Robots, Net Neutrality ; RIP Armand de Borchgrave; Progress in Reorganizing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


The big buzz is about Net Neutrality. We are going to get it, and we’ll get it good and hard.

Progress today.  Saw my regular physician and he is happy with my progress.  Later Eric came over and we moved the Surface Docking Station downstairs. We also brought down a wireless router, and I now have secure and seamless Wi-Fi all over downstairs.

Now I can experiment with Cortana. I definitely have reliable fast Internet connections.



Taki’s obituary of Arnaud de Borchgrave.


Roland Dobbins

I only met de Borchgrave once, in Moscow in 1989. He was impressive, and very respected. We had lunch once, and I have never forgotten it. RIP  Taki knew him well.  There is also a good piece from a former subordinate in the current Weekly Standard.


Update on robots and jobs

Oh, something else that hardly anyone seems to talk about. Moore’s law certainly does seem to keep reducing the price of computer power – but that law does not seem to apply to industrial machinery, which remains very expensive and is not getting significantly cheaper, I think. Honda may drop 50 million on a set of precision welding robots for an assembly line – but will a farmer do the same to pick strawberries on a 40 acre farm? So phone-based customer service may be at risk – but janitor? Carpenter? Plumber? Perhaps not so much.
It’s like that old saying, that the human body is a remarkably sophisticated device that can be easily constructed using only unskilled labor and tools and materials that you probably have lying around your house…


When I was growing up it was a given that no one would ever be able to invent a machine to pick cotton. You could harvest wheat, and even beans, but cotton picking took human labor and lots of it. It was one reason for share-cropping. Schools let out for Cotton Picking. Day workers left other jobs for the week or two needed to bring in the cotton crop.

Just as crucial was cotton chopping. That was in Spring and schools let out for Cotton Chopping for a week or so. It took even more skill. When cotton seeds – carefully preserved by the cotton gin which separated seeds from staple – were planted, generally you planted three to a hill. One or more sprouted. So did weeds. Chopping consisted of selecting the strongest cotton sprout and with a hoe carefully eliminating everything else on that hill. Cotton planting hills are about 24 inches apart. You used the hoe to break up the clods around the one cotton plant that you allow to survive. It’s hard work and requires judgment.

After cotton picking machines were developed cotton farming still required massive amounts of human labor in Spring for cotton chopping.

Now cotton farming is automated. Planters plant at precise intervals. Cotton chopping devices thin the hills and cutout weeds. Mechanical pickers pick the crop. This change pretty well eliminated share cropping. When I was growing up we plowed and planted using mules to pull the planter, part of that being done by hand; chopping was done by hand; and I earned my first rifle picking cotton. I wasn’t good at it, and I wasn’t skillful enough to chop cotton.

Now it’s all done by robots.

You’d be surprised want robots can do, particularly with a bit of human assistance.

I agree, there jobs that will be a long time resisting algorithms; but it used to be self evident that cotton chopping could never be done by machine.


Verizon had a clever response to today’s big net neutrality vote

The government just gave a big win to net neutrality advocates by voting to regulate broadband internet, also banning companies from paying for faster service that could prioritize their content.

Many of the big players, however, aren’t happy about it.

Verizon released the statement below, which calls the FCC’s decision “badly antiquated regulations.” To drive the point home, the company’s PR team published the statement in Morse code.

clip_image002Verizon Wireless

The translated version also appears in a typeface that looks like it came from a typewriter.

Whether you agree with the decision or not, it’s a pretty clever move.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

An interesting response. Buzzfeed had this to say:

Net neutrality won. The internet is ours! We’ve taken it! Stolen it back from the people who, well, provide it to us at a pretty reasonable rate, truth be told. The entire library of human everything delivered right to your doorstep for a mere $20 to $50 or so a month, depending on how fast it is that you want that everything. Now that the FCC has voted to enshrine net neutrality, there is nothing left standing between you and the great unlimited gush of audio and video bits and packets slip-sliding right into your Sonos at democratically arrived-at speeds, unencumbered by fast or slow lanes. It means that your startup porn comes right to you with the same speed as your well-established, big business, legacy pornography. Let the binge-watching bonanza begin, this is America!

And yet, it still could serve as a political bludgeon. An example of the way President Obama overreaches. Something that divides Democrats and Republicans. In other words: politics as usual.


Bell Labs was for years the default advanced basic research department for the human race. It sort of went away when Judge Green broke up Ma Bell. This ZD article is about what happened next.

Bell Labs unveils its vision of the future, from SDN to teleportation with 3D printing (ZD)

Summary:The Israeli ‘franchise’ of the technology innovator is remaking networks – and where it leads is anyone’s guess, says CEO Danny Raz.

By David Shamah for Tel Aviv Tech | February 26, 2015 — 08:40 GMT (00:40 PST)

Nearly 70 years ago, Bell Labs staff created the transistor, a component that went on to change the world. Now, the company is looking to Bell Labs Israel, the latest ‘franchise’ of the venerable tech organization, for the next big thing.

One of the next technologies to change the world, according to Bell Labs Israel CEO Danny Raz, could be Star Trek-style teleportation. This futuristic transportation would be products rather than people, however; new networking protocols already under development, combined with 3D printing technology advances, could in the near future allow a product ‘beamed’ in one location to be printed out on a high-speed 3D printer on the other side of the world.


Only 40 percent of the global population has ever connected to the internet: report (ZD)

Summary:According the Facebook-led initiative, there are expansive gaps in connectivity throughout developing parts of the world.

By Natalie Gagliordi for Between the Lines | February 25, 2015 — 20:43 GMT (12:43 PST), the Facebook-led initiative to foster global internet connectivity, published a report this week that shines light on the expansive gaps in connectivity around developing parts of the world.

The report on global internet access found that only 40 percent of the world’s population has ever connected to the internet, and that only 37.9 percent of the global population uses the internet at least once a year.

Of course one might think that “only” 40% is a pretty large number.


Why the FCC’s Net Neutrality Vote Matters to Hollywood (Variety)

Ted Johnson

Senior Editor


John Oliver may have used his “Last Week Tonight” perch last June to explain net neutrality to the public, but the impact on showbiz won’t be clear even after the results of the FCC’s landmark Feb. 26 vote on the future of the Internet.

Confusing and involving lots of regulatory jargon, net neutrality has nevertheless drawn more than 4 million comments to the FCC, setting a new record. Actors including Mark Ruffalo and Evangeline Lilly and singers including Michael Stipe have weighed in. Chris Keyser, president of the Writers Guild of America West, called net neutrality “the issue of our time for the creative community.”

Those in favor of robust rules of the road have a myriad of concerns, but they share a common fear: that left unchecked, the Internet will morph into something resembling cable TV, including its expensive bundling structure. That’s why net neutrality advocates have sought rules that would prevent Internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or selling faster access to subscribers.

While the goal of net neutrality may be the status quo — to keep the Internet the way it is — the FCC’s proposed tough regulatory approach could impact Hollywood in two key areas: the pathways consumers take to receive programming, and the price they pay for it.

There is considerably more, but the only agreement is that there will be lawsuits and members of the plaintiff bar will get richer. So will lawyers contracted by government to defend.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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