"research" entries

Four short links: 21 April 2016

Four short links: 21 April 2016

BitCoin with Identity, Hardware is Hard, Data Test Suites, and Internet Voting

  1. Bribing Miners to Regulate Bitcoin — interesting! A somewhat conspiracy-theoretical take on an MIT proposal to layer identity onto Bitcoin. Features repurposed DRM tech, no less.
  2. Tesla Model X Quality Issues (Consumer Reports) — hardware is hard.
  3. Data Proofer — open source software that’s test cases for your data, to help ensure you’re not pushing corrupt data into production.
  4. Internet Voting? Really? (YouTube) — TEDx talk by Andrew Appel comparing physical with online voting. Very easy to follow for the non-technical.

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Four short links: 19 April 2016

Four short links: 19 April 2016

Security Controls, Dataflow Checkups, Fair Use Wins, and Internet Moderators

  1. Security Controls for Computer Systems — Declassified 1970s DoD security document is still relevant today. (via Ars Technica)
  2. Checking Up on Dataflow Analyses — notable for a very easy-to-follow introduction to what dataflow analysis is. Long after the chatbot startups have flamed out, formal methods research in CS will be a key part of the next wave of software where code writes code.
  3. Fair Use Triumphs in Supreme Court (Ars Technica) — a headline I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. The Supreme Court let stand the lower court opinion that rejected the writers’ claims. That decision today means Google Books won’t have to close up shop or ask book publishers for permission to scan. In the long run, the ruling could inspire other large-scale digitization projects.
  4. The Secret History of Internet Moderators (The Verge) — the horrors and trauma of the early folks who developed content moderation systems (filtering violence, porn, child abuse, etc.) for Facebook, YouTube, and other user-contributed-content sites. It’s still a quiet and under-supported area of most startups. Some of them now meet roughly monthly for dinner, and I’m kinda glad I’m not around the table for that conversation!

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Four short links: 15 April 2016

Four short links: 15 April 2016

Building Economic Models, Living in a Computer Simulation, Distributed Ledgers, and 3D-Imaged DNA

  1. How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time (PDF) — Hal Varian’s article is to economics research what The Manual by the KLF is to pop music.
  2. Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? (Scientific American) — an overview of the kind of scientific argument one normally has in the pub rather than Scientific American.
  3. Intel Ledger — open source experimental distributed ledger from Intel, described here.
  4. Berkeley Lab captures first high-res 3D images of DNA segments (Kurzweil) — “This is the first time for directly visualizing an individual double-strand DNA segment in 3D.”
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Four short links: 5 April 2016

Four short links: 5 April 2016

Programming Living Cells, Internet of Bricked Discontinued Things, Bitcoin User ID, and Paper-a-Day Roundup

  1. cello — home page for the Verilogish programming language to design computational circuits in living cells.
  2. Internet of Bricked Discontinued Things (BusinessInsider) — Shutting down Revolv does not mean that Nest is ceasing to support its products, leaving them vulnerable to bugs and other unpatched issues. It means that the $300 devices and accompanying apps will stop working completely.
  3. Bitcoin Users Reveal More Than They Thinknew technologies trace BTC transactions, attempting to identify bitcoin users. A number of startups have raised money to explore these new possibilities
  4. Last Three Months of Paper-a-Day (Adrian Colyer) — a pointer to the highlights from the 68 papers he covered in the first three months of the year.
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Four short links: 30 March 2016

Four short links: 30 March 2016

Deep Babbage, Supervisors in Go, Brittle Code, and Quantum NLP

  1. Deep Learning for Analytical EngineThis repository contains an implementation of a convolutional neural network as a program for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, capable of recognizing handwritten digits to a high degree of accuracy (98.5% if provided with a sufficient amount of training data and left running sufficiently long).
  2. Supervisor Trees in GoA well-structured Erlang program is broken into multiple independent pieces that communicate via messages, and when a piece crashes, the supervisor of that piece automatically restarts it. […] Even as I have been writing suture, I have on occasion been astonished to flip my screen over to the console of Go program I’ve written with suture, and been surprised to discover that it’s actually been merrily crashing away during my manual testing, but soldiering on so well I didn’t even know.
  3. How to Avoid Brittle CodeIf it hurts, do it more often.
  4. Developing Quantum Annealer Driven Data Discovery (Joseph Dulny III, Michael Kim) — In this paper, we gain novel insights into the application of quantum annealing (QA) to machine learning (ML) through experiments in natural language processing (NLP), seizure prediction, and linear separability testing.
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Four short links: 29 March 2016

