Amazon Rekognition for government surveillance

Amazon’s Rekognition is a video analysis system that promises to identify individuals in real-time. Amazon wants to sell the systems to governments for surveillance.

From the ACLU:

Amazon is marketing Rekognition for government surveillance. According to its marketing materials, it views deployment by law enforcement agencies as a “common use case” for this technology. Among other features, the company’s materials describe “person tracking” as an “easy and accurate” way to investigate and monitor people. Amazon says Rekognition can be used to identify “people of interest,” raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments — such as undocumented immigrants or Black activists — will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance. It also says Rekognition can monitor “all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports,” at a time when Americans are joining public protests at unprecedented levels.

Given the millions of Alexa-enabled devices in people’s homes and customer purchase histories available on-demand, this feels like a bad idea. Also, creepy. Probably because of the ‘k’ in Rekognition.

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05/21/18 PHD comic: ‘Upgrade’

Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Upgrade" - originally published 5/21/2018

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Should PentaSaturn Buy An iSeq: A Hypothetical Scenario Illustrating Platform Picking

Editorial note: I wrote this in early January, then planned to slot it in after some other items.  Then life knocked me upside the head, then AGBT came along and then it was forgotten.  Once I remember it, I fretted it had gone stale. But I had put a lot of effort into it and really nothing has changed with regard to iSeq, other than it should be shipping now.  Besides, this week is London Calling and so having an Illumina-centric piece could be a bit of useful balance.  So, for your consideration:

Some of the online discussion around this January's iSeq announcement, springing from my piece or elsewhere, explores how the iSeq fits into the sequencing landscape.  In particular, how does it fit in with Illumina's existing MiniSeq and MiSeq and how does it go against Oxford Nanopore's MinION.  For example, in Matthew Herper's Forbes piece, genomics maven Elaine Mardis compares iSeq unfavorably to MiSeq in terms of cost-per-basepair.  I'm a huge believer in fitting sequencing to ones scientific and practical realities and not the other way 'round: no one platform quite fits all situations nor do even the same metrics fit all situations.  So in this piece, I'm going to illustrate what I believe is a plausible scenario in which iSeq would make sense.  Now, I have designed this to play to iSeq's characteristics and very realistically have many dials which I could turn to go in another direction.  Which I will try to note as I go along.
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Basketball Stat Cherry Picking

Wow your friends during the game with random win percentages, based on various player stats. Read More

Twin Spacecraft Launch to Track Earth’s Water Movement

NASA/German Research Centre for Geosciences GRACE Follow-On spacecraft launch onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket

GRACE Follow-On has launched, and both satellites are communicating with ground stations.

The Antimicrobial Resistance Channel – uniting the four pillars of AMR research

  The Antimicrobial Resistance Channel – uniting the four pillars of AMR research   post-info PLOS, in collaboration with the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), is delighted to launch the Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)

GenBank release 225: Over 1 billion sequence records stored!

GenBank release 225.0 (4/14/2018) has 208,452,303 traditional records (including non-bulk-oriented TSA) containing 260,189,141,631 base pairs of sequence data. In addition, there are 621,379,029 WGS records containing 2,784,740,996,536 base pairs of sequence data, 227,364,990 TSA records containing 205,232,396,043 base pairs of … Continue reading

Sturgeon researcher nets 13 retractions for fake peer review

A fish scientist in Iran has now lost 13 papers about the properties of Sturgeon sperm — try saying that five times fast — and other ichthyological topics over concerns about faked peer review. The three most recent retractions come from the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition. According to the notice: The below … Continue reading Sturgeon researcher nets 13 retractions for fake peer review

Data scientists as the new Mad Men

Ken Auletta for The New Yorker looks at “math men” replacing the Mad Men:

Engineers and data scientists vacuum data. They see data as virtuous, yielding clues to the mysteries of human behavior, suggesting efficiencies (including eliminating costly middlemen, like agency Mad Men), offering answers that they believe will better serve consumers, because the marketing message is individualized. The more cool things offered, the more clicks, the more page views, the more user engagement. Data yield facts and advance a quest to be more scientific—free of guesses. As Eric Schmidt, then the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, said at the company’s 2017 shareholder meeting, “We start from the principles of science at Google and Alphabet.”

I know the big tech companies is where the money is at, but I hope you young statisticians out there consider the other possibilities. Your skills are valued in many places.

GRACE-FO Spacecraft Ready to Launch

Artist's rendering of the twin spacecraft of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission

Twin satellites that will monitor Earth's water cycle are scheduled to launch Tuesday in a unique rideshare arrangement.