Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hsieh Forbes Column: "AI In Medicine: Rise Of The Machines"

My new Forbes column is out: "AI In Medicine: Rise Of The Machines"

Sexbot Update

"The race to build the world's first sex robot". (Via H.R.)

New Scrabble Words = Higher Average Scores

"How 'Qi' And 'Za' Changed Scrabble"

Eclipse Tips

"How to Survive the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017".

One important point I hadn't thought about:

Twelve million people live along the path of totality, and another 25 million live within one day's drive, Rao said. But people from all over the U.S. will be flocking to the centerline to experience the rare and amazing celestial event that is totality. As with most crowds of people heading to a major event, there will be traffic — lots and lots of traffic.
"State departments of transportation and police are expecting hurricane evacuation-like traffic," Reynolds said. So if you're planning on taking a small road trip the day of the event, give yourself plenty of time to get to the path of totality. Don't get stuck watching a partial eclipse in standstill traffic on your way to the centerline. Allot at least a few extra hours of driving, or seek lodging the night before.
(Via Gus Van Horn.)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

3-D Printing With Metal

"The 3-D Printer That Could Finally Change Manufacturing". (Via H.R.)

Restaurant Markup Analysis

"Should You Get the Guacamole on Your Burrito? A Price Analysis of Your Favorite Foods"

Big Planet

"What's The Largest Planet In The Universe?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Set Photos from "The Last Jedi"

"See Rian Johnson's Stunning 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Photos"

Shipping Container Architecture

"Shipping container architecture -- in pictures"

Fitbit Data Helps Catch Accused Murderer

"A Fitbit Helped Police Arrest A Man For His Wife's Murder: The fitness tracker recorded the woman moving around her house for an hour after her husband told police she was shot by a home invader."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Jimmy Wales and the Wikimedia Foundation are launching an interesting new kind of news site, Wikitribune:
Wikitribune is a news platform that brings journalists and a community of volunteers together. We want to make sure that you read fact-based articles that have a real impact in both local and global events. And that stories can be easily verified and improved.
I will be super-interested to see if this endeavour succeeds!

Doing Math Without A License?

"Lawsuit Challenges Oregon Law Prohibiting Mathematical Criticism Without a License".

Citizens should totally be able to publicly criticize the state's math without an engineering license. I'm glad the Institute for Justice is taking the state to court and I'm glad to be a financial supporter of IJ.

AI Radiology Update

"Artificial Intelligence May Help Diagnose Tuberculosis in Remote Areas".

I, for one, welcome my new x-ray-interpreting robotic overlords that will put me out of a job.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DNA Testing For Identical Twin

Not-a-soap-opera-story: Judge rules on whether special DNA test allowed to distinguish which identical twin committed rape.

Short answer: No, the test is considered too experimental still.

NASA Images Galore

"Finally, NASA has its universe of images in one happy, searchable place". (Via H.R.)

Cheap Wine

"The Science Behind Your Cheap Wine".

Of course, if you don't want to look like a loser you can always order the "Second Cheapest Wine":

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ornery Landowners

"The World's Most Stubborn Real Estate Holdouts"

Amazon Disrupts Literary Translation Market

"Amazon expands its literary horizons, making big imprint in translation niche"

Can Criminal Intent Be Measured With Neuroimaging?

"Predicting the knowledge–recklessness distinction in the human brain".

I'm always a little bit cautious about stories discussing neuroimaging and the law. But this preliminary research looks intriguing:
This study uses neuroimaging and machine-learning techniques to reveal different brain activities correlated with these two mental states. Moreover, the study provides a proof of principle that brain imaging can determine, with high accuracy, on which side of a legally defined boundary a person's mental state lies.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

AI Medicine Update

"Self-taught artificial intelligence beats doctors at predicting heart attacks"

Russian Doomsday Device

"The Soviets Made A Real Doomsday Device In The '80s And The Russians Still Have It Today".

Curiously, the USSR "Dead Hand" doomsday system may have been for the Soviet nuclear commanders' benefit:
Dead Hand, it turns out, may not have been primarily a deterrent against the Americans launching a nuclear attack against the Soviets, but rather was a Soviet-built safeguard to prevent themselves from launching a nuclear attack unnecessarily.

Science of Smiles

"There are 19 types of smile but only six are for happiness"

Monday, April 17, 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

21st Century Annoyance

"Burger King launches TV ad that triggers Google Home"
On Wednesday, a Burger King television ad likely became the first ever to intentionally trigger smart devices like Google Home and Android phones. In the commercial, an actor faces the camera and clearly enunciates the phrase, "Okay, Google. What is the Whopper burger?" at the end of the advertisement.

