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If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy

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If Americans Can Find North Korea on a Map, They’re More Likely to Prefer Diplomacy:

I’m struggling these days to keep up empathy for the ill-informed.  

While Americans could be better at geography, they cannot be expected to follow every twist and turn of foreign policy. “People don’t invest in policy information, but that’s rational,” said Elizabeth Saunders, a political science professor at George Washington University who studies foreign policy and international relations. Instead of exhaustively researching foreign policy options for a host of nations, Americans are “rationally ignorant,” effectively outsourcing their foreign policy views to elites and the news media.

At the moment, Americans’ views on North Korea are remarkably consistent, regardless of their other political views. A YouGov survey showed North Korea atop a list of 144 countries described as an “enemy”; a Gallup study from about the same time showed North Korea as Americans’ least favorite country.

Americans’ relatively low interest in North Korea is not returned in kind. “North Koreans are obsessed with the United States,” wrote Barbara Demick, the former Beijing bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times, in an interview with the New Yorker.

Emphasis mine.

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kleer001
5 days ago
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This map is misleading, it should be a color density map. As it is now one dot can hid another.
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acdha
9 days ago
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QFpainfulT: “I’m struggling these days to keep up empathy for the ill-informed”
Washington, DC

Multiplex Movie Review: Primer (2004)

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Hello! Miss me? I’ll be posting Multiplex Movie Review comics here occasionally for the near future, so don’t forget to come back by or cyberstalk me on one of the umpty-million places you can do that.

The Multiplex 10 Kickstarter project has passed $10,500 (as of this writing) in its first week thanks to over 300 backers. There’s plenty of time left, and that’s nearly 70% of the goal — so things are looking good. But the sooner the project passes its goal, the better chance it has at getting pledges from people who aren’t as familiar with Multiplex and my work as you guys are.

Thanks once again for all your support — especially to my Patreon backers — and for all the heartfelt messages over the last week.

p.s. Primer is on Netflix.

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kleer001
13 days ago
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Saw it 4 times in the theater, and at least a dozen after that. I've forced friends and relatives to watch it.
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sirshannon
41 days ago
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I still haven't seen "Primer" but I know how it is (was?) supposed to be pronounced.
duerig
41 days ago
Primer is a great movie. One of the rare shows that I saw at least half a dozen times and noticed new things each time. I always pronounced it 'prim' 'ur'. How do you pronounce it?
sirshannon
40 days ago
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMH-nZ06G2o
duerig
40 days ago
Wow. I stand corrected. My pronunciation was apparently not prim and proper. :)

I'm so glad I started my mild internet career with rancid, ratchet shit

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I'm so glad I started my mild internet career with rancid, ratchet shit


Posted by Andyproblems on Saturday, May 13th, 2017 6:22pm


22 likes, 7 retweets
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kleer001
14 days ago
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alt.tasteless
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Neural Network-Generated Illustrations in Allo

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Taking, sharing, and viewing selfies has become a daily habit for many — the car selfie, the cute-outfit selfie, the travel selfie, the I-woke-up-like-this selfie. Apart from a social capacity, self-portraiture has long served as a means for self and identity exploration. For some, it’s about figuring out who they are. For others it’s about projecting how they want to be perceived. Sometimes it’s both.

Photography in the form of a selfie is a very direct form of expression. It comes with a set of rules bounded by reality. Illustration, on the other hand, empowers people to define themselves - it’s warmer and less fraught than reality.
Today, Google is introducing a feature in Allo that uses a combination of neural networks and the work of artists to turn your selfie into a personalized sticker pack. Simply snap a selfie, and it’ll return an automatically generated illustrated version of you, on the fly, with customization options to help you personalize the stickers even further.
What makes you, you?
The traditional computer vision approach to mapping selfies to art would be to analyze the pixels of an image and algorithmically determine attribute values by looking at pixel values to measure color, shape, or texture. However, people today take selfies in all types of lighting conditions and poses. And while people can easily pick out and recognize qualitative features, like eye color, regardless of the lighting condition, this is a very complex task for computers. When people look at eye color, they don’t just interpret the pixel values of blue or green, but take into account the surrounding visual context.

