February 7, 2018

Some things I think about politics

When one tries to think comprehensively about politics these days, it quickly gets overwhelming. But I think I’ve got some pieces of the puzzle figured out. Here they are in extremely summarized form. I’ll flesh them out later as seems to make sense.

1. Most of what people are saying about modern tribalism is correct. But partisanship is not as absolute as some fear. In particular:

2. The threat from Trump and his Republican enablers is indeed as bad as people fear. He’s a major danger to do terrible, irreversible harm to the US and the rest of the world. To date the irreversible damage hasn’t been all that terrible, but if Trump and his enablers are given enough time, the oldest modern democracy will be no more.

All common interests notwithstanding, beating Trump’s supporters at the polls is of paramount importance.

3. I agree with those who claim that many of our problems stem from the shredding of trust. But few people seem to realize just how many different aspects of “trust” there are, nor how many degrees there can be of trustworthiness. It’s not just a binary choice between “honest servant of the people” and “lying, cheating crook”.

These observations have strong analogies in IT. What does it mean for a system to be “reliable” or to produce “accurate” results? There are many possible answers, each reasonable in different contexts.

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February 7, 2018

Politics can be overwhelming

Like many people, I’ve been shocked and saddened by recent political developments. What I’ve done about it includes (but is not limited to):

As for those writings: Read more

January 22, 2018

The chaotic politics of privacy

Almost nobody pays attention to the real issues in privacy and surveillance. That’s gotten only slightly better over the decade that I’ve written about the subject. But the problems with privacy/surveillance politics run yet deeper than that.

Worldwide

The politics of privacy and surveillance are confused, in many countries around the world. This is hardly surprising. After all:

Technical cluelessness isn’t the only problem. Privacy issues are commonly framed in terms of civil liberties, national security, law enforcement and/or general national sovereignty. And these categories are inherently confusing, in that:

Data sovereignty regulations — which are quite a big part of privacy law — get their own extra bit of confusion, because of the various purposes they can serve. Chief among these are:  Read more

December 15, 2017

The technology industry is under broad political attack

I apologize for posting a December downer, but this needs to be said.

The technology industry is under attack:

These attacks:

You’ve surely noticed some of these attacks. But you may not have noticed just how many different attacks and criticisms there are, on multiple levels.

Read more

December 12, 2017

Notes on artificial intelligence, December 2017

Most of my comments about artificial intelligence in December, 2015 still hold true. But there are a few points I’d like to add, reiterate or amplify.

1. As I wrote back then in a post about the connection between machine learning and the rest of AI,

It is my opinion that most things called “intelligence” — natural and artificial alike — have a great deal to do with pattern recognition and response.

2. Accordingly, it can be reasonable to equate machine learning and AI.

3. Similarly, it can be reasonable to equate AI and pattern recognition. Glitzy applications of AI include:

4. The importance of AI and of recent AI advances differs greatly according to application or data category.  Read more

August 22, 2017

Imanis Data

I talked recently with the folks at Imanis Data. For starters:

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August 17, 2017

More notes on the transition to the cloud

Last year I posted observations about the transition to the cloud. Here are some further thoughts.

0. In case any doubt remained, the big questions about transitioning to the cloud are “When?” and “How?”. “Whether”, by way of contrast, is pretty much settled.

1. The answer to “When?” is generally “Over many years”. In particular, at most enterprises the cloud transition will span multiple CIO’s tenure in their positions.

Few enterprises will ever execute on simple, consistent, unchanging “cloud strategies”.

2. The SaaS (Software as a Service) vs. on-premises tradeoffs are being reargued, except that proponents now spell SaaS C-L-O-U-D. (Ali Ghodsi of Databricks made a particularly energetic version of that case in a recent meeting.)

3. In most countries (at least in the US and the rest of the West), the cloud vendors deemed to matter are Amazon, followed by Microsoft, followed by Google. And so, when it comes to the public cloud, Microsoft is much, much more enterprise-savvy than its key competitors.

Read more

August 10, 2017

Notes on data security

1. In June I wrote about burgeoning interest in data security. I’d now like to add:

We can reconcile these anecdata pretty well if we postulate that:

2. My current impressions of the legal privacy vs. surveillance tradeoffs are basically: Read more

June 30, 2017

Analytics on the edge?

There’s a theory going around to the effect that:

There’s enough truth to all that to make it worth discussing. But the strong forms of the claims seem overblown.

1. This story doesn’t even make sense except for certain new classes of application. Traditional business applications run all over the world, in dedicated or SaaSy modes as the case may be. E-commerce is huge. So is content delivery. Architectures for all those things will continue to evolve, but what we have now basically works.

2. When it comes to real-world appliances, this story is partially accurate. An automobile is a rolling network of custom Linux systems, each running hand-crafted real-time apps, a few of which also have minor requirements for remote connectivity. That’s OK as far as it goes, but there could be better support for real-time operational analytics. If something as flexible as Spark were capable of unattended operation, I think many engineers of real-world appliances would find great ways to use it.

3. There’s a case to be made for something better yet. I think the argument is premature, but it’s worth at least a little consideration.  Read more

June 16, 2017

Generally available Kudu

I talked with Cloudera about Kudu in early May. Besides giving me a lot of information about Kudu, Cloudera also helped confirm some trends I’m seeing elsewhere, including:

Now let’s talk about Kudu itself. As I discussed at length in September 2015, Kudu is:

Kudu’s adoption and roll-out story starts: Read more

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