1831: "Here to Help"

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fluffysheap
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1831: "Here to Help"

Postby fluffysheap » Mon May 01, 2017 3:00 pm UTC

Image

Title Text: "We TOLD you it was hard." "Yeah, but now that I'VE tried, we KNOW it's hard."

I've been trying for years to develop a reliable algorithm for being the first to make a new comic thread. Apparently, the solution is for nobody else to do it first.

rmsgrey
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon May 01, 2017 3:58 pm UTC

Part of the problem is that the successes when someone does swoop in with an interdisciplinary insight and finds an easy solution get a lot of publicity; the times someone swoops in, and gives up months later don't get advertised.

And, of course, very few of the problems that have been solved historically turned out to be really difficult once someone had the right idea, and the right framework had been developed (or, put another way, their difficulty turned out to be possible to break up into lots of easy steps...) so it's easy to think that all the problems that haven't been solved yet are going to turn out to be the same...

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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby The Devils Engineer » Mon May 01, 2017 4:08 pm UTC

The Six Phases of a Project:

1. Enthusiasm
2. Disillusionment
3. Panic
4. Search for the guilty
5. Punishment of the innocent
6. Praise and honors for the non-participants

I believe we are between steps #2 and #3.... :)
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squall_line
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby squall_line » Mon May 01, 2017 4:44 pm UTC

I'm guilty of being Algorithm Guy. Success in that regard tends to ebb and flow, but my success rate is slightly above 50%. Fortunately, I'm experienced enough at this point to temper my enthusiasm and try not to intervene nearly as much as I used to.

It's almost as bad as having managers who see someone as Algorithm Guy; I don't know how many times I've been asked "you're really good with spreadsheets. Can you write a macro to take this Crystal-Report-formatted (or other ridiculous) flat file and make it sortable?"

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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby Sonic# » Mon May 01, 2017 4:47 pm UTC

For some reason I can't help but think of FiveThirtyEight, with the caveat that some of its readers may be more overconfident about insights than Nate Silver himself, who admits the uncertainty inherit in many of his site's projects and estimates.

Education seems at least somewhat resistant to algorithms. There are too many interested, invested parties and too many exceptional factors. For instance, I'd love to use algorithms to make school districts and financial allocations more equitable, but I could never get the predominantly white and affluent school district to desegregate without a court order or tons of political will.
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby The Snide Sniper » Mon May 01, 2017 5:09 pm UTC

It's a shame the explain xkcd server is choking. I wonder who's doing that.
Cueball wrote:Wow, this problem is really hard.

Hmm, I wonder why we've been struggling with this problem for years.
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myoilu
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby myoilu » Mon May 01, 2017 5:24 pm UTC

makes me think of https://xkcd.com/208/

sociotard
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby sociotard » Mon May 01, 2017 6:17 pm UTC

Heh, if you replace "algorithms" with "common sense", this is suddenly a very political comic.

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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby commodorejohn » Mon May 01, 2017 6:56 pm UTC

And this is why I laugh and laugh and laugh and then silently scream inside forever when nerds keep proposing that we put Silicon Valley people in charge of the government.
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby jgh » Mon May 01, 2017 7:07 pm UTC

I can solve your problem!...... with Pattern Matching!
....
....
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twistolime
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby twistolime » Mon May 01, 2017 7:44 pm UTC

In academia, I refer to this as "disciplinary imperialism," where someone from an outside discipline [*cough cough physics*] thinks, "How hard can curing cancer be? I bet no one smart has ever tried."

Opus_723
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby Opus_723 » Tue May 02, 2017 12:13 am UTC

twistolime wrote:In academia, I refer to this as "disciplinary imperialism," where someone from an outside discipline [*cough cough physics*] thinks, "How hard can curing cancer be? I bet no one smart has ever tried."


As someone in physics, this is spot on. I mean, it's a minority for sure, but it's still a bit concerning how many physicists know just enough about other fields to say dumb/misleading stuff very confidently.

