👓 The Problem With Feedback | The Atlantic

Read The Problem With Feedback (The Atlantic)
Companies and apps constantly ask for ratings, but all that data may just be noise in the system.

A great framing of a lot of crazy digital exhaust that online services and apps are collecting that don’t do much. I’ve also thought for a while about the idea of signal to noise ratio of these types of data as well as their quantization levels which often don’t make much sense to me. I don’t think that there are any IndieWeb realizations of these sorts of (mostly business) systems in the wild yet, but this is an important area to begin to consider when they do.

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👓 "Little Foot" hominin skeleton from South Africa will finally be open to other scientists | Michael Balter

Read After more than 20 years in the hands of one researcher, the nearly complete "Little Foot" hominin skeleton from South Africa will finally be open to other scientists at the end of November (michael-balter.blogspot.com)
In 1994, Ron Clarke, a paleoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, was looking through some museum boxes filled with fossil specimens from the Sterkfontein caves, located about 40 kilometers northwest of the city. Beginning in the 1930s, a number of hominin fossils had been found there, mostly australopithecines, in what South Africans call the Cradle of Humankind. Clarke quickly realized that four of the fossils, all small toe bones, had been misidentified as belonging to monkeys. They actually belonged to an early hominin, most likely another australopithecine. It quickly became known as "Little Foot."
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👓 Name Change | N.I.P.S.

Read NIPS Name Change by Terrence Sejnowski, Marian Stewart Bartlett, Michael Mozer, Corinna Cortes, Isabelle Guyon, Neil D. Lawrence, Daniel D. Lee, Ulrike von Luxburg, Masashi Sugiyama, Max Welling (nips.cc)

As many of you know, there has been an ongoing discussion concerning the name of the Neural Information Processing Systems conference. The current acronym NIPS has unintended connotations that some members of the community find offensive.

Following several well-publicized incidents of insensitivity at past conferences, and our acknowledgement of other less-publicized incidents, we conducted community polls requesting alternative names, rating the existing and alternative names, and soliciting additional comments.

After extensive discussions, the NIPS Board has decided not to change the name of the conference for now. The poll itself did not yield a clear consensus on a name change or a well-regarded alternative name.

This just makes me sick…

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🔖 davidgchristian tweet: We humans have reduced the biomass of life on earth by 50%

Bookmarked a tweet by David Christian (Twitter)
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📅 RSVP to Space Apps Challenge 2018 Kickoff

RSVPed Attending Space Apps Challenge 2018 Kickoff
Hello makers, designers and enthusiasts! Welcome to NASA Space Apps Hackathon 2018 Pasadena, a three day event with presentations by industry professionals and 48 hours of hacking! Everyone is welcome to join and a background in coding or computers is not necessary. We will open the event on Friday with speakers from JPL, The Planetary Soceity, and Space Decentral. Saturday the hacking will begin and teams will tackle an array of challenges which are designed by NASA. Two teams from this portion will be selected by our judges to go on to the national round. Space Apps takes place in over 69 countries and is the largest hackathon in the world. Last year we had 28,000 participants and in 2016 the global winner came out of the Pasadena event.

I’ve been asked to give a 15 minute talk at this event on Friday evening.

👓 Who says neuroscientists don’t need more brains? Annotation with SciBot | Hypothesis

Read Who says neuroscientists don’t need more brains? Annotation with SciBot by Maryann Martone (web.hypothes.is/blog/)
You might think that neuroscientists already have enough brains, but apparently not. Over 100 neuroscientists attending the recent annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN), took part in an annotation challenge: modifying scientific papers to add simple references that automatically generate and attach Hypothesis annotations, filled with key related information. To sweeten the pot, our friends at Gigascience gave researchers who annotated their own papers their very own brain hats.
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🔖 [1810.05095] The Statistical Physics of Real-World Networks | arXiv

Bookmarked [1810.05095] The Statistical Physics of Real-World Networks by Giulio Cimini, Tiziano Squartini, Fabio Saracco, Diego Garlaschelli, Andrea Gabrielli, Guido Caldarelli (arxiv.org)

Statistical physics is the natural framework to model complex networks. In the last twenty years, it has brought novel physical insights on a variety of emergent phenomena, such as self-organisation, scale invariance, mixed distributions and ensemble non-equivalence, which cannot be deduced from the behaviour of the individual constituents. At the same time, thanks to its deep connection with information theory, statistical physics and the principle of maximum entropy have led to the definition of null models reproducing some features of empirical networks, but otherwise as random as possible. We review here the statistical physics approach for complex networks and the null models for the various physical problems, focusing in particular on the analytic frameworks reproducing the local features of the network. We show how these models have been used to detect statistically significant and predictive structural patterns in real-world networks, as well as to reconstruct the network structure in case of incomplete information. We further survey the statistical physics frameworks that reproduce more complex, semi-local network features using Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling, and the models of generalised network structures such as multiplex networks, interacting networks and simplicial complexes.

