Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Vitamin Pills: Miracle or Myth?

The BBC's flagship science documentary series, Horizon, has just screened a doco called "Vitamin Pills: Miracle or Myth?" All of us like to be healthy and many people take supplements in the belief they are good for them. This show examines the scientific evidence and comes to the conclusion that for most people supplements are not needed.
Available from the usual places. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Bob Doran - R.I.P.

I'm really sad to have just learned that my colleague Bob Doran has died. He had been fighting cancer for many years and has finally succumbed. He was a founder of my Computer Science department in 1982 and in recent years was the curator of our excellent computer history museum, a passion that I shared with him. Though, I have to say I wasn't as interested in the history of the New Zealand Tote as he was. He was a regular contributor to this blog on all aspects of computing history and I will miss him dearly. My sincere condolences to his wife, Joyce, and his family.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

'The discourse is unhinged': how the media gets AI alarmingly wrong

In June of last year, five researchers at Facebook's Artificial Intelligence Research unit published an article showing how chatbots can simulate negotiation-like conversations. They also showed that the chatbots sometimes talked with each other in a non-standard form of English they seemed to have invented. The media jumped on this and started likening the event to the rise of Skynet in the Terminator movie. Zachary Lipton, an assistant professor at the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University, watched with frustration as this story transformed from “interesting-ish research” to “sensationalized crap”. The Guardian has an interesting article on how AI is commonly reported.