technology

‘Diane Keaton comes in and said, “Hi kids, how are you?”…I’m going to tell her off once and for all, what a big phony-baloney she is.’ –Andy Warhol

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We’d all like to be a little happier.

The problem is that much of what determines happiness is outside of our control. Some of us are genetically predisposed to see the world through rose-colored glasses, while others have a generally negative outlook. Bad things happen, to us and in the world. People can be unkind, and jobs can be tedious.

But we do have some control over how we spend our leisure time. That’s one reason why it’s worth asking which leisure time activities are linked to happiness, and which aren’t.

In a new analysis of 1 million U.S. teens, my co-authors and I looked at how teens were spending their free time and which activities correlated with happiness, and which didn’t.

[…]

Every year, teens are asked about their general happiness, in addition to how they spend their time. We found that teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services, reading or even doing homework were happier. However, teens who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, on social media, texting, using video chat or watching TV were less happy.

In other words, every activity that didn’t involve a screen was linked to more happiness, and every activity that involved a screen was linked to less happiness. The differences were considerable: Teens who spent more than five hours a day online were twice as likely to be unhappy as those who spent less than an hour a day.

Of course, it might be that unhappy people seek out screen activities. However, a growing number of studies show that most of the causation goes from screen use to unhappiness, not the other way around. […]

A similar trend might be occurring for adults: My co-authors and I previously found that adults over age 30 were less happy than they were 15 years ago, and that adults were having sex less frequently.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

Drawing on the past well-being literature, the authors propose that a person’s chronic happiness level is governed by 3 major factors: a genetically determined set point for happiness, happiness-relevant circumstantial factors, and happiness-relevant activities and practices.

{ Review of General Psychology | PDF }

Three Billboards is a good damn movie. I give it two billboards up!

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Here, we present a method that estimates socioeconomic characteristics of regions spanning 200 US cities by using 50 million images of street scenes gathered with Google Street View cars.

Using deep learning-based computer vision techniques, we determined the make, model, and year of all motor vehicles encountered in particular neighborhoods.

Data from this census of motor vehicles, which enumerated 22 million automobiles in total (8% of all automobiles in the United States), were used to accurately estimate income, race, education, and voting patterns at the zip code and precinct level.

The resulting associations are surprisingly simple and powerful. For instance, if the number of sedans encountered during a drive through a city is higher than the number of pickup trucks, the city is likely to vote for a Democrat during the next presidential election (88% chance); otherwise, it is likely to vote Republican (82%).

{ PNAS | PDF }

photo { Tod Papageorge }

What am I doing? I’m talking to an empty telephone.

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An assassination market is a prediction market where any party can place a bet (using anonymous electronic money and pseudonymous remailers) on the date of death of a given individual, and collect a payoff if they “guess” the date accurately. This would incentivise assassination of individuals because the assassin, knowing when the action would take place, could profit by making an accurate bet on the time of the subject’s death. Because the payoff is for accurately picking the date rather than performing the action of the assassin, it is substantially more difficult to assign criminal liability for the assassination.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

no master how mustered, mind never mend

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Brothers Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato named their clothing brand “Steve Jobs” in 2012 after learning that Apple had not trademarked his name. […]

The Barbatos designed a logo that resembles Apple’s own, choosing the letter “J” with a bite taken out of the side. Apple, of course, sued the two brothers for using Jobs’ name and a logo that mimics the Apple logo. In 2014, the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of the Barbatos and rejected Apple’s trademark opposition. […]

While the Barbatos currently produce bags, t-shirts, jeans, and other clothing and fashion items […] they plan to produce electronic devices under the Steve Jobs brand.

{ Mac Rumors | Continue reading }

art { Left: Ellsworth Kelly, Nine Squares, 1977 | Right: Damien Hirst, Myristyl Acetate, 2005 }

The sun never sets

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Ross McNutt is an Air Force Academy graduate, physicist, and MIT-trained astronautical engineer who in 2004 founded the Air Force’s Center for Rapid Product Development. The Pentagon asked him if he could develop something to figure out who was planting the roadside bombs that were killing and maiming American soldiers in Iraq. In 2006 he gave the military Angel Fire, a wide-area, live-feed surveillance system that could cast an unblinking eye on an entire city.

The system was built around an assembly of four to six commercially available industrial imaging cameras, synchronized and positioned at different angles, then attached to the bottom of a plane. As the plane flew, computers stabilized the images from the cameras, stitched them together and transmitted them to the ground at a rate of one per second. This produced a searchable, constantly updating photographic map that was stored on hard drives. His elevator pitch was irresistible: “Imagine Google Earth with TiVo capability.” […]

If a roadside bomb exploded while the camera was in the air, analysts could zoom in to the exact location of the explosion and rewind to the moment of detonation. Keeping their eyes on that spot, they could further rewind the footage to see a vehicle, for example, that had stopped at that location to plant the bomb. Then they could backtrack to see where the vehicle had come from, marking all of the addresses it had visited. They also could fast-forward to see where the driver went after planting the bomb—perhaps a residence, or a rebel hideout, or a stash house of explosives. More than merely identifying an enemy, the technology could identify an enemy network. […]

McNutt retired from the military in 2007 and modified the technology for commercial development. […] His first customer was José Reyes Ferriz, the mayor of Ciudad Juárez, in northern Mexico. In 2009 a war between the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels had turned his border town into the most deadly city on earth. […]

Within the first hour of operations, his cameras witnessed two murders. “A 9-millimeter casing was all the evidence they’d had,” McNutt says. By tracking the assailants’ vehicles, McNutt’s small team of analysts helped police identify the headquarters of a cartel kill squad and pinpoint a separate cartel building where the murderers got paid for the hit.

