Artificial Intelligence — The Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet
There is a different narrative that one can tell about the current era. Consider the following story, which involves humans, computers, data and life-or-death decisions, but where the focus is something other than intelligence-in-silicon fantasies. When my spouse was pregnant 14 years ago, we had an ultrasound. There was a geneticist in the room, and she pointed out some white spots around the heart of the fetus. “Those are markers for Down syndrome,” she noted, “and your risk has now gone up to 1 in 20.” She further let us know that we could learn whether the fetus in fact had the genetic modification underlying Down syndrome via an amniocentesis. But amniocentesis was risky — the risk of killing the fetus during the procedure was roughly 1 in 300. Being a statistician, I determined to find out where these numbers were coming from. To cut a long story short, I discovered that a statistical analysis had been done a decade previously in the UK, where these white spots, which reflect calcium buildup, were indeed established as a predictor of Down syndrome. But I also noticed that the imaging machine used in our test had a few hundred more pixels per square inch than the machine used in the UK study. I went back to tell the geneticist that I believed that the white spots were likely false positives — that they were literally “white noise.” She said “Ah, that explains why we started seeing an uptick in Down syndrome diagnoses a few years ago; it’s when the new machine arrived.”
machine-learning  stats  argument  politics  AI  life  reference 
7 hours ago
The Key to Everything | by Freeman Dyson | The New York Review of Books
Scale is a progress report, summarizing the insights that West and his colleagues at Santa Fe have achieved. West does remarkably well as a writer, making a complicated world seem simple. He uses pictures and diagrams to explain the facts, with a leisurely text to put the facts into their proper setting, and no equations. There are many digressions, expressing personal opinions and telling stories that give a commonsense meaning to scientific conclusions. The text and the pictures could probably be understood and enjoyed by a bright ten-year-old or by a not-so-bright grandparent.
The history of each branch of science can be divided into three phases. The first phase is exploration, to see what nature is doing. The second phase is precise observation and measurement, to describe nature accurately. The third phase is explanation, to build theories that enable us to understand nature. Physics reached the second phase with Kepler, the third phase with Newton. Complexity science as West defines it, including economics and sociology, remained in the first phase until about the year 2000, when the era of big data began. The era started abruptly when information became cheaper to store in electronic form than to discard. Storing information can be an automatic process, while discarding it usually requires human judgment. The cost of information storage has decreased rapidly while the cost of information discard has decreased slowly. Since 2000, the world has been inundated with big data. In every science as well as in business and government, databases have been storing immense quantities of information. Information now accumulates much faster than our ability to understand it.
books  review  physics 
8 hours ago
No Copyright Law: The Real Reason for Germany's Industrial Expansion? - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Did Germany experience rapid industrial expansion in the 19th century due to an absence of copyright law? A German historian argues that the massive proliferation of books, and thus knowledge, laid the foundation for the country's industrial might.
history  education  germany  law  argument 
8 hours ago
Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System - The Donella Meadows Project
Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in “leverage points.” These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.

This idea is not unique to systems analysis — it’s embedded in legend. The silver bullet, the trimtab, the miracle cure, the secret passage, the magic password, the single hero who turns the tide of history. The nearly effortless way to cut through or leap over huge obstacles. We not only want to believe that there are leverage points, we want to know where they are and how to get our hands on them. Leverage points are points of power.
business  complexity  design  argument  reference  read-later 
9 hours ago
Color: From Hexcodes to Eyeballs
Why do we perceive background-color: #9B51E0 as this particular purple?

This is one of those questions where I thought I’d known the answer for a long time, but as I inspected my understanding, I realized there were pretty significant gaps.

