Tag Archives: information


What Matters In The Mueller Indictment

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office brought an indictment Friday charging the alleged Russian propaganda outfit called the Internet Research Agency, two affiliated groups, and 13 Russian nationals with an elaborate plot to interfere with the 2016 election through metric-driven social media campaigns, using the same techniques as sophisticated, legitimate digital advertising efforts.

Here are some of the key details:

The Russians allegedly spent millions of dollars on U.S.-targeted propaganda efforts aimed at sowing discord in the country’s political system, buying social media ads and creating high-profile Facebook and Instagram groups targeted at different affinity groups, with names like Blacktivist, Secured Borders, United Muslims of America, and Army of Jesus. They didn’t comply with Federal Election Commission rules on political ads or registration requirements for foreign agents, prosecutors say.

The cost of these efforts reached as much as $1.25 million in one month, as of September 2016—as much as some presidential campaigns were spending during the primaries. Last fall, Facebook and other social media companies eventually acknowledged these disinformation campaigns following examinations by lawmakers, researchers, and reporters. As Fast Company reported, for instance, Instagram saw far more propaganda activity than Facebook and others widely acknowledged.

The St. Petersburg-based organization allegedly used these groups to boost Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, while attacking other candidates, including Hillary Clinton. “It is imperative to intensify criticizing Hillary Clinton,” one operative was allegedly told.

They allegedly encouraged “minority groups” not to vote, or to vote third-party, in the election, presumably to reduce support for Clinton. “Choose peace and vote for Jill Stein,” one post to the Blacktivist Instagram post said, endorsing the Green Party candidate. “Trust me, it’s not a wasted vote.”

Two of the Russian nationals allegedly got U.S. visas, and toured parts of the country in 2014, then “exchanged an intelligence report regarding the trip.”

The Russians allegedly used stolen identities to open PayPal accounts and pay for social media ads, and used U.S.-based VPN servers to hide their digital ties to Russia.

One of the Facebook ads allegedly used to promote a rally organized by the Internet Research Agency

The Russians allegedly staged real world pro-Trump and anti-Clinton rallies in the U.S., and at least one pro-Clinton rally seemingly designed to link Clinton to Islam. The Russians also promoted these events on social media and recruited U.S. people to participate in and promote them. At a rally in Florida, for example, they allegedly paid an actor to portray Clinton in a prison uniform. The week after the election, the Russians also organized a rally in New York to “show your support for President-Elect Donald Trump” and another rally called “Trump is NOT my President.”

The Russians coordinated with people described as “unwitting individuals associated with the Trump campaign” and pro-Trump activists, posing as U.S. activists, discussing possible sites and plans for rallies; in some cases, they wired money to those people. They also received advice about how to wage their campaigns from a person affiliated with a Texas-based grassroots political organization, including “focus on purple states like Colorado, Virginia & Florida.” The Russians also kept a list of over 100 of their U.S. contacts. There’s no indication that those people—who are not identified by name in the indictment—realized they were dealing with Russian nationals, not legitimate activists.

The Internet Research Agency was allegedly funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a St. Petersburg businessman known as “Putin’s chef” because his restaurants and catering businesses once hosted the Russian president’s dinners with visiting dignitaries. The company was also funded by companies Prigozhin controlled, the indictment said.

Some Trump supporters and others have said the references to “unwitting” members of the Trump campaign should dispel claims that the campaign intentionally coordinated with Russia. But there’s no indication that the indictment is the final word from the special counsel’s office, one way or another.

Unanswered Questions

The indictment doesn’t address the persistent rumors of intentional coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, including claims that Russian officials offered information regarding Hillary Clinton to campaign officials. (In 2016, Donald Trump, Jr. was informed in an email from the publicist Rob Goldstone about potentially damaging information on Clinton that the Russian government was waging a wider effort to help the Trump campaign.)

The indictment also does not touch on allegations of Russian hacking, nor other ways Russians may have helped the Trump campaign. And it does link the Russian nationals to anyone previously indicted during the investigation, including Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort, or Richard Gates. Bloomberg reported Friday that the indictments are only part of a larger investigation that is still examining whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

It’s also unclear whether any of the indicted people or organizations will actually face trial in the United States. In prior cases involving digital crimes allegedly committed by government-sponsored groups abroad, including cases of alleged Russian and Chinese hackers, actually extraditing the suspects to the United States has proven difficult.

Read more: Russia’s election propaganda weaponized these mainstream news outlets

Read the indictment below:

Internet Research Agency Indictment by Gersh Kuntzman on Scribd

Neural Networks Are The New Apps

Google spent years building Shazam-style functionality into the Pixel’s operating system. It may be where smartphones are heading.

Shazam was the must-have app of the late aughts. It seemed to fulfill every promise of the post iPhone world: With the mere tap of the screen, you could beam information to the cloud to identify a random song playing in a commercial, at the bar, or on the radio. But it required Shazam to build a huge server farm–its own entire data center to handle the loads.

