Monday, September 7, 2009

Plasmobot: the slime mold robot

"In recent years, single-celled organisms have been used to control six-legged robots, but Andrew Adamatzky at UWE wants to go one step further by making a complete "robot" out of a plasmodium slime mould, Physarum polycephalum, a commonly occurring mould that moves towards food sources such as bacteria and fungi, and shies away from light."

Andrew Adamatzky homepage:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Credit Derivatives: Russia safer investment than California

“This would have been impossible to imagine a year ago,” said Dmitry Sentchoukov, an emerging-market credit strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in London. “Now it’s clear emerging economies are going to outperform the Group of Seven in growth, and that makes investors comfortable with the idea that developing countries can be priced richer than developed.”

"Credit-default swap prices from Turkey to Indonesia are falling as bonds rise amid signs that their economies are recovering faster than developed nations."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Buehler, Zisserman, Everingham Computer Learns Sign Language

"Once the team were confident the computer could identify different signs in this way, they exposed it to around 10 hours of TV footage that was both signed and subtitled. They tasked the software with learning the signs for a mixture of 210 nouns and adjectives that appeared multiple times during the footage."

Patrick Buehler:

Andrew Zisserman:

Mark Everingham:

"We propose a framework based on multiple instance
learning which can learn a large number of British Sign
Language signs from TV broadcasts. We achieve very
promising results even under these weak and noisy conditions
by using a state-of-the-art upper-body tracker, descriptors
of the hands that properly model the case of touching
hands, and a plentiful supply of data. A similar method
could be applied to a variety of fields where weak supervision
is available, such as learning gestures and actions."

Learning Sign Language by Watching Tv

Social Security Numbers Can Be Predicted With Public Information

"Carnegie Mellon University researchers have shown that public information readily gleaned from governmental sources, commercial data bases, or online social networks can be used to routinely predict most — and sometimes all — of an individual's nine-digit Social Security number."

More info from CMU:

Ralph Gross:

Alessandro Acquisti:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Machine Learning and Trading: Fina Technologies

Company applies machine learning to quantitative trading. It is a spin-off of Gene Network Sciences (GNS) of Cambridge, Mass.

CEO is Joshua Holden

"... trading expertise covers US Government Bonds and Options, US Agency Debt, FX spot and forwards, and US$ Derivatives (Swaps and Volatility). He has held desk-head positions at Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, and most recently Countrywide Capital Markets. At every stop, he has focused on applying cutting-edge technology to the problems of price & model discovery, execution, and risk-management. Josh graduated MIT in 1993 with both a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering."

Investors include Reed Elsevier Ventures; spinoff from Gene Network Sciences,

An article by Joshua Holden appears in Forbes, "Why Computers Can't--Yet--Beat The Market"

"Training a financial trading system to deliver the single best model given the data will most often lead to models that fit the past at the expense of predicting the future. What are needed are systems that are flexible, adapt to changing circumstances and are, at their core, probabilistic rather than deterministic. By having distributions of possible models for the state of the world, we can balance the competing desires for certainty and flexibility. By retraining the models automatically when results begin to drift relative to expectations, we can achieve some of the adaptability that humans exhibit in the face of shifts. The path to beating the markets lies in building systems that understand, but do not emulate, the persistent biases in human nature."

"If our goal is to build intelligent systems to beat the markets, we cannot simply ignore irrationality. As Keynes famously remarked, "the markets can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent." Longer, too, than can an AI trading system."

In Forbes, "Man vs. Machine on Wall Street"

Origin of the applying machine learning to finance: "The idea comes out of systems, or network, biology. Genes and proteins interconnect in a complex web. By drawing these connections, companies hope to invent better drugs. Merck in particular has put technology similar to that used by GNS at the center of its approach.

This computerized approach to biology attracted investors who were, in some cases, quants. Two years ago, Hill was having drinks at an upscale Manhattan bar with an investor and a GNS board member named Thomas Paul, then chief investment officer for Fortress Investment Group. For years, they'd been toying with the idea of using GNS' technology to trade stocks. That night, for some reason, the idea finally stuck.

Paul graduated from MIT in 1993 with bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering and computer science, and, like many of his peers, went to Wall Street, working first at Goldman Sachs and then at Deutsche Bank before starting an $800 million fund at Fortress.

He was prepared for the odd world of quants, he said, by playing on the MIT blackjack team--a different version of the team portrayed in the movie 21, in which a group of students figured out that with investor backing, they could consistently beat the house in Las Vegas by counting cards."

Founder of GNS and Fina is Colin Hill: "Colin Hill brings years of hands-on scientific experience to his role, with expertise in the areas of computational physics and systems biology. Hill is a frequent speaker at international scientific and industry conferences and has appeared in numerous publications and television segments including The Wall Street Journal, CNBC Morning Call, Nature, Forbes, Wired, and the Economist. He also serves as a board member of AesRx, a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of a new treatment for sickle cell disease ( In 2004, Hill was named to MIT Technology Review's TR100 list of the top innovators in the world under the age of 35. He graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in physics and earned master's degrees in physics from McGill University and Cornell University."

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hedge Fund Startups

Hedge Fund Startups

The excel spreadsheet is available here:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Robot Scientist; Ross King, Adam, & "Automation of Science"

Robot achieves scientific first
"A laboratory robot called Adam has been hailed as the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators.

Adam formed a hypothesis on the genetics of bakers’ yeast and carried out experiments to test its predictions, without intervention from its makers at Aberystwyth University.

The result was a series of “simple but useful” discoveries, confirmed by human scientists, about the gene coding for yeast enzymes. The research is published in the journal Science.

