The Relevance of Algorithms // Culture Digitally

I’m really excited to share my new essay, “The Relevance of Algorithms,” with those of you who are interested in such things. It’s been a treat to get to think through the issues surrounding algorithms and their place in public culture and knowledge, with some of the  participants in Culture Digitally (here’s the full litany: BraunGillespieStriphasThomas, the third CD podcast, and Anderson‘s post just last week), as well as with panelists and attendees at the recent 4S and AoIR conferences, with colleagues at Microsoft Research, and with all of you who are gravitating towards these issues in their scholarship right now.

The motivation of the essay was two-fold: first, in my research on online platforms and their efforts to manage what they deem to be “bad content,” I’m finding an emerging array of algorithmic techniques being deployed: for either locating and removing sex, violence, and other offenses, or (more troublingly) for quietly choreographing some users away from questionable materials while keeping it available for others. Second, I’ve been helping to shepherd along this anthology, and wanted my contribution to be in the spirit of the its aims: to take one step back from my research to articulate an emerging issue of concern or theoretical insight that (I hope) will be of value to my colleagues in communication, sociology, science & technology studies, and information science.

The anthology will ideally be out in Fall 2013. And we’re still finalizing the subtitle. So here’s the best citation I have.

Read the full essay by ,  Cornell University Department of Communication

How Speeding The “Most Important Algorithm Of Our Lifetime” Could Change This Modern World | Fast Company
Math breakthroughs don’t often capture the headlines—but MIT researchers have just made one that could lead to all sorts of amazing technological breakthroughs that in just a few years will touch every hour of your life. 

How Speeding The “Most Important Algorithm Of Our Lifetime” Could Change This Modern World | Fast Company

Math breakthroughs don’t often capture the headlines—but MIT researchers have just made one that could lead to all sorts of amazing technological breakthroughs that in just a few years will touch every hour of your life. 

 ‘Smart car’ model predicts the behavior of human drivers | KurzweilAI
The researchers test their algorithm using a miniature autonomous  vehicle traveling along a track that partially overlaps with a second  track for a human-controlled vehicle, observing incidences of collision  and collision avoidance	 (credit: Melanie Gonick)
MIT researchers have developed a software system for “smart cars” that predicts the behavior of other  human drivers, to prepare for a world where the road is shared by both  human and artificially intelligent drivers.
They tested their algorithms with toy-sized cars on a miniature track.
The key of their research is to create a system that carefully evaluates drivers based on their behavior and flags trouble cars.
Researchers  set up 100 potential collision scenarios on two overlapping circular  tracks, with some cars remote-controlled by human drivers and other cars  operating based on preset algorithms.

 ‘Smart car’ model predicts the behavior of human drivers | KurzweilAI

The researchers test their algorithm using a miniature autonomous vehicle traveling along a track that partially overlaps with a second track for a human-controlled vehicle, observing incidences of collision and collision avoidance (credit: Melanie Gonick)

MIT researchers have developed a software system for “smart cars” that predicts the behavior of other human drivers, to prepare for a world where the road is shared by both human and artificially intelligent drivers.

They tested their algorithms with toy-sized cars on a miniature track.

The key of their research is to create a system that carefully evaluates drivers based on their behavior and flags trouble cars.

Researchers set up 100 potential collision scenarios on two overlapping circular tracks, with some cars remote-controlled by human drivers and other cars operating based on preset algorithms.

Three Free eBooks on Wireless Sensor Networks

Three new free e-books on WSNs

InTech, Open Access publisher in the fields of science, technology and medicine has just published three books written by and for specialists in the field of Wireless Sensor Networks.

Wireless Sensor Networks: Application-Centric Design

Recognizing that most work in the WSN domain is highly application-specific, this book is a collection of state-of-the-art research papers offering a broad array of often differing interpretations regarding the configuration and limitations of WSNs.

You can download the book here.

Smart Wireless Sensor Networks

An overview of aspects of designing smart wireless sensor networks, including: design methodologies, network protocols and algorithms, quality of service management, coverage optimization, time synchronization and security techniques for sensor networks.

You can download the book here.

Sustainable Wireless Sensor Networks

This book deals with research efforts aimed at maximizing the lifetime of WSNs. It provides a snapshot of research into wireless sensor networks, giving both a high level overview as well as detailed discussion on specific areas.

You can download the book here.