In order to account for this, we explored how we could enable an algorithm to pick out qualitative features in a manner similar to the way people do, rather than the traditional approach of hand coding how to interpret every permutation of lighting condition, eye color, etc. While we could have trained a large convolutional neural network from scratch to attempt to accomplish this, we wondered if there was a more efficient way to get results, since we expected that learning to interpret a face into an illustration would be a very iterative process.

That led us to run some experiments, similar to DeepDream, on some of Google's existing more general-purpose computer vision neural networks. We discovered that a few neurons among the millions in these networks were good at focusing on things they weren’t explicitly trained to look at that seemed useful for creating personalized stickers. Additionally, by virtue of being large general-purpose neural networks they had already figured out how to abstract away things they didn’t need. All that was left to do was to provide a much smaller number of human labeled examples to teach the classifiers to isolate out the qualities that the neural network already knew about the image.

To create an illustration of you that captures the qualities that would make it recognizable to your friends, we worked alongside an artistic team to create illustrations that represented a wide variety of features. Artists initially designed a set of hairstyles, for example, that they thought would be representative, and with the help of human raters we used these hairstyles to train the network to match the right illustration to the right selfie. We then asked human raters to judge the sticker output against the input image to see how well it did. In some instances, they determined that some styles were not well represented, so the artists created more that the neural network could learn to identify as well.
Raters were asked to classify hairstyles that the icon on the left resembled closest. Then, once consensus was reached, resident artist Lamar Abrams drew a representation of what they had in common.
Avoiding the uncanny valley
In the study of aesthetics, a well-known problem is the uncanny valley - the hypothesis that human replicas which appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings can feel repulsive. In machine learning, this could be compounded if were confronted by a computer’s perception of you, versus how you may think of yourself, which can be at odds.

Rather than aim to replicate a person’s appearance exactly, pursuing a lower resolution model, like emojis and stickers, allows the team to explore expressive representation by returning an image that is less about reproducing reality and more about breaking the rules of representation.
The team worked with artist Lamar Abrams to design the features that make up more than 563 quadrillion combinations.
Translating pixels to artistic illustrations
Reconciling how the computer perceives you with how you perceive yourself and what you want to project is truly an artistic exercise. This makes a customization feature that includes different hairstyles, skin tones, and nose shapes, essential. After all, illustration by its very nature can be subjective. Aesthetics are defined by race, culture, and class which can lead to creating zones of exclusion without consciously trying. As such, we strove to create a space for a range of race, age, masculinity, femininity, and/or androgyny. Our teams continue to evaluate the research results to help prevent against incorporating biases while training the system.
Creating a broad palette for identity and sentiment
There is no such thing as a ‘universal aesthetic’ or ‘a singular you’. The way people talk to their parents is different than how they talk to their friends which is different than how they talk to their colleagues. It’s not enough to make an avatar that is a literal representation of yourself when there are many versions of you. To address that, the Allo team is working with a range of artistic voices to help others extend their own voice. This first style that launched today speaks to your sarcastic side but the next pack might be more cute for those sincere moments. Then after that, maybe they’ll turn you into a dog. If emojis broadened the world of communication it’s not hard to imagine how this technology and language evolves. What will be most exciting is listening to what people say with it.

This feature is starting to roll out in Allo today for Android, and will come soon to Allo on iOS.