Through an exploration of electromagnetic radiation, optical biology, colorimetry, and display hardware, I hope to start filling in some of these gaps. If you want to skip ahead, here’s the lay of the land we’ll be covering:
physics  reference  science  design  visualisation  explanation 
23 hours ago
Yuk Hui
Yuk Hui studied Computer Engineering and Philosophy at the University of Hong Kong and Goldsmiths College in London, with a focus on philosophy of technology. Currently he is associate lecturer at the institute of philosophy and art (IPK) and researcher at the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Media (ICAM) at the Leuphana University Lüneburg; he is also a visiting professor at the China Academy of Art. Previous to that, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Research and Innovation of the Centre Pompidou in Paris and a visiting scientist at the Deutsche Telekom Laboratories in Berlin. He has published on philosophy of technology and media in periodicals such as Metaphilosophy, Research in Phenomenology, Parrhesia, Angelaki, Cahiers Simondon, Deleuze Studies, Intellectica, Krisis, Implications Philosophiques, Jahrbuch Technikphilosophie, Techné, Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft, Appareil, New Formations,Parallax, etc. He is editor (with Andreas Broeckmann) of 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory (2015), and author of On the Existence of Digital Objects (prefaced by Bernard Stiegler, University of Minnesota Press, March 2016), The Question Concerning Technology in China. An Essay in Cosmotechnics (Urbanomic, December 2016).

Affiliations: Centre international des études simondoniennes (MSH, Paris Nord);

Key Research Areas: Digital Objects, Simondon, Heidegger, Husserl, Schelling, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Nature, Chinese Philosophy, Artificial Intelligence, Cybernetics.

English, French, German, Mandarin, Cantonese, Chewchau
people  technology  reference  philosophy 
4 days ago
Exploring Histograms
Histograms are a way to summarize a numeric variable. They use counts to aggregate similar values together and show you the overall distribution. However, they can be sensitive to parameter choices! We're going to take you step by step through the considerations with lots of data visualizations. If there's anything you do not understand after reading the essay, you can contact us; our contact information is at the very end. Comments and suggestions are welcomed!
data  visualisation  design  read-later 
5 days ago
the Origins of Opera and the Future of Programming – The Composition
And they had a common strategy. They didn’t really know what the Greeks did, but this lent legitimacy to their ideas. Like citing computer science papers from the 70s.
dev  management  argument  read-later 
5 days ago
Engineered for Dystopia | David A. Banks
Unlike medical professionals who have a Hippocratic oath and a licensure process, or lawyers who have bar associations watching over them, engineers have little ethics oversight outside of the institutions that write their paychecks. That is why engineers excel at outsourcing blame: to clients, to managers, or to their fuzzy ideas about the problems of human nature. They are taught early on that the most moral thing they can do is build what they are told to build to the best of their ability, so that the will of the user is accurately and faithfully carried out. It is only in malfunction that engineers may be said to have exerted their own will.
design  engineering  ethics  argument  reference 
6 days ago
Workplace politics - The Engineering Manager
Like in real politics, all political situations and negotiations involve an element of risk. How should you conduct yourself? After all, getting politics wrong can be humiliating: you can find yourself looking very stupid, uninformed or unpopular in opinion. Getting involved in the wrong type of politics can be harmful, so you need to be able to protect yourself from the kinds of interactions that are toxic and only exist for those involved to be cliquey, spiteful and malicious. However, getting politics right builds your authority, influence and ability to get things done, opening up further doors in your career.
advice  career  management  politics  strategy 
6 days ago
Airstrikes Against Syria Would Set Off a Powder Keg | The American Conservative
The Trump administration has not offered a public legal justification for last year’s strikes, and it seems unlikely to offer one this time. That is probably because there is no plausible interpretation of the law that permits the president to initiate hostilities against foreign governments on his own when the U.S. has not been attacked. There is no provision in international law that allows a U.S. attack on another government without explicit Security Council authorization, and we know that this authorization that will never be forthcoming in this case because of Russia’s veto. While the attack is being sold as the enforcement of a norm against chemical weapons use, it isn’t possible to uphold an international norm while violating the most fundamental rule of international law.
politics  diplomacy  law  strategy  argument  reference 
9 days ago
In The Eternal Inferno, Fiends Torment Ronald Coase With The Fate Of His Ideas – The Yorkshire Ranter
As often happens, the first half of this insight was more successful than the second. Since the 1980s, there has been a global trend towards replacing organisations with networks of contracts. The idea that a firm could be considered as a network of contracts was taken up by the management consulting industry, and strengthened from a positive observation to a normative statement that firms should become more so. In as much as anyone bothered with Coase’s corollary, it was simply to say that there was some sort of “core business” in there – presumably it was thought to be the zone in which transactions costs got high enough to demand organisation – and everything else must be contracted out.

