Friday, 21 April 2017

why are dutch children so happy?

The latest research:
The 8 Secrets of Dutch Kids, the Happiest Kids in the World - Finding Dutchland

And here's one opinion on why:

Three Reasons Why Dutch 

Children Are the Happiest 


Annie Holmquist
According to the recently released World Happiness Report, many of the happiest nations are those found in the Germanic portions of the world. One of these is the Netherlands.
But the Netherlands doesn’t just contain happy adults; it contains happy children as well, as author Rina Mae Acosta explains in an interview for MarketWatch. As Acosta sees it, there are several things which Dutch parents do which promote this happiness, three of which are below:
1. They Teach Self-Control
When it comes to dietary choices, Dutch parents aren’t opposed to letting their children indulge in unhealthy foods. This is particularly evident in the fact that chocolate is a staple of the Dutch breakfast. But according to Acosta, “if children are allowed their own indulgences, it becomes less of a taboo and they learn to have more self-control.”
2. They Reject Entitlement
Unlike American children who seem to believe that they need to be waited on hand and foot, Acosta explains that Dutch children:
[A]re not children who are entitled – in fact, the children who are spoiled and entitled are often the unhappiest, I find … Middle-class Dutch children would know even if they wanted something, they have to actually work for it.
3. They Encourage Independence
Dutch parents are careful, Acosta explains, but they strive to avoid the dreaded helicopter parenting by letting children go places on their own and directing their own play:
They bike to school. They have 45 minutes of recess. They’re also expected to play outside. The first years of school, they’re encouraged to create their own play dates. The parents talk and it’s decided whose house the children are going to be at, and what time the children are picked up dropped off at their house. During that time, the children are expected to entertain themselves.
In a nutshell, Acosta describes parenting in the Netherlands as “an intuitive parenting approach that most of us already know but have forgotten.” In other words, it’s plain old common sense.
Unfortunately, the loss of common sense in American parenting may be detrimental to children long after they have matured. According to a recent study by Southern Methodist University, college females subjected to helicopter parenting are less well-adjusted psychologically. College males, on the other hand, encounter greater anxiety and depression if they are not trained to be independent individuals.
The fact is, Americans seem to have desired the best for their children so badly that they have gone to extremes to control the environment in which their child is raised. Do more parents need to reverse course and realize that to be a success, a child must first be taught to stand on his own two feet?

Three Reasons Why Dutch Children Are the Happiest Children - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world

translating - with neural networks

Google Translate is getting better - although you should know how to use it:
Google Translate

There are all sorts of developments happening, taking translation to a whole new dimension:
Research Blog: A Neural Network for Machine Translation, at Production Scale

And from the New Scientist:

4 April 2017

Google uses neural networks to translate without transcribing

girl whispering into ear of a boy

I hear you

Floresco Images/Getty

Matt Reynolds

Google’s latest take on machine translation could make it easier for people to communicate with those speaking a different language, by translating speech directly into text in a language they understand.
Machine translation of speech normally works by first converting it into text, then translating that into text in another language. But any error in speech recognition will lead to an error in transcription and a mistake in the translation.
Researchers at Google Brain, the tech giant’s deep learning research arm, have turned to neural networks to cut out the middle step. By skipping transcription, the approach could potentially allow for more accurate and quicker translations.
The team trained its system on hundreds of hours of Spanish audio with corresponding English text. In each case, it used several layers of neural networks – computer systems loosely modelled on the human brain – to match sections of the spoken Spanish with the written translation. To do this, it analysed the waveform of the Spanish audio to learn which parts seemed to correspond with which chunks of written English. When it was then asked to translate, each neural layer used this knowledge to manipulate the audio waveform until it was turned into the corresponding section of written English.

Corresponding patterns

“It learns to find patterns of correspondence between the waveforms in the source language and the written text,” says Dzmitry Bahdanau at the University of Montreal in Canada, who wasn’t involved with the work.
After a learning period, Google’s system produced a better-quality English translation of Spanish speech than one that transcribed the speech into written Spanish first. It was evaluated using the BLEU score, which is designed to judge machine translations based on how close they are to that by a professional human.
The system could be particularly useful for translating speech in languages that are spoken by very few people, says Sharon Goldwater at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.
International disaster relief teams, for instance, could use it to quickly put together a translation system to communicate with people they are trying to assist. When an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, says Goldwater, there was no translation software available for Haitian Creole.
Goldwater’s team is using a similar method to translate speech from Arapaho, a language spoken by only 1000 or so people in the Native American tribe of the same name, and Ainu, a language spoken by a handful of people in Japan.

