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    It is “compiler”. Not “transpiler”. “Transpiler” isn’t even a word.

    (I know that the original article uses this term (even incorrectly, in fact), but I wanted to use this opportunity to raise my weak little voice here in an admittedly hopeless and futile attempt to rescue the integrity of our professions’ terminology …)

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      Unintentionally hilarious (“People appreciate when you fire the right people, so don’t worry about morale. Also, the average quality of people tends to grow more when dismissing than when recruiting.”), but mostly bullshit…

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        I don’t follow you here.

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        Excellent article. I am always amazed how people get the idea that “solving” purely combinatorial or pattern-matching problems is equivalent to general intelligence, something that we are not even able to define…

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          A few years ago our project tried to apply for membership in the Conservancy, and we were in contact with Mr Kuhn. After being repeatedly put off with excuses of the “too busy” type over a considerable period of time, we just gave up. So I can relate to parts of the complaint of the SFLC…

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            I mean… it’s not an excuse. Bradley does more in a day than I can imagine, and there’s always more to do.

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            Just because you don’t understand why something is evidently valuable doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

            You think cryptocurrencies are a waste of time? Great, lots of people apparently have a better idea for how to use them than you do. Unless you can demonstrate that you actually have a more complete picture than those people by refuting their ideas, you are probably just missing the point.

            People often say this sort of stuff about finance as well. People don’t understand how markets or financial abstractions work, so they accuse financial work of being pointless/usurious/whatever. This has been going on forever. (It’s actually one of the reasons Jews kept getting kicked around in medieval Europe; they weren’t religiously forbidden from charging interest, so they dominated the lending business. When you don’t understand time preference or leverage, you might get mad and call this “usury”. They wouldn’t do “useful” physical labor like good god-fearing coders^H^H^H^H^H^H Christians.)

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              Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as they provide a basis to justify a cryptographically secure distributed ledger. If you didn’t have a market economy that tried to reward people for competitive labor, you could probably have a far better cryptocurrency system.

              so they accuse financial work of being pointless/usurious/whatever

              Because it’s pretty much dedicated to migrating capital from one place to another. If you view capital itself as a usurious and abusive system, then finance migrates from “necessary evil” to “just plain evil”.

              And let’s be frank- the objections to usury made sense with the economic models of the time. If you deny the ability of labor to create value, every transaction becomes zero sum, at best, and prior to the industrial age, labor was not viewed in economic philosophy as a productive force. It’s only when you view labor as a productive force that you can create a positive sum economy, and that was the fundamental observation of the socialists. They turned wage-labor from a sunk-cost in the capitalist model into a positive-sum.

              The problem with capitalism is that, while it admits that labor creates value, it continues to subordinate labor to capital- labor exists to multiply capital. Capital, on the other hand, seems to exist in the absence of labor. The owner of the gold mine reaps the profits, while the miners get the smallest wage the owner can get away with.

              While the zero-sum mercantilist models of the pre-industrial era are fundamentally flawed, it’s difficult to claim that the market economies of the capitalists are any less blind in their approaches. That’s not to say the 19th century socialists hold any stronger weight in the modern world than the morally bankrupt capitalists, but the capitalist rejection of socialist philosophy in favor of their own hegemony definitely shows that the socialists posed a meaningful threat to capitalism that only ill-reasoned moralistic objections and appeals to tradition could be employed against.

              But I may be biased in favor of fully automated luxury communism.

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                Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as…

                You don’t get to decide or determine how much value something has. That’s not even a well-defined proposition; everything has exactly as much subjective value as is dictated by individuals’ utility functions and exactly as much market value as emerges from the interactions of market participants.

                If you didn’t have a market economy that tried to reward people for competitive labor, you could probably have a far better cryptocurrency system.

                Not sure what you’re trying to say here.

                If you view capital itself as a usurious and abusive system

                I can’t imagine someone with this view to be literate in economics or utility theory.

                And let’s be frank- the objections to usury made sense with the economic models of the time.

                In what way?

                If you deny the ability of labor to create value

                This would be as silly as denying that abstract financial jobs can create value.

                It’s only when you view labor as a productive force that you can create a positive sum economy, and that was the fundamental observation of the socialists.

                Unless you’re referring to Mazdak or something, modern socialism didn’t emerge until the French Revolution, and economists and utility theorists had already worked out that production had positive value. This was one of the major tenets of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which predates modern socialist thought. This is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics and a good explanation of why capitalism is effective. We’ve obviously learned even more since then.

                They turned wage-labor from a sunk-cost in the capitalist model into a positive-sum.

                Again, this is wrong. The very first capitalists like Smith had quite a good understanding of how to reason about the value of production.

                The problem with capitalism is that, while it admits that labor creates value, it continues to subordinate labor to capital- labor exists to multiply capital.

