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Nothing to Hide

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 19:12

Categories:

Topic Maps

Nothing to Hide: Look out for yourself by Nicky Case.

Greg Linden describes it as:

Brilliantly done, free, open source, web-based puzzle game with wonderfully dark humor about ubiquitous surveillance

First and foremost, I sense there is real potential for this to develop into an enjoyable online game.

Second, this could be a way to educate users to security/surveillance threats.

Enjoy!

I first saw this in Greg Linden’s Quick Links for Wednesday, October 01, 2014.

Death of Yahoo Directory

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 15:09

Categories:

Topic Maps

Progress Report: Continued Product Focus by Jay Rossiter, SVP, Cloud Platform Group.

From the post:

At Yahoo, focus is an important part of accomplishing our mission: to make the world’s daily habits more entertaining and inspiring. To achieve this focus, we have sunset more than 60 products and services over the past two years, and redirected those resources toward products that our users care most about and are aligned with our vision. With even more smart, innovative Yahoos focused on our core products – search, communications, digital magazines, and video – we can deliver the best for our users.

Directory: Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly.

Understandable but sad. Think of indexing a book that expanded as rapidly as the Internet over the last twenty (20) years. Especially if the content might or might not have any resemblance to already existing content.

Internet remains in serious need of a curated means to access quality information. Almost any search returns links ranging from high to questionable quality.

Imagine if Yahoo segregated the top 500 computer science publishers, archives, societies, departments, blogs into a block of searchable content. (The 500 number is wholly arbitrary, could be some other number) Users would pre-qualify themselves as interested in computer science materials and create a market segment for advertising purposes.

Users would get less trash in their results and advertisers would have pre-qualified targets.

A pre-curated search set might mean you would miss an important link, but realistically, few people read beyond the first twenty (20) links anyway. An analysis of search logs at PubMed show that 80% of users choose a link from the first twenty results.

In theory you may have > 10,000 “hits” but querying all of those up for serving to a user is a waste to time.

Suspect it varies by domain but twenty (20) high quality “hits” from curated content would be a far cry from average search results now.

I first saw this in Greg Linden’s Quick Links for Wednesday, October 01, 2014.

The Chapman University Survey on American Fears

Sun, 10/26/2014 - 14:04

Categories:

Topic Maps

The Chapman University Survey on American Fears

From the webpage:

Chapman University has initiated a nationwide poll on what strikes fear in Americans. The Chapman University Survey on American Fears included 1,500 participants from across the nation and all walks of life. The research team leading this effort pared the information down into four basic categories: personal fears, crime, natural disasters and fear factors. According to the Chapman poll, the number one fear in America today is walking alone at night.

A multi-disciplinary team of Chapman faculty and students wanted to capture this information on a year-over-year basis to draw comparisons regarding what items are increasing in fear as well as decreasing. The fears are presented according to fears vs. concerns because that was the necessary phrasing to capture the information correctly.

Your marketing department will find this of interest.

If you are not talking about power, fear or sex, then you aren’t talking about marketing.

IT is no different from any other product or service. Perhaps that’s why the kumbaya approach to selling semantic solutions has done so poorly.

You will need far deeper research than this to integrate fear into your marketing program but at least it is a starting point for discussion.

I first saw this at Full Text Reports as: The Chapman Survey on American Fears

Wastebook 2014

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 23:42

Categories:

Topic Maps

Wastebook 2014: What Washington doesn’t want you to read. (Voodoo Dolls, Gambling Monkeys, Zombies in Love and Paid Vacations for Misbehaving Bureaucrats Top List of the Most Outlandish Government Spending in Wastebook 2014)

From the webpage:

Gambling monkeys, dancing zombies and mountain lions on treadmills are just a few projects exposed in Wastebook 2014 – highlighting $25 billion in Washington’s worst spending of the year.

Wastebook 2014 — the report Washington doesn’t want you to read —reveals the 100 most outlandish government expenditures this year, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

“With no one watching over the vast bureaucracy, the problem is not just what Washington isn’t doing, but what it is doing.” Dr. Coburn said. “Only someone with too much of someone else’s money and not enough accountability for how it was being spent could come up some of these projects.”

“I have learned from these experiences that Washington will never change itself. But even if the politicians won’t stop stupid spending, taxpayers always have the last word.”

Congress actually forced federal agencies to waste billions of dollars for purely parochial, political purposes.

