jm + research   30

"You Can't Stay Here: The Efficacy of Reddit’s 2015 Ban Examined Through Hate Speech"

In 2015, Reddit closed several subreddits—foremost among them r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown—due to violations of Reddit’s anti-harassment policy. However, the effectiveness of banning as a moderation approach remains unclear: banning might diminish hateful behavior, or it may relocate such behavior to different parts of the site.

We study the ban of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown in terms of its effect on both participating users and affected subreddits. Working from over 100M Reddit posts and comments, we generate hate speech lexicons to examine variations in hate speech usage via causal inference methods. We find that the ban worked for Reddit. More accounts than expected discontinued using the site; those that stayed drastically decreased their hate speech usage—by at least 80%. Though many subreddits saw an influx of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown “migrants,” those subreddits saw no significant changes in hate speech usage. In other words, other subreddits did not inherit the problem. We conclude by reflecting on the apparent success of the ban, discussing implications for online moderation, Reddit and internet communities more broadly.


(Via Anil Dash)
abuse  reddit  research  hate-speech  community  moderation  racism  internet 
september 2017 by jm
Suspension Losses Confirmed
high bike tire pressures are not faster, counterintuitively. I never knew! (via Tony Finch)
cycling  research  bicycles  via:fanf 
june 2016 by jm
The science behind "don't drink when pregnant" is rubbish
As the economist Emily Oster pointed out in her 2013 book Expecting Better, there is also no “proven safe” level of Tylenol or caffeine, and yet both are fine in moderation during pregnancy. Oster pored through reams of research on alcohol and pregnancy for her book and concluded that there is simply no scientific evidence that light drinking during pregnancy impacts a baby’s health. (In one frequently cited 2001 study that suggested light drinking in pregnancy increases the chances of a child displaying aggressive behaviors, the drinkers were also significantly likelier to have taken cocaine during pregnancy.)


My wife also followed the paper trail on this issue in the past. In the papers from which these recommendations were derived, the level of drinking at which any effects were observed in babies was when women consumed at least *9 units every day* for the entire pregnancy. That's an entire bottle of wine, daily!
booze  alcohol  science  facts  papers  medicine  emily-oster  babies  pregnancy  pre-pregnant  research 
february 2016 by jm
Inceptionism: Going Deeper into Neural Networks
This is amazing, and a little scary.
If we choose higher-level layers, which identify more sophisticated features in images, complex features or even whole objects tend to emerge. Again, we just start with an existing image and give it to our neural net. We ask the network: “Whatever you see there, I want more of it!” This creates a feedback loop: if a cloud looks a little bit like a bird, the network will make it look more like a bird. This in turn will make the network recognize the bird even more strongly on the next pass and so forth, until a highly detailed bird appears, seemingly out of nowhere.

An enlightening comment from the G+ thread:

This is the most fun we've had in the office in a while. We've even made some of those 'Inceptionistic' art pieces into giant posters. Beyond the eye candy, there is actually something deeply interesting in this line of work: neural networks have a bad reputation for being strange black boxes that that are opaque to inspection. I have never understood those charges: any other model (GMM, SVM, Random Forests) of any sufficient complexity for a real task is completely opaque for very fundamental reasons: their non-linear structure makes it hard to project back the function they represent into their input space and make sense of it. Not so with backprop, as this blog post shows eloquently: you can query the model and ask what it believes it is seeing or 'wants' to see simply by following gradients. This 'guided hallucination' technique is very powerful and the gorgeous visualizations it generates are very evocative of what's really going on in the network.
art  machine-learning  algorithm  inceptionism  research  google  neural-networks  learning  dreams  feedback  graphics 
june 2015 by jm
Evidence-Based Software Engineering

