Four short links: 9 June 2020

Monopolies, Internet Voting, Trends, and Translating Programming Languages

By Nat Torkington
June 9, 2020
Four Short Links
  1. Anti-Monopoly Thinking — Tim Bray reviews “The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition” by Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn. The quote that caught my eye:
    “X companies control Y% of the US market in Z: X=2, Y=90, Z=beer; X=4, Y=almost all, Z=airlines; X=5, Y=50, Z=banks; X=2, Y=90, Z=health insurers in many states; X=1, Y=75%, Z=fast Internet, most places in the US; X=3, Y=70, Z=pesticides; X=3, Y=80, Z=seed corn.”
  2. Eugene Spafford on Internet VotingReally one of the goals of an election should be that whoever loses in an election can look at what happened and acknowledge it was a fair loss. For the general population, if your candidate lost and if a majority of people are able to examine the methodology, they can go, “OK, it was fair. We didn’t have the votes.” That’s really the goal. The winner is always going to say, “Yeah, this is right.” I’d not thought of it this way, but obviously yes: we vote so we don’t have bloody revolutions, but voting without credibility will still get us bloody revolutions.
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  4. Radar Trends to Watch: June 2020 — Interesting to see new languages coming up at regular intervals with strengths in particular areas.
  5. Unsupervised Translation of Programming LanguagesWe train our model on source code from open source GitHub projects, and show that it can translate functions between C++, Java, and Python with high accuracy. Our method relies exclusively on monolingual source code, requires no expertise in the source or target languages, and can easily be generalized to other programming languages. We also build and release a test set composed of 852 parallel functions, along with unit tests to check the correctness of translations. We show that our model outperforms rule-based commercial baselines by a significant margin.
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