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  • Everywhere and nowhere: the neglected role of environments

    The picture is from a building in (probably East) Berlin, which I took sometime in 2009. Is this a reminder of bygone Communist regime brutality or a critique of the gargantuan Capitalist corporations that took over? I have been recently working with a number of major corporations, entities ruled by processes and intricate relationships, which reminded me of the importance of considering the environmental aspects of human behavior — and the costs of neglecting them. It is true that much has been said about how a person’s environment is essential to determine his or her behavior. Everybody seems to agree…

  • “Taste our books”: An Extraordinary Recommender System at Garret Street

    Last month I was in Lisbon to present a paper (PDF here) at a conference on Human-Computer Interaction, so I took the time to visit Bertrand‘s main store at Garret Street, a famous local bookshop regarded as the oldest operating in the world. History alone is of course a good reason to go there, but it is not the only one. Physical stores in general remain a great sensorial experience, if not always a convenient or economic one, and it is safe to assume that most online shoppers do miss the material interaction with goods. One critical advantage of online bookshops is their…

  • Cats with lasers: the Mythos Entertainment System 1

    Dogs have been my favorite pets since I was very young — I had a female Basenji for many years in childhood — but life in a compact apartment can be hard for them. Furthermore, they require a lot of attention, which can be hard for us busy humans. Cats, however, do not pose such problems. These felines are known to be a highly independent and live perfectly well in relatively limited environments. Hence, when my girlfriend and I decided to have a new pet recently, we made a logical decision: we bought a Ragdoll cat. Perhaps to compensate for this cold rational calculation,…

  • Deep Learning course

    Jeremy Howard’s Deep Learning course is probably the best one available today on the Web. If you’d like to know how to use the state-of-the-art in neural networks as fast as possible, this is it. I’am having a lot of fun. (Thanks for the tip, Herrmann.) If you have no idea what “Deep Learning” is, you might want to read this Nature article.