- Lots of reference to military applications
- Nuclear reactors and shielding
The algorithm was phenomenally complex (it's nuclear science, after all). And, we had a challenge in documentation that was impossible to clear up with the original algorithm implementors: most of the team involved had passed away more than a decade earlier.
It was one of the neatest programming challenges I've ever encountered. Those old-school engineers were cool, and I wish our industry could keep more of those people around to pass along what they learned and help teach our industry going forward. The technologies may change, but logic never goes out-of-date.
[edit to explain that gut reaction]
Physics and math practitioners would be far better candidates than a general computer scientist, for the domains described in this ad, even today.
These days, IBM is in decline. Friends/tech blogs/even sites like Cringely -- http://www.cringely.com/ -- note how IBM is quickly trying to shed any semblance to it's old self in names of meeting investor expectations.
IBM isn't the only legacy company in the same situation, we have seen this happen with HP as well as AT&T over the years. Microsoft Research, Google to a point, and Xerox Parc (after a period of decline) are stepping up for some long term/basic research. But, I wonder, will we every see the hey day of IBM Research, PARC, Bell Labs, etc. ever again?
IBM is still one of only very few companies doing truly interesting research.
Can you qualify that? Almost every big technology company and thousands of small ones have teams of smart people conducting interesting research across many fields. Take a look at any issue of Wired or Technology Review (or the top links to HN on any given day) to see some examples.
The companies whose work I see at CS conferences and in patent searches for core algorithmic techniques are mostly IBM, HP, Microsoft, and Google. The majority of companies that are in the top links on HN on a given day do not do interesting research of the type IBM is doing.
Further, there is a lot of reinventing of the wheel going on in the startup scene these days. Just look at "new" things like in memory databases, column stores, event driven frameworks (Node.js) and others. All of these things are many decades old and do not count as new research even though they are newly written implementations. They may be more approachable to the common developer than the decades old implementations, and that has value, but this is not "research".
How many of those companies are doing research that can be compared to what came out of Bell Labs in the 60's and 70's - the transistor, the laser, ... ?
IBM's work on advanced semiconductors and Watson certainly qualify. The later will probably be seen as one of the most important developments in the history of humanity and it wouldn't have been possible without the former.
> "These days, IBM is in decline. Friends/tech blogs/even sites like Cringely -- http://www.cringely.com/ -- note how IBM is quickly trying to shed any semblance to it's old self in names of meeting investor expectations."
I believe that is referred to as resource allocation/shifting. All corporations do this, not just IBM. It's not necessarily a bad thing nor good thing, it just is.
> "But, I wonder, will we every see the hey day of IBM Research, PARC, Bell Labs, etc. ever again?"
Simply browsing the technology/science sections on Google News will show what research companies like IBM, Google, etc. are involved in. Sure, Watson is the first thing people think of when they hear of IBM, but that's not their only endeavor. Just off the top of my head, last I read IBM was undergoing research in the areas of quantum computing and optimized processor fabrication techniques.
Given its size, any change at IBM will not be immediate, but it has been more in decline than rising.
Worth noting, also, minus the overt militaristic references, how similar these job descriptions are to a modern quantitative finance position.
I think you should be more thankful of and respectful towards the people "in the trenches," and also the technologists, who make it possible for you to live in a safe place and spend your time according to your desires.
Why didn't it?
There are no Mongol hoards waiting to invade, suggestions to the contrary come from those who profit from the fiction and those who buy into it.
No, politicians decided that. That's an important distinction. If we don't like what the military is doing, we need to place blame where it belongs: on the politicians.
There are no Mongol hoards waiting to invade
The military is still highly important. Think about the role it played in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII, to name a few wars that most consider to have been justified for the US to enter. More recently, the Gulf War where Hussein invaded Kuwait. I personally believe that in the future, Iran and/or North Korea will acquire a nuclear weapon that threatens US citizens. Somali pirates. Who knows what else will come up. We still need a military.
Do you recognize the problem here?
Regardless, this whole thought that we should be "thankful" to the American military is absurd. They have billions of dollars to spend every year, why do they also require thanks? Do tanks run on thanks?
