Friday, December 05, 2014

2015 Breakthrough Prize: videos

Free Einstein: Fred Singer has informed me about a wonderful birthday gift, "Digital Einstein" to all the readers who have managed to have their birthday on December 5th – e.g. Werner Heisenberg, Shelly Glashow, or your humble correspondent. The Princeton+HUJI collection contains thousands of (scanned...) Einstein's papers – for free. ;-) Info. It's amazing to see how the 1896 papers' fonts look just like \(\rm\LaTeX\).
The 2015 Breakthrough Prize has gone to three experimental teams led by Perlmutter, Riess, and Schmidt who discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe about 15 years ago.

It's a change of the policy – they were experimenters and they came in large groups. While this diluted outcome may look less interesting, it adds some balance to the prize.

The playlist embedded at the top offers you 4+ hours of events that took place during the physics symposium dedicated to the prize.

First, there is a panel discussion featuring Milner and cosmologists Schmidt, Riess, and Perlmutter.

It is followed by approximately 20-minute talks by Hayden, Arkani-Hamed, Kitaev, Shenker, Seiberg, Preskill, Polchinski, Maldacena, Seljak, and Linde.

If someone manages to watch all of it or at least some of it ;-), I will be curious about her or his feedback.


  1. Great idea, the same way we have two phone networks, one for 'normal' calls and one for really important ones that need better service...

    Oh wait, that's not a thing that exists and we require high levels of service for all calls regardless of their purpose - and it works. If it does not, then more capacity is the solution, not tiering. Yeah, her argument sucks.

    Besides, she and you are assuming that ISPs are always benevolent, which is a pretty ridiculous assumption. Sorry, but its not a "communist" idea that monopolies or oligopolies can lead to lower consumer benefits or that collusion exists - thats basic mainstream economics, with countless examples of evidence from history supporting it. Sufficient competition is REQUIRED for capitalism to work well, because its the main force incentivising innovation or improvement of offered services. And this is why all industries suspectible to monopolies (network industries that require laying of cables/pipes being a prime example) need some regulation to prevent their appearance sooner or later and why anti-monopoly and anti-collusion bureaus exist.

    In Europe, there is still a relatively good competition between ISPs so anti-monopoly ISP regulation is not that critical (yet), which is why we have good unlimited connections available, but in the US the situation is dismal, competition between Comcast and TWC is virtually non-existent and as a result, their internet is already worse than in second world countries. If companies are benevolent and dont require competition to innovate, how do you explain this paradox, that the birthplace of the internet has worse service than former communist countries? And why do you assume they will not abuse tiered internet to entrench themselves even more, like we already saw with Netflix?

    Markets, like evolution, are not perfect. They are only "good enough". They sometimes need intelligent intervention to ensure that they are not being trapped in some deep local optimum (the US "broadband" internet) when its clear that a far better global optimum can exist (eastern european or japanese/korean internet). Completely Laissez-faire capitalism has no empirical and logical support in such cases, which is why most mainstream economists have abandoned it as a viable theory, at least when monopolies or oligopolies are involved - a situation when it very quickly breaks down and yelds false predictions.

  2. This is of course I nice cool discovery, so congratulations to them :-)

    ...but I always thought Milner prizes are more about theoretical fundamental physics, which is in fact what made them nicely complementary to the Nobel prize which is often more focused on experimental/applied physics?

    Is this no longer the case?

  3. Yep, as long as he let TDs and other similar minded experimenters in (I just had to call out a particle experimenter on Quora for claiming that ST makes not testable predictions ...) it might be ok ...

    And who would object againt an FFP for the detection of SUSY or something anyway ... :-)


  4. Exactly - that would be such a special moment that the experimenters may deserve the first prizes of this sort. Theorists to be rewarded could be harder to pick because the history of SUSY isn't trivial.

  5. Sorry, you're completely wrong about everything you write.

    Of course that it is the widespread practice that emergency calls, like 112, are treated as higher priority by GSM phones as well as networks.

