago because the kind of apps I wanted to build were REST APIs, websockets, a little static file serving, and connections to realtime backends like redis pubsubs or RabbitMQ. Django wasn't great at any of those, yet carried a lot of baggage from stuff I didn't need (e.g. form handing, templates).

I would recommend Flask and/or its underlying Werkzeug library (my personal preference) over Django.

mangeletti 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats to Django, and thanks to Mozilla!

This is the best news! Thanks @ Andrew Godwin (since I see him in here) for all the work you've done on Django over the past N years. I've contributed small amounts of money to the fellowship program 3 or 4 times now, but the sum of that program's entire fundraising for 2015 is almost tripled by this single grant, and the purpose of this grant money is so exciting. Channels is awesome; so is Django REST Framework. Adding the best of these things to the core and tightening some of the architecture sounds exciting. It helps to position Django for continued relevance, web services and real-time applications become more popular.

dudus 12 hours ago 5 replies      
Don't get me wrong, these are amazing news love the project, but I'm a bit confused on how Mozilla works. Just the other day they were requesting donations, now they are donating money?

Why ask for donations if you are expecting to donate the money away instead of using it to improve your products?

I donated to mozilla a few weeks ago, but now I wonder if I should have just donated directly to django instead, skip the middleman that is not adding anything.

hackuser 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's a full list of Mozilla's first round of MOSS grants:


austinjp 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Congratulations to the Django team.

In practical terms, what does this mean for those of us who use Django and Django REST Framework? Will there be a graceful transition path to the planned all-in-one model? What timescales are likely?

Also curious about which version(s) of Python are likely to see continued support.

I appreciate that some of these questions probably can't easily be answered yet, but a steer would be appreciated.

Edit: typo.

asr1 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, channels...I will just go and learn go. But for other reasons too. I dont like django anymore, because I kept continuously fighting with the framework. Its fast to work with, if you do exactly what the developers had in mind, but it gets in your way all the time, if you use your own brain.
icn2 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Could some company support phoenix framework as well? Phoenix's channel feature is already there :)
samskeller 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Very exciting news. The Channels project within Django is one of the most anticipated future projects and the Django REST framework has been a essential add-on to Django for a long time now
travelton 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is great news! My Django installation feels pretty bloated with various 3rd party libraries to handle post-request tasks and serving data via web sockets. Can't wait to shed those dependencies. Congrats Django team!
dethos 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome news, I'm even more excited after reading about how they decided to spend the money. I haven't yet digged into it, but "channels" look promising.

I would also like to congratulate Mozilla for this program, several other great projects are being funded.

latenightcoding 3 hours ago 0 replies      
As a perl programmer I wish someone would fund mojolicious
astaroth360 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I would love it if django were able to compete for more funding like this! Things tend to move much more quickly when there is decent funding involved :D
dormanted 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> Buildbot: $15,000. Buildbot is a continuous build and integration system which has been immensely valuable to Mozilla over the past few years. Their award will be used to remove the term slave from all documentation, APIs and tests

Oh good. $15,000 well spent.... sigh.

bedros 12 hours ago 0 replies      
awesome, love django project
reinhardt 11 hours ago 1 reply      
TIL there's a (big apparently) FOSS project called "Bro". Is this an acronym, humour, sarcasm or what?
I am Peter Roberts, an immigration lawyer who does work for YC and startups. AMA
271 points by proberts  12 hours ago   283 comments top 114
kemitchell 10 hours ago 1 reply      
As a fellow (non-immigration) attorney, I'd just like to stress how remarkable and generous is Peter's willingness to do this via HN, even with the very obvious disclaimer. It speaks volumes about his confidence in his expertise and communication, as well as a genuine desire to spread good information around to those who need it.

Neither the dated, often fuzzy rules about practicing law nor lawyers' developed risk consciousness encourages this kind of "innovative" altruism. Instead, they create anxiety that keeps many community-minded attorneys from doing anything like this.

Bravo, Peter. Inspiring.

treasuresque 5 hours ago 3 replies      
DO NOT WORK WITH HIM. Can't believe he made it to HN!!He somehow became a thing but I can't stress out enough how much money he had cost me while providing either no service -even declined to work on my first case- or really shitty service, where i ended up writing all docs myself. He does not think out of the box at all or provides any value bigger than digging into Google. He didn't have any plan B or even replied to my emails asking what we should try next after we had lost. The only thing he ever did for me was sending the invoice. Everything else was taken care of by his assistant, sending information and documents i had drafted to the government, trying things that i had researched myself.Please feel free to reach out to me for a curated list of good immigration lawyers. I would have taken my return flight back to Germany more than a year ago if i listened to his advice, which has been "i don't see any options here" when there WAS an option for another year.
mtrpcic 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm currently on an H-1B in California working at a startup. In my spare time, I work on side projects that might provide value to somebody somewhere, but have an operating cost that I would have to cover if I wanted to offer the project as a free service. I'd like to be able to charge for this (or at least provide the option of a "Premium" plan) to supplant the money that I will lose in hosting the platform. I am NOT trying to make this a high revenue generator, and I am NOT trying to supplant my personal income. I'm more than happy to have an LLC or corporation (with a bank account), and all revenue stays within that ecosystem to cover costs. Is this possible?

1. Can I set up a company with zero employees? Since I am on an H-1B, I am not allowed to work for this new company that I would create to house the service.

2. Is there any legal implications for me of doing this? Most of what I have read claim that any additional work is illegal, but I am not trying to get paid. I am just trying to make the service self sufficient so it's not a cost to me. I will not take a paycheck or salary, and will not remove revenue from the account of the Corp/LLC.

3. What other avenues would you recommend for doing something like this? I've heard from many other engineers in the field that they have similar ideas. They want to create things to benefit others, but are not willing to do so if it is a literal cost to them.

billconan 12 hours ago 3 replies      
What are the options for an h1b who wants to start up?

we can't lose our jobs to maintain the h1b status. will yc care that we are not working on the idea fulltime by the time of applying to yc? (will certainly quit the job if accepted to yc.)

what are the common attitudes of companies, like google, microsoft, apple, facebook, toward employee moonlighting?

tinbad 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Not a question but wanted to point out the L1 visa that is often overlooked by foreign startup founders. It allows for founders/workers of foreign companies to be transferred to a US subsidiary that is majority owned by the foreign entity. I found it a fairly simple and straightforward process that got me from nothing to L1 to Green Card in about 13 months (although with help of immigration lawyer of course). The main requirements are having worked for at least 12 months for the foreign entity before transferring and the person must be in a managerial/executive position. Also the foreign entity must own the majority of the US subsidiary.
leroy_masochist 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Say for the sake of argument we're a seed-stage startup and we've identified an engineer with a very specific set of skills -- skills necessary for the growth of our company -- who would need an H1B to work here legally. All-in, about how much will it cost us to get that H1B visa processed through the system in a timely fashion?
ojbyrne 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I am curious about the approach YC takes for foreign founders who are accepted into YC. How do they come to the US for the initial incubation period? What happens after demo day?
jeevand 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Can founders of a startup who have majority ownership & with appropriate board having the power to fire them sponsor green card through their startup? Founders are currently on H1b with approved I-140. Thank you
ancarda 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I live in the United Kingdom but I've always wanted to move to America. I don't know much about the process as I find it very hard to go through the volume of information online. Do I need to apply for a visa, then find a company in the U.S. to hire me? Is there a good website for finding green card jobs?

I'd be grateful for a pointer on doing this or even just an FAQ as a starting point.

franciscop 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I won a NASA contest as a programmer and I'm interested on working in the USA (also as a programmer). Am I elegible for an O-Visa? My degree is on Industrial Engineering which I'll finish in January in Spain, my home country. I also have about 1 year of work experience in two startups as an internship.

PS, thank you so much for the help so far.

shekispeaks 12 hours ago 0 replies      
How can people on H1B Visa be founders. What is the best way for them to say spend 6 months figuring out what the product is without actually having an actual company?
mindvirus 12 hours ago 1 reply      
What are the typical visas for a Canadian who gets accepted into YC, and afterward/during raises seed funding and sets up shop in the USA?
mahyarm 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How does one with a H1B, TN, H1B1, or E3 visa move from their current US employer and start their own company legally while living in the USA?
sadok 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter. There have been several times where YC companies wanted to hire me (designer) but couldn't because they can't sponsor work visas at the moment.

How hard is it for a YC company to be able to sponsor visas? Have you had experience with this? And, as an applicant, is there something I could do to ease the process? Thank you.

lfittl 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What are your experiences with going from a successfully issued O-1 visa to an EB-1A?

Any lessons learned / things one should watch out for? (specifically around required evidence or RFEs that you got issued)

Thanks for your time! :)

alantrrs 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Peter, thanks for taking the time for this AMA. I have a ton of questions, but here's a summary:

1. Can I incorporate a company and look for funding under a B1/B2 Visa? 2. Once incorporated and funded, what type of Visa could I get for myself to work for my own company? 3. Would my two-year home-country presence requirement "212(e)" affect getting those visas? 4. If I'm unable to get any other Visa, could I be living in the US with a B1/B2 Visa working for the company I founded but without receiving a salary? How long could I stay? How about a TN or TD Visa?

RohrerCarlos 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for you time.I'm a chilean entrepreneur developing a startup here in SF. I'm one of the founders and we have already incorporated as an LLC.

1-What's the easiest path for me to get a visa that will allow me to work and receive a salary here in the US?2-Can I do that through the company we just established?

I'm fully dedicated and focused on our company and growing as fast as we can and I need to come to a solution to my visa so I can continue working here with no problems.

