Category Archives: popsci

visa ban connections/ impact with science/ tech/ research/ edu

hi all, ideally technology advances might exist in some kind of vacuum that is unimpacted by politics. technology does have a huge resilience these days to shifting political winds du jour but alas, it can be highly impacted by political currents/ decisions. after a major regime/ administration change, these heretofore “hidden” dependencies can come into more stark focus, as is the case lately.

am trying to come up with a personal strategy/ pov/ philosophy toward the Age of Trump, still under development/ construction. have been through major election disappointments before. was mostly apolitical before Bush and then became much more political after bush, just trying to understand the world we live in and the direction it was going. bush 2004 election was a big disappointment to me. it seemed like a victory for warmongering. its strange how delayed the publics reaction to Iraq invasion was. it seems it took over a decade for the public to sour on it. but its heartening to some )( degree that those types of shifts can eventually happen and affect mainstream politics.

Continue reading

AI 2017 — poker milestone passed/ crumbled

hi all. AI technology is really exploding in the last few years. the last big post/ compilation on the subj here was ~½ year ago and the links piled up in a blur since then. the main trigger for this post: the game of poker now seems to have “folded” to computer supremacy. a new paper was published on Deepstack and its highly competitive play, and Libratus is $800K up in a recent match against top experts (top players). my understanding is that there is still some weakness in multiplayer games and that the new breakthru is for 1-1 games, human vs computer, but presumably that razor-thin human edge might also melt away quickly.[a]

poker was a very good game for humans wrt our inherent/ evolved psychology. we (top humans that is) seem to have an intuitive grasp of how to bet based on the strength of cards, including the use of bluffing. it took computers until the 21st century to master this stuff. but it looks like they just passed the threshhold again. in a small surprise, it wasnt done by Deepmind but which is behind many other near-monthly, even verging on weekly breakthroughs.[c]

maybe not by total coincidence, the winning Libratus algorithm involves training a neural network to accurately estimate the search tree, quite similar to the Deepmind Go strategy that made huge headlines just a year ago. the media hasnt picked up on the poker competition as much as it did with Go… is it because cautious/ publicity shy academics have less PR instinct than google? or less budget? but maybe that “relatively low profile” will change in the weeks/ months ahead. hopefully there will be a very high profile contest that again captures widespread public interest/ imagination.

it seems the top poker competitions are typically held in Las Vegas afaik… what would it take to get the computers in that? wouldnt be cool if say Vegas (or some other high profile gambling center) decided to publicize it to attract attn/ tourism? but would the computer algorithms be competitive in the top multiplayer games? there have been increasing/ huge audiences for poker over last few years, not sure what all the factors are in in this surge (internet gambling might play a role…)

its neat to see academia still at the top of competitive research in AI. but that seems to be thinning somewhat over last few years as the massive corporations Google[b], Microsoft, Apple,[g] Facebook, Intel [f] and misc other corps [e] are snapping up AI talent like its a feverish arms race, and to some degree it is. theres also very fast/ dynamic startup/ other merger activity going on, and new research laboratories being founded.[h]

Continue reading

code 2016 retrospective

hi all, 2016 was another banner year for computer science. its been on a phenomenal roll the last few years and there seems to be no end in sight. dont really know what is causing all the wave, its likely a variety of factors. one large factor is the headline-grabbing success of AI in the last few years and that areas momentum shows no signs of abating. another neat factor is that president Obama has been a major friend of coding/ CS. it will be a big vacuum in authoritative support after he leaves office, its hard to think of a more enthusiastic or high profile position/ proponent/ advocate of coding. wrt this (and ofc other ways) he will surely be sorely missed.[d2][d3][d4]

Continue reading

VR/Virtual Reality unleashed! state-of-the-art 2016

hi all. have been waiting for an opportune moment to unleash this post, collecting links for probably close to 2+yrs. VR/ virtual reality is a massive gamechanger/ disruptive technology. as a teenager several decades ago (ugh) fantasized about VR, and now its finally here. the final designated trigger for this post: was wandering around a great mall & walked into the gamestop and sony VR (PS4) was sitting around in boxes, and also samsung (gear) VR was in the best buy cell phone store. (old geezer me remembers a time when best buy didnt sell cell phones!) we’ve certainly come a long way!

tried out oculus rift demo about a year+½ ago. tried out gear VR a few mos ago. its all fantastic. may buy the sony VR for ps4 fairly soon, am debating. might buy it just for the battlezone game! actually it was probably mostly battlezone by atari released ~1980 that started my near-pre-adolescent VR dreams aflutter.

Continue reading

Veritasium launches soliton dynamics into 1M eternal viral living legend!

➡ 💡 ❗ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 😮 😎 a youtube blogger “Veritasium” specializing in physics has over 300M views collectively on his videos.[a3] he has a “Patreon” page where he earns about $2.5K per video. at nearly one per week, hes apparently making close to $150K per year off of his youtube videos from that revenue stream alone[a4]—talk about getting paid to do what you love aka “dream job”. he has his own wikipedia page.[a2] (which makes me wonder, is there anyone comparable out there doing CS type videos? this really eyepoppingly shows theres a market for this stuff…)

veritasium just covered the silicone oil droplet experiments of bush and the video is currently at over 1M views.[a1] so its a totally certifiably viral video (whatever that means, just made it up!). to get this kind of exposure for this obscure physics factoid/ phenomenon is utterly phenomenal. he does it in an introductory way yet includes very advanced info eg re copenhagen interpretation, DeBroglie-Bohm pilot wave theory etc. this will only increase the momentum of this particular research area. so am commemorating this momentous event/ achievement with the FIRST embedded video ever on this blog. hurry, click now!

Continue reading