Opinions

September 15, 2017

The more I have learned, the less convinced I have become that there is anything special about the human brain which cannot eventually be replicated in a machine. If one wants to claim that humans are intrinsically more special then ANYTHING which could ever be engineered, I believe the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate this cl... View More >

May 21, 2017

I find that the broad media discussion of machine learning models, algorithmic decision making, and artificial intelligence is written by some very ill informed commentators on the subject. I do believe this is an important topic. We covered some of these ideas in episodes like Auditing Algorithms with Christian Sandvig and Predictive Policing with Kristian Lum. It's a central theme in the widely discussed Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil<... View More >

April 2, 2017

I've heard this argument many times from people I have intellectual respect for. The claim says that if a universe is able to produce a machine that simulates reality, then it's extremely likely that the world we live in is, in fact, a simulat... View More >

April 1, 2017

Companies are frequently searching for ways to reward and celebrate their best employees beyond monetary compensation. A notable employee might be rewarded with a special perk like a reserved parking spot or a paid trip to a conference of their cho... View More >

March 7, 2017

In our recent episode on The Data Refuge Project, guest Margaret Janz shared many reasons why data can disappear. An embarassing picture from one's youth posted to the internet can make a person feel as though information is permanent and difficult to erase. It's a useful exercise to consider the consequences of information being permanent before posting to the internet, the reality, information is quite frag... View More >

February 18, 2017
Ip Address Honeypot

by Kyle Polich

On a recent episode of the Criminal podcast, they mentioned an interesting case I was unaware of. Apparently, Patrick McDermott, in a presumed attempt to escape debt, faked his own death and fled to Mexico. From the Wikipedia page, it sounds like there may be some doubt about whether or not he is alive, however, a detail in the case is particularly interesting to... View More >

February 15, 2017

I recently had someone reach out to me for advice on using recurrent neural networks to help them make stock picks. Although this idea has some intuitive appeal, I ultimately think the argument is specious. I'll first discuss the merits and then cover why I advised this person to spend their time elsewh... View More >

February 12, 2017
Retractions

by Kyle Polich

A number of controversies related to retractions in academic journals have occurred in recent years. Two in particular come to m... View More >

January 22, 2017

As a computer scientist, I try to size up most problems in terms of their computational complexity. For those unfamiliar with the topic, this basically means trying to determine how much effort would be required to compute a solution given the size of the input s... View More >

January 20, 2017

I got a message from a listener helping a non-profit leverage machine learning to help optimize their donor outreach. From what I understand, charities in general experience very long tailed behavior from donors - most make a single donation, and a small population of donors make regular and major contributi... View More >

January 16, 2017

I've heard debates in which the fallacy of argument from popularity is used as if it was logic. I must admit, I'm tempted to use this one from time to time. When I haven't the resources or interest in verifying something, the fact that many others have arrived at that conclusion does seem like a reasonable way to adopt a position, even if it isn't strictly logic ba... View More >

January 3, 2017
Appeal to Authority

by Kyle Polich

I often encounter the appeal to authority fallacy in conversation. This fallacy describes any arguement in the form "X is true because Y says ... View More >

December 28, 2016

Certain things are inevitable. We're going to have automated vehicles within my lifetime. We are going to have a pedestrian killed by being hit by a self driving car within my lifet... View More >

December 26, 2016

In the past year, I started paying to have Data Skeptic transcripts produced. These help the content reach a wider audience in numerous ways and make the content cite-able on Wikipedia. I've interviewed many experts who made original statements not otherwise found on the Internet right here on Data Skeptic. For that reason alone, allowing that content to be cite-able is import... View More >

December 18, 2016

As with all writing file in the /opinions section of this blog, this is strictly my thoughts on a subject and lack any formal empirical backing. These are just conclusions that I have arrived at through roughly the logic process outlined herein. I allow myself a lose leash on conjectors. As always, I gladly welcome ideas to the contr... View More >

November 26, 2016

If you are not yet familiar with HTTP status codes, I'll give a quick primer, but the detailed specification from w3 can be found here<... View More >