Professor Ross King, the chief creator of Adam, said robots would not supplant human researchers but make their work more productive and interesting."

The Paper, "Automation of Science":
"The Automation of Science
Ross D. King,1* Jem Rowland,1 Stephen G. Oliver,2 Michael Young,3 Wayne Aubrey,1 Emma Byrne,1 Maria Liakata,1 Magdalena Markham,1 Pinar Pir,2 Larisa N. Soldatova,1 Andrew Sparkes,1 Kenneth E. Whelan,1 Amanda Clare1

The basis of science is the hypothetico-deductive method and the recording of experiments in sufficient detail to enable reproducibility. We report the development of Robot Scientist "Adam," which advances the automation of both. Adam has autonomously generated functional genomics hypotheses about the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and experimentally tested these hypotheses by using laboratory automation. We have confirmed Adam's conclusions through manual experiments. To describe Adam's research, we have developed an ontology and logical language. The resulting formalization involves over 10,000 different research units in a nested treelike structure, 10 levels deep, that relates the 6.6 million biomass measurements to their logical description. This formalization describes how a machine contributed to scientific knowledge."

Robot Scientist Website:

"The Robot Scientist is perhaps the first physical implementation of the task of Scientific Discovery in a microbiology laboratory. It represents the merging of increasingly automated and remotely controllable laboratory equipment and knowledge discovery techniques from Artificial Intelligence.
The robot in our lab

Automation of laboratory equipment (the "Robot" of Robot Scientist) has revolutionised laboratory practice by removing the "drudgery" of constructing many wet lab experiments by hand, allowing an increase in both the scope and scale of potential experiments. Most lab robots only require a simple description of the various chemical/ biological entities to be used in the experiments, along with their required volumes and where these entities are stored. Automation has also given rise to significantly increased productivity and a concomitant increase in the production of results and data requiring interpretation, giving rise to an "interpretation bottleneck" where the process of understanding the results is lagging behind the production of results.

The research fields of Computational Scientific Discovery and Bioinformatics have emerged in part as a response to this bottleneck. Both disciplines use computational approaches from Statistics and Machine Learning to provide an "automated understanding" of the experimental results.

It has become typical practice in Bioinformatics to separate the data collection or experimentation process and the understanding process, where large numbers of experiments are conducted and then specially designed data mining tools are used to identify correlations in the data that might represent hitherto undiscovered scientific knowledge.

This knowledge will initially correspond to the goals of the scientific task, but increasingly the internet repositories that are often constructed to store the data have become the focus of less directed scientific study, where "hidden" knowledge not originally anticipated by the goals of the scientific task may be found. However, this "scrapyard" approach is partly a result of overexperimentation where many unnecessary experiments were conducted along with the potentially informative ones.
PC and Sciclone

The Robot Scientist makes use of an iterative approach to experimentation, where knowledge aquired from a previous iteration is used to guide the next experimentation step. This is a process known as Active Learning, where the learner can plan its own agenda, i.e. decide how best to improve its knowledge base and how to go about acquiring this information. The Robot Scientist uses the laboratory robot to execute the experiment(s) selected as most informative; has a plate reader to analyse the experiments, generating data corresponding to the scientific observations; uses abductive logic programming to generate valid hypotheses that explain the observations; and uses these hypotheses to determine the next most informative experiment. At the beginning of any investigation, the Robot Scientist has not discovered any information, therefore all possible hypotheses are equally valid. As the directed discovery process continues, each new observation (or experiment/interpretation cycle) will invalidate some of the hypotheses, thereby excluding incorrect discoveries. The experiment selection process aims to choose the experiment most likely to refute the most hypotheses. This iterative process allows irrelevant experiments to be avoided, potentially saving both laboratory time and the cost of using unnecessary reagents and biological materials."

Ross King CV:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Machine controls Bacteria : Sylvain Martel

Researchers in Canada have created a solar-powered micro-machine that is no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence. The tiny machine can carry out basic sensing tasks and can indirectly control the movement of a swarm of bacteria in the same Petri dish.

Sylvain Martel, Director of the NanoRobotics Laboratory at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, previously showed a way to control bacteria attached to microbeads using an MRI machine. His new micro-machine, which measure 300x300 microns and carry tiny solar panels, will be presented this week at ICRA '09 in Japan.

Sylvain Martel website

Sylvain Martel Nanorobotics Lab

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sean Gourley: Mathematician of War

How Sean Gourley predicts war:

Sean Gourley predicting war at TED:

The Mother (Nature) of All Wars?
Modern Wars, Global Terrorism, and Complexity Science
Sean Gourley in the American Physical Society:

Sean Gourley on LinkedIn:

A critique by Drew Conway:

Sean Gourley also has a startup predictor, YouNoodle

Sean Gourley CV from

New Zealander, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, PhD in Physics specializing in 'networks and complexity', just finished a research fellowship at Oxford in the quantitative analysis of war and terrorism.
Headline: Scientist
Work status: Living The Dream
Industries: Cleantech, Computing, Financial, Media, Nanotech
Skills: Business, Design, Entrepreneurship, Management, Product design, Writing
Location: Oxford
Groups: Global Entrepreneurship Week
Visas: Europe, United States and New Zealand/Australia
Interested in: Brainstorming, Consulting opportunities, Offering Expertise, Patenting my idea, Professional opportunities, Promoting my startups, Recruiting for my startup, Sharing my projects
Tags: Artificial Intelligence, complexity, conflict, data analysis, data mining, Strategy, track and field, war
Schools: University of Canterbury, Christchurch, University of Oxford

Sean Gourley STARTUP
YouNoodle YouNoodle

YouNoodle is a place to discover and support the hottest early-stage companies and university innovation.

