Interesting paper from Wei Wei and three other researchers (Wei Wei is getting the credit because I found it on his site at CMU) – The Fragility of Twitter Social Networks Against Suspended Users. “Social media is rapidly becoming one of the mediums of choice for understanding the cultural pulse of a region; i.e., for identifying what the population is concerned with and what kind of help is needed in a crisis. To assess this cultural pulse it is critical to have an accurate assessment of who is saying what in social media. However, social media is also the home of malicious users engaged in disruptive, disingenuous, and potentially illegal activity. A range of users, both human and non-human, carry out such social cyber-attacks. We ask, to what extent does the presence or absence of such users influence our ability to assess the cultural pulse of a region?”
Oooh. A study claims that Google is delivering “degraded” search results by ranking its own content higher than other, competing content. “In a study sponsored by Yelp – one of the companies listed as a complainant in the EU antitrust case against Google, former FTC advisor Tim Wu from Columbia Law School and Harvard Business School’s Michael Luca found, when given the option, users were more likely to click on results ranked by relevancy versus results that gave preference to Google’s self promoted content.”
Interesting stuff from Nature: exploring ways to automatically pull fossil data from research papers. “For a field whose raison d’être is to chronicle the deep past, palaeontology is remarkably forward-looking when it comes to organizing its data. Victorian natural history museums meticulously organized their collections with handwritten cards that survive to this day. And over the past 15 years, researchers have collectively entered records of more than a million fossils into an online database, allowing them to track broad trends in the history of life. Now, palaeontologists are exploring the use of machine algorithms to pull fossil data from their research papers automatically.”
Research: Could Facebook be useful for online learning? “In a first-of-its-kind study, Michigan State University’s Christine Greenhow found that high school and college students engaged in vigorous, intelligent debate about scientific issues in a voluntary Facebook forum….[Christine] Greenhow, recognized as one of the most social media savvy professors in America, analyzed the students’ activity on the Facebook app and found their discussion on various science issues to be largely on-topic, civil and sophisticated.”
.GOV credentials are being found in hacker dumps. “The security intelligence firm Recorded Future on Wednesday released a report that details its scouring of online email addresses and passwords revealed when hacker groups breach third party websites and dump their booty on the web. Searching through those user data dumps from November 2013 to November 2014 on public websites like Pastebin—not even on dark web sites or private forums—Recorded Future found 224 government staffers’ data from 12 federal agencies that don’t consistently use two-factor authentication to protect their basic user access.”
Major Internet providers are being accused of slowing traffic speeds. “Major internet providers, including AT&T, Time Warner and Verizon, are slowing data from popular websites to thousands of US businesses and residential customers in dozens of cities across the country, according to a study released on Monday. The study, conducted by internet activists BattlefortheNet, looked at the results from 300,000 internet users and found significant degradations on the networks of the five largest internet service providers (ISPs), representing 75% of all wireline households across the US.”
Well that’s not creepy at all: Facebook can recognize you in photographs even if it can’t see your face. “An experimental algorithm out of Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab can recognise people in photographs even when it can’t see their faces. Instead it looks for other unique characteristics like your hairdo, clothing, body shape and pose. Modern face-recognition algorithms are so good they’ve already found their way into social networks, shops and even churches. Yann LeCun, head of artificial intelligence at Facebook, wanted to see they could be adapted to recognise people in situations where someone’s face isn’t clear, something humans can already do quite well.” Or in my case, it’ll recognize me by the brand of paper bag I put over my head.
Google is training its neural networks to augment images, and in the process is making downright trippy art. “What Google is doing here is essentially reversing image recognition, and telling its computers to use the images they already know to augment new images. As Singularity Hub (via Engadget) explains: ‘Where the software was allowed to “free associate” and then forced into feedback loops to reinforce these associations — it found images and patterns (often mash-ups of things it had already seen) where none existed previously.’” One of the images below.
From The New York Times: Can Wikipedia Survive? “These are existential challenges, but they can still be addressed. There is no other significant alternative to Wikipedia, and good will toward the project — a remarkable feat of altruism — could hardly be higher. If the foundation needed more donations, it could surely raise them. The real challenges for Wikipedia are to resolve the governance disputes — the tensions among foundation employees, longtime editors trying to protect their prerogatives, and new volunteers trying to break in — and to design a mobile-oriented editing environment. One board member, María Sefidari, warned that ‘some communities have become so change-resistant and innovation-averse’ that they risk staying ‘stuck in 2006 while the rest of the Internet is thinking about 2020 and the next three billion users.’”
Bing predicted the outcome of the NBA finals. Back in April. “Bing had the Warriors down to beat the Atlanta Hawks in five games, but the Cavaliers earned their shot at the Championship by dismissing the Hawks in four. The Warriors’ side of the bracket proved to be slightly easier to predict, with Bing only failing to foresee the Houston Rockets’ hard-fought victory over the LA Clippers.” Bing is getting a little scary.
Researchers at Vanderbilt have developed an area-specific drought measurement tool. “[Leslie] Duncan says it uses the same calculation as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Palmer Index, but differs by featuring an interface allowing users to input precipitation, temperature and soil data for a specific area, like an individual city or county.”