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From The Chinese University of Hong Kong: A New Algorithm That Recognizes Faces Better Than People Can

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Faces from the Dataset Used to Test the Algorithm Described Below

It’s already a little eerie when Facebook suggests tags for who it recognizes in your photo, especially for faces that are small, blurry, or otherwise difficult to distinguish. What if Facebook were even better–better at recognizing people in pictures than you are?

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Two computer scientists are announcing they’ve made a program that is better at matching photos than people are, the Physics arXiv Blog reports. This is the first time a program has performed better than people at recognizing people.

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To be sure, the new algorithm, developed at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, outperforms people in a very specific task with a very specific set of photos. The Hong Kong researchers asked the algorithm to tell whether two faces are the same, drawing from a set of 13,000 photos of 600 public figures. Humans get the right answer 97.53 percent of the time, on this test. The Chinese University of Hong Kong algorithm is right 98.52 percent of the time. (You can try some sample matches at the Physics arXiv Blog!)

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Former Beijing Tycoon Executed for Murdering 8 People 

Former Beijing multimillionaire Xia Keming and his three companions were executed on Tuesday for killing eight people between 1999 and 2007, the Beijing Times observed on Wednesday.

Xia once served as a civil servant in Beijing. He was sentenced in 1988 to three years in prison for the illegaldealingof train tickets. After being released, Xia started a business in Shenzhen, and also owned 19 percent of shares in a Beijing-based company valued at more than 100 million yuan ($16 million).

A file photo of Xia Keming(R1) and his three companions (Photo source: people.cn)

 Xia Keming (R1) and his three companions (Photo source: people.cn)

The murder spree began when Xia asked his brother Xia Kezhi and two of his ex-cellmates to kill a business partner surnamed Liu.

In the following eight years, the four killed seven other people, including Xia Keming’s business partners, mistress and acquaintances.

To cover up their crimes, the gang bribed officials with cash, cars, luxury watches and expensive rosewood furniture. Read the rest of this entry »


120th Anniversary: Chinese Strategists Reflect on the First Sino-Japanese War

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A collection of essays on the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 has obvious implications for modern China.

For The Diplomat, Shannon Tiezzi writes;  China is gearing up for the 120th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War, which began in 1894 and ended with China’s defeat in 1895. The war was a devastating blow to China’s then-rulers, the Qing dynasty, as China had always considered Japan a ‘little brother’ rather than a serious competitor. The war is often seen as the defining point when power in East Asia shifted from China to Japan, as Tokyo claimed control of the Chinese territories of Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula (site of the port city of Dalian) as well as Korea (which changed from being a Chinese vassal to an officially independent state under Japanese influence).

” The war was a devastating blow to China’s then-rulers, the Qing dynasty, as China had always considered Japan a ‘little brother’ rather than a serious competitor.”

To commemorate the 120th anniversary of the war, Xinhua published a special supplement to its Reference News newspaper. The supplement consisted of 30 articles by members of the People’s Liberation Army “analyzing what China can learn from its defeat” in the Sino-Japanese war. Summing up the articles, Xinhuasaid that “the roots of China’s defeat lay not on military reasons, but the outdated and corrupt state system, as well as the ignorance of maritime strategy.” This conclusion has obvious modern-day applications, as China’s leadership is currently emphasizing both reform and a new focus on China’s navy.

“Japan’s victory proved that its westernization drive, the Meiji Restoration, was the right path, despite its militarist tendency.”

The PLA authors laid the bulk of the blame for China’s defeat on the Qing dynasty’s failure to effectively modernize. “Japan’s victory proved that its westernization drive, the Meiji Restoration, was the right path, despite its militarist tendency,” Xinhua summarized. Political commissar of China’s National Defense University Liu Yazhou compared Japan’s reforms to China’s: “One made reforms from its mind, while another only made changes on the surface.”

Though these comments are referencing a conflict from 120 years ago, it’s easy to see the relevance for today. Xi Jinping is trying to spearhead China’s most ambitious reform package since the days of Deng Xiaoping, including not only difficult economic rebalancing but also an overhaul of the way China’s bureaucracy (both civilian and military) is organized. In other words, China still needs to finish the modernization project that the Qing half-heartedly began in the 19th century. Westernization (what today China would call modernization) remains “the right path.” Read the rest of this entry »


Tesla Might Find Success in China, but the Results Could Be Bad for the Environment

China-bound: A Tesla Model S sedan.