                You might be talking about some fat-cat bogeyman version of capitalism, while I’m just talking about sound analytical economics without regard to what is “subordinate” to whatever else. That word doesn’t even show up in my economic lexicon, so I just want to make clear that I’m not disagreeing with this part because I’m not even sure what you’re referring to.

                While the zero-sum mercantilist models of the pre-industrial era are fundamentally flawed, it’s difficult to claim that the market economies of the capitalists are any less blind in their approaches.

                No it’s not. Markets are remarkably effective and efficient at communicating price information, more than any plausible centrally planned system. This is especially the case if the mob doesn’t prohibit abstract financial instruments out of confusion.

                the morally bankrupt capitalists

                Again, just so we’re on the same page, I’m just addressing this from an optimization standpoint; I’m not going to bother arguing the inherent morals of this or that belief. I like systems that are, for a start, Pareto-optimal. Markets practically get us most of the way there, which can’t be said for, well… most other things.

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                  This was one of the major tenets of Smith’s Wealth of Nations, which predates modern socialist thought. This is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics and a good explanation of why capitalism is effective. We’ve obviously learned even more since then.

                  The ecomonics Smith had in mind are vastly different to what we see now as “modern capitalism”

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                    Please re-read my comment; I never stated that Smith was a capitalist (because, you’re right, that would stretch the modern definition), only that he managed to explain why capitalist markets work. I was in particular referring to the fact that Smith was aware of the positive value of labor (he treated it as any other valuable asset), which the GP erroneously claimed was invented by socialists.

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                      … and I never claimed that you stated Smith was a capitalist. :-) As you correctly stated,

                      Smith’s Wealth of Nations […] is, of course, one of the historical founding texts of modern market economics”

                      I think the connection between Smith’s economics and “modern market economics” is frightfully stretched, considering how representatives of these economics love to drop his name, yet apparently totally ignore that he was a moral philosopher.

                      Whether “capitalist markets work” or “capitalism is effective” is open to debate, and just claiming such a thing doesn’t make it true per se. “Effectiveness” of an institution or concept that deeply influences society is not independent of morality. If it does then it becomes inhuman. Whether you like it or not, markets are not just mathematics.

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                      I’m addressing the moral outcome of different policies from a utilitarian standpoint, not the inherent moral quality of the underlying beliefs (a la “morally bankrupt capitalist”). In fact, I actually do have (useful) things to say, because the stuff I’m saying can be falsified (unlike arbitrary moral indictments of people’s motivations).

                      unless you actually manage to argue for how your Pareto-optimal crush helps people

                      Pareto-optimality defines a hull in the parameter space where any belief system that seeks to maximize any global utility function that’s a positive function of individual utilities must live. Unless you’re some kind of sadist or you want certain people to suffer (which, I guess, describes some of the more vengeful forms of communism), Pareto-optimality is an obvious starting condition for a human-friendly world. (You want other stuff as well, but again, it’s a start.)

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                          In the context of this discussion, I’m not interested in opinions on “domination” or the moral character of competition. That’s a bunch of subjective fluff that we could very well disagree on for fundamental reasons.

                          What I hope we both agree is a good idea is the general notion of “the most good for the most people”, regardless of if you want to apply some non-uniform (positive) weight to the “importance” of different people.

                          To be clear, I’m also not a fan of modern capitalism; I’m a fan of real, unrestricted capital markets, not the crony-capitalist red-tape hack-job we have right now.

                          Now, that said, who are these people “wronged” by capitalism? Even though the market is relentlessly crippled by well-to-do but clueless forces, it has still managed to reduce poverty, starvation, illness, and many other (from my perspective) clearly bad aspects of life. If you’re really going to pull the “what about the starving people” card, what about all the people who are starving because they were denied capitalism, like in Venezuela right now or Eastern Europe and China throughout the 20th century? How do you convince them that state control in the interest of “cooperation” or “equality” or whatever excuse you want to use is a good thing?

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                            To be clear, I’m also not a fan of modern capitalism; I’m a fan of real, unrestricted capital markets, not the crony-capitalist red-tape hack-job we have right now.

                            So, I see this discussion come up frequently, and it’s relevant to my interests.

                            The primary advantage (as I see it) of crony capitalism is that it’s less destructive than most dictatorships, and it ensures nobody else can seize power.

                            What I don’t understand but would like to is this: What kind of protections would need to be in place to prevent an unrestricted capital market from degenerating into dictatorship or crony-capitalism.

                            As far as I can tell, a pure anarcho-libertarian free market can degenerate (quickly) into a dictatorship whenever capital ownership becomes concentrated in sufficiently few immoral hands.

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                      Cryptocurrencies have value only insofar as…

                      You don’t get to decide or determine how much value something has. That’s not even a well-defined proposition; everything has exactly as much subjective value as is dictated by individuals’ utility functions and exactly as much market value as emerges from the interactions of market participants.

                      I don’t think you two use the same definition of value.