  6. I thought that the first year's winners along with subsequent winners picked the next year's
    winners. Since the first year winners were all theorists, I expect mostly theorist winners, but I suppose they will pick some experimentalists.

  7. "the data needed for driverless cars" Shut down the rest of the Internet for six hours/day? Eco-orgasmic planet-saving "commuter lanes" that are themselves jammed solid cripple California freeways. The advocacy solution was to add (actually, subtract - exacerbating the problem) toll lanes whose automatically and dynamically billed rates zoom skyward to deter occupancy. The lanes have access barriers - once you are on, your wallet is held hostage.

    Get rid of all social engineering to make things work. What an unemploying regulatory disaster that would be.

  8. Dear Al, I am partly uncertain which sentences of yours are meant seriously but seriously:

    No one needs to shut the rest of the Internet for driverless cars. But it may be needed to give them a higher priority, for safety of the passengers, which may slow down the traffic e.g. for video streaming by a few percent.

    The actual competent managers or owners of the Internet wires and other infrastructure know very well that their wires are enough for both reliability-demanding things as well as lots of other traffic, but sometimes they need to make arrangements concerning the priority etc. which they are rather good at, too. It's counterproductive for the laymen-outsiders driven by oversimplified ideological slogans to command the actual professionals in the companies and restrict their generally wise behavior.

  9. Dear Lubos,
    For a Theory that touts itself as the ultimate, Why does string theory fails to predict CC from the start, without the attempts to force it to do so. Wouldn't you say there is a tension between string and the accelerating universe. Of course the comment is for clarification and not to put any theory down.

  10. thejollygreenmanDec 5, 2014, 5:39:00 PM

    And while they are at it they should ban business and first class seats on all airplanes and trains, and get a standardized menu on all restaurants serving the public so that those with more money cannot dominate the caviar and oyster consumption.

    Viva, wait for the revolution.

    Who pay these fools?

  11. I agree it's completely analogous to the business class air tickets. Or more expensive healthcare contracts. Or anything else.

    In all these cases, some people or companies have important enough job or goal so that they have enough money and they may afford to pay something that is above the standard quality and they often need to afford it.

    The people paying for such things are not necessarily evil. They're not even necessarily the rich ones - just mostly. But they simply need a better quality of some kind of services and when they pay more, they may get it.

  12. OneStringToDestroyThemAllDec 5, 2014, 6:38:00 PM

    You are just advocating social darwinism, that's what our society will be like if people listen to your bullshit

  13. I don't know how you define "social darwinism" but if it is a phrase describing the fact that different humans and groups of humans differ and have different resources and achieve different quality of services or products (or fellow people) they receive or buy, and that this inequality is used to optimize the overall system, I assure you that social darwinism has been an unavoidable part of the human lives throughout the 6,000+ years of the civilizations, the previous 2 million of years of homo sapiens, and – when generalized outside humanity – it has worked for the previous billions of years of life on Earth, too. Every day. In virtually every event. You are a complete loon if you want to pretend that life could work without those things.

  14. I was lucky enough to attend this event. Some very good talks and some great questions/discussion afterwards; lots of heavy hitters in the audience to go along with the speakers.

    Lubos, you might be particularly interested in(/entertained by) the exchange between Susskind and Polchinski after Joe's talk:

  15. Happy Birthday Lumo! Best wishes to you and the most interesting blog in the world.

  16. Glad you enjoyed that! And thanks for the summary of your updated viewpoint on this firewall question. It seems that things are still a bit murky, at least moreso than I thought.

    Best wishes for your birthday - my dad increments today as well.

  17. SteveBrooklineMADec 5, 2014, 9:02:00 PM

    I find myself leaning towards Lubos' side here. Communications companies have always provided faster/more certain connections for a premium. Look up "dedicated line," for example. You don't hear about them so much any more because the net is fast enough for most people's needs. But what would happen if it started to bog down? Would the government step in with "fair" rationing? That seems like the logical thing to do if you want government enforced net neutrality. I think such a thing would be a disaster, and I would rather have communication companies charging more for better service. That's how the rest of our economy works.

