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Dave Whipp
Works at Google
Attended UMIST, Manchester
Lives in San Jose, CA
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Dave Whipp

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Seems that the rats may be innocent: we've demonized them all these years, while the true villains are the cute cuddly gerbils...
Black rats may not have been responsible for outbreaks of the plague in Europe, a new study argues.
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Dave Whipp

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Basic income appears to be a policy whose time is coming. The question is not whether we can afford it, but whether we can afford not to!
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Dave Whipp

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So, it looks like a plan to split California into 6 states is going to get onto the Ballot in 2016. But even if it passes, it could be a while before I find myself living in a newly formed Great State of Silicon Valley. New states require an act of congress, and six states a senate of 110 members, so each senator would be a little less special. And with winner-take-all in the electoral collage, it's hard to see democrats wanting to throw away the presidency.
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Consensus “messaging” campaigns don’t address the problem—except to the extent that predictably partisan forms of them make things worse.

Interesting data: both sides of the "debate" have similar (and often incorrect) understanding of the science, but when asked about it in naive ways will give answers that reflect their tribal identity more than it does their ignorance, or lack thereof. I don't think this is particularly surprising, or even new, but it should inform the strategies of anyone hoping to effect political change.

Oh, also a little disappointing how many people -- red and blue -- think that scientists believe that melting the arctic ice cap would cause sea level rise (though, to be fair, the increased sea temperature that melts the ice cap does cause sea level rise).
 
People already know what climate scientists think; but they also know what it means -- a cultural status competition -- to "believe in human-caused global warming. Fix that!
They've already gotten the memo! What the public (Rs & Ds) think "climate scientists believe" · Authors: to assure no one can read your articles, publish in a Taylor & Francis journal! Response: An “externally-valid” approach to consensus messaging · WSMD? JA! How confident should we be that ...
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Dave Whipp

Political Theory  - 
 
Depending on your perspective, it's either good or bad that creating federal law requires a lot of effort, and must cross many hurdles to get the approval from representatives from all parts of the country.

In an era of divided government, the article concludes, "Overall, the best way to get something passed in Congress today is to make sure it doesn't offend anyone. But legislation that doesn't offend anyone can't do very much". Basically, avoiding any possibility of attributable harm is weighted far more heavily in the process than any potential good. 
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Been there, done that ... still waiting on the t-shirt generator
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Dave Whipp

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Even if media stories proclaiming failure were true, the conclusions would still be wrong!
 
Google Glass vs. The USA's R&D Toilet

http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/001086.html

If you're a regular consumer of the computer industry trade press -- a strong stomach strongly recommended -- you've probably seen a bit of gloating lately about Google pulling their Google Glass device from most consumer marketing.

Mainstream media has picked up the drumbeat too, with even major publications like The New York Times very recently running stories purporting to explain why Google Glass has "failed" or how this is emblematic of Google's supposedly imminent fall.

Those stories sound pretty scary. They're also utterly wrong. And they're wrong in a way that exemplifies why so much of U.S. industry is in a terrible research and development (R&D) slump, and why Google should be congratulated for their "moonshots" -- not ridiculed.

Once upon a time -- not so long ago relatively -- there was a reasonable understanding in this country that long-term R&D was crucial to our technological, financial, and personal futures. That's long-term as in spending money on projects that might take a long time to pay off -- or might never pay off for the firms making the investments -- but that still might play crucial roles in our future going forward.

When we think about the foundation of modern R&D, it's typical for AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories (Bell Labs) to spring immediately to mind. Not the Bell Labs of today -- an emaciated skeleton of its former greatness -- but of the years before AT&T's 1984 Bell system beak-up divestiture and shortly thereafter. 

The list of developments that sprang forth from the Labs is mind-boggling. If Lucent Technologies did nothing else when they took over Bell Labs and hastened its decline, at least they produced in 2000 this great music video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzHp7Ahkjes) celebrating the Labs' innovations over the many decades. Mentally start subtracting out items from the list shown in that video and watch how our entire modern world would crumble away around us.

Yet -- and this is crucial -- most of those Bell Labs technologies that are so much a part of our lives today were anything but sure bets at the time they were being developed. Hell, who needs something better than trusty old vacuum tubes? What possible use is superconductivity? Why would anyone need flexible, easy to use computer operating systems?

It's only with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight that we can really appreciate the genius -- and critically the willingness to put sufficient R&D dollars behind such genius -- that allowed these technologies to flourish in the face of contemporaneous skepticism at the time.

Much of that kind of skepticism is driven by the twin prongs of people who basically don't understand technology deeply, and/or by investors who see any effort to be a waste if it isn't virtually guaranteed to bring in significant short-term profits.

But we see again and again what happens when technology companies fall prey to such short-term thinking. Magnificent firms like Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) vanish with relative rapidity into the sunset to be largely forgotten. Household names like Kodak flicker and fade away into shadows. And as noted, even the great Bell Labs has become the "reality show" version of its former self.

Nor is it encouraging when we see other firms who have had robust R&D efforts now culling them in various ways, such as Microsoft's very recent closing of their Silicon Valley research arm.

