Data Science newsletter – February 26, 2020

Newsletter features journalism, research papers, events, tools/software, and jobs for February 26, 2020


Data Science News

Innovation Campus begins to take shape

Virginia Tech, Innovation Campus, News


lanning and design of Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus will achieve another milestone next week when the height and massing of the first academic building is shared with the Potomac Yard Design Advisory Committee — another step in a year-long process to secure approvals and permits from the city of Alexandria.

The Innovation Campus will anchor the first phase of a new North Potomac Yard mixed-use development – with the first academic building scheduled for completion in 2024.

Architectural drawings of the first academic building will be submitted to the city in early April as part of the Development Special Use Permit submission. However, PYDAC, a city-appointed citizen group charged with reviewing development plans for consistency with the design criteria, will view preliminary building scale, massing, and architectural character for a portion of the development on March 4.

Creating new computer science majors

Georgia State University, The Signal student newspaper, Brooklyn Valera


Two new degree programs are making their way to Georgia State. The Admissions and Standards Committee approved major eligibility requirements for Bachelor of Science degrees in data science and game development.

On Jan. 23, the Student Government Association held their first university-wide meeting of the semester where Sen. John Le, Student Services Committee chair, announced the committee’s progress.

Clinical trial sponsors must publish 10 years of missing data, judge rules

STAT, Lev Facher


For years, government research agencies have misinterpreted a law that requires them to collect and post clinical trial data, a federal judge ruled this week, leaving behind a 10-year gap in data that now must be made publicly available.

Now, potentially hundreds of universities, drug companies, and medical device manufacturers are on the hook to release previously unpublished data. The ruling affects trials conducted for as-yet-unapproved drugs and devices in that 10-year stretch, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs — meaning hundreds or even upwards of 1,000 noncompliant trials would be forced to post data.

The ruling, from a federal judge in New York’s Southern District, puts sponsors of clinical trials during that span out of compliance if they have not posted results to the government repository ClinicalTrials.Gov.

Yale to explore new building for quantum research and engineering

Yale University, YaleNews


Following a key recommendation from a major university report on Yale’s science priorities, the university will consider developing a state-of-the-art building that is intended to transform the pursuit of quantum science, engineering, and materials research.

Yale officials announced the initiative Feb. 25, after university leaders discussed it with faculty at a town hall meeting.

What’s wrong with the EU’s approach to A.I. regulation?

Fortune, Eye on A.I., Jeremy Kahn


Margrethe Vestager, who is best known as Europe’s tough anti-trust cop but whose remit now extends to both policing—and promoting—Europe’s digital economy, told The New York Times that she wasn’t interested in policing the algorithms that recommend Spotify tracks or Netflix movies. She was concerned about A.I. that determines who gets a loan or what diseases are diagnosed.

That all sounds reasonable. But in practice, lawmakers are likely to find it much more difficult to draw nice, fine-tipped Montblanc circles around high- and low-risk uses of A.I.

Companies are stealing influencers’ faces

Ars Technica, WIRED, Emma Gray Ellis


Image theft isn’t unique to Kyselica, or even social media influencers. If you’ve ever seen (or bought) a designer handbag or a pair of sunglasses that “fell off a truck,” you’ve seen a version of this before. The internet has made selling knockoffs a breeze, especially because vendors can just use a picture of the genuine article on the listing and the customer won’t know the difference until the inevitably plasticy and awful fake shows up on their doorstep.

As influencer marketing has grown in popularity, using images from their accounts has became the logical next step. Instagrammers often complain about Chinese fast fashion companies copying their looks and using their photos (often with their faces cropped out) to sell cheap knockoffs. Beauty YouTubers constantly encounter ads featuring their own eyes, nails, or whole faces, as well as inboxes and DMs full of fans telling them about such ads. In an economy based on audience trust, the products can be a real blow to their businesses. More often than not, they have no idea what to do next.

Once bulletproof, tech stocks now among market’s biggest losers

Reuters, Technology News, Ira Iosebashvili and Lewis Krauskopf


Investors poured billions into big technology stocks and other momentum bets last year, as a dovish Federal Reserve stoked risk appetite and fueled a rally of more than 30% in the S&P 500. Some big technology and momentum stocks kept griding higher, driving markets to records even as concerns grew over the virus’ spread in China in recent weeks.

