technology

‘The message is, there is no message.’ —James Holmes

45.jpg

Artificial-intelligence researchers have long struggled to make computers perform a task that is simple for humans: picking out one person’s speech when multiple people nearby are talking simultaneously.

It is called the ‘cocktail-party problem’. Typical approaches to solving it have either involved systems with multiple microphones, which distinguish speakers based on their position in a room, or complex artificial-intelligence algorithms that try to separate different voices on a recording.

But the latest invention is a simple 3D-printed device that can pinpoint the origin of a sound without the need for any sophisticated electronics.

{ Nature | Continue reading }

photos { 1 | 2. Yo-landi Visser photographed by Pierre Debusschere }

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack

42.jpg

By definition, exponential growth means the thing that comes next will be equal in importance to everything that came before. […]

this exponential growth has given us terrible habits. One of them is to discount the present.

{ Idle Worlds | Continue reading }

‘immerse yourself in shake it with fruity rum’ —@lady_products

31.jpg

An experimental algorithm out of Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab can recognise people in photographs even when it can’t see their faces. Instead it looks for other unique characteristics like your hairdo, clothing, body shape and pose. […]

The final algorithm was able to recognise individual people’s identities with 83 per cent accuracy.

{ NewScientist | Continue reading }

California-based company Face First is rolling out a system for retailers that it says will “boost sales by recognising high-value customers each time they shop” and send “alerts when known litigious individuals enter any of your locations.”

“What facial recognition allows is a world without anonymity,” says Bedoya. “You walk into a car dealership and the salesman knows your name and how much you make.”

Another company, called Churchix is marketing facial recognition systems for churches. Once the faces of a church’s membership have been added to a database, the system tracks their attendance automatically. It also claims to be able to discern demographic data about the entire congregation, including age and gender.

{ NewScientist | Continue reading }

photo { Aaron McElroy }

(they have three microwaves, so their food will always be ready at the same time)

25.jpg

The future is always stranger than we expect: mobile phones and the Internet, not flying cars. […]

“We’re not funding Mother Teresa. We’re funding imperial, will-to-power people who want to crush their competition. Companies can only have a big impact on the world if they get big.” […]

The dirty secret of the trade is that the bottom three-quarters of venture firms didn’t beat the Nasdaq for the past five years. […] The truth is that most V.C.s subsist entirely on fees, which they compound by raising a new fund every three years. Returns are kept hidden by nondisclosure agreements, and so V.C.s routinely overstate them, both to encourage investment and to attract entrepreneurs. […]

“We live in a financial age, not a technological age.”

{ New Yorker | Continue reading }

Adolescence, from Latin adolescere, meaning “to grow up”

34.jpg

Participants were 152 students (88 women, 64 men; average age 19.7) at a “mid-sized university in the northeastern US.” […]

Texting during class was not acceptable, but 84.7% had done this. Texting in the shower is unacceptable and 34% have done this. Texting during the Pledge of Allegiance is unacceptable and 11.3% have done it. Texting while having sex is unacceptable and 7.4% have done it. Talking to a friend and texting another at the same time is unacceptable and between 79% and 84% have done it. Texting one person in whom you are romantically interested while on a date with someone else is unacceptable and 21.5% have done it. Breaking up by text is unacceptable and 26% have done it. Sending text messages while at a funeral is unacceptable and 10.1% have done it. Texting during a job interview is unacceptable and 2.7% have done it. Fighting with some via text is unacceptable and 66% have done it. Sexting is unacceptable and 42% have done it.

{ The Jury Room | Continue reading }

photo { Danny Lyon, New Year’s Eve on the subway, 1966 }

unrelated { Kids can’t tell the difference between journalism and advertising }

‘We understand that the tragic hero—in contrast to the baroque character of the preceding period—can never be mad; and that conversely madness cannot bear within itself those values of tragedy which we have known since Nietzsche and Artaud.’ –Michel Foucault

213.jpg

{ IEEE | full story | Thanks Tim! }

The letter R is also just a loop with two legs. Hence, the letters A and R are homeomorphic.

34.jpg

Snapchat, the photo-messaging app raising cash at a $15 billion valuation, probably isn’t actually worth more than Clorox or Campbell Soup. So where did investors come up with that enormous headline number?