For example, lawmakers attached a rider to a larger bill requiring NASA to build a $350 million launch pad tower, which was mothballed as soon as it was completed because the rockets it was designed to test were scrapped years ago. Similarly, when USDA attempted to close an unneeded sheep research station costing nearly $2 million every year to operate, politicians in the region stepped in to keep it open.

Examples of wasteful spending highlighted in “Wastebook 2014” include:

  • Coast guard party patrols – $100,000
  • Watching grass grow – $10,000
  • State department tweets @ terrorists – $3 million
  • Swedish massages for rabbits – $387,000
  • Paid vacations for bureaucrats gone wild – $20 million
  • Mountain lions on a treadmill – $856,000
  • Synchronized swimming for sea monkeys – $50,000
  • Pentagon to destroy $16 billion in unused ammunition — $1 billion
  • Scientists hope monkey gambling unlocks secrets of free will –$171,000
  • Rich and famous rent out their luxury pads tax free – $10 million
  • Studying “hangry” spouses stabbing voodoo dolls – $331,000
  • Promoting U.S. culture around the globe with nose flutists – $90 million

Read the full report here.

Watch the Wastebook 2014 videos here and here and here

Wastebook 2014 runs a total of one hundred and ten (110) pages and has 1137 footnotes (with references to data analysis in many cases). It occurs to me to ask if the lavish graphics, design and research were donated by volunteers or perhaps this was the work of paid staff of Sen. Coburn?

The other question to ask is what definition of “waste” is Sen. Coburn using?

I suspect the people who were paid monthly salaries for any of the listed projects would disagree their salaries were “waste.” A sentiment that would be echoed by their landlords, car dealers, grocery stores, etc.

It might be cheaper to simply pay all those staffer and not buy equipment and materials for their projects, but that would have an adverse impact on the vendors for those products and their staffs, who likewise have homes, cars, and participate in their local economies.

Not that governments are the sole offenders when it comes to waste but they are easy targets since unlike most corporations, more information is public about their internal operations.

The useful question that topic maps could play a role in on questions of “waste” would be to track the associations of people involved in a project to all the other participants in the local economy. I think you will find that the economic damage of cutting some “waste” is far higher than the cost of continuing the “waste.”

Such a project would give you the data on which to make principled arguments to distinguish between waste with little local impact and waste with a large local impact.

I first saw this at Full Text Reports as: Wastebook 2014: What Washington doesn’t want you to read.

Data Visualization with JavaScript

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 23:08

Categories:

Topic Maps

Data Visualization with JavaScript by Stephen A. Thomas.

From the introduction:

It’s getting hard to ignore the importance of data in our lives. Data is critical to the largest social organizations in human history. It can affect even the least consequential of our everyday decisions. And its collection has widespread geopolitical implications. Yet it also seems to be getting easier to ignore the data itself. One estimate suggests that 99.5% of the data our systems collect goes to waste. No one ever analyzes it effectively.

Data visualization is a tool that addresses this gap.

Effective visualizations clarify; they transform collections of abstract artifacts (otherwise known as numbers) into shapes and forms that viewers quickly grasp and understand. The best visualizations, in fact, impart this understanding subconsciously. Viewers comprehend the data immediately—without thinking. Such presentations free the viewer to more fully consider the implications of the data: the stories it tells, the insights it reveals, or even the warnings it offers. That, of course, defines the best kind of communication.

If you’re developing web sites or web applications today, there’s a good chance you have data to communicate, and that data may be begging for a good visualization. But how do you know what kind of visualization is appropriate? And, even more importantly, how do you actually create one? Answers to those very questions are the core of this book. In the chapters that follow, we explore dozens of different visualizations and visualization techniques and tool kits. Each example discusses the appropriateness of the visualization (and suggests possible alternatives) and provides step-by-step instructions for including the visualization in your own web pages.

To give you a better idea of what to expect from the book, here’s a quick description of what the book is, and what it is not.

The book is a sub-part of http://jsdatav.is/ where Stephen maintains his blog, listing of talks and a link to his twitter account.

If you are interested in data visualization with JavaScript, this should be on a short list of bookmarks.

Building Scalable Search from Scratch with ElasticSearch

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 22:46

Categories:

Topic Maps

Building Scalable Search from Scratch with ElasticSearch by Ram Viswanadha.

From the post:

1 Introduction

Savvy is an online community for the world’s product enthusiasts. Our communities are the product trendsetters that the rest of the world follows. Across the site, our users are able to compare products, ask and answer product questions, share product reviews, and generally share their product interests with one another. Savvy1.com boasts a vibrant community that save products on the site at the rate of 1 product every second. We wanted to provide a search bar that can search across various entities in the system – users, products, coupons, collections, etc. – and return the results in a timely fashion.

