"research" entries

Four short links: 17 November 2015

Four short links: 17 November 2015

Remix Contest, Uber Asymmetry, Language Learning, and Continuous Delivery

  1. GIF It Up — very clever remix campaign to use heritage content—Friday is your last day to enter this year’s contest, so get creating! My favourite.
  2. Uber’s Drivers: Information Asymmetries and Control in Dynamic WorkOur conclusions are two-fold: first, that the information asymmetries produced by Uber’s system are fundamental to its ability to structure indirect control over its workers; and second, that Uber relies heavily on the evolving rhetoric of the algorithm to justify these information asymmetries to drivers, riders, as well as regulators and outlets of public opinion.
  3. ANNABELL — unsupervised language learning using artificial neural networks, install your own four year old. The paper explains how.
  4. Spinnakeran open source, multi-cloud continuous delivery platform for releasing software changes with high velocity and confidence.
Comment
Four short links: 16 November 2015

Four short links: 16 November 2015

Hospital Hacking, Security Data Science, Javascript Face-Substitution, and Multi-Agent Systems Textbook

  1. Hospital Hacking (Bloomberg) — interesting for both lax regulation (“The FDA seems to literally be waiting for someone to be killed before they can say, ‘OK, yeah, this is something we need to worry about,’ ” Rios says.) and the extent of the problem (Last fall, analysts with TrapX Security, a firm based in San Mateo, Calif., began installing software in more than 60 hospitals to trace medical device hacks. […] After six months, TrapX concluded that all of the hospitals contained medical devices that had been infected by malware.). It may take a Vice President’s defibrillator being hacked for things to change. Or would anybody notice?
  2. Cybersecurity and Data Science — pointers to papers in different aspects of using machine learning and statistics to identify misuse and anomalies.
  3. Real-time Face Substitution in Javascript — this is awesome. Moore’s Law is amazing.
  4. Multi-Agent Systems — undergraduate textbook covering distributed systems, game theory, auctions, and more. Electronic version as well as printed book.
Comment
Four short links: 12 November 2015

Four short links: 12 November 2015

Capsule Robots, Magnifying Deviations, Maker Books, and DevOps Theory

  1. Pillforge — open source software and hardware for Medical capsule robots aka cm-size mechatronic devices designed to perform medical tasks inside the body. Open sourced by Vanderbilt’s research team.
  2. Deviation Magnification — sweet image processing from MIT. Shares a researcher with this even more crazy paper on amplifying inconsistencies in rows of things. Mind: blown.
  3. Maker Humble Bundle — DIY bundle, pay what you want, optionally contribute to MakerEd.
  4. The O-Ring Theory of DevOps (Adrian Colyer) — Small differences in quality (i.e, in how quickly and accurately you perform each stage of your DevOps pipeline) quickly compound to make very large differences between the performance of the best-in-class and the rest.
Comment
Four short links: 11 November 2015

Four short links: 11 November 2015

Fundable Hardware Trends, Experience Heuristics, Robot Design Software, and Ops Feedback in Dev Tools

  1. 2015 Hardware Trends — HAXLR8R deck of the trends they see in fundable hardware.
  2. Heuristics — the heuristics and intuition risks that beset backcountry skiers are instantly recognizable to dev managers.
  3. Interactive Design of 3D-Printable Robotic Creatures (Disney Research) — paper describing software to let you design (add/remove motor-controlled legs, change shape, customize gait, etc.), modelling how they’ll move, and then 3D print when you’re happy. (via IEEE Spectrum)
  4. Runtime Metric Meets Developer: Building Better Cloud Applications Using Feedback (Adrian Colyer) — surfacing operations data like calls/sec, time to complete, etc. in the developer’s IDE. Wow, that’s genius. (And Adrian’s explanation/excerpts make this easy to digest)
Comment
Four short links: 9 November 2015

Four short links: 9 November 2015

Smart Sensors, Learning Autopilot, Higher Education, and 3D Soccer

  1. Low-Power Deep Learning — it’s a media release for proprietary tech, but interesting that people are working on low-power deep learning neural nets. As Pete Warden noted, this kind of research will be at the center of smart sensors. (via Pete Warden)
  2. Tesla’s Self-Improving Autopilot — it learns when you “rescue” (aka take control back from autopilot), so it’s getting better day by day. Musk said that Model S owners could add ~1 million miles of new data every day, which is helping the company create “high-precision maps.” Navteq, Google Maps, Waze … new map data is still valuable.
  3. The Digital Revolution in Higher Education Has Already Happened (Clay Shirky) — and no-one noticed. I read half of this before going “holy crap this is good, who wrote it?” I’m a Shirky junkie (I bet his laundry lists cite Habermas and the Peace of Westphalia). At the current rate of growth, half the country’s undergraduates will have at least one online class on their transcripts by the end of the decade. This is the new normal. But, As long as we discuss online education as a pedagogic revolution rather than an organizational one, we aren’t even having the right kind of conversation. The dramatic adoption of online education is not mainly a change in the content of classes. It’s a change in the institutional form of college, a demand for more flexibility by students who have to manage the increasingly complicated triangle of work, family, and school.
  4. System Automatically Converts 2-D to 3-D (MIT) — hilarious strategy! They constrained their domain: broadcast soccer games. The MIT and QCRI researchers essentially ran this process in reverse. They set the very realistic Microsoft soccer game “FIFA13” to play over and over again, and used Microsoft’s video-game analysis tool PIX to continuously store screen shots of the action. For each screen shot, they also extracted the corresponding 3-D map. […] For every frame of 2-D video of an actual soccer game, the system looks for the 10 or so screen shots in the database that best correspond to it. Then it decomposes all those images, looking for the best matches between smaller regions of the video feed and smaller regions of the screen shots. Once it’s found those matches, it superimposes the depth information from the screen shots on the corresponding sections of the video feed. Finally, it stitches the pieces back together. Brute-forcing soccer. Ok, perhaps “hilarious” for a certain type of person. I am that person.
Comment
Four short links: 4 November 2015

