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Daniel Povey
Worked at Johns Hopkins University
Attended Peterhouse, Cambridge
Lives in Baltimore, MD
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Daniel Povey

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Thoughts on failed states, and why they might be a uniquely modern phenomenon...
Historically, power was often enforced by violence and cruelty, and terrible retribution to "traitors" (those who went against the center of power). Today, that's still how power works in criminal and warlord-type organizations. But advanced states, especially in Europe, moved beyond that stage and no longer see violence and cruelty as part of the legitimate behavior of a state. They then tried to enforce those norms on the rest of the world. That works fine in places with a certain culture. But is it possible that in many parts of the world, it's simply not that easy to build and maintain a strong center of power without those tools?
In Mexico, for instance, the current international norms of how a "legitimate" state should behave are forcing the state to wage an asymmetric battle against criminal organizations who are subject to no such constraints. And it doesn't seem like the state is winning.

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Daniel Povey

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Some non-news about whether Windows' command shell is going away [it's not].
When I was at Microsoft I was planning to make a native Windows version of the Kaldi scripts. But I soon realized that it couldn't be done in PowerShell because of its odd notion of pipes, that's highly inefficient when applied to regular piped data. I planned to do it in the cmd shell, but hit a snag when I needed a mechanism to escape quotes in strings and realized that the cmd shell doesn't have a proper mechanism to escape quotes.
According to the following StackOverflow post (none of this is documented), you can generally insert a double-quote into a double-quoted string by using three double-quotes. [http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7760545/escape-double-quotes-in-parameter]
But in my experimentation, this was unreliable; sometimes a slightly different number of double quotes was necessary.
That's when I decided there was no amount of money they could pay me to deal with their shitty operating system.


https://developers.slashdot.org/story/17/01/05/1645212/rumors-of-cmds-death-have-been-greatly-exaggerated

Senior Program Manager at Microsoft has responded to speculations that Command Prompt is going away. He writes: The Cmd shell remains an essential part of Windows, and is used daily by millions of businesses, developers, and IT Pro's around the world. In fact: 1. Much of the automated system that bu...
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A long article on how a century of fire suppression has led to conditions where it becomes increasingly difficult to stop fires http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37171390, and people are saying that maybe suppressing fires so rigorously was a mistake (or alternatively, much more thinning needs to be done).

I think the same type of logic, and a very similar dynamic, applies to human lives; although of course most people would find that idea morally offensive. We make so much effort to stop wars, diseases and famines. But the end result is always that more people are born, which will later contribute directly to the frequency of all three of those things.

It's not that I'm advocating a world where these things are all allowed to happen freely. But without some kind of mandatory population control, I don't think a world without wars, widespread disease or starvation is even possible.


A century of fire suppression is blamed for increasingly destructive 'megafires' in the western US.
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Relevant Dylan quote:
"What's good is bad, what's bad is good; you'll find out when you reach the top.
You're on the bottom.... "
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The reason people were concerned about sexual harassment [their term, not mine] of AI's is that it could translate into real-world behavior. But I think people are able to distinguish between fantasy and reality, and they know that real-world behavior has consequences. I may ask Cortana "what are you wearing?", but wouldn't ask most real women because I know they'd be shocked. Ultra-feminists may not want men to even think that stuff, but that's not realistic. Anyway, it gave me the idea for a good opening to a zombie movie.

Setting: fancy bakery.

[Man enters in a hurry.]
Woman behind counter: [Smiles] Five whole grain bagels?
Man: May I ask... what color are your panties today?
Woman: I beg your pardon?
Man: [Grabbing an armful of croissants] Just kidding. Look out the window.
[Man runs out. A horde of zombies are shuffling toward the bakery.]




http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/microsoft-cortana-sexual-harassment/
Last week, we learned that you don't have to be showing any skin to be sexually harassed, and now, we've learned that you don't have to be human either.
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I wonder what is the smallest size of server tip that will get a person on TV..
asking for a friend.
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Woman is upset because her TSA pat down went too far.
If the TSA ever decide to pat me down "there", I plan to pretend to be gay. This will ensure that the agent involved finds the experience way more disturbing than I do.



http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/16/opinions/tsa-invasive-pat-down-rye/index.html
The invasive, upsetting pat-down I got from the TSA was a violation of my privacy and civil liberties, says Angela Rye and does nothing to improve safety.
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Daniel Povey