No. Thanks is needed because without the blinding effect of popular societal support, their actions do not stand for themselves. The military requires praise to be shovelled onto it like coal into a furnace 24/7 so that its hired guns can continue to lie to themselves and sleep at night. Listen, if you think they should have thanks, then do it yourself; however it is not your place to scold others who want nothing to do with it.
(2) And, yes, you should be thankful that someone is willing to defend your freedoms.
(3) I don't scold people who don't thank the military; I scold people who denigrate the military. Actually, it's not scolding, it's showing a more rational way to think about it.
(4) I've enjoyed this, but I'm done here.
 I assert they do nothing of the sort.
 Call it what you like, telling people that they should be more respectful of the military when they express concern about being, by proxy, responsible for a loss of life, is... I don't even know how to describe it. Lets say "insensitive of the humanity of others".
If you cannot separate political policies from military ones, you cannot pretend to argue usefully about this.
"I only recognize that a distinction could exist when we restrict the discussion to conscripted armies."
You need to further elaborate on this, because one easy interpretation is that you have no idea how to reason about volunteer armies. I'm not going to even go into more esoteric arguments about how "volunteer" anything actually is--just consider that the military does not (except in some bizzaro world some people seem to want to live in) spontaneously go to war. The politicians guide policies, the politicians set agendas, and declare wars and deploy troops (for our sake here, I consider the President in the politician camp).
(I'll also argue that things like what the CIA/Homeland Sec. do that require drones and such are wrong, so save it.)
It is wrong to inflict injury on another human being (we could argue this, but let's not). That said, surgeons cut to good effect, police detain suicide attempts, and bouncers eject unruly patrons. We can argue that harm is being done in all those cases, but to good effect.
More to the point, though, javert is saying that the military deserves praise in terms of how effective/professional they are, and you did not disagree beyond saying that the divide between politics and force was beyond you.
You cannot with a straight face tell me that you refuse to agree that the (American) military is due praise for their ability due to their given directions--while at the same time participating in this community here on HN.
Tell me, what is the cost of pushing consumerism and advertising on people? What is the cost of buying the latest and greatest smartphone? What is the cost of the shinier, faster computer? What is the cost of developing games and amusements to distract and destroy manhours of productivity?
What is the cost of datamining to circumvent privacy and better target ads? Of streamlining sharing of information about friends who wouldn't do so themselves?
So, please, by all means, criticize those dumb sociopaths in the military--but hold yourself to the same goddamn standard when talking about the majority of your fellow hackers!
You are seriously undereducated on this. Were you born this stupid, or did you put effort into it?
At the very least, go read about how the war was actually executed, and to what degree politicians influenced military decisions (where to bomb, etc.). Read about the push to let natives do more of the fighting, and read about how shitty the South Vietnamese government was. There were a lot of factors involved, and few of them were failures of the military.
militaristic view of the world
That I think the military is a tool we need, does not make my worldview "militaristic." (Truly, I think the military is needed to ensure peace, but that's beside the point.)
should impose our views
I'm not imposing my views, I'm sharing my views. It's rational discussion. If you act as if sharing views equals imposing them, than you're giving a free bone to the dogs that want to destroy free speech (and believe me, they're more common than people think).
Not all tools are neutral. Tools also have intended uses and inherent affordances towards certain uses.
Yes, you can use a knife to kill and also to cut a piece of a cake. An RPG? Much less neutral.
>Without having a military, we would be up shit's creek.
Yes, but if you did not have a military, lots of countries around the world would also be better off. You know, from certain imperialist, self-serving, resource grubbing, our-idea-of-society-spreading kind of actions...
Looks more like something that was assigned to the Air Force mostly for public relations ("look, we also save lives").
No, it's not warm and fuzzy to think about things in this way, but we're not children and we don't have the luxury of idealistic naivety.
Those were not halcyon days for mathematicians, physicists and engineers. I'll take the juvenilization of the profession instead.
I appreciate that scientists don't always have freedom of choice under a brutal regime.