Objective: Our objective is to describe how software engineering might benefit from an evidence-based approach and to identify the potential difficulties associated with the approach.
Method: We compared the organisation and technical infrastructure supporting evidence-based medicine (EBM) with the situation in software engineering. We considered the impact that factors peculiar to software engineering (i.e. the skill factor and the lifecycle factor) would have on our ability to practice evidence-based software engineering (EBSE).
Results: EBSE promises a number of benefits by encouraging integration of research results with a view to supporting the needs of many different stakeholder groups. However, we do not currently have the infrastructure needed for widespread adoption of EBSE. The skill factor means software engineering experiments are vulnerable to subject and experimenter bias. The lifecycle factor means it is difficult to determine how technologies will behave once deployed.
Conclusions: Software engineering would benefit from adopting what it can of the evidence approach provided that it deals with the specific problems that arise from the nature of software engineering.


(via Mark Dennehy)
papers  toread  via:markdennehy  software  coding  ebse  evidence-based-medicine  medicine  research 
june 2015 by jm
I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss
“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day. It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, most recently in the June issue of Shape magazine (“Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily”, page 128). Not only does chocolate accelerate weight loss, the study found, but it leads to healthier cholesterol levels and overall increased well-being. The Bild story quotes the study’s lead author, Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D., research director of the Institute of Diet and Health: “The best part is you can buy chocolate everywhere.”

I am Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D. Well, actually my name is John, and I’m a journalist. I do have a Ph.D., but it’s in the molecular biology of bacteria, not humans. The Institute of Diet and Health? That’s nothing more than a website. Other than those fibs, the study was 100 percent authentic. My colleagues and I recruited actual human subjects in Germany. We ran an actual clinical trial, with subjects randomly assigned to different diet regimes. And the statistically significant benefits of chocolate that we reported are based on the actual data. It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.


Interesting bit: the online commenters commenting on the published stories quickly saw through the bullshit. Why can't the churnalising journos do that?
chocolate  journalism  science  diet  food  churnalism  pr  bild  health  clinical-trials  papers  peer-review  research 
may 2015 by jm
'Can People Distinguish Pâté from Dog Food?'
Ugh.

Considering the similarity of its ingredients, canned dog food could be a suitable and
inexpensive substitute for pâté or processed blended meat products such as Spam or
liverwurst. However, the social stigma associated with the human consumption of pet
food makes an unbiased comparison challenging. To prevent bias, Newman's Own dog
food was prepared with a food processor to have the texture and appearance of a liver
mousse. In a double-blind test, subjects were presented with five unlabeled blended meat
products, one of which was the prepared dog food. After ranking the samples on the basis
of taste, subjects were challenged to identify which of the five was dog food. Although
72% of subjects ranked the dog food as the worst of the five samples in terms of taste
(Newell and MacFarlane multiple comparison, P<0.05), subjects were not better than
random at correctly identifying the dog food.
pate  food  omgwtf  science  research  dog-food  meat  economics  taste  flavour 
may 2015 by jm
Irish government under fire for turning its back on basic research : Nature News & Comment
Pretty much ALL of Ireland's research scientists have put their names to an open letter to the Irish government, decrying the state of science funding, published this week in "Nature".

'Although total spending on research and development grew through the recession, helped by foreign investments, Ireland’s government has cut state spending on research (see ‘Celtic tiger tamed’). It also prioritized grants in 14 narrow areas — ones in which either large global markets exist, or in which Irish companies are competitive. These include marine renewable energy, smart grids, medical devices and computing. The effect has been to asphyxiate the many areas of fundamental science — including astrophysics, particle physics and areas of the life sciences — that have been deprived of funding, several researchers in Ireland told Nature. “The current policies are having a very significant detrimental effect on the health and viability of the Irish scientific ecosystem,” says Kevin Mitchell, a geneticist who studies the basis of neurological disorders at Trinity College Dublin. “Research that cannot be shoehorned into one of the 14 prioritized areas has been ineligible for most funding,” he says.'

