Cognitive Load

My parents taught me as a child lying is harder than telling the truth. I am way too lazy to bother with anything other than using a tangent to change the subject. Simplicity also helps keep track of my life. I like understanding what is happening and why.

Skills involved in deception also teach problem-solving, project management, and social context management. My favorite friends were the brilliant liars. They always had a new entertaining story.

For a host of reasons, their theory goes, lying is more mentally taxing than telling the truth. Performing an extra task while lying or telling the truth should therefore affect the liars more. The Load of Lying: Testing for Truth

As evidenced by Dunbar’s Number, our brains are wired for both determining honesty in others and being the cheat.

Turing Digitalization

Some 60 million CAPTCHAs are solved daily according to Luis von Ahn (on Wired Science on PBS). His technology project reCAPTHCA will use unknown words in these challenges for solving the unknown words in OCR digitalizing books to solve these words in an a quasi-automated sort of way.

I wonder though. Even if reCAPTCHA a) becomes the default at major sites like Yahoo or Google and b) is solved 100% right ever time, then how many books would be completed per day? Certainly no one really comments on this blog, so its almost why bother. (hint, hint)

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UPDATE: Trying to clarify. reCAPTCHA integrates two technologies.

Optical Character Recognition always has questionable results. The worse the quality of the text (age or damage), the less capable the software. It takes a human on average about 10 seconds to recognize and provide the correct spelling of a piece of unknown text.

CAPTCHAs are the little pictures used to verify you are a human and not a spammer at various web sites. The problem is coming up with good digital letters OCR software cannot easily recognize.

Luis’ reCAPTCHA idea is if OCR software has trouble with a piece of text from these scanned books, then they have would make excellent candidates for objects to confuse the spammer bots trying to defeat CAPTCHAs. At the same time, humans validate the correctness of the unknown words where the OCR was confused.

Better?

HAL 10

» Microsoft confirms Vista Speech Recognition remote execution flaw | George Ou | ZDNet.com

I heard back from the folks at the MSRC, and they let me know that Microsoft is investigating public reports of a possible vulnerability in Windows Vista’s speech recognition feature. Microsoft’s initial investigation reveals that this vulnerability could allow an attacker to use the speech recognition feature in Windows Vista to verbally execute commands on a user’s computer.

No More Public Anonymous Photos

Early in the history of the WWW, people thought a document which did not have an inbound link, a link from some external location to the file, was private. Search engines looked for content on web sites in locations for which there was not a link already pointing. To truly respect the privacy of those sites, these search engines would have only index content from sites which asked to be index AND only indexed content which that web site pointed a link.

Just because SiteB links to a location on SiteA doesn’t mean SiteA wished it to found in a search, an example is deep linking. Note the court cases (1, 2) in which judges rule in favor of the SiteAs who go to court about SiteBs who make such links. Note I made deep links in order to demonstrate the deep links. 🙂

On Privacy and Polar Rose – Polar Rose Blog : On Privacy and Polar Rose

It should come as little surprise that we believe that Polar Rose adds tremendous value to the photo web. We think we’re as harmful to the photo web, as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google have been to the text web. By sorting the text web, these search engines exposed the wonderful resource of public documents that web had already become. The side-effect was that information which was not meant for public consumption, but which was kept private by obscurity, was suddenly exposed and searchable.

By Polar Rose’s logic, because people acclimated in general to losing textual anonyminity, they will do the same for facial recognition. Just what does the lack of a label mean? The photographer may be protecting the identity of someone, a minor for example. The uploader may be lazy. The uploader may not know. The uploaded may not own the copyright to the photo.

On the whole, I think facial recognition is a good thing. The cases in which there are likely going to be privacy concerns are going to be more likely uncommon than common. Those who it affects are going to be most upset all the same.

If anything, then I think we have a tendency to underestimate how badly such things are going to violate the privacy of our lives. For example, look how often search engines exposed Social Security Numbers on web sites.

Cheating in an Information Technology Era

Some quotes from an article in the NYT on cheating. This recently came up on a WebCT Users list (usually at least once every year). Maybe the timing is right because the academic year at many schools just ended? Test administrators are usually one step behind the cheaters. There are lots of technologies that have found a niche in increasing the control of the testing environment to prevent cheating. Usually such technologies lock down the computer to prevent the use of other programs and Internet access.

Then there are the anti-technologists who want to go to pen and paper. Ick….

My brain is not wired well for cheating. Rote memorization is very difficult for me. Songs I have listened to a hundred times are still 10% outside my grasp. Quotes longer than a short sentence are pretty fuzzy. The only way I can remember things is through mneumonics that associate items or concepts with items already in my head. I can’t recall all of it; however recognition works pretty well. I can pick which is the right one. So the killer test for me was the complete two essays and ten short answer questions.

Right before I left my last job, one of my “projects” was to convert a student worker from her cramming mentality to a lifetime learner. I viewed the classes I took in school as ways to enrich my understanding of the world and tests as a necessary evil for teachers placed in a difficult position by administrators. The SAT and ITBS were scarily enough kind of fun? The questions were challenging and gave me an opportunity see that I am not as smart as I could be. For several, I wanted to go home a research how they worked…. too bad my memorization sucks. However, my former student worker sees just the classes she takes as the way to get her degree. Tests are in the way between her and the ultimate goal. So she spends long hours the night before cramming for the exam to stick every piece of information she can into her brain and hopefully be better prepared for the test. Later in the term, I asked her a question relevant to the class she was taking and watch her face get concerned as she could not recall it. I explained that she needs to pursue more long term learning techniques. She will find everything she learns useful later in life; so cramming and forgetting is really a waste of her time.

Colleges Chase as Cheats Shift to Higher Tech – New York Times

In a survey of nearly 62,000 undergraduates on 96 campuses over the past four years, two-thirds of the students admitted to cheating.

“One of the things that we’re going to be paying close attention to as time goes on is the use of iPods,” Professor Carlisle added, pointing out that with a wireless earpiece, these would be hard to detect.

Several professors said they tried to write exams on which it was hard to cheat, posing questions that outside resources would not help answer. And at many institutions, officials said that they rely on campus honor codes.