Monday, June 4, 2018

these deep neural nets just sort of keep getting deeper and bigger

hard to open up those many layered neurals.

to wrap your head around a hundred million weights.

that's harder to udnerstand compared to linear regression.

these deep neural nets just sort of keep getting deeper and bigger.

cc: ummings

Sunday, May 20, 2018

ODSC placekeeper

Sorry I missed the Open Data Science Conference & Expo in Boston earlier this month. I could even have taken that there bus on the left. It was one of those things. This year has a scattered plot. I would have liked to accelerate my data science knowledge, training, and do some networking.  ODSC East 2018 is one of the largest applied data science conferences in the world. But let's think of this as a book mark for a placekeeper for a mnemonic jigger to pick up where we left off.  Find out more:

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Recalling good old Obama days

The NYTimes had an editorial about Facebook data privacy yesterday.  In it they recall Obama’s efforts in this regard. Which we saw firsthand at an MIT event back in 2014. I got to cover it as part of my job.

I remember thinking at the time that Obama’s Data Privacy Fact Finding committee was likely to be sidetracked (and co-opted by advertising giants Facebook and Google and telecoms like Verizon and Comcast and their soldiers among the MIT high tech intelligentsia).

That feeling emerged as the conference events ensued, which revolved around encryption and differential privacy and other of the hemming and hawing that characterize the corridors of technology power.

A colleague and I agreed the theme that emerged most prominently was that data was the "new gold" or the "new oil"  -- it seems overblown (why not the "new tulips"?), until you see a room full of policy and commerce people discussing how much data is going to change the world as we know it. Ad nauseum.

Whether they were right or wrong, we more or less settled, was less important than the palpable sense that something akin to gold or oil ''fever'' was in the air. Which brings us back to Facebook, seen in a new light, given the way its data (your data) ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica.

The Times's recent editorial avows there is no reason to start from scratch when it comes to data privacy today, that Obama's privacy proposals of 2012 and thereafter, for a basis for data rights. I am not so sure there was much inthe way of real changeat work there. I don't want to sound relativistic like the Trump cracker contingent, but there wasnt much different between the left and right when push came to shove on privacy back in 2004. - Jack IgnatiusVaughan


Orwell's Bad Dream Lives

Provided uninterrupted

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

False news travels faster

Steve Lorhr's  “Why we are easily seduced by false news” recalls an old adage: It takes two to tango.

Yes the IRA attacked America in the soft underbelly known as the Facebook newsfeed, but what made that tummy so flaccid? It was not just the broadcaster - the broadcaster found receivers - many of them. Oafs, retired and semiretired; students, part time and less; nightwatchmen and nightwatchwomen, clicking on their smart phones.

They danced with the Ruskie night riders. And they danced on the winds of false news, which, Lohr reports, follows a unique trajectory. He focuses on an the MIT study that found false news travels faster than true news - that false claims were 70% more likely than the truth to be shared on Twitter

It took true stories about six times longer than false ones to reach 1500 people the MIT study disclosed.

The research was published in Science magazine. It examined stories posted to Twitter from 2006 until 2017, tracking 126,000 stories tweeted by roughly 3.0 million people more than 4.5 million times. News was defined broadly.

What is it about people that makes them more likely to share the false news? It's said here that true news inspired more anticipation, sadness and joy - while false claims elicited greater surprise and disgust. I guess you can say what is false is more visceral.

Should journalism classes be required of citizens in the 21st-century democracy? As I recall, the 20th century journalism teachers told us -- first day of class -- that you did not have to go to journalism school to be a journalist. We're people different then? Was the environment different than today's? - Jack Vaughan

I remember in the run up to the election losing my temper with all the false things I was seeing - cant say really understood what was going on but I really wailed away on Facebook . Visceral, one night. Yes, yes. Take this y'all who is reposteth Breitbart, I railed too.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Facebook faces breach

