Saturday, November 9, 2019

The day Web search engines such as Google start to understand the meaning of content such as text, they will covertly censor or demote content that's critical of them

Even though Google / Bing / Yandex can currently translate text content, this doesn't mean that these Internet search engines "understand" the "meaning" of whatever text they work with. The translation happens using lifeless algorithms, on a statistical basis, and doesn't involve "knowing" what's "being said" in the content.

Looking this way, it seems like there are some parallels between the related concepts of [ knowing / meaning / understanding ], and the close concepts of [ awareness / consciousness / sentience ]. A super-smart robot or computer program isn't self-aware the way humans are, and similarly an excellent language translation tool such as Google Translate doesn't know an iota of what's the intent and meaning of the text it works with.

Anyway. There could / will come a day when computers actually start to capture the broad meaning of text [whether this capturing takes place in a dumb/lifeless computer or a self-aware/sentient computer is irrelevant actually]. When this happens, private search companies such as Microsoft and Google will have every incentive in the world to censor and/or demote that content which criticizes these companies, exposes their crimes, or otherwise makes them look bad [or makes their competitors look good]. This is a scary prospect, and one that's within the realm of what's possible - and it's not too far into the future either. Worst of all, this censorship will happen covertly, quietly, silently - there's hardly any practical way to prove that an engine such as Google is hiding some type of data from its users.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

It should be possible to travel at a speed faster than that of light, even if we may not be able to measure that speed

What does it mean to travel near or at the speed of light? Does it mean "actually" traveling near or at that speed? Or does it mean that whenever the measured speed is near or at the speed of light, it's sufficient to say that the object is traveling near or at the speed of light [even if it "actually" is not]? What does "actually" mean? Does "actually" mean the speed that "God" sees? Can there be a divergence between the "actual" speed of an object and its measured speed, without us having to call it a measurement error? If yes, what's the relevance or value of such an measurement then?

Anyway, the point here is that it should be possible to travel at a speed faster than that of light. Why shouldn't it be, after all? Keep increase the quantity of energy and force and there's no reason why an object's speed shouldn't keep increasing. It isn't like once the value hits c, suddenly more energy and more force stops having an incremental effect. But how do we measure such a faster-than-c speed? Do we even have to bother with measuring? And just because we can't measure, should we conclude that the speed isn't faster than that of light? Does an object placed in a completely dark room become nonexistent and irrelevant just because we can't see it? It still is there, just that we cannot see it.

Those are some half-cooked thoughts in my mind.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

It may be correct to say that fractions are not numbers but are instead sentences written in a shorthand notation [COMPACTIDEA]

Fractions have intrigued me since my school days. Why are we able to represent certain values, or rather shares, precisely as fractions but not as whole numbers or decimal numbers? This can sometimes get irritating. Today a thought occurred to me which could be correct [could be wrong as well - need to think more]. Perhaps fractions aren't numbers at all. Instead, they're perhaps a quick/shorthand notation to write sentences [or instructions]. Might sound weird, but the fraction 2/3 is basically the same thing as the sentence:

Two parts out of three.

Now, the sentence - two parts out of three - definitely is not a number but is a sort of rule telling us how many parts out of how many are we talking about. A compact way to write this sentence is to write 2/3, because we've been taught from childhood that the "/" is to be interpreted as "parts out of". Just because we're all using a certain notation to write these sentences shouldn't mean we should start treating 2/3, 3/7, etc., as numbers.

Or it could very well be that due to inherent limitations of our base-10 decimal system, we aren't able to represent 1/3 precisely as a number, so we've started taking 1/3 itself as a number.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Response of American technology giants to scandals - should've communicated better or should've responded faster, rather than addressing the root problem, or making major changes to software or to business model

I've seen this type of "response" from people like Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg a few times, so I believe this is more of a pattern that can be stated. When it was revealed in 2014 that Facebook was secretly conducting psychological experiments on a few hundred thousand of its users by manipulating their emotions to observe their reactions, Sheryl Sandberg's response wasn't to apologize for these actions of Facebook. Instead, it was:
  • Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg is sorry if anybody was made angry by the whole "we're going to make you sad and see what happens" experiment, disclosed last week, that alarmed many of the service's users.
  • Speaking in New Delhi Wednesday, Sandberg said the study was a routine practice in the commercial sector — echoing some defenders of the social network — but that the nature of the study was "poorly communicated" to users.
  • "And for that communication we apologize," said Sandberg, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We never meant to upset you."
Bullshit. Evil monster this Sandberg creature is. I've made some text bold above. Total bullshit. Calling it "routine", and that "if anyone was offended then I say sorry" apology, and "we need to communicate this better", and so on. As if merely communicating better can make a wrong right.