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                        The author of that post has no idea what he’s talking about. A transaction doesn’t create value according to the dollar amount of the transaction. A transaction creates value (subjectively) corresponding to the difference between subjective value and market price (surplus), and (objectively, according to some arbitrary global utility function) corresponding to the change in well-being of the transaction participants.

                        You’re right though, when most people say “value” they mean “stuff I like” rather than anything you can usefully measure or improve.

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                  I dunno… Take a desk: it can be an elaborate piece of excellent craftmanship, a cheap mass-produced article, a piece of art or just a slapped-together provisorical thing to serve a purpose.

                  Some questions have no definite answer, it all depends.

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                    It’s interesting to ponder why Google would invite someone with a completely opposite worldview. Not just different, but a perspective that openly calls for the end of all the Googles out there. I have to watch it.

                    Edit: Gold nugget in the last final seconds:

                    Interviewer: Do you have anything you’d like to ask us [Googlers, marketers, software engineers]?

                    Chomsky: Why not do some of the serious things?

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                      Remember that Google might not equal the Googler or team of them that invited this person. This is a huge company with a lot of different kinds of people. I imagine they bring in many different kinds of people to suite different tastes. It’s also not going to be threatened by someone disagreeing with it given the audience can just shout the person out the door and not invite them again. One or more inviting him probably liked some stuff he said in a movie or presentation. Then, they thought some people might enjoy hearing him speak. The end.

                      That’s my default assumption anyway.

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                        I agree. In fact it would’ve been more notorious not accepting the proposal of his talk.

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                          Working at Google (but having no idea of the background of this talk) I would very much expect it to have happened like that.

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                          It’s interesting to ponder why Google would invite someone with a completely opposite worldview. Not just different, but a perspective that openly calls for the end of all the Googles out there. I have to watch it.

                          That’s a good way to signal you’re secure in your worldview: freely invite people to challenge it.

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                            While I agree with you in the general case, I think Google is doing this to placate it’s employees. What better way to dispel animosity than to accept the other side as one of your own?

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                              (kind of tangential, but…) I’ve always found it fascinating how social movements often collapse when legitimized.

                              It’s like when a manager gives lip service to the concerns of an unhappy employee, making them feel like it’s all going to be better soon, but effort is not spent to actually change a situation.

                              When you walk around Google campuses, there is often material on the walls in common areas that talks about various social causes that Google is working to improve. It feels great to think that your organization is part of the solution.

                              The gap between superficial and structural control structures is interesting to pay attention to when seeking changes to a system. You can really dispel the risk of an insurrection by letting a Black Panther get elected, bringing in an external investigator to fix your sexual harassment problems, hosting a Noam Chomsky talk, etc… without risking any structural change.

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                              I think know what you’re trying to say, but if your opinion is “Google should stop existing” and then Google invites you to give a talk, what’s the point here? They’re not going to be persuaded into oblivion, so… why? As a pretense of open-mindedness? Or maybe it wants to be associated with the intellectual prestige of Chomsky? What’s the real reason, I wonder.

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                                An institution like Google might not even consider it to be at odds with a progressive, anti-capitalist view like Chomsky’s - it’s a different sphere with a different perception of reality. “Don’t be evil” is not just a empty phrase, these people really believe it. Moreover, the questions given by the interviewer where purely instrumentalist in nature: science is a tool for them, a means to an end. It’s an attempt to learn from an famous scientist, without considering the moral issues which are much more important to someone like Chomsky.

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                                  “Don’t be evil” is not just a empty phrase

                                  They dropped that a while back if you’re talking Google. The company has been practicing plenty of evil in surveillance sense, too. Hell, just the revenues versus spending on quick, security patches for Android by itself shows how evil they’ll be to their users to squeeze extra profit out. ;)

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                                    I totally agree. What I meant was that the people behind the institution called Google most certainly have a different perception of evil.

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                              A friend’s workplace had protestors picket outside its door. The boss brought out coffee and donuts, warmly thanked them all for coming, and went back in. Within a half-hour, fed on the company’s dime and with no target for anger, they wandered off.

                              The Google employees watched a rousing argument from a famous voice. Really what they watched is their employer act totally unworried while a thousand other employees sat still. Next comes lunch or that mid-afternoon status meeting with the team in Australia. There’s no social movement started here. If Chomsky is lucky he planted a seed, but it’s pretty easy to forget someone ineffective telling you that you’re wasting your life and should do something uncomfortable.

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                              I also use Dia for manual graphs. For automated graph-creation http://graphviz.org may be what you need, but I found tweaking the final output not easy.

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                                I think it is questionable to compare an environment that is optimized for keyboard use (emacs, vi) with an environment that mostly serves to provide a particular metaphor (desktop/folder/trashcan) and which is not optimized for efficient usage but for some idea of being simple to use for non-programmers. I have no doubt that an experienced acme user with a well configured working environment will be just as efficient as an emacs god, and probably with less cognitive work, even though the latter point is probably impossible to prove.