Monthly Archives: April 2018

Phil 4.12.18

7:00 – 5:00 ASRC MKT/BD

  • Downloaded my FB DB today. Honestly, the only thing that seems excessive is the contact information
  • Interactive Semantic Alignment Model: Social Influence and Local Transmission Bottleneck
    • Dariusz Kalociński
    • Marcin Mostowski
    • Nina Gierasimczuk
    • We provide a computational model of semantic alignment among communicating agents constrained by social and cognitive pressures. We use our model to analyze the effects of social stratification and a local transmission bottleneck on the coordination of meaning in isolated dyads. The analysis suggests that the traditional approach to learning—understood as inferring prescribed meaning from observations—can be viewed as a special case of semantic alignment, manifesting itself in the behaviour of socially imbalanced dyads put under mild pressure of a local transmission bottleneck. Other parametrizations of the model yield different long-term effects, including lack of convergence or convergence on simple meanings only.
  • Starting to get back to the JuryRoom app. I need a better way to get the data parts up and running. This tutorial seems to have a minimal piece that works with PHP. That may be for the best since this looks like a solo effort for the foreseeable future
  • Proposal
    • Cut implementation down to proof-of-concept?
    • We are keeping the ASRC format
    • Got Dr. Lee’s contribution
    • And a lot of writing and figuring out of things

Phil 4.11.18

7:00 – 5:00 ASRC MKT

  • Fixed the quotes in Simon’s Anthill
  • Ordered Multiagent Systems: Algorithmic, Game-Theoretic, and Logical Foundations by Yoav Shoham.
  • Read more about SNM detection
  • Meeting with Aaron and T about aligning dev plan
  • More writing. We got a week extension!
    • Triaged exec summary
    • Triaged Transformational
  • Introducing TensorFlow Probability
    • At the 2018 TensorFlow Developer Summit, we announced TensorFlow Probability: a probabilistic programming toolbox for machine learning researchers and practitioners to quickly and reliably build sophisticated models that leverage state-of-the-art hardware. You should use TensorFlow Probability if:
      • You want to build a generative model of data, reasoning about its hidden processes.
      • You need to quantify the uncertainty in your predictions, as opposed to predicting a single value.
      • Your training set has a large number of features relative to the number of data points.
      • Your data is structured — for example, with groups, space, graphs, or language semantics — and you’d like to capture this structure with prior information.
      • You have an inverse problem — see this TFDS’18 talk for reconstructing fusion plasmas from measurements.
    • TensorFlow Probability gives you the tools to solve these problems. In addition, it inherits the strengths of TensorFlow such as automatic differentiation and the ability to scale performance across a variety of platforms: CPUs, GPUs, and TPUs.

Phil 4.10.18

7:00 – 5:00 ASRC MKT

  • Incorporating Wajanat’s changes
  • Discovered the csquotes package!
  • Meeting with Drew
    • Nice chat. Basically, “use the databases!”
    • Also found this:
      • A Mechanism for Reasoning about Time and Belief
        • Hideki Isozaki
        • Yoav Shoham (Twitter)
        • Several computational frameworks have been proposed to maintain information about the evolving world, which embody a default persistence mechanism; examples include time maps and the event calculus. In multi-agent environments, time and belief both play essential roles. Belief interacts with time in two ways: there is the time at which something is believed, and the time about which it is believed. We augment the default mechanisms proposed for the purely temporal case so as to maintain information not only about the objective world but also about the evolution of beliefs. In the simplest case, this yields a two dimensional map of time, with persistence along each dimension. Since beliefs themselves may refer to other beliefs, we have to think of a statement referring to an agent’s temporal belief about another agent’s temporal belief ( a nested temporal belief statement). It poses both semantical and algorithmic problems. In this paper, we concentrate on the algorithmic aspect of the problems. The general case involves multi-dimensional maps of time called Temporal Belief Maps.
  • Register for CI 2018 – done
  • Finalize and submit paper by April 27, 2018
  • Did not get a go ahead for ONR
  • More work on the DHS proposal. Thinking about having a discussion about using latent values and clustering as the initial detection approach, and using ML as the initial simulation approach.
  • Then much banging away at keyboards. Good progress, I think
  • Neural Artistic Style Transfer: A Comprehensive Look

