• Researchers Accurately Predicted the Future of a Quantum System.

    A team of physicists at the University of Sydney have successfully demonstrated the possibility of using big data and machine learning to accurately predict the future of a quantum system. These predictions enabled the researchers to perform actions that prevented the quantum system from breaking down in a big step forward for practical applications of quantum systems.

  • This "Genderless Nipples" Account is Throwing Off Instagram's Algorithm .

    Genderless Nipples posts up-close pictures of people's nipples, making it unclear if they belong to men and women. This clever strategy completely bamboozles Instagram's algorithm for n00dz detection so sometimes when it deletes pictures off Genderless Nippples' account it ends up deleting pictures of a dude's nipples.

    About time someone starts an arms race against the nipple-censorship bots, I'd say.

  • How the Chinese Government Fabricates Social Media Posts for Strategic Distraction, not Engaged Argument.

    The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000 people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim that these so-called "50c party" posts vociferously argue for the government's side in political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime's strategic objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims, we show that the Chinese regime's strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to distract the public and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China, the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime.

    The distraction instead of reaction point is very interesting in this context.

  • The New Gold Rush? Wall Street Wants your Data.

    A few months ago, Foursquare achieved an impressive feat by predicting, ahead of official company results, that Chipotle's Q1 2016 sales would be down nearly 30%. Because it captures geo-location data from both check-ins and visits through its apps, Foursquare was able to extrapolate foot-traffic stats that turned out to be very accurate predictors of financial performance.

    That a social media company could be building a data asset of immense value to Wall Street is part of an accelerating trend known as "alternative data". As just about everything in our lives is getting sensed and captured by technology, financial services firms have been turning their attention to startups, with the hope of mining their data to extract the type of gold nuggets that will enable them to beat the market.


Data Links is a periodic blog post published on Sundays (specific time may vary) which contains interesting links about data science, machine learning and related topics. You can subscribe to it using the general blog RSS feed or this one, which only contains these articles, if you are not interested in other things I might publish.

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