Crappy Geofencing

A friend claimed geofencing is the solution to the problem of minor league baseball players clocking in and out for work. (Sure, I had other issues with the plan, but this is specifically about how if all that other stuff is wonderful, how geofencing would fail.)

The concept is that when one arrives at a destination, then a phone undertakes certain behaviors. Across a few phones over the past 4 years, I have been very, very underwhelmed.

  • Hit or miss: Location services are often inaccurate. Not like the wrong city inaccurate, but they often indicate I am at the wrong address which is just enough the action does not trigger. For example, a reminder app will trigger when I visit the grocery store to get things on the list. Except, it doesn’t half the time because it thinks I am at a business next door.
  • Battery drain: They usually demand one have GPS enabled. They also demand that you not be in a battery saving mode. So, you better have a great device with a huge battery or frequent access to recharging it.

I will admit this generally works much better today than it did 4 years ago. So, there is hope for the future. And the optimistic view is it probably just a couple years away, so the pessimistic view is more like a decade, so splitting the difference: 6 years.

Lying to Big Data

The reaction people have towards social media companies is to lie. This amuses me because self-reporting is well known as the worst data. The data scientists expect people to lie.[1] Which is why they ignore what you say about yourself and focus on your behavior.

So, you need to start having intentionally deceptive behavior. The problem is: if people like you all deceive in the same patterns, then the data points to the same place anyway. You have to deceive in novel ways others like you would never think of doing.

Good luck with that.

1. Christian Rudder’s Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) is about how as a data scientist for OKCupid, a dating website, he cannot depend on the honesty of people. He has data on what they say and compares it to what they do.

DVR Feature Request: Record In The Future

Being limited to things just two weeks in advance is a pain in my ass. I keep seeing buzz about shows of interest, so I go to schedule recording it to find out that it is not out yet. The one that prompted this is not even out until for months.

In the past, I have missed almost a whole season because I saw ads about the show during the one other show I watched on that channel, the other show ended more a month before, so I saw nothing until it was almost over. I ended up setting up the recording and had to wait until season two before the old episodes aired again.

Automation for iGen

Some topics for talking about the work prospects for G.

I know he watches CGP Grey, so this is probably what prompted the question.

The concern should not be the number of jobs, but whether the remaining jobs will offer a good standard of living. “What is the comparative advantage of human labor in an increasingly automated world.” Choose a career that 1) has a body of expertise where human judgment is most scarce and 2) has a human interaction.

15 Jobs that will disappear in next 20 years because of AI

  1. Drivers
  2. Farmers
  3. Printers & publishers
  4. Cashiers
  5. Travel agents

Some economists are not worried as we’ve seen automation anxiety all over the last 100 years. It is easy to see which jobs will disappear. It is harder to see the jobs which is be spawned. My job today barely existed when I was G’s age.

Some Hawking quotes

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

If there is an afterlife, then he has that complete understanding now.


One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.


We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.


Quiet people have the loudest minds.


Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.


For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.


My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.


 

R.I.P. Stephen Hawking

Teeshirt reads: Obey gravity. It's the law!
Obey gravity. It’s the law!

When I was twelve, my father recommended I read a book. It is the only book one I can think of that he has ever made to me. But, I have to say, it was probably the best recommendation anyone has ever made to me. See, when I was a kid, I loved space technology and astronomy. I could recite fact after fact about NASA missions, the planets, and the stars. Anything I could learn about them was appreciated.

A Brief History of Time by Hawking opened up to me cosmology, physics, and quantum mechanics. Reading about these topics stretched my brain and put me in my happy place. I save up the books about this stuff for when I feel at my lowest because diving into them will correct my mood. A difficult week at work? Definitely, time to remove thinking about that stuff by thinking about the multiverse, chaos, and quantum entanglement. Perspective is everything.

Dr. Hawking also represented something I think science desperately needed: celebrity. His popularity and brand recognition showed that academic papers are not the only way to talk about science to the masses. He paved the way for Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Brian Greene. Scientists are writing great books on their areas and the masses are gobbling them up because there is interest. It makes me happy that a society we think of as having gotten intellectually lazy has a hidden interest in science.

It makes me sad that he is gone because he provided me so much more than I could ever adequately explain.

Outraged? Don’t share

Our attention is the product for Facebook and Twitter. They make money by selling advertising. The more time we spend on the site, the more ads they put in front of us, the more money they make.

Outrage makes them the most money. We are more likely to share what outrages us. We have tribalized our social groups such that our friends are most likely going to be outraged too and more likely to share. So the outrages go viral.

The most effective things to make us share are also probably fake or misleading. We get so upset that we do not bother to check until maybe someone not so outraged fact-checks and points out the problem. So fake items go viral.

The synergy of fake outrageous news is powerful. It is manipulative. We train the social media algorithms that we WANT to be manipulated. We spend more time on these sites because we are addicted to being manipulated.

United States v. Microsoft Corp

I found this case interesting:

The facts of the case are pretty simple: The cops have a warrant for an e-mail account for someone they suspect is involved in selling drugs. They go to Microsoft to get the information. Microsoft says they’ll give law enforcement the information they have stored in Washington [State], but the e-mails for that account are stored in Ireland and the warrant doesn’t apply to their Irish data center. The Supreme Court will decide whether the facts of this case are foreign or domestic and, based on that, whether the law can be applied to information stored in another country.

The SCOTUSBlog summary:

Issue: Whether a United States provider of email services must comply with a probable-cause-based warrant issued under 18 U.S.C. § 2703 by making disclosure in the United States of electronic communications within that provider’s control, even if the provider has decided to store that material abroad.

Working for state government, in contracting a company to host our services, we have to demand that our data remain in the United States. One of the DOJ claims is that someone in Microsoft headquarters can, with the click of a button, moved the data from Ireland to the US and remove this issue. Which is why I find our lawyer demanding our data not ever go overseas hilarious. With a click of a button, it or a copy could go there and we would never know or be able to prove that it did.

Ireland filed an amicus brief that Microsoft handing over the data would not violate Irish privacy law. So, moving the goal posts, the MS argument is now that other countries will demand access to data of US citizens stored in the US. Of course, they would also like to be protected from the US government.

Of course, there is the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act that is the legislative “fix”.

It would specify that an order under the SCA applies to all data that is in the “possession, custody, or control” of the provider, regardless of where that data is stored, and it would pave the way for executive agreements—such as the contemplated U.S.-U.K. agreement—to allow foreign governments to request content directly from American providers.