The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) – sailing the doldrums

On the weekend, I drove into a shopping centre parking garage early on morning and observed a blue-collar worker going around and fiddling with all the card readers at the exists. I asked what he was doing and he explained that he goes around and (hard) reboots all the machine every morning, "then they work better". So much for robotisation...

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions by Rodney Brooks is required reading in this area and it is always good to remember Amara's Law: "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run."


Werk Google Translate regtig deur Engels?

Ek verstaan dat Google Translate van 'n taal A na taal B vertaal deur

  • eers van A na Engels te vertaal en dan 
  • van Engels na taal B. 

Derhalwe, deels, die dikwels vreemde uitkomste.

Verlede week het ek egter gekyk na die relatief soortgelyke woorde vir vuurhoutjie in Afrikaans, in Duits (Streichholz) en in Hongaars (gyufa). Laasgenoemde is amper 'n direkte vertaling van die Afrikaans. Ek het onraad begin merk toe ek verder die Sjinees wou nagaan en het opgelet dat Google Translate as volg vertaal.


Dit wil sê, uit Afrikaans en Duits kry ons "wedstryd" in Sjinees (via die Engelse "match" natuurlik) maar uit Hongaars wel die regte woord en/of skriftekens. Waarom dít is, kan ek nie verklaar nie.


Crypto market caps – it's allmost all Bitcoin, Ethereum and a splash of Ripple

The relationship between Tether (USDT), which is nominally linked to the US dollar, and Bitcoin trading has been in the news a lot in the past few days. This prompted me to find out more about Tether and the first stop was coinmarketcap.com where Tether is currently listed as the 10th largest cryptocoin by value of coins in issue. It is still very small however, at just over 1% of the total market. In fact, the dominance of Bitcoin is trememdous. I have computed an active total market cap share, ignoring coins for which at least one of the following is missing: one hour return, one day return, one week return. Bitcoin is near 43% and over half of the share attributed to the top ten coins. Only Ethereum is of nearly comparable size, followed at a distance by the Ripple XRP.

It seems rather unlikely that a substantial proportion of the hundreds of assets below 1% will every go somewhere and I think it would be safe to consider them to be noise... Now, the market cap of a cryptocoin is a fairly nebulous concept for

  1. it could be quite thinly traded compared to the volume in issue (just like ordinary financial assets) and also
  2. the volume actually in issue could be unknown because unlike shares in a company, it is possibly to actually lose cryptocurrency and it has been argued that one third if the Bitcoin in existence is in fact no longer there.

However, for these reasons it is likely that the market cap of the larger cryptocoins which are more liquid, reflect more value than those of the minnows with less than 1% of the total. Perhaps MaidSafeCoin, number 69 and market cap near $150m, is going somewhere but I might be prepared to short it.


Help, I have three languages on my Ubuntu Linux desktop!

My fresh Ubuntu Linux installation in a Oracle VirtualBox virtual machine displays a surprising three languages... English, I can understand, Hungarian I chose but the day of the week in Afrikaans, next to the time, is really baffling. The Debian host system has Afrikaans as preferred language but I really do no think that it should propagate to guest operating systems. During installation, I did choose Johannesburg as my location (mainly for the time zone) but I have no recollection of being able to select a language, specifically for the time. The LC_ system variables in Linux are not one of my strong points but I more or less understand what they are about. On balance, I think this might be an error in the Ubuntu installation script, which still leaves me wondering why Afrikaans and not one of the 10 other official languages in Johannesburg.

Why Ubuntu on Debian? I would like to run some software which is not easy to install on Debian, specifically the UltraNote wallet.


Data – not so much at the bank

My parents use a large and once venerated South Africa bank where the CEO (conveniently, her husband was once minister of finance, and also competent, which must simplify some things) gets paid over R35 million per year, a lot of it surely in bonus. Nevertheless, my parents' Internet banking profile shows 3 credit cards on the website and 5 distinct ones in the app (all, apparently expired but showing the same balance) while the card that they actually use is nowhere to be seen or added. The call centre has just told me that the only way to change any of this is to visit a branch.

Now, my proposal to Ms Ramos is that for the nominal fee of R2 million, I can make her bank a much better business by clearing out some of this mess. Yes, I know that there are layers and layers of ancient systems and procedures but how about building a screen between these and the consumer? It's easy enough to find me. Alternatively, I am prepared to implement a system (if requested by the board and possibly for a more modest fee) to let customers vote on executive bonuses. ;-) :-) :-)