Actually, if you think really carefully, she's being honest here. She isn't sorry, so she isn't giving out fake sorries. She doesn't think that there's any problem with such experiments/practices, so she's not apologizing for these. She really thinks and believes that such experiments and other anti-user stuff needs better packaging and spinning, so she's honestly saying that FB needs to better "package" this stuff into better language that its foolish users will believe.



Similarly, as Boeing is facing a crisis related to its 737 MAX plane, it has mounted a full-blown media and public relations [PR] campaign. These American companies seem to think that by aggressive, "360 degree" communication/PR, they can actually solve the underlying technological issues in their products. Fortunately, science isn't affected by PR and spinning.



"Boeing Max 737 jet crisis: we should've been more open, says CEO"

"Boss says aircraft maker failed to communicate properly with regulators and customers"

Boeing's CEO isn't admitting that their aircraft is poorly designed. He's not admitting that due to commercial reasons, MCAS was deliberately/knowingly not put in the manuals and not discussed with airlines/pilots. He's not admitting that they changed the software without certifying it again. He's laying the blame on poor communication. What a loser.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Superpower nations need complete self-sufficiency in all spheres - food, medicines, technology, raw materials, currency, minerals, military, etc.

  • China, and not just China, but also other current/aspiring/future superpowers such as Russia, USA, India, and maybe Europe, each of these needs complete technological independence. Which means owning the entire stack - the instruction set architecture (ISA), the code inside microprocessors, the raw materials to make chips, manufacturing fabs, operating systems, all of the software programs that run on the systems, and so on. Nothing can be such that a superpower is dependent upon the mercy of a foreign power. Because as the Huawei case has clearly shown, adversaries can and will cut-off technological connections/dependencies in order to cause crippling, instant, and irreplaceable harm to the companies and people of nations.
  • Huawei should drop American courier / package / logistics providers such as FedEx worldwide as much as possible, and give priority to Asian and European providers [in that order]. Just like sensitive digital data cannot be carrier over untrusted digital lines, physical objects shouldn't be transported over adversary-owned physical lines.
    • Do the same in the whole of China. No need to send $$$ to US firms.
  • A coordinated effort is required to simultaneously deprive the USA of the vital ores/minerals/metals its economy and people need. China's restrictions on exporting rare-earth elements to USA alone isn't the ideal response. Simultaneously, Russia should announce restrictions on titanium exports to America [remember how America simultaneously makes multiple countries support its foreign policy moves - whether it be expulsion of Russian diplomats, or the recognition of Juan Guaido as Venezuela's President]. If America's other similar critical dependencies/vulnerabilities can be discovered and can be simultaneously announced, all the better. A sudden, unexpected and crippling ban on multiple essential raw materials will quickly and immediately bring America to its knees, and also damage its invulnerable global image.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The world's peoples are increasingly speaking and listening through American communication, social media or social networking services - thus subjecting their speech to the draconian laws of these services

  1. This whole "Instagram Influencer" thing that's going on these days. These young girls who're trying to make a career for themselves by posting ever more controversial and/or nude photos of themselves on Facebook's Instagram service - do they realize that they've subconsciously censored and restricted their own speech and expression of thoughts so as to fit Instagram's rules? One "mistake" [which is a violation according to them, but they won't explain what exactly was the violation] and without warning they delete your entire account and all your investment is gone forever. Better to choose the self-censorship route and focus on one's career, isn't it? That's what's happening.
  2. I've written something similar in one paragraph of this post.
  3. Look what happens when one or a few private companies start to de facto dominate any particular industry or technology - like the total dominance of Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay in China's mobile payments sector. Retailers have started to refuse cash and are asking to be paid using only mobile payments. This is not good. Chinese people are increasingly paying only through these mobile payments companies' services. The effective control of currency has come in the hands of these companies, which sit between the Chinese government/banks and the Chinese people. [link 1] [link 2]
  4. Instagram asks bullies, ‘Are you sure you want to say that?’ [link 1] [link 2]

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

America could secretly be conducting photographic or signals spying using regular commercial aircraft [COMPACTIDEA]

Rule number 1 is that when it comes to USA, consider anything possible. Don't assume that they can't or won't do it. It's possible that using hidden cameras and/or sensors in airplanes of US airlines such as American or Delta, America's CIA / NSA are conducting spying over the territories of other countries such as Russia and Turkey.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Russia needs a special low-capacity but long-range aircraft in order to properly connect and integrate its various distant regions [COMPACTIDEA]

