Thursday, April 19, 2018

Data as labour

I was interviewed for the National Programme on Radio New Zealand recently. "The relationship between internet users and internet companies is not one-sided. We provide the companies with data they need to create better programmes. And as artificial intelligence use increases so too does the amount of data they need. And that can only be provided by internet users like you and me. A new economics paper has suggested that because of this, we should be paid for what we give away. 

You can listen to the interview here.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Free public lectures in Auckland

The annual free public Gibbons lecture series will take place again this May. This year's theme is robotics. News concerning robots, the tasks that they are able to perform and how they are expected to interact with humans, is widespread. Our Gibbons Lectures' speakers tackle this topic on 3, 10, 17 and 24 May. Join us for refreshments before each lecture from 6pm at: The University of Auckland 260.088, Level 0 Foyer, Owen G Glenn Building. 

3 May – Robotics research in New Zealand
Bruce MacDonald
Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Faculty of Engineering

The University of Auckland

10 May – Robotics in industry
Mike Shatford
Managing Director
Design Energy Limited


17 May – Will robotic vision ever fully replace human vision?
Patrice Delmas
Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science
Faculty of Science

The University of Auckland

24 May – Can we be friends with robots?
Elizabeth Broadbent
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine
Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

The University of Auckland

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Turn itoff and on, that will fix it.

Someone recently asked me "when did turning computers off and on again to fix problems start?" A colleague, Bob Doran, considered this and replied: "My guess is that it was not done during the valve computer era because turning off then on would almost guarantee a valve would die. With large computers, too, I am sure that turning the machine off would be avoided because the “cold start” was a long process. Reboot the computer, definitely. The reason that it works is that the problem is likely memory corruption and off/on clears all writable memory. So that means its from the 70s with PCs and DRAM memories. Mind you, I think that the technique was also applied to other devices."

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Controlling Facebook

Given the recent scandal concerning Facebook and Cambridge Analytica many people are reconsidering their relationship with Facebook. By all means, delete your FB account, you'll find it's not easy as they prefer you to "deactivate" your account. I’m not deleting Facebook, because it’s a useful way of keeping in touch with friends, particularly overseas. But, please go into the settings and restrict all your privacy settings to "friends only." Deny access to your contacts. Then remove all 3rd party apps that have access to your Facebook, then lock everything else down to friends only. Remove all your personal info, birthday, school, Uni, workplace, home address, mobile number, etc... yeah it takes a while. Then set location to "only when you use the app". Finally, open Facebook enjoy your friends' posts and then kill it every-time you finish, never let it run in the background.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Whale hunting...

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by a journalist, David Farrier. He had a very interesting story and was looking for my AI opinion. He had come across a company in Christchurch that allegedly had created a groundbreaking AI, called Zach AI, that could create patient-doctor consultation notes. The AI had been created by Uni drop-out Albi Whale and the company went by the unlikely name of "Terrible." Did I think this was for real? I first went online and could find no record of an A. Whale ever publishing at an AI conference or in a journal. It seemed unlikely that a single person could beat teams of researchers at Google, Amazon, Apple and IBM so I asked some colleagues working at these companies if they'd ever come across A. Whale or Zach AI. All came up blank.
You can read David Farrier's (long) article here and a recent follow-up piece here. It would seem that scammers are jumping on the AI band waggon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Google wants to teach you ML

Google has created an online resource to help people (newbies and experienced practitioners) learn more about machine learning (ML). If you have an interest in learning more check it out here.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Software "no more accurate than untrained humans"

AI and machine learning has been in the news almost constantly for the last year, so you'd be forgiven for thinking that the era of decisions being made by computers is now here and people should just let the AIs take over. However, we must be careful. A program in use since 1998 in the US, called Compas (Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions), used to assess more than a million US defendants may not be accurate enough for potentially life-changing decisions. The accuracy of the program used for bail and sentencing decisions has been called into question after it was found to be no more accurate at predicting the risk of reoffending than untrained people. Read more about this in this Guardian article,