* Startup type: Company
* Status: Active
* Stage: Beta

Employer: Said Business School Oxford
Position: Research Fellow
Time period: October 2006 - April 2008
Description: Conducted novel research into the quantitative analysis of wars and terrorism

Employer: NASA
Position: Scientist
Time period: June 2004 - January 2005
Description: Research into the design of self repairing nanocircuits

Sean Gourley EDUCATION
University: University of Oxford
Time period: 2002 - 2007
Degree: Physics: Complex Systems, PhD

University: University of Canterbury, Christchurch
Time period: 2001 - 2002
Degree: Physics: Nanotechnology, MSc

Sports: Track and Field, Decathlon, Surfing
Awards: Rhodes Scholarship
TED fellow 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shmatikov and Narayanan De-anonymize Flickr and Twitter


Excerpt from article: "Operators of online social networks are increasingly
sharing potentially sensitive information about users and
their relationships with advertisers, application developers,
and data-mining researchers. Privacy is typically protected
by anonymization, i.e., removing names, addresses, etc.
We present a framework for analyzing privacy and
anonymity in social networks and develop a new
re-identification algorithm targeting anonymized socialnetwork
graphs. To demonstrate its effectiveness on realworld
networks, we show that a third of the users who
can be verified to have accounts on both Twitter, a popular
microblogging service, and Flickr, an online photo-sharing
site, can be re-identified in the anonymous Twitter graph
with only a 12% error rate.
Our de-anonymization algorithm is based purely on the
network topology, does not require creation of a large
number of dummy “sybil” nodes, is robust to noise and all
existing defenses, and works even when the overlap between
the target network and the adversary’s auxiliary information
is small."

Vitaly Shmatikov
faculty page:

Arvind Narayanan's Live Journal:

Apparently Arvind Narayanan's has a start up, "like Pandora for videos"

Arvind Narayanan's research blog:

Full text of De-anonymizing Social Networks below:

De-Anonymizing Social Networks Shmatikov Narayanan

Friday, May 1, 2009

DigitalGlobe Satellite Service sets IPO terms

" NEW YORK, April 29 (Reuters) - DigitalGlobe Inc (DGI.N: Quote, Profile, Research), a satellite imagery company serving the military and large corporations, set the terms on Wednesday for its planned $250 million initial public offering and scheduled its pricing for mid-May.

The Longmont, Colorado-based company plans to sell 14.7 million shares at between $16 and $18 each, in a deal led by underwriters Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan, according to a regulatory filing."

More detailed:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wolfram Alpha: 6 Things You Need to Know

1 - Frederic Lardinois: "It definitely looks like it can live up to the hype - though, because it is so different from traditional search engines, it will definitely not be a "Google killer"

2 - Wolfram will be giving a sneak preview of Wolfram Alpha knowledge engine at Harvard Law School on Tuesday, April 28:

Event is being co-hosted by Jonathan Zittrain

3 - In Wolfram's own words: "Wolfram|Alpha isn't really a search engine, because we compute the answers, and we discover new truths. If anything, you might call it a platonic search engine, unearthing eternal truths that may never have been written down before..."

4 - "Wolfram|Alpha can pop out an answer to pretty much any kind of factual question that you might pose to a scientist, economist, banker, or other kind of expert. The exciting part is that you're not just looking up pages on the web, you're getting new information that's generated by computations working from the known data. Wolfram says the response can be so speedy because, "We've found that, of all the things science can compute, most take a second or less."

5 - Stephen Wolfram created the math software Mathematica ; he was educated at Eton, Oxford, and Caltech; he published a physics paper at 16; he wrote a book of philosophy in which he posits the world is based on cellular automata, A New Kind of Science. It is available online:

6 - You can get updates by checking out the Wolfram Alpha website and/or Wolfram Alpha Blog

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Computer Programming in North Korea

"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, also
known as North-Korea) finds itself at the beginning of
a new era of international economic cooperation. The
DPRK is offering various products and services to
export markets, and there is also a need for many
foreign products and investments.

The Chamber of Commerce Amsterdam, GPI
Consultancy and the Netherlands Council for Trade
Promotion recently organized a business mission in
order to investigate the business opportunities in this
country. The economic mission to Pyongyang took
place from 28 September to 4 October 2008."

Cited in:

Company website

Dutch Trade Mission to North Korea

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Father of Financial Engineering Discusses Crisis

Merton speaks!

"The central point of the first part of the talk -- the embedded put option in a plain vanilla loan, and associated nonlinearities -- is nice but I don't think it is as essential to the current crisis as he suggests. (It's obviously in his interests to downplay the complexity of new financial instruments relative to traditional ones. The difference, of course, is that we've had much more time to get used to the traditional ones and build the proper safeguards and regulatory systems.) Merton is refreshingly modest about his understanding of the complex causes of the crisis. At one point he notes that the post mortem investigation into the crisis is unlikely to produce a Feynman moment, in which someone holds up an O-ring that caused the disaster!"

Supercomputer Bankers

Speeding Up Financial Analysis§ion=

"Now IBM has shown that stream computing can be used to analyze market data faster than ever before. The result is a machine that helps automated trading systems determine the price of securities using financial events that have just occurred. To build the system, the computing company partnered with TD Securities, an investment-banking firm, to tweak IBM software called InfoSphere Streams for financial data. The firm ran the software on one of the latest IBM supercomputers, known as Blue Gene/P."

