Twitter Users Condemn Company’s Decision to Ditch Chronological Tweets

Twitter is one of the most popular forms of online communication due to the 140 character limit which allows users to discuss topics in a very quick manner. Additionally, the retweet system means it’s easy to share stories, and other entertaining content. Twitter relies on a chronological order so the end-user can scroll through each tweet and catch up with anything they’ve missed. In direct contrast to Facebook, Twitter offers a more streamlined user-interface and it’s always been my preferred method of social media interaction. However, the company has been making some bizarre decisions of late including replacing the favourite button with a like/heart icon. I’m still baffled why they went to the trouble of implementing this, and it really hasn’t altered the overall experience.

Furthermore, Buzzfeed reports that Twitter is now going to list tweets in a non-chronological order and arrange them based on the reckons it predicts you want to read. As a result, popular accounts will have their tweets heavily promoted which is bound to make the UI extremely cluttered. This has caused widespread outrage from Twitter users who voiced their viewpoint via the hashtag #RIPTwitter. Many have compared the revised Twitter to Facebook and initial reports suggest the changes could be brought in as early as next week! Here we can see a brief snapshot of the reception so far:

https://twitter.com/somaticvibe/status/695856191398768640?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/z0mgItsHutch/status/695852789168107520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

In a short space of time, #RIPTwitter has already become the hottest trending topic in the US, and I’m guessing it won’t take long before it’s the number one throughout the world. Clearly, Twitter’s management is obsessed with promoting Tweets from celebrities and trying to move beyond the service’s basic premise. This really is a shame because Twitter has the potential to bring like-minded people together. Unless there’s some kind of change in management, I cannot see this ending well. Maybe, the widespread outrage will make them reconsider the situation, but I’m not hopeful.

Computer Completes a Rubik’s Cube In A Spellbinding Time

There are many things in life that are quite annoying and include inventions such as Predictive Text; however, the Rubik’s Cube certainly adds a new dimension to the word “Frustrating”. But, what happens if you mix a homemade computer with arguably the world’s most difficult game?

Well, two software engineers from Kansas, US, decided to find out and it becomes apparent this computer was able to successfully complete the iconic puzzle in a mind-bending 1.047 seconds, this means that it successfully found the correct permutations quicker than it would have taken for you or me to say the word Rubik’s Cube.

The current Guinness World Record is a rather poor 2.3 seconds while humans are currently well behind on a snail-like pace of 4.9 seconds, although, that is still pretty fast. If you’re wondering, this record is held by a 14-year-old who goes by the name Lucas Etter in November 2015.

Below is the video, as you can see, the cube is being held within a 3D printed frame via “drilled holes with four USB cameras pointing at the puzzle. The robot is then hooked up to a Linux-based computer running a Kociemba Rubik’s cube-solving algorithm that takes the information delivered from the cameras and then works out in milliseconds which moves to make”.

The creators, Jay Flatland and Paul Rose uploaded the video and are currently applying for it to be officially recognized as a new world record, one would assume this would be a time which stands for a long while, although, you know what assumptions are.

Computers Can Now Accurately Forge Human Handwriting

Alex Graves, a specialist in Long Short-Term Memory recurrent neural networks at the University of Toronto, published a number of fascinating findings before the documentation was quickly removed. Graves’ research is astonishing and revolves around the concept that specific data points in combination with a Long Short-Term Memory recurrent neural network can accurately predict complex sequences. To test this hypothesis, Graves created a program which analyzes the graphology of handwriting.

The software is able to judge the characteristics of each person’s handwriting technique and formulate new sentences with a staggering degree of accuracy. It’s not perfect, and a professional graphologist could probably tell the difference. However, it’s a technical feat and one which could be used to forge your signature or personal style. Everyone’s handwriting contains an assortment of individual nuances and computers can now decipher between minute changes in cursive text. The research team have released the tool which converts up to 100 characters in 5 distinct handwriting styles. In all honesty, I can’t see this being used in a positive manner and only to help online fraud. This probably explains why the original research post was removed from all public avenues.

