"culture" entries

Four short links: 18 April 2016

Four short links: 18 April 2016

Classic Programmer Paintings, Equality at Work, Bitcoin as Politics, and Raising Robotic Natives

  1. Classic Programmer Paintings — hilarity has ensued. The captions are brilliant.
  2. Equality Takes WorkWomen do not prefer saying less: They anticipate the treatment they will receive when they say more.
  3. Bitcoin as Politics: Distributed Right-Wing ExtremismThe lack of any thorough, non-conspiratorial analysis of existing financial systems means that bitcoin fails to embody any true alternative to them. The reasons for this have little to do with technology and everything to do with the existing systems in which bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies are embedded, systems that instantiate the forms of social power that cannot be eliminated through either wishful thinking or technical or even political evasion: the rich and powerful will not become poor and powerless simply because other people decide to operate alternate economies of exchange. […] Because it operates without such an account, bitcoin’s real utility and purpose (and that of the cryptocurrency movement in general) can be better understood as a “program” for recruiting uninformed citizens into a neoliberal anti-government politics, understanding the nature and effects of which requires just the attention to political theory and history that bitcoin enthusiasts rail against. So … not a fan, then?
  4. Raising Robotic Natives — design/art artefacts for generations growing up with robots.

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Four short links: 1 April 2016

Four short links: 1 April 2016

AI Centaurs, In-Game Warfare, Global Data Protection Laws, and Chinese Chatbots

  1. Centaurs Not Butlers (Matt Jones) — In competitive chess, teams of human and non-human intelligences are referred to as ‘Centaurs’ How might we create teams of human and non-human intelligences in the service of better designed systems, products, environments?
  2. Casino-Funded In-Game Warthis was just the opening round of what could be the largest military mobilization in that game’s history. Digging deeper into the subject, we’ve been able to chart the rise of a new in-game faction, called the Moneybadger Coalition, a group of thousands of players being bankrolled by an online casino. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Data Protection Laws Around the World — useful guide to the laws in different jurisdictions. If this is your migraine, I pity you.
  4. More Chinese Mobile UI TrendsThis year, Microsoft China released an AI chatbot called 小冰 (xiǎobīng) that has been popular. She’s accessible via the web, via a standalone app, via WeChat, via Cortana, and through a dedicated button in Xiaomi’s own seldom-used messaging app. It’s fun to toss annoying questions at her and see how she responds. Some people even confide in her. She’s kind of the love child of Siri, ELIZA, and Cleverbot.
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Four short links: 18 March 2016

Four short links: 18 March 2016

Engineering Traits, Box of Souls, Transport Data, and Tortilla Endofunctors

  1. Engineers of Jihad (Marginal Revolution) — brief book review, tantalizing. The distribution of traits across disciplines mirrors almost exactly the distribution of disciplines across militant groups…engineers are present in groups in which social scientists, humanities graduates, and women are absent, and engineers possess traits — proneness to disgust, need for closure, in-group bias, and (at least tentatively) simplism…
  2. Box of a Trillion Souls — review and critique of some of Stephen Wolfram’s writing and speaking about AI and simulation and the nature of reality and complexity and … a lot.
  3. Alphabet Starting Sidewalk Labs (NY Times) — “We’re taking everything from anonymized smartphone data from billions of miles of trips, sensor data, and bringing that into a platform that will give both the public and private parties and government the capacity to actually understand the data in ways they haven’t before,” said Daniel L. Doctoroff, Sidewalk’s chief executive, who is a former deputy mayor of New York City and former chief executive of Bloomberg. Data, data, data.
  4. SIGBOVIK — the proceedings from 2015 include a paper that talks about “The Tortilla Endofunctor.” You’re welcome.
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Four short links: 26 February 2016

Four short links: 26 February 2016

High-Performing Teams, Location Recognition, Assessing Computational Thinking, and Values in Practice