*cough*carbonisgoodforplants*cough

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da Doctah
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby da Doctah » Tue May 02, 2017 12:15 am UTC

twistolime wrote:In academia, I refer to this as "disciplinary imperialism," where someone from an outside discipline [*cough cough physics*] thinks, "How hard can curing cancer be? I bet no one smart has ever tried."

Without that kind of attitude, we'd be far poorer in the field of inventing perpetual-motion machines.

And there'd be nothing worth watching on YouTube.

rattusprat
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby rattusprat » Tue May 02, 2017 1:18 am UTC

Is this a commentary on the first 100 days of President Trump?

RogueCynic
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby RogueCynic » Tue May 02, 2017 4:06 am UTC

This is not a commentary of Trump's first 100 days. In the last panel, he realizes the job is hard. The comment reminds me of how the Infinite Improbability drive was invented.
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Tengfred
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby Tengfred » Tue May 02, 2017 2:30 pm UTC

myoilu wrote:makes me think of https://xkcd.com/208/

also https://xkcd.com/793/

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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby somitomi » Tue May 02, 2017 7:07 pm UTC

twistolime wrote:"How hard can [it] be?"

You mean Top Gear Syndrome?
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thunk
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby thunk » Mon Aug 27, 2018 5:17 pm UTC

Case study: Tesla Motors' recent struggles with fire and OSHA compliance.

Software people seem to routinely overestimate their competence in dealing with the physical world--to the detriment of their workers.
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ijuin
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby ijuin » Mon Aug 27, 2018 8:48 pm UTC

I call that one “Digital Dominance Syndrome”—it’s seen a LOT in post-millennials who seem to believe that all worthwhile solutions are digital in nature and any analogue or hardware/physical solutions are inscrutable.

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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Aug 28, 2018 3:07 am UTC

Boy, it's a good thing the people who make the things that are one hack away from being autonomous crowd-seeking motorized death missiles are such meticulous, responsible guys with a genuine concern for the human impact of their actions.
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sonar1313
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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby sonar1313 » Wed Aug 29, 2018 2:59 pm UTC

thunk wrote:Case study: Tesla Motors' recent struggles with fire and OSHA compliance.

Software people seem to routinely overestimate their competence in dealing with the physical world--to the detriment of their workers.


And importance as well.

This is a passage from a Wired article that (perhaps unfairly, but also perhaps not) has definitely colored my worldview of the Silicon Valley change-the-world types:

On the day the iOS developer got his job making doctors obsolete, a Ruby developer who had recently moved out came back to the house to cook dinner.

He was six months out of a technical institute in the Northeast and had just gotten his first job ever. The company did payroll.

"These guys raised $6.1 million in seed funding out of Y Combinator. That’s probably the biggest seed round in Valley history. We've got a ton of momentum, solving real problems. It’s pretty awesome."

"What problem are you solving?"

"Payroll."

"What about payroll?"

"The problem of payroll. You should hear the emails we're getting from our customers."

The Ruby developer couldn’t name a problem with payroll that his company was solving; he thought they were just solving a problem called payroll. He was only on payroll for the first time in his life, and needless to say had never himself run into payroll problems. But he was working for a startup with YC credentials that had leveraged new technologies and raised a lot of money, so he could reasonably feel now that he hadn’t just joined a company that did something incremental—fixed the various problems with payroll, of which there are many—but something revolutionary, i.e., fixing the problem of payroll.


https://www.wired.com/2014/04/no-exit/

Tesla is the most visible and flamboyant example of that kind of hubris. They took on what is literally the most complex industry in the world, expected to revolutionize it with engineering and software, and in the process reinvented so many wheels (badly) that the so-called dinosaurs just shook their heads in disbelief. Tesla may yet figure it out, but the stuff they're still learning is stuff that other people figured out long ago. As Jalopnik put it: "Keeping your bumper cover on in pretty much all weather is a very, very solved problem in the automotive industry."

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Re: 1831: "Here to Help"

Postby Steve the Pocket » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:24 pm UTC

Judging by the direction most silicon valley companies are heading, the guy probably aimed to "solve" the "problem" of having human employees who needed to be paid at all.
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