Behind the Hoverboard Craze (BoingBoing) — Bernstein is interested in this phenomenon as “memeufacturing” — a couple of social-media stars (or garden-variety celebs) post viral videos of themselves using an obscure gadget, and halfway around the world, factories shut down their e-cig lines and convert them, almost overnight, to hoverboard manufacturing lines. Bernstein cites a source who says that there are 1,000 hoverboard factories in South China.
neural-vqa — VIS+LSTM model for Visual Question Answering. Scroll to the end and see the questions it’s answering about photos.
Open Season in Editing Genes of Animals (NY Times) — “We’re going to see a stream of edited animals coming through because it’s so easy,” said Bruce Whitelaw, a professor of animal biotechnology at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh. “It’s going to change the societal question from, ‘If we could do it, would we want it?’ to, ‘Next year we will have it; will we allow it?’”
RTS AI (PDF) — standard techniques used for playing classic board games, such as game tree search, cannot be directly applied to solve RTS games without the definition of some level of abstraction, or some other simplification. Interestingly enough, humans seem to be able to deal with the complexity of RTS games, and are still vastly superior to computers in these types of games. Talks about the challenges in writing AIs for Real-Time Strategy games.
Elasticsearch SQL — Query elasticsearch using familiar SQL syntax. You can also use ES functions in SQL. Apache2-licensed.
In Communist China, Tinder Screws You — Chinese Tinder clone Tantan is endangering young women and men by failing to use encryption and exposing private data like that made public in the Ashley Madison hack.
The Advertising Bubble (Maciej Ceglowski) — This is an article-length ad (1) targeted at companies selling software (2) to advertising startups (3) sellling their own ads (4) God knows where, possibly to some publishing startup burning through your grandmother’s pension fund (5,6,7,8). There’s an ad bubble. It’s gonna blow.
Fortran for LLVM — The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its three national labs today announced they have reached an agreement with NVIDIA’s PGI® software to create an open source Fortran compiler designed for integration with the widely used LLVM compiler infrastructure. Rumor has it the nuclear labs will defer implementation of READ DRUM to later generations.
Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream (Amazon) — Clay Shirky’s new 128-page book/report about how Xiaomi exemplifies the balancing act that China has to perfect to navigate between cheap copies and innovation, between the demands of local and global markets, and between freedom and control. I’d buy Clay’s shopping list, the same way I’d gladly listen to Neil Gaiman telling the time. (via BoingBoing)
Feed Siri Instructions From 16 Feet Away (Wired) — summary of a paywalled IEEE research paper Their clever hack uses those headphones’ cord as an antenna, exploiting its wire to convert surreptitious electromagnetic waves into electrical signals that appear to the phone’s operating system to be audio coming from the user’s microphone. […] It generates its electromagnetic waves with a laptop running the open source software GNU Radio, a USRP software-defined radio, an amplifier, and an antenna.
User-Centered Design (Courtney Johnston) — the wall label should always give you cause to look back at the art work again. I love behaviour-based indirect measures of success like this.
Police Program Aims to Pinpoint Those Most Likely to Commit Crimes (NYT) — John S. Hollywood, a senior operations researcher at the RAND Corporation, said that in the limited number of studies undertaken to measure the efficacy of predictive policing, the improvement in forecasting crimes had been only 5% or 10% better than regular policing methods.
Apple’s Assault on Advertising and Google (Calacanis) — Google wants to be proud of their legacy, and tricking people into clicking ads and selling our profiles to advertisers is an awesome business – but a horrible legacy for Larry and Sergey. Read beside the Bloomberg piece on click fraud and the future isn’t too rosy for advertising. If the ad bubble bursts, how much of the Web will it take with it?
$9 Computer Hardware (Makezine) — open hardware project, with open source software. The board’s spec is a 1GHz R8 ARM processor with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of NAND storage, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in.
The Wild Wild East (The Economist) — Fung Retailing Limited, a related firm, has over 3,000 outlets, a third of them in China. Victor Fung, its honorary chairman, sees the era of mass production giving way to one of mass customization. Markets are fragmenting and smartphones are empowering consumers to get “directly involved in what they buy, where it is made and how they buy it.” Zhao Xiande of CEIBS in Shanghai points to Red Collar, a firm that used simply to make and export garments. Now it lets customers the world over design their own shirts online and makes them to order. Another outfit, Home Koo, offers custom-built furniture online.
Motivation for a Monolithic Codebase (YouTube) — interesting talk about Google’s codebase, the first time I know of that Google’s strategy for source code management was discussed in public.