Four short links: 4 November 2015

Data Dashboard, Feature Flags, Email Replies, and Invisible Bias

  1. re:dash — open source query editor, visualisations, dashboard for data from all sorts of databases (SQL, ElasticSearch, etc.)
  2. Feature-Flag-Driven Development — one of the key pieces of modern development systems.
  3. Gmail Suggesting RepliesIn developing Smart Reply, we adhered to the same rigorous user privacy standards we’ve always held — in other words, no humans reading your email. This means researchers have to get machine learning to work on a data set that they themselves cannot read, which is a little like trying to solve a puzzle while blindfolded — but a challenge makes it more interesting!
  4. The Selective Laziness of ReasoningAmong those participants who accepted the manipulation and thus thought they were evaluating someone else’s argument, more than half (56% and 58%) rejected the arguments that were in fact their own. Moreover, participants were more likely to reject their own arguments for invalid than for valid answers. This demonstrates that people are more critical of other people’s arguments than of their own, without being overly critical: They are better able to tell valid from invalid arguments when the arguments are someone else’s rather than their own.
Comment
Four short links: 3 November 2015

Four short links: 3 November 2015

Quantum Architectures, Gig Economy Size, Networking Truths, and Twitter's Decay

  1. Australians Invent Architecture for Full-Scale Quantum Computer (IEEE) — still research paper, so I’ll believe it when it can glitch Hangouts just like a real computer.
  2. How Big is the Gig Economy? (Medium) — this is one example in which the Labor Department and Bureau of Labor Statistics really have shirked their responsibility to try and assess the size and growth of this dynamic shift to our economy.
  3. The Twelve Networking Truths — RFC1925 is channeling the epigram-leaking protagonist of Robert Heinlein’s Time Enough for Love. It is easier to move a problem around (for example, by moving the problem to a different part of the overall network architecture) than it is to solve it. This is true for most areas of life: generally easier to make it someone else’s problem than to solve it.
  4. The Decay of Twitter (The Atlantic) — In other words, on Twitter, people say things that they think of as ephemeral and chatty. Their utterances are then treated as unequivocal political statements by people outside the conversation. Because there’s a kind of sensationalistic value in interpreting someone’s chattiness in partisan terms, tweets “are taken up as magnum opi to be leapt upon and eviscerated, not only by ideological opponents or threatened employers but by in-network peers.”
Comment
Four short links: 30 October 2015

Four short links: 30 October 2015

Cyber Threats, Secrecy Hurts R&D, Robot Bee, Long Live ChromeOS

  1. Emerging Cyber Threats Report (Georgia Tech) — no surprises, but another document to print and leave on the desk of the ostrich who thinks there’s no security problem.
  2. Apple’s Secrecy Hurts Its AI Development (Bloomberg) — “Apple is off the scale in terms of secrecy,” says Richard Zemel, a professor in the computer science department at the University of Toronto. “They’re completely out of the loop.”
  3. Swimming Robobees (Harvard) — The Harvard RoboBee, designed in Wood’s lab, is a microrobot, smaller than a paperclip, that flies and hovers like an insect, flapping its tiny, nearly invisible wings 120 times per second. It can fly and swim.
  4. Android and Chromestarting next year, the company will work with partners to build personal computers that run on Android, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans. The Chrome browser and operating systems aren’t disappearing — PC makers that produce Chromebooks will still be able to use Chrome. Security gurus sad because ChromeOS is most secure operating system in use.
Comment
Four short links: 28 October 2015

Four short links: 28 October 2015

DRM-Breaking Broken, IT Failures, Social Graph Search, and Dataviz Interview

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Alberto Cairo InterviewSo, 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.
Comment
Four short links: 26 October 2015

Four short links: 26 October 2015

Dataflow Computers, Data Set Explorer, Design Brief, and Coping with Uncertainty

  1. Dataflow Computers: Their History and Future (PDF) — entry from 2008 Wiley Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Engineering.
  2. Mirador — open source tool for visual exploration of complex data sets. It enables users to discover correlation patterns and derive new hypotheses from the data.
  3. How 23AndMe Got Regulatory Approval Back (Fast Company) — In order to meet FDA requirements, the design team had to prove that the reports provided on the website would be comprehensible to any American consumer, regardless of their background or education level. And you thought YOUR design brief was hard.
  4. Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty (The Atlantic) — We have this natural distaste for things that are unfamiliar to us, things that are ambiguous. It goes up from situational stressors, on an individual level and a group level. And we’re stuck with it simply because we have to be ambiguity-reducers.
Comment