Acknowledgements
This work was made possible through a collaboration of the Allo Team and Machine Perception researchers at Google. We additionally thank Lamar Abrams, Koji Ashida, Forrester Cole, Jennifer Daniel, Shiraz Fuman, Dilip Krishnan, Inbar Mosseri, Aaron Sarna, Aaron Maschinot and Bhavik Singh.
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kleer001
17 days ago
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Whoa
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Antique Shaving Brushes Could Come With Free Vintage Anthrax

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We know you can’t wait to rush home from the flea market to bust out that newly acquired antique shaving brush, and put it to use getting rid of your wintry fur. But before you lather up with your historically accurate brush, be aware that there’s a chance it may be carrying some era-appropriate anthrax.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article [PDF] in the current issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases that looked at outbreaks of anthrax infections of the skin in the early 20th century, which may be linked to poorly disinfected animal hair shaving brushes.

Wartime cut off Russian exports of badger hair — which was prized for shaving brushes due to its ability to hold water — prompting manufacturers to pass off cheap brushes made from imported horsehair as the real thing.

Some were not effectively disinfected, however, and ended up carrying Bacillus anthracis, which could easily sneak into the skin through any tiny nicks and cuts made by a razor.

“Public health officials investigating these outbreaks at the time speculated that at least some of these manufacturers used the hair as received, assuming it was already disinfected,” researchers note.

Before the war, bundles of hair used to make the shaving brushes were all cleaned and disinfected in Europe before heading to the U.S. During the war, those bundles were shipped straight to the U.S., some of them bringing anthrax with them.

Health officials eventually caught on, and enacted a series of control measures to keep anthrax out of grooming products, including a 1918 Surgeon General report publicizing a method for disinfecting brush hair, followed by “a slew of edicts” in 1920 by the New York City Board of Health.

Scientists want to bring this up again now because, well, hipsters:

“This historical information is relevant to current public health practice because renewed interest in vintage and animal-hair shaving brushes has been seen in popular culture,” the scientists write.

There’s been a resurgence of interest in luxury-brand, animal-hair shaving brushes — “evocative of an idyllic premodern esthetic” — researchers say, noting that a spring 2017 Google search for “badger shaving brush shopping” produced about 1.8 million hits.

And while scientists say that although the risk of acquiring anthrax from a shaving brush has been low since the mid-1920s, “those interested in a return to natural grooming” should know that using untreated hair from horses, pigs, badgers, or other animals poses “a potential, and perhaps hypothetical, risk of inoculating anthrax spores into the abrasions and minor lacerations caused by shaving razors.”

Modern decontamination and import regulations mean that new animal-hair brushes are unlikely to be a source of anthrax, researchers say, but if you want to be authentic and avoid anthrax, look for brushes manufactured in the United States after 1930.

The risk from “well-used (even vintage) brushes would seem to be extremely low,” scientists add, so if your Great-Grandpa used it every day without getting anthrax in his skin it should be okay.

Don’t try to disinfect your old brush at home, however.

“We do not recommend trying to disinfect vintage brushes at home because the risks associated with various combinations of steam, pressure, and formaldehyde are likely to outweigh possible benefits,” researchers note.

[h/t The Verge]





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kleer001
25 days ago
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That's gloriously terrifying
satadru
26 days ago
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New York, NY
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The Large Bitcoin Collider Is Generating Trillions of Keys and Breaking Into Wallets

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For nearly a year, a group of cryptography enthusiasts has been pooling their resources on a quixotic quest to brute-force crack one of bitcoin's cryptographic algorithms for creating wallet addresses. This is thought to be impossible today, but if they succeed, at least one element of bitcoin's cryptography will be instantly obsolete.

It's probably due to the scope of the challenge that the project is called the Large Bitcoin Collider, after the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator. But instead of new physics, the Large Bitcoin Collider is hunting cryptographic collisions—essentially proving that a supposedly unique and random string of numbers can be duplicated. More on collisions and their ramifications for bitcoin later, but along the way the LBC is using its computing power to try and bust open bitcoin wallets owned by other people, and potentially taking the coins inside.

Read More: The Great Physical Bitcoin Robbery

The basics are this: bitcoin addresses containing funds can be accessed by private keys, which are generated at the same time as the address. Technically, a number of private keys could work with any given address, but you'd need a huge amount of computing power to brute force your way through enough possibilities to find any of them. The LBC attempts to accomplish this by recruiting the computing power of anyone who's willing to download and run their software.