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projects • Re: FORM: 026 Speaker

Thanks so much for the info! I can tell that cruising the diyaudio forum will teach me a lot. WinISD is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for, I’ll definitely give it a try for version 2. :)

AndyMc wrote:
I don’t know of a book, but there’s a great audio forum called DIY audio that’s jammed full of every bit of information about home speakers.


Knowing how to house the speaker to suit its electromagnetic properties (qts is a big one, you’ll probably understand what this actually means in practical terms far more than I do :lol: ) makes an enormous difference to the sound it produces. Ideally, you don’t want the sound waves from the front of the speaker cone to come into contact with the identical wave coming off of the rear of the cone, as they cancel each other out and the sound quality is reduced.

Have a look at different methods of installing speakers into enclosures (sealed, ported, different orders of band pass) and how the amount of air inside the chamber can alter the performance of your speaker. There’s a great free software called WinISD that helps you to design enclosure volumes and ports etc around different speakers if you wanted to have a play.


Why Your Brain Clings To False Beliefs (Even When It Knows Better)

How do you calculate a dog’s age in human years? Most people think you just multiply by seven, but they’re wrong. It’s just a made-up number that’s been circulating since the 13th century. Where did we get beliefs like this, and how do they persist for so long? The short answer: Blame your brain.

Now here’s the long one.

Why Your Brain Likes To Think Stuff Is True

We form beliefs in a haphazard way, believing all sorts of things based just on what we hear out in the world but haven’t researched for ourselves.

This is how we think we form abstract beliefs:

  1. We hear something;
  2. We think about it and vet it, determining whether it is true or false; only after that
  3. We form our belief.

It turns out, though, that we actually form abstract beliefs this way:

  1. We hear something;
  2. We believe it to be true;
  3. Only sometimes, later, if we have the time or the inclination, we think about it and vet it, determining whether it is, in fact, true or false.

Back in 1991, Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert summarized centuries of research on belief formation this way: “People are credulous creatures who find it very easy to believe and very difficult to doubt. In fact, believing is so easy, and perhaps so inevitable, that it may be more like involuntary comprehension than it is like rational assessment.”

Two years later, Gilbert and colleagues demonstrated through a series of experiments that our default is to believe that what we hear and read is true. Their subjects read a series of statements about a criminal defendant or a college student. These statements were color-coded to make it clear whether they were true or false. Subjects under time pressure or who had their cognitive load increased by a minor distraction made more errors in recalling whether the statements were true or false.

But the errors weren’t random. Under any sort of pressure, they presumed all the statements were true, regardless of their labeling.

Related: Your Brain’s Personal Trainer Will Give You This Advice 

Humans Like Efficiency, Not Accuracy

How we form beliefs was shaped by the evolutionary push toward efficiency rather than accuracy. Abstract belief formation (that is, beliefs outside our direct experience, conveyed through language) is likely among the few things that are uniquely human, making it relatively new in the scope of evolutionary time.

Before language, our ancestors could form new beliefs only through what they directly experienced of the physical world around them. For perceptual beliefs from direct sensory experience, it’s reasonable to presume our senses aren’t lying. Seeing is, after all, believing. In fact, questioning what you see or hear can get you eaten. For our evolutionary ancestors, it was better to be safe than sorry, especially when considering whether to believe that rustling in the grass is a lion.

As a result, we didn’t develop a high degree of skepticism when our beliefs were about things we directly experienced, especially when our lives were at stake. As complex language evolved, we gained the ability to form beliefs about things we hadn’t actually experienced for ourselves–and tended to believe them just as strongly.

Related: This Brain Hack Will Reframe Your Interpretation Of Reality 

Your Brain Won’t Update False Beliefs, But You Still Can

Maybe it’s no big deal. Most people aren’t using a bogus dog-age calculator to make medical decisions for their pets, and veterinarians know better. The bigger risk is in failing to update our beliefs when new information arises–and indeed, we know a lot more about dogs today than our medieval ancestors did. Unfortunately, we still form beliefs without vetting most of them, and maintain them even after receiving clear, corrective information.

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

In 1994, researchers Hollyn Johnson and Colleen Seifert asked study subjects to read messages about a warehouse fire. Some messages mentioned that the fire started near a closet containing paint cans and pressurized gas cylinders, encouraging them (predictably) to infer a connection. When, five messages later, subjects received a correction stating that the closet was empty, they still answered questions about the fire by blaming burning paint for toxic fumes and citing negligence for keeping flammable objects nearby. It turns out that truth seeking–the desire to know the truth regardless of whether it aligns with the beliefs we currently hold–is actually opposed to way our brains process information.

