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HAT News Monthly, November: Tech for Good

6 December Subscribe
Tech news with a HAT perspective 
Issue 118

On solving the problem.

In 2012, a framework was published in a leading journal that talked about predictive modelling. 

It said we need to be problem solvers.

"Products rang[ing] from weather forecasting to recommendation engines to services that predict airline flight times [can do so] more accurately than the airline itself. But these products are still just making predictions, rather than asking what action they want someone to take as a result of a prediction."

This is such an interesting time in machine learning and algorithm-ing, because of that very opportunity - the ability to exceed human capability in a narrowly-defined valuable context. But it is limited where we talk about it in the minutiae alone.

The great example is the Amazon recommendation algorithm that, as a best-in-class solution, is often/actually/still not any good at predicting the things we want to buy next, because it suggests things we already have or are likely to already be aware of. 

"Solving the problem" feels like a different challenge than "improving the solution", and now, in the data economy especially, we are hitting a golden age for "potential problem solving." An algorithm is a "solution" (perhaps one for identifying my early-stage glaucoma). An algorithm that improves upon my doctors' ability to recognize the glaucoma from a scan is an "improved solution" than the one we've got (and that's exciting).

But a data-driven technology that takes me out of the medical system flow and still cures me, or prevents my ever contracting the malady? That's Solving the problem. Where can data solve entire problems?

Yours in HAT, 


Leila Trilby, Editor-in-chief

The future

Google launched its new gaming platform, which hosts the computing in the cloud and then delivers it to whatever device, essentially proposing that networking etc will be an easier problem to solve than computing power optimisation in the future. I think they're right. Cool tech.

At the same time, Apple had its own launch day. The most damning indictment I've read characterised it thusly: "Apple is making its move in the 20th century’s dominant form of entertainment while Google made its move in the 21st century’s new form of entertainment."

Also, you can buy products straight from Instagram now. How cool is that?

The doghouse

Facebook had to admit last week that it had been storing hundreds of millions (like, 6 hundreds) of its users' passwords on unencrypted, readable text files. Some 20,000 Facebook employees had access? Mad. I mean, they probably didn't use them for anything or whatever, but that big an oversight by what's supposed to be one of the world's best software engineering companies?

Google got fined and it's stock went up. I tell you man, this world.

There was a streaming service in Korea that showed you secret feeds of guests' hotel rooms :(

The present


Courtesy of NexsenPruet

HAT News

Need even more testers. More requests coming now! We have a shortage of volunteers willing to test ours and our partners' products - and we're growing. Can you help?

Cypriot. We're looking at forming partnerships in South Korea and Cyprus. Have friends there? Starting a company? Get in touch if having a base of operations in Paphos is useful (in these, the darkest hours of Brexit).

Bloggers. Want to write for/with/about the HAT? We're looking for content for our Medium account.

Jonathan Holtby, HAT Community Manager

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