The JNU Data Depot is a joint project between rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously), bioinformatician Andrew Lynn, and a research team from New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University: together, they have assembled 73 million journal articles from 1847 to the present day and put them into an airgapped respository that they're offering to noncommercial third parties who want to perform textual analysis on them to "pull out insights without actually reading the text."
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For several years, I've been covering the bizarre phenomenon of "adversarial examples (AKA "adversarial preturbations"), these being often tiny changes to data than can cause machine-learning classifiers to totally misfire: imperceptible squeaks that make speech-to-text systems hallucinate phantom voices; or tiny shifts to a 3D image of a helicopter that makes image-classifiers hallucinate a rifle
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For the second year now, the MIT Media Lab has awarded a "Disobedience Prize" of $250,000, no strings attached, awarded to people whose disobedient work has benefitted society; this year's prize is share among three leaders of the #MeToo and #MeTooSTEM movements: BethAnn McLaughlin, Sherry Marts, and Tarana Burke.
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Lawrence Lessig was once best-known as the special master in the Microsoft Antitrust Case, then he was best known as the co-founder of Creative Commons, then as a fire-breathing corruption fighter: in America, Compromised
, a long essay (or short nonfiction book), Lessig proposes as lucid and devastating a theory of corruption as you'll ever find, a theory whose explanatory power makes today's terrifying news cycle make sense -- and a theory that demands action.
Joi Ito (previously) is the Director of MIT's Media Lab, an appointment that raised a few eyebrows because Joi never got an undergrad degree, much less a doctorate.
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Twitter appears to have made a cautious, nearly inconsequential step towards deprecating search results for alt-right conspiracy theorists. From Gizmodo:
In what appears to be new ranking behavior, Gizmodo has identified several prominent far-right accounts now buried by Twitter’s search feature.
The accounts—which belong to figures like Unite The Right organizer Jason Kessler and white nationalist Richard Spencer—no longer appear in the social platform’s dropdown results, when searching either for their display names or @ handles.
“Search all” on desktop, and sorting by “People” after a search on mobile still generate the expected results, but Twitter seems to intend to reduce the ease with which these personalities can grow their followings. The move follows Twitter’s plans to limit the reach of “troll-like behavior,” announced in May.
From some reason, Alex Jones, who has caused a great deal of misery by falsely claiming that Sandy Hook was a hoax designed to outlaw gun ownership. still shows up in the search results.
Image of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: Joi Ito/Wikipedia. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest
EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow died last month, and though his death had been long coming, it's left a hole in the hearts of the people who loved him and whom he inspired.
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Joi Ito has published the "1.0" version of his October essay, Resisting Reduction, which makes major advances on the earlier draft. He's soliciting revisions and comments here. Here's what I wrote about it then:
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A gentleman from Hawaii sent his ex-girlfriend 144 nasty texts and phone messages within 1 1/2 hours, violating a court order from last February that blocked him from having contact with her. As part of his punishment, he now must send her 144 compliments, and none of them can be the same. “No repeating words,” the judge said.
Daren Young, 30, also spent 157 days in jail, was fined $2,400, and ordered to serve 200 hours of community service.
According to Mashable:
"For every nasty thing you said about her, you’re going to say a nice thing,” the judge said per the Maui News...
Apparently, Young was apologetic about the textstorm and promised, “I’m not going to do it again.” But still the judge was shocked by the text vitriol. "It’s so childish to think a grown man can be so thumb-happy," she said in court.
Thumb-happy Trump better hope he never gets this judge!
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Joi Ito's Resisting Reduction manifesto rejects the idea of reducing the world to a series of computable relationships that will eventually be overtaken by our ability to manipulate them with computers ("the Singularity") and instead to view the world as full of irreducible complexities and "to design systems that participate as responsible, aware and robust elements of even more complex systems."
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(Photo: Joi Ito, CC-BY)
He’s not the only major figure in the world of tech and ideas who goes by Chris Anderson. His namesake runs the TED conference - whereas the Chris Anderson of this article was Editor-in-Chief of Wired for twelve years. During that stint, he co-founded a company that helped launch the consumer drone industry, which he now runs (the company - not the industry).
There are those who think these guys are one solitary, mega overachiever, but no. They could settle who has rights to the name through some kind of brainy public smackdown - the nerd equivalent of a battle of the bands, say. But not a chance. This Chris Anderson has been through that once already. With his band. They were called REM.
No - not that REM. That REM clobbered Team Chris in musical combat back in 1991 (at the storied 9:30 club in Washington), winning rights to the name. Chris’s band then took Mike Mills’ suggestion that they rebrand as Egoslavia – a clever-ish name back when Yugoslavia wasn’t just a fading memory and a handful of spinoffs.
Chris and I cover this, plus the story of his impressively misspent youth in an hour-plus interview you can listen to right here (or by typing the name of the podcast series – “After On” – into the search bar of your favorite podcast app):
But we mainly talk about drones, his company (3D Robotics, or 3DR), and how he launched and grew it to millions in revenues in partnership with a Tijuana teen, while winning awards for running the world’s most influential tech magazine as a day job. Read the rest
Syrian Creative Commons lead Bassel Khartabil disappeared in 2012, snatched off the Damascus streets by Syrian authorities; in 2015, he was secretly executed by the Assad regime, a fact that has only just come to light. Read the rest
Joi Ito, the MIT Media Lab director, has an interesting proposal for managing his "partial attention problem during meetings." Joi spends between 2-3 hours on email in the morning, and another 2-3 hours at night. In addition to that, he "must diligently triage email during the day." He also has a lot of meetings, and some of those meetings do not require his full attention. He needs to attend only to answer occasional questions or make decisions. So he proposes two kinds of meetings: "full attention" and "partial attention," which can be scheduled as such.
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When someone signed up for a meeting, we would ask if they needed full attention and if so, they would end up in the "full attention slot" queue or get booked a month or so out when my next "full attention slot" was available. On the other hand, if all they wanted was for me to be available to provide opinions or make decisions as part of a broader meeting or if the person didn't mind my partial attention during meetings, we could book the meeting in a "partial attention" slot which could be scheduled sooner. I would use un-booked partial attention slots to catch up on email if no one wanted such a slot.
This feels a bit too clever by half and maybe difficult to communicate to a person not familiar with my problem.
The other idea that I had was just to ask at the beginning of a meeting, "do you want this to be a laptops closed meeting or do you mind if I keep my eye on urgent email and triage?" I'm not sure if everyone would ask for my full attention or if I'd have a selection bias where only people confident enough would ask for my full attention and that those people who really needed my attention but were too polite would end up with my partial attention.
There's 25 stops in all on the US/Canada tour for WALKAWAY, my next novel, an "optimistic disaster novel" that comes out on April 25 (more stops coming soon, as well as publication of my UK tour). Read the rest
I first started writing about the remarkable Joi Ito in 2002
, and over the decade and a half since, I've marvelled at his polymath abilities -- running international Creative Commons, starting and investing in remarkable tech businesses, getting Timothy Leary's ashes shot into space, backing Mondo 2000, using a sprawling Warcraft raiding guild to experiment with leadership and team structures, and now, running MIT's storied Media Lab -- and I've watched with excitement as he's distilled his seemingly impossible-to-characterize approach to life in a set of 9 compact principles
, which he and Jeff Howe have turned into Whiplash
, a voraciously readable, extremely exciting, and eminently sensible book.