That's another fine mess Sean Sherlock has gotten us into :(
sean-sherlock  fail  ireland  research  government  funding  grants  science  tcd  kevin-mitchell  life-sciences  nature 
march 2015 by jm
Your anonymous code contributions probably aren't
Scraping the work of successful contributors to the Google Code Jam competition, the researchers found that a mere eight training files with 70 lines of code each were enough to identify authors based in their syntactic, lexical, and layout habits.
anonymous  coding  open-source  google-code-jam  research  fingerprinting 
january 2015 by jm
Ebola: While Big Pharma Slept
We’ve had almost 40 years to develop, test and stockpile an Ebola vaccine. That has not happened because big pharma has been entirely focused on shareholder value and profits over safety and survival from a deadly virus. For the better part of Ebola’s 38 years ‒ big pharma has been asleep. The question ahead is what virus or superbug will wake them up?
pharma  ebola  ip  patents  health  drugs  africa  research 
october 2014 by jm
A gut microbe that stops food allergies
Actual scientific research showing that antibiotic use may be implicated in allergies:

'Nagler’s team first confirmed that mice given antibiotics early in life were far more susceptible to peanut sensitization, a model of human peanut allergy. Then, they introduced a solution containing Clostridia, a common class of bacteria that’s naturally found in the mammalian gut, into the rodents’ mouths and stomachs. The animals’ food allergen sensitization disappeared, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When the scientists instead introduced another common kind of healthy bacteria, called Bacteroides, into similarly allergy-prone mice, they didn’t see the same effect. Studying the rodents more carefully, the researchers determined that Clostridia were having a surprising effect on the mouse gut: Acting through certain immune cells, the bacteria helped keep peanut proteins that can cause allergic reactions out of the bloodstream. “The bacteria are maintaining the integrity of the [intestinal] barrier,” Nagler says.'
allergies  health  food  peanuts  science  research  clostridium  bacteria  gut  intestines  immune-system  mice  papers  pnas 
september 2014 by jm
Brave Men Take Paternity Leave - Gretchen Gavett - Harvard Business Review
The use of paternity leave has a "snowball effect":
In the end, Dahl says, “coworkers and brothers who were linked to a father who had his child immediately after the [Norwegian paid paternity leave] reform — versus immediately before the reform — were 3.5% and 4.7% more likely, respectively, to take parental leave.” But when a coworker actually takes parental leave, “the next coworker to have a child at his workplace is 11% more likely to take paternity leave.” Slightly more pronounced, the next brother to have a child is 15% more likely to take time off. And while any male coworker taking leave can reduce stigma, the effect of a manager doing so is more profound. Specifically, “the estimated peer effect is over two and a half times larger if the peer father is predicted to be a manager in the firm as opposed to a regular coworker.”
paternity-leave  parenting  leave  work  norway  research 
july 2014 by jm
Register article on Amazon's attitude to open source
This article is frequently on target; this secrecy (both around open source and publishing papers) was one of the reasons I left Amazon.
Of the sources with whom we spoke, many indicated that Amazon's lack of participation was a key reason for why people left the company – or never joined at all. This is why Amazon's strategy of maintaining secrecy may derail the e-retailer's future if it struggles to hire the best talent. [...]

"In many cases in the big companies and all the small startups, your Github profile is your resume," explained another former Amazonian. "When I look at developers that's what I'm looking for, [but] they go to Amazon and that resume stops ... It absolutely affects the quality of their hires." "You had no portfolio you could share with the world," said another insider on life after working at Amazon. "The argument this was necessary to attract talent and to retain talent completely fell on deaf ears."
amazon  recruitment  secrecy  open-source  hiring  work  research  conferences 
january 2014 by jm
Removing DRM Boosts Music Sales by 10%
Based on a working paper from University of Toronto researcher Laurina Zhang
Comparing album sales of four major labels before and after the removal of DRM reveals that digital music revenue increases by 10% when restrictions are removed. The effect goes up to 30% for long tail content, while top-selling albums show no significant jump. The findings suggest that dropping technical restrictions can benefit both artists and the major labels.


