While we all know about the US government’s big investments in agriculture research, their role as a big data and analytics provider is less well appreciated. Seeing the phrase ‘big data and analytics’ we think of machine learning, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and other popu;ar 21st century concepts, but the US government has been providing important data and analytics to researchers, farmers and their advisors, and ag tech companies for over a century.
Jump forward a bunch of years. Cities continue to get bigger and even more people need to get around. Uber/Lyft-like services have evolved and are more efficient and better than ever. Full autonomy has also been realized - there are no human drivers in the city. Autonomous vehicles of all sizes are dashing around and providing awesome, cost-effective, on-demand transportation throughout the city. Question: who owns all of these autonomous vehicles?
We saw the 2017 eclipse in Oregon. Here’s some quick thoughts, and why I think this one was a singular event. I feel lucky on two accounts: 1) having the opportunity to be somewhere to see it with my family, and 2) having good weather. It would be easy to miss it for either of these reasons. The eclipse was very cool, but totality was a whole different level of cool.
"… a first ballot Hall of Famer on the ice and in life." The quote above was from a mutual friend in reference to Jim Canty, who passed away in late April. If you’re racking your brain for memories of Jim’s professional career (“Wasn’t he on the ‘84 Nordiques?") you can stop now. Jim’s illustrious 22-year career was with Hippy Hockey, the Sunday night skate at the local rink. It would only be partially accurate to characterize Hippy Hockey as a bunch of old guys reliving their glory days on the ice – many of us never had glory days to relive.
Just over a week ago Ken Traub, my friend and colleague, suddenly passed away. Lots of people have shared their memories of Ken, and have captured what a wonderful person he was, his intellect, and his breadth of interests and skills. To say that Ken was exceptional was an understatement, but I wanted to highlight three specific aspects of Ken that stand out for me. The first was Ken’s ability to organize complex very systems.
Following up on the post from my good friend Snowman on Fire, I wanted to add a few notes. Like Snowman I have been a customer of United and Continental for decades, with over 2M miles. Long ago I came to a healthy point in my relationship with them - I understand when I take them I’m risking random crap like this happening, so except for extreme cases, I don’t let it bother me.
Two recent Techcrunch articles highlight some of the challenges we’re in for with the increased use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), to the extent these are separate. In [AI’s open source model is closed, inadequate, and outdated], Kumar Srivastana argues that we need a new kind of transparency (I’m avoiding his use of “open source” - more on that below) because of the complexity and unpredictability of these systems.
I have always maintained that every action justified by sustainability has side effects, and that it becomes a values-based judgement as to whether the value of the sustainability improvement outweighs negative impacts of the side effects. Being a values-based judgement means that not everyone will view the cost-benefit tradeoff the same way. Further complicating matters is the fact that the tradeoffs are apples versus oranges, as in the case of compact florescent light bulbs, that have much better energy efficiency than our historical incandescent bulbs, but also have embedded mercury that poses other threats if not handled appropriately.
All of the recent discussion of news, be it fake, unfair, slanted, etc, has gotten me thinking about the mechanics of news. I’ll define news as things or events that, as far as anyone can tell, happened or didn’t happen, and _reported news_as how news is communicated, including websites, papers, newscasts on TV, radio, podcasts, blogs, tweets, etc. So any description of something that happened or didn’t happen, then I’m calling it reported news.
In Boston, two warring factions have been partnered in an unlikely, decades-long truce, their aggressive tendencies controlled by an unspoken, yet universally understood set of rules of engagement. That truce may soon be shattered. Boston pedestrians will brazenly cross busy streets in the middle of a block, but deep down they understand that getting hit by a car could really suck. Boston drivers are aggressive, using intimidation to navigate rotaries and keep pedestrians in line.