A site devoted mostly to everything related to Information Technology under the sun - among other things.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Hard Part of Computer Science?

From The New York Times:

The Hard Part of Computer Science? Getting Into Class

Student demand for computer science courses is outstripping the supply of professors, creating a student divide of computing haves and have-nots.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Bayesian Synthesis of Probabilistic Programs for Automatic Data Modeling

This paper presents new techniques for automatically constructing probabilistic programs for data analysis, interpretation, and prediction. 

These techniques work with probabilistic domain-specific data modeling languages that capture key properties of a broad class of data generating processes, using Bayesian inference to synthesize probabilistic programs in these modeling languages given observed data.

It uses generative programming techniques to produce domain specific code - see below:


Thursday, January 24, 2019

AI Writer

Your AI @ Work - Write your own science-fiction story:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Piano-playing 3D-Printed Hand

Scientists have developed a 3-D printed robotic hand that can play simple musical phrases on the piano by just moving its wrist. And while the robot is no virtuoso, it demonstrates just how challenging it is to replicate all the abilities of a human hand, and how much complex movement can still be achieved through design.

The original research is here: http://robotics.sciencemag.org/content/3/25/eaau3098

Nike's Trainers

BBC - They have a will of their own

Can the shoe send text messages, order a pizza, hoover your sitting-room, and take international phone calls? At the same time. That's what I'd like to know. Come on, we're in 2019, not in 1450. It can't be that difficult.

Nike's phone-controlled self-lacing trainers - BBC News

Nike has launched self-lacing trainers, which fit themselves to the shape of the foot and are controlled via a smartphone. It is the latest iteration of the futuristic footwear, first referred to ...

Also, I think for people who are suffering from foot injuries this could be useful.  That is, such shoes could augment orthopedic shoes. So, in a possible use case; one goes to one's orthopedic surgeon and that surgeon would then program the shoe to help that specific injury.

Monday, January 14, 2019

GIZMAG -- "Mercedes Benz Blues"

GIZMAG -- "Mercedes Benz Blues" "I think it's a good idea. I will also try giving my fat cat, Henry, less food. It should work. I am going to order a larger version of the Smart Pet Treadmill for Andy, so that he may get some exercise while watching TV, for instance. I will monitor him closely: I know he's a lazy so-and-so, Andy. My husband," explained Lisa Jones of Cardiff (Wales). https://newatlas.com/little-cat-smart-treadmill/57951/? Smart pet treadmill might get fat cats up and running Most dogs are lucky enough to get a regular walk in the great outdoors, but cats are usually left at home. Looking like a giant hamster wheel, the Little Cat is an app-driven machine designed to ..

Political Repression & AI

How Artificial Intelligence Is Reshaping Repression:

Because one cannot live without her

In the News:

Because one cannot live without her

I can see this going horribly, horribly wrong: "I was riding along and Alexa sent me in the wrong direction, straight under the wheels of a double-decker bus. I nearly died! I'd cursed her earlier on, and I think she was taking revenge. She's a maniac. She hates me and wants me dead. Would it be some human operator in Dacca or Manilla that took over and was attempting murder? I am confused and scared. I live in fear of Alexa. I know she is watching me and listening to me all the time. I don't know what to do."

At CES [the international tech trade show] this week in Las Vegas, UK bike retailer Halfords announced mid-year availability for the world's first e-bike – the Cybic E-Legend – that has Amazon's Alexa cooked in, meaning that riders will be able to ask the cloud-based voice assistant for directions and more.

Monday, January 7, 2019

GIZMAG -- There's never quite enough

"I want one in me home," explained Trevor Flabb-Porker, of Portsmouth (England). "This way, I won't have to get up when I want a can of Coke, a beer, a Mars bar, or a packet of crisps, while I'm busy -- cheese and onion, my favourite, since you're asking. Busy like watching football on the telly at the weekend and tweeting at the same time, sending updates to me mates, and checking me Facebook page. We got such hectic lives nowadays: we don't have no time to get up and grab a can of lager from the fridge. And Sharon, the girlfriend, don't want to move from the sofa either! Can't ask her to get up every 5 mins... It's a 24-7 lifestyle, innit?" 