2 Requirements

The search server should satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Full Text Search: The ability to not only return documents that contain the exact keywords, but also documents that contain words that are related or relevant to the keywords.
  2. Clustering: The ability to distribute data across multiple nodes for load balancing and efficient searching.
  3. Horizontal Scalability: The ability to increase the capacity of the cluster by adding more nodes.
  4. Read and Write Efficiency: Since our application is both read and write heavy, we need a system that allows for high write loads and efficient read times on heavy read loads.
  5. Fault Tolerant: The loss of any node in the cluster should not affect the stability of the cluster.
  6. REST API with JSON: The server should support a REST API using JSON for input and output.

At the time, we looked at Sphinx, Solr and ElasticSearch. The only system that satisfied all of the above requirements was ElasticSearch, and — to sweeten the deal — ElasticSearch provided a way to efficiently ingest and index data in our MongoDB database via the River API so we could get up and running quickly.

If you need an outline for building a basic ElasticSearch system, this is it!

It has the advantage of introducing you to a number of other web technologies that will be handy with ElasticSearch.

Enjoy!

Overview App API

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 20:30

Categories:

Topic Maps

Overview App API

From the webpage:

An Overview App is a program that uses Overview.

You can make one. You know you want to.

Using Overview’s App API you can drive Overview’s document handling engine from your own code, create new visualizations that replace Overview’s default Topic Tree, or write interactive document handling or data extraction apps.

If you don’t remember the Overview Project:

Overview is just what you need to search, analyze and cull huge volumes of text or documents. It was built for investigative journalists who go through thousands of pages of material, but it’s also used by reasearchers facing huge archives and social media analysts with millions of posts. With advanced search and interactive topic modeling, you can:

  • find what you didn’t even know to look for
  • quickly tag or code documents
  • let the computer organize your documents by topic, automatically

Leveraging the capabilities in Overview is a better use of resources than re-inventing basic file and search capabilities.

Understanding Information Retrieval by Using Apache Lucene and Tika

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 20:15

Categories:

Topic Maps

Understanding Information Retrieval by Using Apache Lucene and Tika, Part 1

Understanding Information Retrieval by Using Apache Lucene and Tika, Part 2

Understanding Information Retrieval by Using Apache Lucene and Tika, Part 3

by Ana-maria Mihalceanu.

From part 1:

In this tutorial, the Apache Lucene and Apache Tika frameworks will  be explained through their core concepts (e.g.  parsing, mime detection,  content analysis, indexing,  scoring, boosting) via illustrative examples that should be applicable to not only seasoned software developers but to beginners to content analysis and programming as well. We assume you have a working knowledge of the Java™ programming language and plenty of content to analyze.

Throughout this tutorial, you will learn:

  • how to use Apache Tika’s API and its most relevant functions
  • how to develop code with Apache Lucene API and its most important modules
  • how to integrate Apache Lucene and Apache Tika in order to build your own piece of software that stores and retrieves information efficiently. (project code is available for download)

Part 1 introduces you to Apache Lucene and Apache Tika and concludes by covering automatic extraction of metadata from files with Apache Tika.

Part 2 covers extracting/indexing of content, along with stemming, boosting and scoring. (If any of that sounds unfamiliar, this isn’t the best tutorial for you.)

Part 3 details the highlighting of fragments when they match a search query.

A good tutorial on Apache Lucene and Apache Tika, what parts of them are covered, but there was no coverage of information retrieval. For example, part 3 talks about increasing search “efficiency” without any consideration of what “efficiency” might mean in a particular search context.

Illuminating issues in information retrieval using Apache Lucene and Tika as opposed to coding up an indexing/searching application with no discussion of the potential choices and tradeoffs would make a much better tutorial.

An interactive visualization to teach about the curse of dimensionality

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 19:36

Categories:

Topic Maps

An interactive visualization to teach about the curse of dimensionality by Jeff Leek.

From the post:

I recently was contacted for an interview about the curse of dimensionality. During the course of the conversation, I realized how hard it is to explain the curse to a general audience. One of the best descriptions I could come up with was trying to describe sampling from a unit line, square, cube, etc. and taking samples with side length fixed. You would capture fewer and fewer points. As I was saying this, I realized it is a pretty bad way to explain the curse of dimensionality in words. But there was potentially a cool data visualization that would illustrate the idea. I went to my student Prasad, our resident interactive viz design expert to see if he could build it for me. He came up with this cool Shiny app where you can simulate a number of points (n) and then fix a side length for 1-D, 2-D, 3-D, and 4-D and see how many points you capture in a cube of that length in that dimension. You can find the full app here or check it out on the blog here:

An excellent visualization of the “curse of dimensionality!”