Video on Youtube:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Private Equity and Infrastructure

"Robust credit markets also whetted investors' appetites for steady, long-term investments that with financial engineering could yield better-than-average returns for infrastructure. Macquarie was the category killer that established the listed fund model at least a decade earlier.

Since then, the ranks of private infrastructure funds have swelled, drawing in Washington's Carlyle Group, 3i Group plc of London, Swedish private equity firm EQT Partners and several bank-sponsored and independent players. However, competition has also increased, and players have tried to boost investment returns by using more leverage. "

Lehman's Uranium

"“What people found out is that this is not like playing copper where it’s a liquid and deep market,” Wong said. “A lot of the funds playing this market have blown up.”

Well said.

"The bankrupt bank, in the throes of paying off creditors, acquired uranium cake “under a matured commodities contract” and plans to sell it when the market improves “to realize the best prices,” Chief Executive Officer Bryan Marsal said. "

Grand Strategy Reading List from Foreign Policy Magazine

- Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy

- Edward Luttwak, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire

- Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History

- George Kennan, American Diplomacy, 1900-1950

- Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000

- Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation

For exhaustive list see The Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy syllabus

- John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress.

- Geoffrey Parker, The Grand Strategy of Philip II.

- Walter Russell Mead, God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World.

- Allen Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sonoma State University course on creating computer viruses

"The companies that make their living fighting viruses aren't happy about what's going on in Ledin's classroom. He has been likened to A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani scientist who sold nuclear technology to North Korea."

"Rather, he's trying to teach students to think like hackers so they can devise antidotes. "Unlike biological viruses, computer viruses are written by a programmer. We want to get into the mindset: how do people learn how to do this?" says Ledin, who was born to Russian parents in Venezuela and trained as a biologist before coming to the United States and getting into computer science. "You can't really have a defense plan if you don't know what the other guy's offense is," says Lincoln Peters, a former Ledin student who now consults for a government defense agency."

See also

Article in Sonoma State newsletter

Friday, April 10, 2009

Financial Engineers as Bridge Architects

Economics is a new science. Financial engineering is an even newer science.

Humankind's earliest bridges were flimsy. Over time, they got better and better, but sometimes bridges collapse.

If a wood bridge collapses, does it mean that the science of bridge building is too dangerous? Does it mean that we should abandon bridges because sometimes bridges collapse? No, because collapses are relatively rare and before the bridge collapses, it serves a lot of good.

Now let us say a "fat tail" event occurs. Architects for a bridge in the Bay Area put a lot of effort into ensuring that the bridge can withstand an earthquake that is 9.0 on the Richter Scale. A 10.0 earth quake has never been recorded and it would cost $10B to make the bridge that resilient. Should the Mayor of San Francisco raise taxes, cut teachers' salaries, etc. in order to make the bridge 10.0 safe?

Then imagine that one day a 10.0 earth quake hits. A 10.0 quake has never been recorded in history - are the architects to blame? Is the mayor to blame?

Or is maybe no one to blame. Science is not perfect, but continuously improves. The financial sciences are in their infancy and need to be nurtured and incubated rather than left exposed like weak Spartan babies.

[Note 20-April-09: I have found another article ("Don't Blame the Quants" - Forbes)that uses this analogy; it was written in Oct 08 by Steven Shreve, the Orion Hoch professor of mathematical sciences at Carnegie Mellon University:

"It is easy under these circumstances to point an accusing finger at the "quants" on Wall Street, that cadre of mathematics and physics Ph.D.s who crunch numbers in esoteric models. Without the quants, the complicated mortgage-backed securities that fueled the housing bubble and led to the freezing of credit might not have been created. The models used by the quants determine the prices of those securities and steer the traders who make markets in them. Without this guidance, the banks might not have touched them in the first place. To prevent a recurrence of financial crises, some call for a return to a simpler time, before derivative securities and the quants who analyze them--a time when investors bought stocks and bonds and little else.

Such complaints miss the point. When a bridge collapses, no one demands the abolition of civil engineering. One first determines if faulty engineering or shoddy construction caused the collapse. If engineering is to blame, the solution is better--not less--engineering. Furthermore, it would be preposterous to replace the bridge with a slower, less efficient ferry rather than to rebuild the bridge and overcome the obstacle."]

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Report says spies compromised US electric grid

"Congressional investigators and intelligence officials have warned before that electric utilities are vulnerable to cyber attacks. CIA analyst Tom Donahue told utility engineers at a conference last year that in other countries, hackers had broken into electric utilities and demanded payments before disrupting power -- in one case turning off the lights in multiple cities."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nassim Taleb as Populist, as Reactionary

Ten principles for a Black Swan-proof world
By Nassim Nicholas Taleb


<> "Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the “Nobel” in economics, banning leveraged buyouts, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching people to navigate a world with fewer certainties."

Private equity (financed with leverage) helps small businesses grow and allows exits for entrepreneur (making entrepreneurship more attractive and encouraging innovation).

<> "The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean."

Question: OK, the experts got it wrong, but having amateurs solve the problem hardly seems to be a sensible solution.

Also, note that Mr. Taleb is part of the same establishment. He does not hide this (his credentials are clearly stated at the bottom of the article "The writer is a veteran trader, a distinguished professor at New York University’s Polytechnic Institute and the author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable") but he does not mention the legion of PhDs in mathematical finance that he "unleashed." Also, "the veteran trader" managed a hedge fund.

"Economic life should be definancialised. We should learn not to use markets as storehouses of value: they do not harbour the certainties that normal citizens require. Citizens should experience anxiety about their own businesses (which they control), not their investments (which they do not control)."

