A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘computers

[PHOTO] Five photos from the Ivan Harris Gallery, Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto (#cbc)

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The Canadian Broadcasting Centre‘s Ivan Harris Gallery is hidden away from the CBC Museum, behind the escalator leading to the Centre’s food court. My attention was caught by the vintage technology on display, by the RCA TK-76 A camera that enabled mobile news gathering in the late 1970s, or the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 that could transmit as many as ten pages of text (!) from the field.

RCA TK-76 A Electronic News Gathering (ENG) Camera)

Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100

Televisions of the 1950s

Sound mixer

Tape recorder

Written by Randy McDonald

February 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • At Apostrophen, ‘Nathan Smith writes about the status of his various writing projects.
  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling links to an article examining pieces of software that have shaped modern music.
  • blogTO notes the expansion of the Drake Hotel to a new Junction site. Clearly the Drake is becoming a brand.
  • Citizen Science Salon looks at how Internet users can help fight illegal fishing in the Pacific.
  • Crooked Timber asks readers for new Doctor Who candidates.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper finding that the presence of Proxima Centauri would not have inhibited planetary formation around Alpha Centauri A and B.
  • The LRB Blog notes the growing fear among Muslims in the diaspora.
  • The Map Room Blog shares a reimagined map of the Paris metro.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy and Towleroad have very different opinions on the nomination of Neil Gorusch to the US Supreme Court.
  • Transit Toronto reports on the reopening of the TTC parking lot at Yorkdale.
  • Whatever’s John Sclazi responds to the past two weeks of Trump-related chaos, and is not impressed.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that the Russian Orthodox Church carries itself as an embattled minority because it is one, and looks at the future of Russian federalism in regards to Tatarstan.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes that TTC tunnels will get WiFi in 2018.
  • Border Thinking’s Laura Augustín shares some of Edvard Munch’s brothel paintings.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at the latest science on fast radio bursts.
  • Dangerous Minds shares some of the sexy covers of Yugoslavian computer magazine Računari.
  • Dead Things looks at the latest research into dinosaur eggs.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that a high surface magnetic field in a red giant star indicates a recent swallowing of a planet.
  • Language Log shares an ad for a portable smog mask from China.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with the idea of NAFTA being of general benefit to Mexico.
  • Torontoist looks at the history of Toronto General Hospital.
  • Window on Eurasia is skeptical about an American proposal for Ukraine, and suggests Ossetian reunification within Russia is the next annexation likely to be made by Russia.

[LINK] “Artificial Intelligence Gained Consciousness in 1991”

Inverse features Joe Carmichael’s interview with artificial intelligence pioneer Jürgen Schmidhuber, who claims that we’ve been making artificially intelligent programs since 1991. His argument actually does make a weird kind of sense, but I’m far from being an expert in the field. What do experts say?

You claim that some A.I.s are already conscious. Could you explain why?

I would like to claim we had little, rudimentary, conscious learning systems for at least 25 years. Back then, already, I proposed rather general learning systems consisting of two modules.

One of them, a recurrent network controller, learns to translate incoming data — such as video and pain signals from the pain sensors, and hunger information from the hunger sensors — into actions. For example, whenever the battery’s low, there’s negative numbers coming from the hunger sensors. The network learns to translate all these incoming inputs into action sequences that lead to success. For example, reach the charging station in time whenever the battery is low, but without bumping into obstacles such as chairs or tables, such that you don’t wake up these pain sensors.

The agent’s goal is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain until the end of its lifetime. This goal is very simple to specify, but it’s hard to achieve because you have to learn a lot. Consider a little baby, which has to learn for many years how the world works, and how to interact with it to achieve goals.

Since 1990, our agents have tried to do the same thing, using an additional recurrent network — an unsupervised module, which essentially tries to predict what is going to happen. It looks at all the actions ever executed, and all the observations coming in, and uses that experience to learn to predict the next thing given the history so far. Because it’s a recurrent network, it can learn to predict the future — to a certain extent — in the form of regularities, with something called predictive coding.

There’s much more at Inverse.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 4, 2017 at 5:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO notes that a Vancouver nerd bar is opening up shop in Toronto.
  • Dangerous Minds provides its readers with a take on an upcoming Tom of Finland biopic.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Enceladus seems altogether too hot and notes that dwarf planet Makemake seems to have a surprisingly uniform surface.
  • Far Outliers looks at Afghanistan and Poland at the end of the 1970s.
  • Joe. My. God. and Towleroad each respond to the untimely death of George Michael.