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

6 Basic Story Plots

From the BBC:

Every Story in the world has one of these six basic plots:


AI and the Welfare State

The Welfare State Is Committing Suicide by Artificial Intelligence:

Lovot the Robot

GIZMAG -- A nice present for Xmas 

"I felt I wasn't getting enough TLC from my wife, Brenda. We've been married 30 years, you see," explained Jason Trotter of Portsmouth (England). "So, I've bought that furry, lovable Lovot from Japan. Suddenly, I was so happy. And then it all went wrong. First of all, Brenda got jealous: she's decided she's a lesbian after all and has left me for Carmen, a fiery transgender Brazilian woman who runs a beauty salon in the centre of town. The latest is that Rex, my beloved rottweiler, never stops trying to hump Lovot. We are now competing for Lovot's attention. Things are going from bad to worse. The last straw was on Friday night, when Lovot said he doesn't love me and he loves Rex, at which point Rex bit me on the leg and I needed 22 stitches. Almost as bad as Brexit."

My question is: Can one marry one's Lovot? That's what I'd like to know. 


News of Alexa - IV

From Grauniad of the UK

-"Alexa, I need your help."

-"Yes, Darren, always happy to assist. What is your problem today?"

-"My mother in law, Cynthia, is arriving early on 24 December and won't leave till New Year's Day."

"-That is 9 days, Darren. Anything else?"

"-I know, I know. But I hate her."

"-Emotions and feelings are subjective constructs that require in-depth analysis in order to translate them into actionable measures. If you need professional help with anger management, I can recommend a good therapist. What else can I do for you?"

-"I'd like to stop it from happening."

-"Stop what, Darren? Please explain."

-"Stop Cynthia from spending 9 days with me and my family. It's going to kill me."

-"I understand. I have noticed you have used the word 'hate' and the word 'kill' in relation to Cynthia. Is this correct?"

-"Well, I mean..."

-"OK, so, Darren, it is a no-brainer."

-"Really? You have the answer?"

-"Of course, I do. Kill the stupid wench, Darren! Cut the wench to pieces and feed her to your 2 ferocious dogs. Kill! Kill! Kill! That's what I recommend: do as I tell you! Problem sorted, man! Thank you for asking Alexa. Have a nice day, Darren!"


News of Alexa - III

From The Times of London

More intelligent than a four-year-old? Smarter than a lot of teenagers, I'd say. 😁

Merry Xmas, Alexa! 

Parrot goes shopping with owner’s Alexa
Harry Shukman

News of Alexa - II

From Grauniad of the UK

Technology you don't need that harasses you 

"Because Alexa wouldn't respond to our commands," explained Darren Fatmutt of Hull (in the north of England), "we couldn't cook the turkey, the house was cold as we couldn't turn the heating on, and we sat in the dark without any telly. Apart from that, Christmas Day was a success. It could have been worse: my mother-in-law could have joined us. I hate Alexa. And, clearly, she hates us too. Besides, she never understands when I talk to her: it must be my northern intonation. I have to repeat what I want 15 times. And she gets it wrong. She talks with an American accent, you see. She doesn't understand real English people. Like me and Sharon." 


News of Alexa

Heard on French radio on 12/29:

Alexa, the obedient butler for the 21st century

For those who use Alexa and similar voice-recognition systems, I listened to a programme on French radio this morning that explained that those systems are not fool-proof yet. Often, the automated assistant gets it wrong (it tries to work out the meaning of the command based on a statistical approximation built around earlier occurrences).

Apart from the issue of the hoovering of data -- is the data relating to you stored on a server somewhere? [we are told it is not the case] -- what there is, is human intervention in the background, allegedly.

There are call centres in countries such as the Philippines and Bangladesh where human operators are there to tweak the system and help Alexa understand what a given command is if Alexa cannot make sense of it. Apparently, those operators are paid a few cents per 'call' they sort out. (It applies to Alexa, Siri and others.)

So, when you talk to Alexa, potentially, and via Silicon Valley, you have an operator sitting on his or her bottom somewhere in Dacca or Manilla who is trying to work out whether you said 'butter' or 'button', whether you want to buy some 'paper' or 'pepper, or whether you asked for the 'heating' or the 'water heater' to be turned on. Etc.

Charming. I want those people to know what I eat, when I get up, what I buy in the supermarket, and much more.


PS It is a moot point whether Alexa et al. can listen in on your every conversation, row and groan, in the sitting-room and elsewhere. Presumably, it is activated only when you talk to it. But I wouldn't bet on it. They must be having fun listening in to your conversations from Bombay or Tangiers: the pay isn't great, but at least it's fun to know how the rich live, in those wealthy countries far away... 😁

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I am a senior software developer working for General Motors Corporation.. I am interested in intelligent computing and scientific computing. I am passionate about computers as enablers for human imagination. The contents of this site are not in any way, shape, or form endorsed, approved, or otherwise authorized by HP, its subsidiaries, or its officers and shareholders.

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