For strategic reasons, it's vital that the various far-flung regions of Russia be connected and integrated tightly into a well-knit and cohesive unit. Railways is going to be too costly, so air travel is a more feasible option. But traffic won't be too large on these regional routes. Yet distances are usually great. Usually low-capacity planes also simultaneously have low range. Won't work within the mammoth Russia. Russia needs a special airplane that has low number of seats yet enough range to be able to fly between its various distant regions [say 30-50 seats and a few thousand kilometers]. Maybe an evolution of Saab 2000 or Beechcraft Super King Air or Fokker F27 Friendship, or perhaps Dornier 328. Or it could be a single airliner in 2 variants - a 30 seat version and a 50 seat version, to serve different intra-Russia routes depending upon expected passenger volume. And why restrict this plane to flying only within Russia? From within Russia - say from regional cities that are close to Russia's border areas - this bird could also fly to nearby second-tier or third-tier cities of other countries, something which wouldn't otherwise be commercially viable, but will now lead to more trade, more cultural exchanges, more tourism, and so on. Exports are obviously possible as well, especially to other similarly large countries that need to connect their far-flung regional areas - Brazil, Canada, Australia, China, etc.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Lockheed Martins, the Boeings, the Raytheons, etc., should beware of the Amazons, the Googles, the Microsofts, etc. [RAWDUMP]

  • When you cannot sync your Google contacts [which you built over the years] with a phone, that phone starts to seem pretty useless even if its hardware is excellent. And an otherwise inferior phone that can sync your Google contacts starts to seem more practical and useful. Switching costs basically.
  • Sony might build excellent hardware, but what's stopping you from switching to another company for your next buy? Nothing. Sony doesn't know how to create switching costs for its customers [obviously this doesn't apply to Sony's PlayStation business]. Software and online services make you invest your time, energy and information in their services and create switching costs for you. The more you use a service, the more "invested" and locked you get into that service. Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, Sharp, etc., focus on and create great hardware, but there's nothing in their products that makes it difficult for you to switch to another provider. And now that these online companies are dominant [people are totally locked into these services], that if you don't support all of these, even your great hardware won't sell.
  • No one should be fooled that the Amazons/Googles/Microsofts don't salivate uncontrollably when they look at the limitless revenues and profits of the military-industrial complex. Heretofore it was isolated from these companies. Electronics, software and Internet have made it possible for these companies to enter the defense/military/weapons business.
  • For now, these software companies are touching only the Cloud storage business. But they already own and are developing many technologies for consumers that have full-fledged military applications - image recognition, object recognition, video analysis, and a whole spectrum of other stuff. Step-by-step these technologies will be offered to the military.
  • What stops the Googles from finally starting to build software and associated Cloud-based services to fly and operate a fighter jet in a fully-unmanned fashion [aided in no small manner by the various image/face/object/video recognition technologies that they already possess]? None of the Northrop Grummans or the General Dynamicss have any of these technologies [nor can they quickly build high-quality ones even if they decide to invest the required amount of money]. It would be foolish to wager that BAE's software - any software - would be better than Facebook's or IBM's.
  • Dassault Group is a notable exception in the military-industrial complex. It has a full-fledged software subsidiary, which it can far more easily expand into a Internet+Cloud division, compared to pure-military players.
  • As the importance of software, Internet and Cloud grows in defense products, expect a lot of acquisitions of software/Internet/Cloud players by defense giants.
  • Smaller Cloud players such as IBM, Oracle, and others shouldn't lose sleep if the Pentagon awards its Cloud contracts to Amazon [or a mix of Amazon, Google and Microsoft]. Defense contractors will need deep software+Internet+Cloud capabilities and expertise in the coming future, and they'll be forced to turn to these "other" players to fulfill vast capability gaps. Lucrative business is right on the horizon from contractors, if not from the government.
  • An American Chevrolet or Ford car of the future which quickly and properly syncs with and works with all your Google, Amazon, Kindle, Alexa, Apple, iCloud, MSN, Microsoft, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yahoo Mail, Netflix, Hotmail, Outlook, and other accounts and services is better from the customer's standpoint than a German Audi or BMW which is weak in software and online services [even if the latter's car hardware is somewhat better]. Pay a lot to these American online giants or else people won't buy your cars. This is loss of control for Germans.
  • Think of what Android has done to the smartphone industry. Dozens of so-called "manufacturers" [basically assemblers] running after crumbs, and dictated to by Google. The real power is with Google, with YouTube, Play Store, Chrome, etc. All of these phonemakers are "expendable assets". Replaceable assets. German cars could become the same. The car of the future could be such that the real value would be in the operating system, applications, data and online services attached to it. Buy [or rent] a car from anyone, and login to your Google account to transform it into your personalized vehicle. Later logout and the car is ready to be used by another fella.