  1. What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team (NY Times) — As the researchers studied the groups, however, they noticed two behaviors that all the good teams generally shared. First, on the good teams, members spoke in roughly the same proportion […] Second, the good teams all had high ‘‘average social sensitivity’’ — a fancy way of saying they were skilled at intuiting how others felt based on their tone of voice, their expressions, and other nonverbal cues.
  2. Photo Geolocation with Convolutional Neural Networks (arXiv) — 377MB gets you a neural net, trained on geotagged Web images, that can suggest location of the image. From MIT TR’s coverage: To measure the accuracy of their machine, they fed it 2.3 million geotagged images from Flickr to see whether it could correctly determine their location. “PlaNet is able to localize 3.6% of the images at street-level accuracy and 10.1% at city-level accuracy,” say Weyand and co. What’s more, the machine determines the country of origin in a further 28.4% of the photos and the continent in 48.0% of them.
  3. Assessing the Development of Computational Thinking (Harvard) — we have relied primarily on three approaches: (1) artifact-based interviews, (2) design scenarios, and (3) learner documentation. (via EdSurge)
  4. Values in Practice (Camille Fournier) — At some point, I realized there was a pattern. The people in the company who were beloved by all, happiest in their jobs, and arguably most productive, were the people who showed up for all of these values. They may not have been the people who went to the best schools, or who wrote the most beautiful code; in fact, they often weren’t the “on-paper” superstars. But when it came to the job, they were great, highly in-demand, and usually promoted quickly. They didn’t all look the same, they didn’t all work in the same team or have the same skill set. Their only common thread was that they didn’t have to stretch too much to live the company values because the company values overlapped with their own personal values.
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Four short links: 18 February 2016

Four short links: 18 February 2016

Potteresque Project, Tumblr Teens, Hartificial Hand, and Denied by Data

  1. Homemade Weasley Clock (imgur) — construction photos of a clever Potter-inspired clock that shows where people are. (via Archie McPhee)
  2. Secret Lives of Tumblr Teensteens perform joy on Instagram but confess sadness on Tumblr.
  3. Amazing Biomimetic Anthropomorphic Hand (Spectrum IEEE) — First, they laser scanned a human skeleton hand, and then 3D-printed artificial bones to match, which allowed them to duplicate the unfixed joint axes that we have […] The final parts to UW’s hand are the muscles, which are made up of an array of 10 Dynamixel servos, whose cable routing closely mimics the carpal tunnel of a human hand. Amazing detail!
  4. Life Insurance Can Gattaca You (FastCo) — “Unfortunately after carefully reviewing your application, we regret that we are unable to provide you with coverage because of your positive BRCA 1 gene,” the letter reads. In the U.S., about one in 400 women have a BRCA 1 or 2 gene, which is associated with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
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Four short links: 19 January 2016

Four short links: 19 January 2016

Spermbots, Reputation Risks, Lab Robot, and Stack Expansion

  1. SpermbotsResearchers from the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences at IFW Dresden in Germany have successfully tested tiny, magnetically-driven power suits for individual sperm that can turn them into steerable cyborg “spermbots” that can be remote controlled all the way to the egg. But can they make an underwire bra that the washing machine doesn’t turn into a medieval torture device?
  2. What’s Eating Silicon ValleyIn 2014, more Harvard Business School Grads went into technology than into banking for the first time since the dot-com era. […] another reason Wall Street had trouble maintaining goodwill was because of some of the attributes above—hard-charging, too much too soon, parallel reality, money flowing everywhere, rich white guys, etc. The Wall St comparison was new to me, but I can see it as a goodwill risk.
  3. OpenTrons — $3,000 open source personal lab robot for science, with downloadable/shareable protocols.
  4. Why Big Companies Keep Failing: The Stack Fallacy — you’re more likely to succeed if you expand down (to supplant your suppliers) than up (to build the products that are built on top of your product) because you’re a customer of your suppliers, so you know what good product-market fit will look like, but you’re just fantasizing that you can supplant your downstream value.
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Four short links: 29 December 2015

Four short links: 29 December 2015

Security Talks, Multi-Truth Discovery, Math Books, and Geek Cultures

  1. 2015 CCC Videos — collected talks from the 32nd Chaos Computer Congress conference.
  2. An Integrated Bayesian Approach for Effective Multi-Truth Discovery (PDF) — Integrating data from multiple sources has been increasingly becoming commonplace in both Web and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) applications to support collective intelligence and collaborative decision-making. Unfortunately, it is not unusual that the information about a single item comes from different sources, which might be noisy, out-of-date, or even erroneous. It is therefore of paramount importance to resolve such conflicts among the data and to find out which piece of information is more reliable.
  3. Direct Links to Free Springer Books — Springer released a lot of math books.
  4. A Psychological Exploration of Engagement in Geek CultureSeven studies (N = 2354) develop the Geek Culture Engagement Scale (GCES) to quantify geek engagement and assess its relationships to theoretically relevant personality and individual differences variables. These studies present evidence that individuals may engage in geek culture in order to maintain narcissistic self-views (the great fantasy migration hypothesis), to fulfill belongingness needs (the belongingness hypothesis), and to satisfy needs for creative expression (the need for engagement hypothesis). Geek engagement is found to be associated with elevated grandiose narcissism, extraversion, openness to experience, depression, and subjective well-being across multiple samples.
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Four short links: 22 December 2015

