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Showing posts from 2022

Theranos had a great idea

Theranos promoted the notion of a 'Lab On a Chip' for blood tests. It promised to quickly do multiple blood tests from a single drop of blood. It was better in every way, except for one hitch: It didn't work. Still, the idea itself is a great one. It is feasible to at least do blood testing better. According to the Washington Post, companies are still working on improvements and still raising funds: Here is something that might be a promising research protocol and ultimately an operational lab on a chip: With a traditional testing lab, gain samples of blood classified as positive or negative based on traditional testing.  Do spectral analysis of the samples and use that data for Machine Learning to train recognition of the condition based on spectral analysis.  Create a 'lab on a chip' that can do a spectral analysis and match it to the condition. 

What happens when we replace jobs with automation

Depending on how we control the roll-out of new systems everybody will live incredibly interesting, healthy, happy lives of adventure and leisure, or scary lives of misery. We should be working on the restructuring of things, so we avoid the latter scenario.  Others have been skeptical that we will replace most jobs. I am sure we will replace them, and I think it will happen faster than most of us are prepared to deal with. One of my rules of thumb is that ‘things that are different are not the same’. You must be wary of conflation and false analogies/equivalencies.  People are looking at the current progress with AI/ML/DL and automation as if this is not something poised to go into a positive feedback loop and change exponentially. This is something whose nature is different than things we have seen before.  As someone who has watched this unfold for half a century, I am amazed at the progress we have made. The prior stabs at AI that led to AI winters were different than what is happe

Guaranteed is not the same as Universal

Guaranteed income is not the same as Universal income. B eyond the guarantee to fail as it interferes with the struggle to adopt real UBI, it is not even guaranteed. If it is not "UNIVERSAL" it is just more of the same. Guaranteed is something we already effectively have. The thing that is wrong with our current system is 'means testing' and the bureaucracy that mismanages it. Guarantees you cannot enforce are salt in the wound.  We have people who are disabled living on a bag of potatoes and water for the last part of the month with our current labyrinth of programs whose net result is to deny help to those who need it most.  UNIVERSAL: Every Canadian must get it. If you are Canadian, you get it. It does not matter if you already have enough, even if you are a billionaire in the one percent. If there is overage in somebody's case, we just claw it back at tax time. Zero bureaucrats needed.  Basic: It must pay for food, shelter, clothing, transportation, communicat

I am not a software engineer

Software development is different from Professional Engineering. Engineers train so they qualify to work with well-defined bodies of knowledge. At least where I live, to be a PE (Professional Engineer) you need a license. That means having proper academic credentials, four years of ‘engineering work experience’ and passing an exam on ethics, professional practice, engineering law, and professional liability. To call yourself a PE in Ontario means you have met a body of specific requirements. You are a known quantity. We call that a Professional Engineer. I am a programmer. It is not my intent to denigrate programming. Programming is hard; taking decades to master but calling yourself a ‘software engineer’ is wrong. It muddies the waters with respect to genuine PEs. People who could not even get into an engineering program calling themselves ‘engineers’ is silly. For a real PE, it could be irritating. People who dump the word ‘engineer’ into their titles cheapen the real engineeri

The sovereign revokes all copyright and patent grants.

Property, Copyrights, Patents and Trademarks Conflated as ‘IP’ Bob Trower, Nov. 23, 2007 – Updated 2022/10/12 [Disclaimer: This is a polemic. It is not legal advice. It is Political, Social and Moral advice.] Preamble: It was a debate on Ars Technica entitled “Infringus maximus! Rowling gets injunction against Harry Potter Lexicon” that inspired this polemic. J.K. Rowling managed to get what I felt was an improper injunction on another author’s original work, by conflating her copyrights and trademarks. She could not claim copyright on the new work, nor could she claim that the use of her trademarks in that context interfered with her trademark rights. By conflating the two, she somehow managed to dupe a court into issuing an injunction. That injunction is illegal on several grounds. However, to kill this debate for good, I believe we should simply go back to first principles. We should stop this nonsense by permanently revoking all grants of copyright and affirming the common

When code writes code, what do developers do?