Now a surge in coronavirus cases outside of China has made some investors more willing to part with riskier assets in favor of traditional havens like gold and U.S. Treasuries, which have soared in recent days.

How to Prepare for a Coronavirus Pandemic – The Worst-Case Scenario Isn’t Inevitable, but It Can’t Be Ignored

Foreign Affairs, Tom Inglesby


The epidemic is still in its early days, and its defining characteristics will take time to understand. The scale of nCoV’s ultimate impact will depend on just how contagious it reveals itself to be and how lethal it is in those who fall ill—properties that cannot be precisely determined at this stage. The efforts underway to contain the disease in China and elsewhere could prove effective in the weeks ahead, and they should be fully supported. Yet there is a clear possibility that nCoV may not be contained in time to prevent a large global outbreak. Countries should start preparing for that prospect now.

NIST Publishes Draft Security Recommendations For IoT Manufacturers

RTI Insights, David Curry


New NIST recommendations offer voluntary activities related to cybersecurity that manufacturers should consider performing before their IoT devices are sold to customers.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a second draft of its recommendations for Internet of Things (IoT) device manufacturers.

In it, the federal agency asks a series of questions and assessments to be carried out before commercialization, aimed at “reducing the prevalence and severity of IoT device compromises”.

Bracing for Brexit: Best Practices for Data Migration in Wake of 2020 Brexit

Dataconomy, James Clifford


While there is the possibility of another extension, if the transitional period expires without a trade deal in place, the U.K. will still be looking at the complications of a no-deal Brexit. It could lead to a host of disruptions with the cross-border transfer of goods and services, including data that is critical to the operation of many businesses. Currently, the U.K. falls under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If a no-deal Brexit transpires, the U.K. will become a “third country” and this regulation will no longer apply. The U.K. government is working to put safeguards in place and plans to incorporate GDPR into its data protection law to mitigate disruption once Brexit occurs. But this process will take time and requires that the EU recognize the new U.K. data laws as sufficient. And so, the possibility remains for data-transfer complications to arise post-Brexit.

When facing such uncertainty, it’s critical for organisations impacted by Brexit to evaluate where they house their data. For organisations looking to relocate their data centres altogether, there are several steps they can take to ensure the data migration process is as smooth as possible.

Women publish at rates equal to men but leave science earlier

Chemical & Engineering News, Andrea Widener


Multiple studies have shown that men publish more papers than women during their careers. Speculation about the cause of that imbalance includes family responsibilities, academic rank, and work climate. New research finds that women worldwide publish at the same rate as men, but they leave science earlier (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2020, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1914221117).

How one company is beating slow play by using artificial intelligence

Golf, Tim Reilly


Days on the course are precious. Free time is precious. Neither is meant to be wasted due to slow play and now, neither has to be thanks to the Tagmarshal golf course intelligence system.

Tagmarshal offers an app that improves pace of play and provides golf course operation teams with real-time oversight and historical data. Its software uses data from more than 10 million rounds to provide tailored information to 250 partner courses. A whos-who logo collection—Carnoustie, Whistling Straits, Baltusrol, Kiawah Island, Bandon Dunes, Pinehurst and Erin Hills—are just a handful of the GOLF Top 100 Courses that currently use Tagmarshal.

The Pentagon promises to use artificial intelligence for good, not evil

Military Times, Meghann Myers


The military has its eye on artificial intelligence solutions to everything from data analysis to surveillance, maintenance and medical care, but before the Defense Department moves full steam ahead into an AI future, they’re laying out some ethical principles to live by.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed off on five guidelines in a memo released Monday,

“The United States, together with our allies and partners, must accelerate the adoption of AI and lead in its national security applications to maintain our strategic position, prevail on future battlefields, and safeguard the rules-based international order,” said Esper wrote. “AI technology will change much about the battlefield of the future, but nothing will change America’s steadfast commitment to responsible and lawful behavior.”

Exclusive: Google users in UK to lose EU data protection – sources

Reuters, Joseph Menn


Google is planning to move its British users’ accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, placing them under U.S. jurisdiction instead, sources said.

The shift, prompted by Britain’s exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement.

NOAA warns of risks from relying on aging space weather missions

Space News, Jeff Foust


The head of NOAA’s space weather office used a recent hearing to caution that a failure of an aging spacecraft in the next few years could leave the agency “hurting a little bit” in its ability to monitor solar activity.