The technology led to dozens of arrests and confessions, McNutt says, but within a few months the city ran out of money to continue paying for the service.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading | Radiolab }

photo { William Eggleston, Untitled (Two Girls Walking), 1970-73 }

It was put in the newses what he did, nicies and priers, the King fierceas Humphrey, with illysus distilling, exploits and all

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The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first digital pill for the US which tracks if patients have taken their medication. The pill called Abilify MyCite, is fitted with a tiny ingestible sensor that communicates with a patch worn by the patient — the patch then transmits medication data to a smartphone app which the patient can voluntarily upload to a database for their doctor and other authorized persons to see. Abilify is a drug that treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and is an add-on treatment for depression.

{ The Verge | Continue reading }

photo { Bruce Davidson, Subway platform in Brooklyn, 1980 }

Where the sun doesn’t shine

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ML is short for machine learning, referring to computer algorithms that can learn to perform particular tasks on their own by analyzing data. AutoML, in turn, is a machine-learning algorithm that learns to build other machine-learning algorithms.

With it, Google may soon find a way to create A.I. technology that can partly take the humans out of building the A.I. systems that many believe are the future of the technology industry. […]

The tech industry is promising everything from smartphone apps that can recognize faces to cars that can drive on their own. But by some estimates, only 10,000 people worldwide have the education, experience and talent needed to build the complex and sometimes mysterious mathematical algorithms that will drive this new breed of artificial intelligence.

The world’s largest tech businesses, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, sometimes pay millions of dollars a year to A.I. experts, effectively cornering the market for this hard-to-find talent. The shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, just because mastering these skills takes years of work. […]

Eventually, the Google project will help companies build systems with artificial intelligence even if they don’t have extensive expertise.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

art { Ellsworth Kelly, Concorde I (state), 1981-82 }

I lie about my zodiac sign and watch people break down the person I’m not

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In what appears to be the first successful hack of a software program using DNA, researchers say malware they incorporated into a genetic molecule allowed them to take control of a computer used to analyze it. […]

To carry out the hack, researchers encoded malicious software in a short stretch of DNA they purchased online. They then used it to gain “full control” over a computer that tried to process the genetic data after it was read by a DNA sequencing machine.  

The researchers warn that hackers could one day use faked blood or spit samples to gain access to university computers, steal information from police forensics labs, or infect genome files shared by scientists.  

{ Technology Review | Continue reading }

When that hark from the air said it was Captain Finsen

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The travel booking systems used by millions of people every day are woefully insecure and lack modern authentication methods. This allows attackers to easily modify other people’s reservations, cancel their flights and even use the refunds to book tickets for themselves.

{ Computer World | Continue reading }

related { By posting a picture of your boarding pass online, you may be giving away more information than you think }

‘How good bad music and bad reasons sound when we march against an enemy.’ –Nietzsche

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Google Brain has created two artificial intelligences that evolved their own cryptographic algorithm to protect their messages from a third AI, which was trying to evolve its own method to crack the AI-generated crypto. The study was a success: the first two AIs learnt how to communicate securely from scratch.

{ Ars Technica | Continue reading }

images { American Apparel ad, Vice magazine, 2008 | Richard Prince, Untitled, 2012-14 }

unrelated { This Year, You Can Wear A ‘Vagina Mask’ For Halloween | Thanks Tim }

I can’t feel you anymore, I can’t even touch the books you’ve read

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If you were at work last Friday, you might have noticed that you couldn’t get on Twitter, Spotify, [Amazon, Tumblr, Reddit, Netflix…]. The sites themselves were fine, but users across the country lost access due to a large-scale attack on Dyn, a company whose servers provide infrastructure and routing services for the internet’s top destinations.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

Allison Nixon, director of research at Flashpoint, said the botnet used in today’s ongoing attack is built on the backs of hacked IoT devices — mainly compromised digital video recorders (DVRs) and IP cameras made by a Chinese hi-tech company called XiongMai Technologies. The components that XiongMai makes are sold downstream to vendors who then use it in their own products.

“It’s remarkable that virtually an entire company’s product line has just been turned into a botnet that is now attacking the United States,” Nixon said.

{ Brian Krebs | Continue reading }

related { Chinese Firm Behind Friday’s Internet Outage Threatens Western Accusers With Lawsuits }

related { Last month the Exploratorium was the target of a cyberattack. This is an account of what we think happened and how we dealt with it. }

‘The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw.’ —Nietzsche

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We fail to see that a computer that is a hundred times more accurate than a human, and a million times faster, will make 10,000 times as many mistakes.

{ The Guardian | Continue reading }

related { Robots Will Replace Doctors, Lawyers, and Other Professionals }

art { electropollock | video }