Phil 4.9.18

7:00 – ASRC MKT / BD

  • The Collective Intelligence 2018 paper was accepted! Now I need to start thinking about the presentation. And lodging, travel, etc.
  • Tweaking the SASO paper
  • The reasonably current version is on ArXive! Will update after submission to SASO this week.
  • This One Simple Trick Disrupts Digital Communities 
    • This paper describes an agent based simulation used to model human actions in belief space, a high-dimensional subset of information space associated with opinions. Using insights from animal collective behavior, we are able to simulate and identify behavior patterns that are similar to nomadic, flocking and stampeding patterns of animal groups. These behaviors have analogous manifestations in human interaction, emerging as solitary explorers, the fashion-conscious, and members of polarized echo chambers. We demonstrate that a small portion of nomadic agents that widely traverse belief space can disrupt a larger population of stampeding agents. Extending the model, we introduce the concept of Adversarial Herding, where bad actors can exploit properties of technologically mediated communication to artificially create self sustaining runaway polarization. We call this condition the Pishkin Effect as it recalls the large scale buffalo stampedes that could be created by native Americans hunters. We then discuss opportunities for system design that could leverage the ability to recognize these negative patterns, and discuss affordances that may disrupt the formation of natural and deliberate echo chambers.
  • Kind of between things, so I wrote up my notes on Influence of augmented humans in online interactions during voting events
  • Looks important: Lessons Learned Reproducing a Deep Reinforcement Learning Paper
  • Proposal all day today probably
  • Fika
  • add something about base model
  • echo chamber, bad actor

Phil 4.7.18

A Tale of Two Movements: Egypt During the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street

  • Social media provides flexible platforms that play key roles in energizing collective action in movements like Arab Spring (AS) and Occupy Wall Street (OWS). By enabling individuals to display emotions broadly, social media amplify sentiments defined as shared collective emotion to supply the forces that drive change in society. This study describes how one platform, Facebook, contributed to these two different examples of political activism. Using social network analytics and text mining, we examine how Fan Page posts during the life of the movements influenced the formation of social ties by using sentimental messaging. We hypothesize a set of relationships between group cohesion and polarity of sentiments in explaining involvement. We find that the strength of social ties formed through exchanges of posts and comments influence participation, but its effect differs across two movements. We also find that negative sentiments are associated with more participation for Egypt during the AS than OWS. Our results suggest cultural differences play a major role in participation behaviors. Social media is important in engineering management, because someone who has a negative reaction to a project or a product can use these media to reach thousands of individuals and potentially turn sentiment against a project.

Prefrontal cortex as a meta-reinforcement learning system

  • Over the past twenty years, neuroscience research on reward-based learning has converged on a canonical model, under which the neurotransmitter dopamine ‘stamps in’ associations between situations, actions and rewards by modulating the strength of synaptic connections between neurons. However, a growing number of recent findings have placed this standard model under strain. In the present work, we draw on recent advances in artificial intelligence to introduce a new theory of reward-based learning. Here, the dopamine system trains another part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, to operate as its own free-standing learning system. This new perspective accommodates the findings that motivated the standard model, but also deals gracefully with a wider range of observations, providing a fresh foundation for future research.

Blade Runner And The Synthetic Panopticon

  •  There are already thousands of articles on misinformation, disinformation, and journalism flying by us every day in the US, in this very strange year, 2017. Rather than add to that, I simply intend to make several big picture observations that seem to be getting very little attention. Our present journalistic crisis comes to be not because people are merely misinformed about the truth, but because of a fundamental misunderstanding about how social power determines the construction of truth.

The disinformation order: Disruptive communication and the decline of democratic institutions

  • Many democratic nations are experiencing increased levels of false information circulating through social media and political websites that mimic journalism formats. In many cases, this disinformation is associated with the efforts of movements and parties on the radical right to mobilize supporters against centre parties and the mainstream press that carries their messages. The spread of disinformation can be traced to growing legitimacy problems in many democracies. Declining citizen confidence in institutions undermines the credibility of official information in the news and opens publics to alternative information sources. Those sources are often associated with both nationalist (primarily radical right) and foreign (commonly Russian) strategies to undermine institutional legitimacy and destabilize centre parties, governments and elections. The Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom and the election of Donald Trump in the United States are among the most prominent examples of disinformation campaigns intended to disrupt normal democratic order, but many other nations display signs of disinformation and democratic disruption. The origins of these problems and their implications for political communication research are explored.