Do you think this technological feat will simply be used be cybercriminals to commit identity fraud?

Thank You Tom’s Hardware for providing us with this information.

New Algorithm Detects Nudity in Images

An algorithm has been compiled which analyses colour images and flags anything deemed to be nude content. The website, isitnude.com launched this month and allows users to test the obscenity of images either hosted online or on your computer. All you have to do is drag and drop the image or paste in the target URL.

So how does it all work? The procedure is built upon an algorithm by Hideo Hattori and a paper authored by Rigan Ap-apid entitled, “”An Algorithm for Nudity Detection”. In the research, Ap-apid explains,

“A skin colour distribution model based on the RGB, Normalized RGB, and HSV colour spaces is constructed using correlation and linear regression. The skin color model is used to identify and locate skin regions in an image. These regions are analysed for clues indicating nudity or non-nudity such as their sizes and relative distances from each other. Based on these clues and the percentage of skin in the image, an image is classified nude or non-nude.”

The programming while fairly accurate is still prone to mistakes and in the early phases of development. Enabling an open testing model to the public will help to enhance the software’s database. The real question is, who would use this technology? Perhaps child-friendly sites need to moderate uploads and check the suitability of adverts. Webmasters might find it handy to automate any type of nude spam. However, surely common sense is more than enough to know if an image contains graphic content. My biggest concern is this technology or other variants which use algorithm scanning could be a tool for control and allow governments to censor content they deem inappropriate.

Do you feel this is a necessary piece of technology?

Thank You PSY.org for providing us with this information.

CleanSpace One to Use Pac-Man Approach for Cleaning the Atmosphere of Debris

CleanSpace One, the project involved in finding a solution for cleaning up our atmosphere, was tasked to find the most efficient way of getting rid of the old SwissCube satellite. Together with students from the University of Applied Science in Geneva, they came up with a radical idea to do just that.

Before finding a suitable approach, a lot of solutions span from articulated arms with claws to tentacles. However, it is hard to find a solution to get the cleanup satellite to actually see the debris. There are a lot of things to take into account when searching for debris in space, such as the angle of illumination of the Sun, physical data from the satellite, relative speed at which it is moving, etc.

Given the above, the scientists are still testing the visual algorithm to perfect it. In the meantime, the students came up with the most radical idea for the satellite’s design, which is supposed to be similar to how Pac-Man interacts in the game. This means that the system will be made out of a cone-shaped net, which opens and closes once the debris are in the cage.

The CleanSpace One project plans to launch the cleanup satellite in early 2018 and things already look promising. The development and capture system are said to have passed the prototype test, having the project move to the first engineering model tests.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information

Machine Vision Algorithm May Be the next Art Critic

Art historians still find defining art and its creative qualities tricky even today. Art has always been considered something that a human mind can understand and appreciate, but is it really?

A simplified definition of what makes one of the best pieces of art stand out is that they need to have a key element which inspired later artists to use in their own work.

Two researchers at the Rutgers University tend to disagree that humans are the only ones who can judge art. Based on a machine vision algorithm, they proved that paintings can be studied and judged by computers too.

The researchers put it to a test and fed the code a database of about 62,000 pictures of fine art paintings. The results achieved consisted in the computer recognising Monet’s Haystacks at Chailly at sunrise as being one of the most influential paintings in history.

Art critics would agree with the above and state that Rodin’s 1889 sculpture Danaid is not as influential as the machine deems too. But does this really mean a computer can judge fine art now?

The truth is that arguments between critics on determining the most influential pieces of art have been going on for ages now, but this algorithm could prove to be a basis on which they can agree upon.

The algorithm uses visual concepts that analyses both low-key elements, such as colour, texture and simple objects, as well as high-key elements like walking, smiling and so on. A computer then applies the algorithm to a database pool and comes up with the paintings which influenced other authors.

