”Google’s new logo is its biggest update in 16 years“ (says Fast Company) “[I]t's now using a sans-serif typeface, making it look a lot more modern and playful. The colors are also softer than they used to be. The logo bears a bit more resemblance to the logo of Google's new parent company, Alphabet, as well.” (says Verge) The Google Blog has more. And, of course, there’s an introductory doodle.
Since 2009, Google cars have been in 16 crashes, mostly fender-benders, and in every single case, the company says, a human was at fault. Researchers in the fledgling field of autonomous vehicles say that one of the biggest challenges facing automated cars is blending them into a world in which humans don’t behave by the book. These robots "have to learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture.” (SLNYT)
"If Google sees that you're searching for specific programming terms, they'll ask you to apply for a job. It's wild." "I typed 'request; and half expected to see 'Follow the white rabbit, Max.' Instead, the screen displayed a paragraph outlining a programming challenge and gave instructions on how to submit my solution. I had 48 hours to solve it, and the timer was ticking."
A fascinating article by Robert Epstein at Politico.com about Google's Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME) work, and whether and how they'd be able to influence an election. [more inside]
Larry Page announces, in a blog post, a massive restructuring of Google. Google is now a subsidiary of Larry and Sergey Brin's new company "Alphabet", and Sundar Pichai Google's new CEO.
A computational approach for obstruction-free photography takes out the chain link fence obscuring the target of your photo, removes reflections, and--this is the crazy TV show part--can even build a separate image from the reflection. It uses multiple frames and
magic math to build up the two "clean" images. [more inside]
DeepDream, Google's code for visualizing neural networks, is being used like some unholy Lovecraftian Instagram Filter to produce disturbing, surrealistic photos and videos,including upping the psychedelic ante in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Many, many of the photos and videos are Not Safe For Life, Work, or Sanity. Almost all of them are very weird, especially the food ones.
I listen to one of the two or three key brains behind the Search algorithm itself, Ben Gomes, who speaks 10 to the dozen of “natural language generation” and “deep learning networks” (and, inevitably, of the “holy grail” of answering users’ questions before they have been asked). [more inside]
According to Wired, "Paired with AI and VR, Google Earth will change the world". But just after its tenth birthday, Google Earth is already changing the world even without AI or VR, simply by giving scientists tools to map the world's problems (NYT). Google Earth Engine has become an emerging tool in environmental monitoring, conservation, water resources, regional planning, epidemiology, forestry, agriculture, climate science, and many other fields:
In 2007, not long after taking the job at Google, Askay flew to Brazil, helping an indigenous tribe, the Surui, map deforestation in their area of the Amazon, and this gave rise to a wider project called Google Earth Engine. With Earth Engine, outside developers and companies [and scientists] can use Google’s enormous network of data centers to run sweeping calculations on the company’s satellite imagery and other environmental data, a digital catalog that dates back more than 40 years.[more inside]
Better late than never? John Oliver's roughly 16-minute take on online harassment features a 20-year-old AOL commercial, a reworked version of the commercial at the end, and the news (to some of us) that victims of revenge porn may be forced to send pictures of their bodies to the US copyright office in order to get the porn taken down. Oliver's Bing joke occurs at about 13:35.
Google Photos recognizes the content of images by training neural networks. Google Research is conducting experiments on these simulated visual brains by evolving images to hyperstimulate them, creating machine hallucinations - like that image of melting squirrels that's been going around lately.
Inspired by the view from a train journey in the Netherlands, Google sheep view is a tumblr that is what it says it is. With an added outtakes section.
Underwater pics mapped. Google Maps teamed up with XL Catlin Seaview Survey, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the Chagos Conservation Trust to put together an assortment of underwater views to explore. Previously. [more inside]
Big and Weird: The Architectural Genius of Bjarke Ingels and Thomas Heatherwick
The vision outlined in these documents, an application for a major expansion of the Googleplex, its campus, is mind-boggling. The proposed design, developed by the European architectural firms of Bjarke Ingels Group and Heatherwick Studio, does away with doors. It abandons thousands of years of conventional thinking about walls. And stairs. And roofs. Google and its imaginative co-founder and chief executive, Larry Page, essentially want to take 60 acres of land adjacent to the headquarters near the San Francisco Bay, in an area called North Bayshore, and turn it into a titanic human terrarium.[more inside]
The 'hamburger' icon is over 30 years old, and it's still a mystery to many users. Unlike the magnifying glass skeuomorph, which most people recognise as meaning 'search', the three horizontal bars used to represent 'menu' (or 'there's more stuff under here that you're less likely to need') is one of the most debated UX choices in web design. [more inside]
The Words the Media Industry Prefers MeFi's own Paul Ford ( previously, a few times )writes another article about the internet and media and data and meaning.
Renowned not-evil search engine company Google just formally announced its long-rumoured MVNO: Google Fi. [more inside]
Courtesy of your dear friends at ye olde Google, here's a fun and educational interactive tour of the legendary London recording studio: Inside Abbey Road.
A new Chrome extension retrieves a work of art whenever you open a new tab. The artwork can refreshed every day or in every tab.