Stalin was a western ally. Stalin was, without doubt, evil.
German scientists worked for the US; they were recruited through Operation Paperclip.
There's interesting stuff about President Truman's anti-Nazi directive (tl;dr: Don't use scientists who were (or were supportive of) Nazis) and the way that was ignored.
No he wasn't; he was just an ally. The term "western allies" excludes the Soviet Union, that's why I intentionally chose it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Allies
German scientists that helped the US, to whatever extent they helped the US, did help to preserve our civilization, even if they tried to destroy it during the war. But let's ignore them; I'm talking about the thousands of American scientists and engineers worked on defense applications in the 20th century, and to some extent about those of Britain, Canada, France, and so forth.
When a man with his finger on the button of half the world's nukes says things like that, you damn well better put your best minds to work figuring out how not to let it happen.
The Soviets were, with some justification, terrified of a US first strike at the time.
What if there's a peaceful answer which sacrifices way of life instead of human life? Would supporting it be "luxury"?
People's cat pictures were a vanishingly small portion of the landscape.
As an example, cheap computing power is one of the reasons that while at the beginning of the 90's, nuclear power was considered a money losing proposition by electric utilities and everyone was trying to get out from under them but by the end of the decade, all the utilities were hanging on to their nukes for dear life and trying to figure out how to extend their licenses/service life.
Now, a much bigger percentage of the focus is simply getting information out of one spot, tranporting it to another, dolling it up w/some marketing glitz.
That's not to say that the cool stuff isn't still going on, but that it is a smaller percentage and the profession has been dumbed down significantly (hence brogrammers and all).
No I don't want to go back.
At my first job we did some work in expert systems and Ai(applying it to engineering problems) and one guy moved from those projects because of his concerns sbout the source of the funding.
I think computers should be employed to do useful things like 1. help us colonize space, 2. stop world hunger, 3. stop poverty, 4. stop war, 5. help people to love each other, 6. help us understand and love God/a higher being (assuming you believe in God/a higher being).
If your work is for some SAAS app that doesn't work toward those things- it is contributing to the death of humans just like a military application- only in a different way.
It makes me wonder what they were really doing back then vs what a job in those fields would look like today.
Related, I find it somewhat annoying when people abstract the job to such a degree that you can't see the tangible things you'd be working on in that field. I'm all for a "change the world" vision -- I really am, not just qualifying --, but sometimes I'd like to hear up front how they plan to solve that problem.
Last time I was job hunting, everything was asking for 5+ years experience in one software stack and multiple frameworks. Sometimes 5+ years in multiple fields. What changed?
Also, getting experience back then was fairly difficult. Just getting your hands on a computer to get the experience would have been a challenge. Compare that to today where there are kids, literally kids, programming at home right now. For example, I started programming when I was 17.
5+ years seems to me to be a strange expectation. That would mean you've had either multiple failing jobs and might be an undesirable, or you've been somewhere for 5+ years. If you've been there for 5+ years, what's motivating you to leave? Where do people expect to find these vast pools of highly-skilled jobless people who have experience with <software stack X> in <field which employs a couple thousand people nationally> within <narrow time window>? That they never find any seems to underscore how irrational the 'requirement' is in the first place, but I see it everywhere.
2 years = SDE 2
5+ = SDE 3, regardless of language.
I'm actually curious if one day there won't be a reversal of the trend...I would think it would be at the point where supply no longer meets demand. But really, who knows.
Though I personally wish we focused much more on (1) and (3) than (2) as a society.
I just watched the Svengoolie episode of "This Island Earth" and, early on, one of the characters mentioned how that era was called the "pushbutton age". Well, we live in more of a "pushbutton age" now but familiarity breeds contempt; conversely, unfamiliarity breeds a kind of awe, and unreasonable expectations that can leave a bad taste in peoples' mouths.
I personally remember going through it when the Internet was first beginning to trickle down to the masses, pre-Bubble, and I remember thinking that some of those ideas then were patently idiotic. But which!
And in the 1920s, radio went through the same thing, if not bigger. Radio!