FEATURED STORY

Four short links: 12 February 2016

Four short links: 12 February 2016

Slack's Voice, Accessible Experiences, IoT Design, and What I Learned

  1. Webstock: Bug Fixes & Minor Improvements — notes from Anna Pickard’s talk about being the voice of Slack, recorded by Luke Wroblewski.
  2. Webstock: The Map & The Territory — notes from Ethan Marcotte’s talk about making accessible experiences, recorded by Luke Wroblewski.
  3. Webstock: The Shape of Things — notes from Tom Coates’s talk about designing for the Internet of Things, recorded by Luke Wroblewski.
  4. Today I LearnedA collection of concise write-ups on small things I learn day to day across a variety of languages and technologies. These are things that don’t really warrant a full blog post.
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Risto Miikkulainen on evolutionary computation and making robots think for themselves

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: Evolutionary computation, its applications in deep learning, and how it's inspired by biology.

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In this week’s episode, David Beyer, principal at Amplify Partners, co-founder of Chart.io, and part of the founding team at Patients Know Best, chats with Risto Miikkulainen, professor of computer science and neuroscience at the University of Texas at Austin. They chat about evolutionary computation, its applications in deep learning, and how it’s inspired by biology.

Finding optimal solutions

We talk about evolutionary computation as a way of solving problems, discovering solutions that are optimal or as good as possible. In these complex domains like, maybe, simulated multi-legged robots that are walking in challenging conditions—a slippery slope or a field with obstacles—there are probably many different solutions that will work. If you run the evolution multiple times, you probably will discover some different solutions. There are many paths of constructing that same solution. You have a population and you have some solution components discovered here and there, so there are many different ways for evolution to run and discover roughly the same kind of a walk, where you may be using three legs to move forward and one to push you up the slope if it’s a slippery slope.

You do (relatively) reliably discover the same solutions, but also, if you run it multiple times, you will discover others. This is also a new direction or recent direction in evolutionary computation—that the standard formulation is that you are running a single run of evolution and you try to, in the end, get the optimum. Everything in the population supports finding that optimum.

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Tanya Kraljic on designing for voice at Nuance

The O’Reilly Design Podcast: Moving from GUI to VUIs.

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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I sit down with Tanya Kraljic, UX manager and principal designer at Nuance Communications. Kraljic recently spoke at OReilly’s inaugural Design Conference (you can find the complete video compilation of the event here). In this episode, we talk about the challenges of moving from graphical to voice interfaces, the voice tools ecosystem, and where she finds inspiration.

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Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

We’re seeing a renewed emphasis on design at Nuance—actually, much like in the technology industry as a whole. We’ve always had great engineers who are building this very complex, very cutting-edge technology. Now, we’re augmenting that with a human-centered approach to product strategy and development, which I think we’re already seeing as accelerating innovation in our own company and, hopefully, it will also help create better and more usable solutions as voice becomes available in all these different technologies.

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The new hardware movement at CES 2016

The O’Reilly Hardware Podcast: Observations from the Consumer Electronics Show.

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David Cranor and I have devoted this episode of the Hardware Podcast to a recap of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show. It’s probably the last recap you’ll hear, since the show happened four weeks ago, but that just means it’s had more time to marinate.

Signs of the new hardware movement were everywhere this year in the innovative new products as well as the cloud of fast-follower devices that surrounded each successful piece of hardware.

Items of note:

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Eric McNulty on real-time disaster reponse and leadership beyond control

The O'Reilly Radar Podcast: FEMA's Innovation Team and practicing leadership as if it's an Olympic sport.

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O’Reilly’s Jenn Webb chats with Eric McNulty, a consultant, writer, speaker, and catalyst for positive leadership. McNulty talks about real-time disaster response, the connections between disaster response and organizational leadership, and how today’s leaders can achieve order beyond control and influence beyond authority. McNulty will talk more about instituting effective leadership at the Cultivate leadership training at Strata + Hadoop World in San Jose in March.

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Here are a few highlights:

Right after Hurricane Sandy, I was here in New York and New Jersey, and FEMA deployed their first ever Innovation Team, which meant they were trying to innovate in the midst of disaster response. … They were coming together and building mesh networks in some cases. They were crowdsourcing evaluation of photographs. They would get the Civilian Air Patrol to do overviews of the effected areas. They’d upload that and people anywhere in the country could look at it and give it a basic evaluation of severe, moderate, or mild in terms of the damage. They were able to get situational awareness very quickly the way they never would have been able to otherwise. … They were able to innovate in real time in the field and see what worked and what didn’t; the then deputy administrator, who is now a colleague of mine at Harvard, said it fundamentally changed the way FEMA operates.

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