Four short links: 29 March 2016

SNES Code Injection, World Without Work, Spectrum Collaboration, and Mass Surveillance

  1. SNES Code Injection (YouTube) — this human exploited various glitches in Super Mario World to inject the code for Flappy Bird. Wow.
  2. Will Life be Worth Living in a World without Work? — new paper published in the Science and Engineering Ethics journal. Two distinct ethical/social issues would seem to arise. The first is one of distributive justice: how will the (presumed) efficiency gains from automated labour be distributed through society? The second is one of personal fulfilment and meaning: if people no longer have to work, what will they do with their lives? In this article, I set aside the first issue and focus on the second. In doing so, I make three arguments. First, I argue that there are good reasons to embrace non-work and that these reasons become more compelling in an era of technological unemployment. Second, I argue that the technological advances that make widespread technological unemployment possible could still threaten or undermine human flourishing and meaning, especially if (as is to be expected) they do not remain confined to the economic sphere. And third, I argue that this threat could be contained if we adopt an integrative approach to our relationship with technology.
  3. Spectrum Collaboration Challenge — DARPA’s next big challenge is based on the idea that wireless devices would work better if they cooperated with one another rather than fought for bandwidth. Since not all devices are active at all times, the agency says, it should be possible through the use of artificial intelligence machine-learning algorithms to allow them to figure out how to share the spectrum with a minimum of conflict.
  4. Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions (PDF) — This study explores how perceptions and justification of surveillance practices may create a chilling effect on democratic discourse by stifling the expression of minority political views. Using a spiral of silence theoretical framework, knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary act as moderating agents in the relationship between one’s perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online. Theoretical and normative implications are discussed. (via Washington Post)
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Four short links: 25 March 2016

Four short links: 25 March 2016

Intro to Statistics, Automatic Lip Reading, Outdoor Range Finding for $10, and Wrongful Takedowns

  1. Intro Statistics with Randomization and Simulation — free PDF download as well as book for purchase. (via Flowing Data)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Internet Archive Seeks to Defend Against Wrongful TakedownsIn 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.
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Four short links: 22 March 2016

Four short links: 22 March 2016

HCI Pioneers, Security Architecture, Trial by Cyborg, and Distributed Ledgers

  1. HCI Pioneers — Ben Schneiderman’s photo collection, acknowledging pioneers in the field. (via CCC Blog)
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. 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)
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Four short links: 21 March 2016

Four short links: 21 March 2016

Legacy Tech, Gender Prediction, Text Generation, and Human Performance

  1. Ten More Years!my brand spanking new chip card from a UK issuer not only arrived with a 2000s app of a 1990s implementation of a 1980s product (debit) on 1970s chip, it also came with a 1960s magnetic stripe on it and a 1950s PAN with a 1940s signature panel on the back. It’s no wonder it seems a little out of place in the modern world.
  2. Age and Gender Classification Using Convolutional Neural Nets — oh, this will end well.
  3. The Uncanny Valley of Words (Ross Goodwin) — lessons learned from an NYU ITP neural networker making poetry and surprises from text.
  4. The Paradox of Human Performance (YouTube) — Human dexterity and agility vastly exceed that of contemporary robots. Yet, humans have vastly slower “hardware” (e.g. muscles) and “wetware” (e.g. neurons). How can this paradox be resolved? Slow actuators and long communication delays require predictive control based on some form of internal model—but what form? (via Robohub)
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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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