We are all beta-tester… Still.

I firmly disagree with  David Pogue’s Scientific American column dating back to November, 2014 where the journalist wrote:

 Part of our disgruntlement at being served flawed software probably stems from our conception of software itself—as something that is, in fact, finishable. Software used to come in boxes, bearing version numbers. We understood each as a milestone—a program frozen in stone.

But nowadays software is a living, constantly evolving entity. Consider phone apps: nobody seems to mind that new versions pour out constantly, sometimes many times a year. Or Web sites: they’re software, too, and they’re perpetually changing.

Maybe that’s why Adobe no longer produces boxed, numbered versions of Photoshop; instead the only way to get Photoshop is to subscribe to its steady evolution all year long.

Maybe it’s time to stop thinking about traditional programs any differently. Maybe we should get rid of frozen, numbered editions, much as Adobe has done.

That wouldn’t eliminate the frustration of bugginess, but at least we would comprehend software’s true nature: a product that is never finished.

The fact that software is an ever-evolving product (and not – as we in the EU say, a “copyrighted work”) doesn’t imply that it is fair to put on the market  a piece of crap, telling peopole that “we’ll clean the toilet with the next version”. Because in the meantime, the stink… stinks.

 

No, information are not the new gold

 

A New York Times article complains about “surveillance capitalism”  by re-repeating the usual “crying wolf ” lines: Facebook and Google surveil us, our behaviour is analyzed way more than “just” for marketing purposes, insurance companies might want to access our information and so on…

This article seems to support mantra such as  “information are the new gold”, “Information are the new crude” that keeps resonating in social network platform, digital world (self-professed) “experts” and traditional media.

But is this a correct assumption? Continue reading “No, information are not the new gold”

The Hen na hotel problems haven’t been caused by “robots”

With a misleading title, the magazine Digital Trends claims that A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs because

it seems that — as great as robots can be — they’re simply not suitable for every role just yet. With the rise of robot bartenders, robot-staffed restaurants and the like, it will be interesting to see how many similar concepts fall apart in the coming years. After all, once the novelty of a robot dinosaur on reception wears off, you’re just faced with a receptionist who can’t properly understand you and lacks a sufficient number of fingers on each hand to properly photocopy your passport.

By coincidence, I have been at Tokyo’s Hen na hotel last year and I’ve experienced in first person the issues the article is talking about.

Problem is that there are no robot involved in running the hotel.

The dinosaurs, the fish, the personal assistant… they can hardly be defined as such, actually being just exoskeletons for a computer.

So, the difficulties experienced by the guests – and the criticism of the article – should be addressed to the poor quality of the OCR and voice recognition software, rather than to the “failure” of a “robot”. Or, in other words, to the humans who designed it.

So long “Ghost in the Shell”!

A contribution to the analysis of the legal status of cryptocurrencies

Andrea Monti, A contribution to the analysis of the legal status of cryptocurrencies, in “Ragion pratica, Rivista semestrale” 2/2018, pp. 361-378, doi: 10.1415/91544

This paper advocates that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum don’t challenge the current legal system, since they fit comfortably enough into the immaterial asset legal definition. As such, while a blockchain-based cryptocurrency can’t be considered as legal tender or electronic money, it can be exchanged on a contractual basis as it happens with every other kind of good. As per the alleged crime-supporting role of cryptocurrencies by way of the anonymity of the blockchain transactions, this article demonstrates that the anonymity granted herein is not absolute. Therefore it is not correct to claim that this technology has been built, by design, to foster illegal behaviour. This is an important finding because, in the opposite case, there would have been room to affirm the impossibility to use a cryptocurrency as part of an agreement because of its intrinsic illegal nature.
Keywords: Legal Tender; Private Money; Electronic Money; Asymmetric Encryption; Blockchain Forensic; Cryptocurrencies.