Much appreciate your help Peter.

cpenarrieta 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am from Peru and I have a software engineer degree, I'm currently taking a Dev Bootcamp in San Francisco and will look a job here after that. I am currently with my Tourist visa. What are my real chances to get a H1B visa?
cagenut 12 hours ago 1 reply      
This isn't really an immigration question so much as an avoiding-having-to-immigrate question:

What are the challenges in having co-founders in other countries and being able to grant them meaningful chunks of equity. Say example someone with 10% in Hungary and another with 10% in the Netherlands.

randall 12 hours ago 0 replies      
My cofounders are from Finland and Pakistan respectively. We want them to be able to move them and their families temporarily to the us for a year or two. Is h1b the best option?
disbelief 12 hours ago 4 replies      
How would you rate a senior engineer's odds at qualifying for an O-1 visa? Can they get by on career/work history alone or does it require a level of public notoriety?
newuser2016 12 hours ago 2 replies      

USCIS recently approved my EB1 visa I-140 petition. Since I'm abroad my process will go thru the NVC and then consular processing. What kind of questions should I be prepared for at the consular interview? And about how much time should I have to wait for my green card?


disbelief 12 hours ago 1 reply      
If someone is on a visa tied to a specific job at a specific company, what is the legality of working on personal side projects (that may turn a profit)?
mydpy 11 hours ago 2 replies      
As US citizens, how can we help our international friends trying to get H1-B support? It is really hard to watch friends get denied, and I really wish policy makers would admit more very talented people from highly competitive countries.

One of my good friends from China is gay and if he goes back home, he could actually be in danger.

I feel helpless and I want to do more.

pboutros 12 hours ago 1 reply      
We hear a lot about the limited # of H1B visas available, about how it functions as a lottery, etc... What are common issues with the H1B application process that don't receive as much public attention?
haydenlee 12 hours ago 0 replies      
When working for your own company (a Delaware C-Corp) on OPT there is some language in the policy about having to be an employee, but that you can also work for yourself. Is being a founder enough to stay in status without technically paying yourself minimum wage and being on the payroll? And does this apply to the extension too?
iktl 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter as H1B / E3 visa holders are only allowed to work for the company sponsoring them, are these holders able to provide contract work (separate to their regular work) to clients either in or out of the US provided the work is conducted and billed via a registered business entity in their home (or another non-US) country?
michwill 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter!

I am a citizen of Australia and I am going to switch on ZeroDB [http://www.zerodb.io/] fulltime pretty much now. For that, I have to leave my employer with whom I have an E3 visa (and I have a wife on E3D). Also I need to travel right after that.

Would there be any problem for us to enter back under Visa Waiver? Should we just fill an ESTA form online and have back out-of-US tickets on hand when we enter back? Any possible caveats here?

Another thing - my employer could technically terminate my employment very close to our date of re-entry (due to some corporate stuff). Would it cause problems in getting ESTA (when you are still technically on E3 visa but in a couple of days you're not)?

Thank you!

baristaGeek 11 hours ago 0 replies      
1) Is winning an ACM-ICPC national/regional contest enough to be considered a top programmer and be able to apply for an O-1?

2) If my B1/B2 visa allows me to stay in the US for 6 consecutive months; can I do programming, sales, fundraising, etc. for my Delaware C Corp in the US?

shekispeaks 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Can I drive for lyft part time on an H1B?
d--b 11 hours ago 2 replies      
I currently hold a green card, but am temporarily abroad (2 times 6 months). How long can I stay abroad and retain the green card, if I periodically come back to the U.S.? And how frequently should I get back to the U.S. ?
bobfunk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Peter,

I have a question about E2 VISA's and what to do when you raise enough funding that you loose majority ownership?

The situation is company with 2 founders on E2 VISAs with majority ownership of a company, who'll most likely not be able to keep majority ownership after a series A.

Is there a good way to prepare for this and a good alternative strategy to not end up with a series A funded company where the founders can't stay in the country?

And do the E2's stop being valid once the founders loose majority ownership, or is it just impossible to renew them?

erehweb 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Is there a good source of information for Presidential candidates' proposed changes to immigration laws? If you were a betting man, what (if any) changes would you bet on post-election?
kylnew 11 hours ago 3 replies      
In your experience, how necessary is it for Canadians and Mexicans applying for a TN Visa, to be accepted for Software Engineer or Computer Systems Analyst jobs without a degree in computer science or engineering? For example, I have a B.Comm degree.

I've heard it's a bit hit and miss and if you don't have a good lawyer working on your side getting through might be tough. I'm not sure if it's a different story for H1B Visas though.

infocollector 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I am currently on F1 (Alien from India, getting my PhD in early 2016, Computer Science) and am planning to apply for either the EB-1 or NIW. I have one publication (and multiple submitted), and my work has mostly gone in supporting Department of Defense. Do you recommend EB-1 or NIW route, or perhaps something else? I do have strong letter writers both in the DoD and Academia/Industry.
OSButler 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There was a post here a while ago about s.o. coming to the US on a tourist visa asking to do volunteer work in return for a place to stay.I'm just curious if you've ever dealt with similar cases, where people came into the country with the wrong visa, found a place to live/work, but then had to get their papers sorted out to be able to stay?Were they actually able to stay or did they have to go back and apply from outside the country (US) again?

And more of a personal anecdote than a question, but during my own immigration process I've noticed that there appear to be mostly people who are either extremely over-prepared (have all the documents filled out in advance with additional papers/proofs/documents for every single step), or they are not prepared at all.My fondest memory was a man walking into the embassy asking to immigrate right now. No papers, documents, nothing. Just walked in, went to the clerk's window and asked to immigrate today. Even the clerk was a bit dumbfounded by the demand.

erispoe 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Could the administration decide to lower the bar for some visas, like O-1, without the need for congress to approve it?

For instance, could the administration decide that anyone with a PhD, or even a master's degree, is eligible for a O-1 visa? If that's the case, why is the focus some much on statutory reform and not on the administration which could get results much more quickly?

throwaway333349 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Questions regarding international companies being able to sponsor H1B visas in America.

1/ How long does the process take for a company to be eligible to sponsor H1b visas. 2/ How much does it cost ?3/ Does the company need any minimum funding ? 4/ Does the company need to hire a certain number of American citizens/Green card holders before it can hire H1B visa holders ?

jensv 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Can you recommend some immigration resources for self-service? I am a Canadian who is seeking better work opportunities State side, with a Bachelors in Computer Science and 3 years of experience. I wonder if flying down with the intent of networking and finding companies to meet is a good and realistic way of meeting employers and lining up interviews.
hamhamed 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Hi Peter, thanks for doing this. I've been applying to YC for the past 4 years and never gotten an interview, I'm starting to suspect it's because of my background (hence they never reply to you with the reason of rejection). I'm born in Canada, meaning I'm Canadian, but I never managed to finish my college CompSci Degree so I'm not eligible for a TN-1 visa. However I do have around 6 years of professional web dev experience, founded a couple of startups, raised money and exited. I am 23 now. Any tips?

This might also help, but I did not finish my degree because I was kicked out of college: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5090007

haydenlee 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What's the current status of the OPT extension? I'm a co-founder of a startup that I started during my 12 months of OPT and its about time to apply for the extension, however I recently realized there'd been some changes to it.

Should I apply now for the extension or do I have to wait until further policies are put in place?

ic10503 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I am moving from a big company to startup and I have initiated my h1b visa transfer. I want to take a break between the two jobs. Is it OK to go outside US after leaving the current company and come back to start working for the startup ? Will carrying the approved h1b petition for the startup be enough to re-enter US ?
Eridrus 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Is it possible to transition from an E-3 to a green card directly?

I had a person at the US consulate remark on the fact that I was applying for a third E-3 visa with the comment "you can't keep doing this indefinitely", I didn't challenge him, but this by understanding was quite the opposite, that there was no limit on E-3 visas issues; can you provide any insight into this?

If I obtain a green card by marriage, but then split up before the 2 year deadline, does that have negative repercussions on your ability to get employment-related visas? I've already been dating my girlfriend for 2 years and we've been living together for most of that, so it's something that comes up as a reason to get married, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea.

fawaz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Canadian starting a startup in the US:

I haven't launched my startup yet, and I reside in Canada. I've never been employed in the US.

I'd like my startup's HQ to be based in the US. What's the best way for a Canadian to set up base and launch in the US?

yranadive 12 hours ago 1 reply      
What are the top 3 things required to make a strong case to get EB1 for startup founders on H4 EAD?
diogenescynic 10 hours ago 1 reply      
How do you feel about companies and law firms gaming job postings to disqualify qualified workers in the US so they can hire a candidate on a visa for much less? Employers are posting jobs that dont really exist, seeking candidates they dont want, and paying for bogus non-ads to show theres an IT labor shortage in America. Here is the law firm Cohen & Grigsby advising other employers in running classified ads with the goal of NOT finding any qualified applicants, and the steps they go through to disqualify even the most qualified Americans in order to secure green cards for H-1b workers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU Do you consider this abuse or fraudulent? Also, how much of your firm's work is done by paralegals using templates and boiler plate support letters?
geoka9 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Would you recommend a Canadian wishing to work (remote, from Canada) for a US employer to get a TN visa. The work may require short (2-3 days) onsite visits several times a year.
jason558 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter, thanks for doing this session! My question relates to techniques and probabilities of getting H1B visa for potential hires. We are a 5 year old profitable start-up with more than $1 million in revenue...how hard would it be for us to sponsor a potential new engineering hire for the visa process? I understand that it can cost $4k in the application and X in legal fees ($5k?) which we would be ok with.

My questions are (a) what are the actual chances of success given the lottery system process for sponsoring an employee for the H1B visa, and (b) are we limited in the # of applications?

an4rchy 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Great topic.. just out of curiosity.. Has YC directly sponsored any H1B visas (if not for founders but people who actually work for YC)? I tried the usual h1b websites and couldn't find anything...
focus986 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I was married to a US citizen for some years and recently got divorced over infidelity/financial issues (have proof). I have since filed an appeal as "Abandoned Spouse" which has yet to be acknowledged by USCIS so I am yet to have a new case number at all. My current work permit has run out and I have received notice to appear for Removal proceedings in Sept 2017. Is there a way to get my work permit renewed in the interim? I am yet to receive acknowledgement of receipt from USCIS about my abandoned spouse appeal
ameen 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it possible to start a company on a B1/B2 Visa? This would an extension of my startup in India. Is any investment required? We're bootstrapped and yet to launch our product.
KAdot 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Can I sell my own software as a H1B worker? E.g. my own apps in App Store?
anindyabd 11 hours ago 1 reply      
The 17-month OPT extension has recently been terminated by a court. What are the chances that a new rule will be implemented regarding the OPT extension?
rdc12 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Is getting a visa to work at a U.S at startup something unique to the YC program? I am/was under the impression that the company had to be accredited to be able to employ foreign nationals.

