I'm Alex Kearney, a PhD student studying Computer Science at the University of Alberta. I focus on Artificial Intelligence and Epistemology.


Tips and tricks for automation in ML


On science communication and blogging.


This is an interesting article which digs into what the distinction is between icons, indices, and symbols in Peirce's semiotics.


Important points about the value and importance of communication in research here.

Other additional factor to note:

  • spending time on outreach will necessarily mean less time on fundamental research. It’s a trade-off that needs to be appreciated more.

I often see this expectation that the people doing outreach and community coordination will just magically be able to do that and produce the same amount of work as people who aren’t taking on these other tasks. Eventually it just becomes expected that some of the students will take on these projects alongside their research responsibilities.

They get burnt out. They stop. The community goes through an outreach drought.

This happens a lot with minority students in STEM get tapped to do community outreach. It’s all good if you’re interested in community building, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to work on these issues. The effort should be recognized as coming at the expense of research.

Moreover, people leading diversity initiatives shouldn't feel entitled to minority student's time when it comes to contributing to diversity projects just because they're a minority. Too many times I see people working on these sorts of projects getting shoe-horned into the roles because they're in an under-represented group.

Even if students are interested in diversity projects, it becomes a balancing act in maintaining their academic reputation: the more they work on these community and diversity building initiatives, the less of a serious scientist they are to some people---even if they're a wildly talented researcher. This is a massive shame that holds the whole community back.


This is a really interesting article on the distinction between news and journalism, the history of journalism, and how new technology is ressurecting old news-reporting techniques.




Michael Ignatieff does an analysis of Nick Clegg's memoir, discussing the current plight of moderate rationalists.









A discussion on human-focused design.

The article starts with a humorous note which happens to mirror fields including criminal investigation. It's even touched upon by Malcolm Gladwell in his spaghetti talk.

To design the best UX, pay attention to what users do, not what they say. Self-reported claims are unreliable, as are user speculations about future behavior. Users do not know what they want.

Don't listen to people.

If the users have not actually tried to use the designs, they'll base their comments on surface features. Such input often contrasts strongly with feedback based on real use.

Actions speak louder than words.




An interesting take on changes in the way we use the web by an Irani-canadian after being imprisoned for several years.

Some networks, like Twitter, treat hyperlinks a little better. Others, insecure social services, are far more paranoid. Instagram — owned by Facebook — doesn’t allow its audiences to leave whatsoever. You can put up a web address alongside your photos, but it won’t go anywhere. Lots of people start their daily online routine in these cul de sacs of social media, and their journeys end there. Many don’t even realize that they’re using the Internet’s infrastructure when they like an Instagram photograph or leave a comment on a friend’s Facebook video. It’s just an app.

This aptly describes a lot of the issues I've had with using-social media. Specifically, it mentions how walled-off instagram is.

His blog is now here


This was a really helpful guide. There are a few things missing from it, but for the most part it covers what you need to know for using postfix as a personal mail relay.