Friday, November 25, 2016

Quick links

Some of the tech news I found interesting lately, and you might too. Heavy on the comics this time to lighten the mood:
  • Jeff Bezos: "Good leaders ... seek to disconfirm their most profoundly-held convictions, which is very unnatural for humans ... Anybody who doesn’t change their mind a lot is dramatically underestimating the complexity of the world we live in." ([1])

  • Amazon is hiring 120k employees just for the holidays. I can't believe how our baby is all grown up. ([1])

  • On building products: "Keep it extremely simple, or two thirds of the population can’t use your design" ([1] [2])

  • "The problem isn't the users: it's that we've designed our computer systems' security so badly that we demand the user do all of these counterintuitive things." ([1])

  • Fun AI experiments from Google. Don't miss "Quick, Draw!" ([1])

  • Interesting new phone design, screen taking up the entire front: "Hands down, the best looking smartphone ever" ([1])

  • Great article on Netflix recommendations, tidbits on the importance of reacting immediately to new data, using immediate intent, freshness (esp. new releases), and perceived quality (difference between online evaluation and offline). ([1])

  • Opinionated summary of RecSys 2016, and also somewhat of a summary of recommendations and personalization research as of 2016 ([1] [2])

  • Xavier Amatriain on lessons learned from building recommender systems ([1])

  • YouTube is now using deep learning for recommendations, more than just embeddings, includes a ranker with heavily engineered features ([1])

  • Ex-Facebook employee: "News Feed optimizes for engagement. As we've learned in this election, bullshit is highly engaging." ([1])

  • Pfeffer: "You need to be careful with what you measure, because you are going to get it, and often you don’t really want it." ([1] [2])

  • Obama: "Traditionally, when we think about security and protecting ourselves, we think in terms of armor or walls. Increasingly, I find myself looking to medicine and thinking about viruses, antibodies." ([1])

  • Surprising, just set up a hotspot, and the interference from people's fingers moving in the WiFi signal is enough to catch most of the passwords anyone enters while connected ([1] [2])

  • "An entire company’s product line has just been turned into a botnet that is now attacking the United States" ([1] [2])

  • short URLs hid malicious content that was then used to get at Colin Powell's e-mail ([1])

  • Carefully picked textures on eyeglass frames to fool face recognition, pictures in the paper are amusing ([1] [2])

  • AI guru Andrew Ng: "We're lucky the AI community is very open, and top researchers freely share many ideas and even code. This helps the whole field progress. Hope we can keep it that way." ([1] [2])

  • Love this: "Being able to go from idea to result with the least possible delay is key to doing good research" ([1])

  • Two new massive labeled open data sets from Google, one for images, one for videos ([1] [2])

  • "Translations that are vastly improved compared to the previous phrase-based production system. GNMT reduces translation errors by more than 55%-85% on several major language pairs" ([1])

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai: "Our goal is build a personal Google for each and every user." ([1])

  • I got a mention in The Guardian for some of my past work: "Greg Linden may not be a household name..." ([1])

  • Data on what Amazon Echo is actually used for. Mostly playing a song, it appears. ([1])

  • Like at the last dot-com boom, there are a bunch of delivery services cropping up with models that don't seem like they're likely to be profitable. Uber, which was in a better position than most to do this profitably, just shut their food delivery service down, which doesn't bode well for the others. ([1])

  • Current state of virtual reality: "None of these uses are particularly compelling right now, especially given the cost of buying a VR headset. This may change in the future." ([1])

  • "Giving employees hours, days or even months in which to work without close scrutiny has enhanced productivity instead of harming it" ([1])

  • T-mobile's CEO on leadership: "Listen to your employees, listen to your customers, shut the f*** up, and do what they tell you" ([1])

  • SMBC comic on survivorship bias ([1])

  • SMBC comic on work, dark but funny: "The important thing is to find the low low bar that works for YOU." ([1])

  • SMBC comic on eliminating security risks ([1])

  • SMBC comic being a scientist. Don't miss the mouseover: "Hopefully your kids don't drink as much as research scientists" ([1])

  • Love the mouseover text on this SMBC comic: "Studying social science has completely obliterated my ability to enjoy pleasant human behaviors" ([1])

  • SMBC comic on political economy. Don't miss the mouseover text on humans: "In economics, they're robots. In political economy, they're all jerks. In sociology, they're all misunderstood." ([1])

  • Brilliant comic by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) on happiness and meaning ([1])

  • Xkcd on a CS degree: "That just means I understand how everything went so wrong" ([1])

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