Nash's Nobel prize

Our coverage on the award of the Nobel prize for economics to John Nash in 1994

The games economists play | Oct 15th 1994

Game theory is now part of almost every economist's tool-kit, as this week's Nobel economics prize recognises

IT SOUNDS like a sports fan's dream. In Stockholm on October 11th, three men shared a $1m prize for their skill at analysing games. They are not television pundits, or armchair critics of Manchester United or the Miami Dolphins, but economists. Two Americans, John Harsanyi and John Nash, and a German, Reinhard Selten, have won this year's Nobel prize for economics for their studies of "game theory".

Game theory may sound trivial. It is not. In the past 20 years or so it has revolutionised the economics of industrial organisation and has influenced many other branches of the subject, notably the theories of monetary policy and international trade. These days, no economics students can hope to graduate without knowing the rudiments of it.

Odd though it may seem, until game theory came along most economists...Continue reading


Memorial Day Weekend Open Thread -

Enjoy your three day weekend. Deposit your thoughts carefully into the repository conveniently provided below.
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AMD Teases Upcoming Video Card

Between Financial Analyst Day 2015, their briefing on High Bandwidth Memory, and now a carefully seeded hardware sample to DICE developer and uber guru Johan Andersson, AMD is making sure that no one is left unaware that they will be introducing a new video card this quarter.

With both Computex and the AMD-sponsored PC Gaming Show taking place next month, June should be a busy time in the PC hardware industry.

AT&T: Net Neutrality Rules Violate Our First Amendment Rights -

In a statement of issues (pdf) outlining its legal assault on the FCC's net neutrality rules, AT&T makes it clear it will claim the new rules violate the company's First Amendment rights. The filing doesn't really detail AT&T's full legal reasoning, but the telco plans to argue that the FCC's new rules "violate the terms of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and the First and Fifth Amendments to the US Constitution."

It's an argument the cable industry used in 2009 when trying to stop the FCC's original, flimsier, net neutrality rules.

Verizon argued the same thing when it successfully dismantled those rules in 2010 via lawsuit. "Broadband networks are the modern-day microphone by which their owners engage in First Amendment speech," Verizon claimed at the time.

Verizon won in court, but not because of its Constitutional arguments.

The FCC's original rules tried to apply common carrier type restrictions on broadband providers, something the court declared the FCC couldn't do -- unless it formally declared broadband ISPs to be common carriers under Title II. As such, the FCC formally declared ISPs as common carriers back in February, and now believes it operates on firm legal footing.

CenturyLink, the CTIA and USTelecom have also cited the First and Fifth Amendments in their own statement of issues, notes Ars Technica. AT&T is effectively suing the FCC twice for good measure; once on its own, and once as a member of USTelecom.

The First Amendment has been trotted out by broadband industry lawyers for a number of different legal efforts.

Verizon tried to argue in 2007 that the First Amendment protected its right to participate in the government's warrantless domestic surveillance program. Other ISPs, like Charter Communications, have leaned on the First Amendment when trying to dodge video franchise obligations.

Fear of Neutrality Has ISPs Playing Nice On Interconnection -

While broadband ISPs have repeatedly claimed that the country's new net neutrality rules would destroy the Internet, so far they're having quite the opposite effect. Comcast Communications is the latest to strike a new interconnection deal with Level 3 before the FCC's new neutrality rules take effect on June 12. For the first time ever, those rules allow companies to file formal complaints if they believe an ISP is engaged in anti-competitive behavior on the interconnection front.

Comcast and Level 3 have been fighting for years, with Level3 accusing Comcast of holding its massive subscriber base hostage as a way to extract steeper interconnection tolls and eliminate the idea of settlement-free peering. In a blog post last year, Level 3 accused Comcast and other ISPs of "deliberately harming" network performance to make an extra buck.

According to Comcast's announcement, all that's magically behind them now and Comcast is now "delighted" to have a deal signed:

"We are delighted to strengthen our relationship with Level 3. Today s announcement reflects the important ways in which network participants exchange value in an innovative marketplace," said John Schanz, chief network officer at Comcast Cable. "We place great value on our relationships with network partners like Level 3 and are continually seeking mutually beneficial, market-driven agreements that enhance value throughout the network."
The deal comes on the heels of a flood of similar deals between Verizon, AT&T, Cogent and Level 3. You'll recall Cogent, Netflix and Level 3 had been accusing AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner Cable of letting peering points intentionally saturate in order to create a state of "permanent congestion," thereby forcing companies like Netflix to pay for direct interconnection if they wanted consumer stream performance uninterrupted.

Despite last mile ISP efforts to kill settlement-free peering, many of these new deals don't involve payments. Cogent and Level 3 had hinted that they'd file complaints when the new rules went into effect. As such, the mere threat of real neutrality enforcement appears to have Verizon, AT&T and Comcast suddenly on their very best behavior.

Charter Website Flaw Exposed Customer Information -

18 year old security researcher Eric Taylor has found a security vulnerability in Charter Communication's website exposing the personal data of around a million users. Speaking to Fast Company, Taylor stated that a simple header modification performed with a browser plug-in could reveal details about Charter broadband customers.

Taylor was the same person that discovered a similar vulnerability in Verizon's website earlier this month, and the same vulnerability in Comcast's systems back in 2013.

While the Verizon vulnerability "only" exposed user IDs, phone numbers, and device names, the Charter flaw exposed "way way way more" personal data. Like Verizon, Charter's website identified Charter customers by IP address, which made spoofing an identity a relatively trivial affair:

Using a lightweight add-on for Firefox to modify HTTP headers, called "X-Forwarded-For Header," an attacker essentially could pass off a Charter customer's IP address as their own. The plug-in, as its description explains, "Inserts a X-Forwarded-For field into the HTTP Request header. Some servers look at this field to identify the originating IP address."
While credit card numbers weren't exposed, payment details, modem serial numbers, device names, account numbers and home addresses were. In a statement Charter insisted that around 1 million of the company's 5.9 million customers were impacted by the flaw.
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FCC Warns ISPs It's Getting Tough on Privacy Issues -

The FCC has issued an enforcement advisory (pdf) warning broadband ISPs that the agency's now going to be seriously enforcing privacy-related issues. The unsurprising move comes after the agency's reclassification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II, and after a series of recent roundtable discussions on how ISPs could better protect consumer privacy.

Simply put, the FCC is warning ISPs that they're bound by the tough privacy protections already established for traditional phone service (Section 222 of the Communications Act). These are relatively basic protections that include not sharing personal data with third parties unless consumers give explicit permission, or ensuring stored consumer data is encrypted.

"The Commission has found that absent privacy protections, a broadband provider s use of personal and proprietary information could be at odds with its customers interests," the FCC said in its advisory.

Unsurprisingly, ISPs have fought tooth and nail against any new privacy requirements in the age of zombie cookies, location data tracking, clickstream monitoring, and other sophisticated new snoopvertising.

Verizon, for example, for years has fought privacy protections, claiming that "public shame" would keep them honest in terms of privacy. Of course Verizon was caught recently modifying user data traffic to embed undeletable stealth cookies users couldn't opt out of, something it took security researchers two months to find and another six months for Verizon to seriously address.

The FCC has yet to get specific about precisely some of the specifics of the plan, it's urging ISPs to come forward and ask the regulator questions as a sign of "good faith." It's unclear what the FCC intends to see as broadband violations; AT&T's decision to charge its Gigapower customers $30 more if they want to opt out of deep packet inspection and ads