China-bound: A Tesla Model S sedan.

For MIT Technology ReviewMike Orcutt  writes: Sales of electric vehicles in China, the world’s largest auto market, have beenminuscule despite government incentives meant to put five million of the cars on the nation’s roads by 2020. Tesla Motors hopes to begin changing that as it makes its first deliveries of Model S sedans to customers in China this month. But while having more EVs might help China reach its transportation goals, it probably won’t improve the environment, given the country’s reliance on coal for more than 70 percent of its electricity. Making matters worse, coal in China is often dirtier than it is elsewhere, and many power plants don’t employ modern emission-control technologies.

Because China relies so heavily on coal for power, electric vehicles aren’t necessarily an improvement over gasoline-powered cars.

Recent research led by Christopher Cherry, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, has shown that in much of the country, an electric vehicle the size of a Nissan Leaf accounts for roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide per mile driven as a comparable gasoline-powered car. On top of that, EVs in China account for a larger amount of dangerous particulate emissions than conventional cars. Read the rest of this entry »


Gunboat Economics: China Seizes Japanese Ship — As Payment for Pre-World War II Debt

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(AFP) — Tokyo warned Monday that the seizure of a Japanese ship in Shanghai over pre-war debts threatened ties with China and could undermine the very basis of their diplomatic relationship.

Authorities in Shanghai seized the large freight vessel in a dispute over what the Chinese side says are unpaid bills relating to the 1930s, when Japan occupied large swathes of China.

[ALSO SEE: CHINA ECONOMIC REVIEW: "GUNBOAT ECONOMICS"]

The move is the latest to illustrate the bitter enmity at the heart of Tokyo-Beijing ties, with the two sides embroiled in a dispute over the ownership of a small archipelago and snapping at each other over differing interpretations of history.

Mr Suga said Japan was "deeply concerned" about the seizure of a cargo ship in China

Mr Suga said Japan was “deeply concerned” about the seizure of a cargo ship in China

Shanghai Maritime Court said Saturday it had seized “the vessel Baosteel Emotion owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines… for enforcement of an effective judgement” made in December 2007.

“The arrested vessel will be dealt with by the law if Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. still refuses to perform its obligations,” the court said.

Chinese and Hong Kong media said the seizure was related to a verdict by a court in Shanghai that said Mitsui must pay about 2.9 billion yen ($28 million) in relation to the leasing of two ships nearly 80 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »


Japan Sets Sights on Strengthening South China Sea Surveillance

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Members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces during a drill

TOKYO — Jonathan Soble writes:  For years, the sole armed force protecting Japan’s westernmost inhabited territory – the sleepy island of Yonaguni, population 1,500 – has been two police officers.

That will soon change: a new military radar base is to be completed on the island in two years’ time, guarded by 100 members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, a development that has divided islanders while underscoring Tokyo’s increasingly tough-minded security policy.

On Saturday, Itsuki Onodera, defence minister, will travel to the island, which lies 2,000 miles southwest of Tokyo and a stone’s throw from Taiwan, to break ground on the base. When it is completed in 2016, its radar will give Japan a clearer view of Chinese ship and aircraft movements in the South China Sea, including around islands whose ownership is disputed by Tokyo and Beijing.

“We are determined to protect Yonaguni, which is part of the precious territory of Japan,” Mr Onodera told reporters this week, saying the SDF deployment belonged to a broader effort to “strengthen surveillance of the southwestern region”.

That effort has been under way for several years, as Japanese military planners shift their focus away from their cold war adversary Russia – just off Japan’s far north – to China, which has been rapidly modernising its military and challenging Japanese control of the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Daioyu in China.

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How Technology Revolutionized Taiwan’s Sunflower Movement

Facebook and Google, the favored tools of dissidents, are now shaping Taiwan’s relationship with China.

taiwanFor The DiplomatVincent Y. Chao writes: Underneath the piercing gaze of Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China, a group of students sat, unshaved, unkempt and basking in the glow of their laptops. Amongst stacks of coffee cups, crudely drawn artwork, and piles of unevenly stacked office chairs, they were hard at work, plotting the next phase of their revolt against the government in Taiwan.

