The Best and the Brightest

Spoke to a brilliant machine learning scientist recently, among the smartest I’ve ever met, and I found out they were doing … optimization on affinity programs. It was depressing. 

“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”
– Jeff Hammerbacher (quoted in Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

On the Merits of Diverse Stupid

People overestimate the desirability of stupid people being uniformly stupid in the same way about the same things. Like in all ecosystems, the diversity of stupidity in most countries, and in this one in particular, is a source of perverse resilience. 

The Drowned Giant

Feels appropriately surreal today:

On the morning after the storm the body of a drowned giant was washed ashore on the beach five miles to the northwest of the city.
– J.G. Ballard, The Drowned Giant (1964)

Fun with Classifying Things

I’m doing some work classifying proper names, and I had cause today to see if the algorithm I was using knew whether “Jonas Brothers” and “One Direction” were bands. It handled the former fine, but not so much the latter. This seems important.

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Relatedly, and perhaps more importantly, it thinks Kanye West is an airport, which is … interesting!

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More on this project later, obv.