Monday, September 24, 2018

One way BlackBerry can differentiate its smartphones is by being appealing to customers who need conservative, traditional features

Physical keyboard is a "traditional" feature. By including this in many of its latest phone models, BlackBerry already attracts those customers who like traditional features. This class of customers either doesn't like quick or radical change, or doesn't want to lose traditional features, or likes certain "power" features. Examples of such features/traits:
  • Physical keyboard.
  • Removable battery [clearly a concerted decision by phone-makers].
  • Rubberized or textured backs [these actually look pretty good] [there's a mad race towards glass backs which is making already-fragile phones even more fragile].
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack.
  • Compact/small size, but not overly skinny/thin.
  • Hardware switches to electrically disable camera, microphone, location-tracking chips, Bluetooth, and so on, without having to trust software.
  • Memory card slot for expandable storage.
  • More features can be thought.
No manufacturer seems to be catering to power users who need such features. The hunger is there, but it isn't being addressed. BlackBerry should see and seize the opportunity. There's no point becoming a "me too" and engaging in fierce competition with Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, LG, Oppo, Vivo, Meizu, ZTE, etc.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

In some cases, a buyer should ensure that he helps all his different suppliers so that all of them survive, thus preventing a monopoly

  • It Apple continues to buy OLED / AMOLED displays from only Samsung, it's possible that in the future LG's OLED business goes bust, leaving Apple with Samsung as the only supplier. Assured extortion of Apple by Samsung will follow [considering the significant superiority of AMOLED over LCD and the lack of an alternative equivalent technology].
  • It is Apple's duty to make sure that a thriving supplier base exists for its needs, even if this means that sometimes Apple has to buy some components at higher prices - than can be bought from the dominant supplier - just in order to ensure the survival of weaker suppliers.
    • Such lessons aren't taught in business schools. MBA books preach / teach buying all your needs from the supplier which supplies you a component at the lowest cost [everything else the same], in order to minimize your costs and to maximize your profits. This short-term view neglects the possible negative future consequences of the erosion of your supplier base and the establishment of a monopoly supplier [not even God can stop this monopoly supplier from exploiting you in every possible way].
    • Such a dire scenario is all the more possible if you - like Apple - are a very large buyer, and if you not buying from a particular supplier - say LG - can result in the bankruptcy of that supplier. In such a case, it's vital that you help that supplier [in order to help your own self].

Saturday, September 15, 2018

It's very, very sad that Apple has discontinued the best-sized phone in the world, the iPhone SE [RAWDUMP]

  • This ongoing move towards bigger and bigger phones is sheer madness.
  • Manufacturers know that these monsters are difficult to hold, use and carry, yet they won't stop their march towards converting phones into phablets and tablets.
  • Apple, a company that was legendary for ergonomics under Steve Jobs, has foolishly joined this bandwagon of Android phone companies.
  • iPhone SE, along with Sony's XZ1 CompactSony Xperia Z1 Compact, and BlackBerry Q10, was the most ideal-sized smartphone ever [obviously, iPhone 5, 5s, 5c were of similar size]. It fits perfectly in your hand and in your pocket and is a delight to hold and use [even with one hand]. Even the iPhone 6s, though still quite easy to hold, is a bit more than what a phone should be.
  • It's really bad that very few, if any, powerful phones are left that don't happen to be monster-sized [XZ1 is the best one, while XZ2 is bigger so not really ideal in size]. Welcome to capitalism, where only profits matter and usability be damned.
  • Anyway, I still think Apple should've launched an updated iPhone SE, with the following improvements over the original:
    • ADD: Ion-strengthened glass, oleophobic coating [6s]
    • ADD: Wide color gamut display [7]
    • UPDATE: Apple A10 Fusion [7]
    • UPDATE: PowerVR Series7XT Plus (six-core graphics) [7]
    • UPDATE: Front camera to 5 MP, f/2.2, 31mm [6s]
    • UPDATE: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, hotspot [6s]
    • UPDATE: Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS [6s]
    • UPDATE: Non-removable Li-Ion 1960 mAh battery (7.45 Wh) [7]
    • UPDATE: Touch ID [6s]
    • CHANGE: Power/unlock button on the right side rather than top [6s, 7]
    • UPDATE: iOS to 12
    • UPDATE: Internal storage options only 64 GB or 128 GB
    • ADD: Double-tap to wake.
    • ADD: Either double-tap to immediately lock/sleep display or a special icon which needs to be double-tapped.
    • Other features/ports not to be changed/removed [especially headphone port].
  • Should've priced this at USD 549 [64] and 649 [128].
  • Continuing to sell the SE makes strategic business sense too, if not tactical. Why? To maintain iOS' network effect against the onslaught of an Android that seems omnipresent, Apple needs the support of a large install base. SE's lower pricing and its attractiveness to a "different" base of users [those who want an iPhone but can't afford more than ~600 USD, or those love and value compact phones, or both] means that the SE would've given Apple the numbers it needs to make sure that a large number of folks use iOS, thus driving usage, familiarity, feedback, discussions on online forums, downloads, installs, word-of-mouth, and so on.