Average people need to invest in financial markets in order to prevent inflation from clawing away at their retirement savings. Also, most people are not business owners, but agents of anothers' business. A middle manager of a paper company in Scranton, PA hardly has control over his destiny, and I'm not sure what his retirement strategy would look like without financial markets.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Attributor - Everthing you want to know

Who leads Attributor?

Management Team:

Jim Pitkow, CEO, Co-founder
Prior to Attributor, Jim was CEO and Chairman of Moreover Technologies, where he successfully restructured the company through acquisition by VeriSign in October of 2005. Before Moreover, Jim was the President and Chairman of Outride Inc., a spinout from the Xerox Palo Alto ResearchCenter (PARC), which was acquired by Google. Jim received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1997. Jim graduated Cum Laude in Psychology from the University of Colorado in 1993.
Jim is the President of the Adolescent Counseling Services and has spent over a decade as a Nordic National Ski Patroller. He can also be found prowling Incan ruins in Bolivia.

Jim Brock, Chairman, Co-founder
Jim most recently served as SVP, Communications & Consumer Services at Yahoo!, where he led the highly successful communication and broadband operating groups. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Brock was a partner with Venture Law Group, a leading Silicon Valley technology law firm, where he led the firm's Internet practice.
Jim holds a B.A. degree in economics with honors from Claremont McKenna College and a J.D. degree from the University of Chicago Law School.
Jim lives with four women, including three teeny boppers. Even his dog is a girl. He carries chocolate wherever he goes and has seen the long version of "Pride and Prejudice" five times. Not back to back, though.

Adrian McDermott, Vice President of Engineering
Adrian McDermott is the Vice President of Engineering at Attributor. Previously he was the VP of Engineering for BEA Systems’ AquaLogic User Interaction family of products and the Web 2.0 based Enterprise Social Computing product line: AquaLogic Pages, Ensemble and Pathways. Adrian joined BEA as part of the Plumtree Software acquisition, he was the first engineer hired by Plumtree in early 1997 and worked on the architecture and development of every Plumtree Portal product version. Prior to Plumtree Adrian worked as an itinerant software consultant in London, Hong Kong,
Sydney and Guam.
British expat Adrian stays true to his roots via the daily consumption of marmite, a gelatinous English breakfast food. His American colleagues believe it looks like axle grease and tastes like toe jam.

Matt Robinson, Vice President of Business Development
Matt leads the company’s business development and strategic partnership initiatives and also serves as the company’s general counsel. Matt has been involved with internet and new media companies for the past decade, focusing on the intersection of content, technology and law. Before joining Attributor, Matt spent 6 years at Yahoo!, most recently as Vice President and Associate General Counsel overseeing legal product counseling. Matt holds a BA degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Outside of work, it’s all about raising twin boys and in those extra minutes, skiing, fly fishing, mountain biking, and getting lost in foreign locales without a guidebook.

Rajat Monga, Chief Architect
Rajat leads the labs and operations at Attributor and has been responsible for many of Attributor's core architectural principles. Prior to Attributor, Rajat played a lead role in Search at eBay. He also has extensive experience designing and building complex scalable systems at Quova, Arzoo and Morgan Stanley. Rajat received his B.Tech. from the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.
Outside of work, Rajat spends time keeping his one-year-old son out of mischief. He also enjoys reading and swimming, though generally not at the same time.

Rich Pearson, Vice President of Marketing
Rich leads the Marketing and PR activities at Attributor. Previously he led the marketing efforts for Yahoo! Mail, Messenger and Photos which followed two years in London where he directed Yahoo!’s European Marketing efforts. Before that he held senior marketing positions at Homestead, Segasoft, and Del Monte Foods.
Rich holds a B.S. from University of California, Berkeley and an M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business.
Outside of work, Rich enjoys running, reading, cooking and performing improvisational comedy for his increasingly unimpressed kids.

Where can I hear what Attributor has to say?

Attributor Blog:

Attributor on Twitter:

Who are their customers?

Attributor Customers include: Thomsons, Financial Times, Conde Nast, the New Yorker, PC World, MIT Sloan Management Review, etc.

Who works at Attributor?

From LinkedIn:
Attributor provides a content monitoring and monetization service that tracks how and where your text, image and video content moves across the Web.

Customers such as Thomson Reuters, Associated Press, Conde Net, Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa and others use Attributor to identify new sales leads and revenue-sharing opportunities, monitor licensed and unlicensed uses and derive more links and better search engine placement. see less

content monetization, digital content management, licensing

Attributor employees are most connected to:

* Yodlee
* AdMob
* eBay
* Yahoo!

Career path for Attributor employees

* Yahoo!

Top Schools
San Jose St. Univ. 8%
Univ. of California, Berkeley 8%
Median Age 35 years
Male 79%
Female 21%

Who funded Attributor?

Funders (from Crunchbase)

Total $22M

Series A, 1/06 $2M
Draper Richards
First Round Capital
Selby Venture Partners
Sigma Partners
Amicus Capital

Series B, 12/06 $8M
Sigma Partners
Selby Venture Partners
Draper Richards
First Round Capital
Amicus Capital

Series C, 4/08 $12M
Jafco Ventures
Sigma Partners

Where can I read articles about Attributor?

Attributor Launches Service to Track Copyright Infringement Across the Web

InFocus: Attributor Corp.