Around the country, the audio clip prompted a response on a number of devices, with phones and smart speakers listing off the ingredients in the burger from the Whopper's information page on Wikipedia.

The new ad, however, was not well received by all...
This would seriously piss me off.

Existential Craigslist Furniture Ads

"These Existential Craigslist Furniture Ads Are The Best"


"Move Over Spintronics, Here Comes Magnonics to the Rescue of Electronics". (Via H.R.)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

X-Prize "Tricorder" Winner Announced

"Self-funded team led by an ER doctor wins 'Star Trek'-inspired competition":
Harris and his team built the 65 kits required for testing with a trio of 3-D printers in his home office, each plastic part taking as long as 24 hours to fabricate and with his three children, ages 11 to 15, often overseeing sanding and wiring. HTC produced the models for Peng’s team...

The competition’s tricorder, weighing five pounds or less, has the potential to revolutionize home health care. It can tell a person whether he or she has pneumonia or diabetes or other conditions, while monitoring blood pressure, heart rate and other health vitals. Additionally, it can share real-time information with medical professionals and could help millions of patients in medically underserved communities.

The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI

MIT Technology Review: "The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI".

Shoelace Science

"Scientists can at last explain why shoelaces come undone"

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reliability of Drunk Witnesses

"Is a Drunk Witness a Bad Witness?"

Maybe not:
Most experimental research (like this study and this study and this study) has found that intoxicated eyewitnesses are actually no different from sober eyewitnesses in their account accuracy or vulnerability to distortions. One study published this year even found that consuming alcohol after witnessing a crime made witnesses more reliable, by making them less likely to accept false details given to them by the researcher...

AI Poker Update

"A Top Poker-Playing Algorithm Is Cleaning Up in China"

When Pixels Collide

Spontaneous art order: "When Pixels Collide":
For April Fool's Day, Reddit launched a little experiment. It gave its users, who are all anonymous, a blank canvas called Place.

The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one.

Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors...
Fascinating story of spontaneous disorder/order. (Via J.A.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Overbooking Stats

"Don’t Blame Overbooking for This United Mess"

Inaccurate Fitness Trackers

"Your fitness tracker can count your steps, but it's not that good at monitoring your heart rate"

3 Genetic Parents Update

"A Baby With 3 Genetic Parents Seems Healthy, But Questions Remain"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Walk Out Groceries

"How Amazon Go (probably) makes 'just walk out' groceries a reality". (Via H.R.)

Gruber On Mac Pro

John Gruber (aka Daring Fireball): "The Mac Pro Lives"

Here's the opening:
Let’s not beat around the bush. I have great news to share:

Apple is currently hard at work on a “completely rethought” Mac Pro, with a modular design that can accommodate high-end CPUs and big honking hot-running GPUs, and which should make it easier for Apple to update with new components on a regular basis. They’re also working on Apple-branded pro displays to go with them.

I also have not-so-great news:

These next-gen Mac Pros and pro displays “will not ship this year”. (I hope that means “next year”, but all Apple said was “not this year”.) In the meantime, Apple is today releasing meager speed-bump updates to the existing Mac Pros...

If High School and College Textbooks Were Honest

Honest Ads: "If High School and College Textbooks Were Honest"

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Vacation Foods

"Why new foods taste better when you're on vacation"

Adidas 3-D Printed Sneakers

"Adidas wants to sell 100,000 3-D printed sneakers: 'A personalized shoe that can "adjust the strength, durability, and the shape."'"

94-Year-Old Genius

NYT: "To Be a Genius, Think Like a 94-Year-Old"

(Link was broken, fixed now!)

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Self-Healing Material

"Groundbreaking new material can repair itself like human skin". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Riemann Update

"A New Approach To The Riemann Hypothesis Could Be Worth $1,000,000"

Transistor Density

"Intel Now Packs 100 Million Transistors in Each Square Millimeter". (Via H.R.)

Sunday, April 02, 2017

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column: Doctors Should Not Record Immigration Status Nor Gun Ownership

[Off-topic] My latest Forbes column came out last Friday: "Doctors Should Not Record Immigration Status Nor Gun Ownership In Patient Charts".

Patients routinely disclose sensitive personal data to their physicians. Doctors can and should be mindful of information that might someday be used against their patients by unscrupulous government authorities.

In particular, with increasing use of electronic medical records that can be data-mined by those with access, physicians can help protect the doctor-patient relationship by leaving some information out of the records.

Related earlier piece, “Why Doctors Should Not Ask Their Patients About Guns.”

Circumventing Laptop Ban

"Airlines Sidestep Electronics Ban, Offer Passengers Free In-Flight Laptops and Wi-Fi"

SF, Cool War and Civil War

David Brin: "Science Fiction, Cool War and Civil War"