Wednesday, June 13, 2018

AI for Hackers? Why not?
Tom Warren reports:
Microsoft has issued a Windows 10 security update to prevent hackers from breaking into PCs using Cortana. Microsoft’s digital assistant is built into every version of Windows 10, McAfee security researchers discovered it could be summoned from a lock screen to execute malicious software. Any potential hacker would need physical access to a PC, and McAfee details methods to get the digital assistant to index files from a USB drive and execute them.
These files could be executable ones, or Powershell scripts that can even go as far as resetting a Windows 10 account password.
Read more on The Verge.

Sounds like an exam question: How do you ensure contractors follow your security rules?
Startup Working on Contentious Pentagon AI Project Was Hacked
… A lawsuit filed by former employee Amy Liu this month alleges that Clarifai’s computer systems were compromised by one or more people in Russia, potentially exposing technology used by the US military to an adversary. The lawsuit says Clarifai learned of the breach last November, but that Clarifai’s CEO and other executives did not promptly report it to the Pentagon.

So the short answer is, Nope!
Paper – Can Fact-checking Prevent Politicians from Lying?
“Abstract – Journalists now regularly trumpet fact-checking as an important tool to hold politicians accountable for their public statements, but fact checking’s effect has only been assessed anecdotally and in experiments on politicians holding lower-level offices. Using a rigorous research design to estimate the effects of fact-checking on presidential candidates, this paper shows that a fact-checker deeming a statement false false causes a 9.5 percentage points reduction in the probability that the candidate repeats the claim. To eliminate alternative explanations that could confound this estimate, I use two types of difference-in-differences analyses, each using true-rated claims and “checkable but unchecked” claims, a placebo test using hypothetical fact-check dates, and a topic model to condition on the topic of the candidate’s statement. This paper contributes to the literature on how news media can hold politicians accountable, showing that when news organizations label a statement as inaccurate, they affect candidate behavior.”

For my students, to compare with their ATM App.
The Unbearable Awkwardness of Automation
… The ATM is one of the most visible and familiar symbols of automation, its 24-hour service demanding neither coffee breaks nor health insurance.
… It’s not just banks. Automation has also changed how people shop, park, fly, and more. In the process, it has reshaped the architecture that contains those experiences—making them more efficient, often, but also putting machines above people.

AI for the everyday...
Google Translate is rolling out offline AI-based translations that you can download
Google has rolled out offline downloads for its AI-powered translator. So if you don’t have unlimited data or you have a plan that doesn’t work internationally, you can now download neural machine translation from Google’s Android and iOS apps.
… Here’s a full list of the 59 available languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jannada, Korean, Lavtian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Welsh

Perspective. Disrupting traditional economic models?
E-Commerce Might Help Solve the Mystery of Low Inflation
Unemployment is sinking and businesses are churning out more goods and services. Yet even with the economy standing on tippy toes, prices and wages are climbing a lot more slowly than anyone has expected.
Now a growing body of research is putting the blame more pointedly on e-commerce. The spectacular growth in online shopping, it turns out, is not only tamping down inflation more than previously thought, but also distorting the way it is measured.

Another set of research tools.
CRS – Resources for Key Economic Indicators
Via EveryCRSReport – Resources for Key Economic Indicators:, May 30, 2018: An understanding of economic indicators and their significance is seen as essential to the formulation of economic policies. These indicators, or statistics, provide snapshots of an economy’s health as well as starting points for economic analysis. This report contains a list of selected authoritative U.S. government sources of economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), income, inflation, and labor force (including employment and unemployment) statistics. Additional content includes related resources, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and links to external glossaries.”

Just another (somewhat uneven) tool.
Google Wants to Play a Bigger Role in Your College Search. Here’s What You Need to Know
Google waded into the college-search process on Tuesday, announcing that it would elevate certain statistics about four-year colleges when people use the ubiquitous search engine to seek out information.
Here’s what that will look like in practice, Google says: Enter “University of Montana” into the search bar, and a prominent result will be a selection of statistics about the institution — its graduation rate and average cost after financial aid, among other things.

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