EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium

The Machineries of Doubt & Disinformation: Cigarettes, Climate & Other Electronic Confusions [EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium]

Topic: 
The Machineries of Doubt & Disinformation: Cigarettes, Climate & Other Electronic Confusions
Abstract / Description: 

The tobacco industry has long employed the best marketing techniques and adopted the latest technologies for disinformation. The fossil energy industries have employed similar tactics and technologies. For both, the Internet has proved a fertile ground and by now, similar tactics have gained force in politics.

For example, 2009 "Climategate" theft and use of emails against climate scientists seems a precursor of recent Russian efforts in American & French elections.

This talk uses insights from the well-documented history of tobacco and fossil disinformation machinery to anticipate further attacks on science and political processes, including thoughts about the challenges of informed skepticism in the world of Internet, Twitter and Facebook and electronic cigarettes that monitor and control usage, and may report back to the vendor.

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

Ethics, Algorithms, and Systems [EE380 Computer Systems]

Topic: 
Ethics, Algorithms, and Systems
Abstract / Description: 

The Internet has made possible new means of manipulating opinions, purchases and votes that are unprecedented in human history in their effectiveness, scale and clandestine nature. Whether closely guided by human hands or operating independently of their creators, these algorithms now guide human decision making 24/7, often in ways that have ethical consequences. Biased search rankings, for example, have been shown to shift the voting preferences of undecided voters dramatically without any awareness on their part that they are being manipulated (the Search Engine Manipulation Effect, or SEME).

Recent research shows that SEME can impact a wide range of opinions, not just voting preferences, and that multiple searches increase SEME's impact. New experiments also help to explain why SEME is so powerful and demonstrate how SEME can be suppressed to some extent.

In 2016, new research also demonstrated that search suggestions (in "autocomplete") can also be used shift opinions and votes (the Search Suggestion Effect, or SSE).

Demonstrating these possibilities in research is one thing; do search engine companies actually show people search suggestions or search results that are biased in some way?

In 2016, AIBRT researchers recruited a nationwide network of field agents whose election-related searches were collected and aggregated for six months before the November election, thus preserving 13,207 searchers and the 98,044 web pages to which the search results linked. This unique data set revealed that that search results were indeed biased toward one candidate during most of this period in all 10 search positions on the first page of search results - enough, perhaps, to shift millions of votes without people's knowledge.

Based on the success of this tracking effort, in early 2017, experts in multiple fields and at multiple universities in the US and Europe came together to creates The Sunlight Society (http://TheSunlightSociety.org), a nonprofit organization devoted to creating a worldwide ecosystem of passive monitoring software that will reveal a wide range of online manipulations as they are occurring, thus providing a means for identifying unethical algorithms as they are launched.

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

Shenzhen: An Alternative to the American way of Innovation [EE380 Computer Systems]

Topic: 
Shenzhen: An Alternative to the American way of Innovation
Abstract / Description: 

In this talk, we start with a top-down exploration of the electronics ecosystem of Shenzhen. We then pivot at the topic of recycling and "fakes" to build a bottom-up picture of how an innovation culture, unbridled by Western tradition, matures in the age of the Internet.

 

Talk Format:

This talk will be live streamed from Singapore and will be viewable live in Gates B3.x The live audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the speaker. 

The live stream video will be captured and published to YouTube in the same fashion as our usual live speakers.

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

How to Design Addictive Games [EE380 Computer Systems]

Topic: 
How to Design Addictive Games
Abstract / Description: 

A great game seduces its player into flow state. Since we know a lot about what flow state is and what it requires, you might imagine that game's design to be a lot of work, but not mysterious. Yet 99% of all games fail. The vast majority of game designers have never designed an addictive game. In HCI research, games are analyzed based on flow state properties but that's descriptive, not prescriptive. Designing such games remains mystical. Like other performing arts, game design needs accident, luck, inspiration, perspiration, and knowledge. I would like to justify my being invited to talk so on top of the skeleton of flow, I will add some meat that you would not likely hear from anyone else. I will talk about what I learned playtesting my own work and what I was taught by great game designers, in creating games that were indeed addictive. As such, this will be a very idiosyncratic and personal introduction to the art of designing irresistible engagement.

