Monday, April 06, 2015

Interview on early Amazon personalization and recommendations in late 1996 in mid-1997
I have a long interview with the Internet History Podcast mostly about Amazon around 1997, especially the personalization, recommendation engine, and data-driven innovations at Amazon, and the motivation behind them.

I think the interview a lot of fun. It gives a view of what Amazon was like way back when it was just a bookstore only in the US, had just one webserver, and we barely could keep the website up with all the growth.

Lots of history of the early days of the web, well before CSS and Javascript, before cookies were even widely supported, and before scale out, experimentation and A/B testing, and large scale log analysis were commonplace.

Give the podcast a listen if you are interested in what the Web looked like back in 1997 and the motivation behind Amazon's personalization and recommendations.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Quick links

What I've been thinking about lately:
  • "The chip is so low power that it can be powered off energy capture from the body ... 35 microamps of power per megahertz of processing ... and less than 200 nanoamps ... in deep sleep mode" ([1])

  • "Forgetting may be nearly as important as remembering in humans" ([1])

  • Only 40% of people use maps on their smartphone ([1] [2])

  • OkCupid and Dataclysm: "In the age of Big Data, the empirical has deciphered the intimate" ([1])

  • Cross functional teams might seem slower when you're in them, but, long-term, are more productive ([1])

  • Very good article on mostly evil uses of personalization ([1] [2])

  • "Fake accounts are given a veneer of humanity by copying profile information and photos from elsewhere ... [and] a picture of a beautiful woman" ([1])

  • "Because almost no one patches their BIOSes, almost every BIOS in the wild is affected by at least one vulnerability" ([1])

  • Cracking by forcing non-random memory errors, just about all RAM chips currently used are vulnerable ([1] [2] [3])

  • Computer security "backdoors will always turn around and bite you in the ass. They are never worth it." ([1] [2])

  • "Facts can only do so much. To avoid coming to undesirable conclusions, people can fly from the facts and use other tools in their deep belief protecting toolbox" ([1])

  • Why TV is losing viewers, the ads are annoying: "Decline caused by a migration of viewers from ad-supported platforms to non-ad-supported, or less-ad-supported platforms" ([1])

  • "The same dysfunctional folie a deux playing out between credulous tech media and even more credulous VC investors" ([1])

  • Does the difficulty of building intelligent systems grow exponentially as we make progress? That question has big implications for whether we should expect (or fear) an AI singularity. ([1])

  • Very fun version of Family Feud using Google search suggestions ([1] [2])

  • Do you know what you don't know? Try this confidence calibration quiz. ([1])

  • Love this quote: "I have thrown away a number of successful careers out of boredom" ([1])

  • Humor related to recommendation systems: "An exciting new system that takes all the bother, all the deciding, all the paying—all the shopping—out of shopping." ([1])

  • Two SMBC comics related to AI ([1] [2])