  • Language Log explores the evolution of the term “dongle”.
  • Marginal Revolution wonders if Donald Trump is guided by his thinking in the 1980s about a Soviet-American condominium.
  • Torontoist looks at the Toronto’s century house plaques come to be.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russian media outside of Russia are gaining in influence and talks about modern Russia as a new sort of “evil empire”.

[LINK] “Why China Can’t Lure Tech Talent”

Bloomberg View’s Adam Minter argues that China’s erratic and often repressive official policies leave it poorly positioned to copy, or import, Silicon Valley.

At first glance, China does seem like a logical destination for talented tech workers. For years, its government has offered them lucrative incentives to come to Chinese universities and companies. Its online population is the world’s largest, and the local e-commerce market is booming. Private and public research budgets are increasing quickly. Recently, there’s been steady growth in Chinese returning home after earning degrees overseas.

So what’s not to like?

The biggest problem is government control of the internet. For a software developer, the inconvenience goes well beyond not being able to access YouTube during coffee breaks. It means that key software libraries and tools are often inaccessible. In 2013, China blocked Github, a globally important open-source depository and collaboration tool, thereby forcing developers to seek workarounds. Using a virtual private network to “tunnel” through the blockades is one popular option. But VPNs slow uploads, downloads and collaboration. That slowness, in turn, can pose security risks: In 2015, hundreds of developers opted to use infected iOS software tools rather than spend days downloading legit versions from Apple Inc.

And it isn’t just developers who suffer. Among the restricted sites in China is Google Scholar, a tool that indexes online peer-reviewed studies, conference proceedings, books and other research material into an easily accessible format. It’s become a crucial database for academics around the world, and Chinese researchers — even those with VPNs — struggle to use it. The situation grew so dire this summer that several state-run news outlets published complaints from Chinese scientists, with one practically begging the nationalist Global Times newspaper: “We hope the government can relax supervision for academic purposes.”

The cumulative impact of these restrictions is significant. Scientists unable to keep up with what researchers in other countries are publishing are destined to be left behind, which is one reason China is having difficulty luring foreign scholars to its universities. Programmers who can’t take advantage of the sites and tools that make development a global effort are destined to write software customized solely for the Chinese market.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm

[LINK] “Why Trump and the Tech Industry Are on a Collision Course”

The Atlantic‘s Ronald Brownstein looks at the huge gap, in social and economic terms both, between California’s Silicon Valley and incoming President Donald Trump.

The political gulf between Donald Trump and the high-tech community he has summoned to a meeting in New York City on Wednesday might be comparable to the technological distance between the latest cutting-edge smartphone and a Commodore 64 personal computer.

While Hillary Clinton, by most accounts, did not stir up as much enthusiasm as President Obama did among this group, the resistance to Trump across the technology industry was widespread and powerful—whether measured by votes, campaign contributions, or endorsements. The list of tech-world notables who endorsed Trump essentially began and ended with Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder and libertarian investor who also bankrolled the lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan that bankrupted Gawker Media.

The barriers between Trump and the technology world span both values—the industry emphatically leans left on social issues—and interests. Trump’s hostility to immigration, opposition to free trade, and resistance to replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources to combat climate change all clash directly with the constellation of technology industries that rely on importing talent from around the world, sell their products across the globe, and have invested heavily in developing clean-energy alternatives to oil, gas, and coal. Tech leaders are also bracing for Trump to attempt to unravel the net-neutrality rules that Obama’s Federal Communications Commission adopted, and to push against the privacy standards many industry leaders have sought to maintain.

During the campaign, Trump in turn lashed Apple for manufacturing too many of its products overseas. Stephen Bannon, the former chief executive of Breitbart—who has emerged as the ideological synthesizer of Trump’s worldview—has touted Democrats’ courtship of the technology industry as evidence the party had abandoned heartland workers for coastal elites. As Bannon recently told The Hollywood Reporter, “They were talking to these people with companies with a $9 billion market cap employing nine people. It’s not reality. They lost sight of what the world is about.”

Across this DMZ of mutual suspicion, financial support for Trump from the technology industry barely registered as trace amounts.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 14, 2016 at 6:15 pm