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

Computers, Programming, Addiction, False News, Alternative Facts [EE380 Computer Systems]

Topic: 
Computers, Programming, Addiction, False News, Alternative Facts
Abstract / Description: 

Today's Internet is powerful and seductive. It's burrowed itself into the way we think, feel, and respond. We have come to depend upon the availability of organized, accessible, searchable information. But with the positive effects, there are negative factors as well, with unforeseen consequences, that change the very way we experience the world.

Archiving and indexing all of the world's information has changed the way we think, but it has its limitations. Very low cost communication and publication have both positive and negative effects. Interactive environments are compelling and sometimes addictive. Social interactions on the Internet are different than they are in "real life". Truth seems less important than it once was.

This talk will identify and explore a few of these issues. Interactive discussion will be encouraged.

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

Software-centric Visible Light Communication for the Internet of Things [EE380 Computer Systems]

Topic: 
Software-centric Visible Light Communication for the Internet of Things
Abstract / Description: 

Visible Light Communication (VLC) based on LEDs for light emission and reception can be realized using simple components, delegating many of the "hard" problems to software. We present a software-centric approach that supports networking a wide range of devices -- devices that include only simple single LEDs (such as wearables, toys, consumer electronics) as well as LED light bulbs that run Linux and provide a VLC communication fabric (room-area network). One of the benefits of the software-centric approach is easy integration into distributed applications - a necessary condition for a pervasive communication infrastructure for the Internet of Things that requires a wide range of services (localization, time, authentication, etc).

Joint work with Stefan Mangold (Lovefield Wireless, Inc.) and Stefan Schmid (ETH Zurich).

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

PyWren - pushing microservices to teraflops [EE380 Computer Systems]

Topic: 
PyWren - pushing microservices to teraflops
Abstract / Description: 

Much of cloud computing infrastructure remains hard to use, in spite of decades of both academic research and commercialization. Fortunately, recent technologies developed for web services and internet startups can be repurposed to enable a much lower-friction scalable cloud experience. Our goal is making the power, elasticity, and dynamism of commercial cloud services like Amazon's EC2 accessible to busy applied physicists, electrical engineers, and data scientists, as well as a compelling new capability over Matlab, hopefully encouraging migration. We built PyWren, a transparent distributed execution engine on top of AWS Lambda, which hopefully simplifies many scale-out use cases for data science and computational imaging. We will demo applications built on our framework and seek user input into next directions.

Joint work with Shivaram Venkataraman, Qifan Pu, Ion Stoica, and Ben Recht.

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

Living in Information Everywhere [EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium]

Topic: 
Living in Information Everywhere
Abstract / Description: 

The term cloud computing increasingly describes not just the technology of large networked data centers, but is a proxy term for the unification of smartphones, apps, IoT, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence -- in effect, the deployment of computational intelligence to virtually every point on the planet. One may view this as a fulfillment of Moore's Law, or the start of decades-long project that is likely to reshape civilization. As someone who both covers this topic and has been profoundly affected by it, I will speak about the technology, and what historical parallels tell us about the likely impact.

Date and Time: 
Monday, April 10, 2017 - 3:10pm to 4:10pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

Neuromorphic Chips: Addressing the Nanostransistor Challenge by Combining Analog Computation with Digital Communication [EE380 Computer Systems Colloquium]

Topic: 
Neuromorphic Chips: Addressing the Nanostransistor Challenge by Combining Analog Computation with Digital Communication
Abstract / Description: 

As transistors shrink to nanoscale dimensions, trapped electrons--blocking "lanes" of electron traffic--are making it difficult for digital computers to work. In stark contrast, the brain works fine with single-lane nanoscale devices that are intermittently blocked (ion channels). Conjecturing that it achieves error-tolerance by combining analog dendritic computation with digital axonal communication, neuromorphic engineers (neuromorphs) began emulating dendrites with subthreshold analog circuits and axons with asynchronous digital circuits in the mid-1980s. Three decades in, they achieved a consequential scale with Neurogrid, the first neuromorphic system with billions of synaptic connections. Neuromorphs then tackled the challenge of mapping arbitrary computations onto neuromorphic chips in a manner robust to lanes intermittently--or even permanently--blocked by trapped electrons. Having demonstrated scalability and programmability, they now seek to encode continuous signals with spike trains in a manner that promises greater energy efficiency than all-analog or all-digital computing across a five-decade precision range.

Date and Time: 
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 4:30pm
Venue: 
Gates B03

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