Wednesday, June 20, 2018

26 connections to everywhere

why do "clients" connect to servers? given we know
1/ everyone, pretty much, is connected to amazon, facebook, google, twitter,  youtube etc,
2/ the IPv4 address space is full up
why not just have the cloud call every address?

we know  there will never be more than 26 services in the world, (because currently, you need autocomplete asap in the browser on any url you type, and most people sadly use english, which means most web sites are shackled to the roman alphabet - hint to any startup there you won't make it if you can't find a spare first letter:)

so then we could just have a well known port for each of these 26 services, and punch a hole in the NATs in the world for those well known ports (or if paranoid, restrict it to source IP prefixes in the owned space of amazon, facebook, google, twitter, youtube etc)

resistance is futile, impedance is high, time for a volte-face?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

truth drains away

You know about making sure you've turned off all the taps in your home when you go away? water, gas, and even electricity (some devices may be on standby, but can wakeup and catch fire - of course, if you were clever-lucky, you'd have a flood from a leaky faucet at the same time which would put out the fire. but if you were dumb-sad, the fire would ignite the gas leak and blow up your lovely home).

For the same reason, we should go around making sure all the digital devices (TV, Voice assistant, Smart Toiler, laptop, tablet, phone, watch, fitness widgets) are all turned off, whenever they are not in use.

The reason is that these devices contain truths. However, in today's Internet, truths drain away.
Gradually, truth leaks out of the device, leaving behind only fake news and advertisements  for things you don't want (all the more so, because you aren't there then anyhow).

The rise of falsehoods on the Internet is our own fault - it is because we are careless with our personal truth - all our 1s are turned into one great big zero. or worse, the sign bit is set and negativity overwealms us all. The value of the leaky Internet is minus the square of the number of leaky users.
for 2 leaky users, the net worth is -4, for 1000 users, its -1000000. if half the users stopped being leaky, the net would be worth nothing. if just two thirds of the billions of users were to stop being leaky, the net would be actually quite useful once more.

its just plumb good sense.

Friday, June 01, 2018

data is the new tobacco

google famously said "don't be evil". i've now repeatedly heard people from national intelligence agencies say, in public, "everything we do is lawful". one analytics company said that they make ethical decisions on who they won't work for but provide s/w for the above.

just who are they kidding, apart from themselves?

as i mentioned previously, someone at a recent event on ethics and privacy enhancing etchnologies said (under chatham house rule, so i can't attribute it)
"Data is the new fur", and at another meeting (same constraint)
"I can't see why mum's are proud of their kids going to work for Alpabet Soup, they wouldn't be like that if it was a tobacco company".

Either of these would do to get some sort of re-adjustment of the public enhagement such as this report from the RSA with all the above...

fur or baccy, choose your poison...

at one of the events, we ended up with one of the organisers saying "the problem here is capitalism. and patriarchy...."


Thursday, May 31, 2018

digital person(ae)

regarding decentralised, fair analytics?

some possible discussion/questions

1. who can proxy for a hub in the home, for great grandfather...the bank, the kids, the bbc, the GP, all of the above...(see 4)...

2. price discrimination v. differentiation - do we need "cloud neutrality"

3. how near to privacy/security/utility tradeoff curve are we in practice in central v. decentralised cloud/analytics?

4. what about identity systems? are we ready for multiple pseudonyms each with a subset of our attributes (am-over-18, or am-a-citizen of country x) instead of centralised id with everything?

5. who will power the infrastructure when its completely decentralised?
we're a long way from microgeneration...

6. in edge ai, what are the distributed analytics _coordination_ challenges

7. in edge ai, what are the distributed analytics _privacy_ (diff?) challenges

8. how do we get assurance (sousveillance/someone-elses-pov dashboard) in the decentralised world?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

edge to edge bogus arguments in systems design

since the arrival of blockchain tech, we're seeing a lot of bandwagonning on

what most the pundits pushing for this is "just-inside-the-edge" computer/storage/services -

i.e. its still owned by network providers or co-lo kit from a good-old-fashioned-cloud service - same-old same-old. it is getting lower latency/higher availability, less backhaul network costs and (possibly) able to localize service behaviour to geographic jurisdiction, which are all ok things to do.

but it isn't p2p.

but it isn't end-to-end.

e2e was/is the liberating architectural feature of the net that lets anyone run a service. that lets value scale super-linearly (between n*ln(n) and n^2 depending who you believe).

p2p was a failed tech predicating on everyone running things e2e in their home, pocket/car. it failed because of three barriers
i) asymmetric capacity in access networks - this is hard to blame on anyone - its a feature of using old copper capacity and how shared medium spectrum works for fixed and wireless broadband. slowly, it is becomine less the case (last time i looked, 10M out of 35M households in the UK had fiber, which doesn't have these constraints.
ii) IPv4 address space depletion leading to being NATted to death, rather than deploying IPv6 (or anything else).
iii) software deficiencies leading to patriarchical firewalling of systems with vulnerabilities, rather than fixing the root cause (poor systems security).
iv) add yours here....

