As is tradition!
Because some Americans thought it was okay to elect a p**y grabber.
And then millions of women decided to say no.
And then hundreds of people decided to tell advertisers that advertising on Breitbart wasn’t okay.
And then an NPS ranger decided to say no when Trump told her to shut up.
And then when Bannon told the press to shut-up, the press said no.
And when Miller told us that our brothers couldn’t come from abroad, the ACLU and hundreds showed up to say no.
And when Paul Ryan wanted to give me a tax cut, a cut I didn’t want, thousands reached out to their representatives and said no.
And so when Bill O’Reilly got exposed as the ass-hat that he apparently is, we were all very used to saying say no.
Or perhaps, in terms, Mr. O’Reilly understands, if we liberals are a bunch of snowflakes, enjoy the winter.
The Trump White House would really like for all of us immigrants to go home. His chief advisor thinks we have too many Asians as CEO’s in Silicon Valley.
And so the question is how?
For those who are US citizens, the obvious approach is to create an impossible set of choices. Suppose you have an elderly parent in Yemen. And now the US government won’t let you bring her into the USA. As a family person you have two choices, abandon her in Yemen or leave.
If you leave, you take your family and your community with you.
For those who are not US citizens, you don’t let them come in as students. That ensures that we don’t have those pesky students who stick around and create value for all of America, thus again reducing the number of annoying (Muslim) people – also called Vermin …
For those who are Green Card holders, you make it clear that any point time their Green Card status can be revoked. But wait you say, it’s only a temporary travel ban. Except a temporary travel ban that lasts 6+ months can result in you losing your Green Card. And if you have a mortgage, and can’t work for six months, then you can’t pay the mortgage so again you are forced to abandon your community and family or never travel. And then you see the problem about your family and you start to make alternative plans about your plans in this country.
The goal of the executive order is to force people to choose between family and America. To terrorize them into abandoning America.
In the Balkans, we just send killers to rape women and massacre children. I suppose it’s says something about the USA that we dress our ethnic cleansing in fine legalese about protecting America.
Why am I writing this today? Because an old friend shared a story of a crime. In 1941, his great grandfather was granted a visa to the USA. Unfortunately the USA joined the war, the next day, and there was no way to go the USA. He was a Jew. He was murdered in Auschwitz 12 months later. We know this because of great grandfather’s diary. I am alive because another bureaucrat in Athens made another decision. When I see what the Trump administration is doing with Muslim refugees, I can not remain silent. And will not. I do not apologize to those who are offended or wish I wrote about tech.
I grew up in Canada. I happened to go a great progressive school in Montreal called St. Georges. In that great progressive school, there was a book about the Holocaust. In 1979 or was it 1980, at the age of 7 or 8, I learned what the Holocaust was.
Later on in life, I found out about the horrors Nazi Germany practiced on my people in Greece. I am alive because my grandparents were villagers, and my great grandmother is Italian, and during the great famine of Athens, some Italian bureaucrat decided her life was worth saving.
And even later in my teens, I learned about Kalavryta.
And still, later I learned of the ten day Nazi occupation of Santorini, and how in those ten days, the Nazi’s managed to hang several young men.
And I later on in life learned about the resentment that some Greeks had towards the Jews appropriating the entirety of the Nazi evil. And I also learned that a lot of Greeks were anti-semitic. And I had the misery of sitting a dinner table once, where a bunch of respected Greeks was discussing how Hitler wasn’t all that bad. And I had a classmate in Greece make a series of Holocaust jokes (jokes about one person dying are not funny. never was. still isn’t.)
And then I learned from a Jewish friend in Greece, why there are so few Jews in Greece. And I found out that this man had stayed in a friend’s house in Northern Greece where he had presided over resettlement … you know the mass extermination of the Jews.
And I could forgive those Greeks, because well it’s easy to hate something you don’t know.
The Holocaust was not just another garden variety massacre. The world had many of those.
The holocaust was a systematic attempt to kill Jews. Others were caught in the vortex. However, this is the only important fact, Jewish babies were consigned to die because their grandparents were Jewish. And the world just watched. Babies, that happened to be born, were killed with no appeal to any humanity because they were deemed non-human.
And yet this was only part of the horror.
The actual horror of the Holocaust I learned later.
What most people don’t get, is that Germany, in spite of the mess known as the first world war, was viewed as the most civilized place on Earth before Hitler. The German working class, the German intellectual, were admired. The German military was respected. Being a Philo-German, was a matter of pride for many of my great-grand father’s generation.
