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Abhishek Kumar
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This melodious fusion adds a classical Indian flavor to Adele's masterpiece!
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Booleans as a Service (BaaS)!
Favorite comment from HN:
"I would like to see the API extended to support DELETE requests, and 404 not found when not existing. Additionally, I've been led to believe that some truths are truer than others, hence some method of ranking this truthiness is a must."

https://booleans.io/
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11461977

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"GM knows the move from gasoline to electricity will be a minor one compared to where customers are headed next: away from driving and away from owning cars. In 2017, GM will give Cadillac sedans the ability to control themselves on the highway. Instead of dismissing Google as a smart-aleck kid grabbing a seat at the adults’ table, GM is talking about partnering with the tech firm on a variety of efforts. Last year GM launched car-sharing programs in Manhattan and Germany and has promised more to come. In January the company announced that it’s investing $500 million in Lyft, and that it plans to work with the ride-sharing company to develop a national network of self-driving cars. GM is thinking about how to use those new business models as it enters emerging markets like India, where lower incomes and already packed metro areas make its standard move—put two cars in every garage—unworkable."
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"Nearly everything changes when you opt for a fundamentally different power train, so GM’s greatest advantage—more than a century of experience building cars—was all but moot. Car structure was different, since they were building around a battery, not an engine. The brakes, steering, and air conditioner were powered differently. New systems, from electromagnetics for the motors to onboard and off-board charging, each came with its own learning curve. The engineers didn’t have established tests to follow. Just turning on the car required finding the perfect sequence of electrical signals from more than a dozen modules.
...
Then there was the battery. Lithium-ion chemistry was a new thing 10 years ago, and the Volt team quickly discovered how much of a pain in the neck it is. “Batteries wear out just sitting there, and they wear out when you cycle them,” says Bill Wallace, GM’s head battery engineer. “And then they wear out if you over-discharge them, or if you overcharge them.” They’re extremely sensitive to temperature. They change shape as they charge and discharge. They can also catch fire.
...
So the team set about developing the expertise it lacked. GM established a curriculum with the University of Michigan to train battery engineers. It filled a vacant building in Brownstown, Michigan, with the equipment to make battery packs. The engineers created test procedures and wrote them down as they went. They modeled different use cases for the Volt, from a woman in northern Minnesota who plugs in every night to a guy in Miami who drives 100 miles a day. They built the battery lab and brought in the blue environmental chambers, then used them to see how the battery would stand up to each situation. 'We invented the idea of what the lab should be,' Fletcher says."

http://www.wired.com/2016/01/gm-electric-car-chevy-bolt-mary-barra/#slide-x
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"After being compelled to flex its muscles for a short time and gaining the upper hand, AlphaGo began to play leisurely moves.
By now, most observers know that this is a feature of the ruthlessly efficient algorithm which guides AlphaGo’s play.
Unlike humans, AlphaGo doesn’t try to maximize its advantage. Its only concern is its probability of winning.
The machine is content to win by half a point, as long as it is following the most certain path to success.
So when AlphaGo plays a slack looking move, we may regard it as a mistake, but perhaps it is more accurately viewed as a declaration of victory?"

http://www.wired.com/2016/03/third-straight-win-googles-ai-claims-victory-historic-match-go-champ/

https://gogameguru.com/alphago-shows-true-strength-3rd-victory-lee-sedol/
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"It's the same way that when the car got going, people thought it would be an electric car, people thought it would be a steam car. Actually, the dark horse in that race was internal combustion, but because of the energy density of gasoline and discovery of oil in large amounts at that point in first Pennsylvania and then Texas, it won out over those other two, to the point that those other two are actually viewed as obscure footnotes in history."

http://www.techinsider.io/bill-gates-interview-energy-miracle-coming-2016-2
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To start the year, there are some very refreshing and interesting viewpoints in Paul Graham's latest essay - The Refragmentation, Jan 2016.

The article (linked below) has many deep ideas that will need further reading and pondering over to fully digest, but here are five (quoted) ideas that I find very interesting.

1. Paul contends that the polarization and fragmentation among people in today's world (think politics, income inequality etc) is caused "not by some force that's pulling us apart, but rather the erosion of forces that had been pushing us together." The forces that kept people together in the last century were wars (WW2 and the cold war) and consolidation of large corporations (think GM, GE, IBM etc).