  18. Šťastný Narozeniny, Luboš. 👍 :)

    Shame I didn't know earlier — I would have had a big cake with candles delivered to your door*, complete with a surprise pop-out stripper in it just for you. Instead I'll order one for myself for tomorrow and report back on the 'test results'. :)

    Happy Birthday! And many happy returns.

    * I didn't have your address anyway — what an incredible stroke of luck for me! Tee hee! :)

  19. Dear Lumo,

    happy birthday from me too :-)

    Even though I am rather late to say this, be sure that the existance of your birthday makes me happy all about 365 days of the year since I have found you and TRF ;-)

    Have fun with your birthday presents, the ones we know about and the other ones ...!


  20. Hey Lubos, here is one Hillary-inspired country song for you ;-)

  21. And please keep your test results for yourself :)

    Bon anniversaire Luboš.

  22. Net neutrality actually does not forbid such "dedicated lines" with better performance. Even now, you can buy connections with different download/upload/ping characteristics! People who demand a better connection can buy it.
    It forbids treating different data types differently. If you already pay for a given connection, it will have to perform to specs no matter if you decide to send/receive HTML pages, video stream or encrypted packets and where/from where you transfer the packets.

  23. Frau Merkel obviously doesn't see the world of infinite capacity, as Herr Marx has anticipated: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

  24. As an often frustrated American telecommunications consumer I do agree with the general gist of some comments of yours.

    I don't agree that we can simply blame free market inefficiencies, as opposed to the vast inefficiencies of, for the lack of better term, democratic political processes.

  25. Well of course I shan't mention them to my wife. Will that do? :)

  26. It certainly is the most interesting blog in my world.

  27. OneStringToRuleLubosDec 6, 2014, 1:39:00 AM

    No one cares if your birthday is on dec 5, get a life.

  28. Happy Birthday!!!

  29. At least Dream Chaser has a fitting name. He loves to chase an illusion, does he not?

  30. Do you actually have anything intelligent to contribute?

  31. Free markets are like democracy itself. Both have obvious problems but no one has come up with a viable alternative for either.

  32. kashyap vasavadaDec 6, 2014, 3:26:00 AM

    Happy Birthday Lubos! I will give you an Indian Birthday
    wish. May you live 100 years and continue writing this interesting blog!

  33. From a Black Hole!

  34. Okay, but the difference here is that I do not want to correct democracy, just the processes that I perceive as preventing it from being fully realized. Same with free markets.

  35. "Free markets are like democracy itself. Both have obvious problems but no one has come up with a viable alternative for either."

    Gosh, Gene! A political statement we can both agree on. :)

    Moreover, both only are means to an end, and not ends in themselves.

    Also they're low-grade optimal: all the alternatives to either are far worse. If one could do everything for himself, and to a pretty high level of satisfaction in each of them, then one would need neither government nor market.

    Unfortunately most of us do not have recourse to our own personal world-destroying nuclear arsenal (and other less important things necessary to our wellbeing), so we have to make deals with others, trading of a bit of this and that for some of that and this. (Among other things, in practice this deal-making means the need for government of some kind. Too bad. Like needing a hat if it's raining.)

    I guess a religious comparison (and not a very good one at that, but it'll do) might be that one would go to a church to worship God, so a church would be very handy for that; but one would definitely be thought rather strange if he worshipped the church too.

    So it is with some free-marketeers who seem to worship the market for its own sake — a secular version of idolatry I suppose. And of course the same goes for democracy.

    There are obvious limits* to both but I wouldn't know where to start to try to classify them, and the attempt is fraught with danger too. It's a tricky business. But in general the fewer restrictions the better.

    * E.g. a majority decision that only people over six foot four will pay income tax, and letting a potential enemy supply all our defence needs because they'll give us the best bang for our buck.

  36. I don't know enough about and around this topic to form any thought-through opinion yet although my default position is, as ever, to keep government well out of it.