Comments: To appear on Nature Reviews Physics. The revised accepted version will be posted 6 months after publication

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🎧 Episode 077 Exploring Artificial Intelligence with Melanie Mitchell | HumanCurrent

Listened to Episode 077: Exploring Artificial Intelligence with Melanie Mitchell by Haley Campbell-GrossHaley Campbell-Gross from HumanCurrent

What is artificial intelligence? Could unintended consequences arise from increased use of this technology? How will the role of humans change with AI? How will AI evolve in the next 10 years?

In this episode, Haley interviews leading Complex Systems Scientist, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University, and external professor at the Santa Fe InstituteMelanie Mitchell. Professor Mitchell answers many profound questions about the field of artificial intelligence and gives specific examples of how this technology is being used today. She also provides some insights to help us navigate our relationship with AI as it becomes more popular in the coming years.

I knew Dr. Mitchell was working on a book during her hiatus, but didn’t know it was potentially coming out so soon! I loved her last book and can’t wait to get this one. Sadly, there’s no pre-order copies available at any of the usual suspects yet.

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👓 Welcome to Voldemorting, the Ultimate SEO Dis | Wired

Read Welcome to Voldemorting, the Ultimate SEO Dis by Gretchen McCulloch (WIRED)
When writers swap Trump for Cheeto and 45, it's not just a put-down. Removing a keyword is the anti-SEO—transforming your subject into a slippery, ungraspable, swarm.

Surprised she didn’t mention the phenomena of subtweeting, snitch tagging, or dunking which are also closely related to voldemorting.

To my experience, the phrase “bird site” was generally used as a derogatory phrase on Mastodon (represented by a Mastodon character instead of a bird), by people who were fed up by Twitter and the interactions they found there. I recall instances of it as early as April 2017.

In addition to potential SEO implications, this phenomenon is also interesting for its information theoretic implications.

I particularly like the reference in the van der Nagle paper

[…] screenshotting, or making content visible without sending its website traffic – to demonstrate users’ understandings of the algorithms that seek to connect individuals to other people, platforms, content and advertisers, and their efforts to wrest back control.

This seems like an awesome way to skirt around algorithms in social sites as well as not rewarding negative sites with clicks.

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🔖 Collaborative Workshop for Women in Mathematical Biology | IPAM

Bookmarked Collaborative Workshop for Women in Mathematical Biology (IPAM)

June 17-21, 2019

This workshop will tackle a variety of biological and medical questions using mathematical models to understand complex system dynamics. Working in collaborative teams of 6, each with a senior research mentor, participants will spend a week making significant progress with a research project and foster innovation in the application of mathematical, statistical, and computational methods in the resolution of problems in the biosciences. By matching senior research mentors with junior mathematicians, the workshop will expand and support the community of scholars in mathematical biosciences. In addition to the modeling goals, an aim of this workshop is to foster research collaboration among women in mathematical biology. Results from the workshop will be published in a peer-reviewed volume, highlighting the contributions of the newly-formed groups. Previous workshops in this series have occurred at IMA, NIMBioS, and MBI.

This workshop will have a special format designed to facilitate effective collaborations.

  • Each senior group leader will present a problem and lead a research group.
  • Group leaders will work with a more junior co-leader, someone with whom they do not have a long-standing collaboration, but who has enough experience to take on a leadership role.
  • Additional team members will be chosen from applicants and invitees. We anticipate a total of five or six people per group.

It is expected that each group will continue to work on their project together after the workshop, and that they will submit results to the Proceedings volume for the workshop.

The benefit of such a structured program with leaders, projects and working groups planned in advance is based on the successful WIN, Women In Numbers, conferences and is intended to provide vertically integrated mentoring: senior women will meet, mentor, and collaborate with the brightest young women in their field on a part of their research agenda of their choosing, and junior women and graduate students will develop their network of colleagues and supporters and encounter important new research areas to work in, thereby fostering a successful research career. This workshop is partially supported by NSF-HRD 1500481 – AWM ADVANCE grant.

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

Rebecca Segal (Virginia Commonwealth University)
Blerta Shtylla (Pomona College)
Suzanne Sindi (University of California, Merced)
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Reply to Andy Gonzalez about NIMBIOS Workshop

Replied to a tweet by Andy GonzalezAndy Gonzalez (Twitter)

Andrew Eckford et al. hosted a related conference a few months prior at BIRS which also has some great videos:

Biological and Bio-Inspired Information Theory(14w5170)

Perhaps it’s time for a follow up conference?