Here’s the secret to how Silicon Valley calculates the value of its hottest companies: The numbers are sort of made-up. For the most mature startups, investors agree to grant higher valuations, which help the companies with recruitment and building credibility, in exchange for guarantees that they’ll get their money back first if the company goes public or sells. They can also negotiate to receive additional free shares if a subsequent round’s valuation is less favorable. Interviews with more than a dozen founders, venture capitalists, and the attorneys who draw up investment contracts reveal the most common financial provisions used in private-market technology deals today. […]

Billion-dollar companies join a club of “unicorns,” a term used to explain how rare they are. But there are more than 50 of them now. There’s a new buzzword, “decacorn,” for those over $10 billion, which includes Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Uber. It’s a made-up word based on a creature that doesn’t exist.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

A dark unfathom’d tide of interminable pride

The ’sex selfie stick’ lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina

The device offers the unprecedented opportunity to be on the phone with someone’s genitals.

{ Independent | Continue reading }

‘To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents a rational aspect.’ –Hegel

4.jpg

Google started testing their cars on public roads back in 2009, long before any regulations were even dreamed of. An examination of the California Vehicle Code indicated there was nothing in there prohibiting testing.

For testing purposes, Google has a trained safety driver sitting behind the wheel, ready to take it at any moment. Any attempt to take the wheel or use the pedals disables the automatic systems and the safety driver is in control. The safety drivers took special driving safety courses and were instructed to take control if they have any doubt about safe operation. For example, if a vehicle is not braking as expected when approaching a cross walk, take the controls immediately, do not wait to see if it will detect the pedestrians and stop.

The safety drivers are accompanied by a second person in the passenger seat. Known as the software operator, this person monitors diagnostic screens showing what the system is perceiving and planning, and tells the safety driver if something appeared to be going wrong. The software operator is also an extra set of eyes on the road from time to time.

Many other developers have taken this approach, and some of the regulations written have coded something similar to it into law.

This style of testing makes sense if you consider how we train teen-agers to drive. We allow them to get behind the wheel with almost no skill at all, and a driving instructor sits in the passenger seat. While not required, professional driving instructors tend to have their own brake pedal, and know how and when to grab the wheel if need be. They let the student learn and make minor mistakes, and correct the major ones.

The law doesn’t require that, of course. After taking a simple written test, a teen is allowed to drive with a learner’s permit as long as almost any licenced adult is in the car with them. While it varies from country to country, we let these young drivers get full solo licences after only a fairly simple written test and a short road test which covers only a tiny fraction of situations we will encounter on the road. They then get their paperwork and become the most dangerous drivers on the road.

In contrast, robocar testing procedures have been much more strict, with more oversight by highly trained supervisors. With regulations, there have been requirements for high insurance bonds and special permits to go even further. Both software systems and teens will make mistakes, but the reality is the teens are more dangerous.

{ Brad Templeton | Continue reading }

related { Will You Need a New License to Operate a Self-Driving Car? }

‘La bêtise insiste toujours.’ —Albert Camus

22.jpg

Facebook will soon be able to ID you in any photo

The intention is not to invade the privacy of Facebook’s more than 1.3 billion active users, insists Yann LeCun, a computer scientist at New York University in New York City who directs Facebook’s artificial intelligence research, but rather to protect it. Once DeepFace identifies your face in one of the 400 million new photos that users upload every day, “you will get an alert from Facebook telling you that you appear in the picture,” he explains. “You can then choose to blur out your face from the picture to protect your privacy.” Many people, however, are troubled by the prospect of being identified at all—especially in strangers’ photographs. Facebook is already using the system, although its face-tagging system only reveals to you the identities of your “friends.”

{ Science | Continue reading }

related { Bust detection algorithm }

photo { Rachel Roze }

Men like Max. The warrior Max. In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland.

31.jpg

Who prefers anonymous self-expression online? […] Favoring anonymity was positively correlated with both grandiosity, a component of narcissism, and low self-esteem. In addition, users with stronger anonymity preference tended to be younger, highly trusting, having strong ties to online communities while having few offline friends.

{ Taylor & Francis Online | Continue reading }

‘the disappearance of self in celebrity as a tactic being democratized by social media / the desire to “go viral” as a desire for self-annihilation’ —Rob Horning

toilet.gif