The Aspiring Nerd — Issue #8

Let’s diversify the AI community before it gets biased, data visualization is not dead and data is obviously the new oil.

Around the web

🤓 Melinda Gates and Fei-Fei Li Want to Liberate AI from “Guys With Hoodies”

Melinda Gates and Fei-Fei Li discuss the promises of artificial intelligence, and how to diversify the field.

If we don’t get women and people of color at the table — real technologists doing the real work — we will bias systems. Trying to reverse that a decade or two from now will be so much more difficult, if not close to impossible.

⛽ Fuel of the future: Data is giving rise to a new economy

The parallels between oil and data are fascinating. See how our world revolves around data and the challenges that come with it.

Data are to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change. Flows of data have created new infrastructure, new businesses, new monopolies, new politics and — crucially — new economics. Digital information is unlike any previous resource; it is extracted, refined, valued, bought and sold in different ways. It changes the rules for markets and it demands new approaches from regulators.

💥 This is how Google will collapse

Interesting perspective on how Google will need to reinvent itself to survive. I don’t agree with everything but it’s definitely worth reading.

Reporting from the very near, post-Google future. Google made almost all its money from ads. It was a booming business — until it wasn’t. Here’s how things looked right before the most spectacular crash the technology industry had ever seen.


Koepsell elaborates on the ethical problems around genomics and how the blockchain could help secure the privacy of people getting their DNA tested.

Complicating the privacy issue is the fact that there’s no clear legal owner of genomic data; that data was found to be unpatentable and, because it lacks authorship or a creator (legally), cannot be copyrighted. The reason bitcoin is so useful and valuable is that the blockchain creates a distributed ledger: an immutable, distributed record which is also nearly impossible to hack. The owner of a bitcoin account has absolute control over their asset.

😬 Someone scraped 40,000 Tinder selfies to make a facial dataset for AI experiments

Tinder’s API seems pretty easy to exploit but privacy issues aside, this is very interesting data!

A user of Kaggle, a platform for machine learning and data science competitions which was recently acquired by Google, has uploaded a facial data set he says was created by exploiting Tinder’s API to scrape 40,000 profile photos from Bay Area users of the dating app — 20,000 apiece from profiles of each gender.

🤖 This Computer Language Is Feeding Hacker Values into Young Minds

I learned programming with Logo, then Basic and Turbo Pascal but I wish we had Scratch back then!

At 10, Scratch is a popular tool to teach kids programming. But its real glory is how it imparts lessons in sharing, logic, and hackerism.

Web development / Web design

📈 Data Visualization “Versus” UI and Data Science

Interesting take on the how data visualization relates to its “adjacent fields” that are UX/UI and data science.

Effective data visualization design borrows from principles of good UI design. This is true for static as well as interactive data vis. Static infographics and chart makers borrow from UI and visual design techniques, for sure: layout, typography, color, content design, contrast, etc.

📊 How (and why) to use D3 with React

If you’re planning to build a React app with more than a few simple data visualizations, you’ll probably want to pick an approach that:

  • is well-documented, proven, and under active development
  • has a relatively expressive interface– meaning it lets you write custom data graphics with just enough verbosity to express what you want
  • plays well with React (…) doesn’t need to directly mutate the DOM
  • gives you plenty of freedom to customize it

🖼 Storyboarding in UX Design

We synthesise our research into user stories and process flows. We communicate our thinking and solutions to our teams with (…) personas and wireframes. But somewhere in all of this lies the real people for whom we’re designing. In order to make our product better, we must understand what’s going on in their worlds and how our product can make their lives better. And that’s where storyboards come in.

🏗 Don’t mess up your grid like Medium

If you like (or struggle with) grids, this is for you!

When we first created covers for our Medium articles, we noticed that on different pages, they are cropped with a lot of different aspect ratios.

👩🏼‍🏫 We asked 20,000 people who they are and how they’re learning to code

More than 20,000 people responded to our 2017 New Coder Survey, granting researchers an unprecedented glimpse into how adults are learning to code.

  • 62% of them live outside the US
  • their average age is 28 years old
  • 19% are women
  • They’ve been coding for an average of 21 months
  • 25% have already landed their first developer job

Bits and pieces

234 Android Applications Are Currently Using Ultrasonic Beacons to Track Users and that sucks. You probably shouldn’t trust your insurance’s GPS beacon. Also take a look at Google’s “Fuchsia”, their mysterious third operating system but this time it’s based on Linux! You have a great startup idea? Check first if someone hasn’t done it and failed.

Experiment with the Instacart Online Grocery Shopping Dataset 2017 (anonymized dataset of over 3 million grocery orders from more than 200,000 Instacart users). Google has successfully defended itself from a $9 billion lawsuit from Oracle.

And finally, make sure you read why the Next 6 Days Are Critical to the Internet’s Future (yes, yes, a net neutrality article again).