Bannon at the controls of the
Cambridge Analytica voter vaporizer.
Gonna tell you a little story that'll make The Man From Uncle sound like Howdy Doody. Bear with me.
THere is a train coming down the track.One is Cambridge Analytca - which is a big data operation HQ'd in Britain. The other is the IRA, the Internet Research Agency, a Russian social media hack.
Cambridge Analytica comprises a bunch of statisticians and programmers who found some warm fuzzy US political venture money and joined forces with an impish devil.
They set up a data gathering project, “thisisyourdigitallife,” that offered a personality prediction, and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.” (I'd add a bit more on the brains and funding of thisisyourditigallife if I get the chance.) The test could go something like: Do you like Manfred Mann AND Joni Mitchell? You are a precious introvert. What about Ted Nugent AND Deep Purple? You are outgoing extrovert. I digress.
thisisyourditigallife paid users small sums to take a personality quiz and download an app, which would scrape some private information from their profiles and those of their friends - activity that Facebook more or less kinda permitted at the time.
That profile helped them to figure out if you were a conspiracy buff, and that in that case you could be pitched posts that fed that inclindation, which you could have shared, and so on.
This resulted in 50 million raw profiles that were forwarded to Cambridge Analytica... A principle officer in Cambridge Analytica was Steve "The Imp of the Perverse" Bannon. (It should be noted that their VC backers originally sought to help Ted Cruz - it took a while to find the right potion or carrier.)
Here comes the second train: The Internet Research Agency aka Glavset, the Trolls from Olgino or kremlebots. It has been charged by US DoJ with criminal interfrence with the 2016 election. These trolls thrived on hacked data like such drawn from innocouous personality tests you might take online.
As far as I am aware, a link between IRA and Cambridge Analytica has not been established - I stand before you today to sibmit that it seems like a distinct possibility. (It is all dark and complicated - not like the good old days where the president had a tape recorder rolling while he plotted nefariously, and there was a fully functioning congress and opposition party also by the way.)
If you read the attached Facebook press release you get some of the gist of what is afoot in the convoluted James Bond scenario called Cambridge Analytica.
Since the first release there has been an amendment. One press account described what happened as a hack or a hijack, so Facebook responded. What Facebook asks you to do is to not think of all this as a hack of your data but to instead understand that their policies were insuficient 2-4 years ago but have been updated. Democracy in America at Facebook HQ today is about covering its hinder.

See Facebook release March 16, 2018 - Suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from Facebook

Facebook spurred GDPR, in only in small part. Let's tune into a recent podcast I did on that topic.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Cybernetic Sutra

I'd had an opportunity in college days to study comparative world press under professor Lawrence Martin Bittman, who introduced BU journalism students to the world of disinformation, a discipline he'd learned first hand in the 1960s, before his defection to the West, as a head of Czech Intelligence. We got a view into the information wars within the Cold War. This gave me a more nuanced view of the news than I might otherwise have known. Here I am going to make a jump. 

I'd begun a life-long dance with the news. 

I'd also begun a life-long study of cybernetics. 

And lately the two interests have begun oddly to blend. 

It was all on the back of Really Simple Syndication -RSS- and its ability to feed humongous quantities of online content in computer-ready form-It made me a publisher, as able as Gutenberg, and my brother a publisher, and my brother-in-law a publisher, and on ...

Cybernetics was a promising field of science that seemed ultimately to fizzle. After World War II, led by M.I.T.'s Norbert Wiener and others, cybernetics arose as, in Wiener's words, "the scientific study of control and communication in the animal and the machine."

It burst rather as a movement upon the mass consciousness at a time when fear of technology and the dehumanization of science were a growing concern. - As the shroud of war time secrecy dispersed, in 1948 penned Cybernetics, which was followed by a popularization.

Control, communication, feedback, regulation. It took its name for the Greek root cyber. Wiener - Brownian motion - artillery tables - development of the thermostat, autopilot, differential analyzer, radar, neural networks, back propagation.

Cybernetics flamed out in a few years, tho made an peculiar reentry in the era of the WWW. Flamed out but, somewhat oddly, continued as an operational style in the USSR for quite some time more. Control, communication, feedback, regulation played out there somewhat differently.

A proposal for a Soviet Institute of Cybernetics included "the subjects of logic, control, statistics, information theory, semiotics, machine translation, economics, game theory, biology, and computer programming."1 It came back to mate with cybernetics on the web in the combination of agitprop and social media, known as Russian meddling, that slightly tipped the scales, arguably, of American politics.