Words for Spores

Why don’t you take a vacation at foxconn in Shenzhen ? you’ll get to see all the freaking iPhones in the whole world!!!!

(historical note, foxconn used to make all the iPhones in the whole wide world… iPhone was the most famous and widely used smart phones in the world…)

Generalized Allergy Meds

There come times when you find yourself allergic to some sounds(for example of some people), some expressions of (political propaganda and advertisements) or even some ideas themselves. The general symptom of these generalize allergic reaction, just like pollen allergies, is that of excessive defensive activation.

One may find oneself unable to stop from speaking rudely interrupting a speech–that way one doesn’t have to hear it. One may find oneself blinking or averting one’s eyes at just the time for just the duration needed to not see something. One may even completely miss a hugely important thing due to sudden forgetfulness that one recovers from shortly after, but certainly too late to remedy what ever is missed.

The worst part is that these things happen autonomously. One needn’t think: hey there’s pollen in the air, let’s sneeze it out, it just happens. And similarly, much of generalized allergic reaction are quite subcouncious, the causes sometimes are so subliminal and so imperceptible that it is actually hard to detect both that there was a cause and that one’s own mind caused the reaction to happen.

The symptoms become illness when the entire person gradually becomes less and less adept at living and surviving–the organism is made less fit in the evolutionary sense, and actually, really, the organism is made less fit in the common sense of its society.

The organism is uncontrollably rude and is unaware of it. When pressed to change one cannot make a change because the cause and action mechanism is completely unobservable by oneself or others.

I myself have these gigantic blind spots that occur at the worst times some times. I can walk into huge signs of an odd color at a store if the store overdoes it with use of that odd color.(imagine, for example, an orange sign in the middle of an isle at the HomeDepot where the brand color and shelfing are all orange) Just yesterday I drove my child in the car seat without tying the harness… and that’s not the biggest thing I miss. Some times I skip the most important sentences, sometimes I miss very important portion of a short speech. The only really observable thing is that something very important is made incomplete or tardy or put at great risk. Some times there are clear causes like overuse of colors, other times I suspect foul play by others with clear motive. My current conclusion after a lot of thinking about it is that I have a very bad case of generalized allergies.

Please, tell me there are medicines for these conditions…

Two Debilitated Birds With one Stone

There seem to be all hese suggestions to develop technology to monitor driver using self-driving cars, for example to check if they are alertness by tracking eye movents, or checking if the head is tilted weirdly(dozed off). I wonder if anybody considered resorting to old-tech.

Why don’t we use the legacy human verification system known as CAPTCHA to confirm that driver is awake and not drunk or otherwise temporarily disabled? Since the car is self-driving, the driver could take a few seconds to solve a puzzle. The puzzles should be chosen to require the perceptive and cognitive abilities relevant to driving the car. In an extreme degenerate case, the test could be to ask the human river to take a drive in an simulated environment. This would detect a driver failure ex machina. If he’s drunk, tired, or on drugs, then he fails and the auto-pilot can take some actions:

1) turn on the flashers. And I think self-driving cars should have special signals beyond the turn, break, parking and headlights to indicate to other drivers that the AI is failing and human is not in control.

2) shine bright lights, blast loud sound or cold air, blast oxygen enriched air, spray very cold water, inject adrenalin, etc. to attempt to revive driver.

3) pull over (AI should slowdown or speed up to try to reach a safe lane to temporarily stop and wait for help)

4) call the cops

5) “phone a friend” by dialing up a remote-ops center to have a trained (human) professional guide the vehicle to safety.

6) call the owner’s insurance company.

7) do all of them at the above at the same time.

I’ll perhaps hate this when implemented, but for now it seems much simpler and more effective than AI passively ascertaining proper driver condition.

P.s. the two birds being AI and human driver.

Stress, is it progress?

I’ve been arguing with myself about the matter a lot recently. Is stress the right key metric to guide effort?

