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The Coming Software Apocalypse

Posted on September 28th, 2017 at 22:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


This is why he was so intrigued when, in the appendix of a paper he’d been reading, he came across a strange mixture of math and code – or what looked like code – that described an algorithm in something called “TLA+”. The surprising part was that this description was said to be mathematically precise: An algorithm written in TLA+ could in principle be proven correct. In practice, it allowed you to create a realistic model of your problem and test it not just thoroughly, but exhaustively. This was exactly what he’d been looking for: a language for writing perfect algorithms.

TLA+, which stands for “Temporal Logic of Actions”, is similar in spirit to model-based design: It’s a language for writing down the requirements – TLA+ calls them “specifications” – of computer programs. These specifications can then be completely verified by a computer. That is, before you write any code, you write a concise outline of your program’s logic, along with the constraints you need it to satisfy (say, if you were programming an ATM, a constraint might be that you can never withdraw the same money twice from your checking account). TLA+ then exhaustively checks that your logic does, in fact, satisfy those constraints. If not, it will show you exactly how they could be violated.

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  1. Fantastic article. So much more you could say about this… the trade-offs between engineering and hacking, between repeated similar work and novel work, etc. etc.

  2. Anybody have a nice, clean 1961 Ford Falcon for sale? My next car needs to be completely computer free….

I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets

Posted on September 28th, 2017 at 16:10 by John Sinteur in category: News


In March I asked Tinder to grant me access to my personal data. Every European citizen is allowed to do so under EU data protection law, yet very few actually do, according to Tinder.

With the help of privacy activist Paul-Olivier Dehaye from personaldata.io and human rights lawyer Ravi Naik, I emailed Tinder requesting my personal data and got back way more than I bargained for.

Some 800 pages came back containing information such as my Facebook “likes”, my photos from Instagram (even after I deleted the associated account), my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many times I connected, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened … the list goes on.

“I am horrified but absolutely not surprised by this amount of data,” said Olivier Keyes, a data scientist at the University of Washington. “Every app you use regularly on your phone owns the same [kinds of information]. Facebook has thousands of pages about you!”

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  1. “OMG, the internet knows I’m a slut!”

    Yes, but don’t worry. We’re all just like you.

280 > 140

Posted on September 28th, 2017 at 12:00 by John Sinteur in category: News

My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
What day is day, night night, and time is time,
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time;
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.”

— Polonius, Hamlet Act II Scene II Line 85-92

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