An analysis of all those Internet of Things manifestos sparked by the slow-motion IoT catastrophe

The Internet of Things morphed from a ridiculous answer in search of a problem ("why do I want my fridge connected to the internet?") to a source of Black Mirror-style modern absurdities ("someone pushed a load of internet porn to my fridge") to an existential threat ("my fridge just joined a world-killing botnet"). Read the rest

White Americans abandoned democracy and embraced authoritarianism when they realized brown people would soon outvote them

A working paper from a pair of political scientists analyzed World Values Survey data to trace the rise of support for authoritarianism in America to a growing sense among white people that democracy's commitment to giving everyone a vote would soon erode their privilege, as the growing population of racialized people started to vote for fairer policies. Read the rest

Germany's scientific texts were made free during and after WWII; analyzing them today shows the negative effect of paywalls on science

In 1942, the US Book Republication Program permitted American publishers to reprint "exact reproductions" of Germany's scientific texts without payment; seventy-five years later, the fate of this scientific knowledge forms the basis of a "natural experiment" analysed by Barbara Biasi and Petra Moser for The Center for Economic and Policy Research, who compare the fate of these texts to their contemporaries who didn't have this semi-public-domain existence. Read the rest

Facebook is worth much less to its users than search and email, but it keeps a larger share of the value

Economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Felix Eggers and Avinash Gannamaneni have published an NBER paper (Sci-Hub mirror) detailing an experiment where they offered Americans varying sums to give up Facebook, and then used a less-rigorous means to estimate much much Americans valued other kinds of online services: maps, webmail, search, etc. Read the rest

Debugging AI is a "hard problem"

Writing code is a lot easier than fixing code! For a lot of well-understood reasons, code requires a lot of debugging to run safely and property, and different code structures and practices make debugging harder or easier. S. Zayd Enam, an AI researcher at Stanford, writes about the specific problems of debugging AI code, which is extremely difficult. Read the rest

A collaborative bibliography of "economic science fiction"

The Econ-SF wiki is a new, annotated collaborative bibliography of science fiction that delves into economic topics -- remember that Paul Krugman was inspired to get into economics after reading Asimov's "Foundation" novels, to say nothing of all the people whose brains were colonized by Atlas Shrugged. It's brand new and has some notable omissions, and could use your contributions. Read the rest

Ampli: A construction set for medical diagnostics

Our team of researchers at MIT’s Little Devices Lab have developed a pocket sized laboratory for biology that allows anyone to invent and deploy rapid diagnostics to detect diseases like Zika and Dengue, as well as everyday biomarkers like cholesterol. Using plug and play reaction blocks, it can be as easy as snapping Legos together. The current approach to developing diagnostic tools involves shipping out samples to faraway labs for the development of tests that take too long and cost too much - but what would happen if everyone could have the tools they needed to design and make diagnostics? If the ability to diagnose disease was directly in the hands of those who most needed it?

A vital guide to the Canadian encryption debate

Canada's two leading digital rights groups, CIPPIC (previously) and Citizen Lab (previously) have issued a joint report called Shining a Light on the Encryption Debate: A Canadian Field Guide , and every Canadian should read it. Read the rest

Teens are cyberbullying themselves as a form of self-harm

Child psychologists have observed an increasing trend in which teens cyberbully themselves, creating anonymous accounts in which they post vicious insults and slurs that seem to be directed to them by strangers. Read the rest

Enhance enhance: Using machine learning to recover lost detail from upscaled photos

A team of researchers from Twitter have published a paper detailing a machine learning technique that uses a generative adversarial network to make shrewd guesses about how to up-res small images by up to 400%, into crisp, large images, with eye-popping results. Read the rest

See in the Dark: a machine learning technique for producing astoundingly sharp photos in very low light

A group of scientists from Intel and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign have published a paper called Learning to See in the Dark detailing a powerful machine-learning based image processing technique that allows regular cameras to take super-sharp pictures in very low light, without long exposures or the kinds of graininess associated with low-light photography. Read the rest

Prominent AI researchers call the entire field "alchemy"

Machine learning's reproducibility crisis is getting worse, and the massive shortage of qualified researchers has driven top salaries over $1,000,000, bringing in all kinds of cowboys and pretenders. Read the rest

Syllabus for a course on Data Science Ethics

The University of Utah's Suresh Venkatasubramanian and Katie Shelef are teaching a course in "Ethics in Data Science" and they've published a comprehensive syllabus for it; it's a fantastic set of readings for anyone interested in understanding and developing ethical frameworks for computer science generally, and data science in particular. Read the rest

George Mason economics department admits it sold hiring control to anonymous, super-rich donors

Universities -- especially public universities -- are never, ever supposed to cede their academic independence to their donors, who might otherwise use their departments as glorified think-tanks, laundering their ideology and giving it the veneer of objective, scholarly credibility. Read the rest

Thousands of prominent AI researchers tell Nature they won't have anything to do with its new paywalled journal

It's 2018, and the Open Access debate has been settled: institutions, researchers, funders and the public all hate paywalled science, and only the journal publishers -- whose subscription rates have gone up several thousand percent in recent decades, despite the fact that they don't pay for research, review, editing, or (increasingly) paper -- like locking up scholarship. Read the rest

A LaTeX mod to draw coffee cup rings on your technical papers

LaTeX is the venerable, gold-standard layout package favored for scholarly papers, especially technical papers; back in 2009, Hanno Rein released LaTeX Coffee Stains, an extension to draw a variety of coffee-cup rings on your paper; the code has been improved by community contributions over the years and is very robust and full-featured! (via Evil Mad Scientist Labs) Read the rest

IoT Inspector: Princeton releases a tool to snoop on home IoT devices and figure out what they're doing

IoT Inspector is a new tool from Princeton's computer science department; it snoops on the traffic from home IoT devices and performs analysis to determine who they phone home to, whether they use encryption, and what kinds of data they may be leaking. Read the rest

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