"science" entries

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: 11 January 2016

Four short links: 11 January 2016

Productivity Mystery, Detecting Bullshit, Updating Cars, and Accountable Algorithms

  1. Why Americans Can’t Stop Working (The Atlantic) — summary of a paywalled economics paper on the mystery of increasing productivity yet increasing length of the work week. (via BoingBoing)
  2. On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit (PDF) — These results support the idea that some people are more receptive to this type of bullshit and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive sounding claims. (via Rowan Crawford)
  3. Tesla Model S Can Now Drive Without You (TechCrunch) — the upside of the Internet of Things is that objects get smarter while you sleep. (In fairness, they can also be pwned by Ukrainian teenagers while you sleep.)
  4. Replacing Judgement with Algorithms (Bruce Schneier) — We can get the benefits of automatic algorithmic systems while avoiding the dangers. It’s not even hard. Transparency and oversight with accountability.
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Four short links: 31 December 2015

Four short links: 31 December 2015

Reverse Engineering Playground, Feeding Graph Databases, Lessig, and Fantasies of Immortality

  1. crackmes.de — practice playground for reverse engineering and breaking protections.
  2. Feeding Graph Databases — exploring using logging systems to feed graph databases.
  3. Lessig Interview (WSJ) — the slogan says regulation should be more technology neutral. I am not sure I ever heard a more idiotic statement in my life. There is no neutrality here, just different modes. … I don’t what think the law should say here is what services can do and not do, because the technology is so (fast-changing) the law could never catch up. But that what (we want) to avoid are certain kinds of business models, a prison of bits, where services leverage control over access to content and profit from that control over content.
  4. Bubble-Driven PseudoscienceIn terms of life extension, here are the real opportunities: closing the gap between black and white patients, lowering the infant mortality rate, and making sure the very poorest among us have access to adequate care. You can make sure that many people live longer, right now! But none of this is quite as sexy as living forever, even though it’s got a greater payoff for the nation as a whole. So instead of investing in these areas, you’ve got a bunch of old white men who are afraid to die trying to figure out cryonics.
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Four short links: 9 December 2015

Four short links: 9 December 2015

Graph Book, Data APIs, Mobile Commerce Numbers, and Phone Labs

  1. Networks, Crowds, and Markets — network theory (graph analysis), small worlds, network effects, power laws, markets, voting, property rights, and more. A book that came out of a Cornell course by ACM-lauded Jon Kleinberg.
  2. Qua framework for building data APIs. From a government department, no less. (via Nelson Minar)
  3. Three Most Common M-Commerce Questions Answered (Facebook) — When we examined basket sizes on an m-site versus an app, we found people spend 43 cents in app to every $1 spent on m-site. (via Alex Dong)
  4. Phonelabs — science labs with mobile phones. All open sourced for maximum spread.
Comments: 2
Four short links: 18 November 2015

Four short links: 18 November 2015

Crypto Comms, Science Funding, Geo DB, and AI Ambitions

  1. If The Paris Hackers Weren’t Using Crypto, The Next Ones Will (Cory Doctorow) — But the reality is that criminals will be using crypto soon, if they aren’t already, for the same reason they’re using computers. Using crypto is the best way to communicate.
  2. Google $50M Heart Disease Effort — instead of taking bids for $250K chunks of the money, they will fund one team for five years. Applications close Feb 14.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
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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.
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Four short links: 23 October 2015

Four short links: 23 October 2015

Data Science, Temporal Graph, Biomedical Superstars, and VR Primer

  1. 50 Years of Data Science (PDF) — Because all of science itself will soon become data that can be mined, the imminent revolution in Data Science is not about mere “scaling up,” but instead the emergence of scientific studies of data analysis science-wide.
  2. badwolfa temporal graph store from Google.
  3. Why Biomedical Superstars are Signing on with Google (Nature) — “To go all the way from foundational first principles to execution of vision was the initial draw, and that’s what has continued to keep me here.” Research to retail, at Google scale.
  4. VR Basics — intro to terminology and hardware in the next gen of hardware, in case you’re late to the goldrush^w exciting field.
Comments: 2
Four short links: 16 October 2015

Four short links: 16 October 2015

Tesla Update, Final Feltron, Mined Medicine, and Dodgy Drone Program

  1. Tesla’s Cars Drive Themselves, Kinda (Wired) — over-the-air software update just made existing cars massively more awesome. Sometimes knowing how they did it doesn’t make it feel any less like magic.
  2. Felton’s Last Report — ten years of quantified self. See Fast Company for more.
  3. Spinal Cord Injury Breakthrough by SoftwareThis wasn’t the result of a new, long-term study, but a meta-analysis of $60 million worth of basic research written off as useless 20 years ago by a team of neuroscientists and statisticians led by the University of California San Francisco and partnering with the software firm Ayasdi, using mathematical and machine learning techniques that hadn’t been invented yet when the trials took place.
  4. The Assassination Complex (The Intercept) — America’s drone program’s weaknesses highlighted in new document dump: Taken together, the secret documents lead to the conclusion that Washington’s 14-year high-value targeting campaign suffers from an overreliance on signals intelligence, an apparently incalculable civilian toll, and — due to a preference for assassination rather than capture — an inability to extract potentially valuable intelligence from terror suspects.
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Four short links: 12 October 2015

Four short links: 12 October 2015

Unattended Robots, Replicable Economics, Deep Learning Learnings, and TPP Problems

  1. Acquiring Object Experiences at Scale — software to let a robot examine a pile of objects, unattended overnight.
  2. Economics Apparently Not Replicable (PDF) — We successfully replicate the key qualitative result of 22 of 67 papers (33%) without contacting the authors. Excluding the six papers that use confidential data and the two papers that use software we do not possess, we replicate 29 of 59 papers (49%) with assistance from the authors. Because we are able to replicate less than half of the papers in our sample even with help from the authors, we assert that economics research is usually not replicable.
  3. 26 Things I Learned in the Deep Learning Summer School20. When Frederick Jelinek and his team at IBM submitted one of the first papers on statistical machine translation to COLING in 1988, they got the following anonymous review: The validity of a statistical (information theoretic) approach to MT has indeed been recognized, as the authors mention, by Weaver as early as 1949. And was universally recognized as mistaken by 1950 (cf. Hutchins, MT – Past, Present, Future, Ellis Horwood, 1986, p. 30ff and references therein). The crude force of computers is not science. The paper is simply beyond the scope of COLING.
  4. The Final Leaked TPP Text is All That We Feared (EFF) — If you dig deeper, you’ll notice that all of the provisions that recognize the rights of the public are non-binding, whereas almost everything that benefits rightsholders is binding.
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Four short links: 2 October 2015

Four short links: 2 October 2015

Automatic Environments, Majority Illusion, Bogus Licensing, and Orchestrating People and Machines

  1. Announcing Otto — new Hashicorp tool that automatically builds development environments without any configuration; it can detect your project type and has built-in knowledge of industry-standard tools to setup a development environment that is ready to go. When you’re ready to deploy, Otto builds and manages an infrastructure, sets up servers, builds, and deploys the application.
  2. The Majority Illusion in Social Networks (arxiv) — if connectors do something, it’s perceived as more popular than if the same number of “unpopular” people in the social graph do it. (via MIT TR)
  3. Scientist Says Researcher in Immigrant-Friendly Countries Can’t Use His Software — software to build phylogenetic trees, but the author’s a loon. It’s another sign that it’s unwise to do science with non-free software.
  4. Orchestraan open source system to orchestrate teams of experts and machines on complex projects.
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