The Aspiring Nerd — Issue #12

Crypto Tokens will blow your mind, we know when artificial intelligence will replace humans and hackers hijacked satellite-based Internet links. On a brighter note, Taylor Swift is putting her albums back on all streaming services and we all thank her! 🎉

Around the web

Top-Secret NSA Report Details Russian Hacking Effort Days Before 2016 Election

Fascinating account of how Russia might have tampered with the U.S. election infrastructure. I feel like we’re back in the Cold War era ! Also check out this Washington Post article of the impact this kind of leak might have on whistleblowers.

Russian military intelligence executed a cyberattack on at least one U.S. voting software supplier and sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials just days before last November’s presidential election, according to a highly classified intelligence report obtained by The Intercept.

Be Careful Celebrating Google’s New Ad Blocker

If you still had any doubt as why it matters. Keep in mind that the ads blocked would match the Coalition for Better Ads standards. Who’s in the Coalition you ask? Mainly Facebook and Google, accounting for 99 percent of all digital ad revenue growth in the United States last year, and 77 percent of gross ad spending.

Google, a data mining and extraction company that sells personal information to advertisers, has hit upon a neat idea to consolidate its already-dominant business: block competitors from appearing on its platforms.

Algorithms aren’t racist. Your skin is just too dark.

Check out the fascinating Illuminate Series about artificial intelligence biases and it’s impact on everyday people.

The rise of artificial intelligence necessitates careful attention to inadvertent bias that can perpetuate discriminatory practices and exclusionary experiences for people of all shades.

Bitcoin mining companies face shutdown in southwest China

Bitcoin mining companies have been shut down or relocated in Mabian Yi Autonomous County and it’s really weird and unclear why.

The shutdown is made more puzzling by the fact that the value of Bitcoins has exceeded 10,000 RMB ($1,469.6), and many exchange platforms are battling for mining resources after the Central Bank of China banned the deposit and withdrawal of Bitcoins.


Banks Eager For Artificial Intelligence, But Slow To Adopt

Why are banks — who are typically the most capable and tech-intensive players in the business world — struggling so much with AI?

To be fair, banks have employed AI — at least in rudimentary forms — for decades. Computer automation has been used by the financial industry for back office and customer-facing operations since the 1960s. AI investments picked up in the 1980s in the form of expert systems. Despite this strong IT heritage, many banks lack the agility to fundamentally transform their business with modern artificial intelligence.

Machine learning evolution (infographic)

Very interesting and clear picture of the evolution of machine learning.

What will it take for AI to become mainstream in business? The convergence of different research approaches — and lots of human intelligence.

Experts Predict When Artificial Intelligence Will Exceed Human Performance

Fascinating to see how industries get conquered by artificial intelligence at different paces.

Today, we have an answer of sorts thanks to the work of Katja Grace at the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford and a few pals. To find out, these guys asked the experts. They surveyed the world’s leading researchers in artificial intelligence by asking them when they think intelligent machines will better humans in a wide range of tasks. And many of the answers are something of a surprise.

Thoughts on Tokens

If you don’t know what tokens are and why it’s important, I urge you to read this. And you might want to check out Cryptoeconomics 101 too.

In 2014, we wrote that “Bitcoin is more than money, and more than a protocol. It’s a model and platform for true crowdfunding — open, distributed, and liquid all the way.” That new model is here, and it’s based on the idea of an appcoin or token: a scarce digital asset based on underlying technology inspired by Bitcoin. While indisputably frothy, as of this writing the token sector sits at a combined market cap in the tens of billions.

Crypto Tokens: A Breakthrough in Open Network Design

More token content here. See how we can counterbalance the massive proprietary platforms with open networks.

Crypto tokens — a new way to design open networks that arose from the cryptocurrency movement (…). Tokens are a breakthrough in open network design that enable: 1) the creation of open, decentralized networks that combine the best architectural properties of open and proprietary networks, and 2) new ways to incentivize open network participants, including users, developers, investors, and service providers. By enabling the development of new open networks, tokens could help reverse the centralization of the internet, thereby keeping it accessible, vibrant and fair, and resulting in greater innovation.

An overview of every Data Visualization course on the internet

Very comprehensive and in-depth list of Data Visualization courses.

Web development / Web design

How to get the most out of the JavaScript console

The console comes with several other useful methods that can add to a developer’s debugging toolkit.

You can use the console to perform some of the following tasks:

  • Output a timer to help with simple benchmarking
  • Output a table to display an array or object in an easy-to-read format
  • Apply color and other styling options to the output with CSS

Dirt Cheap Recurring Payments with Stripe and AWS Lambda

If you run a small SaaS business, you need a recurring billing solution, and there are a lot of options out there (…) but what if all you want is a dirt cheap way to charge your customers each month? Here’s how you can do it nearly for free by using Stripe Checkout and AWS Lambda.

Build a simple Twitter Bot with Node.js in just 38 lines of code

Tutorials don’t have to be complicated. Together we’ll build a simple Twitter favorite bot with Node.js in just 38 lines of code.You might want to check out Part 2 — Do more.

Network Protocols — Programmer’s Compendium

If you want to understand the underlying principles of networks, this is for you.

The network stack does several seemingly-impossible things. It does reliable transmission over our unreliable networks, usually without any detectable hiccups. It adapts smoothly to network congestion. It provides addressing to billions of active nodes. It routes packets around damaged network infrastructure, reassembling them in the correct order on the other side even if they arrived out of order. It accommodates esoteric analog hardware needs, like balancing the charge on the two ends of an Ethernet cable.

Bits and pieces

Check out how the printers secret tracking dots allowed FBI investigators to track down who printed classified documents that leaked last week. Russian hackers used Britney Spear’s Instagram account to conceal malware in such a clever way!

If you have a Raspberry Pi, I hope you changed your default password (and updated Samba) because there’s a malware that might use your Pi to mine cryptocurrencies. Also see how highly advanced hackers (ab)used satellites to stay under the radar.

Wordpress 4.8 “Evans” is out, check it out and update. Despite what you might have read, you can still use deep learning in (some) small data settings, if you train your model carefully. See how the Trump-Russia data machine games Google to fool americans.

There’s a new Mozilla poll and Americans from both political parties overwhelmingly support Net Neutrality. If you are still reading this, you might want to treat Facebook as the private walled garden that it is.