The full app will take several seconds to redraw the screen when the length of the edge gets to .5 and above (or at least that was my experience).

The 2014 Social Media Glossary: 154 Essential Definitions

Sat, 10/25/2014 - 18:20

Categories:

Topic Maps

The 2014 Social Media Glossary: 154 Essential Definitions by Matt Foulger.

From the post:

Welcome to the 2014 edition of the Hootsuite Social Media Glossary. This is a living document that will continue to grow as we add more terms and expand our definitions. If there’s a term you would like to see added, let us know in the comments!

I searched but did not find an earlier version of this glossary on the Hootsuite blog. I have posted a comment asking for pointers to the earlier version(s).

In the meantime, you may want to compare: The Ultimate Glossary: 120 Social Media Marketing Terms Explained by Kipp Bodnar. From 2011 but if you don’t know the terms, even a 2011 posting may be helpful.

We all accept the notion that language evolves but within domains that evolution is gradual and as thinking in that domain shifts, making it harder for domain members to see it.

Tracking a rapidly changing vocabulary, such as the one used in social media, might be more apparent.

Software Security (MOOC, Starts October 13, 2014!)

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 00:21

Categories:

Topic Maps

Software Security

From the post:

Weekly work done at your own pace and schedule by listening to lectures and podcasts, completing quizzes and exercises and peer evaluations. Estimated time commitment is 4 hours/week. Course runs for 9 weeks (ends December 5)


This MOOC introduces students to the discipline of designing, developing, and testing secure and dependable software-based systems. Students will be exposed to the techniques needed for the practice of effective software security techniques. By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following things:

  • Security risk management. Students will be able to assess the security risk of a system under development. Risk management will include the development of formal and informal misuse case and threat models. Risk management will also involve the utilization of security metrics.
  • Security testing. Students will be able to perform all types of security testing, including fuzz testing at each of these levels: white box, grey box, and black box/penetration testing.
  • Secure coding techniques. Students will understand secure coding practices to prevent common vulnerabilities from being injected into software.
  • Security requirements, validation and verification. Students will be able to write security requirements (which include privacy requirements). They will be able to validate these requirements and to perform additional verification practices of static analysis and security inspection.



This course is run by the Computer Science department at North Carolina State University.

Register

One course won’t make you a feared White/Black Hat but everyone has to start somewhere.

Looks like a great opportunity to learn about software security issues and to spot where subject identity techniques could help collate holes or fixes.

The Definitive “Getting Started” Tutorial for Apache Hadoop + Your Own Demo Cluster

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 00:11

Categories:

Topic Maps

The Definitive “Getting Started” Tutorial for Apache Hadoop + Your Own Demo Cluster by Justin Kestelyn.

From the post:

Most Hadoop tutorials take a piecemeal approach: they either focus on one or two components, or at best a segment of the end-to-end process (just data ingestion, just batch processing, or just analytics). Furthermore, few if any provide a business context that makes the exercise pragmatic.

This new tutorial closes both gaps. It takes the reader through the complete Hadoop data lifecycle—from data ingestion through interactive data discovery—and does so while emphasizing the business questions concerned: What products do customers view on the Web, what do they like to buy, and is there a relationship between the two?

Getting those answers is a task that organizations with traditional infrastructure have been doing for years. However, the ones that bought into Hadoop do the same thing at greater scale, at lower cost, and on the same storage substrate (with no ETL, that is) upon which many other types of analysis can be done.

To learn how to do that, in this tutorial (and assuming you are using our sample dataset) you will:

  • Load relational and clickstream data into HDFS (via Apache Sqoop and Apache Flume respectively)
  • Use Apache Avro to serialize/prepare that data for analysis
  • Create Apache Hive tables
  • Query those tables using Hive or Impala (via the Hue GUI)
  • Index the clickstream data using Flume, Cloudera Search, and Morphlines, and expose a search GUI for business users/analysts

I can’t imagine what “other” tutorials that Justin has in mind.

To be fair, I haven’t taken this particular tutorial. Hadoop tutorials you suggest as comparisons to this one? Your comparisons of Hadoop tutorials?

