Even without explicit collusion, pricing algorithms converge on price-fixing strategies

Literally the only kind of monopolistic behavior that the US government is willing to prosecute is price fixing, and that's why it's so important to read Artificial intelligence, algorithmic pricing, and collusion, a paper by four Italian economists from the University of Bologna who document how price-fixing is an emergent property of pricing algorithms -- the systems online merchants use to price-match with their competitors. Read the rest

Teaching test-driven development and continuous integration with "Evil Fizz Buzz"

Fizz Buzz is the word-game in which players in a circle count from 1 up, substituting multiples of three with "fizz" and multiples of five with "buzz" ("1, 2, Fizz, 4, Buzz, Fizz, 7, 8, Fizz, Buzz, 11, Fizz, 13, 14, Fizz Buzz, 16, 17, Fizz, 19, Buzz, Fizz, 22, 23, Fizz, Buzz, 26, Fizz, 28, 29, Fizz Buzz, 31, 32, Fizz, 34, Buzz, Fizz, ..."). Read the rest

Building a high-performance cluster of Gameboy emulators to teach computers to play video games

Kamil Rocki was inspired by the 2016 paper from Google Deepmind researchers explaining how they used machine learning to develop a system that could play Breakout on the Atari 2600 with superhuman proficiency. Read the rest

Princeton's interdisciplinary Center for Information Technology Policy is seeking visiting scholars

Are you a PhD with interest in "the intersection of digital technology and public life, including experts in computer science, sociology, economics, law, political science, public policy, information studies, communication, and other related disciplines?" Princeton's CITP has three open job postings for 10-month residences starting Sept 1, 2019. Read the rest

Breed weird critters with machine learning and Ganbreeder

Ganbreeder uses a machine learning technique called Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to generate images that seem like photos, at least a first glance. Read the rest

What's missing from machine learning research: an East African perspective

CIT computer scientist Milan Cvitkovic conducted 46 in-depth interviews with "scientists, engineers, and CEOs" and collated their machine learning research needs into an aptly named paper entitled "Some Requests for Machine Learning Research from the East African Tech Scene," which presents an illuminating look into the gaps in the current practice of machine learning, itself an example of how rich-world priorities shape our ability to understand, compute and predict the world. Read the rest

How to use science fiction to teach tech ethics

Science fiction writer/lawyer Casey Fiesler is a maven in the field of tech ethics education (she maintains the amazing spreadsheet of tech-ethics syllabi); she uses science fiction stories as a jumping-off point for her own classroom discussions of ethics in technology. Read the rest

Generative adversarial network produces a "universal fingerprint" that will unlock many smartphones

Researchers at NYU and U Michigan have published a paper explaining how they used a pair of machine-learning systems to develop a "universal fingerprint" that can fool the lowest-security fingerprint sensors 76% of the time (it is less effective against higher-security sensors). Read the rest

Common sense: the Chomsky/Piaget debates come to AI

In 1975, Noam Chomsky and Jean Paiget held a historic debate about the nature of human cognition; Chomsky held that babies are born with a bunch of in-built rules and instincts that help them build up the knowledge that they need to navigate the world; Piaget argued that babies are effectively blank slates that acquire knowledge from experiencing the world (including the knowledge that there is a thing called "experience" and "the world"). Read the rest

How many computers are in your computer?

Gwern Branwen asks the deceptively simple question "How many computers are in your computer?" Read the rest

Researchers claim to have permanently neutralized ad-blocking's most promising weapons

Last year, Princeton researchers revealed a powerful new ad-blocking technique: perceptual ad-blocking uses a machine-learning model trained on images of pages with the ads identified to make predictions about which page elements are ads to block and which parts are not. Read the rest

Evolutionary Space Invaders: shoot the aliens as a genetic algorithm modifies them

InvaderZ is a Space Invaders variant that incorporates a genetic algorithm that mutates the invaders as you shoot at them, with survival for a fitness function: the longer an invader lasts before being blasted out of the sky, the more its behaviors are carried over into the next wave (here's a playable live version). (via Kottke) Read the rest

Cybersecurity class challenged to hack a Raspberry-Pi-enabled "smart pumpkin"

Frequent Boing Boing contributor Sean O'Brien and his colleagues Laurin Weissinger and Scott J Shapiro built a Raspberry Pi-enabled smart pumpkin and then challenged their Yale cybersecurity students to hack it. Read the rest

Customizable ethics checklists for Big Data researchers

Deon is a project to create automated "ethics checklists" for data science projects; by default, running the code creates a comprehensive checklist covering data collection and storage, modeling and deployment: the checklist items aren't specific actions, they're "meant to provoke discussion among good-faith actors who take their ethical responsibilities seriously. Because of this, most of the items are framed as prompts to discuss or consider. Teams will want to document these discussions and decisions for posterity." Read the rest

A bot has been finding bugs and submitting patches for them, successfully masquerading as a human

Repairnator is a bot that identifies bugs in open source software integration and creates patches without human intervention, submitting them to the open source project's maintainers under an assumed human identity; it has succeeded in having five of its patches accepted so far. Read the rest

Robin "Sourdough" Sloan is using a machine-learning autocomplete system to write his next novel

Robin Sloan is a programmer and novelist whose books like Sourdough and Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore are rich and evocative blends of self-aware nerdy playfulness and magical speculation. Read the rest

Compression could be machine learning's "killer app"

Pete Warden (previously) writes persuasively that machine learning companies could make a ton of money by turning to data-compression: for example, ML systems could convert your speech to text, then back into speech using a high-fidelity facsimile of your voice at the other end, saving enormous amounts of bandwidth in between. Read the rest

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