You treasure what you measure: how KPIs make software dystopias

    "Key Performance Indicators" -- KPIs -- are the metrics used by software shops to figure out whether their products are improving; notoriously, much of the software industry has converged on "engagement" (that is, minutes spent with an app) as a KPI, and everyone from designers to programmers to managers to execs earn their bonuses and promotions by making that number go up. Read the rest

    Analog computers could bring massive efficiency gains to machine learning

    In The Next Generation of Deep Learning Hardware: Analog Computing *Sci-Hub mirror), a trio of IBM researchers discuss how new materials could allow them to build analog computers that vastly improved the energy/computing efficiency in training machine-learning networks. Read the rest

    The ENIAC Programmers: how women invented modern programming and were then written out of the history books

    Kathy Kleiman, founder of the ENIAC Programmers Project, writes about the buried history of the pivotal role played by women in the creation of modern computing, a history that is generally recounted as consisting of men making heroic technical and intellectual leaps while women did some mostly simple, mechanical work around the periphery. Read the rest

    Finally, a useful application for augmented reality: rendering virtual kitchen roaches

    Laanlabs's showreel for meshing technology is an augmented reality demo in which virtual cockroaches crawl all over a very real kitchen. It's the best use of augmented reality I've ever seen. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

    Machine learning classifiers are up to 20% less accurate when labeling photos from homes in poor countries

    A new study from Facebook AI Research evaluates common machine-learning classifiers' ability to label photos of objects found in households in rich countries versus household objects from poor countries and finds that the models' performance lags significantly when being asked to classify the possessions of poor people. Read the rest

    A deep dive into stalkerware's creepy marketing, illegal privacy invasions, and terrible security

    Stalkerware -- spyware sold to people as a means of keeping tabs on their romantic partners, kids, employees, etc -- is a dumpster fire of terrible security (compounded by absentee management), sleazy business practices, and gross marketing targeted at abusive men who want to spy on women. Read the rest

    DARPA's Spectrum Collaboration Challenge: finally some progress towards a "Cognitive Radio" future

    For 17 years, I've been writing about the possibilities of "cognitive radio", in which radios sense which spectrum is available from moment to moment and collaborate to frequency-hop (and perform other tricks) to maximize the efficiency of wireless communications. Read the rest

    A(nother) Lego Turing machine

    Making a Turing machine is a kind of nerd rite of passage, like manually editing your X11 settings or building a two-second time-machine. As far back as 2005, we were chronicling the adventures of Lego Turing-machine builders (the state of the art advanced rather a lot by 2012), as well as the ongoing effort to attain Turing completeness in wood and also baked goods. Read the rest

    Sleuthing from public sources to figure out how the Hateful Eight leaker was caught

    In 2014, Quentin Tarantino sued Gawker for publishing a link to a leaked pre-release screener of his movie "The Hateful Eight." The ensuing court-case revealed that the screeners Tarantino's company had released had some forensic "traitor tracing" features to enable them to track down the identities of people who leaked copies. Read the rest

    Explainer video: When does data become big data?

    Rebecca Tickle is a PhD student in the Faculty of Science at the University of Nottingham, explains what big data is.? She uses a handy "Five Vees of Big Data Mnemonic" -- volume, velocity, variety, value, and veracity. She mentions that other people have come up with the "Seven Vees of Big Data Mnemonic" and even the "Ten Vees of Big Data Mnemonic."

    Image: YouTube? Read the rest

    Towards a method for fixing machine learning's persistent and catastrophic blind spots

    An adversarial preturbation is a small, human-imperceptible change to a piece of data that flummoxes an otherwise well-behaved machine learning classifier: for example, there's a really accurate ML model that guesses which full-sized image corresponds to a small thumbnail, but if you change just one pixel in the thumbnail, the classifier stops working almost entirely. Read the rest

    Why "collapse" (not "rot") is the way to think about software problems

    For decades, programmers have talked about the tendency of software to become less reliable over time as "rot," but Konrad Hinsen makes a compelling case that the right metaphor is "collapse," because the reason software degrades is that the ground underneath it (hardware, operating systems, libraries, programming languages) has shifted, like the earth moving under your house. Read the rest

    A 40cm-square patch that renders you invisible to person-detecting AIs

    Researchers from KU Leuven have published a paper showing how they can create a 40cm x 40cm "patch" that fools a convoluted neural network classifier that is otherwise a good tool for identifying humans into thinking that a person is not a person -- something that could be used to defeat AI-based security camera systems. They theorize that the could just print the patch on a t-shirt and get the same result. Read the rest

    A machine-learning wishlist for hardware designers

    Pete Warden (previously) is one of my favorite commentators on machine learning and computer science; yesterday he gave a keynote at the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference, on the ways that hardware specialization could improve machine learning: his main point is that though there's a wealth of hardware specialized for creating models, we need more hardware optimized for running models. Read the rest

    Mechanical calculators have the BEST divide-by-zero errors

    In a delightful short video, Klara Sj?berg demonstrates the extreme and alarming freakout that you can trigger in a mechanical calculator by trying to divide a number by zero; in a followup, Lynn Grant tweets "That is why the old Friden calculators had a 'Divide Stop' key." Read the rest

    What the rest of the world doesn't know about Chinese AI

    ChinAI Jeff Ding's weekly newsletter reporting on the Chinese AI scene; on the occasion of the newsletter's first anniversary, Ding has posted a roundup of things about the Chinese AI scene that the rest of the world doesn't know about, or harbors incorrect beliefs about. Read the rest

    Most paint-spatters are valid perl programs

    If you run most paint-spatters through OCR software, it will generate valid perl programs. Read the rest

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