Quantified Baby — The idea of self-tracking for children raises thorny questions of control and consent, Nafus said. Among hard-core practitioners, the idea has not really taken off, even as related products have started hitting the market.
Accountable Machines — Some of the proposals discussed at our workshop included having machine learning processes verify the outcomes of algorithmic decisions and provide transparency, and that systems should be designed to permit auditing as well as to audit other related systems. To me this appeared as an especially accountable version of bureaucracy, where results from each system’s accounting dynamically report up through an iterative (but still accountable) chain of command. This is not bureaucratic in the sense of inventing process for its own sake, but it is bureaucratic in the sense that it establishes many processes of accountability that are the responsibility of entities who report to one another through a structure where trust is related to the capacity to validate decisions.
Russia Bans Queue — banned the Polish board game that recreates the experience of life under Communism. Games that are simulations are effective educational experiences, too effective for Russia.
Tech Economies Must Still Make Things (Vaclav Smil) — Bill Gates’s favorite scientist/policy analyst weighs in on the next economy. Take away manufacturing and you’re left with…selfies.
On the Impending Crypto Monoculture (Peter Gutmann) — A number of IETF standards groups are currently in the process of applying the second-system effect to redesigning their crypto protocols. A major feature of these changes includes the dropping of traditional encryption algorithms and mechanisms like RSA, DH, ECDH/ECDSA, SHA-2, and AES, for a completely different set of mechanisms, including Curve25519 (designed by Dan Bernstein et al), EdDSA (Bernstein and colleagues), Poly1305 (Bernstein again) and ChaCha20 (by, you guessed it, Bernstein). What’s more, the reference implementations of these algorithms also come from Dan Bernstein (again with help from others), leading to a never-before-seen crypto monoculture in which it’s possible that the entire algorithm suite used by a security protocol, and the entire implementation of that suite, all originate from one person. How on earth did it come to this?
Princeton Bitcoin Book (PDF) — The Coursera course accompanying this book had 30,000 students in its first version, and it was a success based on engagement and end-of-course feedback. Large introduction to Bitcoin from Princeton. (via Cory Doctorow)
A Quartet of Complementary Brain Books (Vaughan Bell) — The books have been chosen to complement each other and the idea is that if you read all four, you should have a solid grounding in modern cognitive neuroscience and beyond.
NIST Report on Post-Quantum Cryptography (PDF) — in case you missed it, “post-quantum crypto” is “existing crypto relies on how hard it is to find the prime factors of large numbers, of which we suspect quantum computers may make a mockery. Wut to do?” The goal of post-quantum cryptography (also called quantum-resistant cryptography) is to develop cryptographic systems that are secure against both quantum and classical computers, and can interoperate with existing communications protocols and networks.
Amazon Lumberyard — a free, cross-platform, 3D game engine for you to create the highest-quality games, connect your games to the vast compute and storage of the AWS Cloud, and engage fans on Twitch. From Amazon.
Sensors Slip into the Brain and then Dissolve When Done (IEEE Spectrum) — pressure and temperature monitors, intended to be implanted in the brain, that completely dissolve within a few weeks. The news, published as a research letter in the journal Nature, described a demonstration of the devices in rats, using soluble wires to transmit the signals, as well as the demonstration of a wireless version, though the data transmission circuit, at this point, is not completely resorbable. The research was published as a letter to Nature.
GCHQ Proposes Surveillable Voice Call Encryption (The Register) — unsurprising, but should reiterate AGAIN that state security services would like us to live in the panopticon. Therefore, don’t let the buggers anywhere near the reins of our communication systems.
These Tricks Make Virtual Reality Feel Real — Scientists are exploiting the natural inaccuracies in people’s own proprioception, via a technique called “redirected walking,” to create the perception of space where none exists. With redirected walking, […] users can sense they are exploring the twisting byways of a virtual city when in reality they are simply walking in circles inside a lab.Original Redirect Walking paper.
Crypto is Hard says Hello Barbie — We discovered several issues with the Hello Barbie app including: it utilizes an authentication credential that can be re-used by attackers; it connects a mobile device to any unsecured Wi-Fi network if it has “Barbie” in the name; it shipped with unused code that serves no function but increases the overall attack surface. On the server side, we also discovered: client certificate authentication credentials can be used outside of the app by attackers to probe any of the Hello Barbie cloud servers; the ToyTalk server domain was on a cloud infrastructure susceptible to the POODLE attack. (via Ars Technica)
Kinto — Mozilla’s open source lightweight JSON storage service with synchronisation and sharing abilities. It is meant to be easy to use and easy to self-host.
gaffer — GCHQ-released open source graph database. …a framework that makes it easy to store large-scale graphs in which the nodes and edges have statistics such as counts, histograms, and sketches. These statistics summarise the properties of the nodes and edges over time windows, and they can be dynamically updated over time. Gaffer is a graph database, rather than a graph processing system. It is optimised for retrieving data on nodes of interest. IHNJH,IJLTS “nodes of interest.”
Pyro (Usenix) — This paper presents Pyro, a spatial-temporal big data storage system tailored for high-resolution geometry queries and dynamic hotspots. Pyro understands geometries internally, which allows range scans of a geometry query to be aggregately optimized. Moreover, Pyro employs a novel replica placement policy in the DFS layer that allows Pyro to split a region without losing data locality benefits.
Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Bold Plan for Facebook (FastCompany) — “One of our goals for the next five to 10 years,” Zuckerberg tells me, “is to basically get better than human level at all of the primary human senses: vision, hearing, language, general cognition.”