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  • MYCIN, Watson, and AI History

    Over at Wired, a headline blares “Artificial Intelligence Is Now Telling Doctors How To Treat You.” Sounds unique, novel, and even scary. Those AIs are replacing humans, to the point where even the detailed knowledge of the physician is superseded by a Dr. HAL! The article talks about Modernizing Medicine database and IBM’s Watson supercomputer. One […] More

  • Computers and History: Beyond Science Fiction

    A recent BBC article asks the provocative question: can computers replace historians? But here is the biggest claim so far – crunching through the big data of history can help us spot patterns and work out where the world is heading next. That is what Kalev Leetaru, a data scientist at Washington’s Georgetown University, believes […] More

  • Encyclopedia Dramatica And The Case Of The Satoshi Paradox

    By now, readers will likely have caught themselves up with the twists and turns of Newsweek‘s apparently ill-fated hunt for the real Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudoanonymous brain behind bitcoin. I point readers to financial analyst Felix Salmon’s blog on the subject for a good overview of the tortured investigation process and its various ambiguities: One way […] More

  • Analysts, Tools, and Complexity

    CTOs and analysts of all stripes know that understanding the problem they are trying to solve should precede selecting analytical tools. Yet this is far more difficult than it seems, particularly as the variety of problems we come across multiply. One of the major stumbling blocks for analysis in particular is terminological fuzziness. We often […] More

  • Sudo Apt-Get Install Army: Should Army Analyst Have The Power To Mod Their Analytical Tools?

    Army officers and writers Crispin Burke, Niel Smith, and James King have a fascinating piece on the DCGS-A (Distributed Common Ground System-Army) contretemps. It rightly goes beyond blame and finger-pointing. Let me lay my own bias out front — Palantir is a fantastic company, there also many amazing and hard-working military tech people, and Rep. […] More

  • From Crowdsourced Militias to Dread Bitcoin Pirates

    There are two basic truths of social science that technologists scanning the news in recent weeks may appreciate. First, despite arguments about the rise and fall of the state, most countries are considerably less orderly and cohesive on the inside than they look at first glance. In other words, the “monopoly of force” and the […] More

  • Big Data = Dropping the Big One?

    Eminent network scientist Laszlo Barabasi recently penned an op-ed calling on fellow scientists to spearhead the ethical use of big data. Comparing big data to the atom bomb, Barabasi persuasively argued that the technology and methodologies he and other social network theorists had created had far outstripped societal controls on its use. Barabasi’s op-ed is […] More

  • Social Media and Extremism: Sideshow or Center Stage?

    On Twitter, Mike Olson of Cloudera asked me and Alex Olesker what we thought about the use of social media in the latest dustup between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. He linked me to an article taking a broader look at the role of social media in terrorism and extremism. The following is some thoughts […] More

  • My Infosec Wish for 2013: A Balanced Cyberwarfare Debate

    I can already hear the chuckling. “Cyber warfare? Balanced? And I’d like partisanship in Washington to end, a double date with Mila Kunis and Scarlett Johansson, and some fries with that!” Yes, my desire is utopian, but the fact that I would have to qualify it with a self-deprecating remark suggests the distance that we […] More

  • What Does It Mean to Disconnect?

    Are we too connected to our gadgets? Many journalists and social thinkers seem to think so. Are we all too fixated on emailing, tweeting, just plain staring at our screens to participate in the world around us? The answer may be more complex than that, but you won’t find it in posts like this recent […] More

  • Assumption of Breach and Defense Planning

    Given the explosive (and thinly sourced) nature of Bill Gertz’s allegations (China! Carriers! Nukes!) in his latest Free Beacon post it is important to watch the story as it develops. At first glance, the story doesn’t quite seem to match the hype. A spear-phishing attack against an unclassified network is not exactly uncommon. But the […] More

  • Japan, China, and the Tech Supply Chain

    My amigo Alex Olesker has a nice roundup at OODA Loop of why China and Japan are feuding over a pile of rocks in the South China Sea. So why, you might ask, is this relevant for technologists? Well, consider this story from August: Chinese tech hub and boom town Shenzhen is set to increase […] More

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