It probably shouldn't be surprising that various researchers from Microsoft, Bell Labs, and DEC have ended up at ... you guessed it ... Google.

So it also shouldn't be surprising why it's difficult not look askance at claims that Google is on the wrong path investing in autonomous cars, or artificial intelligence, or balloon-based Internet access -- or Google Glass.

Because even if one chooses inappropriately and inaccurately -- but for the sake of the argument -- to expound pessimistic consumer futures for those techs as currently defined, they will still change the world in amazingly positive ways. 

Internet access in the future inevitably will include high altitude distribution systems. AI will be solving problems the nature of which we can't even imagine today. Many thousands of lives will be saved by improved driver assist systems even if you sullenly choose to assume that autonomous cars don't become a mass consumer item in the near future. And medical, safety, and a range of industrial applications for Google Glass and similar devices are already rapidly deploying.

This is what serious R&D is really all about. Our collective and personal futures depend upon the willingness of firms to take these risks toward building tomorrow. 

We need far more firms willing to follow Google's R&D model in these regards, rather than being utterly focused on projects that might suck some coins quickly into the hopper, but do little or nothing to help their countries, their peoples, and the world in the long run. 

Here in the U.S. we've willingly and self-destructively permitted short-term Wall Street thinking to flush much of our best R&D talent down the proverbial toilet.

And unless we get our heads on straight about this immediately, we'll be sending our futures and our children's futures down the same dark sewer.

We are far better than that.

Take care, all.

-- Lauren --
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Dave Whipp

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Everyone talks about human colonies on Mars. Elon Musk famously wants to die there (but not on arrival). But Venus offers many benefits. Although it's surface is somewhat hostile, it's dense atmosphere with plentiful sunlight make it an ideal place to build floating communities...
Should crewed exploration of Venus come before we try to go to Mars?
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Humor in truth. I've seen most of these in real code ... and probably personally used far too many of them!
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I generally want to dislike "10 X that Y" articles, but sometimes the clickbait works. This list is one I can agree with: "fitness" is definitely misunderstood (I liked the recent Cosmos episode where Neil used "survival of the friendliest" in dogs to emphasize that fitness doesn't mean deadliest). And "statistically significant" might indeed be better phrased as "statistically discernable".

But perhaps these things don't matter: professional obfuscators will always misuse jargon to cast doubt; and stenographers in the media will continue to pretend to be confused, claiming that it's not their job to explain the science clearly when scientists themselves fail to do so. Reality has that well known liberal bias, so clear explanation would demonstrate a partisan bias -- whereas they value "objectivity".
Many ideas have left the world of science and made their way into everyday language -- and unfortunately, they are almost always used incorrectly. We asked a group of scientists to tell us which scientific terms they believe are the most widely misunderstood. Here are ten of them.
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Great satire, but also a deep truth: scientific explanations can always be shown to be inadequate by insisting on asking "why" and not "how".
 
"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."

Founded in 1987, the ECFR is the world's leading institution of evangelical physics, a branch of physics based on literal interpretation of the Bible. 

According to the ECFR paper published simultaneously this week in the International Journal Of Science and the adolescent magazine God's Word For Teens!, there are many phenomena that cannot be explained by secular gravity alone, including such mysteries as how angels fly, how Jesus ascended into Heaven, and how Satan fell when cast out of Paradise.

The ECFR, in conjunction with the Christian Coalition and other Christian conservative action groups, is calling for public-school curriculums to give equal time to the Intelligent Falling theory. They insist they are not asking that the theory of gravity be banned from schools, but only that students be offered both sides of the issue "so they can make an informed decision."
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Good article exploring the history and future of the 2°C goal that has been the anchor for international discussions. Yes, it's a somewhat arbitrary value: but our understanding of the climate responses becomes increasingly uncertain as we go past it. (And, whatever skeptics may say,  "uncertain" does not mean "things will most likely be better than predicted")
For 20 years, climate policy has centered around one goal: making sure we don't get more than 2°C of global warming. That goal is looking increasingly delusional.
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In his circles
430 people
Education
  • UMIST, Manchester
    Microelectronic Systems Engineering, 1989 - 1993
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Male
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Microelectronics Engineer (RTL Verification)
Employment
  • Google
    Software Engineer, 2011 - present
  • NVIDIA
    Microelectronics Engineer (RTL Verification), 2003 - 2011
  • GEC Plessey, Seimens, Infineon, Fast Chip,
    1990 - 2003
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San Jose, CA
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Wallasey, England - Munich, Germany
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I had an appointment for 8:20 am. When I arrived there was a long line snaking around the building but, having an appointment, I could go right in. Checked in at the appointments triage counter and got my number; waited a couple of minutes for that number to be called; did the vision test (and paid); went to another line to have my photo taken; and done. Out by 8:30. So ten minutes for a license renewal, and non of the nightmares we hear of for visits to the DMV. Obviously I can't say if things get less good later in the day; and if you don't have an appointment then there's that long snaking line. But having an early morning appointment, service was excellent.
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