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Comment Probably won't work very well (Score 1) 228

The problem with something like this is that genes don't always express and gene expression isn't binary (on/off). So someone might test as a good leader and then when stressed by the job their gene expression changes and they aren't a good leader anymore. Someone with a biology background can correct me (and probably will) but this sounds like it won't actually work very well in practice.

Comment Doing right by customers (Score 3, Insightful) 123

Doing right by your customers is an important part of retaining them.

I am amazed how Samsung has responded to this. Think about all the recalls (and should-have-been recalls) of the past 30 years. They could have responded

It has come to our attention that a small minority of Note 7 phones (less than 0.001%) have resulted in smoking and short durations of flames when improperly charged. We would like to remind you to always use Samsung brand phone chargers plugged into an electrical socket that meets state and local building codes.

I can't think of a single company whose first response wouldn't have been a denial, followed by months of denials, federal investigations, and then a small fine. Most auto manufacturers have faced deadly design choices and it's not until the government twists their arm do they act.

Comment Another possible fix (Score 2) 185

I heard an anecdotal story about the owner of several Wendy's franchises had issues with people stealing ketchup packets. So they decided to keep the packets behind the counter and patrons had to ask for them. Abuse went down by some huge number.

I think officers have to radio into dispatch all the time (any time they pull someone over, see something suspicious, etc). Database access should be a 2-person deal. Dispatch gets a popup of searches the officer is doing when the officer radios in and dispatch has the opportunity to flag any suspicious access. I think just knowing someone is readily watching would greatly reduce abuse.

Comment Re:Diminishing photo title (Score 1) 196

I'm glad you brought this up. The discussion seems to be around facebook and censorship, but instead let's talk about the Vietnam war, the use of napalm and how terrible and horrific it is, and what led to this poor girl being burned by it.

I'm a millennial and I think very few of us appreciate how senseless the Vietnam war was. There was a draft. A friggin' DRAFT. This doesn't happen anymore. I can't imagine getting a draft card and being sent off to die for a war I do not believe in. America dumped toxic chemicals all over this country and caused cancer in many people. When the veterans got home, they weren't exactly welcomed back on a red carpet.

Maybe someone can correct me or expand since I wasn't alive during the war, but as far as I can tell it was a pretty senseless war and this picture should remind us to be a little more careful with how we step foot on foreign soil.

Comment Kindle format is terrible (Score 2) 140

I own a kindle and it's collecting dust. I've purchased like 5 or so technical kindle books (math and programming). Equations typically can't be scaled or don't display properly. Code examples are formatted so badly they are impossible to read. I originally bought my kindle thinking I could read research papers. Hah! Good luck. Try to read an IEEE two column format research paper on the kindle. Most ebook formats are just as bad. O'Reilly books had the right idea to use pdf's.

Comment Re:How About Some Actual Data... (Score 1) 182

I think the knee jerk reaction is that Rick Scott has spent most of his time as governor trying to weaken environmental protections to appease his donors so he can run for senate in 2018. This is the same governor that sent out a memo that basically says the state isn't allowed to acknowledge global warming.

Comment Re:Another day in paradise... SNAFU (Score 1) 182

I live in Florida and I'm amazed that Florida residents are so anti-government we'll cut off our nose to spite our face. The Indian River Lagoon is facing a pretty severe cyanobacteria crisis right now. The last time we had this issue was right before an election, where Rick Scott basically refused to do anything useful. Martin County (the county where much of the lagoon crisis is occurring) re-elected Rick Scott 55% to 40%.

Comment Re:I'm just waiting for.... (Score 1) 278

Mod this up a thousand times. We need to start addressing the fact that people are the ones carrying this stuff out. If we can understand them and why they do it, maybe we can intervene years in advance. We seem obsessed with getting rid of the tools for destruction and/or stopping them 30 seconds before they act.

After 9/11 one of my neighbors had a sign on his lawn "Kill 'em all and let god sort them out." That pretty much sums up the world's interest in understanding the brains of terrorists.

Comment Overconfidence (Score 3, Interesting) 213

I've seen this happen in several industries. I'm not sure if there's an official name for it, but I call it the "Netflix effect." Data mining and machine learning work really well for certain things like shopping. This causes people in other industries to assume they can use the same data mining techniques in their industries. I've seen it happen in education as well. There are two fundamental problems I see.

First, big silicon valley companies can afford the best statisticians and computer scientists in the world. They have the resources to train and validate very complex models. Then an industry specific company without those resources says "bring netflix-like data analytics into your industry!" They might offer something simple like linear regression and call it a day. Or even worse, make up a "score" that has no theoretical basis and use a misleading metric like accuracy to promote it.

The cost of misclassification is not the same across all industries. Misclassifying a movie suggestion is way different than deciding how to treat humans.

Comment Latent variables (Score 2) 213

The fundamental problem with using data like this is that race is often hidden in the data. A simple question like "Do you feel you have ever been singled out by police" might be highly predictive of race. Combine that with several variables w/ interaction in a complex model and race is almost guaranteed to be a factor.

What makes the problem worse is that the best machine learning models can be very difficult to interpret. After doing dimensionality reduction with stacked autoencoders and using boosting with decision trees, the model will most likely produce good results and be a "black box." This is fine if you're trying to predict someone's next shopping purchase, but becomes a civil rights issue when used to determine whether they are allowed to be released from jail.

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