more details: http://inside.rotman.utoronto.ca/laurinazhang/files/2013/11/laurina_zhang_jmp_nov4.pdf , "Intellectual Property Strategy and the Long Tail: Evidence from the Recorded Music Industry", Laurina Zhang, November 4, 2013
ip  copyright  drm  mp3  music  laurina-zhang  research  long-tail  albums  rights-management  piracy 
december 2013 by jm
New faculty positions versus new PhDs
The ever-plummeting chances of a PhD finding a faculty job:
Since 1982, almost 800,000 PhDs were awarded in science and engineering fields, whereas only about 100,000 academic faculty positions were created in those fields within the same time frame. The number of S&E PhDs awarded annually has also increased over this time frame, from ~19,000 in 1982 to ~36,000 in 2011. The number of faculty positions created each year, however, has not changed, with roughly 3,000 new positions created annually.


(via Javier Omar Garcia)
via:javier  career  academia  phd  science  work  study  research 
october 2013 by jm
Branded to death | Features | Times Higher Education
The most abominable monster now threatening the intellectual health and the integrity of pure enquiry as well as conscientious teaching is the language of advertising, or better, the machinery of propaganda. Any number of critics from within university walls have warned the people at large and academics in particular of the way the helots of advertising and the state police of propaganda bloat and distort the language of thoughtful description, peddle with a confident air generalisations without substance, and serenely circulate orotund lies while ignoring their juniors’ rebuttals and abuse.


Relevant to this argument -- http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/07/the-webs-longest-nightmare-ends-eolas-patents-are-dead-on-appeal/ notes that 'the role of the University of California [was] one of the most perplexing twists in the Eolas saga. The university kept a low profile during the lead-up to trial; but once in Texas, Eolas' lawyers constantly reminded the jury they were asserting "these University of California patents." A lawyer from UC's patent-licensing division described support for Eolas at trial by simply saying that the university "stands by its licensees."'
branding  advertising  newspeak  universities  third-level  eolas  higher-education  education  research  university-of-california  ucb  patents  ip  swpats 
july 2013 by jm
The Web’s longest nightmare ends: Eolas patents are dead on appeal | Ars Technica
Ding dong, the troll is dead! Ars Technica with a great description of the Eolas web patent fiasco, and the UC system's sorry role. I blame Bayh-Dole for creating this insane mindset where places of learning are forced to "monetize" their research.
Under Doyle's conception of his own invention, practically any modern website owed him royalties. Playing a video online or rotating an image on a shopping website were "interactive" features that infringed his patents. And unlike many "patent trolls" who simply settle for settlements just under the cost of litigation, Doyle's company had the chops, the lawyers, and the early filing date needed to extract tens of millions of dollars from the accused companies. [...]

The role of the University of California is one of the most perplexing twists in the Eolas saga. The university kept a low profile during the lead-up to trial; but once in Texas, Eolas lawyers constantly reminded the jury they were asserting "these University of California patents." A lawyer from UC's patent-licensing division described support for Eolas at trial by simply saying that the university "stands by its licensees." (Eolas was technically an exclusive licensee of the UC-owned patent, which also gives it the right to sue.)

At the same time, the University of California, and the Berkeley campus in particular, was a key institution in creating early web technology. While UC lawyers cooperated with the plaintiffs, two UC Berkeley-trained computer scientists were key witnesses in the effort to demolish the Eolas patents.

