An Easy Intro to Audio Speech Synthesis

(2019) A deepfake of Nixon’s Moon Disaster Speech created by Canny AI. The audio was generated synthetically by training a model on Nixon’s past speech. This allowed the model to generalize and perform a speech that Nixon himself had never read publically.

Deepfakes are realistic videos or audio created from the output of a deep neural network. Like any technology, they have the potential for both malice and great kindness. A criminal could use your voice to dupe your family members into sending them money, or a doctor could use your voice to…


For my 2020 New Year’s Resolution, I set out with a friend to write an article a month. For this last one of the year, I’ll go over all the numbers and set some more goals for next year.

Goals for 2020

In the beginning, I took this on as a way to improve my writing, share some of my musings with friends and challenge myself to think deeper about certain issues.

In hindsight, I should have set more concrete metric-based goals, since it’s really hard to say whether or not I actually met them. …


A Framework for Determining What You Value Most in a Team

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Working with a team is essential, but how do you determine who you want to work with? (source)

Let’s say you’ve just joined a tech company and you’re making a decision on which team to choose. Potential hiring managers might come up to you and tell you that their team has great team socials, or that there are numerous growth opportunities. Of course, everyone values these opportunities differently, but it’s often valuable to distinctly classify them first. In other words, you should always think about how much you value everything before seeing what the teams have to offer. I’ll present a framework for how to think about that decision based on four axes: domain, skills, scope, and culture…


Why So Few Vote and How to Make Your Voice Heard

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In every presidential election to date, no more than 45% of the eligible voting population has cast their vote. As an individual, it’s unlikely that your vote will swing the election. However, if everyone thought this way, the candidate that wins might not best represent the wishes of the people, and people that do vote might have overrepresented power in government. This presents an interesting challenge, how do you represent the peoples’ mandate when not even half the people actually chose a person to support? …


A Simple Walkthrough To Enhance Your Personal Brand

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My own personal site created from this guide

First off, this is mainly targetted towards folks that don’t have a web development background but want to create their own website. You could use this to make a personal website to showcase your portfolio including projects you’ve worked on or papers you’ve written. Specifically, this may interest you if you are:

  • An intro-level computer science student interested in seeing what you can do practically with web development
  • Someone outside of computer science that wants to make a website without paying for Squarespace
  • A web designer that wants to have more flexibility…


Tuning Conversations to Spend Time More Efficiently

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(source)

Whether it’s in virtual meetings or written communication, it’s critical to consider your audience when conveying information. Not adding enough context means your audience might get lost and miss your message. On the other hand, adding too much unnecessary context wastes valuable time. It’s hard to determine precisely the right amount of information to share, but hopefully, these tips will help. I’ll start by sharing a general template before going into some more details about the trickier sections, and giving a few examples at varying levels of scope.

Template:

Context — What information does a typical person in this audience…


Sharing experiences as a minority and understanding the unequal impacts of racial bias

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(source)

Coming from a town that is 79% white¹, I was no stranger to racism growing up. The cultural differences between my home and upbringing clashed with that of a “conventional” white American family. At the same time, the shared values on education and existing biases such as the model minority only served to help me and my career. That’s not always the case for people of other minorities. Knowing how it feels to be marginalized, those experiences shape why I believe so strongly today that we should take action to address the inequality that black communities consistently encounter. …


Analyzing why bias occurs and how we can practically address it

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Recently, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM all agreed not to sell their facial recognition technology for law enforcement use over the next year amid findings of racial bias across many such systems. Much press has pointed to the bias in such tools to suggest that they should be banned entirely from police usage. Personally, I disagree with this binary approach. The reality is that developing and using this technology requires certain philosophical tradeoffs. …


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Finding out if you’ve been exposed can be challenging. [source]

Recently, Google and Apple published a final set of technical guidelines for government application developers to use when integrating with Android and iOS phones. As someone that reads and creates similar specifications for a living, I was very interested in the design choices that they would make. Each architectural choice gives perspective into the author’s values just as you might glean insights from interpreting a painting or reading a novel. After reading through these documents, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the focus on protecting individual privacy. …


Enforcing Conceptual Structures in System Design

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Logins are an example of abstraction, one that most users are already familiar with

What happens when you hit “Login”? You might expect to see your recommended Medium articles pop up on the screen. Or, you could see what all your friends have been up to on Instagram. Maybe, you’re instead trying to retrieve a long-forgotten password from your password manager. In either case, as a user, we intuitively understand what “Logging in” means. This website will check our details, make sure they’re right, then show us what we were looking for. We could have been on a completely new website and we would still understand what this process involves. …

Alan Liu

SWE @ Nuro | Formerly Facebook/Google | Yale ’18 | alanliu.dev

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