Want to be happy? Slow down

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In 1972, Matthieu Ricard had a promising career in biochemistry, trying to figure out the secrets of E. coli bacteria. A chance encounter with Buddhism led to an about turn, and Ricard has spent the past 40+ years living in the Himalayas, studying mindfulness and happiness. In this free-wheeling discussion at TED Global in October 2014, Ricard talked with journalist and writer Pico Iyer about some of the things they’ve learned over the years, not least the importance of being conscious about mental health and how to spend time meaningfully. An edited version of the conversation, moderated by TED Radio Hour host Guy Raz, follows. First, Pico Iyer on how he became taken with the idea of staying still:

Guy Raz (left), Pico Iyer (center), and Matthieu Ricard (right) discuss mindfulness and the importance of being still at TED Global 2014 . Photo by Duncan Davidson/TED. Guy Raz (left), Pico Iyer (center), and Matthieu Ricard (right) discuss mindfulness and the importance of being still at TED Global 2014 . Photo by Duncan Davidson/TED.

Pico Iyer: When I was in my twenties, I had this…

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Googler Wants to Kickstart a ‘Nonviolent’ Occupy Wall Street Militia

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Ms. Tunney (Photo: Twitter) Ms. Tunney (Photo: Twitter)

Justine Tunney is a New York-based software engineer at Google, but she’s also a prolific activist who was and continues to be instrumental to the Occupy Wall Street movement. A “transgender anarchist,” she founded OccupyWallStreet.org and continues to maintain the @OccupyWallSt Twitter handle; her Github account has an Occupy Wall Street specific repository that boasts the tagline, “Stomping out capitalism, one line of code at a time.” And she also has an interesting new approach to crowdfunding.

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Baidu built a supercomputer for deep learning

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Chinese search engine company Baidu says it has built the world’s most-accurate computer vision system, dubbed Deep Image, which runs on a supercomputer optimized for deep learning algorithms. Baidu claims a 5.98 percent error rate on the ImageNet object classification benchmark; a team from Google won the 2014 ImageNet competition with a 6.66 percent error rate.

In experiments, humans achieved an estimated error rate of 5.1 percent on the ImageNet dataset.

The star of Deep Image is almost certainly the supercomputer, called Minwa, which Baidu built to house the system. Deep learning researchers have long (well, for the past few years) used GPUs in order to handle the computational intensity of training their models. In fact, the Deep Image research paper cites a study showing that 12 GPUs in a 3-machine cluster can rival the performance of the performance of the 1,000-node CPU cluster behind the famous Google Brain project, on which…

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Precision, Recall, AUCs and ROCs

The Shape of Data

I occasionally like to look at the ongoing Kaggle competitions to see what kind of data problems people are interested in (and the discussion boards are a good place to find out what techniques are popular.) Each competition includes a way of scoring the submissions, based on the type of problem. An interesting one that I’ve seen for a number of classification problems is the area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve, sometimes shortened to the ROC score or AUC (Area Under the Curve). In this post, I want to discuss some interesting properties of this scoring system, and its relation to another similar measure – precision/recall.

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Hands on with Watson Analytics: Pretty useful when it’s working

Gigaom

Last month, [company]IBM[/company] made available the beta version of its Watson Analytics data analysis service, an offering first announced in September. It’s one of IBM’s only recent forays into anything resembling consumer software, and it’s supposed to make it easy for anyone to analyze data, relying on natural language processing (thus the Watson branding) to drive the query experience.

When the servers running Watson Analytics are working, it actually delivers on that goal.

Analytic power to the people

Because I was impressed that IBM decided to a cloud service using the freemium business model — and carrying the Watson branding, no less — I wanted to see firsthand how well Watson Analytics works. So I uploaded a CSV file including data from Crunchbase on all companies categorized as “big data,” and I got to work.

Seems like a good starting point.

watson14Choose one and get results. The little icon in…

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