In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission in 2002 reclassified high-speed Internet access as an information service, which is unregulated, rather than as telecommunications, which is regulated. Its hope was that Internet providers would compete with one another to provide the best networks. That didn’t happen. The result has been that they have mostly stayed out of one another’s markets.
Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability. Also has one of my favorite animated GIFs I’ve seen in a Times story.
I like to use the analogy of building bridges. If I have no principles, and I build thousands of bridges without any actual science, lots of them will fall down, and great disasters will occur.
Similarly here, if people use data and inferences they can make with the data without any concern about error bars, about heterogeneity, about noisy data, about the sampling pattern, about all the kinds of things that you have to be serious about if you’re an engineer and a statistician—then you will make lots of predictions, and there’s a good chance that you will occasionally solve some real interesting problems. But you will occasionally have some disastrously bad decisions. And you won’t know the difference a priori. You will just produce these outputs and hope for the best.
Today I learned there’s another Michael Jordan that is as awesome in machine learning as #23 is at basketball. IEEE’s article Machine-Learning Maestro Michael Jordan on the Delusions of Big Data and Other Huge Engineering Efforts is worth a read and a re-read.
It’s also worth noting that Professor Jordan did an AMA on Reddit, and actually disagreed with the title and characterization of the IEEE interview and wrote a follow-up and response on a WordPress-powered blog.
I’m as likely to give Twitter a hard time as anyone, but today I want to tell you about something great they did: Twitter open sourced their emoji set for anyone to use. We’ve been working with them behind the scenes on this and launched the emoji for WP.com as well. Support will be coming to Jetpack soon.
OnBeep, an Audrey company, has introduced their first product, the Onyx. It’s a lot like the communicator from Star Trek. (Don’t wear it with a red shirt.) Business Insider covers the news pretty well.
Mother Jones covers the results in Texas of the election in a harsh but fair way: Wendy Davis Spent $36 Million and All She Got Was This Lousy Landslide. Now What?. I think Texas will be the focal point of American politics in years to come, but this was not the year it started.