    My immediate reaction though on hearing that Merkel* was apparently on the side of the angels was to call bollocks. My next thought was: what's her game? And the instant answer was another question: is she playing good cop to the other leftards' bad cop, with them both in on the game together?

    This would be the usual diversionary theatre act these ####s put on for the masses and the dumbarse media to give the impression that a struggle were taking place between them when all along the final result was decided well ahead of time by all concerned but making it look as if some reasonable well thought-out compromise had been achieved when the dust finally settles.

    I don't know. But you need to watch the pea very carefully when these ####s are on stage.

    * She is in favour of the euro for one thing — a political programme from head to toe, a huge unaccountable power grab, and NOTHING ELSE.

  37. I thoroughly enjoyed that film, but that was a long time ago. I still like it but I've firmed up a lot since. I don't deal with injuns no more. :)

  38. Yeah, I am likewise skeptical regarding Hillary's empathy. I fear she is much more like Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, if not worse.

  39. That would be la Clinton, would it?

    Well just how far can you spit, Tony? :)

    They're all the same over here too.

  40. Our founding fathers did not want democracy to be fully implemented and did an amazing job of preserving it's benefits while minimizing its dangers. Similarly, many laws restrict free markets. The Sherman Act makes commerce more competitive and EPA rules often improve our safety and our environment. Sometimes they go too far.

  41. LOL, nice, but I am probably not *this* great a fan. ;-)

  42. It's a completely illogical, artificial, and ill-defined distinction, and your "clarification" would mean that all the "bad examples" that have been mentioned by net neutrality advocates were fraudulent because your version of net neutrality doesn't apply to them.

    The sender of a packet is surely a part of the "type of data" that is being sent. An ISP distinguishes data from its own clients and other data, and it won't accept data from its clients who haven't paid the fee. All these things matter and have to matter for obvious reasons.

    It is completely artificial to say that the ISP can't define separate conditions for different types of data - like large video files, streaming video, or generic images on ordinary-size web pages. They have different implications for the ISP - and different expenses - so of course that the ISP must be allowed to take these special features of the data into account.

  43. Excellent words, Tony. Someone defending net neutrality has mentioned this "infinite capacity" Marxist meme quite explicitly and proudly.

    Everything must have whatever he desires and whoever he is. And when the Internet lines are not enough, they have to be expanded. Well, it clearly follows that all the Internet lines everywhere have to be pretty much infinite because everyone may always demand something better and he will be entitled to have the same connection and services that clearly mustn't break.

    This is the kind of sick mindless communist management that has turned my country from a top-ten wealthiest country to a marginally third-world one. We would be wasting for the same bus connections to the most irrelevant village, and millions of other things. The very philosophy of net neutrality is to never use the available resources efficiently, to always hide differing costs and benefits of different things, simply to forcedly (by interventions) cripple the market and its ability to make the lives of the humans better.

  44. Good comment, Gene. The conflation of "empathize" and "sympathize" - I agree it's essential here to distinguish - is a part of a broader problem, a superficial black-and-white optics on everything.

    Everything is either "black" or "white", and adjectives are divided to "black" and "white", too. So people don't want to see any difference between different adjectives that sound "black" and between different adjectives that sound "white", and those in the media often want to use the strongest version of "black" or the strongest version of "white".

    The world isn't black-and-white and this simple, however, and when one neglects all these colors and nuances, it is not shocking that he will mostly end up with a "mostly wrong" assignment of the basic (non-)colors "black" and "white" themselves.

    Right, I also wanted to say that Merkel's rational attitudes to various things may depend on her scientific experience. Exactly the kind of "distinguishing nuances" is something that Merkel may also do. It doesn't mean that I think she is flawless but she is not the kind of a hooray black-and-white knee-jerk-mindlessly-reacting politician.

  45. Thanks a lot for your wishes, friends and readers!

  46. I'm not well read up on American history and the founding of your nation but I'd say I'm a lot more so than your average Englishman, which isn't saying much.