Pei-Yuan Wei created the pioneering Viola browser, a key piece of prior art, while he was a student at UC-Berkeley in the early 1990s. Scott Silvey, another UC-Berkeley student at that time, testified about a program he made called VPlot, which allowed users to rotate an image of an airplane using Wei's browser. VPlot and Viola were demonstrated to Sun Microsystems in May 1993, months before Doyle claimed to have conceived of his invention.
patents  swpats  eolas  web  patent-trolls  ucb  universities  research  viola  plugins  berkeley 
july 2013 by jm
Eventual Consistency Today: Limitations, Extensions, and Beyond - ACM Queue
Good overview of the current state of eventually-consistent data store research, covering CALM and CRDTs, from Peter Bailis and Ali Ghodsi
eventual-consistency  data  storage  horizontal-scaling  research  distcomp  distributed-systems  via:martin-thompson  crdts  calm  acid  cap 
april 2013 by jm
The Bw-Tree: A B-tree for New Hardware - Microsoft Research
The emergence of new hardware and platforms has led to reconsideration of how data management systems are designed. However, certain basic functions such as key indexed access to records remain essential. While we exploit the common architectural layering of prior systems, we make radically new design decisions about each layer. Our new form of B tree, called the Bw-tree achieves its very high performance via a latch-free approach that effectively exploits the processor caches of modern multi-core chips. Our storage manager uses a unique form of log structuring that blurs the distinction between a page and a record store and works well with flash storage. This paper describes the architecture and algorithms for the Bw-tree, focusing on the main memory aspects. The paper includes results of our experiments that demonstrate that this fresh approach produces outstanding performance.
bw-trees  database  paper  toread  research  algorithms  microsoft  sql  sql-server  b-trees  data-structures  storage  cache-friendly  mechanical-sympathy 
april 2013 by jm
Network graph viz of Irish politicians and organisations on Twitter
generated by the Clique Research Cluster at UCD and DERI. 'a visualization of the unified graph representation for the users in the data, produced using Gephi and sigma.js. Users are coloured according to their community (i.e. political affiliation). The size of each node is proportional to its in-degree (i.e. number of incoming links).' sigma.js provides a really user-friendly UI to the graphs, although -- as with most current graph visualisations -- it'd be particularly nice if it was possible to 'tease out' and focus on interesting nodes, and get a pasteable URL of the result, in context. Still, the most usable graph viz I've seen in a while...
graphs  dataviz  ucd  research  ireland  twitter  networks  community  sigma.js  javascript  canvas  gephi 
january 2013 by jm
Science funding doesn't add up - The Irish Times
'[Science Foundation Ireland] said it was continuing to support basic research, but there are a number of leading scientists here who were refused funding despite having qualified for it in the past.

Dr Mike Peardon of the School of Mathematics was recently been turned down, having been “administratively withdrawn”. This means the application for funding was rejected at the first post during initial consideration and before it had a chance to be assessed by external experts. Several others in his department suffered a similar fate. “The school of mathematics at Trinity is ranked the 15th best maths department in the world and now we are not fundable by Science Foundation Ireland,” he said.

“The cases I heard of have all been in pure maths,” said Prof Lorraine Hanlon in UCD’s school of physics. “All reported that the people in pure maths were returned unreviewed.” She believes other areas may also come under pressure. “Pure maths is the thin end of the wedge. The Government says mathematics is fundamental, but on the other side says we dont really care enough to support it. That is a schizophrenic approach,” she said.'
mathematics  ireland  science  research  academia  funding  tcd  ucd  sfi 
july 2012 by jm
Sean Sherlock to science researchers: "see ya! don't let the door hit you on the way out"
"In relation to the possibility of losing skilled people overseas, any vibrant research ecosystem will see an ebb and flow of capable people in the scientific fields – in some ways this is a good thing, as experience gained abroad has the potential to benefit Ireland in the future. The latest SFI data shows that SFI supports approximately 3,000 researchers, including some 2,000 postgraduate students and post-doctorals -- a figure that has remained relatively stable for some time." NICE
sean-sherlock  jobs  ireland  science  research 
july 2012 by jm
Facts still sacred despite Ireland's spectrum of conflicting views on abortion - The Irish Times - Fri, Jun 29, 2012
Very good data-driven analysis.

"Pro-life” groups claim abortion is a serious mental health risk for women. Youth Defence claims women who opt for an abortion rather than carrying to term or giving the baby up for adoption suffer mental maladies such as depression, suicide and other problems. But this is at heart a scientific claim, and can thus be tested. [...]