2. On war as a socialist economic system: "The effects of World War II were both economic and social. Economically, it decreased variation in income. Like all modern armed forces, America's were socialist economically. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. More or less. Higher ranking members of the military got more (as higher ranking members of socialist societies always do), but what they got was fixed according to their rank. Business owners weren't supposed to be making money either. FDR said "not a single war millionaire" would be permitted. To ensure that, any increase in a company's profits over prewar levels was taxed at 85%. And when what was left after corporate taxes reached individuals, it was taxed again at a marginal rate of 93%. Indeed, in some respects the war didn't end in 1945; the enemy just switched to the Soviet Union. In tax rates, federal power, defense spending, conscription, and nationalism the decades after the war looked more like wartime than prewar peacetime. [3] And the social effects lasted too."

3. Rise of large corporations that were more efficient due to economies of scale. And with it, social and economic (and indeed cultural) conformity. "The late 19th and early 20th centuries had been a time of consolidation, led especially by J. P. Morgan. Thousands of companies run by their founders were merged into a couple hundred giant ones run by professional managers. Economies of scale ruled the day." "One of the most important instances of this phenomenon was in TV. Here there were 3 choices: NBC, CBS, and ABC. Plus public TV for eggheads and communists. The programs the 3 networks offered were indistinguishable. In fact, here there was a triple pressure toward the center. If one show did try something daring, local affiliates in conservative markets would make them stop. Plus since TVs were expensive whole families watched the same shows together, so they had to be suitable for everyone. And not only did everyone get the same thing, they got it at the same time. It's difficult to imagine now, but every night tens of millions of families would sit down together in front of their TV set watching the same show, at the same time, as their next door neighbors. What happens now with the Super Bowl used to happen every night. We were literally in sync."

4. Efficiency or vertically integrated business structures soon became inefficient and a liability. "But change was coming soon. And when the Duplo economy started to disintegrate, it disintegrated in several different ways at once. Vertically integrated companies literally dis-integrated because it was more efficient to. Incumbents faced new competitors as (a) markets went global and (b) technical innovation started to trump economies of scale, turning size from an asset into a liability." "Henry Ford was to the vertical. He wanted to do everything himself. The giant plant he built at River Rouge between 1917 and 1928 literally took in iron ore at one end and sent cars out the other. 100,000 people worked there. At the time it seemed the future. But that is not how car companies operate today. Now much of the design and manufacturing happens in a long supply chain, whose products the car companies ultimately assemble and sell. The reason car companies operate this way is that it works better. Each company in the supply chain focuses on what they know best. And they each have to do it well or they can be swapped out for another supplier." "In the early 20th century, big companies were synonymous with efficiency. In the late 20th century they were synonymous with inefficiency. To some extent this was because the companies themselves had become sclerotic. But it was also because our standards were higher." "Microcomputers are a classic example..."

5. The rise of the individual, fragmentation, and inequality. "And just as the mid-century model induced social as well as economic cohesion, its breakup brought social as well as economic fragmentation. People started to dress and act differently. Those who would later be called the "creative class" became more mobile. People who didn't care much for religion felt less pressure to go to church for appearances' sake, while those who liked it a lot opted for increasingly colorful forms. Some switched from meat loaf to tofu, and others to Hot Pockets. Some switched from driving Ford sedans to driving small imported cars, and others to driving SUVs. Kids who went to private schools or wished they did started to dress "preppy," and kids who wanted to seem rebellious made a conscious effort to look disreputable. In a hundred ways people spread apart. Almost four decades later, fragmentation is still increasing. Has it been net good or bad? I don't know; the question may be unanswerable. The form of fragmentation people worry most about lately is economic inequality, and if you want to eliminate that you're up against a truly formidable headwind—one that has been in operation since the stone age: technology. Technology is a lever. It magnifies work. And the lever not only grows increasingly long, but the rate at which it grows is itself increasing."

