The Big Picture

Communications of the ACM, November 2018
By Steven M. Bellovin, Peter G. Neumann

“Cryptography is an enormously useful concept for achieving trustworthy systems and networks; unfortunately, its effectiveness can be severely limited if it is not implemented in systems with sufficient trustworthiness.

It is time to get serious about the dearth of trustworthy systems and the lack of deeper understanding of the risks that result from continuing on a business-as-usual course.”

The Big Picture Read More
28c3: The coming war on general computation

28c3: The coming war on general computation

28th Chaos Communication Congress: Behind Enemy Lines, December, 2011
By Cory Doctorow

“The last 20 years of Internet policy have been dominated by the copyright war, but the war turns out only to have been a skirmish. The coming century will be dominated by war against the general purpose computer, and the stakes are the freedom, fortune and privacy of the entire human race. The problem is twofold: first, there is no known general-purpose computer that can execute all the programs we can think of except the naughty ones; second, general-purpose computers have replaced every other device in our world.”

28c3: The coming war on general computation Read More

Using Any Surface to Realize a New Paradigm for Wireless Communications

Communications of the ACM, November 2018, Vol. 61 No. 11, Pages 30-33
By C. Liaskos, A. Tsioliaridou, et al.

“This Viewpoint introduces an approach that could tame and control these [multipath and other undesirable] effects, producing a wireless environment with software-defined electromagnetic behavior. We introduce the novel idea of HyperSurfaces, which are software-controlled metamaterials embedded in any surface in the environment.”

Using Any Surface to Realize a New Paradigm for Wireless Communications Read More

Deception, Identity, and Security: The Game Theory of Sybil Attacks

Communications of the ACM, January 2019
By William Casey, Ansgar Kellner, et al.

“Along with the low cost of minting and maintaining identities, a lack of constraints on using identities is a primary factor that facilitates adversarial innovations that rely on deception. With these factors in mind, we study the following problem: Will it be possible to engineer a decentralized system that can enforce honest usage of identity via mutual challenges and costly consequences when challenges fail?”

Deception, Identity, and Security: The Game Theory of Sybil Attacks Read More

Intelligent Systems for Geosciences: An Essential Research Agenda

Communications of the ACM, January 2019
By Yolanda Gil, Suzanne A. Pierce, et al.

“Many aspects of geosciences pose novel problems for intelligent systems research… A recently launched Research Coordination Network on Intelligent Systems for Geosciences followed a workshop at the National Science Foundation on this topic. This expanding network builds on the momentum of the NSF EarthCube initiative for geosciences, and is driven by practical problems in Earth, ocean, atmospheric, polar, and geospace sciences. Based on discussions and activities within this network, this article presents a research agenda for intelligent systems inspired by geosciences challenges.”

Intelligent Systems for Geosciences: An Essential Research Agenda Read More

The End of Encryption? NSA & FBI Seek New Backdoors Against Advice from Leading Security Experts

Democracy Now!, July 8, 2015
By Juan González & Amy Goodman
Guest: Bruce Schneier

“FBI Director James Comey is set to testify against encryption before the Senate Intelligence Committee today, as the United States and Britain push for “exceptional access” to encrypted communications. Encryption refers to the scrambling of communications so they cannot be read without the correct key or password. The FBI and GCHQ have said they need access to encrypted communications to track criminals and terrorists. Fourteen of the world’s pre-eminent cryptographers, computer scientists and security specialists have issued a paper arguing there is no way to allow the government such access without endangering all confidential data, as well as the broader communications infrastructure. We speak with one of the authors of the paper, leading security technologist Bruce Schneier..”