Also, the researchers tell us that the algorithm has bigger potential than just showing a list of paintings. They say that the algorithm can be used in other areas, such as literature, sculpture and even in science.

Thank you MIT Technology Review for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of hdwallpaperpc

Drones Are Now Able to Learn Flight Paths and Fly on Their Own

Researcher José Martínez Carranza from the National Institute of Astrophysics, Optics and Electronics in Mexico developed a new way for drones to operate on their own and use much cheaper tech to navigate, like accelerometers, gyroscopes and camcorders.

This was made possible with an algorithm that drops GPS support in favour of visual feedback. The drones can view the terrain similar to how we see it on Google Maps and orient themselves using the above mentioned technology. If you’ve played games that have unmanned aerial vehicles which you can send by clicking on a map, then you know how this drone can operate in real-life too.

Of course there are more factors to take into account other than the 2D spatial positioning. This is where the accelerometers and gyroscopes come in, helping the drone to properly position itself into the right direction and readjust in case of harsh wind conditions or other external factors that might affect the drone’s orientation. However, the project is still at its early stages, so don’t expect the drones to do loops or move like jet fighters.

Martínez said that he wants to add support for wearable devices for people to control the drones and aid in a variety of situations where drones are most suitable, such as surveillance, exploration of properties and other areas.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information

Guy Makes Device Which Can Open Combination Locks in a Matter of Seconds

Not really what you were looking to hear if you have a locker at work or school that relies on combination locks to keep people from snooping through your personal belongings, huh? Well, someone was bound to do something like this sooner or later and it’s not like combination locks were the best security option on the planet anyway.

This new high-tech process looks to follow the manual process used by experienced crackers, but drastically reducing the process with the help of computerized algorithms. The device is made out of a stepper motor, a servo motor, a 3D printed harness and an Adruino to help with the AI/computerized side of things.

But now to the real question… how useful is the process? Well, not that useful. Experienced crackers can open these type of locks in a matter of seconds too (not as fast as a robot, but pretty fast nonetheless). So that’s why combination locks are made to keep out nosy people from snooping through your personal stuff and not keep your family values safe.

Still, this can be useful when you really have no experience and desire to learn how to crack these things and want to prank your friends. You can watch the video below to see how it is made and tested.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Amazon

Microsoft Reveals How Their Bing Algorithm Determines ‘Mobile-Friendly’ Websites

Microsoft first revealed their interest in mobile-friendly web pages and finding a way to figure out some guidelines for them last year. It seems that the company has been busy since then and finally revealed how they plan on determining which page is good or bad for a mobile device.

If you saw the ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag in the brief website description result of pages found by Bing, then you might already know that Microsoft has rolled out its new mobile-friendly detection algorithm. For those of you who do not know, then a web page which is mobile-friendly in Bing’s eyes is marked with a ‘Mobile-friendly’ tag like in the picture below.

So how are the websites marked for their mobile-friendliness? Well, Microsoft looks to have focused its interest into four major areas. The first one is Navigation, where the algorithm checks the size of buttons, links and menus. Nobody likes it when they try to tap on something and accidentally hit a link or button next to it, no?

The second and third marking criteria are Readability and Scrolling, which are assessed by checking the website’s font size and viewport settings. A mobile-friendly website, like all websites, should have its contents clearly visible without having the user to manually zoom and scroll horizontally on the web page to view its contents.

Last, but not least, the fourth requirement is Compatibility. From my point of view, this is the main decisive criteria to take into account. Web developers should try to make an effort to drop all external or third-party dependencies such as flash content and plug-ins and look into fully exploiting HTML5 that not only has a variety of support, but is also cross-platform compatible.

While the criteria mentioned above shaped the algorithm, some polishing was needed as well. Thanks to a lot of feedback received from users, it was determined that they prefer to use mobile-friendly websites in contrast to non-mobile-friendly ones. With this in mind, Microsoft has made a few changes to the website rankings, shifting mobile-friendly websites towards the top as much as possible. However, this does not mean you will be fed a lot of mobile-friendly websites that have no business with what you are looking for.

