"Det svåraste är här att låta obestämdheten riktigt och oförfalskat komma till uttryck."

April 17, 2014


Nate Silver presenterar sin bok hos Google

Ett roligt föredrag om förutsägelser och Silvers bok (som jag nyligen recenserade här). Frågorna är mycket roliga. “Om kongressen inte förbjudit internetpoker hade jag fortfarande sysslat med det…” (Och ja, det är Hal som introducerar honom).

Olagligt att förutsäga framtiden?

Intrade, en av världens största framtidsmarknader, har beslutat att de inte längre tänker erbjuda handel i USA. Anledningen är att en myndighet beslutat sig för att framtidsmarknaden på något sätt skulle innebära ett hot mot handelssystemet i stort, och att det inte går an att ha oreglerad handel i framtidsförutsägelser. Myndigheten, CFTC, har mer eller mindre startat ett krig mot framtidsmarknader, skriver Wall Street Journal i en mycket syrlig kommentar: The CFTC’s war on prediction markets goes beyond Intrade. In 2010, the commission rejected an application by two exchanges to sell options on box-office receipts. Commissioner Bart Chilton said that such contracts …continue reading

Är artificiell intelligens en existentiell risk?

Igår publicerade BBC en nyhet som utmanade på så många olika plan att det är rakt omöjligt att inte skriva om den. I korthet rapporterade man att ett akademiskt center för studiet av existentiell risk skall studera riskerna förenade med att artificiell intelligens. Artikeln är illustrerad med en terminator-liknande robot, och typiskt nog handlar den mest om “the robot uprising”. Men här finns en rikedom av riktigt svåra frågor som förtjänar att undersökas på djupet, och som forskarna bakom projektet verkar vara mer intresserade av. För det första är risken att robotarna utrotar oss ganska liten, och det riktigt stora …continue reading

Understanding prejudice and racism online through search data

In a recent paper by Seth I. Stephens-Davidowitz Google Search Data is used to assess how much racist-sentiment affected the 2008 vote. The method is interesting, and the outcome nothing short of sensational: The results imply that, relative to the areas in the United States with the lowest racial animus, racial animus cost Obama between 3.1 percentage points and 5.0 percentage points of the national popular vote. This implies racial animus gave Obama’s opponent roughly the equivalent of a home-state advantage country-wide. The cost of racial animus was not decisive in the 2008 election. But a four percentage point loss …continue reading

Examining persuasion: internet advertising as linguistic research tool

In “Ecological Evaluation of Persuasive Messages Using Google AdWords” the authors show how internet advertising systems can be used to test and explore the mechanism of persuasion in different ways, for example for exploring natural language processing. In recent years there has been a growing interest in crowdsourcing methodologies to be used in experimental research for NLP tasks. In particular, evaluation of systems and theories about persuasion is difficult to accommodate within existing frameworks. In this paper we present a new cheap and fast methodology that allows fast experiment building and evaluation with fully-automated analysis at a low cost. The …continue reading

Thiel on the confusion of capitalism and competition, difficult and valuable

Peter Thiel is turning out to be a very, very original thinker. In today’s New York Times David Brooks mentions a lecture he gave at Stanford on starting up a company. Thiel’s main point is subtle and incredibly interesting: he says that people are confused when they think capitalism is about competition. In fact, with perfect competition there is no profit and you are forced to reinvest all the money you make to stay in place. Capitalism is about doing something in a large market where there is very little competition, and thus making huge profits. And then he adds …continue reading

FuturICT – is this the approach to research we want in the EU?

The European Union has a research policy agenda that varies wildly. In one project, FuturICT, it has set out to examine the following, according to their website: The ultimate goal of the FuturICT flagship project is to understand and manage complex, global, socially interactive systems, with a focus on sustainability and resilience. Revealing the hidden laws and processes underlying societies probably constitutes the most pressing scientific grand challenge of our century and is equally important for the development of novel robust, trustworthy and adaptive information and communication technologies (ICT), based on socially inspired paradigms. Oooookay. That is pretty ambitious. Now, …continue reading

Tomorrow’s conference – Stockholm Internet Forum

Tomorrow I will participate in Stockholm Internet Forum. I am looking forward to the panels and discussions, but also to meeting some old friends. In my own thinking about the conference I have ended up sketching out three themes that I want to examine. The first is the notion that we cannot divide up responsibility in different sectors of a society. Saying that government has the responsibility to do x, and corporations have the responsibility to do y simply muddles the question. We have an overall responsibility that is dependent on everyone doing their part, and doing it well. That …continue reading

Happiness, Physics and Death

Will knowledge about what our world is like help us craft a philosophy to deal better with our lives? It is not a trivial question. Knowing what the world is like could be both a blessing and a curse. There are those who think that the universe, such as it is, must have meaning for it to be possible for us to sustain meaning — this is in part the sense in which everything is allowed if God is dead in Dostoyevsky — but a perhaps more interesting position is to build meaning of sorts from established meaninglessness. Lawrence M …continue reading

Mathematicians up in arms and they invite you to join!

I just finished an excellent little paper by Henry Cohn and Douglas N Arnold. It is called “Mathematicians take a stand” and encourages all mathematicians to join a boycott against publisher Elsevier. The boycott — over at Cost of Knowledge — has its root in the growing prices of academic journals and how they slow down the dissemination of research and hamper the human project of building our knowledge together. Today more than 8000 researchers – not only mathematicians –  has agreed to boycott the publisher if they do not allow for other easier ways for researchers to distribute their …continue reading