Why IBM’s Watson Is Smarter Than Google | Huffington Post

Stephen Baker

While working on my book about IBM’s Jeopardy-playing computer, the most common question I encounter is this: Doesn’t Google already answer questions?

The short answer is no. Google depends on our brains in two ways: It gets us to think like a computer when formulating our query, picking three or four words that will make most sense to the machine. Then it directs us to the neighborhood of the answer we’re looking for, but leaves it to our infinitely more nuanced brains to find exactly what we’re looking for there.

Watson, which will face off against two Jeopardy legends, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, in February, has to handle all that work by itself. It must decipher complex English, hunt down possible answers, choose one, and decide if it has enough confidence to bet on it.

Here’s an example: “When 60 Minutes premiered, this man was U.S. president. That’s a tough one for a computer. It has to understand what “premiered” means and that it’s associated with a date. Then it has to figure out the date when an entity called 60 Minutes premiered, and then find out who was U.S. president at that time. In short, it requires a ton of contextual understanding — or a statistical simulation of it — and then two different hunts, one for the date, the second for the president.

Once Watson has a list of possible answers (or “responses,” as they call them on Jeopardy!), it has to figure out which one merits the most confidence, and if it’s sure enough of the answer to place a bet on it. All these takes place in about 3 seconds. (By the way, the answer is Lyndon Johnson.)

(Read the rest on Huffington Post)

At this moment, the must-read stories in technology are scattered across hundreds of news sites and blogs. That’s far too much for any reader to follow. Fortunately, Techmeme arranges all of these links into a single, easy-to-scan page. Story selection is accomplished via computer algorithm extended with direct human editorial input. (via About Techmeme)

At this moment, the must-read stories in technology are scattered across hundreds of news sites and blogs. That’s far too much for any reader to follow. Fortunately, Techmeme arranges all of these links into a single, easy-to-scan page. Story selection is accomplished via computer algorithm extended with direct human editorial input. (via About Techmeme)

TOKYO - 08 Jul 2009: IBM today announced the launch of its Tokyo-based IBM Analytics Solution center which is part of a recently announced global network of analytics focused centers. Through these centers, IBM is addressing the growing demand for advanced analytics capabilities need to help clients build smarter business systems and drive improved decision-making.

The new center is co-located at IBM’s Marunouchi office in Tokyo as well as at IBM’s Yamato Lab in Kanagawa Prefecture. It will draw on a wealth of global IBM expertise, including more than 150 mathematicians and software engineers at IBM Research - Tokyo and Yamato Software Development Laboratory to help companies turn data into predictive intelligence.

Our focus on algorithms is in the following topics: data stream algorithms, nearest-neighbor seach and embeddings of metric spaces, peer-to-peer networks, aggregation algorithms, and approximation algorithms.

Remote Monitoring of the Heart

A new wireless sensor patch from Corventis allows automated early detection of heart failure.


(Corventis)

The patch measures temperature, heart and respiration rates, levels of physical activity, body position, and body-fluid levels, then beams data to a special cell-phone-like gadget in the patient’s pocket or home. From there, the data is wirelessly transmitted to the company’s servers, where algorithms detect anomalies and trigger alerts to doctors, who could then view the data from the Web or from their own mobile devices.

KurzweilAI.net

Dietrich acknowledged that some of what she and her fellow mathematicians do is like the life of the lead character on the CBS crime drama “Numb3rs,” where a math Ph.D. applies mathematic solutions to FBI cases. “Numb3rs is one of my favorite TV shows,” she said. Dietrich’s team consists of 200 people throughout the world, 150 of which are Ph.D.’s and the other 50 are masters-level software developers that have undergraduate degrees in math and masters degrees in computer science, she said. John Kelly, senior vice president and director of research at IBM, said, “Our 150 mathematicians make up the largest math department in the world housed in one institution.” (via IBM Makes Math Cool, Current)

Dietrich acknowledged that some of what she and her fellow mathematicians do is like the life of the lead character on the CBS crime drama “Numb3rs,” where a math Ph.D. applies mathematic solutions to FBI cases. “Numb3rs is one of my favorite TV shows,” she said. Dietrich’s team consists of 200 people throughout the world, 150 of which are Ph.D.’s and the other 50 are masters-level software developers that have undergraduate degrees in math and masters degrees in computer science, she said. John Kelly, senior vice president and director of research at IBM, said, “Our 150 mathematicians make up the largest math department in the world housed in one institution.” (via IBM Makes Math Cool, Current)