Microsoft noted that sites which are “highly relevant to the given query that are not yet mobile-friendly will not get penalized”, which essentially means you will still be getting websites with the most relevant information for your search at the top. But if there’s a mobile-friendly page among them, you will have that given to you first.

More information about Bing’s new mobile-friendly algorithm can be found over at Bing Blogs. So how likely are you to switch to Bing as your default search engine?

Image courtesy of Bing Blogs

Google’s Self Driving Cars May Become ‘Too Safe’ for Urban Areas

Google has worked on improving the safety features of their self-driving cars for some time now. Despite that, the cars have seen their fair share of accidents, all of which the company claims it was not the fault of their cars.

Some accidents involved other cars hitting the rear of the self-driving vehicles, others hitting them sideways and there is word of a case where a self-driving car was hit by a driver who went through a red light. This means that Google has successfully achieved their goal of providing state of the art algorithms that are more attentive than a human. However, other consequences may arise from these ultra-safe rules.

Google and other manufacturers that activate in the autonomous vehicles market have managed to prove that self-driving cars are a lot safer than humans. But sometimes, a human’s recklessness may prove to come in handy in urban environments. For example, in crowded areas, a self-driving car’s algorithm may keep the car from ‘pushing forward’ as people continuously walk in front of it.

In the above situations, a human would get tired of waiting at some point and push forward. This does not mean that he will hit other people, rather than he knows that people would jump out-of-the-way and stop. Also, if a pedestrian is not looking and still heading in front of the car, a human can quickly react and stop the vehicle to prevent the accident.

This is just one of many situations a computer is not capable of understanding and coping with, marking it as the last milestone between the extremely safe and ‘shy’ cars that are just entering the market and the fully fledged autonomous vehicles we see in sci-fi movies. So having said all of the above, would you troll a self-driving vehicle on the streets?

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Google Search Algorithm to Favour Mobile-Friendly Sites

Google Co-Founder Larry Page

From 21st April, Google will make a major change to its search algorithm which will favour mobile-friendly websites in its search rankings when viewed from a smartphone or tablet. When a mobile user uses Google to search, the algorithm will push sites that feature large text, easy-to-click links, and resizable content further up in the ranking.

With the recent boom in smartphone and tablet sales, mobile devices account for approximately 60% of online traffic. Google announced the move back in February, giving website owners plenty of notice to make the appropriate changes so they don’t get penalised under the new system.

However, Itai Sadan, CEO of website building company Duda, is worried that smaller sites will still miss out. Sadan told Business Insider, “Come April 21, a lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web.”

“Google has always been about relevancy, and content is king,” he added. “But that’s changing. Yes, they’re saying content is still extremely important, but user experience is just as important. It’s not sufficient to have all the right content — if people come to your site and the content is there but it’s not readable, that’s not good.”

It’s not just small businesses that will be affected, though. Marketing specialist Somo has revealed that major sites, such as American Apparel, The Daily Mail, and Ryanair will suffer ranking drops unless they implement the appropriate changes by tomorrow.

Thank you Business Insider for providing us with this information.

Is Google Messing With Your Shopping Search Results?

Do you use Google as your default search engine? You do? Have you ever thought that everything you read, stumble upon or even buy are just imposed on you? Well, it might be true! At least according to the EU’s antitrust commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, who plans on fining the search giant for its manipulative approach.

Vestager seems to be convinced that Google is intentionally manipulating search results to redirect and serve its own interest rather than give back relevant search results that users seek when they use the search giant. To make things clear, the EU is not interested in the company revealing its secret search algorithm, but wants to make sure people get what want, not what they are fed.

“We don’t want to interfere with screen design, how things are presented on the screen as such or the algorithm. What we are concerned about is that people see the most relevant shopping results,” Vestager stated.

