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Happy New Year! I hope everyone has a wonderful 2018. We're already off to a good start.

YouTube not-quite-sensation Random Talkers, the show where my co-host Matt and I talk tech books and news, will return soon. In the meantime, here were our most watched videos in 2017:
1. We analyzed Waymo's self-driving progress,
2. debated Bitcoin's future,
3. argued about net neutrality,
4. reviewed Brad Stone's "The Everything Store",
5. and broke down Nick Bostrom's "Superintelligence".

But All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

Avoiding the ML Hipster Trap (Peadar Coyle)

Deep Learning: A Critical Appraisal (Gary Marcus) (long-read paper)

These two articles make the same point in very different ways: namely, that ML and deep learning cannot solve absolutely every problem. Gary Marcus enumerates several concerns with deep learning: most techniques are exceptionally data-hungry, top models are often brittle, and final results come saddled with a frustrating lack of interpretability, particularly when trying to suss out causal relationships.

This Cat Sensed Death. What if Computers Could, Too? (NYT)
A neural network is trained to estimate patient mortality. But can it beat a nursing home cat? Nice example of ML in the wild, including common issues (interpretability!)

For The R Crowd

hrbrmstr’s Year In Review (Bob Rudis)
Worth it for the charts. Look for the neat code display option too.

ggplot2 Extensions Library
35+ ways to make even fancier graphs in 2018. Want more interesting fonts? Try showtext.

Combined outlier detection with dplyr and ruler (Evgeni Chasnovski)
Helpful guide sourced from the excellent R Weekly.

China's Tech Dreams Become Reality

What’s new on Xi Jinping’s bookshelf this year (

Xi's reading list includes texts on "AI, AR, algorithms, and machine learning." Impressive! How on earth does he find the time? For thoughts on how Xi will apply his new knowledge, check out this summary from @hardmaru - China's rulers clearly have few qualms about deploying technology to direct the lives of citizens. The nation's upcoming Social Credit System appears to be the crown jewel of this effort.
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