Thursday, 26 May 2016

Leave or Remain - the contempt is the same

To my mind, the strongest EU referendum Remain argument says our UK political circus is so inept that we may as well stay in the EU. 

However, the most sinister aspect of the debate is the general quality of Remain arguments which are little better than a constant stream of silly exaggerations and tiresome posturing. Especially when we remind ourselves that Remain is the official government position supposedly reached after mature and experienced consideration at the highest level. 

None of this is sinister in the usual sense, but it is sinister in what it tells us about voters' intellectual abilities and how the elite see those abilities. We may be used to political contempt, but too many Remain arguments are chilling in their calculated indifference to adult narratives and plausibility.

From what I see and in spite of their natural cynicism, voters still don't grasp how disturbingly deep that contempt must be. Whichever way the vote goes, the contempt is surely something to ponder. Not that we ever would of course.

I don't know who they are

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Step by step

Foxconn have been working on this for some time. From the Independent we hear

60,000 workers at Apple supplier Foxconn have been replaced with robots, according to reports.

The figure comes from a local government official, who said employee numbers at one of Foxconn's factories in Kunshan, near Shanghai, have been drastically slashed in recent months.

Perhaps the Chinese government has an expanding role for all those dumped workers.

The Chinese government plants 488 million fake comments every year

Harvard Study based on leaked email archives reveals massive astroturfing operation

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Relax. I'll get it.

Burt Kwouk, the actor best known for playing Inspector Clouseau's manservant Cato in the Pink Panther films, has died age 85.

Monday, 23 May 2016

AI drama

From alphr comes a story about the literary exploits of Google's foray into artificial intelligence.

One of the reasons why the Turing Test continues to be such a steep bar for AI to clear is because artificial intelligences just don’t talk like normal people. Artificial chatter is often grammatically sound, but feels stuffy, formal and just not quite right. Getting artificial intelligences to sound human has been a tough old nut to crack.

Google has an interesting solution to this, and has posted a paper outlining how it taught its artificial intelligence a flair for the dramatic by what I can only describe as cruel and unusual punishment. Inspired, no doubt, by the seemingly endless streams of Mills and Boon style romance novels cluttering up charity shops around the country, Google fed a neural network model 12,000 ebooks, some 2,865 if which were of that much maligned genre.

Here's an example of its output.

“this was the only way. it was the only way. it was her turn to blink. it was hard to tell. it was time to move on. he had to do it again. they all looked at each other. they all turned to look back. they both turned to face him. they both turned and walked away.”

Not impressive, but what if the researchers eventually succeed and we can't tell the difference between human and machine output? I'm not sure, but take another look at the example above. With a few adjustments and a few key words it could easily be turned into an EU referendum argument because the standard is not high is it? 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Time to blow the whistle

From the Independent we have another example of modern madness

A primary school has introduced a ban on whistles on the grounds that the “aggressive” noise can scare children.

St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Milton Keynes has said instead of using whistles at the end of playtime, staff must raise their hands to tell pupils when it’s time to stop.

Hmm - hand waving - there is something horribly appropriate about that. 

However, I suggest installing a small playground cannon instead of a whistle. The noise will be similar to the sound effects in many of the little mites' computer games so they won't be unduly disturbed unless they are playing around it during discharge. This problem could be resolved by reducing the amount of gunpowder to a bare minimum. Obviously a cannon ball would be omitted due to modern sensibilities.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Empty Brain

This essay from aeon is worth reading.

Your brain does not process information, retrieve knowledge or 

store memories. In short: your brain is not a computer

No matter how hard they try, brain scientists and cognitive psychologists will never find a copy of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony in the brain – or copies of words, pictures, grammatical rules or any other kinds of environmental stimuli. The human brain isn’t really empty, of course. But it does not contain most of the things people think it does – not even simple things such as ‘memories’.