Friday, April 3, 2009

No Lie MRI profile

Link from:

"Hank Greely and Emily Murphy at the Center for Law & the Biosciences located at Stanford University. "I don't think it is anywhere near sufficiently proven to be used today," said Greely, a law professor who heads up the center. "And premature use not only risks harming people's lives, but potentially harming neuroscience by overpromising and under-delivering," on the technology."

CEO Joel Huizenga speaks.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Siri Assistant , Origins in CALO : Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes

Siri based on CALO Project

CALO Project Website:
SRI CALO Website:

Summary: "SRI International is leading the development of new software that could revolutionize how computers support decision-makers.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), under its Personalized Assistant that Learns (PAL - download brochure) program, has awarded SRI three phases of a five-year contract to develop an enduring personalized cognitive assistant. DARPA expects the PAL program to generate innovative ideas that result in new science, new approaches to current problems, new algorithms and tools, as well as new technology of significant value to the military.

The team dubbed its new project CALO, for Cognitive Assistant that Learns and Organizes. The name was inspired by the Latin word "calonis," which means "soldier’s servant." The goal of the project is to create cognitive software systems, that is, systems that can reason, learn from experience, be told what to do, explain what they are doing, reflect on their experience, and respond robustly to surprise.

The software, which learns by interacting with and being advised by its users, will handle a broad range of interrelated decision-making tasks that have in the past been resistant to automation. A CALO will have the capability to engage in and lead routine tasks, and to assist when the unexpected happens. To focus the research on real problems and ensure the software meets requirements such as privacy, security, and trust, the CALO project researchers themselves are using the technology during its development.

SRI is leading the multi-disciplinary CALO project team and, beyond participating in the research program, is also responsible for overall project direction, management, and development of prototypes. The project is bringing together leading computer scientists and researchers in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, knowledge representation, human-computer interaction, flexible planning, and behavioral studies."

See video at Video.Google:

Other Spin offs:
and Radar Networks, makers of Twine:

CALO presentation at DARPA Tech:
DARPA brochure:
CALO publications:

Related research efforts include:
"RADAR, the Reflective Agent with Distributed Adaptive Reasoning, is a $7 million dollar, five-year research project in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science. The overall goal is to develop a software-based "cognitive personal assistant" that will help busy military commanders and managers to work more effectively, with less time wasted on routine tasks. This new technology should be equally valuable to managers in industry, academia, and government. RADAR is funded by the Information Processing Technology Office (IPTO) of DARPA and managed by SRI International." At Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department:


"IRIS is a semantic desktop application framework that enables users to create a “personal map” across their office-related information objects. IRIS includes a machine-learning platform to help automate this process. It provides “dashboard” views, contextual navigation, and relationship-based structure across an extensible suite of office applications, including a calendar, Web and file browser, e-mail client, and instant messaging client."

Participants include the usual suspects, such as MIT and Harvard, as well as:

CollaborX Inc.
Fetch Technologies, Inc.
iAnyWhere Solutions
International Computer Science Institute (ICSI)
ISX Corporation
Laszlo Systems
Natural Interaction Systems, LLC

See other posts here:

Siri Assistant Founder on LinkedIn


Commercializing innovation

Founder & CEO

Information Technology and Services industry

January 2008 – Present (1 year 4 months)

Recently launched a venture funded company focused on a truly big innovation for consumer internet.

Coming soon...simplifying life for everyday humans.

Stanford Research Institute

Telecommunications industry

June 2007 – December 2007 ( 7 months)

Preparing internet venture for Fall 2007 launch.

General Manager

Public Company; Telecommunications industry

August 2002 – May 2007 (4 years 10 months)

Vice President
Telenor Mobile

Public Company; 10,001 or more employees; Telecommunications industry

April 2000 – August 2002 (2 years 5 months)

Handelshøyskolen BI
MBA, Strategy and Marketing

1993 – 1994

From Crunchbase:

Siri’s CEO is Dag Kittlaus, who founded the company as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at SRI.

A serial innovator and consumer wireless internet veteran of 10 years in Scandinavia and the US, Dag is working on creating his third consecutive mobile internet product with over a million users.

Dag has held leadership roles as VP of Consumer Internet Services at Scandinavian telecom giant Telenor Mobile, and several consumer product groups at Motorola including GM of xProducts and founder and GM of Motorola’s Interactive Media Group. He conceived and launched Screen3, a breakthrough consumer mobile application currently used by millions of users and adopted by Cingular, China Mobile, and Telefonica.

See also posts here:

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

RPX and Intellectual Ventures - Patent buyers

"Like most venture-backed firms, RPX Corporation, a new company devoted solely to buying patents, hopes to make a lot of money and eventually go public.

But the strategy of the start-up, backed by the blue-chip venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Charles River Ventures, is exactly the opposite of the other patent funds. It buys patents with the expressed intention of not using them and not suing anyone else who does."

Main article:

The term "Patent Trolling" is derogatory - see and WSJ article, Inventors have rights too by Nathan Myrhvold

About RPX
RPX News
RPX Blog

See also Nathan Myhrvold ( former Microsoft CTO
Head of similar firm, Intellectual Ventures:
Intellectual Ventures:
Intellectual Ventures News:
Article on Intellectual Ventures:

Friday, March 27, 2009

How to make money from online content, even after it gets loose on third-party websites.

Embracing Piracy by Erica Nanone

"addressing the problem in two ways. First, the company is working with online ad networks to share revenue with the owner of any content that appears on an ad-supported site. Attributor is also testing code that attaches ads to articles, no matter where the article appears. A site can grab an article with permission, as long as the code that handles the ads is in place. Robinson noted that there's still a lot to work out, such as figuring out the minimum amount of compensation that the content creator should accept."