Phil 4.6.18

7:00 – 9:00 ASRC MKT

  • Heard a San Francisco comedian refer to Google as “Mordor” to knowing laughter in the audience. That says a lot about the relationship between the SF folks and their technology nation-states to the south. It also makes me rethink what Mordor actually was…
  • More ArXive submission
    • Tips for submitting to ArXive for the first time
    • Make sure that only the used pix are uploaded
      • AdversarialHerding
      • EchoChamberAngle
      • Explore-Exploit
      • directionpreserving
      • SlewAngle
      • Explorer
      • coloredFlocking
      • stampede
      • RunawayTrace
      • populations
      • HerdingImpact
    • It may be possible to submit as a single zipped (.gz? .tar?)  package. Will try that next time
    • Submitted and pending approval.
  • Start on DHS proposal
    • Built LaTex document
    • The templates provided by ASRC are completely wrong. Fixed in the LaTex template
    • Lots of discussion and negotiation on the form of the concept. I think we’re ready to start Monday
  • Nice chat with Wajanat about the paper and then her work. It’s interesting to hear how references and metaphors that I think are common get missed when they are read by a non-native english speaker from a different cultural frame. For example, I refer to a “plague of locusts” , which I had to explain as one of the biblical plagues of Egypt. Once explained, Wajanat immediately got it, and mentioned the Arabic word طاعون, We then asked Ali, who’s Iranian. He didn’t know about plagues either, but by using طاعون, he was able to get the entire context. She also suggested improving the screenshot at the beginning of the paper and expanding the transition to the intelligent vehicle stampede section.
  • Then a meandering and fun chat with Shimei, mostly about psychology and AI ethics. Left at 9:00

Phil 4.5.18

7:00 – 5:00 ASRC MKT

  • More car stampedes: On one of L.A.’s steepest streets, an app-driven frenzy of spinouts, confusion and crashes
  • Working on the first draft of the paper. I think(?) I’m reasonably happy with it.
  • Trying to determine the submission guidelines. Are IEEE paper anonymized? If they are, here’s the post on how to do it and my implementation:
    \@blindfalse %use \@blindtrue to anonymize, \@blindfalse on final version
    \if@blind \sethlcolor{black}\else
    this text is \hl{redacted}
  • So this clever solution doesn’t work, because you can select under the highlight. This is my much simpler solution:
    	\author{\IEEEauthorblockN{Anonymous Author(s)}
    	\IEEEauthorblockA{\textit{this line kept for formatting} \\
    		\textit{this line kept for formatting}\\
    		this line kept for formatting \\
    		this line kept for formatting}
    	\author{\IEEEauthorblockN{Philip Feldman}
    	\IEEEauthorblockA{\textit{ASRC Federal} \\
    	Columbia, USA \\}
  • Submitting to Arxive
  • Boy, this hit home: The Swamp of Sadness
    • Even with Arteyu pulling on his bridle, Artex still had to start walking and keep walking to survive, and so do you. You have to pull yourself out of the swamp. This sucks, because it’s difficult, slow, hand-over-hand, gritty, horrible work, and you will end up very muddy. But I think the muddier the swamp, the better the learning really. I suspect the best kinds of teachers have themselves walked through very horrible swamps.
  • You have found the cui2vec explorer. This website will let you interact with embeddings for over 108,000 medical concepts. These embeddings were created using insurance claims for 60 million americans, 1.7 million full-text PubMed articles, and clinical notes from 20 million patients at Stanford. More information about the methods used to create these embeddings can be found in our preprint: 
  • Going to James Foulds’ lecture on Mixed Membership Word Embeddings for Computational Social Science. Send email for meeting! Such JuryRoom! Done!
  • Kickoff meeting for the DHS proposal. We have until the 20th to write everything. Sheesh

Phil 4.4.18

7:00 – 5:00 ASRC MKT

  • From zero to research — An introduction to Meta-learning
    • Thomas Wolf Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing & Deep learning – Science Lead @ Huggingface  (We’re on a journey to build the first truly social artificial intelligence. Along the way, we contribute to the development of technology for the better.)
    • Over the last months, I have been playing and experimenting quite a lot with meta-learning models for Natural Language Processing and will be presenting some of this work at ICLR, next month in Vancouver 🇨🇦 — come say hi! 👋 In this post, I will start by making a very visual introduction to meta-learning, from zero to current research work. Then, we will code a meta-learning model in PyTorch from scratch and I will share some of the lessons learned on this project.

  • Google veteran Jeff Dean takes over as company’s AI chief
  • Add some MB framing words to the game theory part of the lit review – done
  • Work on the PSA writeup

Our research has indicated that an awareness of nomadic/explorer activity in belief space may help nudge stampeding groups away from a terminal trajectory and back towards “average” beliefs. Tajfel states that groups can exist “in opposition”, so providing counter-narratives may be ineffective. Rather, we think that a practical solution to online polarization is the injection of diversity into user’s feeds, be they social media, search results, videos, etc.  The infrastructure exists for this already in platform’s support of advertising. The precedent is the Public Service Announcement (PSA).