Is there any advise you can give for a current undergrad (for me personally citizen of NZ and UK if that matters) to improve the odds of being able to accept a job or PHD study in the US (on the visa side of things), both at application time and now til then (~2 years away).

graeme 12 hours ago 1 reply      
What are the odds of getting an O1 visa in a very small niche. I'm legitimately one of the top experts in the field of LSAT preparation. I've published several books, run a popular website, moderate a major forum, and have written guest articles for most major sites about the LSAT.

However, it's a small field, and not one that attracts much press coverage. How does this balance out?

I run my own business. All online, mostly US customers, soon will be a Canadian corporation.

sul4bh 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How does H1B and remote work? Say, can I work in Nashville remotely from home for a company in San Francisco and have a valid case for getting H1B?
PureSin 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Peter,

My wife and I are Canadians working in California on TN visas. I'm at a small startup that doesn't sponsor H1-B but I might start my own business in the future. Should I look switching to a larger company in order to get H1-B so I have the freedom start my company?

Thanks for doing this AMA.

ojbyrne 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious about gambling while on a work visa. It seems obvious that spending your vacation in Vegas is acceptable, but what if I think I'm good enough to become a professional poker player and decide to pursue that part-time while working full-time. At what point (if at all) does it become an immigration issue?
danieltillett 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Peter a basic question about the L1 visa. If you are the owner and manager of an established foreign business can you apply for an L1 to establish the USA branch? Does the USA branch need to be established for some length of time? Does being the owner of the foreign business cause problems?
n00b101 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the usual or best process followed by Canadian citizens who get into YC and then relocate from Canada to Silicon Valley?
shpx 12 hours ago 1 reply      
If I were to take a year off school right now, can I still get a J1 for an internship this summer?

Also just wanted to say thanks for doing this.

CAThrowAway 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Hi Peter,

Thanks for taking two full hours to do this - I've learned a lot.

I am a US/Canadian dual citizen, my cofounder is Canadian. We're currently running our business as a Canadian corporation, but would like to set up shop in San Francisco full time over the next year or two, preferably incorporating in Delaware.

My cofounder has a BSc and has done some impressive things in her career, but the O-1 looks difficult from the outside. We're in a position to raise ~1M of funding from US investors over the next 6m - would that make her eligible for an E-2? The L-1 looks like a reasonable fallback if we can get nothing else setup over the next year, but we've been told not reincorporating as a Delaware corp will make fundraising more difficult.

Is there an obvious standout option here? Are there any that I'm missing?


octopus00 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter, thanks SO much for doing this

- Is it ok to form a side company while on H1B?

- Is it ok for me to develop free or paid apps through my own side company (just me doing everything, without hiring anyone else)? If not, what do I need to do to not violate my status?

- What are the minimum criteria for an O visa and is that a viable solution if the side company is going really well?

_fabio 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Peter, thank you so much for doing this!

I'm a student on F-1 visa. Am I allowed to form an LLC and sell products / offer services, while revenue from said products or services will be kept in the company bank account, without me pulling a salary?

Thank you!

roadbeats 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The new startup I joined is filing a new H1B instead of transferring (because it took so long to transfer due to company's registration progress). Previously, I was filed H1B two times (2011 and 2014). Is third time possible ? Especially now, since visa regulations are getting strict for security reasons.
homakov 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What's best way to move to US and not work for anyone and not invest much money? O-2? I work in infosecurity
sn0v 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter, thanks for doing this.

How would you recommend an H1B holder go about transitioning to founding/working for their own startup?

erispoe 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the best way to transition from a J1 visa (visiting researcher) to a visa allowing to work one's startup?
kur158 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Peter,

I want to know how can a founder and a co-founder who are on F-1 and F-2 Visa respectively start a company. What are the requirements for the company to sponsor their own Visas at a later date if and when required? Do investors have a bias against investing in such companies.



gemmakbarlow 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What process would you recommend for a startup looking to relocate software developers immediately from the UK to the US?

The H1B process officially kicks off in April, so am interested to hear about types of contractual agreements that might allow employment from now for the next twelve months whilst processing is underway.

msvan 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm told that it's easier for musicians/artists to get O-1 visas than for software engineers. Are software engineers disadvantaged from getting the O-1, simply because the visa wasn't designed for software talent?
arunbahl 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Are there options for a foreign national to move from an E-2 visa (treaty investor) to permanent resident status? I've heard that it wasn't possible previously but now may be, making the E-2 a possible "startup visa" for many.

And thank you for doing this!

SeoxyS 11 hours ago 0 replies      
H1B, L1, O1, etc. are all non-immigrant visa. You must be able to show non-immigration intent. (Except for O-1 which allows dual-intent.)

Edit: I may be wrong about this. IANAL.

crorella 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi, right now I'm processing my perm, in particular, the PERM application was sent to the DOL last September. I would like to know if there is any problem if I change jobs now. Will this cause delays in the process?

Thank you

izzosismyfav 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm graduating senior(F1 visa) in this December. I'm waiting for my OPT card. Can I work in between that? Once I get my OPT can I apply for H1B on year 2016 or will I have to complete H1B? What other legal things I need to be aware of?
ulobabacan 12 hours ago 1 reply      
In these days, how long does it take for a H1b holding engineer from a "rest of the world" country to get green card via EB2(or EB3 if faster) from the day the current company starts the progress?

Also at what stage he/she can change the job?

nathanvanfleet 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If I come over from Canada and work somewhere, is it easy to change my job to another company if things don't work out? Do I have to leave and come back? Is there a deadline in finding a new job?
patrickddaniel 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's say you're working toward getting an O-1A, and you fulfill the three categories out of eight, how broad can you make the scope of work that you can do? (since the category includes sciences, education, business, or athletics)

For example, if you are not set on one career, and have pursued 3-4, and you get the O1 for one career (where you can show extraordinary proof), can you still do work in other areas? In other words, how broad can you define the O1 so that you could do almost any type of work as you could do with a greencard.

manuelgodoy 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I have 5 years of experience and a BS and MS degree in Electrical Engineering from a top school in the US. How easy is for me to get an EB2 visa if a company is willing to do the process?
nathanvanfleet 10 hours ago 1 reply      
How does the process work. If I (a Canadian) get a job in the US, what is the timeline for me to be onsite working? What kind of help settling (finding a place to live etc) is there?
shpx 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Canadian, recent high school grad. What are faster ways to working and eventually living in the US than doing a degree then getting H1-B?

F-1 and OPT then H1-B? O-1? Making some money in Canada then starting a company and E-2?

throwawayforlaw 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Peter! Thanks for doing this AMA.

I had a question about H1Bs. My F1 OPT expired Feb 2015 and I had a grace period of 180 days to apply for STEM extension. But in the meanwhile (April 2015), I heard that my H1B got picked in the lottery. So I googled it and read someplace that I wouldn't have to worry about the OPT STEM extension anymore, so I didn't go forward with my STEM extension application.

Is this something I have to be worried about going into my visa interview in my home country?

alinspired 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What happens with L1 visas of a company that is acquired by another US company?

and related: How long until you have to leave US if the L1 issuing entity is acquired (and disappears as an entity)?

miciah 12 hours ago 1 reply      

Is it possible to do YC, if the founders are initially registered as 'tourists'?

immiques 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter,

I have a very specific question I think will apply to many people here. Me and a buddy who is from another country are building a product. We will soon be done with the product and we are thinking about registering the company here in the USA just because it is very easy to get funding here. The company will be a registered in both of our names, (even though he is a foreign national, I am flat-out assuming this is possible). Eventually, if the company does well we would want to stand up an office here. At that point, what are his options to get to USA ?

edko 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I had an H1B visa granted to me in 1998, but have never used it. Would that have any influence, either positive or negative, on me getting a new H1B?
susiemielekim 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm currently under OPT visa until next August. How would getting a resident visa work after incorporating the company in my home country work? (the company has already been incorporated in United States under the other co-founder). Thank you!
tty7 12 hours ago 1 reply      
1. What is the best course for an E3 Visa holder to move to a Greencard? (or something similar).

2. If an E3 Holder would like to found a startup, how does one go about self sponsorship?

raitom 12 hours ago 1 reply      

Is it possible to apply directly for a green card through employment while being on J1-Intern visa?How long do you think it takes to receive it if approved knowing I'm French?


shpx 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I will need a J-1 visa this summer, but I applied for the diversity visa this year. Could my J-1 be rejected for having an intent to immigrate?
golergka 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How important a degree is for H1B? I think given amount of self-taught engineers in the profession, you have to answer this kind of question a lot
h1b_transfer 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for doing this! I have a question regarding time off between jobs while on an H1B.

I've been working at a startup for 2 years that sponsored my H1B. I've just accepted an offer at a big tech company, and they are transferring the H1B in the coming weeks. In the meantime, is it OK if I take 2-4 weeks off in between the two jobs without pay?

laxinger 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter. I'm currently preparing for O1 visa. I'm on B1/B2 visa now and planning to extend 2 months so I can stay total 8months while I prepare for O1 visa. My question is if I ever get denied for extending B1/B2, can I have any disadvantages when I apply for O1 visa? I met a person who told me this but I'm not sure whether this is true.
keyblock5 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hi Peter, thanks for your time.

I have job offer to work in US, reliant on immigration.

I haven't completed my bachelor's degree, and my final exams are after the April 1st 2016 deadline. I do not have more than a year of professional experience. UK citizen.

Am I right that an H1B won't be applicable? Would any other visa types fit (Other than work abroad, then L1)?

poerkladsfl 12 hours ago 1 reply      
L1 related. What should I do if I want to go work for a different company but am currently on an L1-A visa (been here in the USA for 3 years).
BradRuderman 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What is the average cost you recommend for a new the H1-B petition? What about an h1-b transfer? (Legal fees not including filing)
erispoe 12 hours ago 1 reply      
How hard is it to create an entity that is H1B cap-exempt and can this entity be related in any way to a for-profit company?
a-zA-Z0-9 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Hi Peter,

I'm a Canadian and I had an H-1B several years ago. I used about 2.5 years of it and left US in summer 2011 before using up the full 3 years.

