Posted by Sam Gliksman
There is a note on the notice-board at my workplace that accuses Google of being racist. Whenever you start typing in the Google search box an auto-complete feature drops down and suggests a list of related search terms. The notice-board note displays a screen shot of the search suggestions listed when you type “Judaism is” or Christianity is” into the Google search box. The suggestions are clearly racist and include terms such as “Judaism is false” and “Judaism is a “gutter religion”. In fact, the results are even worse if you type “Holocaust is” into the search box (”...is a hoax” for one). So is Google actually racist as the note suggests?.
The list of search “suggestions” is derived from an algorithmic analysis of the overall volume of searches related to a specific term. Does that imply then that the most popular search related to Judaism is “Judaism is a gutter religion”? No it doesn’t, although some would like you to believe that it is searched most often. Search suggestions can be manipulated - and there are those that would like to steer anyone with an interest in Judaism or Christianity to a certain set of skewed search results.
This is an example of the type of simple cyber attacks that have become very commonplace. Cyber terrorists realize that they can manipulate search engines by planting and spreading viruses that send large volumes of specific searches to Google servers, thereby making them “popular”. Google has very little to do with the compilation of the search suggestion lists. Having said that, I should however note that while Google is not directly responsible for any particular suggestion, it’s completely within their ability to remove offensive search suggestion and they should be pressured to do so. You may remember a controversy a couple of years ago related to the search term “holocaust”. The first site that was listed was a holocaust denial website. Google refused to alter the search results claiming that it would not get involved in “political” debates. After much pressure Google finally relented and removed the offensive listing.
One final footnote. Several weeks ago when testing the “Judaism is” search term in Google I also tried checking for “Islam is”. While searches for Judaism and Christianity returned offensive suggestions, searching for Islam did not - pointing an accusatory finger at the source of the cyber attacks. However if you try searching “Islam is” today, you’ll now find a similar list of offensive search terms. I’ll leave the moral judgements up to you.
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February 5, 2010 | 2:24 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Technion—Israel Institute of Technology selected Shuji Nakamura, a UCSB engineering professor whose work was key in the production of white LED lighting, for the 2009 Harvey Prize, an award named for the late L.A. benefactor Leo M. Harvey.
Nakamura is a professor of materials in the College of Engineering at UCSB, where he also is co-director of the Solid State Lighting and Energy Center. He is internationally known for his invention of revolutionary new light sources: blue, green, and white light-emitting diodes and the blue laser diode. He and a UCSB team also developed the world’s first nonpolar blue-violet laser diodes.
According to the prize announcement issued by the Technion, Nakamura was chosen for the Harvey Prize for “his seminal contributions to light sources based on nitride containing III-V semiconductors. Professor Nakamura pioneered the research that led to the first semiconductor laser producing blue emission, which increases significantly the density of optical storage devices. His work on nitride containing light emitting diodes led eventually to the white light LED, which totally revolutionized lighting concepts. These white light LEDs will dominate light-producing systems, as they are significantly more efficient than conventional incandescent light bulbs, ensuring huge reductions in energy consumption.”
The Harvey Prize, which includes a $75,000 cash stipend, recognizes individuals who have made great contributions to science and technology and human health as well as individuals who have advanced the cause of peace in the Middle East. The other 2009 winner is Sir David Baulcombe, a botanist and research professor at the University of Cambridge in Britain.
February 4, 2010 | 6:00 pm
Posted by Sam Gliksman
I consider it my civic duty to keep you updated on the latest technological advances. Now I recognize that the new iPad is fascinating and advances in electronic cars are definitely important for the environment. What I’d like to know however is whether you are up to date on the latest “IMonics” – abbreviations our kids using when instant messaging and texting each other.
I read an article this morning by educational author Ian Jukes. He reported on a teacher that assigned an essay for his students and received the following from one of them:
My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we ud 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :-@ kds FTF. ILNY, its a gr8plc.
True story. Do you know what it says? Scroll down for the answer…
“My summer holidays were a complete waste of time. Before, we used to go to see my brother, his girlfriend and their three screaming kids face to face. I love New York. It’s a great place.”
How did you do? The instant messaging generation sends more than 19 billion messages every day on average. Instant messaging lingo is described as a hybrid write-speak language based on a combination of abbreviated words and pictures. And of course, most messages are sent while their senders are occupied with a myriad of other tasks at the same time.
Here are some more IMonics from the front lines…
A3 – any time, anywhere, any place
FML – F my life
BOOMS – (don’t want to see anyone messaging this in your class…) bored out of my skull
SOMY – sick of me yet? (please, no jokes…)
T+ - think positive
L2G – would love to go
KPC – keep parents clueless
SMHID – scratching my head in disbelief
@TEOTD – at the end of the day
PRW – parent/people are watching
PSOS – parent standing over my shoulder
Just for the record, my son sent me a text message the other day and I responded by saying “lol”. He’s not speaking to me.