China Extracting Pledge of Compliance from US Firms (NY Times) — The letter also asks the American companies to ensure their products are “secure and controllable,” a catchphrase that industry groups said could be used to force companies to build so-called back doors — which allow third-party access to systems — provide encryption keys or even hand over source code.
Toyota’s Robot Car Plans (IEEE Spectrum) — Toyota hired the former head of DARPA’s Robotics Challenge. Pratt explained that a U.S. $50 million R&D collaboration with MIT and Stanford is just the beginning of a large and ambitious program whose goal is developing intelligent vehicles that can make roads safer and robot helpers that can improve people’s lives at home.
Doing Science on the Web (Alex Russell) — Minimizing harm to the ecosystem from experiments-gone-wrong […] This illustrates what happens when experiments inadvertently become critical infrastructure. It has happened before. Over, and over, and over again. Imma need therapy for the flashbacks. THE HORROR.
Virtual Time (Adrian Colyer) — applying special relativity to distributed systems. Contains lines like: All messages sent explicitly by user programs have a positive (+) sign; their antimessages have a negative (-) sign. Whenever a process sends a message, what actually happens is that a faithful copy of the message is transmitted to the receiver’s input queue, and a negative copy, the antimessage, is retained in the sender’s output queue for use in case the sender rolls back. Curl up with your intoxicant of choice and prepare to see the colour of infinity.
Lessons Learned from Reading Postmortems — (of the software kind) Except in extreme emergencies, risky code changes are basically never simultaneously pushed out to all machines because of the risk of taking down a service company-wide. But it seems that every company has to learn the hard way that seemingly benign config changes can also cause a company-wide service outage.
194 Chinese Robot Companies (Robohub) — Overall, 107 Chinese companies are involved in industrial robotics. Many of these new industrial robot makers are producing products that, because of quality, safety, and design regulations, will only be acceptable to the Chinese market. Many interesting numbers about the Chinese robotics biz.
Surgery Lag Time (ComputerWorld) — doctors trialling very remote surgery (1200 miles) with a simulator, to see what naglag is acceptable. At 200 milliseconds, surgeons could not detect a lag time. From 300 to 500 milliseconds, some surgeons could detect lag time, but they were able to compensate for it by pausing their movement. But at 600 milliseconds, most surgeons became insecure about their ability to perform a procedure, Smith said.
Clippy Lessons (The Atlantic) — focus groups showed women hated it, engineers threw out the data, and after it shipped … It turned out to be one of the most unpopular features ever introduced—especially among female users.
Telegram’s Bot Platform — Bots are simply Telegram accounts operated by software – not people – and they’ll often have AI features. They can do anything – teach, play, search, broadcast, remind, connect, integrate with other services, or even pass commands to the Internet of Things. (via Matt Webb)
New Wave of US Companies in China (Quartz) — Evernote and LinkedIn let the Chinese government access data and censor results. Smith believes that LinkedIn and Evernote are setting a dangerous precedent for other internet firms eying the Middle Kingdom. “More US companies are going to decide that treating the Chinese like second class information citizens is fine,” he says.
MapD: Massive Throughput Database Queries with LLVM and GPUs (nvidia) — The most powerful GPU currently available is the NVIDIA Tesla K80 Accelerator, with up to 8.74 teraflops of compute performance and nearly 500 GB/sec of memory bandwidth. By supporting up to eight of these cards per server, we see orders-of-magnitude better performance on standard data analytics tasks, enabling a user to visually filter and aggregate billions of rows in tens of milliseconds, all without indexing.
Why It’s Often Easier to Innovate in China than the US (Bunnie Huang) — We did some research into the legal frameworks and challenges around absorbing gongkai IP into the Western ecosystem, and we believe we’ve found a path to repatriate some of the IP from gongkai into proper open source.
From Gongkai to Open Source (Bunnie Huang) — The West has a “broadcast” view of IP and ownership: good ideas and innovation are credited to a clearly specified set of authors or inventors, and society pays them a royalty for their initiative and good works. China has a “network” view of IP and ownership: the far-sight necessary to create good ideas and innovations is attained by standing on the shoulders of others, and as such there is a network of people who trade these ideas as favors among each other. In a system with such a loose attitude toward IP, sharing with the network is necessary as tomorrow it could be your friend standing on your shoulders, and you’ll be looking to them for favors. This is unlike the West, where rule of law enables IP to be amassed over a long period of time, creating impenetrable monopoly positions. It’s good for the guys on top, but tough for the upstarts.