Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for April 10, 2020

in STEMGeekslast year (edited)

A Steem essay describing Reddit's new cryptocurrency, Reddit Community Points; New York power plant sells bitcoin hash-power to institutional investors; iRobot releases free robot simulator and educational platform; Teaching computers to learn without human supervision; and Facebook launches a new "private space" for couples in their Tunes application


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  1. Steem @liberosist: Reddit releasing blockchain-based tokenization with "Community Points" - detailed breakdown - In this post, the author goes through some of the details behind the new ERC-20 token, Reddit Community Points. The post indicates that Reddit is slowly rolling out the new token, and that it will be tied to the platform's Karma points. The essay looks at the token from the perspective of distribution, purchasing community memberships (one of the token's main utility functions), voting, and other utilities - including that it may eventually be bundled into 3rd party applications and networks. (A 10% beneficiary setting has been applied to this post for @liberosist.)

  2. New York Power Plant Sells 30% of Its Bitcoin Mining Hashrate to Institutional Buyers - As previously covered in Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for March 9, 2020, Greenidge Power Generation has launched a bitcoin mining operation in New York state, where it takes advantage of "behind the meter" electricity prices in its power plants to mine bitcoin with discounted energy costs. Now the company has announced the sale of "106,000 terahashes per second (TH/s) of bitcoin mining power to undisclosed buyers consisting of hedge funds and family offices". This is an amount that approaches 30% of the firm's mining capacity. The company said it benefits from the deal by locking in prices, in advance of the approaching "halving" event, and by receiving cash upfront to fund its operations. At current hash rates, the deal enables the buyers to earn roughly 1.8 BTC or about $13,000 per day, without needing to expend any additional amount learning or operating the mining equipment.

  3. iRobot Launches Robot Simulator, Free Online Curriculum for Robotics Education - Subtitle: Your kids can learn to program robots from scratch, for free, on their computer or phone - iRobot acquired Root robotics about a year ago, which included Root's $200 Root Coding Robot. Now, as part of National Robotics Week, the company has announced its iRobot Education. This free platform includes a robot simulator as well as free lessons so that anyone can learn robotics programming for free. From the article:
    iRobot is launching a free (albeit proprietary) coding and simulation platform that’s compatible with most operating systems, including Android, Chrome OS (Chromebooks!), Windows, iOS, and macOS. Called iRobot Coding, it has a lot in common with coding frameworks like Blockly and Scratch, in that there are several levels of complexity to help make it super easy to start even if you’ve never coded before.

  4. Computers Already Learn From Us. But Can They Teach Themselves? - Subtitle: Scientists are exploring approaches that would help machines develop their own sort of common sense. - This article is part of an ongoing Artificial Intelligence special report from the NY Times. Humans learn through a combination of "supervised learning", where one person teaches something to another person, and "trial and error", where we sort-of figure things out for ourselves. It's this second mode of learning that largely distinguishes human learning from machine learning. Because there are limits to what machines can learn through supervised learning, some researchers are turning their attention towards the trial and error methods for learning. One such technique is known as "reinforcement learning". The method was pioneered by Richard Sutton, and it makes use of goals and rewards to guide the computer through trial and error learning. Another method is "self-supervised learning which is where a computer teaches itself by viewing and predicting millions of pieces of data, like youtube videos for example, to build up a body of knowledge that it can use to solve future problems. Reinforcement learning was covered previously in Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for January 22, 2020 and Curating the Internet: Science and technology digest for February 8, 2020. -h/t Communications of the ACM

  5. Facebook has a new social network that’s just for couples - Facebook's new Tuned application offers the ability for couples to "message each other, swap music, share their mood, keep a daily shared diary, and send photos and voice memos", all without need for a Facebook account. The company bills the new application as a private space, but strictly speaking, that's probably an overstatement, because it does not include end to end encryption. The application was created by Facebook's New Product Experimentation Team, and it's mostly targeted towards people from the younger demgraphic groups.


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