computer science Archive

Wrong things that programmers believe, a curated list

Kevin Deldycke has collected a “curated list” of “awesome falsehoods programmers believe in,” sorted by subject into meta, business, dates and time, emails, geography, human identity, networks, phone numbers, postal addresses and software engineering. We’ve highlighted some of these in the past — the articles about peoples’ names were a big hit during the G+ Nym Wars — but others are new to …

The malware that's pwning the Internet of Things is terrifyingly amateurish

Following the release of the sourcecode for the Mirai botnet, which was used to harness DVRs, surveillance cameras and other Internet of Things things into one of the most powerful denial-of-service attacks the internet has ever seen, analysts have gone over its sourcecode and found that the devastatingly effective malware was strictly amateur-hour, a stark commentary on the even worse security in the …

Machine-learning photo-editor predicts what should be under your brush

In Neural Photo Editing With Introspective Adversarial Networks, a group of University of Edinburgh engineers and a private research colleague describe a method for using “introspective adversarial networks” to edit images in realtime, which they demonstrate in an open project called “Neural Photo Editor” that “enhances” photos by predicting what should be under your brush. We present an interface,shown in Figure 1, …

Machine learning system can descramble pixelated/blurred redactions 83% of the time

A joint UT Austin/Cornell team has taught a machine learning system based on the free/open Torch library to correctly guess the content of pixellated or blurred redactions with high accuracy: for masked faces that humans correctly guess 0.19% of the time, the system can make a correct guess 83% of the time, when given five tries. Redaction errors have plagued data-releases since the …

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives

I’ve been writing about the work of Cathy “Mathbabe” O’Neil for years: she’s a radical data-scientist with a Harvard PhD in mathematics, who coined the term “Weapons of Math Destruction” to describe the ways that sloppy statistical modeling is punishing millions of people every day, and in more and more cases, destroying lives. Today, O’Neil brings her argument to print, with a fantastic, plainspoken, call …

The Equation Group's sourcecode is totally fugly

With the leak of exploits developed by The Equation Group, the long-secret, NSA-adjacent super-elite hacking squad — published by The Shadow Brokers, who have some extremely heterodox theories about auction design — it’s now possible to audit the source code of some of the NSA’s crown-jewel cyberweapons. Enter Stephen Checkoway from the Computer Science department at the University of Illinois at Chicago (previously, …

UK/EU security researchers: tax-free stipend to study privacy and authentication

UC London’s offering a tax-free stipend for UK/EU students to work on designing and evaluating new approaches for continuous authentication, based on a solid theoretical underpinning so as to give a high degree of confidence that the resulting decisions match expectations and requirements” as well as “ways to preserve user privacy by processing behavioural measurements on the user’s computer such that sensitive information is …

Forget Skynet: AI is already making things terrible for people who aren't rich white dudes

Kate Crawford (previously) takes to the New York Times’s editorial page to ask why rich white guys act like the big risk of machine-learning systems is that they’ll evolve into Skynet-like apex-predators that subjugate the human race, when there are already rampant problems with machine learning: algorithmic racist sentencing, algorithmic, racist and sexist discrimination, algorithmic harassment, algorithmic hiring bias, algorithmic terrorist watchlisting, algorithmic racist …

If the 2016 election is hacked, it's because no one listened to these people

Ever since the Supreme Court ordered the nation’s voting authorities to get their act together in 2002 in the wake of Bush v Gore, tech companies have been flogging touchscreen voting machines to willing buyers across the country, while a cadre computer scientists trained in Ed Felten’s labs at Princeton have shown again and again and again and again that these machines are absolutely …