So step in and help your brain out. The next time you argue with someone about something you believe to be true, step back and ask yourself how you came to this conclusion. Sometimes all it takes is applying a dose of skepticism to your own belief–so you can pause to consider changing your mind.

This article is adapted from Thinking In Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All The FactsIt is reprinted with permission from Portfolio/Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC 


projects • Re: FORM: 026 Speaker

Nice process, I love that you actually made a functional model.

gmay3able wrote:
When you design speakers are there any text books or other resources you find useful for speaker design? I haven’t worked with an acoustic engineer before and it’s really interesting to see how the physics affects the final design. Really good suggestions about the model, I’ll do a little research on sliders and work those and the visuals into rev 2. Huge thanks!

I don’t know of a book, but there’s a great audio forum called DIY audio that’s jammed full of every bit of information about home speakers.


Knowing how to house the speaker to suit its electromagnetic properties (qts is a big one, you’ll probably understand what this actually means in practical terms far more than I do :lol: ) makes an enormous difference to the sound it produces. Ideally, you don’t want the sound waves from the front of the speaker cone to come into contact with the identical wave coming off of the rear of the cone, as they cancel each other out and the sound quality is reduced.

Have a look at different methods of installing speakers into enclosures (sealed, ported, different orders of band pass) and how the amount of air inside the chamber can alter the performance of your speaker. There’s a great free software called WinISD that helps you to design enclosure volumes and ports etc around different speakers if you wanted to have a play.

What Working In A Dark Office May Do To Your Brain

“Dim lights are producing dimwits,” remarks one researcher studying the connection between light and mental acuity.

Working in an office with a lot of natural light doesn’t just make you more productive on the job and help you sleep better at night–it may also be vital to your intelligence. A new study from Michigan State University has found that spending too much time in dim areas, like poorly lit offices, could actually change the structure of rats’ brains, impacting the way they remember information and learn new things. It suggests that the quality of light in our physical environments may deeply affect us.

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From Learning Hacks To Tesla Jobs: January’s Top Leadership Stories

This month, we learned how to absorb information in a way that makes it easier to retain over the long term, a few of the signs that a job you’re considering might not be the best fit for you, and what it takes to get hired by Tesla.

These are the stories you loved in Leadership for the month of January 2018.

1. How To Teach Your Brain Something It Won’t Forget A Week Later

When you were in college, you probably crammed one or two days before a test, only to forget the material shortly thereafter. That’s because your brain isn’t wired to absorb information all at once, explains Mary Slaughter, a consultant at the NeuroLeadership Institute. Instead, it pays to learn things in small chunks and space it out. Yes, this is more time consuming, but it’s more likely to make things stick.

2. Look Out For These Warning Signs Before You Take That New Job

It’s easy to overlook red flags when you land a job offer that looks perfect on the surface. But as Jillian Kramer writes for Glassdoor, not paying attention to warning signs can lead to much bigger problems later on–impacting your happiness and performance. She lists the signs to look out for that may signal trouble down the road.

3. Tesla Recruiter Shares Six Strategies To Land A Job At The Company

Tesla is a coveted place to work: In 2017, the company received nearly half a million job applications. Cindy Nicola, Tesla’s vice president of global recruiting, recently shared with Fast Company what she looks for in candidates–whether they’re applying to be engineers or customer-service representatives. One important characteristic, Toledano says, is handling uncertainty: They have to be comfortable with ambiguity, and if they don’t have an answer, not to get flustered.”

4. This Is The Scientific Way To Win Any Argument (And Not Make Enemies)

Trying to convince someone to change their mind about an issue they’re passionate about can feel like banging your head against a wall. Most of the time, you’ll probably fail. However, there are ways you can make your opponent a little more receptive to hear your ideas. Try reframing your ideas in a way that’s more in line with their existing viewpoints. Here’s how.

5. Want To Be More Confident? Do This One Thing Every Morning

You probably know that gratitude can make you happier, but it might be able to boost your confidence, too. When writer and coach Daniel Dowling realized that his lack of confidence might be linked to being ungrateful, he decided to make a habit out of finding one thing each morning to be thankful for. Reflecting on the project last month, Dowling wrote, “When I fought for something to feel good about–loved ones, blessings, minor miracles, accomplishments, etc.–I created a positive emotional state that gave me the motivation to literally get out of bed in order to accomplish something.”

6. Four Reasons Resumes No Longer Work

Applying for jobs these days still involve resumes and cover letters, but as Carisa Miklusak, CEO of algorithmic hiring form tilr, tells Fast Company, they’re no longer the most reliable tools for assessing candidates. For starters, a constantly changing workplace means that skills are more important than experience. In addition, the rise of vague job titles, such as “office ninja,” has made it difficult for employers to identify what some candidates’ roles actually involve.

