Peer Review by AI?

An interesting article by Janne Hukkinen in Wired has introduced me to a new concept, peer review conducted by artificial intelligence!board-2181407_1920

The article argues it is risky business, and I agree. While it can streamline the process and lead to faster publishing, I seriously doubt an algorithm could review a paper to the same quality as a human expert. Nuances would be missed. As the author states it would fail to consider values, “such as ranking two scientifically equal texts on the basis of their social relevance”. Hukkinen also tells a story akin to Hal in 2001: a Space Odyssey, where a rogue program sent “terse letters” without the knowledge of the company.

Clearly there is space for computer assistance, searching for plagiarism and obvious errors for one. It can immediately discount some manuscripts based on particular criteria. But peer review done solely by AI? I am sceptical. Of course, I suppose people are sceptical of every new technological development. Perhaps in the future it will simply be accepted as the norm.

The article poses some interesting questions for the future of publishing and science, and is well worth a read. The possibilities really are endless…

Beall’s list – what happened?

Since I wrote about Predatory Publishers and Fake Academia back in January, there has been some updates on Beall’s list, which had been taken down around the time of the post.

The author of the list, Jeffrey Beall, has come out with an article titled What I learned from predatory publishers, which provides “a first-hand account of the author’s work identifying and listing predatory publishers from 2012 to 2017.” This article provides some interesting insights into predatory publishing, and also suggests why Beall felt it necessary to remove the list – he was under “intense pressure” from his employer and feared losing his job.

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Seed Bank Flooded!

I like to think of the Global Seed Vault as a form of archive and library. I can only imagine how they have catalogued and organised all those seeds!

The vault is supposed to be

an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever.

Unfortunately, even deep in the Arctic circle it is still not perfectly safe. An archive/library’s worst nightmare – FLOOD. According to The Guardian, due to climate change and much warmer temperatures than usual, loads of melted snow and rain have breached the vault!!

Thankfully no seeds were harmed. But this questions the vaults ability to preserve the seeds for eternity, and also shows the dramatic effects of climate change. I’ve seen flooding before in a library, and its not a pretty site. Paper clearly does not withstand water very well. I can’t imagine having the responsibility to preserve my library items for eternity!

 

Web publishing and image files

As part of my course at Charles Sturt University, I have just learnt something simple yet amazing – which file format to use for images and when!

I had always wondered what the difference was between a PNG, JPG and GIF, and when I should use each of these file types. If you are making eLearning content, webpages or printing posters with images, then you should know the difference between these files types. To summarise what I have learnt:

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Machine Learning

Continuing on from my earlier post about Facial Recognition, let’s talk about machine learning. This is a type of artificial intelligence that lets machines ‘learn’. So just as facial recognition software is able to ‘learn’ by building templates of faces, other machines can learn a vast array of useful information.

For example, a company called Jigsaw has recently announced a new technology to help identify trolls and inappropriate comments on websites (via Engadget). These types of systems are usually given a data bank of typical examples of the content they are learning. Here, the machine (known as ‘Perspective’) was given a huge amount of comments labelled as ‘toxic’ by human reviewers. It can then use these as templates to identify more similar comments. Each time it is correct, or incorrect, it becomes more accurate.

4-04-2017 3-40-02 PMAnother example, which is a whole lot of fun, is Google’s ‘Quick, Draw‘ game. Simply press play, and you’ll be given 20 seconds to draw a simple item. These doodles are then saved to “the world’s largest doodle data set” to help with machine learning research in the future. As you draw, you can see the machine recognising your pictures (or not) in comparison to other pictures people have drawn of the same item. Give it a go, it’s very addictive!

Other examples include algorithms that recognise and filter email spam, provide you with ‘you may also like’ suggestions and targeting advertisements at you.

So what does this mean for us humans? Is this the beginning of the end a la Terminator movies? Hopefully not. These systems still need a lot of human guidance, but every new development is truly amazing. And if it simplifies my life and work, I’m all for it!

 

SLV overhaul

Exciting times – the State Library of Victoria’s ‘Vision 2020’ project will see a huge refurbishment and the creation of new spaces, with a 40% increase in public space!

There’s a website dedicated to the project if you’re keen to learn more, and you can even donate (hey it’s going to cost an estimated $88.1 million to complete!) According to Broadsheet Melbourne:

To fund the library upgrade the State Government has pledged $60.4 million, contributing $2 for every $1 raised through philanthropy.

Donations to date have reached $21.8 million, with large contributions from Maria and Allan Myers, the John and Myriam Wylie Foundation and the Ian Potter Foundation.

The remaining $5.9million will be sought through a public fund raising campaign.

I can’t wait to see the final result!! 🙂

Wunderlist

Oh excitement! If you are a list-maker, than this is the application for you!

WUNDERLIST

wunderlist

Using this program makes me very happy, because I love to be organised.

You can download it onto your phone and other devices and sync all your lists, as well as just using it as a webpage on your desktop.

The premise is pretty simple. Create a category, such as ‘work’, ‘groceries’ or ‘packing’ and then create each item in the list. You can set dates, email reminders and star important items. You can even share lists with other people.

The best part – when you tick something off as completed, you get a very satisfying ‘ding’!

I definitely recommend downloading this to anyone who usually has a thousand post-it notes and scrappy lists lying around. It’s definitely my new favourite thing!! 🙂

 

Lego and coding

I have to say – I love Lego. When I was a kid and now as an adult, it really is the best. Fun, creative and practical, I could/can spend hours constructing new creations, or following plans to make a model. Even the Lego movie was amazing!

And I have just seen some of their new products, bringing together traditional Lego with high-tech robotics!! So. Cool.

And of course, these would be great for Maker spaces.

Lego Mindstorms aimed at young adults can be seen here, including a video demo.

Lego Boost, aimed at kids (7+), comes with a companion app to teach coding. Check it out here.

Even as an adult, these funky little robots look like so much fun to build and play with! I hope I can find an excuse to give these a go soon 🙂