Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wisdom Of The Week

Professor Ashok Goel shares the much need optimism on the future of AI:

Many philosophers and scientists assert that ethics are a part of intelligence. Human intelligence and ethics have gradually co-evolved into higher ethical values such as the Gandhian notion of non-violence. Thoughtful science fiction writers such as Arthur C. Clarke have made similar observations about extra-terrestrial intelligence: if we ever do encounter superhuman aliens in the years and decades ahead, Clarke has argued, they too will have superhuman ethics and likely will be benevolent towards humans.

The same arguments apply to AI: if robots ever do evolve into superhuman intelligence, they likely would have superhuman ethics, too. Like most humans, they will have learned from experience that it is useful to be ethical because it aids cooperation and robots are valued for their collaboration and productivity. They too will have emotional needs to be accepted and admired, and they too will feel the pressure of social rules and cultural norms. Intelligence, ethics and values, emotions and feelings, society and culture, all go together.

There is little prospect for human-level or superhuman intelligence in a society or a species without correspondingly high-level ethics, emotions, and culture – a point that many critics of future AI miss.

Quote of the Day

There are ultimately only two possible adjustments to life; one is to suit our lives to principles; the other is to suit principles to our lives. If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live. The method of adjusting moral principles to the way men live is just a perversion of the order of things.

- Fulton J. Sheen

Friday, August 28, 2015

Quote of the Day

I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that's your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don't contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you're not thinking.

- Malcolm Gladwell

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Quote of the Day

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

- Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Quote of the Day

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. in the question.

- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (Modern Library)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Quote of the Day

We are always haunted by the myth of our potential, of what we might have it in ourselves to be or do… We share our lives with the people we have failed to be.


Our lives become an elegy to needs unmet and desires sacrificed, to possibilities refused, to roads not taken. The myth of our potential can make of our lives a perpetual falling-short, a continual and continuing loss, a sustained and sometimes sustaining rage.

- Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life by Adam Phillips

Monday, August 24, 2015

Quote of the Day

One lesson of history is that religion has many lives, and a habit of resurrection. How often in the past have God and religion died and been reborn! . . . Atheism ran wild in the India of Buddha's youth, and Buddha himself founded a religion without a god; after his death Buddhism developed a complex theology including gods, saints, and hell.

The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Aerosolve - The Secret of Airbnb’s Pricing Algorithm

To get an idea of the problem we faced, consider three different situations.

Imagine you had lived in Brazil during the last football (soccer) World Cup. Your hometown will see a huge influx of travelers from all over the world, all united by the greatest football tournament on the planet. You have a spare room in your house, and you want to meet other football lovers and make some extra cash.

For our tool to help you figure out a price, there were a few factors to consider. First, this was a once-in-a-generation event in that country, so we at Airbnb have absolutely no historical data to look at. Second, every hotel was sold out, so clearly there was a massive imbalance between supply and demand. Third, the people coming to visit already had paid immense sums for their tickets and international travel, so they’d probably be prepared to pay a lot for a room. All of that had to be considered in addition to the obvious parameters of size, number of rooms, and location.


The overall architecture of our tool was surprisingly simple to figure out: When a new host begins adding a space to our site, our system extracts what we call the key attributes of that listing, looks at other listings with the same or similar attributes in the area, finds those that are being successfully booked, factors in demand and seasonality, and bases a price tip from the median there.

The tricky part began when we tried to figure out what, exactly, the key attributes of a listing are. No two listings are the same in design or layout, there are listings in every corner of a city, and many aren’t just apartments or houses but castles and igloos. We decided that our tool would use three major types of data in setting prices: similarity, recency, and location.


These tools are generating price tips for Airbnb properties globally today. But we think it can do a lot more than just better inform potential hosts as they choose prices for their online rentals. That’s why we’ve released the machine-learning platform on which it’s based, Aerosolve, as an open-source tool. It will give people in industries that have yet to embrace machine learning an easy entry point. By clarifying what the system is doing, it will remove the fear factor and increase the adoption of these kinds of tools. So far, we’ve used it to build a system that produces paintings in a pointillist style. We’re eager to see what happens with this tool as creative engineers outside of our industry start using it.

-More Here