Am I eligible to come back on H-1B without lottery by claiming the remainder time? I read something about this online saying that I can come back on H-1B before 6 years past the date I left US?


judge 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you complete an H-1B transfer (moving from one job to another) while outside the US (traveling for 2 weeks), so that upon your return you can join the next employer? Or do you have to physically be in the US while the request by the new employer is filed and accepted?
throwaway_nj 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you share some advice on how to build a prototype / proof of concept while working as an employee? I have read this is not an issue in places like California as long as you do not use company resources. But what about states like New York?
gobr 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What are the most common difficulties for immigrants? Any Brazilian examples?
henkel 12 hours ago 1 reply      
As a competent and above average software engineer from Morocco, not holding a university degree, what are my options for a work visa in the US, assuming I get a job in a company willing to put every possible effort into this?
PameVls 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Do you need a visa to attend a 3 month program like YC or Techstars?
susiemielekim 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Currently under OPT visa co-founding a startup. How would a resident visa from my home country work?
throwaway-apg 10 hours ago 0 replies      

Can you describe in practical terms how the requirements between an O1 and an EB1 differ? If I got my O1 recently, can I reuse the reference letters directly?


chill_bro 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Is it possible to own stock in a start-up and work on it without getting paid while on an F1 visa?


franze 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Meta question: Do the US immigration laws make sense?
patrickddaniel 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Can you get a J-1 visa even if you have already had 2 OPTs and studied for undergrad and grad in US?
tosinaf 11 hours ago 0 replies      
How does the J1 to H1B visa work?
goodcall 12 hours ago 0 replies      
If a H1b holder participates in a Hackathon with cash prizes and wins. Can he claim the money?
tosseraccount 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Critics have charged that H visa guest worker programs are subsidies to the already rich holders of enough capital to influence inside the beltway politics. They say that the program is designed to keep wages down and facilitates outsourcing. Are the current laws also a subsidy to the legal industry who get to charge for an overly complicated process?
gozo 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Uhm. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but I was slightly disappointed by the result of this. They might want to change the format in the future to promote fewer longer answers. "You might try X Y Z visa" doesn't really use his expertise very much. We also didn't really get an answer to the most obvious questions like if you can actually attend YC legally or if a temporary worker in the US can also run a company. Still a good thing of course, but a bit more structure would go a long way.
RjCharm 12 hours ago 1 reply      
We're shortly going to be opening an office in a European country and employing several local employees. Once the organization is established, what would the process be for inter-organizational transfers of employees between countries? For example, if someone were to relocate from primarily working in Europe to primarily working in the USA?
rorykoehler 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In your personal opinion how far away are we from your job becoming obsolete?
Spideroak Kloak: Zero-Knowlege Social Networking spideroak.com
118 points by kevinSuttle  10 hours ago   46 comments top 10
daviddahl 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Kloak's threat model is advertisers and data-miners. It is an experiment in private social networking. It is part of a set of new applications we are building at SpiderOak. Kloak is more or less a lab experiment in the UX of private systems.
level 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not an encryption guy, so I'm probably totally off base, but how does this work in terms of decryption?

When you 'friend' someone, are you sharing your decryption key with that person? That seems very vulnerable to mass data collection when you start emailing it around to friends. Does each friend get a different key that you can disable if you believe they've been mismanaging your key?

sp332 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Either show my location or don't. Randomizing in a four-mile radius is both compromising and useless.
plesner 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Really like the idea. Unfortunately name might work against them in Scandinavia and other places where kloak means sewer (it has the same origin as "cloaca" in English).
politician 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I don't see how you can trust any of these sorts of privacy apps without compiling and side-loading them yourself. Even then, it's risky on a device you really don't control (f.e. Are we sure that the wi-fi radio that the FCC requires manufacturers to isolate from apps can't itself backdoor the device? Will we always be sure that the app developer won't ever update the software in a nefarious way?)
andyburke 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Is this just a loss-leader for their backup/storage service? I am a big fan of not being the product, but how does this make money?
spiralpolitik 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Played around with it for 10-15 minutes. Looks like there are some good ideas in there but the UX on the iPhone version lacks polish. Not sure about the use of fixed width fonts.

Will play around with it some more but it does look promising.

free2rhyme214 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a cool idea but it'll be tough to get people to switch from FB and Twitter.
marcusestes 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Hm, could this be a business application of zkSNARK proofs? https://github.com/scipr-lab/libsnark
fweespeech 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Its not a bad idea but its not better than existing products [e.g. TextSecure] in terms of actual privacy.
Andrew Ng on What's Next in Deep Learning [video] youtube.com
35 points by sherjilozair  5 hours ago   1 comment top
sherjilozair 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, what I really wanted to post was his quote on "Fear of AI", not really the whole video, which is https://youtu.be/qP9TOX8T-kI?t=3836
Yahoos Engineers Move to Coding Without a QA Team ieee.org
191 points by teklaperry  12 hours ago   146 comments top 42
ef4 11 hours ago 10 replies      
Surprised to see the negativity here. I have worked in environments with traditional manual QA, and environments where all development is test-driven and nobody is allowed to merge a feature that lacks automated test coverage.

Both the productivity and the quality were higher in the places with fully automated testing. Which is not shocking at all: does anybody really think a human can run through 800 test cases better than a computer can?

It's not a magic way to save money -- the developers obviously end up spending time writing tests. But the long-term value of those tests is cumulative, whereas the effort spent on manual testing is spent anew every release.

Manual review is still good for noticing things that "feel wrong" or for helping think up new corner cases. But those bleed into product owner & design concerns, and aren't really a separate function.

chojeen 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I worked at Yahoo before and during this period, first as a QA contractor and then as a full-time developer.

Before the switch, our team (advertising pipeline on Hadoop) used the waterfall method with these gigantic, monolithic releases; we probably released a handful of times a year. Almost without exception, QA was done manually and was painfully slow. I started to automate a lot of the testing after I arrived, but believe you me when I say that it was a tall order.

Soon after I moved into development, QA engineers without coding chops were let go, while the others were integrated into the development teams. The team switched over to agile, and a lot of effort was made to automate testing wherever possible. Despite some initial setbacks, we got down to a bi-weekly release cycle with better quality control than before.

Around the time I left, the company was mandating continuous delivery for all teams, as well as moving from internal tools to industry-standard ones like Chef. I left before it was completed, but at least as far as the data pipeline teams were concerned, the whole endeavor made the job a lot more fun, increased release quality, and weeded out a lot of the "that's not my job" types that made life hell for everyone else.

mstade 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't think it's that cut and dry. I've worked in some places where the QA team was useless, meaningless red tape to get your stuff deployed. They wouldn't do much but sign off on deployment at some point, yet bore no responsibility if shit hit the fan. In these cases, they really were just an unnecessary cost and you learned pretty quickly to make sure your tests were in place, that you were testing for the right things, and so on.

But then there were the other QA teams. The people that would just reject your stuff outright if it didn't have tests (no matter if it worked) and when the tests passed they would look at things truly from a customer perspective. They would ask really uncomfortable questions, not just to developers, but to designers and business alike. They had a mindset that was different from those creating things; they were the devil's advocate. These people did much, much more good than harm, and they are few and far between. Unfortunately, while I believe they were incredibly valuable, business thought otherwise when cuts came around..

minimaxir 11 hours ago 3 replies      
The stereotype that QA-is-pointless in Silicon Valley is persistent and actually annoying. There will always be issues that even the most comprehensive test suite will miss.

Startups still glorify Facebook's "Move Fast and Break Things" without noting that Facebook has backpedaled from that. After all, people expect startup software to have issues, so what's the harm? Technical debt? Pfft.

Engineers are not the best QA for their own code since they may be adverse to admitting errors in their own code. QA engineers are not as empathetic.

Disclosure: I am a Software QA Engineer in Silicon Valley.

diivio 2 hours ago 2 replies      
This isn't surprising.

Microsoft switched to this model a few months after Satya took over.

For the majority of Microsoft teams it worked really well and showed the kinds of results mentioned in this yahoo article. Look at many of our iOS apps as an example.

But for some parts of the Windows OS team apparently it didn't work well (according to anonymous reports leaked online to major news outlets by some Windows team folks) and they say it caused bugs.

First of all I think that argument is semi-BS and a cover up for those complainer's lack of competence in testing their code thus making them bad engineers because a good engineer knows how to design, implement, and test their product imo. But I digress.

I in no way want to sound like a dk but as an engineer it is your responsibility to practice test driven development but that's not enough.

Like reading an essay you usually can't catch all of your own bugs and thus peer editing or in this case cross testing is very useful.

You should write the Unit tests and integration tests for your feature


There should always be an additional level of end to end tests for your feature written by someone else who is not you.

Everyone should have a feature and design and implement it well including its Unit tests and integration tests BUT they should also be responsible for E2E tests for someone else's feature.

That way everyone has feature tasks and test tasks and no one feels like they are only doing one thing or stuck in a dead end career.

smithkl42 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Our approach - in a much smaller company - is that all stories should have automated tests before they head off to QA. QA's job is to make sure that the story in question works correctly, it's not to find regression bugs. If QA finds a bug in the story, we write a test to catch that before we resubmit it. Over time, we have enough tests at all levels of the system that QA doesn't generally need to worry about regressions: just making sure that the latest story works as advertised.

This approach allows us to stay agile, with small, regular releases, while also making good use of what QA folks are actually good at.

ergothus 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm curious to find out if my expectations of QA are unrealistic.

I'd _expect_:

* Devs write automated unit tests galore, plus a smattering of integration tests

* QAs write some acceptance tests

* QAs maintain a higher level of broad understanding of where the org is going, trying to anticipate when a change in Team A will impact Team B _before_ it happens. They also do manual testing of obscure/unrepeated scenarios, basically using their broader knowledge to look for pain before it is felt.

The above hasn't happened anywhere I've been (though each point HAS happened somewhere, just not all together).

