Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots

I recently come back from the IJCAI-17 conference in Melbourne. 2,000 of the worlds leading AI researchers gathered together to share their latest research and discuss the future. One of the first things the conference did was to release an open letter to the world's media. The open letter, signed by Tesla chief and Google's Mustafa Suleyman, urges UN to block use of lethal autonomous weapons to prevent third age of war Some of the world's leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Diversity in Computer Science

Google has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently. It started when one of their software engineers wrote a blog post that argued that the reason why relatively few woman worked for Google was because men were kind of biologicaly better suited to coding. Once the blogger was identified Google fired him. He's now suing the company for infringing his freedom of speach. 60 female Google employees are considering suing as well, claiming sexism and a pay gap. The Guardian has written an article titled "Why are there so few women in tech? The truth behind the Google memo". 

Friday, August 4, 2017

"A new study shows..."

Apparently "A new study shows..." are the four most dangerous words in science. A fascinating article in Wired profiles John Arnold, a billionaire who is spending his fortune on the Reproducibility Project. What they are finding, somewhat worryingly, is that the majority of published research can't be reproduced. They argue that the current competitive and often secretive science model is flawed and that science should be more open and collaborative. It's hard to disagree.

Monday, July 24, 2017

What are the algorithms that affect your life?

My colleague, Mark Wilson, brought this news article to my attention; by the ABC titled "How algorithms make important government decisions — and how that affects you"  it describes how computer programs are legally allowed to make decisions in Australia. This is part of an ongoing series, by Simon, titled "The important algorithms we know nothing about — and why we need to know more". Some people will I imagine find this troubling.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

How many alien worlds exist?

Have you ever wondered if "we" are alone in the universe, and if not how many alien civilisations may be out there? Well, you'd not be alone. In fact, there's an equation, called the Drake equation, that lets us calculate how many alien civilisations there may be. The BBC has a nice interactive graphic that lets you play with the Drake equation to calculate your own figure. There's also a great TED Talk on the subject.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Exploding the myths of Ada Lovelace’s mathematics

There has been some debate for years as to exactly how "mathematical" Ada Lovelace actually was, with some believing her to be a mere amateur and others a gifted genius. Recent research by Christopher Hollings and Ursula Martin of Oxford Mathematics, and Adrian Rice, of Randolph-Macon College, Virginia, has investigated the archives of the Lovelace-Byron family, held in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. In two recently published papers in the Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics and  Historia Mathematica they conclude that: "Lovelace’s keen eye for detail, fascination with big questions, and flair for deep insights, which enabled her to challenge some deep assumptions in her teacher’s work. They suggest that her ambition, in time, to do significant mathematical research was entirely credible, though sadly curtailed by her ill-health and early death." 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The optimist’s guide to the robot apocalypse

There has been a lot of talk recently about the soon to happen jobs apocalypse as we are all replaced by robots and AIs (I've been guilty of adding to this). Certainly, it's true that, for example, anyone who drives for a living could lose their job as driverless vehicles take over. The same is true for many other industries and professions. However, others point out that many new and different jobs will be created. A recent article in Quartz titled The optimist’s guide to the robot apocalypse makes this point very well and shows a fascinating graph that shows that whilst Amazon's robotic workforce rose from 1,400 to 45,000 their human workforce also rose, from just over 100,000 to around 350,00. The robots aren't replacing people, they're making the company more efficient. Let's hope