US Broadcasters since 1927, have been obligated to “serve the public interest” in exchange for spectrum rights. One way that this has been addressed is through the creation of the PSA, “the purpose of which is to improve the health, safety, welfare, or enhancement of people’s lives and the more effective and beneficial functioning of their community, state or region”

We believe that PSAs can be repurposed to support diversity injection through the following:

  • Random, non-political content designed to expand information horizons, analogous to clicking the “random article” link on Wikipedia.
  • Progressive levels of detail starting with an informative “hook” presented in social feeds or search results. Users should be able to explore as much or as little as they want.
  • Simultaneous presentation to large populations. Google has been approximating this with their “doodle” since 1998, with widespread positive feedback, which indicates that there may be good receptivity to common serendipitous information.
  • Format should reflect the medium, Text, images and videos.
  • Content should be easily verifiable, recognizable, and difficult to spoof.

We believe that such diversity injection mechanisms as described above can serve as a “first do no harm” first step in addressing the current crisis of misinformation. By nudging users towards an increased awareness of a wider world, which in turn interferes with the processes that lead to belief stampedes by increasing the number of dimensions, the awareness of different paths that others are taking. As we gain understanding of the mechanisms that influence group behaviors, it may be possible to further refine our designs and interfaces so that they no longer promote extremism while still providing value.


  • Done with first draft? Nope. Going to rework the implications section some more.

Phil 4.3.18

ASRC MKT 7:00 – 5:30

  • Integrating airplane notes on Influence of augmented humans in online interactions during voting events
  • Follow up on pointing logs
  • World Affairs Council (Part II. Part I is Jennifer Kavanagh and Tom Nichols: The End of Authority)
    • With so many forces undermining democratic institutions worldwide, we wanted a chance to take a step back and provide some perspective. Russian interference in elections here and in Europe, the rise in fake news and a decline in citizen trust worldwide pose a danger. In this second of a three part series, we look at the role of social media and the ways in which it was exploited for the purpose of sowing distrust. Janine Zacharia, former Jerusalem bureau chief and Middle East correspondent for The Washington Post, and Roger McNamee, managing director at Elevation Partners and an early stage investor in Google and Facebook, are in conversation with World Affairs CEO Jane Wales.
    • “The ultimate combination of propaganda and gambling … powered by machine learning”
  • The emergence of consensus: a primer (No Moscovici – odd)
    • The origin of population-scale coordination has puzzled philosophers and scientists for centuries. Recently, game theory, evolutionary approaches and complex systems science have provided quantitative insights on the mechanisms of social consensus. However, the literature is vast and widely scattered across fields, making it hard for the single researcher to navigate it. This short review aims to provide a compact overview of the main dimensions over which the debate has unfolded and to discuss some representative examples. It focuses on those situations in which consensus emerges ‘spontaneously’ in the absence of centralized institutions and covers topics that include the macroscopic consequences of the different microscopic rules of behavioural contagion, the role of social networks and the mechanisms that prevent the formation of a consensus or alter it after it has emerged. Special attention is devoted to the recent wave of experiments on the emergence of consensus in social systems.
  • Need to write up diversity injection proposal
    • Basically updated PSAs for social media
    • Intent is to expand the information horizon, not to counter anything in particular. So it’s not political
    • Presented in a variety of ways (maps, stories and lists)
    • Goes identically into everyone’s feed
    • Can be blocked, but blockers need to be studied
    • More injection as time on site goes up. Particularly with YouTube & FB
  • Working on SASO paper. Made it through discussion

Phil 4.2.18

7:00 – 5:00 ASRC MKT

  • Someone worked pretty hard on their April Fools joke
  • Started cleaning up my TF Dev Conf notes. Need to fill in speaker’s names and contacts – done
  • Contact Keith Bennet about “pointing” logs – done
  • Started editing the SASO flocking paper. Call is April 16!
    • Converted to LaTex and at 11 pages
  • But first – expense report…. Done! Forgot the parking though. Add tomorrow!
  • Four problems for news and democracy
    • To understand these four crises — addiction, economics, bad actors and known bugs — we have to look at how media has changed shape between the 1990s and today. A system that used to be linear and fairly predictable now features feedback loops that lead to complex and unintended consequences. The landscape that is emerging may be one no one completely understands, but it’s one that can be exploited even if not fully understood.
  • Humanitarianism’s other technology problem
    • Is social media affecting humanitarian crises and conflict in ways that kill people and may ultimately undermine humanitarian response?Fika. Meeting with Wajanat Friday to go over paper