One thing in particular I've noticed is that a good QA is a mindset that a dev doesn't share. Devs can learn to be BETTER at QA than they are, but I honestly think it's not helpful for a Qa to be a Dev or a Dev to be a QA - they are different skill sets, and while someone can have both, it's hard to excel at both.

eecks 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I can see why this would work in a place that uses QA as a crutch.

All developers should aim for no bugs and test their stuff themselves but of course when deadlines are looming its easier to just code and let the QA team pick it up.

steven2012 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is pretty much how things go in today's environment, especially in the startups that I've seen. More things are being pushed directly on devs, which is why we earn as high a salary as we do. Traditional QA is pretty much dead, no one should be doing that now if they want to have a career in tech.

Where I work, devs do the QA, and most of the devops work as well. It's the new reality, and anyone who thinks otherwise will be obsoleted.

devonkim 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me a bit about how SREs and developers conflict on contradictory goals. With a self regulating system that gets established between development and operations, if your code is bad in prod, you'll spend more time in operations to try to take care of the mistakes made in development. If SREs really don't get along with how developers throw over crap and quit, the developers will get the pagers instead. This move to consolidate test and development seems to be consistent with recent trends to pile upon more and more work for developers in the efforts to reduce siloization.

So I'd have to ask how getting rid of QA has affected the pace of feature development.

projectileboy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If all your QA team does is run through a bunch of tests that could be automated, then by all means, automate the tests and get rid of your QA department. However, good QA folks have a valuable skill, which is that they think of interesting ways to break software. Not many programmers do this very well.
kemiller 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think QA has been misaligned all this time. They're not part of engineering, they're part of product management. They're the low-level eyes and ears for the product team. Automating checks for the issues they uncover is absolutely an engineering function, but user-oriented holistic testing is not.
Xyik 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Surprised that people are finding this unusual, in web/mobile anyways. In my experience most engineers do some level of QA themselves, particularly in start-ups < 1000 people. In what ways does an engineer being their own QA negatively impact the company?
beat 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Every agile story should have a testable completion point, agreed upon by development and the customer. If whether or not the story is "done" is vague and arguable, it's not good enough to do.

One of the big problems here, and where QA professionals can add real value, is defining that "done" point. Customers are often not very good at it. Their idea of what they want is too vague. They want developers to just build something, and they accept or reject it when they see it (and fault developers for not building it right).

But really, all story completion criteria should be testable, and developers should be able to demonstrate the tests. The job of QA shouldn't be to test, but to make sure the developers are actually testing what they claim to test.

throwaway_xx9 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Historically, Yahoo! operated for the first 10 years of their existence without formal QA teams. The first USA QA hires were for Japanese product QA.

Nowadays OpenCV is used a fair amount, and they're migrating to modern industry-standard tools.

alrs 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"Some of the engineers really cared about system performance types of things, so they joined related teams. Some started working on automation [for testing], and they thought that was greatthat they didnt have to do the same thing over and over."

There is still QA, it's just automated QA. Welcome to the 21st century.

TheAndruu 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Totally buy they could reduce actual errors that matter.

I've worked with many a QA who would get bent up over a detail outside of the spec that didn't really matter, and where all QA testing was manual.

Coders (good ones) are well equipped to automate processes, and to do so quickly, and this extends to integration testing.

Animats 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why is Yahoo still coding anything? They're focusing on dumping everything other than their stake in Alibaba.
plinkplonk 3 hours ago 0 replies      
When I was working at ThoughtWorks, we had devs writing automated unit tests with close to 100 percent coverage, and also QA (who also automated as much of their testing as possible, using a variant of the FIT framework in those days) finding significant bugs and show stoppers,.

In my experience, one is not a substitute for the other.

whistlerbrk 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I agree in principle for most products, no QA, no testing. Why?

* Everyone should do QA and implement their features own UI/UX, by following the pattern the application and framework sets tuned by an actual designer* An environment where production issues and bugs are prioritized above everything else should be created and fostered* To paraphrase Rich Hickey's analogy on the matter: writing tests is like driving around relying on the guard rails to keep you in the lines. That is (my interpretation):* If your code is this fragile to constantly require testing you've chosen poor abstractions.

ascendantlogic 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I stand in the middle ground on this one. I fully believe that rote QA testing with huge volumes of test plans is a waste of everyone's time. However automated testing doesn't take into account the fact that people are almost always the primary users of your software, and so I feel somewhere there should be a person or persons who occasionally smoke test the application to make sure that things are working cohesively from an end-user perspective and just making sure everything makes sense. If this person is the prototypical product owner, that's great, if you can find one that's not in meetings all day...
slothguy72 11 hours ago 1 reply      
They removed only MANUAL QA testing. There is a big difference between removing the QA team entirely and automating QA work.
steve371 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd vote for having a QA team. Not for quality control purpose. But to have someone think outside the box. Sometimes, you will be surprise when you talked to the QA team. And you could not get those ideas from dev peer review.
grandalf 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Yahoo's main issue is UX and usability, not software quality, so this sounds like another way of saying Yahoo laid off its QA team.
transitorykris 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Removing dedicated QA (whether they do manual testing like in the article or write automated tests) and forcing the developers to take this on themselves is okay. Alternatively, I've had a lot of success with having development teams take operational responsibility for their code. They are not only naturally incentivized to take on automating QA, they also move toward continuous deployment and become more involved in thinking about the product. The safety and speed that's gained is seeming to result in teams that stay small. It's not for everyone, and caused attrition early on, but talking about these practices during interviews has attracted the right people.
stephenitis 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Rainforestqa has a unique value proposition in this space (YC some year)

Their team and product are quite good if you want to explore QA as a service. Essentially humans(turks) preform outlined and preprogrammed steps.

Their tagline "We automate your functional and integration testing with our QA-as-a-Service API. Human testing at the speed of automation."

RyanZAG 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Ultimately, even with automated testing, someone has to do the manual testing of checking that it's actually providing the value it's meant to.

When you remove the manual QA team and switch to staged rollout, you are moving the manual QA burden onto your users. You still have that manual QA team - they're the first bunch of users in your staged rollout plan - you just don't pay them anymore and gather their feedback through bug reports. Users are used to buggy software because of other companies who do this (Google, etc) so they carry on being users anyway.

CodeSheikh 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Dev writing automation tests for their code is kinda pointless. It would be better to have another dev or a different team such as automation engineers writing regression automation tests. Automating regression tests is definitely better than manual QA-ing the same 1000 tests over and over again. There has to be a good balance. Have extensive coverage of automated regression tests and let manual QA test new features. This will at least increase the frequency of release cycles. Getting rid of an entire QA dept is somewhat equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot.
miles_matthias 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Quality assurance is important whether you do that via humans or code, but the thing that always bothered me about Q&A was that the ones I worked with were mindless people simply looking at the feature request and the functionality on the page and comparing the two without any thought towards the actual product, business, or user.

And in that system, the developer is completely removed from the product and is just another factory worker. The closer engineers can be to users (with design to translate obviously) the better for everyone.

johnrob 10 hours ago 0 replies      
When measuring the effectiveness via reduction of issues, how do you account the natural stability introduced by reducing the updates/week each developer ships? When devs are tasked with code reviews and/or QA, this is time that could have been spent on their own features. In other words, if the product is stable today, and everyone's on vacation (no new updates), the product will generally remain stable save for unforeseen usage patterns.
mixmastamyk 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Great. I worked for a company that didn't invest in QA, it was consistently a !@#$% mess. When you do this, the need simply shifts to the customer. I wouldn't install our software until the 4th or 5th hotfix patch was available.

Certainly, I'm an advocate of a more responsible dev team sharing the quality tasks and continuous integration too. But no QA at all? Hahah... maybe if you're a web portal that no one depends on for business-critical needs.

Edit: I guess the truth hurts.

dkopi 11 hours ago 4 replies      
This is actually a story about the triumph of continuous integration and staged rollout.By shipping code constantly, but slowly rolling it out to users - bugs can be detected very quickly by the users themselves, instead of employing large QA teams.

Keeping a central code repository, automating builds, frequent commits and automatic tests for code are taking away a lot of load for QA teams.

thepaintedcow 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Ultimately, a good development process is about building in checks and balances. Code reviews, QA, automated testing, etc. are all part of that. It's up to each to team to decide which pieces they want. There's no right way to do it.
alekratz 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Based on Tumblr's past performance, it's a shock that they had a QA team in the first place.
srp0010 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Updated TL;DR: QA is changing - just like everything else.

The article makes the assumption that QA == manual QA which as a quality professional is false. Quality is about measuring risk across the development process. Immature team need manual QA while mature (in a process/quality sense) teams need much less (or none).

Quality professionals who want a sustained career needs to learn development processes, opts, documentation & monitoring. We make teams better.

nobrains 11 hours ago 0 replies      
That is kind of like having an open kitchen policy (or a kitchen visible via a glass wall) in a restaurant.
DanielBMarkham 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome Yahoo engineers to the year 2010. Or 2005. It's nice here.

The suckiest part of this story is the number of folks who are stuck with gated handoff processes that can't see how this would ever work. Some of those folks might be waiting 10, 20 years catching up to the other folks.

Just to be clear, QA the function isn't going anywhere. It's all being automated by the folks writing the code. QA the people/team? Turns out that this setup never worked well.

I work with tech organizations all the time. I find that poor tech organizations, when faced with a complex problem, give it to a person or team. Good organizations bulldoze their way through it the first time with all hands on board, then figure out how to offload as much of that manual BS as possible to computers. If they can't automate it, they live with it until they can. Same goes for complex cross-team integration processes.

hondo77 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Nobody cares how Yahoo does anything.
Apreche 11 hours ago 9 replies      
TL;DR: They fired the QA team to save money. Then they made the engineers do the QA work for no extra pay.
allsystemsgo 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This will end well.
douche 11 hours ago 0 replies      
There's no way this could end badly...
Bud 11 hours ago 2 replies      
If this is working so well, why is there still no version of Yahoo Messengera core productfor either Mac OS X or iOS?
Dow and DuPont to merge washingtonpost.com
187 points by gotchange  14 hours ago   117 comments top 18
giardini 13 hours ago 6 replies      
The two companies cultures are incompatible.

