FBI's crypto backdoor plans require them to win the war on general purpose computing

The FBI wants backdoors in all your crypto, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron made backdoors an election promise, but as Stanford lawyer/computer scientist Jonathan Mayer writes, there's no way to effectively backdoor modern platforms without abolishing the whole idea of computers as we know them, replacing them with an imaginary and totalitarian computing ecosystem that does not exist and probably never will. Read the rest

Byzantine fault-tolerance considered harmful

No matter what we do to make out networks better, we make them worse. Read the rest

Kickstarting a new volume of Rudy Rucker's journals

The wild and talented cyberpunk original Rudy Rucker is kickstarting a volume of his journals, from 1990-2014, inspired by Kafka's journals, and "as long as three or four novels put together." Read the rest

Your voice-to-text speech is recorded and sent to strangers

Redditor Fallenmyst just started a job at Walk N'talk Technologies, where she listens to randomly sampled speech-to-text recordings from our mobile phones, correcting machine conversions. Read the rest

Lauren Ipsum: The Phantom Tollbooth meets Young Ladies' Illustrated Primer

Lauren Ipsum is an absolutely brilliant kids' book about computer science, and it never mentions computer science—it's a series of witty, charming, and educational parables about the fundamentals that underpin the discipline.

Algorithmic cruelty

With its special end-of-year message, Facebook wants to show you, over and over, what your year "looked like"; in Eric Meyer's case, the photo was of his daughter, who died this year: "For those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year." Read the rest

Algorithmically evolved masks that appear as faces to facial-recognition software

Sterling Crispin uses evolutionary algorithms to produce masks that satisfy facial recognition algorithms: "my goal is to show the machine what it’s looking for, to hold a mirror up to the all-seeing eye of the digital-panopticon we live in and let it stare back into its own mind." Read the rest

Tldrbot: great works of literature in seconds

Tldrbot is the latest bot from Shardcore (previously, previously, previously) that slurps up great novels, algorithmically summarizes them to 1% of their length, then spits out audio files of a synthetic Scottish woman's voice reading those summaries aloud. Read the rest

Sock-puppet- and traffic-analysis-resistant group conversation protocol

Dissent implements the Dining Cryptographers and Verifiable Shuffling algorithms to produce a group-conversation system that is resistant to traffic analysis. Feels like we're entering the second golden age of cypherpunk. Read the rest

37K sentiment-analysis words associated with emotion scores

Hosted on github, Depeche Mood is a lexicon of 37,000 emotional terms, part of the research work in DepecheMood: a Lexicon for Emotion Analysis from Crowd-Annotated News [PDF]. (via O'Reilly Radar)

(Image: rageface_sad_crying, Meme TN, CC-BY) Read the rest

Extrapolating the backgrounds of famous art with machine learning

Yarin Gal's "Extrapolated Art" project uses Photomatch to expand the scenes in classic paintings beyond the boundaries of the canvas -- although it's a spookily convincing effect, it doesn't add much to the art (in most cases, anyway). (via Kottke) Read the rest

Hundreds of vintage games to play in your browser

The Internet Archive's Internet Arcade resurrects over 900 classic arcade games from the 1970s to 1990s for play inside your browser, using the JSMAME emulator. Read the rest

Mercilessly pricking the bubbles of AI, Big Data, machine learning

Michael I Jordan is an extremely accomplished computer scientist who is also deeply skeptical of claims made by Big Data advocates as well as people who believe that machine intelligence, AI and machine vision are solved, or nearly so. Read the rest

If you think you've anonymized a data set, you're probably wrong

Using some clever computing, Atockar took the NYC Taxicab Dataset and not only calculated the annual income of every hack in New York, but also figured out who goes to strip clubs, what celebrities' home addresses were, and how they tipped. Read the rest

Sore losers: How casinos went after two guys who found a video poker bug

John Kane, who'd lost a fortune to Video King machines, discovered a subtle bug that let him win big -- so the casinos put him in handcuffs. Read the rest

Big Data should not be a faith-based initiative

Cory Doctorow summarizes the problem with the idea that sensitive personal information can be removed responsibly from big data: computer scientists are pretty sure that's impossible.

What "open learning" looks like when it's for kids who need it most

It takes more than videos on the Internet to get kids engaged in learning to code, writes Mimi Ito.

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