Friday, December 28, 2012

"Human intuition about what is private is not especially good"

--- privacy researcher Frank McSherry, quoted in a Simons Foundation survey of differential privacy, Privacy by the Numbers: A New Approach to Safeguarding Data by Erica Klarreich, December 10, 2012

Quote in context:
“We’ve learned that human intuition about what is private is not especially good,” said Frank McSherry of Microsoft Research Silicon Valley in Mountain View, Calif. “Computers are getting more and more sophisticated at pulling individual data out of things that a naive person might think are harmless.”
The piece also discusses the exhaustible nature of privacy; a database can only support a finite number of queries before any pre-determined amount of privacy is lost. As McSherry put it, “Privacy is a nonrenewable resource. . . Once it gets consumed, it is gone.”

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"Boundaries are border wars waiting to happen"

--- Deborah Stone, Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making (Third Edition, 2011) p. 184-84

Quote in context, from the last two pages of the book
In a world of continua, [conceptual] boundaries are inherently unstable. Whether they are conceptual, physical, or political, boundaries are border wars waiting to happen. At every boundary, there is a dilemma of classification: who or what belongs on each side? In politics, these dilemmas evoke intense passions because the classifications confer advantages and disadvatages, rewards and penalties, permissions and restrictions, or power and powerlessness.
. . .
Boundary tensions mya be the curse of our existence as thiiking and communal beings but political argument is our privelege. It allows us to fight our border wars with imagination and words.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

"Telecoms is fundamentally the business of multiplexing for profit"

--- Martin Geddes, in his newsletter 11/22/2012, "Future of Comms - Our crisis of certainty‏"

Quote in context:
What networks do is to translocate information to enable computation to happen. An ideal network does what Turing described: instant and perfect translocation.
Real networks are never ideal.
What real networks do is to lose and delay data, and the only freedom of action they have is to allocate this impairment in more or less damaging ways. Thus whilst we have had a theory of computability for over half a century, we have (thus far) lacked a theory of translocatability.
. . .
Telecoms is fundamentally the business of statistical multiplexing for profit. The infrastructure could be built locally and rented. The services can be provided by “over the top” players. Telcos sit in the multiplexing middle, and mediate between variable instantaneous supply and demand.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

"Problem definitions are stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end, involving some change or transformation"

--- Deborah Stone, Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making (Third Edition 2011) p. 158

Quote in context:
In politics, narrative stories are the principal means for defining and contesting policy problems. We don’t usually think of a policy as literature, but most definitions of policy problems have a narrative structure, however subtle. Problem definitions are stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end, involving some change or transformation. They have heroes and villains and innocent victims, and they pit the forces of evil angst the forces of good. Stories provide explanations of how the world works. These explanations are often unspoken, widely shared, and so much taken for granted that we aren’t even aware of them. They can hold a powerful grip on our imaginations and our psyches because they offer the promise of resolution for scary problems.
Stone's footnote to this paragraph cites Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (New York: Knopf, 1976).