There once was a time when I worked for a company where stress was the key modus operandus. People are stressed in new and ingenious ways. Computer hardware, operating system, and other software are used, reused and abused to the extreme of human imagination. It isn’t quite stated rule but is de facto law. Fear, uncertainty and doubt, blindly enforced by infants of the industry… mantras repeated quite abstract from their original context and application, or even some of their own concoction:

kill the bug! cut its throat! add a test! bash it in!

Later, these infants grew up, and the company grew up… now I am left to wonder if I made a mistake not accepting all those great practices as my own and had a great time with it?

Roughly, because only paranoid survives, the idea is to place high cognitive load and emotional load on employees. Systems are complicated by multiplicity of undocumented bugs and “standard procedures” employees are essentially punished for not knowing industry non-standards by means of semi-public derisions(eg PR review comments emailed to whole company) to formal performance warnings and unexplained terminations. The added emotional stress induced by stern barks of reprimand, taught to management by relevant corporate department during training, hurts a lot and mainly detracts from meaningful knowledge transfer.

The problem with all this stuff not killing you isn’t that it makes some people better. Mainly it really scars participants. Higher than normal cognitive load makes people more likely to make stupid decisions. I look onto my youthful coworker some times and suspect that I have been accidentally transported to a cross between Harry Porter and the Modern Times… so engrossed in these highly secretive incantations… and fighting an ever lasting fight between good and evil inside repetitive mechanical work for long hours… and then after that we exert our mental and physical selves even more on the treadmill, marathon runs and bike trips, ski slopes or in deep meditation.

Is anybody able to think objectively about normal human experience and sensations? What is normal? Is there a chance that all this stress is the normal and derangement really is just normal human specialization? Is there truth behind the interpretation of PhD as permanently head damaged? (Different school on another beaten path) Are we more susptible to mental influence if we are not stressed? Are we more prone to errors if we are not stressed? Are we less fulfilled if we are less stressed? Do our brains become less efficient at present task if we are not stressed? Or are the opposites true? is it inhuman to want to veg-out on the sofa, kid in tow, watching some cartoon, everyday? I feel like I must have grown up on the wrong side of the moon to need 10 hours of that after work everyday.

How can I tell? How do I know if this is real or another stress enduced hallucination or some kind of mental break down from my inability to accept this reality? How can I be sure what I perceive as coordinated systematic attack on a population of employees is actually that and not an artifact of my observation or just conventional human society operating norms?

How do I know if this isn’t a simulation made by a super AI that was created because we humans stressed the system too much?

Do you know?

Are you sure?

Can you tell me how I can be sure?

If I’m not an engineer any more, the AI probably ate me brains alive! All you can see is an organic exoskeleton a computer acquired some time second decade of 21st century… or rather TS > 1262348789000000000000000

The Bias-Variance Decomposition of Human Inequality

Suppose we have two groups of people experiencing different treatment–there is inequality of benefit between the two groups. We can write the difference between their benefits as:


Usually though, we can inspect the size of inequality using quadratic difference, or the quadratic inequality:


Take the expected value:


And rearrange to produce:


This formula can be read off easily. The quadratic inequality between group having a experience and group having b experience is composed of


the mean difference in benefit, i.e. the mean-induced inequality between the two groups is a primal component of inequality,


which is the internal inconsistency of group a and group b also increases the inequality, but it could be removed by


which says if treatment a and b we’re correlated, then that reduces the variance-induced inequality.

To think through an example: suppose I benefit boys by giving or takimg money from each by drawing a random number from \mathcal{N}(2,1). The benefit I give to girls is to drawn from a separate \mathcal{N}(1,100). Clearly boys on average receive $1 more than girls. But also there is an interesting difference in experience. Boys will more consistently receive money around $2, where as the the girls would have money taken or given to them with much more variability approaching $1 only when averaging a large number of experiences. It’s hard to say what the psychological effect of the larger variance is. For example is it unfair for boys or for girls if girls are drawn from \mathcal{N}(2,100)? In this analysis we can clearly detect that there is inequality between the two groups and that the inequality is induced by variance of the benefit to girls.

