RIP Kalman

Kalman died at the age of 86. RIP, Kalman.

Renowned Hungarian Scientist, Inventor Of The “Kálmán filter” Rudolf Kálmán Dies Aged 86

Sexual harassment in academia

I came across the following post in (thanks to Ananda Ghosh). It is the story of a female scientist who was harassed by a senior male colleague. It is a must-read, specially if you are in academia.

The subject of harassment (sexual or not) is not discussed openly in academia. Most academics are not trained at all to handle these types of situations. But, these types of harassments is not rare, mostly because there is a huge power imbalance in academia; your supervisors can potentially ruin your career if they want to (and it also works the other way round in some cases). Such an imbalance creates an atmosphere that enables exploitation, and the least we can do is to be aware of it.

AlphaGo: Mastering the ancient game of Go with Machine Learning

This is amazing!

This work (and many other works by DeepMind researchers) show that reinforcement learning might play an important role for AI. The open question (for me), however, is to design similar systems that can learn from a small set of independent data (or a large set of dependent data). In particular, can we use machine learning algorithms to sequentially select appropriate data to train intelligent machines?

You can also read Gary Marcus‘ (who is the co-founder of Geometric intelligence) comments here.

“Share your data, please.”

I read this article (on Mark Crowley’s twitter feed) about a ‘dramatic generic discovery’ about schizophrenia. My favourite line from the article is the following:

“This could not have been done five years ago,” said Hyman. “This required the ability to reference a very large dataset . …When I was [NIMH] director, people really resisted collaborating. They were still in the Pharaoh era. They wanted to be buried with their data.”

I strongly agree. I still see this trend in neuroscience and other medical fields; most researchers are reluctant to share their data. To tell you the truth, it makes sense. They probably invest a lot in getting this data and they would first like to exploit the data before giving it out to the world.

But, this is obviously harmful to science. Data-science experts rarely get access to good medical data, and therefore may not develop methodologies useful to scientific fields. Instead, we continue to solve problems that involve selling movies and recommending restaurants. Not that there is anything wrong with that :), but many of us prefer to work on applications that are a bit more useful to the world.


Machine learning for economics

Very interesting article about how machine learning is changing economics, by focusing more on data-driven methods rather than math-driven philosophies. The article is quite balanced in its view that Machine learning faces difficulties on finding causal relationships, but it still might be more useful than `unverified’ conjectures.

Stolen from Cedric Archambeau’s Facebook post.