October 22, 2017


  • “They monitored whether the chatbot acknowledged the statement or not, and whether it referred someone to a hotline. Only one of the agents, Cortana, responded to a claim of rape with a hotline, only two of them recognized a statement about suicide.”  From freedom-to-tinker
  • China is building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system with the power to identify any one of its 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds.South China Morning Post
  • “Pornhub announced that it is using machine learning and facial recognition“. They say it’s to improve search, according to Vice, which is more or less why people are worried.
  • From the Herald: “ACC has paid out on 660 claims where (pedestrian) cellphone distraction has been noted as the injury’s cause.”  You, of course, are asking what that comes to as a percentage of car crash costs. Outsourced to @aw_nz on Twitter

Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar
    Steve Curtis

    China has a bigger issue with unique identifiers for its population- the lack of surnames or more correctly the common usage of a small number of names.

    3 months ago

    • avatar
      Thomas Lumley

      Name concidence is more common in China, but I’m not sure it’s qualitatively different from other countries that way. Even among New Zealand Europeans names aren’t unique identifiers — the University of Auckland, in the not-too-distant past, had two academic staff members named Alastair J. Scott. (I don’t know the other one’s middle name, but I wouldn’t bet against it also being ‘John’)

      The same probability phenomenon that leads to birthday coincidences in the average school class means that you need to construct artificial unique identifiers for surprisingly small groups.

      3 months ago

      • avatar
        Megan Pledger

        When I was at Massey University, there was another student with the same name as me living in the same street. It caused a bit of confusion at the student medical centre because they used street name to discriminate between people with the same name. Once we got down to street number things became clearer.

        3 months ago