    That said, what I have read has had a profound effect on me. For the good, I should add. I find it all extremely impressive. The more I learn the better it gets. The history that is. (Meanwhile I understand a great deal of progressive progress has been made in subverting the achievements of your Founding Fathers — exponential growth of a minimal Federal Government and an Executive that is getting out of control. But we have the same problems too — indeed it seems to be de rigueur the West these days.)

    If Shannon is tuning in, then I might also add that I do get pretty pissed off when liberals or the chattering classes here mention revolution in a good light, they almost invariably cite the French one and its slogan, but hardly ever the American one or its slogan, which were FIRST! I don't know why that is. Probably because they're all ###king socialists.

    Of course, yours were both MUCH more to my taste.

    I won't say any more on this as Anglo-French relations here seem to be pleasantly stable at the moment except to say that two of the three words in the French slogan wouldn't be heard on my lips. And no points for guessing which two. :)

    Your EPA sucks. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.

    There, that was for balance! :)

    Our equivalent sucks too if it makes you feel any better. It's infested with maniacal greentards. Among other things it was responsible for the massively damaging flooding in Somerset this year. These people are out of control. Yours are too by the sounds of it.

  47. They dont have different implications and expenses - a packet is a packet. It does not cost more electricity or bandwidth to transfer the same size packet just containing different data. The cost of transferring 500 GB of web pages vs. 500 GB of video files or encrypted data is the same for an ISP.

  48. "They dont have different implications and expenses - a packet is a packet."


    The information contained in different packets DOES have vastly different implications; and yes, this DOES makes some packets more valuable than others an deserving of a higher priority.

    Only fools would put the equal sign between packets containing information which can save a life (emergency calls, etc) and packets containing, for example, porn.
    And I know this comes as a shock to you, but I put far more value on saving lives than on enhancing your masturbation experience by ensuring a good connection for porn, Dream Chaser.

  49. Lubos - I agree that Hillary's remarks were innocuous and I also agree with your comments on the role of empathy.
    However, Hillary has never exhibited the slightest capacity for either empathy or sympathy in her personal, professional, or political life. The same is true of the administration she served; far more so than previous administrations. They seem to lack any understanding of their enemies or allies, both internationally and domestically. Instead, they offer ready made ideological explanations for everything, which at this point seem both delusional and mendacious. The failures which have resulted at home and abroad are by now apparent to everyone.
    The criticism of her remarks that I have read (I haven't watched TV news for ten years) has been directed at her pretense of empathy and what she claims it has revealed, not her remarks per se, and with this criticism I agree.

  50. I think Gene was pointing out the fact that the U.S. was designed to prevent democracy, the tyranny of the majority, from being fully realized. Perhaps one must be of a certain age to know that the U.S. is a republic, not a democracy.

  51. Happy birthday Lubos, sorry for the delay :) I didn't know your birthday was yesterday.

  52. A belated Happy Birthday to you, Lubos!
    Like you I was born in Northern Hemispherical winter-time but on the other side of the Winter Solstice (Jan 9).

  53. Video-streaming driverless cars is a huge bandwidth with no less than lightspeed time delay (and at least 1/3 slower in fiber or copper) in both directions, plus intermediary computation. Freeway speed limit is 65 mph or 95 feet/sec; absent cops going to ~80 mph or 117 ft/sec (certainly in Arizona with baseline 75 mph). Average car separation on a moving freeway is maybe 20 feet. I've gone Santa Barbara to LA nearly bumper to bumper at 50 mph on a Sunday afternoon. Control must be local and errorless or it is lethal bullšit.

    The SB to LA commute is every Sunday. Everybody knows what they are doing. If anybody screws up, cover 40 miles of wrecks with concrete and start again.

  54. Doctor SchwickerDec 6, 2014, 5:37:00 PM

    For a genius, you can be pretty stupid sometimes...

  55. Maybe Hillary is forced to display empathy if she wants to become president. Maybe the unitedstatians will be forced to empathize with allies and ennemies. If they do then, wow, that would be a big step for unitedstatians. They will start feeling things they never felt before ;-). Stay tune.