Germany was the place a Jew could assimilate. Germany was safe from the insanity of a barbaric world.
And so to discover, that the most civilized, the best part of Western Civilization could decide to kill Jews because they were Jews, and deploy the full arsenal of the state to kill them was horrifying.
It was like discovering that your dad was a serial killer. Your mother butchered her family. The idea that the Germans would do this was inconceivable.
Now, that the Germans have spent 70+ years atoning for the evil of their grandparents, it’s easy to forget that they were once not viewed as evil.
And I later learned in my life, that the neo-Nazi movement did a lot to fight the holocaust. First, they tried to deny it’s existence, and then they tried to normalize the event. And you normalize the Holocaust by making it just another historical crime no different than any other.
And because I know you’re not a neo-Nazi Mr. Preibus, I’ll assume your support of the Trump announcement comes from that well of resentment I, as a Greek, know too well.
And so, Mr. Preibus, I, a Gentile, a Greek who is alive because of an Italian, remember the holocaust because the most civilized people on earth decided to exterminate other women, and children and babies and old men and old women, because they were alive and had the wrong grandparents. This underlying evil in our souls, this willingness to do such evil acts, can not and must not be forgotten.
Just to name a few notable Iranian-Americans who are REALLY MAKING AMERICA GREAT!
#dontbeignorant #geteducated #lettheworldknow #iraniansarenotterrorist #nobannowall #sickofpolitics #peaceandlove
• Salar Kamangar, CEO of YouTube, VP of Google’s web applications
• Pierre Omidyar, Founder of e-Bay
• Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO of Expedia, Inc.
• Sean Rad, Founder & CEO of Tinder
• Farzad Nazem, CTO of Yahoo!
• Ali Rowghani, COO of Twitter
• Ali Partovi & Mehdi Partovi, Founders of Code.org
• Omid Kordestani, Senior Vice President of Google
• Hamid Akhavan, CEO of Siemens Enterprise Communications
• Arash Ferdowsi, Co-Founder & CTO of Dropbox
• Goldy Kamali, Founder & CEO of FedScoop
• Dr Firouz Naderi, NASA director of Mars project
• Lotfi A. Zadeh, mathematician at the University of California, Berkeley and Father of Fuzzy Logic
• Gholam A. Peyman, Inventor of LASIK eye surgery
• Anousheh Ansari, the world’s first female space tourist, co-founder and chairman of Prodea Systems, Inc., co-founder and former CEO of Telecom Technologies, Inc. (TTI)
• Mark Zandi, economist and co-founder of Economy.com.
• Christiane Amanpour, anchor of ABC Sunday morning political affairs program, former CNN chief international correspondent
• Shahram Dabiri, video game producer, lead producer of World of Warcraft
• Davar Ardalan, NPR producer of Tell Me More
• Azita Raji, United States Ambassador to Sweden
• Leila Vaziri, The current world record holder of the 50 m women’s backstroke
• Andre Agassi, professional Tennis player
• Cyrus Habib, 16th Lieutenant Governor of Washington, first and so far only Iranian-American elected to state office
• Sina Tamaddon, Senior Vice President of Applications for Apple Computer
• Hamid Dabashi, Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York City
• Pardis Sabeti, world-renowned computational geneticist, Associate Professor at Harvard University
• Homayoun Seraji, Senior Research Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
• Nouriel Roubini, one of the leading economists of our age, professor of economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University and chairman of RGE Monitor
• Ghavam Shahidi, IBM Fellow, Director of Silicon Technology
• Babak Hassibi, Gordon M. Binder/AMGEN Professor of Electrical Engineering, Caltech
• Payam Heydari, Professor of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Irvine
• Hamid Jafarkhani, leading communication theorist University of California, Irvine
• Ali Khademhosseini, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School,
• Abbas Milani, Director of Iranian Studies Program, Stanford University
• Ray Aghayan, Emmy Award winning costume designer
• Shohreh Aghdashloo Academy Award-nominated film/television actress
• Mayor Jimmy Delshad, Mayor of Beverly Hills, California
• Ross Mirkarimi, Former Member of San Francisco City Council and current San Francisco Sheriff
• Shayan Modarres – Civil Rights Lawyer and Activist, 2014 Democratic primary candidate for the U.S. House from the 10th district of Florida
• Faryar Shirzad, former Deputy National Security Advisor and White House Deputy Assistant for International Economic Affairs to President George W. Bush
• Maz Jobrani, comedian and actor
• Max Amini, comedian and actor
• Antonio Esfandiari OFFICIAL FAN PAGE, champion poker player
Iranian-Americans Reported Among Most Highly Educated in U.S.