Dupont has an "employee-first" attitude that permeates the corporation and dates from its early years when the manufacture of gunpowder proved to be so risky. The Dupont family owners recompensed families of injured/dead employees by providing housing and supporting them for the remainder of their life. Safety became paramount in all operations. The attitude remains today. Despite the recent indiscretions in the LaPorte, Texas plant, Dupont is probably the safest chemical company on the planet.

If Dupont culture dominates, then this will likely prove a Renaissance for Dow. OTOH should Dupont culture be subjugated, it will ruin the value of the merger and we will all lose a company (Dupont) that has been possibly the best-run, most forward-looking corporation that has existed.

TheBiv 14 hours ago 3 replies      
>DuPont said it expects 10 percent of its 63,000-strong global workforce will be impacted, and the company is budgeting for $650 million in employee separation costs. Analysts also expect layoffs at Dow, which employs 53,000 worldwide.

>Dow chief executive Andrew Liveris also called it a seminal event for our employees.

Seminal indeed.

necessity 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Fun fact about Dow:

In 1905, German bromide producers began dumping bromides at low cost in the U.S. in an effort to prevent Dow from expanding its sales of bromides in Europe. Instead of competing head on with the German producers, Dow bought the cheap German-made bromides and shipped them back to Europe, undercutting his German competitors.*

A fine example of "predatory pricing" gone wrong (which happens more often than not).

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dow_Chemical_Company#cite_note...

metalliqaz 14 hours ago 3 replies      
The resulting 3 companies would be in separate industries, and therefore have no direct competition between them. Therefore, I would say that regulatory approval isn't certain. Probably it will be approved, but with a long list of caveats and provisions. Among them will no doubt be some environmental concessions that DowDupont would never bother following.
RyanZAG 14 hours ago 8 replies      
This kind of merger seems exactly what the regulatory system was designed to prevent, right? Have any recent mergers actually been blocked? Is the regulator completely toothless now?
jawns 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Delawarean here!

DuPont is one of my state's largest private-sector employers, and beyond that, the Dupont family's influence on Delaware is hard to overstate.

Here are a few stories from my former employer, The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal, about the merger, touching on its potential effects on the state:



By the way, did you know that DuPont's longtime CEO Ellen Kullman resigned just a couple of months ago?


Her exit came after winning a proxy battle led by activist investor Trian Partners:


Trian, led by Nelson Peltz, wanted to break DuPont into pieces, and Peltz said that even though he lost the proxy battle, he wasn't finished with DuPont:


It's hard to imagine that the timing of the merger so soon after her departure is coincidental.

Sounds like Kullman won the battle but not the war.

godzillabrennus 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Bubble deals are delightful. Time Warner and AOL merging marked the height of bad mergers in the last tech bubble. Since every trading company is now basically a tech company in disguise I wonder if this time around these mega deals will be seen as disastrous in the eyes of history.
tptacek 14 hours ago 5 replies      
... but will then break up into three independent publicly traded companies, one focusing on agriculture, one on materials, and one on specialty products.
calvinbhai 13 hours ago 2 replies      
If "DuPont culture" mentioned in the comments is true, I hope they help Bhopal Disaster victims get the justice they deserve.

Bhopal Disaster happened because of Union Carbide(wholly owned subsidiary of Dow chemicals)

xixi77 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Looking at the stock chart in the article, "cool reaction from investors" they mention is a downward adjustment reversing most of Wednesday gains, but still putting each company above Tuesday close.

Was there another announcement Tuesday night, that set hopes high, with this one being a disappointment? What was the new information -- something about the structure of the new company perhaps?

Edit: Wednesday's article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/business/dealbook/dow-chem... -- mentions the future split into 3 companies; does not mention the layoff details or dual headquarters though :)

anon1mous 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Dow and DuPont have been loosing a lot of customers to BASF in the last 5 years or so. Especially in the area of nano materials.
ClayFerguson 5 hours ago 0 replies      
So we can expect the price of glassware and plastics to what, at least double right? Capitalism. Gotta love it. If you're rich.
theophrastus 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Farmers, or their lobbyists, would be well-advised to get very busy pressuring congress to block this. If Dow and DuPont successfully merge the control of major seed will be down to two mega-corporations; the other being Monsanto. Future prices and controls will become even less favorable for farmers. A quote from a CEO I knew: "Mergers benefit at most one CEO and a minority of stock-holders -- everyone else involved suffers, employees especially"
pvnick 13 hours ago 1 reply      
>Their innovations include a sweeping variety of now-ubiquitous chemicals, including ... chlorine

Really? That's impressive, to have invented an element. Surely this must be a method of storing and transporting chlorine and not the halogen itself.

bbulkow 13 hours ago 3 replies      
We need the competition, I don't understand why as a society we would want a megacompany controlling the international chemical market.
kiriberty 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, DOJ will be busy.
NittLion78 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone else notice the headline was "jaw-dropping" but the URL was "job-dropping"?
littletimmy 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Can't we stop this consolidation and keep the market competitive just by having a progressive corporate tax? Are there any arguments against such a tax?
Canadian Government Docs Suggest Website Blocking, Targeting VPN Usage michaelgeist.ca
28 points by gjke4hgawe90r  6 hours ago   3 comments top 3
Natsu 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
After the UK, Australia and Canada all have this implemented, I'm sure we'll see it in the USA because "the rest of the civilized world" is doing it and they'll probably just conveniently reinterpret or otherwise dodge the First Amendment.

After all, it doesn't really say anything about website blocking. And people are still technically free to "speak" ... even if the government ensures that nobody can actually listen to them. And perhaps we can simply rope the major ISPs into it as a liability dodge. You know, we're not saying that you really have to block these sites, just that we won't guarantee that you won't get in trouble if you don't.

Or any of the many other ways one could claim to uphold the First Amendment in some technical sense while eroding it in a real sense.

elchief 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
FYI you don't have to VPN to use US Netflix, you can use a smart proxy, which is cheaper.
oneJob 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So, should I tell them that the Internet is post-Nation State? Or do you want to?
Vault 0.4 released a tool for managing secrets hashicorp.com
32 points by medina  6 hours ago   11 comments top 3
notdonspaulding 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Can somebody tell me how Hashicorp makes money? They seem to employ people, and they have a page that sends traffic off to technology and solutions partners, but where do they make their own money?

We use Vagrant at work and I'm considering whether and how we could use more of their tooling. But I always want to know about the business model behind the tools I recommend before I recommend them.


borplk 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but Vault on its own (without an agent) would be quite difficult to use in a simple web application setup, no?

For example let's say I store an API token in Vault and want to use that in my Node.js application.

That means I can't do "var api_token = MY_API_TOKEN;" because the secret needs to come from vault and get refreshed, etc...

I'd imagine you will need some agent to manage the secret lease/expiry and for that to reload your entire application to ensure you don't end up with old secrets hanging around in the memory.

This topic is not addressed anywhere in the Vault documentation, I looked everywhere I could.

adrtessier 5 hours ago 2 replies      
There sure are a lot of these systems these days. While I'm always happy to see innovation in this area, I'm personally beginning to get confused as to why I might prefer to use (and probably then contribute to) one of these projects over another. After all, there's this, and Lyft's Confidant [1], and Square's Keywhiz [2], and plenty more that don't come to mind right now. They all have nice documentation about what they do, but none of them sufficiently explain to me what architectural differences they have, their pros and cons. I think it would be great to see that added to these products' pages at best, or at least some guy write a blog post about it.

[1] https://lyft.github.io/confidant/[2] https://square.github.io/keywhiz/

A disturbing report from the front lines of the war on cancer newyorker.com
49 points by mathgenius  6 hours ago   8 comments top 4
HillaryBriss 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This seems to be one of those broad "change the research culture and its rules" essays rather than anything about a specific technology or scientific insight that could truly cure cancer.
tokenadult 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The submitted article is quite interesting. It is a review of the new book The Death of Cancer: After Fifty Years on the Front Lines of Medicine, a Pioneering Oncologist Reveals Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable--and How We Can Get There by Vincent T. DeVita,[1] and includes many surprising details from the book's account of the history of cancer treatment research. We see a lot of gee-whiz submissions to Hacker News of press releases about untested "cures" for various diseases, many of which have not proven effective over the years that I have been reading Hacker News. If you are curious about how new medical research findings turn into standard medical practice--or don't--you will enjoy reading the article submitted here. I think I will read the book, as I grew up with a parent who was involved in cutting-edge medical research.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/The-Death-Cancer-Pioneering-Winnable/d...

reasonattlm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The trouble with talking to doctors about cancer is that they are in the business of the possible; the bounds of their world are, rightly, what can you do better with what you have today. But for cancer what you have today is a set of pretty terrible tools, and there really isn't much that can be done to make them very much less terrible other than research and development of new tools, the very thing that isn't in the remit of most doctors.

This is one of those situations where you have to look forward.

I think I'm willing to wager that first things worthy of the name cure for cancer will involve temporary suspension of all methods of lengthening telomeres. Not great for you, but worse for a cancer, and you can wait out its withering away. The technology exists now to suppress telomerase and the known ALT gene products via RNAi or similar, with the only challenge being to solve the problem of reliable tissue coverage every time. All cancers depend on telomere lengthening, no exceptions. The real path to the defeat of cancer is to find commonalities, to escape this business of one therapy, one team, one large budget, one ten year hit-and-miss development process for every single one of hundreds of narrow subtypes of cancer. The commonalities don't get more common than telomere lengthening.

xchip 5 hours ago 1 reply      
typical bait question that takes you to a super long and convoluted article
Slightly Less Awful Hiring for Engineering Talent codeforamerica.org
78 points by wpietri  10 hours ago   33 comments top 5
ianamartin 8 hours ago 10 replies      
One thing I noticed in my most recent job search was that I don't see nearly as many postings for junior and entry level positions as I seem to remember in the past. Seems like everyone is looking for a rockstar or a genius or a code ninja miracle-worker.

I'm curious if anyone else sees that trend, or if I'm just making it up. One of the reasons is that several friends of mine have been bugging me for a while to help get them started with code. These are people around my age. Professional musicians from back in the time of my life when that was what I did for a living.