  56. Happy Birthday indeed, Lubos!

    And thank you for one of your many gifts, the link to the spectacular Einstein archive. It is immensely interesting, and will have many uses to many people. I’ll mention just one that may not be so obvious: Einstein’s notes on Weber’s course at ETH are incredibly detailed. They record a lot of elementary physics that students need to learn, just like scales on the piano, before proceeding to advanced topics. As but one example, shows Einstein (via Weber) working through the capacitance of a cylindrical capacitor, complete with dielectric constant. This gives the lie to the popular notion of some isolated genius producing great thoughts out of the vacuum. He did indeed think great thoughts, while working in near-isolation, but this was all based on a sound base of knowledge of elementary physics. The various nut jobs who try to circumvent this suffer from at least two defects: they haven’t paid their dues learning basic physics and they are not Einstein.

    To be sure, these notes are from over a century ago, and lecturers today need to think hard about presenting ‘elementary’ physics in a way that makes contact with the exciting research frontiers of the 21st century. But there is no royal road to the frontier...

  57. Doctor SchwickerDec 6, 2014, 5:57:00 PM

    Not nonsense at all. A packet is a collection of bits. How those bits are interpreted and used by the consumer is irrelevant, and more importantly, increasingly unknowable as more content is encrypted by default. Net Neutrality is not trying to impose some new restriction on the internet to change how it behaves. It's trying to preserve the existing and highly successful model, by PREVENTING exactly that which will ultimately harm innovation.

  58. Doctor SchwickerDec 6, 2014, 6:03:00 PM

    That is a dismally stupid and failed analogy.

    Anyone from the US understands that in most areas you can pay a higher price to get a better level of connectivity. Most ISPs provide tiers of service. The fact that this idiotic comparison continues to be made by otherwise intelligent people makes it clear this issue is not being discussed rationally at all, but rather with religious fervor.

    The thing I find hardest to believe is that anti-big government people are so in favor creating special additional legislation in this particular case, while simultaneously despising the government which will implement their desired plan. .

  59. Doctor SchwickerDec 6, 2014, 6:06:00 PM

    "Sorry, you're completely wrong about everything you write."
    Your claim is that every single thing he has written is incorrect. Since that is trivially simple to disprove by simply identifying one or two factually correct statements, your own claim can be automatically dismissed as hyperbole.
    Either you're lying, or exaggerating, or you're too stupid to understand that your intelligence does not extend to areas outside your own limited experience.

  60. Doctor SchwickerDec 6, 2014, 6:07:00 PM

    Oh the irony.

  61. Doctor SchwickerDec 6, 2014, 6:13:00 PM

    I realize I have no chance of surviving in your comments section, because your juvenile and immature attitude towards those who disagree with you will not permit you to keep openly derogatory comments towards you public without some sort of "last word" by you, followed by a ban of me to prevent my response. I don't particularly care, because I won't be back here again anyway, and I consider it far more likely that you will simply delete my comments as "spam" or whatever thing you choose to call that with which you disagree.

    I doubt you even have the imagination to consider that your understanding of physics doesn't translate into equal understanding of human relationships, but you are absolutely TERRIBLE at debating others. Your rhetoric is hackneyed and cliched, your ad hominems are juvenile and immature, and your blind acceptance of absolute viewpoints flies directly in the face of your own claims that issues are never black-and-white.

    Please return to string theory, where your vituperative personality will inflict less damage on the already toxic environment in which public debate currently takes place.

  62. How bits are being used by the recipient is obviously not irrelevant - the ways to use is the whole reason why the packets are sent in the first place.

    Your complaint about "encrypting by default" isn't a complaint against the discrimination at all. Obviously, a packet that hides the type of the content and/or the sender or recipient must be given a lower priority. It's that simple. Packets that have a higher priority are those that are screaming "I am special" or "I am deciding about human lives" or "I have been paid for", and if the packets don't allow to be recognized as the higher-priority packets along similar lines, it's almost certainly because they are not higher-priority packets!

