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.

Supercomputing center in a beautiful, deconsecrated church

Allison writes, "The Barcelona Supercomputing Center is not only gorgeous with its soaring ceilings, it also was an instrumental site for developing modern microchip technology." Read the rest

Chatbot attains milestone at annual Turing Test competition

Eugene Goostman, a program simulating a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy, has attained a 33% success rate at the annual RSA Turing Test competition, meaning that a third of the judges were fooled into thinking that the chatbot was actually a human being. Alan Turing's iconic test was meant to cut through the existentialist crisis in artificial intelligence about what was or wasn't "intelligence" by proposing that if a human being could not distinguish between a person and code in a blind test, the code was intelligent by human standards.

The Goostman bot enjoyed the advantage of simulating someone whose first language wasn't English, and whose apparent young age could explain a lack of nuanced reasoning and basic knowledge, so you could think of this as kind of a cheat, but it's still a very impressive feat. Read the rest

First-person shooter engine in 265 lines of Javascript

Hunter Loftis, who created the fractal terrain generation in 130 lines of Javascript engine, has done it again: a a full-blown first-person shooter engine in 265 lines (demo, source). He used a technique called ray casting, and goes into some detail about this choice and where this could go next. Read the rest

Kickstarting Kibo: robot-blocks for kids 4-7

Jenise sez, "When I worked for a robotics company, I complained bitterly about the lack of robotic toys for my daughter to my boss, Mitch Rosenberg. Yesterday, he sent me an email with the answer to my problem: KIBO, a robot kit specifically designed for kids age 4-7. Mitch partnered with Marina Umaschi Bers, co-creator of Scratch Jr., to found KinderLab Robotics, Inc., and they're trying to produce the toy I dreamed of for my daughter."

Looks amazing, but it ain't cheap: $219 minimum to get the actual blocks, $349 for the full set. Read the rest

Logic gates made from pulleys and weights

Alex Gorischek's Pulley Logic Gates is a brilliant and delightful demonstration of attaining a set of logic gates with pulleys, weights and string, using materials you can buy cheaply so you can try it out yourself. Watch this video: the gates build in complexity and ingenuity as they go along, and by XOR, I was actually cheering (and it gets even better than XOR!). (Via JWZ) Read the rest

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