In many ways, we’ve lived through a giant experiment in proving Ronald Coase wrong, which has now failed.
business  economics  politics  argument  people  reference 
9 days ago
Pluton (complex) - Wikipedia
Each receiving dish has a Cassegrain system with subreflectors mounted on quadrapods in front of the dishes.[3] The dishes were welded onto the hulls of two diesel submarines and laid down onto railway bridge trusses. The ADU-1000 antennas were mounted onto steerable frames constructed from battleship gun turrets and railway bridge trusses,
radio  astronomy  engineering  soviet-union 
9 days ago
Reading the Soil
If the earth is wet enough and acidic enough, the first thing you’ll find when you start digging up a grave is a coffin-shaped halo in the ground. That’s the mark left by the pinewood walls of the casket as they decayed into deep umber in the dirt. Everything else—the lid, the body itself, and whatever earthly treasures went into the hole along with it—has been pushed down to the bottom. The halo descends about a foot, until you reach the grave’s lowest stratum, where you can find scraps of bone, or metal, or just more multicolored dirt. In drier conditions, you might find a lot more than that.
essay  esoteric  read-later 
11 days ago
Either the Sun Is Getting Smaller or Gravity Is Getting Weaker
Students of physics learn some interesting facts about the sun, spread over different lessons and different classes. When learning about orbital mechanics, students are taught that gravitational field of sun exerts a long-range force proportional to its mass and causes planets to orbit in an elliptical path around it. When encountering “modern physics” for the first time, students are taught the sun in its interior is “converting mass to energy,” maintaining its temperature and pressure by fusion of hydrogen into helium and producing energy that is eventually radiated from its surface and eventually felt by us on the Earth. An astute student may ask, if the sun is decreasing in mass to produce and radiate energy, is its gravitational influence on the planets getting weaker? For many years this has been handwaved away as a negligibly small effect, but now a probe orbiting the planet Mercury has made the first measurements of the sun’s loss of mass.
physics  reference  esoteric 
12 days ago
Calculus in Context
Calculus in Context is the product of the Five College Calculus Project. Besides the introductory calculus text, the product includes computer software and a Handbook for Instructors described below.
books  math 
12 days ago
Implementing B2B
Implementing B2B with Coles
With Coles rapidly moving towards a fully integrated scan receiving and electronic invoice process, B2B results in the removal of manual processes and paper documents. These manual processes are replaced with the following electronic documents:
12 days ago
Using Astropy and Gaia TGAS (DR1) to visualize parallax using stars near the sun¶
Author: Erik Tollerud

Inspired by James Davenport via https://twitter.com/jradavenport/status/976205932274245632.

Requires Python 3.6, astropy (tested on v3.0.1), astroquery (v0.3.7), and matplotlib (v2.2.0).
jupyter  astronomy  datascience  python  read-later 
13 days ago
BBC Blogs - Adam Curtis - BUGGER
The recent revelations by the whistleblower Edward Snowden were fascinating. But they - and all the reactions to them - had one enormous assumption at their heart.

That the spies know what they are doing.

It is a belief that has been central to much of the journalism about spying and spies over the past fifty years. That the anonymous figures in the intelligence world have a dark omniscience. That they know what's going on in ways that we don't.

It doesn't matter whether you hate the spies and believe they are corroding democracy, or if you think they are the noble guardians of the state. In both cases the assumption is that the secret agents know more than we do.