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One of many factors in Europe's migrant crisis is the 1951 refugee convention which says that governments have to take in people who in their home country face "serious threats to their life or freedom".
It seems to me that in the long term, with rising populations, we're moving toward a world in which larger and larger parts of the earth's surface are not safe for people-- I don't see that the phenomenon of failed states is going away. In a sense this 1951 convention gives all the people living in those parts of the world the legal right to migrate to wherever they want in the rich world (assuming they can physically get there).
That wasn't what was envisaged when people signed the 1951 convention-- they would have had in mind a more WWII-like scenario, with persecuted people fleeing from "civilized" parts of the world; not a mass exodus from failed states.
However, no-one seems to be willing to admit this situation, or to face up to the fact that they don't want to admit hundreds of millions of poor, starving people.
Now it's very hard-hearted to just close the doors, but I'm looking at this from the perspective of what will enable humans to continue with their advanced technological civilization. Having the chaos, poverty and violence contained, rather than spreading across borders as people emigrate from war-torn countries, is probably more in humans' very long-term interests. [A few million could be absorbed, but I think this is part of a longer-term trend that could easily become tens or hundreds of millions.]
The current situation brings to my mind the incursions of "sea peoples" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Peoples, https://www.amazon.com/1177-B-C-Civilization-Collapsed-Turning/dp/0691168385/) which brought to an end the complex states of the late Bronze Age. No-one is 100% sure, but it's possible that the Sea Peoples were fleeing wars in the northern Mediterranean and turned into raiders that overwhelmed the advanced civilizations of the southern and eastern Mediterranean.


http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/1951-refugee-convention.html
The 1951 Refugee Convention is the key legal document that forms the basis of our work. Ratified​ by 145 State parties, it defines the term ‘refugee'
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People are up in arms about Simon and Schuster publishing Milo's book. I don't know that I can summon the energy to care about that, but I would pay to watch a cage fight between Milo and Leslie Jones.


http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/02/opinions/milo-yiannopoulos-and-trump-profitable-hate-ben-ghiat-opinion/index.html

"America's favorite mischievous gay conservative," is how publisher Simon & Schuster bills its newest high-profile author, Ruth Ben-Ghiat writes
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A `find` command I used today to find scripts with a certain name not containing a certain word:

find egs/wsj/s5/steps/nnet3 -name 'train*.sh' -not -exec grep -q DEPRECATED {} \; -print

The -not negates the value of the following expression used in 'find'. The -q to grep suppresses the output of grep, limiting it to returning a particular status.

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Virtual assistant designers are concerned about sexual harassment of their AI http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/microsoft-cortana-sexual-harassment/.
Some thoughts:
Firstl: sexual harassment of a computer is not a thing.
Second: Microsoft used to show images of Cortana showing a hell of lot of skin, so... well I'm not saying she was asking for it, but... well, she's a machine, and maybe she kind of was asking for it.
Third: if I want to say "Alexa.. turn on the lights, you filthy slut" or "Siri, do you know that nobody else will ever love you?", while admittedly that might reveal some very deep-seated psychological issues, I really don't see how it hurts anyone.


Last week, we learned that you don't have to be showing any skin to be sexually harassed, and now, we've learned that you don't have to be human either.
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The article in question looks like an amazing pile of bullshit..
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My 9-year-old daughter Anna visited the Google offices in Kirkland with a friend whose dad works there.
When she came back she told me she has started her own company, called "Zykroo". She made name-tags and corporate logos.


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I find the JLaw/butt-scratching story rather amusing. This whole native-American "xxx is sacred to us" is, for me, getting a little old, because it seems like everything is sacred to them. Personally I think the culture needs to get a little more brutal with all claims of sacredness, whether coming from Western or non-Western religions. After all, if the reason why it's "special" to you is based on beliefs that are objectively false, how much weight should that really carry? If we take seriously such ridiculous beliefs, it helps them to flourish. Anyway, I'd wager that in most of these cases involving native Americans they do not actually believe the things they claim to believe; they just say they do because they've found it gets them on TV, the same way that people of all stripes manage to work themselves up into getting "offended" about things because it gets them attention.
Plus, it seems like contact with JLaw's butt would, if anything, make an object more sacred and not less.



http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/09/entertainment/jennifer-lawrence-hawaii-rocks-trnd/index.html

The actress told a bawdy story about scratching her butt, and it didn't go over very well.
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Introduction
Dan Povey, speech recognition researcher
Education
  • Peterhouse, Cambridge
    1993
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Gender
Male
Work
Employment
  • Johns Hopkins University
    Research Scientist
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Baltimore, MD
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