Iranian-Americans also contribute substantially to the U.S. economy
When you sit and wonder who these people are, read this list.
Over the last several years, I have two discrete sets of workflows:
- Kostadis, the developer who wants a full Linux experience
- Kostadis, the guy who interacts with product managers, engineering managers and business leaders who require a complete Windows experience.
When IBM used to make the Think Pad, the solution was obvious: use VMware Workstation to create a Linux VM.
However, after IBM sold the ThinkPad to Lenovo, and Lenovo couldn’t retain the same quality, and the improvements of the Mac made the Mac an attractive compromise.
You could use a Mac and use Windows software like Outlook, while simultaneously having a native Unix development experience without dealing with the complexity of virtual machines.
The experience wasn’t Linux, and the quirkiness of Mac OS made things annoying, and yet it was close enough.
At some point in time, pre-Nadella, the crappiness of the Windows software on the Mac made a choice painful. And at some point, the pain was significant enough to cause me to switch back to Windows.
A few months with the best Dell and Lenovo had to offer, and that transition lasted less than a year.
And after the utter underwhelming release of the latest Mac hardware, the opportunity to check out Windows hardware became an option.
And so I looked at what IT had to offer and discovered the Dell Precision 5510. The power of a modern PC coupled with improvements in virtualization software has meant that the overall value proposition of the PC + VMware + Linux to be superior to the Mac + Crappy Microsoft Apps + Not Quite Linux or Mac + VMware w Linux and Vmware with Windows or some flavor of those.
Many moons ago, I read a book about Admiral Pointdexter, and in this book, there was a reference to his Ph.D. in physics. What struck me was that the Ph. D. was a computation. He did the work of a computer.
And then this article popped up:
Dr. Devlin began his career being a computer. And when calculators and the computers and then the cloud emerged, his ability to be a computer was displaced with ever increasingly sophisticated and faster computers.
What to do then:
So what, then, remains in mathematics that people need to master? The answer is the set of skills required to make effective use of those powerful new (procedural) mathematical tools we can access from our smartphone. Whereas it used to be the case that humans had to master the computational skills required to carry out various mathematical procedures (adding and multiplying numbers, inverting matrices, solving polynomial equations, differentiating analytic functions, solving differential equations, etc.), what is required today is a sufficiently deep understanding of all those procedures, and the underlying concepts they are built on, in order to know when, and how, to use those digitally-implemented tools effectively, productively, and safely.
In short, jobs that rely on the ability to execute repetitive tasks without understanding are going away to be replaced with jobs that require adaptability and are non-repetitive.
The downside to these new jobs is that their outcome and payout is less predictable.
The other downside to those new jobs is that they are not the old ones.
And the final downside is that the skills necessary to do the new jobs are different from the old ones.
And the real foundational challenge is that we are preparing our children in our schools for the old world order.
We are like a company caught in a huge disruption. On the one hand, the old business pays but is going away, and the new one is too small.
And the next 20 to 30 years will be gut-wrenching. What the Trump voters experienced, will be experienced across every form of human endeavor. If your job is to fit into a machine, the machine will replace you. If your job is to figure out what tools to use or how to invent new machines, then there is a place for you.
Teaching kids to find the white space is the only important thing that we should be teaching them.
The past eight years have been great for the Valley. Before 2008, the valley built technology for large corporations that in turn would use the technology to optimize their businesses. Now the valley is creating new businesses that happen to use technology.
In short order, we overturned the TAXI industry, created the first new car company of note, transformed how we interact with each other, radically transformed how content gets created and delivered, transformed food delivery, are disrupting pay-day loans, and the list goes on.
At the heart of the business models is an understanding of how people interacting with intelligent machines can efficiently deliver services that in the past were too costly to provide.
We have gone from being the disruptors to becoming mainstream.
When Mark Pincus used analytics to help create Zynga, the gaming industry puked all over us. Now, every single game company uses some amount of data analytics to optimize their games.
And that got me thinking.
We have created a bland uniformity in our corporate structure. Our companies look the same, have the same kind of people in it, are structured the same and are leveraging the same kind of technology.
Our venture capitalists are pursuing the same sort of risk mitigation strategies. Distributing their bets across as many good deals as they can find. And yet, the underlying technology structure of most of those bets is similar.
The last time this kind of thing happened was in the banking crisis of 2008 when every single banking company was pursuing the same business strategy leveraging the same algorithms to reduce risk and as a result exposing themselves to the same underlying catastrophic risk.