But the strange fact is that often when you look into the history of spies what you discover is something very different.
history  politics  intelligence  adam-curtis  read-later 
13 days ago
Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It. - The New York Times
Professional success is hard, but it’s not complicated. The foundation to achievement and fulfillment, almost without exception, requires that you hone a useful craft and then apply it to things that people care about. This is a philosophy perhaps best summarized by the advice Steve Martin used to give aspiring entertainers: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” If you do that, the rest will work itself out, regardless of the size of your Instagram following.
career  productivity  work  advice  argument  social-media 
15 days ago
Labor shortages are good
Allow me to offer an entirely different take: Labor shortages are actually good.

Obviously, they're extremely unpleasant for business owners. "We've got the biggest backlog of orders ever," one Iowa truck manufacturer told The Wall Street Journal. The company, which usually meets orders in eight weeks, now takes over twice that long.

But one big reason labor shortages are unpleasant is that they eventually force business owners to spend more to attract workers. This is basic supply and demand: If a resource is scarce relative to companies' need for it, its price will go up. Maybe companies have to raise wages. Maybe they have to increase benefits. Maybe they have to spend more to train employees. Maybe they have to improve productivity and efficiency.

Point being, it's an instance where what's bad for business owners is good for workers.
argument  economics  politics  reference 
15 days ago
pandas dataframe basics
The Pandas library is built on NumPy and provides easy-to-use data structures and data analysis tools for the Python programming language.

Refer to these cheatsheets:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.datacamp.com/blog_assets/PandasPythonForDataScience+(1).pdf https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.datacamp.com/blog_assets/Python_Pandas_Cheat_Sheet_2.pdf
python  pandas  jupyter  reference  howto 
15 days ago
Surveillance Valley – a review | agger's Free Software blog
that, we should all boykot them. 

Most of us have heard that the Internet started as a research project initiated by the ARPA, the Advanced Research Projects Agency, an agency under the US military conducting advanced research, especially focusing on counter-insurgency and future war scenarios. A common version of this story is that the Internet was originally intended to be a decentralized network, a network with no central hub necessary for its operation, where individual nodes might be taken out without disrupting the traffic, which would just reroute itself through other nodes. A TCP/IP network may indeed work like that, but the true origins of the Internet are far darker.
book  review  survelliance  history  military  network  technology  politics 
16 days ago
'The Oligarchs Valley' by Yasha Levine and the parallels in India
Here is a short segue I request you to indulge me:

In 1998, the Delhi Jal (Water) Board (DJB) had approached the World Bank for a loan. The World Bank suggested that the DJB hire a consultant to help make recommendations for improvements, and even offered a $2.5 million loan to the DJB to do that same. Over the course of the next seven years, the World Bank agreed to provide a loan to the Delhi Jal Board for $150 million dollars for the privatization of water supply to the capital city. What made the saga intriguing was the insistence of the World Bank and its interference to ensure that Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) got selected as the consultant to the project. Thousands of pages made available as a result of RTI (Right to Information) queries filed by activists, it emerged that despite PwC failing to make the cut in the technical and financial rounds, the World Bank insisted on changes to the evaluation criteria, that the marks were given by one particular member of the evaluation committee be excluded from the final evaluation so as to favour PwC, and so on.
history  politics  technology  india  argument 
16 days ago
Backreaction: The Multiworse Is Coming
It’s a PR disaster that particle physics won’t be able to shake off easily. Before the LHC’s launch in 2008, many theorists expressed themselves confident the collider would produce new particles besides the Higgs boson. That hasn’t happened. And the public isn’t remotely as dumb as many academics wish. They’ll remember next time we come ask for money.

