Art to science: Dating sites take another step toward science. 

Many years ago I wrote a popular  (for an academic)  article, “Measuring and Managing Technological Knowledge.” The basic idea is that some  concepts are well understood, many others are not, and over time the tendency is to move from poorly understood (crafts) to well understood (science). Anyway, in class I used the example of romance to prove that this model is very general. “When you were 14, you had absolutely no idea how to impress a girl. When you were 20, you at least knew what the key variables are, even though you didn’t know how to make them happen reliably.” Etc. (Another example is the increasingly scient8936_0a73de68f10e15626eb98701ecf03adbific business of prostitution – but I won’t tell that one here, and I doubt I had courage to tell it in class.)
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China is stealing software? Yes, but it’s not as useful as it sounds.

Inside the Chinese Boom in Corporate Espionage is the headline in a recent article in Businessweek (now named Bloomberg Businessweek). It reports an 007ish tale of software theft by a Chinese windmill company. American Superconductor Corp (AMSC) had a profitable partnership selling control systems to Chinese wind turbine company Sinovel. As for all expensive industrial equipment, software plays a vital role in wind turbines. So when stolen/edited copies of their software turned up in Sinovel machines, and Sinoval stopped accepting equipment from AMSC, it was a calamity for AMSC.

   The Business Week article implicitly blames high tech “Chinese espionage,” which has been getting a lot of coverage in the US press recently. But as a very interesting blog post by Steve Dickinson points out, the actual theft was very traditional. An insider (one of the software’s chief developers) was bribed  to turn over the source code. Nothing high-tech about the theft, unless you still call email “high tech.” And according to Dickinson, the theft was predictable, and was facilitated by lack of low-tech protection measures by AMSC. 

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