The End of Encryption? NSA & FBI Seek New Backdoors Against Advice from Leading Security Experts Read More

Speech Emotion Recognition: Two Decades in a Nutshell, Benchmarks, and Ongoing Trends

Communications of the ACM, May 2018
By Björn W. Schuller

“Communication with computing machinery has become increasingly ‘chatty’ these days: Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and many more dialogue systems have hit the consumer market on a broader basis than ever, but do any of them truly notice our emotions and react to them like a human conversational partner would? In fact, the discipline of automatically recognizing human emotion and affective states from speech, usually referred to as Speech Emotion Recognition or SER for short, has by now surpassed the “age of majority,” celebrating the 22nd anniversary after the seminal work of Daellert et al. in 1996—arguably the first research paper on the topic. However, the idea has existed even longer, as the first patent dates back to the late 1970s.”

Speech Emotion Recognition: Two Decades in a Nutshell, Benchmarks, and Ongoing Trends Read More

Shouldn’t We All Have Seamless Micropayments By Now?

Wired.com, January 21, 2019
By Zeynep Tufekci

“Here’s one you probably haven’t seen—and its absence from your life speaks to why the promise of the early web seems increasingly out of reach: “402 Payment Required.”

That’s right: The web’s founders fully expected some form of digital payment to be integral to its functioning, just as integral as links, web pages, and passwords. After all, without a way to quickly and smoothly exchange money, how would a new economy be able to flourish online? Of course there ought to be a way to integrate digital cash into browsing and other activities. Of course.”

Shouldn’t We All Have Seamless Micropayments By Now? Read More

Bias on the Web

Communications of the ACM, June 2018
By Ricardo Baeza-Yates

“Bias on the Web reflects both societal and internal biases within ourselves, emerging in subtler ways. This article aims to increase awareness of the potential effects imposed on us all through bias present in Web use and content. We must thus consider and account for it in the design of Web systems that truly address people’s needs.”

Bias on the Web Read More
Francisco Kjolseth - The Salt Lake Tribune - The ski slopes draw a steady stream to Big Cottonwood Canyon during a recent weekend morning.

Traffic in Utah’s Cottonwood Canyons Getting Worse

The Salt Lake Tribune, March 30, 2019
By Brian Maffly

“On powder days, Rafferty and nearly every other Alta and Snowbird skier not staying on the mountain, spent more time in cars than on the skis….’While the ski areas have adjusted to accommodate growth on their mountains,’ Maughan said, ‘the road and parking capacities are the same as they were 15 years ago.’”

Traffic in Utah’s Cottonwood Canyons Getting Worse Read More

Getting Hooked on Tech

Communications of the ACM, June 2018, Vol. 61 No. 6, Pages 18-19
By Logan Kugler

“Facebook and Google lead the way in this arena. Facebook allows users to customize their personal profile to their liking and indicate their interests by engaging with content. Every reaction a user has to a post teaches Facebook’s algorithms his/her preferences; these algorithms then serve more content that even better matches the user’s preferences.

The result? The user visits and revisits the site, staying for longer, making them a richer target for advertising.”

Getting Hooked on Tech Read More
Alexa, I Want Answers

Amazon Alexa and the Search for the One Perfect Answer

Wired.com, February 18, 2019
By James Vlahos

“Reaching position zero requires a wholly different strategy than conventional SEO. The importance of putting just the right keywords on a web page, for instance, is declining. Instead, SEO gurus try to think of the natural-language phrases that users might say—like “What are the top-rated hybrid cars?”—and incorporate them, along with concise answers, on sites. The hope is to produce the perfect bit of content that the AI will extract and read aloud.”

Amazon Alexa and the Search for the One Perfect Answer Read More
The Wizard of the Wasatch (WoW)

The Wizard of the Wasatch (WoW)

Bob Athey is the Wizard of the Wasatch. His website is “Snow and avalanche conditions in the Wasatch range including photos, diagrams, snow pit graphs and trip reports in winter. Images of wildflowers, goats and other wildlife, changing season leaves, and trip reports from hikes and runs in the summer and fall.”

Spend some time poking around his site. You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts. Here too is a collection of articles and videos featuring the WoW.

The Wizard of the Wasatch (WoW) Read More