Five short links


Photo by Iain Watson

Accountability in a computerized society – An old but well-argued essay arguing that software engineers should be liable in a legal sense for bugs. As a coder the idea fills me with horror, but I know the idea will be pushed with increasing force as the world relies more and more on computers, so it’s worth reading just to prepare our counter-arguments.

Distributed neural networks with GPUs in the AWS cloud – After my recent post on switching to an in-house server, an Amazon engineer sent me this Netflix article. It contains some useful tips on particular problems they hit with virtualization and graphics cards, though I’m still happy with my Titan beast.

The gap between data mining and predictive models – Using the Facebook dating/posting story as a concrete example, John Mount demonstrates how a very visible correlation can still be completely unusable for any practical application. This is a problem I see again and again with my own work. When you’re looking at data in bulk about whole populations you’ll often see strong relationships that are overwhelmed by noise when you try to use them to say something about individuals.

Why you shouldn’t use Vagrant – Vagrant has been a fantastic tool for simplifying a mess of dependencies for me, especially as I’m developing on a Mac and deploying to Linux, but here’s someone who’s been left frustrated by the process. My read of Chad’s post is that he’s not hitting the problems Vagrant solves, and is paying the price for complexity he doesn’t need. My experience has been that I far prefer to set up dependencies once in Linux, where most of the frameworks I use are primarily tested and so have the least problems, rather than trying to install monsters like SciPy or SciKit in OS X on my laptop, and then figuring out how to do the same on my Ubuntu production servers.

Yann LeCun on deep learning – A good introduction to the recent resurgence of neural networks in AI, along with some pointed criticism of the singularity.

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