History of Apache Storm and lessons learned

Wed, 10/08/2014 - 00:00

Categories:

Topic Maps

History of Apache Storm and lessons learned by Nathan Marz.

From the post:

Apache Storm recently became a top-level project, marking a huge milestone for the project and for me personally. It’s crazy to think that four years ago Storm was nothing more than an idea in my head, and now it’s a thriving project with a large community used by a ton of companies. In this post I want to look back at how Storm got to this point and the lessons I learned along the way.

The topics I will cover through Storm’s history naturally follow whatever key challenges I had to deal with at those points in time. The first 25% of this post is about how Storm was conceived and initially created, so the main topics covered there are the technical issues I had to figure out to enable the project to exist. The rest of the post is about releasing Storm and establishing it as a widely used project with active user and developer communities. The main topics discussed there are marketing, communication, and community development.

Any successful project requires two things:

  1. It solves a useful problem
  2. You are able to convince a significant number of people that your project is the best solution to their problem

What I think many developers fail to understand is that achieving that second condition is as hard and as interesting as building the project itself. I hope this becomes apparent as you read through Storm’s history.

Every project/case is somewhat different but this history of Storm is a relevant and great read!

I would highlight: It solves a useful problem.

I don’t read that to say:

  • It solves a problem I want to solve
  • It solves a problem you didn’t know you had
  • It solves a problem I care about
  • etc.

To be a “useful” problem, some significant segment of users must recognize it as a problem. If they don’t see it as a problem, then it doesn’t need a solution.

Boiling Sous-Vide Eggs using Clojure’s Transducers

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 23:45

Categories:

Topic Maps

Boiling Sous-Vide Eggs using Clojure’s Transducers by Stian Eikeland.

From the post:

I love cooking, especially geeky molecular gastronomy cooking, you know, the type of cooking involving scientific knowledge, -equipment and ingredients like liquid nitrogen and similar. I already have a sous-vide setup, well, two actually (here is one of them: sousvide-o-mator), but I have none that run Clojure. So join me while I attempt to cook up some sous-vide eggs using the new transducers coming in Clojure 1.7. If you don’t know what transducers are about, take a look here before you continue.

To cook sous-vide we need to keep the temperature at a given point over time. For eggs, around 65C is pretty good. To do this we use a PID-controller.

I was hoping that Clojure wasn’t just of academic interest and would have some application in the “real world.” Now, proof arrives of real world relevance!

For those of you who don’t easily recognize humor, I know that Clojure is used in many “real world” applications and situations. Comments to that effect will be silently deleted.

Whether the toast and trimmings were also prepared using Clojure the author does not say.

Magna Carta Ballot – Deadline 31 October 2014

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 21:46

Categories:

Topic Maps

Win a chance to see all four original 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts together for the first time #MagnaCartaBallot

From the post:

Magna Carta is one of the world’s most influential documents. Created in 1215 by King John and his barons, it has become a potent symbol of liberty and the rule of law.

Eight hundred years later, all four surviving original manuscripts are being brought together for the first time on 3 February 2015. The British Library, Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral have come together to stage a one-off, one-day event sponsored by Linklaters.

This is your chance to be part of history as we give 1,215 people the unique opportunity to see all four Magna Carta documents at the British Library in London.

The unification ballot to win tickets is free to enter. The closing date is 31 October 2014.

According to the FAQ you have to get yourself to London on the specified date and required time.

Good luck!

Bioinformatics tools extracted from a typical mammalian genome project

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 00:55

Categories:

Topic Maps

Bioinformatics tools extracted from a typical mammalian genome project

From the post:

In this extended blog post, I describe my efforts to extract the information about bioinformatics-related items from a recent genome sequencing paper, and the larger issues this raises in the field. It’s long, and it’s something of a hybrid between a blog post and a paper format, just to give it some structure for my own organization. A copy of this will also be posted at FigShare with the full data set. Huge thanks to the gibbon genome project team for a terrific paper and extensively-documented collection of their processes and resources. The issues I wanted to highlight are about the access to bioinformatics tools in general and are not specific to this project at all, but are about the field.

A must read if you are interested in useful preservation of research and data. The paper focuses on needed improvements in bioinformatics but the issues raised are common to all fields.

How well does your field perform when compared to bioinformatics?

TinkerPop 3.0.0.M3 Released (A Gremlin Rāga in 7/16 Time)

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 00:30

Categories:

Topic Maps

TinkerPop 3.0.0.M3 Released (A Gremlin Rāga in 7/16 Time) by Marko Rodriguez.

