The Jaron Lanier interference pattern was bound to ripple its way back into my awareness, sooner or later. I blame this squarely on how long I stared at the pages in the giant black+white coffee-table photobook ‘DREADS‘… in which his was one of the portraits. And one of my favourite writeups, I have to say.
I immediately latched on to his picture / profile in the book because he was the first person I knew of who openly called himself a Renaissance Man. It was the first time I’d seen someone “confessing” to being a generalist / polymath… a way of being very close to my heart. So I think I have prolly had a thing for Jaron ever since then, subconsciously…
On a serendipitous jaunt to Coles bookstore at lunchtime recently, I found a book that resonated with me and after flicking through it a bit, I flipped it over and saw a thumbnail of the author. I kept thinking, where have I seen this guy? Why does he look so familiar…! :o)
Anway… Jaron Lanier is none other than the author of You are not a gadget, a book in which “The Blankness of Generation X never went away, but became the new normal” is actually the title of a section. (ouch). My main gripe about the book though is that Canada didn’t get the cool UK cover… Continue reading
[Note: this is written in an intentionally incendiary tone - so that the post can play devil's advocate to itself, mashing up several of the prevailing ideas and positions on this topic, including all the politically incorrect ones. It's meant to be a rhetorical pattern-interrupt]
This topic has kept cropping up at me over the last few weeks, so… well, that’s a sign isn’t it? Plus, I can’t think of a better way to end my blogging drought. In what follows, I am going to reduce the entire, multi-faceted IT industry to a specific phase in the systems development life-cycle: the development phase. Because I think software development / coding is the activity which really pushes this issue…
And I shall restrict this activity further to coding in a traditional software house, where bespoke/original software development takes place in contribution to a core technology or platform. Continue reading
[updated 2010-06-13] If you haven’t gotten your mitts on ‘Mathematics: “Its Content, Methods and Meaning”* yet, run to chapters and grab a copy. It’s a hefty 3 volumes in one; let the cheery orange cover distract you from its price tag (though apparently it’s much cheaper online – on sale, no less… Sigh. Screwed by my luddite tendencies once again).
The first few sections are an amazing recounting of how we discovered number and folded it into our evolving understanding of the world. In fact, that very first step on our monumental journey with arithmetic was such a profound paradigm shift that it alone deserves a whole book to itself.
A friend of mind passed on this video on a new type of wearable tech called ‘Sixth Sense’.
Built as a device cobbled together from only $350 worth of off-the-shelf components, what gives ‘sixth sense’ the psychological edge is the tactile thing… After all, what could be more intuitive than manipulating things with your hands and fingertips? Dive into the vid at around the 02:16 marker when the speaker (Patti Maes) starts demo-ing the technology (video after the jump): Continue reading
Nosing through @tmbchr’s post on the WIRED post about humans augmenting AI, I have only 2 things to say:
1) humans being a helpful extension sounds like a nice idea… especially as presented in the article, but
2) Those “helpful” tasks stand a high chance of being crappy, drudge-filled exercises of boredom.
Picking out ‘what’s beautiful’ from a series of images (the example given) is one out of a gazillion learning tasks we can help our fledgling AIs with, and one which happens to be amusing / pleasant. I can think of countless others that aren’t / won’t be. As I keep saying, smarter machines will only leave smaller and smaller islands of finnicky complexity for their fleshier counterparts (that’s you and me, compadre) to deal with. Until they master those islands themselves and sink them completely. Hopefully by then we’ve found new uses for ourselves, cos those AIs sure aren’t going to have any for us.
But I do love the idea of people augmenting machines (see, I’m not all doom n gloom)… I just doubt its panning out as painted. Some other way, maybe…
Have you ever had a customer service experience that left you completely, breathlessly in awe at the stupidity of all that transpired? Did you have to listen to a lot of circular non-reasoning, or worse – have to stare down a representative who seemed strangely incapable of initiating anything useful? Well then my friend, you have stumbled upon the tyranny of business information systems. Continue reading