There five of them now who have been asking, so I'm finally putting together a structured curriculum and working with them on a regular basis. When we get done in six months or so, they will have some abilities with Linux server administration, databases, Python, C#, web application frameworks, javascript,front end work, version control, and testing. I'll work in some CS theory as we hit appropriate points.

Obviously, they will be very green. But they are all incredibly bright, professional, adults. One of them has a master's in Math she got after her Doctorate in music just because she was curious, and another has most of a PhD in Physics. I don't think any of them expect to waltz into a high-powered job after 6 months of me spewing at them. But I think any of them would thrive in a junior position with people around them who had the time and the inclination to do some mentoring.

Are those kinds of jobs disappearing? Am I being unrealistic hoping that this could be an option for some of them? What do you think?

pjungwir 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The #1 thing I look for in a job ad is a salary range. I don't see one in the ad he links to, and I don't see any discussion of salary in the article. Without that I won't bother to apply.
afarrell 9 hours ago 2 replies      
> Dont require a particular language

But do indicate language in the nice-to-haves at least. Some programmers find that they work much better with certain tools than others and it is useful to know if you are able to use those tools.

krazydad 9 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who is currently job hunting, and freshly familiar with excessively long & arbitrary "requrements" sections and tedious application forms, THANK YOU.
wpietri 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm the author, and I'm glad to discuss!
Journalling Revisited: XFS vs. EXT4 epickrram.blogspot.com
56 points by joshbaptiste  8 hours ago   6 comments top 4
aidenn0 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Be aware that XFS will lose more data on a kernel panic than ext4; for example, all vim buffers saved in the last few seconds before the crash will be of size zero on reboot. With ext4 and reiserfs I find that I'm more likely to have either the old or new data in the files.
deathanatos 2 hours ago 0 replies      
> Here it's clear that xfs gives better results, with the average write beating all ext4 modes by a few hundred microseconds.

Am I wrong that the graph above that statement does not show that? While it shows xfs having better latency than ext4, the axis is labelled as "write latency nanoseconds", and the difference between ext4 and xfs is ~400ns, or .4s; not "a few hundred microseconds."

planckscnst 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I love articles like this! They took the extra step o find the reason for the behavior they saw rather than just saying "yup ...that's how it is".

I've also had multi-millisecond pauses on ext4. In my case, the buffer fills up and we wait for sync_dirty_buffers to do it's job. We tried adjusting the various settings to tune it, but at the end, it's always there. We ended up buffering our own writes in the application so we could get the behavior we wanted.

cespare 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I saw the same thing a couple of months ago with a key/value datastore that synchronously writes each update to disk. Switching from ext4 to xfs fixed periodic 100ms+ latency spikes.
Google Wallet: Send money via text message googlecommerce.blogspot.com
88 points by howsilly  13 hours ago   58 comments top 16
relkor 11 hours ago 2 replies      
My concern would be getting a link that I am supposed to follow where I input my debit card number. Can someone explain how I know that text message -- which can be sent by anyone to me -- has a valid link to money? I would be extremely suspicous if I got a message saying "Hey its Peter, I can pay you back for $THING, just follow <link> and enter your debit card number to recieve $AMOUNT right now"
dforrestwilson 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Congratulations America we just caught up with Kenya circa 2007!
guelo 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds similar to Square's Cash, exploiting an ACH trick. Except setting up Cash for sending is magnitudes easier then setting up Wallet.
underyx 12 hours ago 1 reply      
And of course, 'anyone' covers around 5% of the world.
geomark 3 hours ago 0 replies      
It's been quite a few years since I've lived in the US so maybe I'm out of touch. But where I live you can send money instantly to anyone if you know their bank account number. You can do it online via your bank's website, via a mobile app, or at an ATM. Can't you do that in the US via the ACH system? I recall ACH was slow, taking a couple of days, but I don't recall if you could ACH money to other people or only between accounts you control.
yc1010 12 hours ago 2 replies      
No details of WHERE exactly in the world this works, I presume this a yet another US centric service
Animats 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Does this work for sending money to prepaid debit cards?
dorfsmay 11 hours ago 2 replies      
> "No email? No problem! Now you can send money to anyone in your contact list using just a phone number."

Are there really people with phone numbers but no email? Given how easy one can get an email for free, and the prevalence of VoIP (both in standard and proprietary forms), I'd expect the other way around to be true.

aembleton 12 hours ago 0 replies      
pavel_lishin 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I wonder what happens if that text message is intercepted; can someone claim the money before the rightful recipient?
dceddia 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Are there fees involved? They don't seem to say anything about it in the post.
obulpathi 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish they add support for sending money internationally. That would be a killer feature for Google Wallet!
yownie 2 hours ago 0 replies      
great cuz I want google eating up yet more of my personal habits and info
contingencies 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Google Wallet killed independent settlement solutions on Android by demanding that applications on the App Store (now Google Play) settle via them. I implemented (one of?) the only major carrier settlement capable applications prior to this ban for a preloaded flagship application for Samsung in 2010. We billed AT&T and T-Mobile, both of which had almost the same API for client billing running through the Israeli (now apparently rebranding to appear American) company AMDOCS. (The rumours are true: by providing 'outsourced billing' they can basically spy on most mobile networks' customers... read the public portion of their client list sometime) Anyway, we were already doing pay by text (a carrier-specific configuration) for many years all over the world before that. There are providers who set up these integrations for you and provide global multi-market pay-by-SMS services, but the problem is that the average mobile carrier does not have a unified view of its customer: particularly pre-pay and post-pay customers may be subject to very different limitations on pay-by-text availability and maximum charges. Then there's backend settlement, often time-staggered on a monthly basis and incorporating exchange rate risk exposure, etc. It's a PITA to do manually for multi-market, but a real solution (settlement method neutral and incorporating the real qualities of a settlement chain, including risk, legal jurisdiction for issue resolution, insurance, maximum and minimum settlement time, maximum and minimum volume, supported asset types, etc.) has been indefinitely deferred by the likes of Google who seem happy enough to cozy up to the existing financial establishment instead of rocking the boat. Possibly we have some hope now with Chinese device manufacturers and WePay that the Chinese government's huge push for the RMB to become a global reserve currency and their rapidly growing global network of banks may yet provide for some cross-border payment innovation where the west's incumbents have so far failed.
kmfrk 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sure the customer support is just ace.
Chan-Zuckerbergs Chief Of Staff Reveals Plan For Big-Bet Philanthropy techcrunch.com
27 points by prostoalex  8 hours ago   12 comments top
themartorana 6 hours ago 1 reply      
It sounds great - $40B+ can do a lot of good. I'm disappointed to see they're also trying to "reimagine" school - Gates's attempt has been a disaster.

That said, Gates's work with diseases in third world countries has been absolutely magical. Hopefully this isn't ushering in an era of billionaires all trying to stake out their own social issues, but will see organizations working together where there is overlap.

But I can armchair QB tens of billions of dollars in "making the world a better place" all I want. I can also be cynical all I want (as is at least partially my nature) but I'm going to try to remain happy about this one. I'm not a fan of how Facebook makes its money, but I don't mind seeing that money go somewhere that helps in any way.

A 1920s millionaire set off a race to have the most babies fivethirtyeight.com
101 points by fisherjeff  14 hours ago   20 comments top 5
downandout 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Holding out the carrot of what sounds like a large payday to poor people in order to encourage them to do something that will financially destroy all participants except the winner(s) sounds a lot like what the gaming/lottery industry does today. He didn't profit from it, but it's just as cruel and damaging. He may have viewed it as a practical joke, but the impoverished children that resulted from this probably didn't find it as funny.
lordnacho 11 hours ago 2 replies      
People couldn't have been completely crazy. Anyone taking part would understand that not winning would be hugely burdensome, and winning would mean you have money but a huge number of mouths to feed.
clock_tower 8 hours ago 0 replies      
From the title and the time period, I was expecting this to be something about encouraging the rich to have more children -- a common concern among interwar eugenicists. As it is... well, this was certainly eccentric, among other things.
mayakacz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmmm. There was a TV movie I saw about this when I was growing up in Canada...https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Stork_Derby
biot 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Interesting comment from the judge:

 "A child born dead is not in truth a child," Middleton wrote. "It was that which might have been a child."
Following this, abortion isn't the termination of a child; only that which might have been a child.

Cuba and US renew direct postal service after 52 years ticotimes.net
15 points by benologist  6 hours ago   discuss
Why ML/OCaml are good for writing compilers (1998) yale.edu
127 points by jasim  16 hours ago   63 comments top 16
GreaterFool 14 hours ago 6 replies      
Every time I see ML on HN I hope it's about ML the language and I'm sad when it turns out to be Machine Learning instead, haha.

It's a shame ML-family of languages isn't very popular. 1ML for instance could be a fantastic modern language but I don't see that happening.

MaxScheiber 14 hours ago 1 reply      
In my experience, #4 has held up extremely well over time and is the most compelling reason for choosing an ML over another language. Algebraic data types are an absolute joy to work with when dealing with abstract syntax trees. The other points are obviously great to have, but strong language support for ADTs is key, in my opinion.

I'm not certain I agree with #3. It seems to defeat the purpose of a strong type system. Either way, it can be very nice to express meta-level constructs in a matching object-level type. For example, if the language you are writing a compiler for has an int32 datatype, but you use an int64 in the language you're writing the compiler in, you'll need to simulate overflow. It would just be easier and safer to use an int32 in both places.

These days, I'd recommend Menhir over ocamlyacc unless you have a very specific use case that the former breaks on but the latter works on.

gnuvince 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I love writing compilers in OCaml: I T.A. a compiler class and my own implementation of the project (a compiler for a not-quite subset of Go) is written in OCaml. Compared to my thesis project which is written in Java, OCaml is a breath of fresh air and I feel that the single, most important feature of OCaml is its type system, especially having sum types available. Once you learn to use sum types to design your solutions, it's very hard to go back to other languages that don't support them and where you need to figure out the least painful way to emulate them.
xvilka 13 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the main stoppers of the wider OCaml adoption, I think, is a poor Windows support. For example, missing Unicode support [1] or lack of the opam [2] on this platform.

