Mongolia Books, Wikipedia, Decimal Math, More: Monday Afternoon Buzz, November 27, 2017

CONFIDENTIAL TO MICHAEL D: I tried to reply to your e-mail but it bounced. To answer your question: ResearchBuzz started in April 1998. So yes, it’s entirely possible you’ve been reading ResearchBuzz since the 1990s.


ECNS: China digitizes historical Mongolian books. “Chinese researchers have launched several digital archive projects to preserve a number of historical Mongolian books. Engraved on wood, a rare Mongolian version of the Tibetan Buddhist classic ‘Kangyur’ has been scanned and photographed to make a digital copy, according to Qi Jinyu, deputy head of the Mongolian language and literature working group. Published in 1720, the woodcut copy has 109 volumes and 50 million words. Its electronic edition is now available online.”


Digital Trends: Wikipedia can now be found on the dark web. “Wikipedia, for all the issues it has, is still an invaluable resource for many people. While it’s true that you should be careful about citing it in a research paper, the site remains a great resource to get a general overview of a topic and find more in-depth resources. In the United States and nations with similar freedoms, we often take Wikipedia for granted, but there are many parts of the world where accessing the site can be very difficult and illegal. In order to help at-risk users access the site, cyber security expert Alex Muffett has created a version of the website for the dark web accessible by the Tor browser.” Is this ringing a bell for you? Possibly because Wikipedia folks have been asking that this be done.

Kevin Savetz recently released a site for learning about converting fractions. Now he’s added one for decimals (PRESS RELEASE). “ lets users type in any percentage or fraction—this includes percentages with decimal places and fractions with any numerator or denominator. The site will instantly convert it to a number with up to five decimal places. A pie chart is also calculated at the bottom of the page as a helpful visual aid. There are also hundreds of example problems provided by the site, including percentages with decimal places and a wide range of numerators and denominators.”

Engadget: Talk with the first-ever robot politician on Facebook Messenger. “Have you often felt that no matter what you asked politicians, they’d automatically reply with a stock response? Now you can address a real robot that plans on running for office — or at least, that’s what its creators intend. SAM is an AI chatbot ‘representing’ New Zealand’s constituents that you can talk with on Facebook Messenger right now.”


Washington Post: FCC net neutrality process ‘corrupted’ by fake comments and vanishing consumer complaints, officials say. “As the Federal Communications Commission prepares to dismantle its net neutrality rules for Internet providers, a mounting backlash from agency critics is zeroing in on what they say are thousands of fake or automated comments submitted to the FCC that unfairly skewed the policymaking process. Allegations about anomalies in the record are quickly becoming a central component of a campaign by online activists and some government officials to discredit the FCC’s plan.”

Motherboard: How Russia Polices Yandex, Its Most Popular Search Engine. “Google has gained market share in Russia in recent years. Google search (and Android) now dominate Russia’s mobile market, and overall, Google and Yandex are about equally popular in search market share, according to Statcounter, an analysis tool that has a tracking script installed on two million websites. But according to Kovalev, Soldatov, and The Moscow Times, an independent, English-language publication, Yandex.News is much more popular than Google News, and a more important target for the Russian government.”

Wired: Ciao, Chrome: Firefox Quantum Is The Browser Built For 2017. “…my expectations for Firefox Quantum, the new browser from Mozilla, were not particularly high. Mozilla made big promises about Quantum’s speed and efficiency, which are what everyone makes big promises about when they launch a new browser, and they never really make a difference in the experience. Sure, a couple dozen Chrome tabs can bring even the beefiest computer hardware grinding to a beach-balling halt, but Chrome does the job. What could Firefox even do to win me over? It turns out there are lots of things Firefox Quantum could do to improve the browser experience, and it did many of those things.”

3D Printing Industry: Dubai Combats Isis Destruction With 3D Printed Artefact Reconstructions At UN HQ. “When the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) wreaked havoc across regions of Syria and Iraq, they also destroyed countless Assyrian, Greek and Roman artefacts in museums and on site. In an effort to preserve the cultural heritage and archaeological sites of the region, institutes such as the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) are 3D printing some of the destroyed objects. Some of the foundation’s work is to be displayed at the ‘The Spirit in the Stone’ digital archaeology exhibition at the UN New York headquarters, inaugurated this week.”


The Outline: Spam is Back. “…it’s 2017, and spam has clawed itself back from the grave. It shows up on social media and dating sites as bots hoping to lure you into downloading malware or clicking an affiliate link. It creeps onto your phone as text messages and robocalls that ring you five times a day about luxury cruises and fictitious tax bills. Networks associated with the buzzy new cryptocurrency system Ethereum have been plagued with spam. Facebook recently fought a six-month battle against a spam operation that was administering fake accounts in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. Last year, a Chicago resident sued the Trump campaign for allegedly sending unsolicited text message spam; this past November, ZDNet reported that voters were being inundated with political text messages they never signed up for.” This article notes several different types of spam, including robocalls and Twitter junk.


New York Times: Can A.I. Be Taught to Explain Itself?. “It has become commonplace to hear that machines, armed with machine learning, can outperform humans at decidedly human tasks, from playing Go to playing ‘Jeopardy!’ We assume that is because computers simply have more data-crunching power than our soggy three-pound brains. [Michael] Kosinski’s results suggested something stranger: that artificial intelligences often excel by developing whole new ways of seeing, or even thinking, that are inscrutable to us. It’s a more profound version of what’s often called the ‘black box’ problem — the inability to discern exactly what machines are doing when they’re teaching themselves novel skills — and it has become a central concern in artificial-intelligence research. In many arenas, A.I. methods have advanced with startling speed; deep neural networks can now detect certain kinds of cancer as accurately as a human. But human doctors still have to make the decisions — and they won’t trust an A.I. unless it can explain itself.” Good afternoon, Internet…

Do you like ResearchBuzz? Does it help you out? Please consider supporting it on Patreon. Not interested in commitment? Perhaps you’d buy me an iced tea. I love your comments, I love your site suggestions, and I love you. Feel free to comment on the blog, or @ResearchBuzz on Twitter. Thanks!

Categories: afternoonbuzz

Leave a Reply