Bob Poekert's Web-Log

Jan 15, 2017

Unpopular Opinions

From this twitter thread, which people seemed to like.

  1. a lot of the way our technology works is because it was developed with department of defense research grants

  2. the "technology industry" (read: internet) was never about technology, it's about developing new markets

  3. Milton Friedman was a lot farther to the left than his popular image would suggest

  4. there's a huge amount of value to be unlocked from getting people to stop buying new products and to buy used instead

  5. telepresence is a psychology problem, not a tech problem. we don't know what a representation of another person has to have to be seamless

  6. nobody's done anything really new with a computer since around 2010

  7. globalization has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and it can pull a billion more out

  8. if there's going to be a "next big thing" in terms of hardware it's going to be Raman spectrometers integrated into phone cameras

  9. the single best thing the government could do for the economy is making it low-risk for low-income people to start businesses

  10. since you can get a consistent investment return higher than inflation wealth will consolidate unless the government intervenes

  11. there's more funding for cancer research than there are good opportunities to spend that funding so spending more money doesn't help much

  12. the current arrangement of american firms designing products and chinese firms making them only has a few years left

  13. the only sector that the "sweatshop" image still applies to is textiles; electronics has been very automated for years

  14. what culture you grew up in, what language you speak, and how much money your parents have matter more for diversity than race or gender

  15. most online ad spending that isn't going to google or facebook is advertisers experimenting with new things and is temporary

  16. sneakernet is seriously underrated

  17. moving lifestyle good consumption from physical to digital goods would be hugely beneficial to the environment

  18. ground robots with locomotion systems that can go up and down stairs make more sense for urban environments than drones

  19. alphago is just a souped up version of td-gammon from 1992

  20. most people don't want immersive media experiences; they want to be able to have IRL conversations at the same time

  21. augmented reality should go back to its airforce roots and try to provide "situational awareness" tools (letting you know what's behind you)

  22. q-learning is a lot more useful for ad targeting than it is for robots or playing video games (which is why google/facebook are funding it)

  23. SQL is great. I love SQL.

  24. nuclear is safer than coal even if you ignore climate change

  25. driving a car is borderline immoral

  26. regulatory capture is a big enough problem that liability is a more effective way of imposing regulation than professional regulators

  27. all of the "machine learning"/"algorithms" that it's sensical to talk about being biased are rebranded actuarial science

  28. despite the fact that on paper the web (as a platform) did everything wrong it's faster to build things in than any other major platform

  29. making robots look/act like humans is silly. if you're making a robot it's because you don't want a person, you want a thing that does a job

  30. capital gains from appreciation on the value of land (not improvements built on land) should be taxed at 100%

  31. inheritance should also be taxed at 100% (though this would be hard to do because people would just put their money in trusts)

  32. compound interest is extremely powerful. debt is someone else's compound interest that you're paying for.

  33. nobody would borrow money on a credit card if they actually understood how much it cost

  34. internet connectivity is probably never going to be cheaper than it is now

  35. there are very few applications where computing power is a constraint, so moore's law doesn't matter much

  36. tech company obsession with "culture" is cultish and creepy

  37. someone needs to rethink textile manufacturing from the ground up so that it's automatable