Five Short Links


Picture from Wikipedia

The Documentary Hypothesis – When I get frustrated by my lack of data when I’m trying to track down a bug or build a machine learning system, I try to think about how much historians manage to do with a tiny amount of information. This is a great example, the sheer amount of thought that has gone into analyzing the authors of the Old Testament over the last few centuries is mind-boggling. Scholars have created a vast structure of interlocking ideas, and are constantly rearranging the pieces, all by squeezing out clues from between the lines of the texts. I get the same sense of awe when I see archaeologists reconstructing the past, nobody can squeeze more meaning out of ‘data exhaust’ than they can.

Your telltale video wobble can identify you – On a related topic, it’s not just your camera’s noise pattern that’s unique, now footage from body cameras can be matched to people based on movement patterns. As we gather greater volumes of more precise data from all kinds of sensors, this kind of problem is going to come up more and more often.

How transferable are features in deep neural networks? – To save you a click, the answer is “Very”! I spent decades skeptical of neural networks, they seemed theoretically elegant but useless in practice, but over the last couple of years they’ve astonished me. They really have matured into general purpose tools for turning almost any noisy ‘natural’ data source, sound, text, images, into clean information. Suddenly everything’s machine-readable!

The other side of diversity – An honest, frank, and depressing account of what it’s like to be a black woman in my world.

Weaving a very visual web – Om captures a lot of why photos and cameras are becoming so important.

3 responses

  1. Pingback: Four short links: 15 December 2014 - O'Reilly Radar

  2. “All we have are words, preserved for us in the most haphazard fashion out of a much larger body of literature. So the study of ancient history is roughly analogous to scrutinizing a badly decayed patchwork quilt, full of holes and scraps of material from earlier work. Central to understanding the process of study is an awareness that, besides an occasional fragment liberated from the desert by archaeologists, there will be no more evidence. The quilt is it; everything must be based on a reasoned analysis of the fabric at hand. Plainly the quality and integrity of some of the patches greatly exceed those of the others, so they will be emphasized and relied upon whenever possible. Yet, because of the limited nature of the material, there is always the temptation to fall back on a truly outlandish polka dot or a monumentally garish plaid, if only to figure out where it came from and what it might have meant in its original form. In the end, even among otherwise tasteful and scrupulous ancient historians, something is almost always better than nothing.”

    Robert O’Connell – Ghosts of Cannae

    In the end, it is often archaeology that reveals the true ‘history’.

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