Rare languages

The system could also be used to translate languages that are rarely written down, since it doesn’t require a written version of the source language to produce successful translations.
Until it is tested on a much larger dataset, it’s hard to tell how the new approach really compares with more conventional translation systems, says Goldwater. But she thinks it could set the standard for future machine translation.
Some services already use machine translation to let people who speak different languages have conversations in real time. Skype introduced a live speech-to-text translation feature in 2014 and now supports nine languages, including Mandarin and Arabic as well as the most common European languages. But like other existing translation methods, Skype’s transcribes speech into text before translating that text into a different language.
And text translation service Google Translate already uses neural networks on its most popular language pairs, which lets it analyse entire sentences at once to figure out the best written translation. Intriguingly, this system appears to use an “interlingua” – a common representation of sentences that have the same meaning in different languages – to translate from one language to another, meaning it could translate between a language pair it hasn’t explicitly been trained on. The Google Brain researchers suggest the new speech-to-text approach may also be able to produce a system that can translate multiple languages.
But while machine translation keeps improving, it’s difficult to tell how neural networks are coming to their solutions, says Bahdanau. “It’s very hard to understand what’s happening inside.”
Journal reference: arXivDOI:

More on these topics:

Google uses neural networks to translate without transcribing | New Scientist

Friday, 7 April 2017

internet noise

Here's an interesting little tool to play with if you don't like your information being collected on-line:


The coder Dan Schultz released a search randomizer called Internet Noise, which offers a way of veiling one’s real interests online.

The coder Dan Schultz released a search randomizer called Internet Noise, which offers a way of veiling one’s real interests online.

Sometime before dawn on March 29th, not too many hours after Congress approved legislation that allows Internet-service providers to sell your browsing history to whoever wants to buy it, a coder named Dan Schultz released a search randomizer called Internet Noise, which offers a way of veiling one’s real interests online. I heard about it that night, went straight to the charmingly bare-bones page, and clicked the “Make some noise” button. A new browser tab opened and began to refresh every few seconds with search results based on random pairings of words. “Fact cereal,” “fire mind,” and “raft flanker” were the first ones; “final hotel,” “component nation,” and “giraffe cloister” soon followed. I stared at this whimsical procession for a while and then went to bed. The browser refreshed with random word combinations while I slept—an accident of timing that may have influenced how I think about Internet Noise. Upon waking, I reviewed my browser history. All the random word pairings had the strange associative logic of a dream, as though I had been made privy to the Internet’s unconscious.

I kept the browser tab open throughout the day. Now and then I would check in, and I found each visit hypnotizing. It was interesting to note what vanished immediately from my mind and what lingered: a PDF about the aquifers of West Central Florida; a man reading a Susan Minot story out loud in the privacy of his own room (a mere eighty views on YouTube, but his dark room and dramatic whisper are now lodged in my imagination); a painting from the seventeenth century, “Bearded Man with a Beret.” At one point I checked in to discover an article titled “Anna Nicole Smith: Cleavage in Bankruptcy.” I had enough time to grasp that the article was about an intricacy of bankruptcy law that involves something called cleavage and had nothing directly to do with Anna Nicole Smith, before the browser refreshed to something else.

There’s Nowhere to Hide on the Internet - The New Yorker

And here's the website:

Internet Noise

On March 28th, 2017 congress passed a law that makes it legal for your Internet Service Providers (ISP) to track and sell your personal activity online. This means that things you search for, buy, read, and say can be collected by corporations and used against you.
Click this button, and your browser will start passively loading random sites in browser tabs. Leave it running to fill their databases with noise. Just quit your browser when you're done.

This is an early stage and still evolving project. Please offer feedback via twitter and if something goes wrong let me know.

IMPORTANT: this button will make some noise as a form of digital protest. IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU SAFE.
Advertisers don't give you what you want. They manipulate you into wanting what they have.
If you are genuinely interested in thwarting the tracking efforts of your ISP and advertisers you should:
  1. (15 seconds) Add HTTPS Everywhere to ensure your web activities are encrypted as often as possible.
  2. (15 seconds) Add Privacy Badger to block spies and hidden trackers from sites you visit.
  3. (60 seconds) Donate to the EFF.
  4. (10 minutes) Learn about Tor.
  5. (20 minutes) Consider using a VPN

Internet Noise