There is an intersting side note from this branch of social science that in such a circumstance, the number of boys we must sample to ascertain a highly likely interval of his mean reward is lower than the number of girls we must see in order to ascertain the same likely interval of her mean reward. So if the treatment of minority has high enough variability, then it becomes harder to be certain that there is mean-induced inequality. This decomposition enables us to identify such situations.

This is bit of Machine Learning math is really neat! We can now measure inequality in all aspects of life and understand, beyond an average, what is causing inequality and uncertainty.

Where do you live?

It’s march of 2017. Two weeks ago, America has placed an anti-missile facility on a lot in South Korea. If this posts publishes automatically, it’ll either be because we who live in California parishes from a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile.  Or it may be because I stopped minding my blog.

In either case the situation seems tense. As a resident of California, as a caring human being, I hope this is all for show and no serious escalation occurred. We are the most populus and close point to China. Well with exception of Detroit. But any missile headed east across South Korea has to be headed our way. I hope they are not launched and exploded here.
Let’s hope we survive this one… 🤞

Software Engineers Should Standardize and Unionize (Rated R)

Prostitutes have organized against unfair treatment by society, according to several news sources 1, 2, 3, that police may be disallowed to have sexual relationship with a prostitute in order to arrest the prostitute in hawaii.

The example given in the article says that a police received a blow job from a prostitute (anything other than penetration), and then promptly arrests her for prostitution. Some how the prostitutes felt that this, among other treatments, were demeaning and wrong, and they organized and changed the law.

Software engineers should unionize and make this otherwise proud and difficult professional a respected one, one at least as respected as prostitution.

In one scenario, the manager performs his managerial duties of keeping a project slow or delayed by strategically introducing incorrect information or even outright lies or even blatantly changing documentation or code during some phases of the project and later altering it again to create incorrectness in some part of the software design or coding.

In another situation, the natural abilities of teammates are kept at bay by various nefarious means so that the “right” person, typically an ardent supporter of the manager who is either lacking the knowledge or experience or who just has flexible professionalism and are willing to put in whatever suites management irrespective of actual technical viability. (Sure they are all viable choices and we can write in X86 assembly too, just as long has his gang member knows it well enough)

There is a sorely missing industry standard for software engineering. There is nothing that stands for good (enough) software. The government cannot even put a “Engineer” stamp on software engineering as it can put on structural or civil engineers. Any foreign third grader could come to the US, slap a Mooc in his resume, and become a senior software engineer with rousing praise from others of similar situation a few years earlier… (same applies to domestic self-starters, but please DO NOT come to my home and put dog shit on my lawn, this is an attempt at a civil discussion of my concerns)

Look, guys, look at the Hawaiian prostitutes! They can see something when it is wrong. They stood up against a part of society that is wrong: those who take advantage of prostitutes by enjoying their service–including police man while trying to arrest them. (Of course the accusation is beyond that. Law enforcement actually are accused of soliciting bribery in the form of sexual service for favorable treatment) This blog does not comment on morality of individual state or nation states law enforcement practices. Instead it states a tautological fact: the law strongly discourages the sale and purchase of sexual service. And that should include law enforcement officers. It is an enforcement of something that society has agreed is not right.

Now, can we agree on things that are not right in software engineering?

I don’t imagine that your typical software engineering project my team does to be more complicated than building sky scrapers(think! What would/can president Trump do??):

  • market analysis and requirements
  • product requirement and specifications
  • product design
  • financing, resourcing labor and materials
  • designing and deploying project management
  • project implementation
  • quality assurance
  • completion
  • launch
  • maintenance
  • transfer of ownership
  • remodeling
  • demolition

Think of it! Buildings fall down at far lower rate than you getting sad whale at twitter, or even the once in a while sad robot from Google, when did you ever see a sad leaning Empire State Building?

Think of your salaries and stock options. Think about the quality of service You perform for your fellow man.

Think of the last SEV you caused.

Now think of that builder putting together that building, and the SEV of his work. (Or also, think of those high speed rails in China or Japan, or think of an airbus jumbo jet… there’s a lot of really awesome engineering around the world)

Now think of the government inspectors, zoning, city planning, the federal regulations, the building codes…

Now think of president trump who made some buildings all work.

