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March 2017

What we're reading - March 2017

Robert Carroll, Head of Marketing

Norse Mythology
by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman went to the fount of Greek myth to give us Sandman, one of the great comic series of all time. With Norse Mythology he dips into the major Norse pantheon: Odin, Thor, and Loki taking star turns. Consummate storyteller that he is, Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into an arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions. It's narrative on display.

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
by Martin Ford

What will the future bring? Broad-based prosperity or catastrophic levels of inequality and economic insecurity? Because the robots are coming and they may scoop up a job, or entire categories of jobs, near you. As AI advances, paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are under siege. So too are long haul truck drivers the day driverless long haul trucks populate America's highways. That's 1.7 million jobs right there, right now. The way Martin Ford sees it, as technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Rise of the Robots is essential reading to understand what accelerating technology means for our economic prospects and for society as a whole. Ignoring the impact of AI is a head-in-sand option we can ill afford.

Babak Rasolzadeh, Director of Data Science

Language is Never, Ever, Ever Random by Adam Kilgarriff

Abstract: Language users never choose words randomly, and language is essentially non-random. Statistical hypothesis testing uses a null hypothesis, which posits randomness. Hence, when we look at linguistic phenomena in corpora, the null hypothesis will never be true. Moreover, where there is enough data, we shall (almost) always be able to establish that it is not true. In corpus studies, we frequently do have enough data, so the fact that a relation between two phenomena is demonstrably non-random, does not support the inference that it is not arbitrary. We present experimental evidence of how arbitrary associations between word frequencies and corpora are systematically non-random. We review literature in which hypothesis testing has been used, and show how it has often led to unhelpful or misleading results.

Artificial Tasks for Artificial Intelligence by Antoine Boardes, et al. (Facebook AI)

We want computers to understand text the way we do, to read text and form an internal idea the way we do. That process can be summarized as 20 types of tasks, which are listed here in this piece from the Facebook AI group. Facebook invented the list and created a data set with thousands of examples for each of those tasks, essentially capturing what human minds do when comprehending text. Given a textual challenge, any AI that can solve these 20 tasks can be considered functioning at human level in regards to comprehension. Sound far fetched? Just last month, for the first time in history, a sub-group within the Facebook AI group managed to solve all 20 tasks automatically with an AI.

Ali Shahed, Machine Learning Engineer

The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution
by T. R. Reid

T.R. Reid's The Chip is the gripping adventure story of how the digital age began when Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce hit upon the stunning discovery that would make the silicon microchip possible. Kilby would earn the Nobel Prize for physics in 2000 for his contribution. Because of their seminal work, computers shrank from behemoths to handhelds, and became affordable enough to bring the computer revolution into most households.

The Dictator's Handbook: A Practical Manual for the Aspiring Tyrant
by Randall Wood and Carmine DeLuca

Ever wonder if the world's tyrants are all using the same DIY manual? Turns out they are, and this is it. Covers everything from getting to power to dividing your enemies, suppressing revolution, stealing elections, making your fortune at someone else's expense. The Dictator's Handbook is 320 pages of how the pros have been doing it for centuries. Fully factual. Complete bibliography and footnotes. It's the best road map to tyranny this side of Machiavelli's The Prince.

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