From the post:

TinkerPop 3.0.0.M3 has been released. This release has numerous core bug-fixes/optimizations/features. We were anxious to release M3 due to some changes in the Process API. These changes should not effect the user, only vendors providing a Gremlin language variant (e.g. Gremlin-Scala, Gremlin-JavaScript, etc.). From what I hear, it “just worked” for Gremlin-Scala so that is good. Here are links to the release:

CHANGELOG: https://github.com/tinkerpop/tinkerpop3/blob/master/CHANGELOG.asciidoc#tinkerpop-300m3-release-date-october-6-2014
AsciiDoc: http://www.tinkerpop.com/docs/3.0.0.M3/
JavaDoc: http://www.tinkerpop.com/javadocs/3.0.0.M3/
Downloads:
– Gremlin-Console: http://www.tinkerpop.com/downloads/3.0.0.M3/gremlin-console-3.0.0.M3.zip
– Gremlin-Server: http://www.tinkerpop.com/downloads/3.0.0.M3/gremlin-server-3.0.0.M3.zip

Are you going to accept Marko’s anecdotal assurances, it “just worked” for Gremlin-Scala or will you put this release to the test?

I am sure Marko and others would like to know!

Bossies 2014: The Best of Open Source Software Awards

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 21:30

Categories:

Topic Maps

Bossies 2014: The Best of Open Source Software Awards by Doug Dineley.

From the post:

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re in the midst of an incredible boom in enterprise technology development — and open source is leading it. You’re unlikely to find better proof of that dynamism than this year’s Best of Open Source Software Awards, affectionately known as the Bossies.

Have a look for yourself. The result of months of exploration and evaluation, plus the recommendations of many expert contributors, the 2014 Bossies cover more than 130 award winners in six categories:

(emphasis added)

Hard to judge the count because winners are presented one page at a time in each category. Not to mention that at least one winner appears in two separate categories.

Put into lists and sorted for review we find:

Open source applications (16)

Open source application development tools (42)

Open source big data tools (20)

Open source desktop and mobile software (14)

Open source data center and cloud software (19)

Open source networking and security software (9)

Creating the list presentation allows us to discover the actual count, allowing for entries with more than one software package mentioned, is 122 software packages.

BTW, Docker appears under application development tools and under data center and cloud software. Which should make the final count 121 different software packages. (You will have to check the entries at InfoWorld to verify that number.)

PS: The original presentation was in no discernible order. I put the lists into alphabetical order for ease of finding.

The Barrier of Meaning

Sun, 10/05/2014 - 23:40

Categories:

Topic Maps

The Barrier of Meaning by Gian-Carlo Rota.

The author discusses the “AI-problem” with Stanislaw Ulam. Ulam makes reference to the history of the “AI-problem” and then continues:

Well, said Stan Ulam, let us play a game. Imagine that we write a dictionary of common words. We shall try to write definitions that are unmistakeably explicit, as if ready to be programmed. Let us take, for instance, nouns like key, book, passenger, and verbs like waiting, listening, arriving. Let us start with the word “key.” I now take this object out of my pocket and ask you to look at it. No amount of staring at this object will ever tell you that this is a key, unless you already have some previous familiarity with the way keys are used.

Now look at that man passing by in a car. How do you tell that it is not just a man you are seeing, but a passenger?

When you write down precise definitions for these words, you discover that what you are describing is not an object, but a function, a role that is tied inextricably tied to some context. Take away that context, and the meaning also disappears.

When you perceive intelligently, as you sometimes do, you always perceive a function, never an object in the set-theoretic or physical sense.

Your Cartesian idea of a device in the brain that does the registering is based upon a misleading analogy between vision and photography. Cameras always register objects, but human perception is always the perceptions of functional roles. The two porcesses could not be more different.

Your friends in AI are now beginning to trumpet the role of contexts, but they are not practicing their lesson. They still want to build machines that see by imitating cameras, perhaps with some feedback thrown in. Such an approach is bound to fail since it start out with a logical misunderstanding….

Should someone mention this to the EC Brain project?

BTW, you may be able to access this article at: Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, Volume 22, Issues 1–3, Pages 1-402 (October–November 1986), Proceedings of the Fifth Annual International Conference. For some unknown reason, the editorial board pages are $37.95, as are all the other articles, save for this one by Gian-Carlo Rota. Which as of today, is freely accessible.

The webpages say Physica D supports “open access.” I find that rather doubtful when only three (3) pages out of four hundred and two (402) requires no payment. For material published in 1986.

You?