Monday, June 26, 2017

Google's competitors advertise on Google - Google knows which users click on which ads of competitors [COMPACTIDEA]

I clicked on a banner ad by Zoho on some website 2-3 days ago. Ever since, Google is bombarding me with ads of its G Suite - a Zoho competitor. So a significant disadvantage of Google's competitors having to advertise on Google's online ad services is that Google knows fully which users click on which competitor ads. It can then go after those folks with its own products, thus steering them away from competitor products. Evidence or no evidence, this is happening.

Update [27-Jun-17]: Of course, whatever we all search on Google tells Google a lot about which competitor products/services we use, at what time of the day/night, how often, and maybe even whether we use the free version or the paid one. Google, in all likelihood, already vigorously acts on this "intelligence" to "introduce" those people to its products/services who primarily use competitor products/services.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

My respect and admiration for Elon Musk just reduced significantly [COMPACTIDEA]

Based on several news stories that I read recently, it can be summarized that Elon Musk:
  • Puts in 85-100 hours of work per week [that's 16.67/day for 6 days of work in a week].
    • Likely works all 7 days a week.
  • Sleeps ~6 hours per night.
  • Eats his lunch during one of his five-minute slots, usually during a meeting.
The words/phrases used to praise him are:
  • " does he manage to get everything done..."
  • "...Musk has a special strategy up his sleeve..."
  • "...breaking a schedule into smaller increments can provide a major productivity boost..."
  • "...helps Musk stay on task throughout his busy day..."
  • "...none of his time goes to waste..."
  • "...CEO says he is constantly trying to innovate and enhance his productivity..."
  • "...secrets behind his productivity..."
  • "Musk doesn’t even take a 30 minute lunch break. Instead, he combines it with meetings and emails to maximise productivity."
  • "...batching--e.g. responding to emails on your smartphone while sitting in a sauna while listening to relaxing music while drinking a glass of vegetable juice...."
  • "...I find is I’m able to be with [my kids] and still be on email. I can be with them and still be working at the same time..."
Musk, to me, looks like a perpetual work-obsessed machine. One who's wasting his entire life working and working compulsively, all the while falsely assuming that he's being hyper-productive. He isn't able to enjoy food, and isn't able to enjoy sleep/resting, isn't able to be only with his kids, and isn't able to enjoy the time we "waste" on "non-productive" tasks. Poor fellow with pathetic life, no matter how rich he is.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Artificial Intelligence [AI], natural language processing [NLP], and natural language understanding [NLU] will enable digital services to build detailed behavioral profiles of people based on detailed past communications [COMPACTIDEA]

Those hundreds of emails, Facebook Messenger messages, WhatsApp chat messages, SMSes, comments under news stories, etc., that we're all creating daily, we just forget those, but those chats/emails/messages don't disappear or become useless. They just get hidden from our eyes. They're there, waiting for advances in artificial Intelligence [AI], natural language processing [NLP], and natural language understanding [NLU]. In the near future, when these technologies reach a very high level of maturity, all those old chats/emails/messages will come back to life. The old stuff will be analyzed deeply again to build a detailed and accurate profile of the person [the way a human can today]. So the value of this otherwise useless stuff is in the future.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The myth of government-provided subsidies, and its relation to cross-subsidies

  • Till some time ago, petrol and diesel used to be subsidized in India, "by the Indian government". First of all, I don't think it's proper to say that the government was subsidizing it. Government officials were's paying for the subsidy from their pockets. It was the public's own money, collected by the government, which was being used to provide this subsidy.
  • This leads to the question of whether there can ever be a true subsidy. Any subsidy that the "government" provides seems either like a cross-subsidy, or like a compromise. The former, if prices are raised for one class of people [say the wealthy] to provide subsidy to another class [say the poor]. The latter, if the provision of a subsidy results in a reduction in government spending on some other priority/sector [e.g., if the government allocates less amount for building roads because it provided subsidy on diesel].
  • In case of a compromise [the latter situation], does the public "save" anything overall? I don't think so. The public sure got that diesel subsidy, but it didn't get those extra roads. Sure, some people or a class of people reaped the benefits, while some other people or some other class of people continued experiencing suffering, but there likely wasn't any net benefit on an aggregate/overall basis [like vector sum in physics].
  • So when a story on FT reads "India to forgive billions of dollars of farm debt", one must remind oneself that while it might be tempting to give credit to the Indian government for "forgiving" this debt and doing a sort of huge favor to the farmers, it's really the overall Indian public that's paying this bill in the form of reduced government benefits. Any praise showered on the Indian government is undeserved. The politicians and the ministers, however, will of course try to milk the debt waiver for their own benefit ["In a note to clients this week, BofA Merrill Lynch predicted nearly $40bn in farmers’ debts — equivalent to about 2 per cent of GDP — would be waived before India’s next general election in 2019, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hopes to secure a renewed mandate for the following five years."] ["Mr Modi opened the floodgates for a series of costly farm loan write-offs during the recent Uttar Pradesh election campaign, when he promised that the BJP would forgive nearly $5.6bn owed by more than 21.5m small farmers if it came to power."] ["The farm-debt waiver was one of the key campaign promises that helped prime minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party win a landslide victory in Uttar Pradesh’s recent state elections, seen as crucial for Mr Modi’s own re-election prospects nationally in 2019."]. The government, it ought to be remembered, is only managing the public's resources.