A group of volunteers has broken the record for most words added to Google Translate in a day. [more inside]
The Wall Street Journal reports on how Google favored its own shopping, travel services over rivals, and the U.S. antitrust probe of Google:
The 160-page critique, which was supposed to remain private but was inadvertently disclosed in an open-records request, concluded that Google’s “conduct has resulted—and will result—in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets.”Is Google an unelected superpower? A truly sinister social networking platform could manipulate public opinion even more effectively. (Previously)
Last week, a trio of Google researchers published a paper on a new artificial intelligence system dubbed FaceNet that it claims represents the most-accurate approach yet to recognizing human faces. FaceNet achieved nearly 100-percent accuracy on a popular facial-recognition dataset called Labeled Faces in the Wild. The paper.[pdf] (title song reference)
Now there is Google Feud. Alas, mugging for the camera by Steve Harvey not included.
It’s 2015—when we feel sick, fear disease, or have questions about our health, we turn first to the internet. According to the Pew Internet Project, 72 percent of US internet users look up health-related information online. But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns—confidentially, we assume—are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores.
"Instead, most current systems, almost without fail, do the opposite. Moderators responsible for content and complaints, regardless of gender, are making decisions based not just on the information they are reviewing, but on the way in which the information flows – linear, acontextual and isolated from other incidents. They are reliant, despite their best efforts, on technical systems that provide insufficient context, scale, frequency or scope. In addition, they lack specific training in trauma (their own or users) and in understanding gender-based violence. " -- "Silicon Valley sexism: why it matters that the internet is made by men, for men", by Soraya Chemaly, The New Statesman
I Find Your Lack Of Faith In Autonomous Cars Disturbing [SLMedium] (Previously on the blue.)
Use of Google Earth Pro requires a valid license key. As of January 20, 2015, Earth Pro licenses are now free.
"I want to decide what to do when. That is a major reason why I decided in 2005 to self-publish rather than chase after a record deal. I am independent because I didn’t want a bunch of men in suits deciding how I should release my music. For 10 years I have managed to bushwhack a circuitous path around them, but now I’ve got to find a way around the men in hoodies and crocs."
Cellist Zoë Keating (previously) on the new Youtube music services agreement.
Cellist Zoë Keating (previously) on the new Youtube music services agreement.
The Smithsonian Magazine reminds us that "Barns are painted red because of the physics of dying stars", summing up a more detailed post by Google employee Yonatan Zunger on the nature of stars, the atmosphere, and cheap paint found on barns.
What happens when you type google.com into your browser and press enter? [I]nstead of the usual story, we're going to try to answer this question in as much detail as possible. No skipping out on anything.
The Deep Mind of Demis Hassabis - "The big thing is what we call transfer learning. You've mastered one domain of things, how do you abstract that into something that's almost like a library of knowledge that you can now usefully apply in a new domain? That's the key to general knowledge. At the moment, we are good at processing perceptual information and then picking an action based on that. But when it goes to the next level, the concept level, nobody has been able to do that." (previously: 1,2) [more inside]
Google's balloon-based internet seems to be working. After some hiccups, one bad demo, and lots of redesign, Google's Project Loon (previously) is bringing some internet to some people in the developing world.
Fluffier socks play a crucial role. (SLS)
Fluffier socks play a crucial role. (SLS)
There are dozens of questions surrounding Magic Leap’s supposedly magical, definitely mysterious, and potentially overhyped creation. Will it be an “eyeglasses-like device,” as The Wall Street Journal has reported, or a pair of contact lenses that project images right on our eyeballs? What’s it for? Does it have practical applications? Or is it all about entertainment? And when will it be available?
If you've ever typed anything into a Google Doc, you can now play it back as if it were a movie — like traveling through time to look over your own shoulder as you write.James Somers (previously) introduces Draftback. [more inside]
This is possible because every document written in Google Docs since about May 2010 has a revision history that tracks every change, by every user, with timestamps accurate to the microsecond; these histories are available to anyone with "Edit" permissions; and I have written a piece of software that can find, decode, and rebuild the history for any given document.
The Webpage FX blog compiled a list of 13 internet "firsts," from the first email sent (1971) and the first spam, sent out to 400 people (1978), to the first photo posted online (1992) and much later, the first Instagram photo, (2010).
Google executive Alan Eustace beats Felix Baumgartner's skydiving record. It took more than two hours to hit an altitude of 135,890 feet (41,419 metres), where he separated himself from the balloon and started plummeting back to Earth. Eustace hit a top speed of 822mph during a freefall that lasted four-and-a-half minutes. [more inside]
The Solace of Oblivion by Jeffrey Toobin [The New Yorker] "In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet."
An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
Blockly Games is a series of educational games that teach programming. It is designed for children who have not had prior experience with computer programming. By the end of these games, players are ready to use conventional text-based languages.
Here's how one small company is slowly, surely beating its way into the most monopolized category in technology: Inside DuckDuckGo, Google's Tiniest, Fiercest Competitor.
Inside Google's Secret Drone Delivery Programme The Australian test flight and 30 others like it conducted in mid-August are the culmination of the first phase of Project Wing, a secret drone program that’s been running for two years at Google X, the company’s whoa-inducing, long-range research lab.