There have been some allegations that Google is on the anti-competitive run with its Android operating system as well, but the EU is more focused on its search engine due to the fact that it received a formal complaint regarding the accusations.

“Smartphones, tablets and similar devices play an increasing role in many people’s daily lives and I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anticompetitive constraints imposed by any company,” said Vestager.

Google apparently finds this as “very disappointing news” and is now seeking to reassure the antitrust commission it is within legal boundaries with its operations. But let’s think about it, Google really reached a position where it can even dictate how people think or feel everyday. I mean, what’s the first page loaded by every browser nowadays? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with G and ends with E and sometimes it drops on you when you hit this link.

Thank you The Register for providing us with this information

Facebook AI – How It Will Effect The Content You Consume

AI is a big focus for companies like Facebook. Every time you load your news feed, some kind of algorithm is working hard to curate the best content for you. Have your closest friends shared a video of their holiday that you would like, does your favourite brand have a promotion that would be interesting to you, is there a viral video clip that’s suited to your interests. One way Facebook is looking to improve this system is with the use of a neural net AI, that can scan not only images, but also video content and text, detect what kind of content is featured and categorize it to serve it up in the news feed, on other websites and even respond to natural questions and searches based around the information it has learnt.

To demonstrate this, Facebook’s team taught the AI how to detect hundreds of different sports just by showing it a short clip. It was able to pick them out and categorise them, which could help improve upon the current and rather limited tag based system we use for videos.

A further demonstration involved showing the system the books of Lord of the Rings. The AI generated a short interpretation of the events of the story and in the real-time demo, they were able to ask questions about what happened, such as “where was the ring before it was destroyed?” and “where if Frodo now?” and the system responded correctly. This could have a huge impact on the way we navigate content and conduct searches on websites; I’m looking forward to seeing how this platform develops.

Check out the rest of our F8 coverage here.

Computer Scientists Create ‘Unbeatable’ Poker Algorithm

A team of researchers has created the perfect poker player, in the form of a computer algorithm. Scientist Michael Bowling, with his colleagues at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and Finnish software developer Oskari Tammelin, created the Cepheus Poker Project to develop a system to solve heads up fixed-limit Texas Hold’em, a variation on poker. They succeeded, creating a virtual player that boasts a perfect game, including the ability to bluff.

Bowling claims that bluffing is pure maths, a part of game theory, contrary to the common belief that it is instinctive, saying, “Bluffing falls out of the mathematics of the game.”

Although the Cepheus program is not guaranteed to win every single hand, the algorithm invariably wins the game in the long run.

Eric Jackson, a computer-poker researcher in Menlo Park, California, said, “The strategy the authors have computed is so close to perfect as to render pointless further work on this game. I think that it will come as a surprise to experts that a game this big has been solved this soon.”

The algorithm is available online to any poker ace that wants to test it.

Source: Business Standard

Google Updates Search Algorithm, Demotes Piracy in Favour of Legal Content

We’ve all been told time and time again that the internet has the capacity to be the Wild West of all digital content, potentially harming the back pockets of media groups and movie studios. Google today took new steps in measures against pirated content available on the web, and has updated its search algorithm to systematically remove and demote rankings of illegitimately sourced content in favour of legal content. The changes come in addition to steps Google took back in 2012 to down-rank companies and sites which received a large quantity of valid DMCA notices.

Whenever a user inputs terms such as “free” or “watch” and searching – Google’s algorithm will now point toward legally obtainable sources of the material. The testing for the update is currently live and running in North America, but the company says it’s expecting to push an international expansion of the updated algorithm worldwide sometime in the near future. On top of this, Google says it’s also removing a number of auto-complete terms from the engine as well  that are similarly aimed at demoting any auto-complete topic that directs towards pirated content.

Thanks to Google for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of The Times.

A.I. Company DeepMind Acquired By Google, Should We Expect Cyborgs Now?

Google is in process of acquiring artificial intelligence company DeepMind based in London for a reported price of $400 million. It is said that Google confirmed the acquisition, but they did not specify a price for the deal.

