Ecommerce sites' mobile templates hide information that shoppers use to save money

In Do Consumers Make Less Accurate Decisions When They Use Mobiles?, a study by researchers at Ben Gurion University accepted for presentation at next month's International Conference on Information Systems in Munich, the researchers seek to discover why consumers spend more money on ecommerce sites when using mobile devices than when they use laptops and other, larger screens. Read the rest

How to recognize AI snake oil

Princeton computer scientist Arvind Narayanan (previously) has posted slides and notes from a recent MIT talk on "How to recognize AI snake oil" in which he divides AI applications into three (nonexhaustive) categories and rates how difficult they are, and thus whether you should believe vendors who claim that their machine learning models can perform as advertised. Read the rest

China is still harvesting organs from prisoners and covering it up

Last June, an independent tribunal concluded that the Chinese state was nonconsensually harvesting organs from prisoners despite promises that the practice had ended in 2014. Read the rest

Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy is looking for engineering, social science, law, and policy "visitors" for interdisciplinary one-year positions

Princeton's Center for Information Technology Policy is a marvellous interdisciplinary research center, and it is advertising for "visitors" for one-year stints: postdocs, policy fellows and visiting IT professors. Read the rest

Genetic Evasion: using genetic algorithms to beat state-level internet censorship

Geneva ("Genetic Evasion") is a project from the University of Maryland's Breakerspace ("a lab dedicated to scaling-up undergraduate research in computer and network security"); in a paper presented today at the ACM's Conference on Computer and Communications Security, a trio of Maryland researchers and a UC Berkeley colleague present their work on evolutionary algorithms as a means of defeating state-level network censorship. Read the rest

Tpmfail: a timing attack that can extract keys from secure computing chips in 4-20 minutes

Daniel Moghimi, Berk Sunar, Thomas Eisenbarth and Nadia Heninger have published TPM-FAIL: TPM meets Timing and Lattice Attacks, their Usenix security paper, which reveals a pair of timing attacks against trusted computing chips ("Trusted Computing Modules" or TPMs), the widely deployed cryptographic co-processors used for a variety of mission-critical secure computing tasks, from verifying software updates to establishing secure connections. Read the rest

#NoTechForICE: Calling on ACM to cancel Palantir's sponsorship of the first ACM Symposium on Computer Science and Law

Next week, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) will host its inaugural Symposium on Computer Science and Law, whose sponsors include Palantir, Peter Thiel's notorious surveillance-tech company, which just renewed a $49m contract with ICE to provide technological aid for ICE's ethnic cleansing program, which has included mass family separations and the deaths of children in custody. Read the rest

The rich poop different: measuring inequality with sewage

In Social, demographic, and economic correlates of food and chemical consumption measured by wastewater-based epidemiology, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, a group of researchers in Australia and Norway present their analysis of a 2016 Australian sewage census, which sampled 22 waste-water treatment facilities and looked for 42 biomarkers. Read the rest

MIT Sloan Management Review drops its paywall for 72 hours

Sara from MIT Sloan Management Review writes, "The entire site is free today through Thursday. To help you make progress on the problems you’re facing right now, they’ve unlocked their site for 72 hours. Every article, research report, and webinar is free to access." Read the rest

Why haven't cyberinsurers exerted more pressure on companies to be better at security?

For decades, people (including me) have predicted that cyberinsurers might be a way to get companies to take security seriously. After all, insurers have to live in the real world (which is why terrorism insurance is cheap, because terrorism is not a meaningful risk in America), and in the real world, poor security practices destroy peoples' lives, all the time, in wholesale quantities that beggar the imagination. Read the rest

Adding pink seaweed to cow feed eliminates their methane emissions

One of the major contributors to greenhouse gases is the methane that cows belch up as they break down cellulose, but five years ago, research from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) found that adding small amounts of a pink seaweed called Asparagopsis to cows' diets eliminated the gut microbes responsible for methane production and "completely knocks out" cows' methane emissions. Read the rest

A deep dive into how parasites hijack our behavior and how we evolved to resist them

On Slate Star Codex (previously), Scott Alexander breaks down Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation, Marco Del Giudice's Quarterly Review of Biology paper that examines the measures that parasites take to influence their hosts' behaviors, and the countermeasures that hosts evolve to combat them. Read the rest

Training bias in AI "hate speech detector" means that tweets by Black people are far more likely to be censored

More bad news for Google's beleaguered spinoff Jigsaw, whose flagship project is "Perspective," a machine-learning system designed to catch and interdict harassment, hate-speech and other undesirable online speech. Read the rest

New York City raised minimum wage to $15, and its restaurants outperformed the nation

After NYC raised its minimum wage from $7.25/h to $15/h this year -- the largest pay hike for low-waged workers in half a century -- the city's restaurants boomed, posting the highest growth levels in the country. Read the rest

Atomik Vodka: distilled from grains grown in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Atomik Grain Spirit is a (largely) (radiation-free) moonshine vodka distilled from grains grown in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone as part of an experiment to determine the transfer of radiation from soil to crops; so far, the University of Portsmouth researchers behind the project have only made one bottle, but they hope to go into production and remit 75% of the proceeds to charities in the Exclusion Zone. Read the rest

Stephen Wolfram recounts the entire history of mathematics in 90 minutes

Stephen Wolfram's podcast features a 90-minute lecture that he delivered at the 2019 Wolfram Summer School (MP3), recapitulating the history of mathematics from prehistory to the present day. Read the rest

Hospital checklists work really well -- except when they're not used

Atul Gawande (previously) made an enormous shift in the practice of medicine with his research on checklists, summarized in his book The Checklist Manifesto; Gawande identified a core paradox with checklists, which is that surgeons hate to use them, finding them reductive and tedious, but overwhelmingly, surgeons would prefer to be operated on by other surgeons who were using a checklist to guide the procedure. Read the rest

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