Four short links: 22 December 2015

Machine Poetry, Robo Script Kiddies, Big Data of Love, and Virtual Currency and the Nation State

  1. How Machines Write PoetryHarmon would love to have writers or other experts judge FIGURE8’s work, too. Her online subjects tended to rate the similes better if they were obvious. “The snow continued like a heavy rain” got high scores, for example, even though Harmon thought this was quite a bad effort on FIGURE8’s part. She preferred “the snow falls like a dead cat,” which got only middling ratings from humans. “They might have been cat lovers,” she says. FIGURE8 (PDF) system generates figurative language.
  2. The Decisions the Pentagon Wants to Leave to Robots“You cannot have a human operator operating at human speed fighting back at determined cyber tech,” Work said. “You are going to need have a learning machine that does that.” I for one welcome our new robot script kiddie overlords.
  3. Love in the Age of Big DataOver decades, John has observed more than 3,000 couples longitudinally, discovering patterns of argument and subtle behaviors that can predict whether a couple would be happily partnered years later or unhappy or divorced. Turns out, “don’t be a jerk” is good advice for marriages, too. (via Cory Doctorow)
  4. National Security Implications of Virtual Currency (PDF) — Rand research report examining the potential for non-state actor deployment.
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Four short links: 21 December 2015

Four short links: 21 December 2015

Anomaly Detection, Contempt Culture, Deep Learning Robot, and Compromised Firewalls

  1. Bro — open source intrusion and anomaly detection service, turns everything into events that you can run scripts against. Good pedigree (Vern Paxson, a TCP/IP elder god) despite the wince-inducing name (at least it isn’t “brah”).
  2. Contempt Culture (Aurynn) — for a culture that now prides itself on continuous improvement and blameless post-mortems and so on, we’re blind to a contempt culture that produces cults of criticism like “PHP isn’t a real programming language,” etc., where the targets of the criticism are pathways disproportionately taken by women and minorities. I’m embarrassed by how much of 2001-era Nat I recognise in Aurynn’s description.
  3. Deep Learning RobotBuilt for advanced research in robotics and artificial intelligence (deep learning). Pre-installed Google TensorFlow, Robot Operating System (ROS), Caffe, Torch, Theano, CUDA, and cuDNN.
  4. Juniper ScreenOS Backdoor — here’s the ssh password that’ll get you into any unpatched Juniper firewall, courtesy a backdoor that will be keeping network admins and CEOs alike awake and unhappy around the world. The interesting analysis with long-term effects will be “how the hell did it get in there?”
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Adam Connor on culture, codes of conduct, and critiques

The O'Reilly Design Podcast: Organization design, design critiques, and designing for good behavior.

Subscribe to the O’Reilly Design Podcast, our podcast exploring how experience design — and experience designers — are shaping business, the Internet of Things, and other domains.

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In this week’s Design Podcast episode, I chat it up with Adam Connor, designer at MadPow and author of Discussing Design with Aaron Irizarry — Connor also is speaking at O’Reilly’s inaugural Design Conference. We talk about company culture and organizational design, the design of codes of conduct, and advice on running productive design critiques.

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

I think there’s a misconception around what culture is. A lot of people approach me asking if I can help them with their culture as if it is this separate thing that if adjusted, everything else — their work, their processes, their people — will fall into place. But what culture really is, is the rules, the invisible rules, that we all have in our minds of how we’re supposed to interact with each other or behave in certain situations. Sometimes it’s the values that we have and sometimes it’s more reaction and an instinctual behavior to get at that and to really influence that in such a way that allows people to be creative, to explore ideas, to be collaborative and work toward mutual goals. It actually requires you to adjust things like the processes we have, the policies we have, the roles people play, the skills that they’re using.

Read more…

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