Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A tricky puzzle from the past

My colleague, Bob Doran, recently ran across a link to some 1950s technology advertisements. It is noticeable that the advertisements are positive as well as being striking designs. There are not many computing ads. in the set. We have some nice examples of these on our own dept. websiteOne of the 1950s set, shown to the right sets a very attractive-looking puzzle. That's the kind of thing that is worth spending a few minutes with for the pleasure of figuring it out. But, be warned, this is a particularly tricky puzzle and the minutes can turn into many hours. Have a go, but in order to not waste your time and make you feel cheated, there are some clues given following the image.
The “icons” are completely misleading – the colour and glyph have no meaning. It is equivalent to the puzzle:

xxx ) xxxxxxx

where each x can be any decimal digit. There are no leading zeroes and the fine-print clues are needed to solve the puzzle. Mean eh? Many thanks to Lloyd Thomas for figuring it out and providing a link to the solution.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Limits of Quantum Computing: A Sceptic’s View

Quantum computing isn't an easy subject to understand - let's  be honest nothing quantum really makes sense. As Neils Bohr famously said: "If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet." Fortunately two of my colleagues, Cris Calude and Alastair Abbott, do understand it and they've recently published a post on the Quantum for Quants website titled "Limits of Quantum Computing: A Sceptic’s View". Highly recommended.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Viv, the next-generation AI assistant built by Siri creator

Happy solstice everyone. My colleague, Mark Wilson, found this interview on TechChrunch with the inventor of Apple's Siri who has been working on an even better AI assistant. It's very interesting, clear progress has been made.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An AI wrote this short film

Ars Technica has an interesting piece on a short movie that was written by an AI. "In the wake of Google's AI Go victory, filmmaker Oscar Sharp turned to his technologist collaborator Ross Goodwin to build a machine that could write screenplays. They created "Jetson" and fueled him with hundreds of sci-fi TV and movie scripts. Shortly thereafter, Jetson announced it wished to be addressed as Benjamin. Building a team including Thomas Middleditch, star of HBO's Silicon Valley, they gave themselves 48 hours to shoot and edit whatever Benjamin (Jetson) decided to write."

Friday, June 10, 2016

Voda-Sky merger

The media is full of the news of Vodafone and Sky TV merging. Will it be a success, reviving the fortunes of both or will it turn out like Microsoft and Nokia - a marriage made in hell. Personally, I don't see it working. My household ditched Sky TV last year for a combination of Freeview, NetFlix and a VPN to let us use the BBC iPlayer. We're saving $60 a month and we all agree we don't miss Sky at all. Their problem is particularly with the younger demographic who don't watch TV in the traditional way (in the lounge on a TV) but consume media on their laptops and smartphones. That really damages Sky's business model. However, they also don't use their phones like their parents. They message much more than they call and very often they are messaging via free WiFi and not using their telco's data plan. This merger seems like two dinosaurs propping each other up for support.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Europe will make publicly funded scientific research public

I've blogged about this topic several times now; the craziness of academics giving their papers for free to large publishing houses and then having to pay those publishers to read them. Well, it seems that in Europe at least this is about to change. Engadget reports that in 2020 Europe will make publicly funded scientific research public. "The motivation behind today's decision is to make Europe a more attractive place to do business, and to spark innovation. Researchers will be able to look into one another's work with ease, hopefully fostering an environment of collaboration. The official announcement namechecks not only "doctors and teachers," but also "entrepreneurs;" a clear sign that the EU sees this as a very startup-friendly move." This move "will only affect the publication of research that is either fully or partly funded by public funds", but since that is virtually all research in the EU this will have a major impact. Finally, we're seeing some sense.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Hidden Science of Elevators

We've all felt that frustration waiting for an elevator to come to our floor, "why isn't one coming in my direction?" Well it turns out there's quite a lot of decision making going on behind the scenes, particularly in large busy buildings with banks of elevators. Popular Mechanics recently published an article called The Hidden Science of Elevators that explores this tech. Thanks to my colleague, Bob Doran, for spotting this piece.