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?
Casino-Funded In-Game War — this 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)
More Chinese Mobile UI Trends — This 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.
Automated Lip Reading Invented — press release, but interesting topic. The research will be presented at the International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing (ICASSP) in Shanghai.
A Smartphone-based Laser Distance Sensor for Outdoor Environments (PDF) — We present a low-cost, smartphone-based planar laser distance sensor design for outdoor use with 6 cm accuracy at 5 meters, 30 Hz scan rate, and 0.1 degree resolution over the field of view. The cost of the hardware additions to the off-the-shelf smartphone used in our prototype is under $50.
Internet Archive Seeks to Defend Against Wrongful Takedowns — In its submission, the Archive goes to some lengths to highlight differences between those engaging in commercial piracy and those who seek to preserve and share cultural heritage. As a result, the context in which a user posts content online should be considered before attempting to determine whether an infringement has taken place. This, the organization says, poses problems for the “staydown” demands gaining momentum with copyright holders.
HCI Pioneers — Ben Schneiderman’s photo collection, acknowledging pioneers in the field. (via CCC Blog)
A Burglar’s Guide to the City (BLDGBLOG) — For the past several years, I’ve been writing a book about the relationship between burglary and architecture. Burglary, as it happens, requires architecture: it is a spatial crime. Without buildings, burglary, in its current legal form, could not exist. Committing it requires an inside and an outside; it’s impossible without boundaries, thresholds, windows, and walls. In fact, one needn’t steal anything at all to be a burglar. In a sense, as a crime, it is part of the built environment; the design of any structure always implies a way to break into it. Connection to computer security left as exercise to the reader.
Trial by Machine (Roth) — The current landscape of mechanized proof, liability, and punishment suffers from predictable but underscrutinized automation pathologies: hidden subjectivities and errors in “black box” processes; distorted decision-making through oversimplified — and often dramatically inaccurate — proxies for blameworthiness; the compromise of values protected by human safety valves, such as dignity, equity, and mercy; and even too little mechanization where machines might be a powerful debiasing tool but where little political incentive exists for its development or deployment. […] The article ultimately proposes a systems approach – “trial by cyborg” – that safeguards against automation pathologies while interrogating conspicuous absences in mechanization through “equitable surveillance” and other means. (via Marginal Revolution)
Distributed Ledger Technology: Blackett Review (gov.uk) — Distributed ledgers can provide new ways of assuring ownership and provenance for goods and intellectual property. For example, Everledger provides a distributed ledger that assures the identity of diamonds, from being mined and cut to being sold and insured. In a market with a relatively high level of paper forgery, it makes attribution more efficient, and has the potential to reduce fraud and prevent “blood diamonds” from entering the market. Report includes recommendations for policy makers. (via Dan Hill)
What Thomas Hardy Taught Me — In educational research, perhaps the greatest danger lies in thinking “that which I cannot measure is not real.” The disruption fetishists have amplified this danger, now evincing the attitude “teaching that cannot be said to lead to the immediate acquisition of rote, mechanical skills has no value.” But absolutely every aspect of my educational journey — as a student, as a teacher, and as a researcher — demonstrates the folly of this approach to learning. (via Dan Meyer)
scala school — Twitter’s instructional material for coming up to speed on scala.
Robin Hood Fellowship — fellowship to use technology to increase access to legal services for New Yorkers. Stuff that matters.
The Echo From Amazon Brims With Groundbreaking Promise (NY Times) — A bit more than a year after its release, the Echo has morphed from a gimmicky experiment into a device that brims with profound possibility. The longer I use it, the more regularly it inspires the same sense of promise I felt when I used the first iPhone — a sense this machine is opening up a vast new realm in personal computing, and gently expanding the role that computers will play in our future.
Brain Modem — a tiny sensor that travels through blood vessels, lodges in the brain and records neural activity. The “stentrode” (stent + electrode) is the size of a paperclip, and Melbourne researchers (funded by DARPA) have made the first successful animal trials.