  63. I agree that this issue isn't being discussed rationally because for one side, it is a matter of religion. It is your side.

    You have repeated comments like "it is wrong" and added expletives like "idiotic" everywhere but you have never elaborated upon these slurs and you have never added any rational argument to my (and others') specific analogies and arguments. You haven't added any rational arguments simply because you don't have any.

    I am not in favor of any new legislation, except perhaps when it comes to the duties of ISPs and their prioritization systems needed to preserve lives and similar things. But otherwise it's business and it's up to the business people.

  64. "Net Neutrality is not trying to impose some new restriction on the internet to change how it behaves."

    That's an orwellian level of propaganda on your part. As it turns out, you're not even ashamed for using it.

    It's blatantly obvious net neutrality is all about imposing new restrictions on the internet, changing how it behaves. One immediate (and, again, obvious) pernicious consequence of net neutrality will be more human death and suffering, due to essential services not being given priority over trivial information.

    BTW, such restrictions, in any highly competitive environment (such as ISPs), will always harm future innovation, by eliminating whole avenues where potential improvements can take place.

  65. The issue is not the age but the context. In particular, under 'inefficiencies of democratic political processes' I meant voters participation and education on the issues, ownership of the government by big corporate money, government corruption, etc.

  66. I listened to most of the talks, have about an hour left and I think I have to listen to some talks twice. Interesting and enjoyable!

    Also interesting that Yuri Milner, the founder of the Breakthrough Foundation, spent his last 30 years in finance. So he is now spending some money to support his old passion, I assume.

  67. Frustrated telecommunications consumers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but the inefficiencies of democratic political processes!

  68. There would be no reason for the frustrated telecommunications consumers to even think about the experiences of the other consumers, much less seek some union with the unknown persons who also happened to be telecommunications consumers, if the free markets were actually at work.

    One could simply switch to another provider, which offers a better deal, and the free markets would take care of the rest.


  70. Strange that the most important argument about monopolies has not yet been mentionned.
    Far left wing and far right wing (both are equivalent in the monopoly issue) morons always use the argument that private monopoly or oligopoly appears because a company wants to eliminate competition in order to dominate the market and impose much higher profits.
    Well this actually never happens for a long time and for a simple reason. Let's assume there is a (necessarily evil) private monopoly in the US that delivers low quality high margin product or service.
    There are outside of US companies that master the technology and are always looking how to increase their profits.
    So what they do is to invest in US because the quality there is low and the margins high. And the nicest feature of the free market is that a private company can't really stop them.
    The foreign company will simply start with the juiciest high density, high margin markets and build new cables or launch new satellites.
    Another nice feature of this is that once it is done, the business instantly becomes a marginal business - e.g the crushing part of costs are amortisations of fixed assets and the proportionnal costs are very low.
    Then the former monopoly is disarmed - even if it tries to counter with lowering the prices (hey, that is already a competition, isn't it ?) you have still interest to continue your operations because you make always a positive margin on variable costs. The result is that the quality increased and the prices decreased.
    This is simply inevitable.
    The reason why far left morons are unable to provide a rational argument about these topics is that they never understood the economy of a private company and the foundations of capitalism. They actually hate the economy and the capitalism and prefer low brow politics instead.
    Indeed the true and only key to the creation of a stable monopoly is the state. If almost all monopolies that have ever existed were state supported monopolies, it has also an obvious reason. Only a state can enforce a monopoly and stop competition by sending cops, army or judges to kill an undesirable competitor.
    A private company alone can never do that.
    We had it this in Czechoslovakia for decades - even the newspaper&cigarettes stands could be a state monopoly because if you tried to sell cigarettes on your own, you'd be sent to a specialised reeducation center with severised regime. Private companies can't do that.
    I won't repeat what Lubos already said - creating artificial "equalities" by state interventions in businesses (like if the state bureaucrates were objective, independent and selfless !) just leads to a criminal waste of ressouces that harms everybody and transforms whole countries in underdevelopped swamps.
    But I guess that's what the far left aparatchiks really want deep inside because that is a way how icompetent and mediocre people can get to power.