Update [17-Sep-18]: Now I realize that the world needs a fully-powerful small-sized phone too. So Apple could instead launch iPhone SP [Small+Performance], with the following features:
  • Size identical to iPhone SE.
  • A12 Bionic processor [also update graphics chip].
  • 3 GB RAM.
  • 7 MP front camera.
  • Stereo speakers.
  • Instead of Face ID, give the most up-to-date Touch ID sensor.
  • Multicolored LED notification light. Current iDevices have no way to tell you that you have a missed call if you don't turn on the device's display. It's bad.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Almost-accurate machine translation of human language can be dangerous - its occasional inaccuracy can lead to wrong decisions

The point here is that if machine translation becomes so good that you become so confident about it that you don't think you need to cross-check or double-check the automated translation, then this can lead to wrong and potentially dangerous actions/decisions [the assumption here is that merely "almost-flawless" automated language translation can create this high level of confidence or trust in a human user, and that "fully-flawless" level of accuracy isn't required]. Since the translation service is not 100% accurate but only almost-100%, it will inevitably make occasional errors/mistakes. But since the human user has complete confidence or faith in this service and so he doesn't feel the need to get the automated translation checked [manually - by a human translator], the error/mistake can be [silently] accepted by the human user as if it were the correct translation [that is, the human won't even realize that there's any flaw in the translation]. This can lead to erroneous actions or decisions. If doctors rely solely on such "almost-perfect" computer translation, serious medical blunders can occur.

An example of very good automated translation is below. How can I claim that the translation correctly depicts what was originally written in Ukrainian? I read a few news stories [in English] about this Ukrainian-language webpage. But I cannot be sure that those news outlets got this page translated by a human, or they themselves too relied on Google Translate.

Update [7-Oct-18]: Another [representative] scenario where an almost-accurate system can lead to catastrophic outcomes is an imaginary crying-infant detector device which continuously listens to incoming sounds, and can identify sounds that resemble a crying infant. It alerts the parents - who are sitting at some distance - when it detects this crying. Support it's "so" accurate that parents start to depend blindly on it. Suppose its real accuracy is 99.5%, whereas the parents consciously or subconsciously start to assume - based on their real-life experience with the device - that it's "virtually" 100% accurate. Now this can lead to fatal mistakes. What if a particular type of low-volume, intermittent crying by an infant falls in that 0.5% category, and the device doesn't raise an alarm, and the parents falsely assume that all is well, and the infant keeps crying for a long, long time? It's a scary scenario. In any such high-stakes scenarios, any machine-based system better be at least as accurate as a human. Nearly-100% can produce fatal outcomes due to blind faith and by the system's human users. As it's sometimes said, good enough is not good enough.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

In offline retail we discover and choose, in online retail we have to trust the results shown to us [COMPACTIDEA]

Realized this on 10-Jun-18 when doing some searches on Amazon India [screenshot below], and once again today when read this article on NYT. Can I trust Amazon's search results for my query? What if it has secret deals with some manufacturers to covertly promote their products in the search results [even if those products aren't the best]? What if Amazon is trying to sell me Western-made products [or American] rather than Asian ones, in order to "help" its fellow American companies? Considering how dirty these giant Western corporations are, I don't think there's any reason to trust them [especially when electronics and software give their deeds invisibility and also deniability].

When we enter a physical market or supermarket, we roam around and choose what we want to buy. Although the placement of products on different shelves - in terms of visibility - has some similarity to which search results are shown on top on Amazon, the similarity isn't too strong and it's also hard for the supermarket to quietly show different "results" to different shoppers.

A thought similar to this occurred to me in 2012 too. The conclusion remains the same. Let us fear our fellow Indians less and these Westerners more.

Look at the screenshots below - searches performed on Amazon India just moments ago. Amazon is literally trying to kill Energizer and Duracell, perhaps by juxtaposing its own much cheaper deal with a handpicked far more expensive deal from Energizer/Duracell [and maybe by sinking better deals by these two brands much lower on the search results page].