Friday, September 21, 2018

Masbad: Quick Hits 18

That Instagram algorithm

About two years ago, Instagram switched to a new way of showing things on your feed. They switched over to an algorithm-based feed rather than the old way of showing things on a chronological way. Personally, I like the old way. I know which photo or post I saw last so I know when to stop scrolling. This new feed though have, more often that I’d like, shown me posts that are more than three days old.

In an article from TechCrunch yesterday, Instagram finally revealed how that algorithm works. In essence, there are three main factors that will dictate what you’ll see in your feed. Those are:

1. Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.

2. Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones.

3. Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.

Check out the article in the link above for more details.

Facial recognition as the good guy

We’ve all heard or read it somewhere that facial recognition can be used against you or, perhaps, a way of invading your privacy as well. I have a friend who, in all his photos in Facebook, always covers his face with some emoji or blurs his face. He says he doesn’t want Facebook’s machine learning AI to memorize his face.

On a different take thought, TheNextWeb reported about this company that employs facial recognition to help with the fight against human trafficking.

Marinus Analytics is a startup that licenses technology to law enforcement with the express purpose of fighting human trafficking. It’s founder and CEO, Emily Kennedy, created a program called Traffic Jam during her time at Carnegie Mellon that uses AI tools to identify victims.

This is an example of leveraging technology to help with good causes. If you ask me, I think law enforcement agencies should take a closer look into this and perhaps incorporate it as a tool.

Lattice cryptography

I only encountered this recently and I don’t really know a lot about this yet. However, I’m quite curious what this is, how it’s implemented, and whether or not it will reach real-world applications. Can we use this to help encrypt our private data? Will companies like Google and Apple and Microsoft use this is a way to encrypt their users’ data?

For now, here’s a video of what it is.