Psychologist Dr Brenda Majors studied this in depth and found no evidence that ["post-abortion syndrome"] exists. As long as a woman was not depressive before an abortion, “elective abortion of an unintended pregnancy does not pose a risk to mental health”.

The same results were found in several other studies [...] Essentially these studies found there was no difference in mental health between those who opted for abortion and those who carried to term. Curiously, there was a markedly increased risk to mental health for women who gave a child up for adoption.

A corollary of the research was that while women did not suffer long-term mental health effects due to abortion, short-term guilt and sadness was far more likely if the women had a background where abortion was viewed negatively or their decisions were decried -- the kind of attitude fostered by “pro-life” activists."
pro-choice  pro-life  abortion  data  facts  via:irish-times  research  science  pregnancy  depression  pas 
june 2012 by jm
_Building High-level Features Using Large Scale Unsupervised Learning_ [paper, PDF]
"We consider the problem of building highlevel, class-specific feature detectors from only unlabeled data. For example, is it possible to learn a face detector using only unlabeled images using unlabeled images? To answer this, we train a 9-layered locally connected sparse autoencoder with pooling and local contrast normalization on a large dataset of images (the model has 1 billion connections, the dataset has 10 million 200x200 pixel images downloaded from the Internet). We train this network using model parallelism and asynchronous SGD on a cluster with 1,000 machines (16,000 cores) for three days. Contrary to what appears to be a widely-held intuition, our experimental results reveal that it is possible to train a face detector without having to label images as containing a face or not. Control experiments show that this feature detector is robust not only to translation but also to scaling and out-of-plane rotation. We also find that the same network is sensitive to other high-level concepts such as cat faces and human bodies. Starting with these learned features, we trained our network to obtain 15.8% accuracy in recognizing 20,000 object categories from ImageNet, a leap of 70% relative improvement over the previous state-of-the-art."
algorithms  machine-learning  neural-networks  sgd  labelling  training  unlabelled-learning  google  research  papers  pdf 
june 2012 by jm
Censoring The Pirate Bay is Useless, Research Shows
'The assumption of BREIN and the court was that a blockade of The Pirate Bay would lower the number of infringers at [Dutch ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL], but new research from the University of Amsterdam shows that this is not the case. [...] The claim that The Pirate Bay blockade by Ziggo and XS4ALL leads to a decrease of copyright infringement by their subscribers via BitTorrent transfers must be rejected. There is no significant effect of this measure. [...] 'Ziggo and XS4ALL subscribers who use BitTorrent apparently found different routes other than 'The Pirate Bay' to share files, and remain active as seeders to upload files to others.' Unfortunately the paper is in Dutch, however
holland  brein  ziggo  xs4all  bittorrent  piratebay  piracy  research  data 
april 2012 by jm
HEA now requiring all research positions obtain its approval before hire
regardless of the source of the funding, be it external EU grants with no HEA/exchequer input.  pretty stupid stuff (via Brian Lucey)
hea  grants  ireland  bureaucracy  academia  research  postdocs  funding  jobs  from delicious
february 2011 by jm
Exploring the Spam Arms Race to Characterize Spam Evolution
from last week's CEAS conference; research comparing SpamAssassin releases against the evolution of the surrounding spam environment. Nice work, I always wanted to write up something like this (via JD)
spam  anti-spam  ceas  conference  papers  research  spamassassin  adversarial-classification  evolution  arms-race  via:jd  from delicious
july 2010 by jm
TCD researchers first to find genes unique to humans
go Aoife! “This is the first ever discovery of novel human-specific protein coding genes,” said Dr McLysaght. “They are found in humans and nowhere else.”
science  genetics  research  biology  evolution  tcd  sfi  genome  junk-dna  from delicious
september 2009 by jm
Internet access is Britons' top priority
'Britons will choose to cut back on almost anything other than food before economising on electronic communications services. Crucially, we will even cut spending on their mobile phone and TV package before foregoing Internet access'
internet  broadband  uk  ofcom  research  recession  cutbacks  spending  consumer  mobile  tv  linx 
august 2009 by jm

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