And startups are doubling down on the intelligent machine model. For example, Zappos is trying to fix human interaction. The Zappos solution is to seek to replace the ambiguity of human relationships with the structure of software systems.
One of my favorite thinkers is Nassim Taleb. His books are difficult to read. And yet he makes a profound point. The more you try and avoid risk, the more robust you make a system, the more fragile it becomes because any remaining weaknesses will obliterate everything.
In our case, the valley is trying to de-risk human decision making using intelligent machines.
There is too much sameness, too much of the same kind of operating model.
And when you see this amount of similarity, you know that this entire world will get disrupted somehow.
My belief is that the limits of intelligent machines are poorly understood. And the faith in the power of those tools will lead to massive amounts of correlated failure. The failures will occur simultaneously because of the sameness. And the effect will be a broad-based failure.
The companies that do disrupt the current valley will be those that understand the limits of machine learning and figure out how to use the human brain, not to make the algorithm more efficient, but to enable the human brain to do things it could not.
What that thing is, is unknown and the timing of the disruption is also unknown. The only thing I am certain of is that both will happen.
I am reading a fascinating book these days, titled: Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds of and Motives of the Islamic Terrorists Trying To Destroy America
The author describes his work in using torture, euphemistically called Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (or EIT) to fight the war on terror.
He not only used EIT, but he also invented many of the procedures and protocols.
And in many ways, he was very successful. EIT works.
The distinction between torture and EIT, of course, is perhaps a matter of perspective. James used techniques that were more effective and efficient. And the goal wasn’t pain; the goal was to break down the resistance of the evil terrorist.
Using torture (aka EIT), James was able to break people who otherwise were incredibly stubborn and difficult to break.
What is fascinating is the realization that the two inventors of new efficient torture or Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, felt trapped.
On the one hand, they were the experts and could do a great job that balanced the need to extract information and the need to be brutal and on the other the realization that if they didn’t participate innocent people would die and fewer expert torturers would be used.
Repeatedly in the book they try and explain their moral dilemmas and their personal repulsion to the whole activity and their attempt to figure out where exactly was this line they felt they may be crossing.
Reading the book, made me think of the morality of expert advice. Were these torturers making a moral choice?
Is the defense – well the alternative would have been worse a good one?
As technologists, increasingly we will be asked to do evil things. And is the defense that the alternative is worse, defense?
As a student of the second world war, if Albert Speer had not helped Nazi Germany the war would have ended sooner. If Field Marshall Gerd von Rundstedt had not been as effective a defender of Germany, fewer lives would have been lost.
In short, less evil is still evil.
To quote Gandhi, the only moral response to evil is non-co-operation. Mitigating evil, will not make the evil less evil.
I hope never to have this kind of moral quandary.
What I do know is that as more and more of evil will require engineering, we all have to ask ourselves, is it better to mitigate evil or not to do it?
And I hope, and I pray that we all choose the only moral choice, there is no mitigation of evil, there is only non-cooperation.
I as noodling on how automation was affecting industries. And I was also noodling about cloud in my role at VMware.
And that got me thinking about what is going on with retail because it is the Christmas season.
Amazon is forcibly re-engineering the entire retail supply chain to be digital.
You use a mobile device to find and then buy stuff. If your business doesn’t have a mobile presence, your business is not reaching a staggering number of customers.
The change from brick-and-mortar to digital interaction is so huge that it’s got its own name: Digital Transformation.
Then this got me thinking about, how does this affect society?
The computers sitting in the cloud are doing the job of the retail employee who would help you find stuff, and then ring you up at the register.
This retail season, I spent a lot of time thinking about the macro of the cloud. And I realized that the macro of the cloud is that anyone in the retail industry is moving to a cloud service model because they need a peek burst capacity. During the gift-giving season, retail makes more money and employs more people than at any point in time. And the total number of people they require during the low retail season is significantly less.
And the computing capacity required during the low retail season is significantly lower. And since the fixed cost of peek burst capacity is very high, it makes a lot of sense to spin up capacity on demand in the cloud.
And that got me thinking – what happened before?
And the answer is what we used to call seasonal hiring.
And if I was right then the impact of automation on seasonal hiring should already be visible in hiring patterns.
And lo and behold:
Last year’s job gains were 1.4 percent lower than 2014 figures, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “We continue to move from brick-and-mortar toward click-and-order,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger said in a statement. “But even in the internet era of holiday shopping that means that brick-and-mortar fulfillment facilities need seasonal workers.”