Public data and digital research ethics

The Verge recently posted an article that highlights some of the ethical dilemmas involved in collecting publicly-available data for research purposes. The article begins by describing the work of a researcher working on facial recognition of people before and after hormone replacement therapy: On YouTube, he found a treasure trove. Individuals undergoing HRT often document their progress …

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Normies Lament

Ezra Klein talks to Angela Nagle. It’s still normie normative, but Nagle has at least done some homework. Click the link below to hear the podcast. From 4Chan to Charlottesville: where the alt-right came from, and where it’s going Angela Nagle spent the better part of the past decade in the darkest corners of the …

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Robots taking our jobs

The figures below are from the recent paper Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets, by Acemoglu and Restrepo. VoxEU discussion: … Estimates suggest that an extra robot per 1000 workers reduces the employment to population ratio by 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5%. This effect is distinct from the impacts of imports, …

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Don’t Touch the Computer

Under what circumstances should humans override algorithms? From what I have read I doubt that a hybrid team of human + AlphGo would perform much better than AlphaGo itself. Perhaps worse, depending on the epistemic sophistication and self-awareness of the human. In hybrid chess it seems that the ELO score of the human partner is …

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Super-human Relational Reasoning (DeepMind)

These neural nets reached super-human (better than an average human) performance on tasks requiring relational reasoning. See the short video for examples. A simple neural network module for relational reasoning https://arxiv.org/abs/1706.01427 Adam Santoro, David Raposo, David G.T. Barrett, Mateusz Malinowski, Razvan Pascanu, Peter Battaglia, Timothy Lillicrap (Submitted on 5 Jun 2017) Relational reasoning is a …

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Face Recognition applied at scale in China

The Chinese government is not the only entity that has access to millions of faces + identifying information. So do Google, Facebook, Instagram, and anyone who has scraped information from similar social networks (e.g., US security services, hackers, etc.). In light of such ML capabilities it seems clear that anti-ship ballistic missiles can easily target …

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Premature Obituaries

[T]he report of my death was an exaggeration. (Mark Twain, 1897) In a recent blog post, “Data Science Is Not Dead“, Jean-Francois Puget discussed and dissented with a post by Jeroen ter Heerdt titled “Data Science is dead.” Barring the possibility that Schroedinger shoved data science into a box and sealed it, both assertions cannot …

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Update Error: Wrong Architecture

Yesterday I ran into one of those mystifying glitches that, will infrequent, serve as a reminder that Linux is not for the faint of heart. When I booted my desktop system (Linux Mint 18.1 Serena), the system tray icon for the software updater was displaying a red “X” that indicates it tried and failed to …

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Thank you UGS200H!

It’s hard to believe another semester is in the books! Over the 2016-17 academic year, I had the pleasure of working with 10 amazing undergraduates (along with Jeff & Bill) in UGS200H. UGS 200H = Undergraduate Honors Research Seminar. This was my first opportunity to co-facilitate a freshman research seminar and work with undergraduates, and …

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New publication: Using TPACK to Analyze Technological Understanding in Teachers’ Digital Teaching Portfolios

Over the past four years, I’ve participated in research projects on a few different topics, but most of them can be grouped into the broad category of “digital educational research.” As I like to put it, this involves exploring how digital technologies afford not only new spaces for teaching and learning but also new ways …

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Robots Proctor Online Exams

For background on this subject, see How to beat online exam proctoring. It is easy for clever students to beat existing security systems for online exams. Enterprising students could even set up “cheating rooms” that make it easy for test takers to cheat. Judging by the amount of traffic this old post gets, cheating on …

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On the military balance of power in the Western Pacific

Some observations concerning the military balance of power in Asia. Even “experts” I have spoken to over the years seem to be confused about basic realities that are fundamental to strategic considerations. 1. Modern missile and targeting technology make the survivability of surface ships (especially carriers) questionable. Satellites can easily image surface ships and missiles …

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Ratchets Within Rachets

For those interested in political philosophy, or Trump’s travel ban, I recommend this discussion on Scott Aaronson’s blog, which features a commenter calling himself Boldmug (see also Bannon and Moldbug in the news recently ;-) Both Scott and Boldmug seem to agree that scientific/technological progress is a positive ratchet caught within a negative ratchet of societal and …

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Pro Bono Analytics Is Growing Social

Pro Bono Analytics is a program by INFORMS (the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, for the acronym-averse), “the largest society in the world for professionals in the field of operations research (O.R.), management science, and analytics”. PBA “connects our members and other analytics professionals with nonprofit organizations working in underserved and developing communities”. …

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AlphaGo (BetaGo?) Returns

Rumors over the summer suggested that AlphaGo had some serious problems that needed to be fixed — i.e., whole lines of play that it pursued poorly, despite its thrashing of one of the world’s top players in a highly publicized match. But tuning a neural net is trickier than tuning, for example, an expert system …

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Mapping Trackball Buttons

For years, I’ve used a Logitech M570 wireless trackball with my Linux Mint PC. I generally prefer trackballs to mice — no need to lift and reposition after a bunch of movement — and I find that using my thumb, rather than my index finger (or, if I’m in a bad mood, my middle finger) …

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Mint Upgrade Woes

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, I upgraded a laptop from Linux Mint 17.3 (“Rebecca”) to 18.0 (“Sarah”) with minimal difficulties. My laptop serves as a guinea pig for these things. Once I’m sure things work fine on the laptop, I’ll consider upgrading my desktop as well. A few days ago I finally …

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Toward A Geometry of Thought

Apologies for the blogging hiatus — I’m in California now for the holidays :-) In case you are looking for something interesting to read, I can share what I have been thinking about lately. In Thought vectors and the dimensionality of the space of concepts (a post from last week) I discussed the dimensionality of the space of …

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Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology (New America Foundation and Bloomberg)

I spent yesterday at this event. If you look carefully you can see Tim O’Reilly in one of the photos below. New America and Bloomberg are convening the Shift Commission on Work, Workers, and Technology to bring together a community of leaders from different disciplines — technology, business, policy, civil society, academia, and others — who want to understand …

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Perdurance

I had a great idea for this week’s blog sometime around Wednesday of last week, but then I forgot what it was. I don’t think that this is a sign of senility in my particular case, but it does suggest that I’m wearing out my willingness to dedicate some of my brain cells to cogitating …

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