7. Snubbing FCC, States Are Writing Their Own Net Neutrality Laws

After the FCC voted to end net neutrality on December 14 last year, activists and states have taken matters into their own hands. New York, California, and Washington State have all crafted legislation around net neutrality. However, their fight will be difficult. Ernesto Falcon, a legislative counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told Fast Company‘s Sean Captain last month that “this is new territory for any state legislature.”

8. Four Stupidly Simple Habits To Lower Your Work Stress This Year

You may have tried dozens of self-improvement habits, from working out in the morning to meditating for 20 minutes a day. But sometimes the process of trying to adopt a new habit can add to your stress, not lessen it. When you feel like you’re completely maxed out, it might be better to make little changes instead of big ones. Here are a few tips to get you started.

9. How To Become Indispensable At Work This Year

There’s a go-to person in every office who seems to know everything and everyone. But they didn’t get there by accident; chances are they worked for it by doing a series of specific things consistently. Last January, Gwen Moran asked several career experts what you can do to be that go-to person. From doing your own performance review to impressing your boss on a regular basis, these are a few of the tips she assembled.

10. Eleven Expert Tips To Make 2018 Your Most Productive Year Ever

Everyone has different New Year’s goals and resolutions, but it’s likely that at least one of those things involve improving productivity. So to kickstart your inspiration, Fast Company rounded up some pointers from our top contributors and wheelhouse of experts on how they’re planning to boost their own productivity in the year ahead.

QR codes on crystalline building to serve visitors with tourist information

Construction of the Milestone is due to begin in 2020

High-profile Dutch firm MVRDV has unveiled its design for an eye-catching new office building in Germany. Named Milestone, the building will sport a large hole in it that will serve as a public space, and will feature both photovoltaic cells and QR codes integrated into its facade.

Continue Reading QR codes on crystalline building to serve visitors with tourist information

Category: Architecture


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We share some spine-healing genes with lampreys

Many of the same genes that lampreys have that allow for natural repair of injured spinal cords are also active in the repair of the peripheral nervous system in mammals, including humans, a new study indicates.

The findings are consistent with the possibility that in the long term, the same or similar genes may be harnessed to improve spinal cord injury treatments in people.

“We found a large overlap with the hub of transcription factors that are driving regeneration in the mammalian peripheral nervous system,” says Jennifer Morgan, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory at the University of Chicago.

Lampreys are jawless, eel-like fish that shared a common ancestor with humans about 550 million years ago. The study, which appears in Nature Scientific Reports, arose from discovering that a lamprey can fully recover from a severed spinal cord without medication or other treatment.

“They can go from paralysis to full swimming behaviors in 10 to 12 weeks,” Morgan says.

“Scientists have known for many years that the lamprey achieves spontaneous recovery from spinal cord injury, but we have not known the molecular recipe that accompanies and supports this remarkable capacity,” says Ona Bloom of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, who is a former MBL Whitman Center fellow.

“In this study, we have determined all the genes that change during the course of recovery and now that we have that information, we can use it to test if specific pathways are actually essential to the process,” Bloom says.

Nanoparticle injection could cut damage after spine injury

The researchers followed the lampreys’ healing process and took samples from the brains and spinal cords at multiple points in time, from the first hours after injury until three months later when they were healed and then analyzed the material to determine which genes and signaling pathways were activated as compared to a non-injured lamprey.

As expected, they found many genes in the spinal cord that change over time with recovery. Further, somewhat unexpectedly, they also discovered a number of injury-induced gene expression changes in the brain.

“This reinforces the idea that the brain changes a lot after a spinal cord injury,” Morgan says. “Most people are thinking, ‘What can you do to treat the spinal cord itself?’ but our data really support the idea that there’s also a lot going on in the brain.”

They also discovered that many of the genes associated with spinal cord healing are part of the Wnt signaling pathway, a set of proteins that play a role in tissue development.

‘Knit’ severed spinal cords with graphene ribbons

“Furthermore, when we treated the animals with a drug that inhibits the Wnt signaling pathway, the animals never recovered their ability to swim,” Morgan says. Future research will explore why the Wnt pathway seems particularly important in the healing process.

Jeramiah Smith of the University of Kentucky and Joseph Buxbaum of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, both former Whitman Center fellows, collaborated on the study.

Source: University of Chicago

The post We share some spine-healing genes with lampreys appeared first on Futurity.

Artificial synapses fill the gaps for brainier computer chips

An MIT team has developed a new kind of artificial synapse, enabling more brain-like computer chips

Right now, you’re carrying around the most powerful computer in existence – the human brain. This naturally super-efficient machine is far better than anything humans have ever built, so it’s not surprising that scientists are trying to reverse-engineer it. Rather than binary bits of information, neuromorphic computers are built with networks of artificial neurons, and now an MIT team has developed a more lifelike synapse to better connect those neurons.

Continue Reading Artificial synapses fill the gaps for brainier computer chips

Category: Computers


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