[1] https://github.com/ocaml/ocaml/pull/153

[2] https://github.com/ocaml/opam/issues/2191

pcwalton 11 hours ago 1 reply      
> ML has, perhaps, thebest gc around; it's so fast that for many real apps it's as fast as the C++ malloc/free, and maybe even a little faster in some cases. You don't have to wring your hands about using ML's gc, as you do with Java's, which is slow.

This is from 1998. I highly doubt this is true today. HotSpot now has an incredibly good generational, concurrent garbage collector.

baldfat 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I went through the videos of a coursera class for Programming Languages with Dan Grossman. https://www.coursera.org/course/proglang

He starts teaching programming with ML and then moves to Racket and ends with Ruby.

I had tried to teach myself Haskell several times but it always fell flat. I ended up loving ML and Racket (Especially Racket) the 1ML does look very interesting. Racket is pretty amazing for me. I learned a ton and was able to really improve my code in Python and R.

bpyne 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I used SML/NJ for a course I took last Fall. It was my first experience with ML other than looking over some sample code on the web. I'm not sure why, but my thought processes just work well with ML. Beautiful language. Very expressive while light on verbosity.

I heard an interview with Benjamin Pierce in which he extolled the virtues of the OCaml compiler. While he said that many other languages are interesting to him, OCaml is the go-to for getting stuff done.

Given people's comments and the linked post, my project for next Summer is going to be writing a compiler in OCaml for some simple language I'll define and implement.

Drup 13 hours ago 0 replies      
For interested people, there is a very nice OCaml MOOC for beginners currently: https://www.france-universite-numerique-mooc.fr/courses/pari... !
kruhft 14 hours ago 0 replies      
A (classic?) book on writing compilers with ML:


jmartinpetersen 13 hours ago 1 reply      
SML is one of a very few languages that have a formal description of the meaning of the language.


kod 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Despite being almost 20 years old, the only thing about this that sounds anachronistic is extolling the virtues of exceptions failing at runtime.
jackweirdy 8 hours ago 1 reply      
While #8 is useful, I've been writing a static analysis tool for JS in OCaml and it's been extremely hard to refactor when type inference is happening on function parameters. Mostly because I can't easily look to see whether I've refactored a method to use my new types.

But on the other hand, I think that's because (I at least get the impression) there's a different strategy for refactoring functional programs effectively. I haven't quite figured out what that is, though.

devit 10 hours ago 0 replies      
In the meantime, several newly designed languages do in fact have most or all of these features along with other pragmatic advantages.

Rust and Scala being perhaps the most popular and maybe best ones.

jhallenworld 9 hours ago 0 replies      
These sound like good reasons for using it for compiler front ends. Is it equally helpful compiler back ends? I mean optimization and register allocation.
groovy2shoes 13 hours ago 0 replies      
sklogic 14 hours ago 3 replies      
MLs are way much better than the average blubs for writing compilers, but yet they still have some issues. The worst is the amount of a boilerplate code needed to implement even the smallest pass over an AST. Say, you want to visit and rewrite all the identifier nodes, but yet you must implement recursive functions for all the node types. In Haskell a bit of the Scap Your Boilerplate magic relieves this problem a bit, but still a long way to go to reach a level of convenience of Nanopass.

Next issue is related: slightly amended AST types are hard to define, they cannot be derived fromtypesxisting one by a simple rewrite.

Also, MLs do not allow an easy way to handle metadata transparently.

What I really want to have is ML type system and Nanopass density combined in one language (working on it, not done yet).

Svetlana Alexievich Nobel Lecture: On the Battle Lost nobelprize.org
95 points by nkurz  14 hours ago   18 comments top 2
shrineOfLies 13 hours ago 3 replies      
This is one of the most powerful speeches I've come across.

I'll explain in short.

It makes me happy that such sadness, fear, pain and suffering is not present today.

On the other hand, It makes me sad that all of that meaning is lost in society and we chase frivolous things. We don't value humans for their humaneness anymore. We value them for their external appearance, and other frivolous things.

I understand that I cannot generalize the general public this way, but remember i'm taking a subjective stance. I'm merely stating its impact on my thoughts, it may be far from the truth or on point. I dont care.

osipov 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The Nobel Prize winner and the author is a profoundly tragic figure. Unfortunately the English language Wikipedia article on her doesn't begin to describe the level of suffering and pain that her family has experienced and that shaped her childhood.

Unfortunately the suffering she went through caused her to have a very negative bias towards the outside world. Her writings are the epitome of depression: imagine a writer describing San Francisco by focusing just on the parts of the Tenderloin district covered in piss. That is pretty much her unique viewpoint on the world and Russia in particular.

Her family has reasons to have gripes against Russians, given that her parents were Ukrainian and Belorussian minorities who suffered disproportionally when they tried to establish independent states. So take her speeches and her writing with a generous dose of salt. She is well known for her agenda and her unhealthy worldview.

Go Running on the Rumprun Unikernel github.com
76 points by deferpanic  14 hours ago   9 comments top 5
iLoch 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This title sounds like a children's fairytale.
billconan 13 hours ago 1 reply      
how do I debug a program running on a unikernel?
grogenaut 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Sweet, nice work.
0higgsboson 11 hours ago 0 replies      
drvdevd 9 hours ago 0 replies      
You beat me to this! Awesome!
Lightning talks from Meeting C++ 2015 meetingcpp.com
60 points by meetingcpp  14 hours ago   9 comments top 2
toth 13 hours ago 4 replies      
Really cool talk on an implementation of static_if in C++14. I'd suspected something like it should be possible, but couldn't get it to work right. Great to have someone figure it out for me :).

Also, cool to see that they are considering adding a version to the language in C++17. Thought they'd ruled it out. Andrei Alexandrescu has a very nice talk on how static_if is superior to concepts, this is definitely very nice to have.

hitlin37 13 hours ago 0 replies      
i attended the conference for the first time this year. very nice and knowledgeable conference, many more talks will be available in coming weeks as they announced in closing notes.
Faraday Future picks Nevada over California to build a $1B plant latimes.com
34 points by e15ctr0n  12 hours ago   27 comments top 4
jondubois 5 hours ago 1 reply      
They won't succeed. Nobody can compete against Elon Musk. Elon could build a better manufacturing plant using nothing but his bare hands and a couple of paperclips.
WesternStar 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Totally fine for California. I'm deeply convinced that tax incentives have negative impacts on the places that offer them. They only seem to attract race to the bottom businesses.
alvern 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Smart move. They will be able to poach a lot of the manufacturing talent that lives in ex-urb LA.
jzawodn 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The article seems to omit something fairly important: Where in Nevada? Which city?

Am I missing that somewhere?

Sundar Pichai: Lets not let fear defeat our values medium.com
70 points by jamsc  5 hours ago   6 comments top 5
jeffjose 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Nicely written! Also interesting how this essay is on medium and not on a Google owned property. Medium has become a place for serious long form essays.
lsc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I mean, obviously, I may be wrong, I am bad with people, etc, etc... but my feeling on the matter is that this isn't really fear. It's hate. We use the language of fear, the language of defense, because that's how you do war these days, but this isn't about safety, not even a little bit.

After the far more serious 9/11 attack, we decided to attack a country full of people who.... looked a little bit like the people who perpetrated the attack on us.[1] To the best of my knowledge, there was no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with the 9/11 attack, and most of the justifications at the time seemed to focus on "weapons of mass destruction" - something that I don't think is traditionally a legitimate casus belli. Even before it was shown that said weapons were largely fantasy, I don't think there was a coherent non-race based reason to attack Iraq. In spite of this, the move had extremely broad public support at the time.

A lot of people conflate hate and fear, probably out of some attempt to make those who hate look "less manly" or something equally ridiculous, but I think you have a better handle on what is actually going on if you call a spade a spade. Maybe it's just me not being able to understand normal people, but I don't think we're actually afraid of something that kills fewer Americans than sharks most years.

I think that a lot of the American political landscape makes a lot more sense if you understand that for many people, how someone dies is way more important than how long they live.

Both sides of the isle do this. Cars kill more people than guns, and way more people if you remove the obvious suicides from the statistics[2], but while the left goes on about guns forever, they never talk of, say, increasing the requirements for operating a far more dangerous motor vehicle.

All that said, I don't have anything like a solution. I'm just saying that I don't believe that it has anything to do with fear. Fear is what I feel when I bicycle on the same road as cars. This is different. There's very little danger actually involved, from the American side.


[2]I think you can't really understand the "pro" side of the gun debate until you understand that for many people, the right to own a gun is actually the right to a suicide they control; the right to death on their own terms. It puts "From my cold, dead hands" in a whole new light, doesn't it? The difference between suicide with a gun and doctor-assisted suicide is an interesting example, because in America, the people who think one should be a right usually think the other should be illegal and vis-a-vis

mwhuang2 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Wonderful message. I agree 100% with Pichai's stance on diversity.
jeffehobbs 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Lovely essay.
spenvo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Written as Google eases its stance on operating in China [1],[2].

It's not ok when fear erodes our values, but, by the same token: it's not ok for profit/growth-potential to erode our values.

"That is why its so disheartening to see the intolerant discourse playing out in the news these daysstatements that our country would be a better place without the voices, ideas and the contributions of certain groups of people, based solely on where they come from, or their religion."

^^ China's "toleration" of Tibetan monks, the truth (just Baidu 'Tianamen Square' (from a Chinese IP)), and basic encryption/privacy [3], etc manifests in ways that land countless people in political prison or worse - and should inform Pichai's stance on (not) working with that government.

Google is the flag-bearer when it comes to keeping the web (and information at large) open and accessible: let's hope it doesn't cave for a third of the world's population. We'll see in 2016.

[1] - http://www.forbes.com/sites/miguelhelft/2015/02/26/exclusive...[2] - http://www.reuters.com/article/us-alphabet-china-idUSKCN0T91...[3] - http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/24/business/international/chi...

Building the Machine Organizational Design in Startups tomtunguz.com
37 points by prostoalex  12 hours ago   discuss
Imaging Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica loc.gov
23 points by Thevet  11 hours ago   discuss
       cached 12 December 2015 08:02:04 GMT