A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jan 19, 2019

3D Printed Heads Can Unlock Phones: So Much for Biometric Security?

The theory of co-evolution suggests that the battle between hackers and network security will never end. JL

Marc Prosser reports in Singularity Hub:

Out of five tested phones, only one refused to open when presented with the fake head. Otherbiometric security measures are also showing less resilience to hacking than you might expect. A group of Japanese researchers recently showed it was possible to copy a person’s fingerprints from pictures like the ones many of us post on social media. Much of the information that a would-be hacker needed to create a bust of your head might already be floating around in the form of pictures on social media sites.

The Reason YouTube Is Now Focused On Banning Dangerous Pranks

From 'don't try this at home.' to 'don't try this anywhere...' JL

Jon Fingas reports in Engadget:

YouTube already frowns on challenges and pranks that put people at risk, but it's making that policy more explicit in light of the recent rise of Bird Box-inspired dares. The service has updated its guidelines to directly ban all challenges and pranks that are dangerous or harmful, including activities that cause "severe emotional distress." The tougher rules come just a few days after a teenager crashed a car while attempting the Bird Box challenge, which has people trying to navigate blindfolded like characters in Netflix's movie of the same name. YouTube is threatening channels that "egregiously" violate policies with their videos'  images or web links

How An AI Learns From Past Matches To Predict Tennis Shot Placement

Interesting for sports, perhaps more so for bullets, torpedos or even securities trading? JL

Kyle Wiggers reports in Venture Beat:

Studies suggest that expert players are more adept at detecting events in advance and have better knowledge of situational probabilities; an AI system that’s not only capable of anticipating a tennis opponent’s actions, but doing so with “player-level” behavioral patterns. “The model learns attributes via modeling player knowledge and experiences through neural memory networks and outperforms. The  model is capable of capturing match context and the player tactical elements which are essential when anticipating player behavior."

Is Having the Most Popular Photo On Instagram Worth Anything?

Possibly, in terms of generating advertising revenue, unless, of course, the whole thing is a sham.

In which case, these days,  it might be worth even more. JL

Kurt Wagner reports in Re/code:

The Instagram account that posted the egg picture, @world_record_egg, inexplicably has 4.5 million followers despite posting just this one — yes one — photo. @world_record_egg could rake in as much as $250,000 to run a single ad to all of its followers if it decides to sell out. An influencer marketing analytics company, think it could be even more. “I think [they could sell an ad for] close to a million dollars.”

The World's First Robot Hotel Is Looking For A Few Good Humans

Those darned humans are going to steal all our robot jobs...JL

Alastair Gale and Takashi Mochizuki report in the Wall Street Journal:

The world’s first robot hotel, is now laying off its low-performing droids. The hotel has culled over half of its 243 robots, many because they created work rather than reduced it. Guests became frustrated when the hotel’s robots failed to keep pace with Siri or Alexa. Robots that were anticipated to be labor savers fell short. Humans have to help the two robots at the check-in desk when foreign guests arrive by making copies of their passports. There are currently many jobs suited only for humans. “When you actually use robots you realize there are places where they aren’t needed—or just annoy people.”

Why Microsoft No Longer Sees Cortana As Alexa Or Google Competitor - But More Pervasive

Excuse, delusion - or possibly genius? JL

Tom Warren reports in The Verge:

Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant has fallen behind Google Assistant and Alexa over the past year, and now the software maker is taking a different approach to the competition. Nadella sees Cortana as an app or service that will work across multiple platforms, rather than Microsoft competing in Cortana hardware for consumers. "Microsoft appears to be out of the smart speaker game."

Jan 18, 2019

How A Neural Network Can Organize the World It Sees Into Concepts As Humans Do

Accurate interpretation is a significant achievement and may eventually lead to prediction. JL

Karen Hao reports in MIT Technology Review, image by Gabriel Santiago in Unsplash:

Researchers began probing a GAN’s learning mechanics by feeding it photos of scenery—trees, grass, buildings, and sky. They wanted to see whether it would learn to organize the pixels into sensible groups without being explicitly told how. Over time, by turning “on” and “off” various “neurons” and asking the GAN to paint what it thought, it managed to group tree pixels with tree pixels and door pixels with door pixels regardless of how these objects changed color from photo to photo in the training set. Being able to identify which clusters correspond to which concepts makes it possible to control the neural network’s output.