RIP, Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1949

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the world famous AK-47 assault rifle, has passed away today, at the age of 94.  He was a true genius and a patriot of his country.  Coming from a very simple family, with very little education, after serving as a tank mechanic and later as a tank commander, after being wounded, he designed more than 150 models of small weapons – rifles, assault rifles, machine guns, etc.

Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer … I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery.

Such were the times, I guess – growing up in the post Civil War, Revolution and First World War country, serving during the Second World War and seeing all horrors and dangers first hand, his peaceful mind was turned the other way.

I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists … I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower.

Looking into his engineering genius, I see the good old principle of keeping things simple:

When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, ‘All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed’ … So this has been my lifetime motto – I have been creating weapons to defend the borders of my fatherland, to be simple and reliable.

Truly inspiring.  RIP.

On Google’s Transparency Report

While catching up with my RSS feeds, I saw the latest Google Transparency Report from the end of last month.  The summary of the report basically says that the number of governmental requests to remove content from Google is raising quite rapidly.

transparency report 2013

There are also some clarifications of why that might be:

  • There was a sharp increase in requests from Brazil, where we received 697 requests to remove content from our platforms (of which 640 were court orders—meaning we received an average of 3.5 court orders per day during this time period), up from 191 during the first half of the year. The big reason for the spike was the municipal elections, which took place last fall. Nearly half of the total requests—316 to be exact—called for the removal of 756 pieces of content related to alleged violations of the Brazilian Electoral Code, which forbids defamation and commentary that offends candidates. We’re appealing many of these cases, on the basis that the content is protected by freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution.
  • Another place where we saw an increase was from Russia, where a new law took effect last fall. In the first half of 2012, we received six requests, the most we had ever received in any given six-month period from Russia. But in the second half of the year, we received 114 requests to remove content—107 of them citing this new law.
  • During this period, we received inquiries from 20 countries regarding YouTube videos containing clips of the movie “Innocence of Muslims.” While the videos were within our Community Guidelines, we restricted videos from view in several countries in accordance with local law after receiving formal legal complaints. We also temporarily restricted videos from view in Egypt and Libya due to the particularly difficult circumstances there.

One thing that I am missing is a correlation to the actual size of the Google index.  I mean, I of course understand that it is incomparably larger than all these requests combined, but I keep thinking that the more content you’ll index, the more removal requests you’ll get.  So, I think, it would be interesting to see the correlation in growth of removal requests to the growth of the Google’s global index.