if you don't run the ledger, file service, social network, messenger platform in your home/pcket/car, it isn't end2end. if it isn't p2p, it isn't e2e. if it isn't e2e, its still 0wned by someone else. even if you have a spare set of keys.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Quantum Computing and Quants and the Turing Institute's mission

so people are afraid of quantum computing.
people should be far more afraid of today's algorithmic trading systems.
the world is run by a bunch of computer programs which have never been scrutinized - they might just each be nonsense, but in combination, even if they are all very correct, they certainly create nonsense. The fiction that the world is running on some financial fantasy academic structure known as a market is a wonder to behold - essentially, the sustained collective delusion in the face of obvious massive fractural objections (american exceptionalism:  why is the dollar worth what it is, aside from military might? protected markets inside China; split level economies like Brazil and so on) - all this is like the medieval world where the SMith would charge one price to shoe the farmer's horse, and another (massively higher) price to shoe the Lord of the Manor's horse - why? and why didn't anyone run arbitrage on this? because society and people don't mix with the idea of money really at all well.

So a lot of work in machine learning and AI and finance purports to address problems like money laundering and fraud and so forth. And yet we live in a world where the whole operation of existing algorithms is based on a false belief, that they operate in a market. Many of them operate in the casino that is the stock market, which is even more divorced from reality than the rest of the economy. Here algorithms are in an arms race, and yet it is an odd arms race, as unlike warfare i nconventional battlefields where we can pick apart the guns and planes of the other side from time to time and take their ideas, or at least reverse engineer them, the algorithmic race in the stock market is too complex and too fast to allow this - code just interacts via the symptomatic (observed) behaviour of the system, and rarely if ever directly interacts with other code. Most weird.

SO the real first duty of ML&AI in the world of finance should be to expose and fix these structural problems - first, to model the worlds economy properly (e.g at least as well as people like Piketty, but more so, dynamically), and to build a sound system for running investments without casinos like the stock market, but also without fantasies like Adam Smith's invisible hand.

So what has this to do with Quantum Computers[1]?

Well, QC promises to run some new algorithms in a new way - there aren't any signs of a full working QC piece of hardware yet, and there are precious few actual algorithms[2] so far, but one in particular has grabbed a lot of attention, which is the possibility to factorize numbers super fast compared with good old fashioned von-Neumann computers (faster even parallel and distributed vN machines) - this is due to the qualitatively different way that QC hardware works (highly parallel exploration of state spaces, scaling exponentially with the number of Qbits).

So what does this threaten?

Well, it threatens to break cryptograpy, which means our privacy technologies for storing and transmitting (and possibly even securely processing[3]) data are at risk. Bad guys (or just curious people) will be able to see our secrets.

So two thoughts
A) why can't we just devise new QC encryption algorithms, which just moves the arms race along in the usual way (a million bit keys for example, or something really new we havnt thought of yet)? Then we are back to the same old normal world where most data breaches will be because of social engineering or stupidity and self inflicted (minister leaves unencrypted USB stick on the bus) wounds.
B) Maybe we get more cautious as a whole and just don't send stuff around so glibly or provide remote access to our computers so readily. Maybe access control and authentication and just implementing least privlege properly could work most of the time, and the whole idea of crypto saving us was a chimera and a delusion, just like the whole idea of the market was a snare and a delusion?

my 2 q-cents.

1. not to be confused with quantum communication where we use entanglement just to detect eavesdroppers - a perfectly sound, existing tech with a very narrow (point to point, not end-to-end) domain of usefulness.
2. shor's algo for example. one puzzling thing is that we had hundreds of algorithms for von-neumann style computers before we had any working hardware. why is it so hard to conceive of algorithms for QC? seems like it is a poor match for how humans are able to express methods for solving problems (which are many, and varied, but don't seem to fit ensemble/state space exploration, except perhaps in MCMC:-)
3. eg.. homomorphic crypto - possibly also at risk from QC, although re-applying ideas like garbled circuits to a QC machine shouldn't be too hard:-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

How science progresses - falsifiable, probably or paradigm shift, likely?

Reading Staley's excellent introduction to the philosophy of science was reminded of reading Popper's Objective knowledge back in the 1970s, but now I'm a recovering Bayesian, and am immersed in social science explanations like the structure of scientific revolutions by Kuhn, or even the whole idea of funding/groupthink/paradigms, I'm now convinced we don't have a good basis for choosing the right description of the process (or classifying best practice) until we study the past, both its pre- and post- states - i'm thinking that people choose to run occam/popper after they intuit a new paradigm shift (e.g. copernican model of planets) and use some confidence models to decide that, when the new theory has objectors, the objectors are outliers, whereas the old new outliers the new theory explains were more important than the new old outliers - of course, the new theory can still be wrong, but the smart money is that it isn't...

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home