  71. Yet another BS on this topic.

    One issue is the capacity - You want to be sure that you critical system has always at least 1Mbps available? No problem, but that means that possibly a new physical connection will have to be established... so pay for it accordingly.

    I have 40Mbps connection available - does it mean that I have a guarantee? Of course not what is guarateed might be something like 512kbps or so... that is why it doesn't cost me that much money...

    The other issue is net neutrality. What the companies have problem with is e.g. torrent traffic, youtube and other VoD services. So naturally they want to prioritize. But the problem is sort of made by them.

    They are trying to sell internet connections with capacity of Gbps, but it doesn't look good on the marketing materials that only a few hundred kbps is actually guaranteed.
    So the solution is simple: just stop lying about what you are selling.

    Then buy such connectivity that you critical services fit into the guarateed part and all the "fun" like VoDs etc. will simply not be guaranteed work all the time...

  72. Dear Karle, no Internet traffic can be quite guaranteed to have the bandwidth simply because it may happen that the lines are flooded with unexpected extra traffic that is potentially unbounded from above.

    However, such situations may be made unlikely or very unlikely or virtually impossible by various clever arrangements. Fast lanes or prioritization can achieve almost certainty because the amount of traffic of "specified special forms", with restricted enough sides of the exchange, and types of packets, may be guaranteed to require a bounded bitrate, and if they get a priority over everything else, it's guaranteed that they won't be slowed down.

    This is really needed for telemedicine or self-driving cars, as Merkel would point out.

    I don't understand your comment that "the problem is made by them". It's pure crap and you know that, don't you? My connection shows almost always the same bitrate via It's unlikely that I get a substantially smaller bitrate. And of course that they should tell you roughly the right bitrate, and you should also understand it properly - what is the overhead etc.

    But it doesn't mean that there can be 100% guaranteed big bitrate for all the consumers. The ISPs *have* to assume that all the consumers won't be using the maximum capacity at the same moment because if it were so, the bandwidth would be insufficient literally by orders of magnitude.

    You are living outside reality if you expect that the ISPs could or should increase all of their Internet lines by several orders of magnitude just to be "completely certain" that the bitrate won't ever drop below the nominal one, for millions of people. Such extra Internet lines would cost so much money that the price of the Internet plan would double or triple - obviously, no sensible person wants such a thing.

    But it doesn't seem like you are approaching this whole issue as a sensible person. I think that you - and most of the net neutrality advocates - approach this problem from the point of view of a spoiled brat who feels entitled to miracles and infinite capacity and infinitely perfect services for the minimum fees and prices - it's the problem of the ISPs how they do it.

    Sorry, the world can't work like that. The ISPs not only can't violate the laws of mathematics and physics but they must also generate profit - roughly the same profit they are making today - so these miracles for free simply can't be done.

  73. I am not saying that the ISP should back up all the capacity that is "sold" in the contract (i.e. the maximum capacity). But the fact how much is backed up should be part of the deal (and it usually is).

    E.g. You are buying 100Mbps connection (teoretical maximum available), but since we have 10.000 users, we guaratee 128kbps.

    Then it is up to the customer to prioritize his traffic so that the most critical always goes first.

    In practice this is done by the routers that relay the traffic. If person A has a guarantee of 10Mbps with 100Mbps maximum, person B 1Mbps with 100Mbps maximum then it is obvious that the ISP has to have 11Mbps available all the time.

    Router then queues the packets in the memory and sends them in the chosen order to fit the criteria.

    And when I say "guaranted", "always available" etc. I of course mean the negotiated service level (e.g. 99% of the time etc.).
    And of course each "9" in the availability costs, sometimes milions of dollars.

    So when the hospital needs 99,999% available connection with 10Mbps and 99% available connection with 1Gbps. Then it is obvious that they will not be able to make this happen without some backup (private, dedicated) circuits ... but then we are not really discussing general "Internet connection".