Finding a private key that works with an existing wallet is a fast-and-loose version of "cracking," and gives the attacker access to all the funds inside. But when someone in the LBC pool finds a working private key, do they get to keep the coins?

"In principle yes, although there is a process defined where—if someone appears with an alternate key—the pool members consider him the owner of the address," "Rico," the pseudonymous lead of LBC, told me in an email. He would only tell me that he's a computer programmer "past his 40s," who lives in Europe.

As for the legality of all this, LBC advises participants with a rather laissez-faire attitude.

"Depending on your jurisdiction, this may be considered theft and is therefore illegal," the site's FAQ states. "However, there are many jusrisdictions [sic] where you could perfectly legally claim 5-10% of the value found. So you should consider if you want 100% and become a criminal or if you get 10% and still be a law abiding citizen."

The LBC has been working for just under a year. So far, Rico claims, the project has generated over 3,000 trillion private keys and checked them against existing bitcoin addresses to see if they work, and has found three that do and contain bitcoin. They've found over 30 private keys in total, some of which are for so-called "puzzle" addresses that are suspected to have been generated as easy bait for crackers.

"This project has been called many things: Impossible, illegal, pointless, cool, etc."

Cracking wallets may seem malicious on the surface—and if an LBC participant knowingly steals funds, it might just be—but it also has research value. Bitcoin security researcher Ryan Castellucci has done work cracking wallets as a proof-of-concept in order to model attacker behaviour and defend against it.

"The thing that disappoints me about this is that they're only checking addresses that have a balance instead of all addresses that have ever been used," he said in an interview over the phone. "For research, it's much more interesting to check all addresses that have ever been used, because that will show you if there've been weak addresses created in the past and if they've been cleaned out by attackers."

But cracking wallets is just one part of the LBC's mission. The other is to find a genuine cryptographic collision, which would mean it's possible to generate inputs that, when put through the bitcoin address hashing algorithm, generate an identical pair. If it were ever to happen, bitcoin would have to use a new cryptographic algorithm for addresses. This would be similar to Google creating a collision with the once-popular SHA-1 cryptographic algorithm, which ended its usefulness for good.

Read More: I Broke Bitcoin

"Finding a P2PKH-collision [one cryptographic method of creating bitcoin addresses] would probably mean the end of P2PKH but not bitcoin," Rico explained, regarding the ramifications of finding a collision. "Bitcoin would evolve with new address types. Most certainly it wouldn't 'die' because of this."

Castellucci also urged caution when it comes to getting all riled up about the LBC's search for a cryptographic collision in bitcoin.

"To effectively find [a collision], you would have to find some way to generate [keys] much, much faster than is currently known to be possible," he said. "Unless they find some sort of breakthrough in cracking techniques, the brute force strategy they're using poses no threat to anybody's bitcoin." 

"Someone could play the lottery three weeks in a row and win every time," he explained. "That theoretically could happen, but it's safe to assume it won't." Castellucci isn't alone in this belief. Others, on the /r/bitcoin subreddit for example, have been much less kind and called the LBC "pointless." But that hasn't deterred Rico.

"Since it's inception [around] 8 months ago, this project has been called many things: Impossible, illegal, pointless, cool, etc.," Rico wrote.

"I think there is more waiting to be uncovered by the LBC—including a collision," he continued. "So with that in mind we really do not care much about what 'someone on Reddit' said."

Motherboard is nominated for three Webby Awards for Best Science YouTube Channel , Best Drama , Best Tech/Science Podcast . Please vote for us!



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kleer001
45 days ago
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Square the number of grains of sand on the earth, you're still a billion billion times less than the number of bitcoin addresses.
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fxer
45 days ago
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My offline buttcoin walletz!
Bend, Oregon
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