The big proclamations came almost exclusively from theoretical physicists; CERN didn’t promise anything they didn’t deliver. That is an important distinction, but I am afraid in the public perception the subtler differences won’t matter. It’s “physicists said.” And what physicists said was wrong. Like hair, trust is hard to split. And like hair, trust is easier to lose than to grow.
physics  science  methodology  philosophy  argument  reference 
16 days ago
Life after death: the science of human decomposition | Science | The Guardian
Far from being dead, a rotting human corpse is the cornerstone of a complex ecosystem. A better understanding of this ecosystem could have direct applications in forensic science
biology  reference  crime  read-later 
16 days ago
Introduction to the New Statistics
Welcome to the ITNS blog, our internet home designed to help students, teachers, and others get the cropped-51h9QryV00L._AC_US160_.jpgmost out of Introduction to the New Statistics. For more information about the book, see the publisher’s page for ITNS here. At that page, click ‘Look inside’ to see the Contents, Preface, and Chapter 1 in full.
stats  book  read-later 
18 days ago
We've Been Here Before: The Replication Crisis over the Pygmalion Effect | Introduction to the New Statistics
This is news to me…though maybe not to you.  Since I first read about the Pygmalion effect as a first-year college student I ‘ve bored countless friends and acquaintances with this study.  It was a conversational lodestone; I could find expectancy effects everywhere and so talked about them frequently.  No more, or at least not nearly so simplistically.  The original Pygmalion Effect is seductive baloney.

What has really crushed my spirit today is the history of the Pygmalion Effect.  It turns out that when it was published it set off a wave of debate that very closely mirrors the current replication crisis.  Details are below, but here’s the gist:
psychology  science  methodology  replication-crisis  argument  reference 
18 days ago
Git from the Bottom Up
Welcome to the world of Git. I hope this document will help to advance your understanding of this powerful content tracking system, and reveal a bit of the simplicity underlying it — however dizzying its array of options may seem from the outside.

Before we dive in, there are a few terms which should be mentioned first, since they’ll appear repeatedly throughout this text:
git  tutorial  reference  read-later 
18 days ago
The Functor typeclass provides one basic way to lift, but lifting doesn’t stop there; several other typeclasses provide lifting operations. Applicative, Monad, and Bifunctor can be viewed as fmap with a little something extra. These functors all have lawful implementations of fmap, but not all functors have lawful implementations of the lifting operations from these other classes. There are more functors than there are applicatives; more applicatives than there are monads.
haskell  dev  tutorial 
18 days ago
Mortality from Nestlé's Marketing of Infant Formula in Low and Middle-Income Countries
Intensive and controversial marketing of infant formula is believed to be responsible for millions of infant deaths in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), yet to date there have been no rigorous analyses that quantify these effects. To estimate the impact of infant formula on infant mortality, we pair country-specific data from the annual corporate reports of Nestlé, the largest producer of infant formula, with a sample of 2.48 million births in 46 LMICs from 1970-2011. Our key finding is that the availability of formula increased infant mortality by 9.4 per 1000 births, 95%CI [3.6, 15.6] among mothers without access to clean water, suggesting that unclean water acted as a vector for the transmission of water-borne pathogens to infants. We estimate that the availability of formula in LIMCs resulted in approximately 66,000 infant deaths in 1981 at the peak of the infant formula controversy.
capitalism  economics  medicine  read-later 
18 days ago
"How Heritability Misleads about Race" by Ned Block
According to The Bell Curve, Black Americans are genetically inferior to Whites. That's not the only point in Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's book. They also argue that there is something called "general intelligence" which is measured by IQ tests, socially important, and 60 percent "heritable" within whites. (I'll explain heritability below.) But the claim about genetic inferiority is my target here. It has been subject to wide-ranging criticism since the book was first published last year. Those criticisms, however, have missed its deepest flaws. Indeed, the Herrnstein/Murray argument depends on conceptual confusions that have been tacitly accepted to some degree by many of the book's sharpest critics.
genetics  eugenics  reference  argument  history  read-later 
18 days ago
Iowa State University Mathematics Department Problem of the Week
Problem of the Week
During the Fall and Spring semesters of each year, the Mathematics Department hosts a Problem of the Week. New

Problems will (normally) appear on a Monday morning. Solutions are due by 10:00am the following Monday.

Undergraduate students may submit solutions in the "drop-envelopement" on the bulletin board outside of 390

Carver, or electronically to Elgin Johnston at ehjohnst@iastate.edu. Solutions must include all supporting work.
math  education  reference 
18 days ago
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