"Not everyone who gets rich now does it by creating wealth, certainly. But a significant number do, and the Baumol Effect means all their peers get dragged along too. [23] And as long as it's possible to get rich by creating wealth, the default tendency will be for economic inequality to increase. Even if you eliminate all the other ways to get rich. You can mitigate this with subsidies at the bottom and taxes at the top, but unless taxes are high enough to discourage people from creating wealth, you're always going to be fighting a losing battle against increasing variation in productivity. [24]

That form of fragmentation, like the others, is here to stay. Or rather, back to stay. Nothing is forever, but the tendency toward fragmentation should be more forever than most things, precisely because it's not due to any particular cause. It's simply a reversion to the mean. When Rockefeller said individualism was gone, he was right for a hundred years. It's back now, and that's likely to be true for longer.

I worry that if we don't acknowledge this, we're headed for trouble. If we think 20th century cohesion disappeared because of few policy tweaks, we'll be deluded into thinking we can get it back (minus the bad parts, somehow) with a few countertweaks. And then we'll waste our time trying to eliminate fragmentation, when we'd be better off thinking about how to mitigate its consequences."

http://paulgraham.com/re.html
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10826838

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"Imagine a chemist and an engineer and a doctor and a behavioral scientist, all working together to truly understand health and to better prevent, detect, and manage disease. Picture a world in which technology and life sciences are not distinct, but partners with a united mission. At Verily, that’s the world we want to create."
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Well thought out article, though I think it doesn't paint the complete picture. It does bring out many flavors of the middle-eastern conflict zones that most of the mainstream media doesn't focus on. Here are some that I'd like to call out:

"At this point, I expect to hear a chorus of voices blaming two things for this: religion (specifically, Islam), and oil (specifically, the West’s insatiable need for it). To which my main response to both is 'hogwash.'

The reason I reject Islam as an explanation for this is that there’s nothing particularly Muslim about any of it. ... Da’esh’s plan to take over the world isn’t rooted in a theological destiny of Muslims; it’s rooted in an explicitly political vision of conquest. And quite frankly, the people being shot at the most are Muslims, too; remember who the refugees were running from? More profoundly, people in the Middle East aren’t systematically any more religious than people are in America. You have the same spectrum from the wholly secular to the crazed fundamentalist, with the former predominating in cities and the latter in the countryside.

Oil is generally used as a proxy for “if only the Americans|Europeans never intervened in the Middle East, it would be peaceful there!” This bespeaks a rather curious innocence as to the history of the Middle East, combined with a reversed vision of (generally American) exceptionalism, that somehow our surpassing evil can corrupt otherwise noble savages. It’s certainly true that without oil, most of the Middle East would be desperately poor — but as it happens, most of it is desperately poor anyway. Oil is not uniformly distributed, and Syria doesn’t have that much of it to begin with.
There is one sense in which this is true, which is that the 2003 invasion of Iraq created a spectacular disaster. George W. Bush’s belief that if we just created enough of a power vacuum, democracy would magically rush in to fill the void — the precise belief which his father didn’t have, mind you, which is why GHWB made the explicit and deliberate decision to leave Saddam Hussein in power — proved to be exactly as unwise as it sounds when written so plainly. The result was a giant area of anarchy and civil war smack in the center of the Middle East, into which would-be fighters from all over the region (as well as other regions) swarmed: veterans of Chechnya and Bosnia found new employment in Iraq, as Sunnis and Shi’ites alike slaughtered one another. This anarchy, never resolved, has been the perfect factory of chaos which quite easily spilled over elsewhere.
...

But there’s one profound factor which has driven the violence in the Middle East far more than oil ever could: water.
The entire Middle East has been in a water, and thus food, crisis for decades. In Egypt, for example, the Nile Valley has been drying out ever since the Aswan Dam was completed in 1970; as this once-fertile soil turned to desert, people have streamed into Cairo, doubling and tripling its population by forming tremendous shantytowns. ... Syria is a similar story: the lead-in to the collapse of Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship was steady droughts in the Syrian countryside driving people into the cities by the hundreds of thousands, leading to mass unemployment and unrest. People’s livelihoods had simply disappeared. Stories like this repeat across the entire Middle East.

If you’ve ever wondered why I have often said that we need to be very actively worried about climate change, this is it. Changing climate breaks agriculture in various areas; the people who were farming there don’t magically turn into factory workers or teleport to places which are (slowly) becoming more fertile; they become desperate former farmers, generally flooding into cities."
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