Now think of the prostitute who demand social justice after being caught sucking a police officers dick. She wasn’t allowed the dignity of washing her hands until she was booked under camera! Think of the dehumanizing experience.

Now think of the last less-than-stellar line of code that you had to write with your hands under duress under recording and review by your company’s overseers, other than that last SEV.

I don’t know why these things mutually activate in my head. But let’s do a association test, do you really feel closer to one of those other engineers than the prostitute? What’s your MTTF?

But all of it could be “solved” if software engineers just had a little pride in their industry and take a stand against “what ever suites the business, the product manager, the engineering manager” or “agile means don’t think, just build, software things naturally and surely will break”

STOP THAT. It doesn’t have to be this way!

We can build something right–risking their exorbitant salaries and stock options of course. Once software engineers standardizes practice and unionize, we would kiss those big pay checks and ISO’s and RSU’s goodbye.

But we can get a button that says “you are a software engineer”

I know I know, a honest to goodness software engineer wouldn’t need a button to know that… and plus look at all the raving reviews on LinkedIn! Isn’t that button enough for you? (No, not really)

(It does not escape me that once we build a reliable car, the demand for or next model would be lower, so let’s build a car that have parts taking turn breaking right after warranted expire and still take on the lost revenue on maintenance…. darn I guess there are other kinds of engineers out there too…)

But we can do better.

There is a lack of objective software building standards. There is a lack of responsibility towards software engineering, instead there is presently only responsiveness for business or politics. There is no pride in this line of work outside of the number next to that $ (or your CTR, or your QPS, or your LOC… take your pick of business metrics)


Let us take a stand and be a better engineering discipline!

In a world… where there are nebulous words!

It occurs to me to write these down on a special occasion… Initially I was considering an optimization problem in a situation where localized optimization is essentially playing a zero sum game with an opponent who is much more powerful.

In this situation, even though we have big data, and even though we have deep learning, it still remains that there is bigger data and yet more sophistication else where. One of the challenges of the nascent big data and deep learning enabled AI industry is one of problem selection.

There are people who are trying to cure cancer and save lives. And there are people trying to trade stocks, win political campaigns, or engage in armed conflict (not that these are the same things) Their continued admonishments against AI are the people who fear the latter. I would imagine there may be very few who would oppose the prior.

That! That is the underlying restriction to the technology: what it can do for prior cause is practically restricted by what it does for the latter. The same applies to all tehnolgies of course. We’ve had internet, social media, a typical Californian would probably take a few minutes to recognize therebeing anything exceeding unusual about the potential downside of yet another meme…

Also, consider aliens, of the interstellar variety, one should always be mindful of our real  competition. There is likely a far greater intelligence out there. Let us not doubt, and let us certainly not delay the development of our own Big Intelligence as matter in due course of our kind’s progress.

Whence be Villainy (retro)

This blog post is being scheduled for far far in the future of actual events that inspired it. All statements are fictional:

At fraud convention, a pair of specialist come on stage and talks about a phishing scam being perpetrated by a desperate Greek. He tricks a stereo typical American broad into committing mail fraud for him and while he’s at it he gets her to buy some stuff for her on credit cards that unbeknownst to her were stolen. But in out experts hands, the bad Greek actor was captured by Interpol and stolen goods were recovered. The broad was slapped around until she smarts.

A few speakers later, another ring was disclosed. This time Asian crime ring. Huge syndicate got us in the back with a Chinese cleaver. We never saw it coming. Thankfully we have gathered the pattern of attack for future preventative care! Another heroic win, sort of.

Do you hear any problems with this? Maybe not if you are an American. We are used to being gouged or stolen from by those poorer, lesser developed, lesser democratic, not-chosen, further-from-God, faceless, moraless creature swarms. What’s next? We’re ready for Algerian prince, Latin American drug lords, or the polean Penguin?

Quickly commissioner, to the bat signal!

From whence shall our next major villain emerge? Where ever it is, it matters little as we will be ever vigilant and perpetually watching from our cave deeply buried under all that worldly wealth.

You better watch it! Evil doers and evil doer’s henchmen! Because we are watching you!