Three weeks earlier, the group had broken past police barriers and forcefully occupied the main Legislative assembly hall, defeating multiple attempts to evict them by the police. They sit engrossed: sending out press releases, updating the group’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, and sparking discussion on PTT (an online bulletin board favored by many of the country’s youth). Others are dozing off, or hold a blank stare in their eyes, a product of weeks of tension, uncertainty and sleep deprivation.

Initially there were only a hundred of them – students from Taiwan’s top universities energized by a series of controversial land seizures and, in this case, upset at the government’s attempt to ram through a wide-ranging services trade deal with China. Their numbers subsequently swelled, buoyed by 24 hour news coverage, Facebook shares, and, of course, volunteers from the hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic supporters that have flooded the capital Taipei’s streets in recent weeks.

Oliver Chen, 26, is a student from Taiwan’s prestigious National Taiwan University Law School. His hallmark, he says, is the colorful dress shirts he changes into every day. “Nothing else is changed. Shirts are all that I brought.” During the protests, he was responsible for the bank of computers to the left of Sun’s portrait. His team of English speakers worked with the foreign press to arrange interviews with the two protest leaders, Chen Wei-ting, 23, and Lin Fei-fan, 25.

Oliver and the rest of the students were organized. Very organized. Even the opposition, rumored to have ties to some of the student organizers, admits to such. “They could probably run a better campaign than the DPP,” said opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen during a media interview. The students have a medical center, distribution tables for snacks and goods, and even rooms for yoga or singing.
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[VIDEO] Anti-Gun Senator Leland Yee: ‘The Laws He Was Pushing Pale in Comparison to The Laws He Was Breaking’

NRA News‘ Ginny Simone reports the story the way CNN should have

California State Senator Leland Yee, a leading gun-control activist, was arrested March 26 in an FBI sting and charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption. “This is heavy-duty international arms trafficking with organized crime figures,” says Civil Rights Attorney Chuck Michel. “The laws that he was pushing pale in comparison to the laws that he was breaking.”

From Powerlineblog:

The Leland Yee story is one of the most remarkable in years. A California State Senator, Yee has long been a leading spokesman for gun control–it’s all for the children, you know. A popular politician who represents around one-half of San Francisco, Yee was about to run for Secretary of State when he was arrested for gun running. Specifically, he acted as an intermediary to buy shoulder-fired missiles and automatic weapons from a Muslim terrorist group in the Philippines and import them into the U.S. There were other charges, too; the usual bribery, money laundering, and so on.

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China Opens 2014 Campaign with Secretive Satellite Launch

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Rui C. Barbosa reports:  The Chinese finally opened their 2014 campaign with the launch of a Shijian-11 class satellite. A Chang Zheng 2C (Long March 2C) rocket lofted a mysterious satellite – understood to be part of the Shijian-11 series of early warning satellites - from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center’s 603 launch pad at the LC43 launch complex at 02:46 UTC.
Chinese Launch:

This is the sixth in a series of satellites that – according to the Chinese media – are only known to be “experimental satellites” developed by the DongFangHong Satellite Company of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

As with the previous Shijian-11 satellites, the true mission of Shijian 11-06 was not revealed by the Chinese authorities. However, some observers noted that the Shijian-11 series could be related to a constellation of operational early warning satellites.

‘Shijian’ means ‘Practice’ and this series of satellites have been used in a variety of configurations and missions for scientific research and technological experiments. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] FBI Sting Reveals San Francisco Chinatown Underworld

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SAN FRANCISCO – Beneath the strings of red paper lanterns and narrow alleyways of the nation’s oldest Chinatown lies a sinister underworld, according to an FBI criminal complaint that has stunned even those familiar with the neighborhood’s history of gambling houses, opium dens and occasional gangland-style murders…(AP)

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Sichuan Quake Activist Tan Zuoren Defiant After Release from Prison

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For South China Morning PostVerna Yu reports: Activist Tan Zuoren, who was jailed for five years after investigating the deaths of thousands of children in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, was released yesterday, said two fellow rights campaigners, although his whereabouts remained unknown.