Attributor website:

Attributor White Paper: Set your content free and monetize it


World Series of mountain warriors

Thomas Ricks on Gurkhans vs. Taliban:

I didn't realize the Gurkhas were fighting in Afghanistan. This is like the World Series of mountain warriors. It also is a replay of the last British small war in the region, the fighting in Waziristan in the 1930s. John Masters wrote a wonderful memoir of commanding a Gurkha unit there in his classic Bugles and a Tiger. In a subsequent volume, The Road Past Mandalay, about fighting in World War II, he recalls at one point being surrounded by a Japanese unit in Burma, and his Gurkha sergeant major turning to him and saying, "Boy, am I glad these guys aren't Pashtuns!"


Taliban attack Nato Routes

Gurkas Help Routs Taliban

Thursday, March 26, 2009

McKinsey on Recession

"All four recessions, like the current one, began with falling sales and EBITA in the consumer discretionary sector and three with similar declines in IT. Consumer staples didn’t suffer significantly in the last three or health care in the last two. The energy sector was among the latest to be hit in three of the recessions, though it was among the latest to recover in all four of them. The exhibit shows the sequence of decline and recovery in these and other sectors."

More details in the article below (must register w/ McKinsey Quarterly)

No Lie MRI NOT being offered as evidence in court

Gary Seiser to Stanford Center for Law and Bioscience:

"...Now I understand both the great potential of fMRI for lie detection, and the many hurdles yet to be overcome before it is ready for the courtroom. It has definitely been a learning experience.

As you know, this week the proponents of the evidence withdrew their request to have it admitted, thus ending the issue in our case. I won’t speculate on why they did that. I will only say I was confident that with all the help I had received, you assisting as co-counsel, and Marc Raichle on the stand, we would have prevailed. In a way, we did."

Monday, March 23, 2009

The coming censorship wars

"it's well known that countries such as China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam and South Korea all use a number of techniques to prevent their citizens gaining access to certain types of traffic. These techniques include blocking certain IP addresses, filtering traffic with certain URLs in the data packets and prefix hijacking, any of which could affect international traffic.

But according to Karlin and co, very little international traffic is routed through these countries so they pose a relatively small threat.

Less well known, they say, is that countries like Great Britain and Australia also censor traffic, albeit ona less pervasive scale. And that huge amounts of international traffic is routed through Britain.

The only country that is more influential than Britain by a measure invented by Karlin and co called the Country Centrality, is the US. The US, along with Sweden, allows wiretapping of international traffic without a warrant, not everybody's cup of tea. But routing your internet traffic to avoid the US, or Britain for that matter, would be a tricky business."

Josh Karlin website:[[About%20Me]]

Josh Karln on "Mysteries of the Unregulated Internet";jsessionid=R2hqJdvLG5PL915GQzMJb60hhvCJSrzQrLSnvG54F1G8TX08M7tQ!-34539227?nodePath=/BEA%20Repository/news/items/1223069797045

Scientific papers by Josh Karlin:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Lie MRI being offered as evidence in court

"It has come to our attention that No Lie MRI has produced a report that is presently being offered as evidence in a court in Southern California. A hearing about the admissibility of this evidence is imminent.

The case is a child protection hearing being conducted in the juvenile court. In brief, and because the details of the case are sealed and of a sensitive nature, the issue is whether a minor has suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a custodial parent and should remain removed from the home. The parent has contracted No Lie MRI and apparently undergone a brain scan. ....

The defense plans to claim the fMRI-based lie detection (or “truth verification”) technology is accurate and generally accepted within the relevant scientific community in part by narrowly defining the relevant community as only those who research and develop fMRI-based lie detection. [Note: California follows its own version of the Frye test of admissibility, not the current federal test under Daubert."

"No Lie MRI licensed its technology from psychiatrist Daniel Langleben of the University of Pennsylvania. Langleben, like the company, declined to be interviewed for this article, but offered a recent editorial he co-authored in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law on the "future of forensic functional brain imaging."

For more on Daniel Langleben

UPENN website:

NPR Article on Langleben:

Neuroscientist Uses Brain Scan to See Lies Form

No Lie MRI (company) -

See also
"Duped: Brain Scans Uncover Lies?" from Margaret Talbot of the New America Foundation

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Could China and India go to war over Tibet?

"This is the role Tibet's dispensation plays in the conflict between China and India. Indian strategist C. Raja Mohan puts it bluntly: "When there is relative tranquility in Tibet, India and China have reasonably good relations. When Sino-Tibetan tensions rise, India's relationship with China heads south." Although not widely recognized in the West, the nexus of Tibet and the unresolved border conflict between China and India ranks with the Taiwan Strait and Korean peninsula among Asia's leading flashpoints."

National Security Law for Policymakers and Law Students

National Security Law for Policymakers - Crash Course

Sense Networks Strikes Again

Sense Networks is the most popular girl at the popular tech mag ball.

See articles in Wired: Clive Thompson on Real-World Social Networks vs. Facebook 'Friends'
and MIT Technology Review: TR10: Reality Mining: Sandy Pentland is using data gathered by cell phones to learn about human behavior. What Your Phone Knows About You; MIT's Sandy Pentland finds surprising implications in patterns of cell-phone use

See also Sense Networks news:

"Over the course of any day, people congregate around different parts of a city. In the morning hours, workers commute downtown, while at lunchtime and in the evening, people disperse to eateries and bars.

