Showing posts from November, 2012

The AI effect - from Mechanical Turks to Deep Blue

How contradictory we are. On the one hand, we seem to ascribe too much intellectual power where just trickery exists. But we're just as likely to go in a kind of opposite direction, and dismiss a mental achievement once it is revealed as 'mere computation'. That's what the AI effect is all about, and a recent foray into history brought it in sharp focus.

On fiction: so you want to be a writer?

Apparently, the answer to that question is "yes" for many people. Certainly enough, to make the "help you become a writer" literature a viable genre in itself.

Well, I'm one of the people for which the answer is "yes", so I figured, why not check out some of the stuff that's out there, especially when it's freely available on youtube? Here's what I found so far.

Sci-hype: the traveling salesman problem, now with bees (again)

Over at slate there's an article about how the birds and the bees do it (solve the Traveling Salesman Problem). By now, this should be a genre of pop-sci article I think. "Here's this incredibly difficult problem; humans struggle with it, massive computers are needed to solve it, yet these simple beings do it so efficiently".

And it's uniformly crud, an example of the bad pop-sci that so annoys me.

On fiction- reading Spaihts' script for Prometheus

I just can't seem to get away from that, can I. Anyway, recently rumors emerged, confirmed by Spaihts himself, that his original script for Pro- actually, "Alien: Engineers" as it was called, was leaked online. Originally it could be found at scribd, but that link has been killed by the film's producers. I managed to locate a copy with a "spaihts prometheus script pdf" google search which pointed me to*, so try that, may work for a day or so more.

(*: no, I won't put a link to the pdf here.)

So I found a copy, I've read it. And now for some spoilery impressions.

Random US election musings from a non-US citizen

So as the title says, since I'm not US born nor a US-citizen, I don't really have a horse in that election and can watch it with only casual interest. It does produce some rather entertaining things, like say this video from Joss Whedon. It's really funny, go watch it if you haven't already.

He's not the only one who frames the election in such, for lack of a better word, stark terms. There's similar gnashing of teeth on the Republican side. It's very clear, for each side, that a vote for the wrong person is Apocalyptic. Literally, if you believe Whedon doesn't have his tongue in his cheek. It's shocking, for both sides, that the election can be so close when one option is so obviously wrong.

Since I don't really live in the US nor follow all the news and, more importantly, the wonk commentary, I'm the first to admit to not being a qualified judge of the situation. But my worthless opinion is that, actually, none of the choices is apocalypti…