- [University Rankings]
- After Khalid Masood killed four people in Westminster,
the British Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said that
intelligence services must have access to encrypted messaging services
Apparently Masood communicated by WhatsApp
which incorporates end to end encryption.
Regardless of whether a "back door" to Whatsapp and its like
is or is not a good idea,
there are less prominent alternative services and, in any case,
a good Computer Science or Mathematics student can implement such a system.
- 'In his first briefing as [Donald Trump's] White House press secretary,
Sean Spicer cited figures about attendance that were
quickly denounced in many US news outlets as "falsehoods" and even "lies".
Top Trump aide Kellyanne Conway later said
Mr Spicer had been presenting "alternative facts".'
-- Reminiscent of doublethink and newspeak
- 2017 January:
'Statistical inference of protein structural alignments using information
and compression', J. Collier et al, J. Bioinformatics
is about the MMLigner program and the maths behind it –
outcomes of a difficult and tantalising project to infer
statistically significant structural alignments of proteins.
Proteins being chains of amino acids, the 3-D coordinates of
atoms in those amino acids are not independent
which always ups the degree of difficulty of an inference problem.
- 2016 November: The Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) rankings of
the top world univesities introduced more subject rankings
including world rankings for
(The "Shangai" Academic Ranking of World Universities
already does this.)
- 2016 October 3: Toyota (TMC) announced that it would
"launch sales [¥40K± ~ au$500] of 'Kirobo Mini'",
a "miniature [10cm] communication partner" [robot]
which can "engage in casual conversation, backed by gestures and
the ability to respond to user emotions, grow and provide tailored
companionship by remembering user preferences and past events."
- 2016 August 9, census night:
The Australian Burea of Statistics (ABS) hoped to have
most households fill out the census via the internet.
The ABS scored an 'F'.
First the ABS tried to bury the fact that it would
hold collected names and addresses for four years,
and that records would be linked
to other government information, such as health,
as it has been doing on the side since 2006.
Then the phone system to handle requests for paper forms
was totally inadequate.
And, of course, the census web site crashed on the night.
This event was followed by a stream of
contradictory information from
the ABS, the contractor IBM, and
the (agile, innovator) Turnbull government:
there was a hacking attack,
there was a denial of service attack,
there was no attack,
there were four hack attacks, ...
All this removed any trust in the ABS that it
intends to preserve citizens' privacy, or that it
is competent to keep safe the information collected.
- (The head of the ABS, David Kalisch, reportedly earns $705,030 p.a.)
- 2016, 1 August:
"... the proportion of new bachelor degree graduates in full time work
is lower now than it was during and immediately after the 1990s
recession and the worst they have been since the early 1980s. ...
Why are we all so reticent about stating the obvious - that University
isn't for everyone. It was never intended for everyone. ..."
-- Vicki Thomson, Go8 CEO, see
Various ways in which some academics game their 'impact' KPI[*]
are discussed in 'Watch out for cheats in citation game', Nature
"[supplying] fake e-mail addresses of suggested peer reviewers",
"review and citation rings", and
requiring the insertion of excess "citations to [a reviewer's] own work."
Anecdotally, such behaviour has been going on for quite some time.
With Universities (mis-) using h-index, g-index and similar
for promotion, hiring and firing, this kind of fraud is inevitable.
- [*]KPIs = Key Performance Indicators.
- 2016: It really does seem that PhD students are being treated
more and more like slave labour to keep their supervisors' KPIs up.
An academic at a major University tells me of PhD candidates
being dumped, well into their candidature, explicitly because they
have not written enough papers for their supervisors.
Who is supposed to be supporting who?
- 2016, March: Google's Deep Mind 'AlphaGo' computer program
beat Lee Se-dol, a top Go player, in a best of five match.
Lee Se-dol won the 4th game, the AlphaGo won the other four.
(IBM's 'Deep Blue' beat then world Chess champion Garry Kasparov
31/2 to 21/2 in 1997.)
- But don't panic yet.
Microsoft had to apologise when its 'Tay' chatbot
was quickly corrupted by a group of users who
trained it to swear and make racist statements on twitter:
- "... We are deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and
hurtful tweets from Tay ..."
-- Peter Lee,
Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research,
- Also see the
- "Only 9% of the engineering workforce is female.
And only 6% of registered engineers and technicians
(i.e. CEng, IEng, EngTech) are women. The UK has the
lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at
less than 10%, while Latvia, Bulgaria and Cyprus lead with nearly 30%".
-- Women's Engineering Society
of two Normal probability distributions (Gaussians) in
the discussion of Minimum Message Length (MML) and
the Snob program.