While this sort of behavior is common knowledge, it hasn't been visible to the average person. Sense Networks, a startup based in New York, is now trying to bring this side of a city to life. Using cell-phone and taxi GPS data, the startup's software produces a heat map that shows activity at hot spots across a city. Currently, the service, called Citysense, only works in San Francisco, but it will launch in New York in the next few months."

Science brought to you by Alex "Sandy" Pentland out of MIT:

2004 Technology Review article by the man himself:

They are funded by "hedge fund community and by founders of other leading finance and technology companies." I.e., Drobny Global Advisors and The Challenger Funds. Sounds like they made a great investment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Siri - AI Assistant Startup

We have met our share of secretive startups over the years, but few have been as secretive about their plans as Siri, which was founded in December 2007 and did not even have an official name until today. Siri was spun out of SRI International and its core technology is based on the highly ambitious CALO artificial intelligence project. Today, Siri announced that it has raised an $8.5 million Series A financing round, led by Menlo Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures.

See also other Major Talmadge posts:

Sunday, March 1, 2009


A new museum exhibition on Genghis (Chingiz) Khan is opening in Houston.

Weatherford ( of author of Genghis Khan and the making of the modern world is responsible for much of the new found interest in the Mongols.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

North Korea Fund Seeks $50 Million After Terror Label Removed

Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A U.K. businessman is seeking to raise $50 million to invest in North Korea, reviving a 2005 plan after the U.S. government removed the communist regime from its list of countries that support terrorism.

ChosunFund Pte. Ltd. will join with North Korean partners for mining and energy projects, Colin McAskill, founder of the Singapore-incorporated fund, said in an interview.

“The country holds huge natural resources but is capital starved and lacks the technology and management skills with which to develop them,” McAskill said.

(I was lead to the article by North Korea Economy Watch:

The ChosunFund website has an interesting investor presentation:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Policymaker's Guide to Central Asia (in PDF)

Central Asia Resources for Policymakers

Biological Machines

Scientists have created a living machine whose flight can be wirelessly controlled.

Also, see more of the 10 emerging technologies of 2009:

A Guide to Central Asia Resources for Policymakers

Online Resources & RSS Feeds
Foreign Policy Association
Jamestown Eurasia Daily Monitor
Uzbekistan Daily

Online Reports
CRS Reports
U. S. Congress Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Allison, Roy. Central Asian Security.
Olcott, Martha Brill. Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise.
Mayhew, Bradley. Lonely Planet's Guide to Central Asia.
Tsygankov, Andrei. Russia's Foreign Policy.

Academic Centers
Central Asia-Caucus Institute (CACI) at Johns Hopkins
Center for Languages of Central Asia at Indiana University
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard

Top Experts
Lubin, Nancy
Olcott, Martha Brill
Starr, S. Frederick.

China's Dollar Dilemma

Basically the Chinese are pissed that the government is wasting their money, i.e. investing in dollars...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mongolia and the Mad Man

"James Palmer’s “Bloody White Baron,” his life of Baron Roman Nikolai Maximilian von Ungern-Sternberg, is the story of “a loser — albeit an upper-class one” — who turned himself into a visionary psychopath in the Russian far east. Uncomfortable but fascinating reading, it weaves together the weird alliances, murderous dreams and improbable careers that emerged in the aftermath of World War I and the fall of czarist Russia."

This guy sounds like a mix of Conrad's Kurtz and Wallenstein.

Things get worse in South Asia ...


"With two missile strikes over the past week, the Obama administration has expanded the covert war run by the Central Intelligence Agency inside Pakistan, attacking a militant network seeking to topple the Pakistani government."

US & Pakistan Government vs. Pakistani Insurgents &
Pakistan Government vs. Indian Government [see previous post].
However, US and India have had good relations, since the end of Soviet times. India is the most friendly of the BRIC countries and therefore an indispensable ally.

How is this going to shake out?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reading Thoughts with Brain Imaging

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) looks more and more like a window into the mind. In a study published online today in Nature, researchers at Vanderbilt University report that from fMRI data alone, they could distinguish which of two images subjects were holding in their memory--even several seconds after the images were removed. The study also pinpointed, for the first time, where in the brain visual working memory is maintained.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This Could Get Ugly: Ricks Predicts South Asian War

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Smell of Weakness


Obama might be "the new JFK" ( (,-says-Kennedy-aide.html) but that is not necessarily all good.

Khruschev thought JFK was young and inexperienced; Obama has even less experience.
This is not necessarily a weakness of Obama (in fact, some liked the idea of a president who is not a Beltway insider), however it can lead to dangerous situations.

Obama might be a lot of things, but he is not likely to take Russian pushing idly. Foreign leaders might be tempted to play a dangerous game of chicken with our young president. That is how wars happen.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Two Conclusions on Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk:

I) The Amazon Mechanical Turk is related to traditional work and part-time jobs, just like micro finance is related to private equity and venture capital. The time commitment, value of the projects, and returns on the project are lower, however on the whole, it will make things more efficient. In the past, there was no market for these sort of internet odd jobs (e.g., a website needs content, so it offers $0.40 for someone to write a Top 10 list); now there is.

II) This site is of little (no) value in a liberal western country (i.e., a country where there is minimum wage, amply opportunities for part time jobs). Most of the jobs are under a dollar in value. The highest paying job (as of now) is $5 (but I have seen as high as ~$7). However, the US minimum wage is $6.55.

An American would have to be very efficient in order to make more than $6.55 in an hour using the Amazon Mechanical Turk (and most likely, the most efficient Americans have proper jobs).

However, the opportunities for the Third World to do this work is very promising; although it is limited by their access to the internet and their use for's currency.
"Not by strength, by guile."