Robots in American Law — This article closely examines a half century of case law involving robots. […] The first set highlights the role of robots as the objects of American law. Among other issues, courts have had to decide whether robots represent something “animate” for purposes of import tariffs, whether robots can “perform” as that term is understood in the context of a state tax on performance halls, and whether a salvage team “possesses” a shipwreck it visits with an unmanned submarine. (via BoingBoing)
If the Internet is Addictive, Why Don’t We Regulate It? — an excellent look at behaviourism, gambling machine flow, design-for-addiction, attention, regulation. As Schüll puts it: ‘It just seems very duplicitous to design with the goal of capturing attention, and then to put the whole burden onto the individual.’
Zipnish — using varnish as middleware for your microservices, with Zipnish to create Zipkin-style analysis of your API performance.
Six Degrees of Francis Bacon — recreates the British early modern social network to trace the personal relationships among figures like Bacon, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, and many others. (via CMU)
Last Bus Startup Standing (TechCrunch) — Vahabzadeh stressed that a key point of Chariot’s survival has been that the company has been above-board with the law from day one. “They haven’t cowboy-ed it,” said San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener, a mass transit advocate who recently pushed for a master subway plan for the city. “They’ve been good about taking feedback and making sure they’re complying with the law. I’m a fan and think that private transportation options and rideshares have a significant role to play in making us a transit-first city.”
Mobile App Developers are Suffering — the top 20 app publishers, representing less than 0.005% of all apps, earn 60% of all app store revenue. The article posits causes of the particularly extreme power law.
Security and the Linux Kernel (WaPo) — the question is not “can the WaPo write intelligently about the Linux kernel and security?” (answer, by the way, is “yes”) but rather “why is the WaPo writing about Linux kernel and security?” Ladies and gentlemen, start your conspiracy engines.
TPP Might Prevent Governments from Auditing Source Code (Wired) — Article 14.17 of proposal, published at last today after years of secret negotiations, says: “No Party shall require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software owned by a person of another Party, as a condition for the import, distribution, sale or use of such software, or of products containing such software, in its territory.” The proposal includes an exception for critical infrastructure, but it’s not clear whether software involved in life or death situations, such as cars, airplanes, or medical devices would be included. One of many “what the heck does this mean for us?” analyses coming out. I’m waiting a few days until the analyses shake out before I get anything in a tangle.
Librarian of Congress Grants Limited DRM-Breaking Rights (Cory Doctorow) — The Copyright Office said you will be able to defeat locks on your car’s electronics, provided: You wait a year first (the power to impose waiting times on exemptions at these hearings is not anywhere in the statute, is without precedent, and has no basis in law); You only look at systems that do not interact with your car’s entertainment system (meaning that car makers can simply merge the CAN bus and the entertainment system and get around the rule altogether); Your mechanic does not break into your car — only you are allowed to do so. The whole analysis is worth reading—this is not a happy middle-ground; it’s a mess. And remember: there are plenty of countries without even these exemptions.
Lessons from a Decade of IT Failures (IEEE Spectrum) — full of cautionary tales like, Note: No one has an authoritative set of financials on ECSS. That was made clear in the U.S. Senate investigation report, which expressed frustration and outrage that the Air Force couldn’t tell it what was spent on what, when it was spent, nor even what ECSS had planned to spend over time. Scary stories to tell children at night.
Unicorn: A System for Searching the Social Graph (Facebook) — we describe the data model and query language supported by Unicorn, which is an online, in-memory social graph-aware indexing system designed to search trillions of edges between tens of billions of users and entities on thousands of commodity servers. Unicorn is based on standard concepts in information retrieval, but it includes features to promote results with good social proximity. It also supports queries that require multiple round-trips to leaves in order to retrieve objects that are more than one edge away from source nodes.
Alberto Cairo Interview — So, what really matters to me is not the intention of the visualization – whether you created it to deceive or with the best of intentions; what matters is the result: if the public is informed or the public is misled. In terms of ethics, I am a consequentialist – meaning that what matters to me ethically is the consequences of our actions, not so much the intentions of our actions.