“He firmly believes that he was put in jail because he was framed. After his release, he will carry on his rights activism. There’s no doubt about that.”

– Close friend of Tan

Tan was released from a jail in Yaan, Sichuan, at about 6 a.m. and has been reunited with his wife, veteran activist Huang Qi said. Neither Tan nor his wife could be reached by phone yesterday. Huang said it was likely they had not been taken home by the authorities but somewhere else, although he declined to elaborate.

Fellow activist Ran Yunfei said he had met Tan after his release, but declined to elaborate.

Huang, a close friend of Tan, said the activist still firmly believed in his mission and had written a lengthy appeal letter in prison, maintaining that he was wrongly accused. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Corruption Case: Who is Gangland Dragon Head Raymond ‘Shrimp Boy’ Chow?

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For the LATimes, Chris Megerian, Richard Winton and Matt Stevens report: The public corruption and arms-trafficking allegations levied against state Sen. Leland Yee on Wednesday may have shocked some, but to those who have kept an eye on the criminal underworld of the San Francisco area, it came as little surprise that the most colorful figure in the indictment was a man authorities say is an ostentatious gangster known as “Shrimp Boy.”

“You could always count on one thing, that he was up to something no good… used to doing things his own way and getting things his own way…. He was always an organizer; he was always a person who was behind the scenes.”

– Ignatius Chinn, former California Department of Justice agent

Raymond Chow, who has been in and out of prison for his roles in the San Francisco Chinatown underworld since the mid-1970s, also identifies himself as the “dragon head” of a Freemason organization that was among several places raided early Wednesday by federal and local law enforcement officials. Also among them was Yee’s three-story home in San Francisco.

All told, 26 people were identified in the complaint as having violated federal statutes. They were accused of participating in a free-ranging criminal ring that dabbled in a spectrum of activity, including illegal marijuana “grows” and a scheme to transport stolen liquor to China. Read the rest of this entry »


Vintage ‘Clown Brand’ Firecracker Label: ‘Do Not Hold in Hand After Lighting’

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[VIDEO] Press Covering Michelle Obama Shoved, Screamed At, Blocked From Events in China

First lady Michelle Obama‘s Spring Break trip to China with her daughters and mom has received some glowing news reports, but not because her press corps has had an easy time covering the event-filled trip. Reporters say that they have been blocked from events, screamed at by officials, held back with red tape and told not to move from prepositioned lookouts, possibly to avoid taking embarrassing photos.

On Monday, the New York Times filed a pool report about the first lady’s tour of Xi’an, a city dating to the 14th century. “Event below marred for press by obnoxious Chinese advance man screaming and shoving us behind his ever moving red tape line,” said the report. Another from Friday said that officials wouldn’t dish what the first lady and Chinese President Xi Jinping talked about or even ate during their dinner.

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The New Normal: Russia, China Annex Other Countries Territories with Impunity

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Breitbart.com‘s  brings us this morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com:

  • The ‘New Normal’: Russia and China annex other countries’ territories with impunity
  • Russia protests Estonia‘s treatment of its Russian minority
  • Xi Jinping redirects China’s ideology from Marxism to Nationalism

Russia and China annex other countries’ territories with impunity

With Russia’s annexation of Crimea now a fait accompli, it’s well to remember that this isn’t the first recent annexation of other countries’ territories. China has already seized islands in the South China Sea that have historically belonged to the Philippines and Vietnam and is operating on the belief that any “short, sharp attack” on any one island won’t bring an American response. China intends to continue annexing islands in this fashion. ["16-Jan-14 World View -- China threatens military seizure of South China Sea island from Philippines"]

“Estonia has a centuries-old bitter history with Russia. People today vividly remember that Josef Stalin’s Red Army reoccupied Estonia in June 1940 and made it part of the Soviet Union…”

The news on Friday is that Russia is massing over 20,000 troops on the border with eastern Ukraine, evidently with the intention of invading, in order to annex some or all of that territory. It’s really not logical for Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to stop with Crimea, since there are plenty of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine—and because Crimea can’t survive without the fresh water, electricity, gas, and food that it imports from Ukraine. NBC News

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