DeepMind has been founded by games prodigy and neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, along with Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman. The company specializes in artificial intelligence for a variety of products, ranging from games, simulations, to e-commerce and even websites. It is also said that CEO Larry Page led the deal himself, due to the fact that not only the company has potential in the long run, but also Hassabis is known for his particular talent, dubbed “probably the best games player in history” by Mind Sports Olympiad.

Judging from LinkedIn, the company is quite young, having around 3 years, and it specializes mainly in building learning algorithms. Sources have said that Founders Fund , along with Horizons Venture are major investors in DeepMind, while having Skype and Kazaa developer Jaan Tallinn as an investor and advisor. Also, sources have said that DeepMind has a team of at least 50 people and has secured more than $50 million in funding. DeepMind is described as “the last large independent company with a strong focus on artificial intelligence,” and is said it competed with companies like Google, Facebook and Baidu for talent.

It makes sense for Google to be interested in such a company with great potential, and think of the possibilities with the AI algorithms! Why, not long ago Google acquired Boston Dynamics, a company that specializes in robotics. Whether they intent to implement the learning algorithms in their giant search engine or their newly acquired ‘toys’, we would expect to see ‘revolutionary’ results from Google in the near future.

Thank you re/code for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of re/code

Complex Algorithm To Accurately Identify Objects Including Human Faces

Computers that can identify objects seem a thing from the future. Apparently, it is more close to reality than any of us think. Birmingham Young University from Provo, US – has found a way to make computers identify objects without the need of a human helping hand.

According to Dah-Jye Lee, BUY engineer, algorithms have become so advanced that they can make a piece of software identify objects by themselves from images and even videos. Lee is the founder of this algorithm and from what he describes, it is based on the computer making decisions on its own based on the shapes identified on the images or videos analysed.

“In most cases, people are in charge of deciding what features to focus on and they then write the algorithm based off that,” said Lee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. “With our algorithm, we give it a set of images and let the computer decide which features are important.”

Lee’s algorithm is said to learn on its own, just as a child learns to distinguish a cat from a dog. He explains that instead of teaching a child the difference between the latter, we are better off showing the two images and let the child distinguish them on his or her own. Just like a child, the algorithm has been shown four image datasets from CalTech, namely motorbikes, faces, airplanes and cars, having the algorithm output 100% accurate results on each of the datasets. However, the algorithm had a lower rate of success with human faces, being able to accurately distinguish 99.4%, but still gave a better result than other object recognition systems.

“It’s very comparable to other object recognition algorithms for accuracy, but, we don’t need humans to be involved,” Lee said. “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time. You just run it.”

Professor Lee mentioned that the highly complicated algorithm may be used in a variety of tasks, from detecting invasive fish species to identifying flaws in produce such as apples on a production line. However, the complexity of the algorithm can go way beyond that.

Thank you Birmingham Young University for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Birmingham Young University

Google Implements New “Hummingbird” Search Algorithm

On Google’s 15th anniversary, they introduced a new search algorithm to its giant search engine. According to Google, this change to the core algorithm is its biggest since the launch of Caffeine in 2010. Google senior vice president, Amit Singhal, stated that while page ranking and indexing must work together in a search engine, Caffeine was focused more on the ranking side. Hummingbird is more about indexing. “Hummingbird gave us an opportunity after years of building to rethink how we use the power of these things,” Singhal stated.

Any changes to Google’s search rankings can have big ramifications due to their steer of a lot of the Internet’s traffic. Google hosts 2 out of 3 search requests in the U.S. and handles even more volume in parts of Europe. The change would also impact the price of Google ads, driving the prices up to demoted websites looking for marketing messages which can boost their ratings.

Google revealed the new search algorithm on Thursday at an event held in Menlo Park, California, where CEO Larry Page and co-founder Sergey Brin started the company 15 years ago.

Thank you Huffingtonpost for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Google.