At a Feb. 12 hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee on “space missions of global importance,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the committee, asked if NOAA should accelerate plans for its Solar Weather Follow-On mission, a spacecraft scheduled for launch in 2024 to collect solar wind data and take images of the sun’s corona from the Earth-sun L-1 Lagrange point.

NOAA currently uses the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) and NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft to collect solar wind data, and uses the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft to observe the solar corona, using those data to forecast solar storms that can affect satellites and terrestrial infrastructure such as power grids.

However, SOHO, launched in December 1995, is well past its design life. In addition, DSCOVR has been offline since June 2019 because of technical problems, forcing NOAA to depend solely on ACE, which launched in 1997.


Technology Fellow

“Fellows work both as a cohort across the foundation and as part of program teams to explore the role and impact of technology with social justice and help develop a critical technology lens throughout the foundation.” Deadline to apply is March 11.

Here are the contenders for STAT Madness 2020. Voting begins March 2

A DNA microscope. A gene therapy for “bubble boy” disease. The restoration of cellular activity in pig brains four hours after death. Nano-robots that might clean teeth better than flossing.

These are just some of the 64 important discoveries and inventions included in this year’s STAT Madness, a bracket-style competition to honor the best biomedical research published in 2019.

Center for Technology and Society Belfer Fellowship

The fellowship “was established to support innovative research and thought-leadership on combatting online hate and harassment for all. Fellows will be drawn from areas like the technology community, academia, and media to push innovation, research and knowledge development. They will embark on projects that align with CTS’s mission, like studying new areas of the online hate ecosystem and providing recommendations for industry, government, and civil society to promote respectful and inclusive digital environments and reduce the spread of toxicity online.” Deadline to apply is March 31.

RecSys 2020 – Call for Contributions

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 22-26. The conference “strongly encourages the submission of algorithmic papers that repeat and analyze prior work.” … “Submissions regarding replicability or reproducibility papers are welcome in all areas related to recommender systems (see the main track Call for Papers for a list of topics).” Deadline for submissions is May 4.
Tools & Resources

Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images Into Public Domain

Smithsonian Magazine, The Smithsonian Institution


For the first time in its 174-year history, the Smithsonian has released 2.8 million high-resolution two- and three-dimensional images from across its collections onto an open access online platform for patrons to peruse and download free of charge. Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or a pair of bootie shorts.

Use This Framework to Predict the Success of Your Big Data Project

Harvard Business Review, Carsten Lund Pedersen and Thomas Ritter


Big data projects that revolve around exploiting data for business optimization and business development are top of mind for most executives. However, up to 85% of big data projects fail, often because executives cannot accurately assess project risks at the outset. We argue that the success of data projects is largely determined by four important components — data, autonomy, technology, and accountability — or, simply put, by the four D.A.T.A. questions. These questions originate from our four-year research project on big data commercialization.

The components needed for success with big data can be positioned along two dimensions: (1) the focus of the activities (the project’s ideation or implementation — such as coming up with an idea for a big data project versus actually implementing the project) and (2) the focus of the transformation (digital backbone or getting people’s support — such as building the IT-architecture needed to create a sufficient digital backbone or making sure that employees can and will apply data and that this application is in line with societal opinions on what should and should not be done with data). These two dimensions create a matrix of D.A.T.A. components and the key questions executives need to ask when contemplating new big data projects, as seen below.

Over 100 partners to help you succeed with the GitHub Student Developer Pack

The GitHub Blog, Scott Sanicki


“Six years ago, we launched the GitHub Student Developer Pack, providing over 1.8 million students access to the best real-world developer tools and training for free. We’re excited to share that we’ve reached over a hundred companies partnering with GitHub to help student developers get their careers off to the right start.”

“This February, we’re adding 14 new offers, each providing a free and unique benefit available to all student members of the Pack. Whether you’re designing your first game, developing your first desktop application, or publishing your first mobile app—the Pack provides you with the tools you need to be successful.”



Postdoctoral Fellow

Northeastern University, Institute for Experiential AI; Boston, MA
Tenured and tenure track faculty positions

Assistant Professor in Interaction Design

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Media Technology & Interaction Design Division; Stockholm, Sweden

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