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👓 Mathematics matters | Bits of DNA

Read Mathematics matters by Lior PachterLior Pachter (Bits of DNA)
Six years ago I received an email from a colleague in the mathematics department at UC Berkeley asking me whether he should participate in a study that involved “collecting DNA from the brigh…

Not sure how I had missed this in the brouhaha a few weeks back, but it’s one of the more sober accounts from someone who’s actually got some math background and some reasonable idea about the evolutionary theory involved. It had struck me quite significantly that both Gowers and Tao weighed in as they did given their areas of expertise (or not). Perhaps it was worthwhile simply for the attention they brought? Gowers did specifically at least call out his lack of experience and asked for corrections, though I didn’t have the fortitude to wade through his hundreds of comments–perhaps this stands in part because there was little, if any indication of the background and direct identity of any of the respondents within the thread. As an simple example, while reading the comments on Dr. Pachter’s site, I’m surprised there is very little indication of Nicholas Bray’s standing there as he’s one of Pachter’s students. It would be much nicer if, in fact, Bray had a more fully formed and fleshed out identity there or on his linked Gravatar page which has no detail at all, much less an actual avatar!

This post, Gowers’, and Tao’s are all excellent reasons for a more IndieWeb philosophical approach in academic blogging (and other scientific communication). Many of the respondents/commenters have little, if any, indication of their identities or backgrounds which makes it imminently harder to judge or trust their bonafides within the discussion. Some even chose to remain anonymous and throw bombs. If each of the respondents were commenting (preferably using their real names) on their own websites and using the Webmention protocol, I suspect the discussion would have been richer and more worthwhile by an order of magnitude. Rivin at least had a linked Twitter account with an avatar, though I find it less than useful that his Twitter account is protected, a fact that makes me wonder if he’s only done so recently as a result of fallout from this incident? I do note that it at least appears his Twitter account links to his university website and vice-versa, so there’s a high likelihood that they’re at least the same person.

I’ll also note that a commenter noted that they felt that their reply had been moderated out of existence, something which Lior Pachter certainly has the ability and right to do on his own website, but which could have been mitigated had the commenter posted their reply on their own website and syndicated it to Pachter’s.

Hiding in the comments, which are generally civil and even-tempered, there’s an interesting discussion about academic publishing that could have been its own standalone post. Beyond the science involved (or not) in this entire saga, a lot of the background for the real story is one of process, so this comment was one of my favorite parts.

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👓 Tenured Faculty Position at Princeton University | IEEE Information Theory Society

Read Tenured Faculty Position at Princeton University (itsoc.org)
The Department of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University seeks outstanding applicants for a tenured appointment at the Associate or Full Professor level, effective as early as September 1, 2019. The search is open to candidates specializing in areas related to information sciences and systems, with strength in core fundamentals and an interest in applications areas such as networks, machine learning, energy systems, cyber-physical systems, robotics and control, wireless communications, biology, etc. The successful candidate should have a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering or a related field, demonstrated excellence in academic research, and a proven track record of teaching and advising undergraduate and graduate students (if currently holding an academic appointment). We seek faculty members who will create a climate that embraces excellence and diversity, with a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring that will enhance the work of the department and attract and retain a diverse student body. Candidates must complete an online faculty application at: https://www.princeton.edu/acad-positions/position/4801; a detailed curriculum vitae, descriptions of teaching and research interests, reprints of selected publications, and the names and addresses of three references should be uploaded as .pdf documents via the on-line application. This position is subject to Princeton University's background check policy. To ensure full consideration, applications should be received by November 15, 2018, but the search will remain open until the position is filled.

Wow! Verdu hasn’t even started experiencing entropy yet…

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👓 U. confirms Verdu’s dismissal following misconduct investigation | The Princetonian

Read U. confirms Verdu's dismissal following misconduct investigation (The Princetonian)
On Friday night, Assistant Vice President for Communications Dan Day confirmed that professor Sergio Verdú was dismissed from the faculty as of Sept. 24 following a University investigation into his conduct in relation to University policies that prohibit consensual relations with students and require honesty and cooperation in University matters.
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👓 Nobel Prize for Medicine Goes to Cancer Immune Therapy Pioneers | Scientific American

Read Nobel Prize for Medicine Goes to Cancer Immune Therapy Pioneers by Karen WeintraubKaren Weintraub (Scientific American)
Two men are recognized for basic research that unleashed the immune system against cancer, becoming a new pillar of therapy

A nice quick overview of some basic cancer immune therapy.

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