When code writes code, what do developers do? As we head further into a future where things are automated, people’s last refuge will be curation in a bright future or serving others in a dark future. Curation devolves into saying what you want and iterating through a few rounds of “not that.” As a programmer, I always found automated programming tools laughable. We are still mostly there, but ML/AI is changing that. At one point, many people sagely nodded their heads and said computers would *never* beat a human at chess. Never. I disagreed. I thought that it was ***inevitable*** that they ***would*** beat humans ‘hands down.’ That is well behind us now. It is only a matter of time until all human ‘jobs’ will be doable by machines. Each one, including being a companion. As of now, the bottleneck is energy and knowledge. I think we will crack fusion, but if we do not, we can still harvest billions of times what we use now from the sun in space. The knowledge is increasing rapidly.

Your call is important to us, but not much.

Rogers entire network is down and Rogers either does not know why or sufficiently disrespects its customers that it won't say. I was on the advisory committee for the largest private network in Canada serving 150,000 employees countrywide. I was also an active participant building out that network. I installed the first Local Area Networks there. I wrote a code generator responsible for the most critical portion of Bell's mobile network. I also wrote a portion of code for a system in the United States that detected and pinpointed line breaks in their network before they happened. For a time, I held the title 'Networking Professor' at our local College. I registered my first domain name in the 1980s. I have administered Internet network servers for decades. In one capacity or another, I have worked with most of the telecommunications providers in Canada past and present. Nearly a billion devices use a small network codec written by me decades ago.  Except that Rogers was

Coming Soon: General Artificial Intelligence

The closer you get to experts who understand the nuts and bolts and history of AI, the more you find them saying that what we have is not nearly General Artificial Intelligence (GAI), and that GAI seems far away. I think we already have the roots in place with Neural Networks (NN), Deep Learning (DL), Machine Learning (ML), and primitive domain limited Artificial Intelligence (AI). Things like computer vision, voice recognition, and language translation are already in production. These are tough problems, but in some ways, machines are already better than humans are. I expect GAI to be an emergent property as systems mature, join, and augment one another. I was around during the 70s AI winter, and was involved in the 80s AI winter as one of the naysayers. I built a demonstration system with a Sperry voice recognition card in 1984. I could demonstrate it in a quiet room, but as a practical matter, it was not production ready at all. Around 1988 we built demonstration expert systems usin

The JWST did not take resources away from the poor.

The JWST project employed many people for a long time. It helped them and their communities. Like other NASA projects, it has funded technology breakthroughs that will pay back the investment. Right now, mathematical physicists are working on a new theory that combines quantum physics and relativity and explains how the two emerge from a common root structure. This will be aided by knowledge of the early universe we get from JWST. A breakthrough there could lead to essentially limitless low-cost energy. It could possibly lead to crazy stuff like anti-gravity and magnetic monopoles. It could extend the periodic table, and allow us to create exotic substances, it could allow us to create room temperature superconductors, and it could conceivably allow us to figure out how to explore the galaxy. Our understanding of electromagnetism since the 19th century has allowed us to do miraculous things that people in earlier centuries would simply think of as pure magic. Reaching for the stars is

Enzyme Pipeline

The next twenty years are going to make changes in the first 60 years of our experience look quaint. Coming fast are AI, Robotics, IOT, radical advances in materials science and engineering, Biotech, movement into outer space (Starship) as well as innerspace (VR), CAD, networking and computing, big data, etc. It's not just the incredible advances in things individually, it is the synergy of those advances. A perfect example is something that made my friend a lot of money investing in Nvidia. Advances in monitors, CPUs, network buses, and software led to graphics cards as separate engines to run highly parallel graphics routines. Techniques enabled by advances in AI made GPUs into GPGPUs and, for instance, predicting protein folding, and beating everybody/anything anywhere in Chess followed. Protein folding is a biggy, once we can design and build the right enzymes we can re-engineer bacterial genomes to build enzyme pipelines that would do chemistry impossible otherwise. There are

Yes, COVID is real.

Questioning whether or not we are in a pandemic is nonsensical on its face. Questioning things like tests for COVID, betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of statistics, chemistry, sampling techniques, and titration.  It also displays a lack of understanding of psychology, and social mores. Regardless of any technical matter, if you are refusing to vaccinate and mask, then you lack judgment. You should not be advising people on strategies for dealing with life-threatening disease. Healthcare systems are being overwhelmed because of the spread of the virus. Advice not to mask or vaccinate exacerbates an already thus far uncontainable problem. Every single person you convince becomes a vector for disease. Even in the case of the vanishingly small likelihood that you are correct that the danger is low, and a majority of the world’s medical people are somehow mendacious or incompetent, It is bad manners to advise against simple measures that make people more comfortable that their lo