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Gary Gauthier
Works at LandMark Publications
Attended Harvard Law School
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Gary Gauthier

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"Our machines are starting to speak a different language now." The best coders can’t fully reduce this new language to lines of defined variables, conditional statements and looping instructions.

"Over the past several years, the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley have aggressively pursued" and deployed an approach to computing called machine learning.

With machine learning, coders aren't in control as they once were by feeding machines with coded instructions. Now, they have to train machines endowed with a neural network. If you want to teach a neural network to recognize cats, for instance, you show it a large number of photos and videos of cats—and eventually it figures things out by itself.

"With machine learning, the engineer never knows precisely how the computer learns or accomplishes its tasks. The neural network’s operations are largely opaque and inscrutable." It's very much like a black box.

The author's metaphor to describe the way programmers interact with neural networks is the "mysterious relationship" of parent and child or that of a dog trainer and your pet.

According to Silicon Valley veteran, Andy Rubin, “After a neural network learns how to do speech recognition, a programmer can’t go in and look at it and see how that happened. It’s just like your brain. You can’t cut your head off and see what you’re thinking.”

In Rubin's view, the world of coding "is coming to an end."
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A study published in the latest issue of Journalism takes a look at computer-generated news articles.

 Researchers at LMU, a university in Munich, Germany modeled an experiment to rate news articles in various categories such as readability, credibility and journalistic expertise. Subjects were asked to read selected articles and to give them a grade.  

Each article for review came with a note that indicated whether the item was written by a journalist or a computer program. Many prominent media outlets regularly publish articles written by computer software. In a devious twist that was a part of the experimental model, the subjects were sometimes misled as to who the actual author was (man or machine). The study found that readers (the experimental subjects) rated texts generated by algorithms as more credible than texts written by journalists. This was true no matter who the readers believed the author to be.

The finding that computer-generated texts were consistently rated as more trustworthy surprised the LMU researchers. As a possible explanation, one of the researchers said "The automatically generated texts are full of facts and figures—and the figures are listed to two decimal places. We believe that this impression of precision strongly contributes to the perception that they are more trustworthy."

The subjects were found to have some bias in favor of articles attributed to journalists. "Articles which the participants believed to have been written by journalists were consistently given higher marks [ ] than those that were flagged as computer-generated—even in cases where the real 'author' was in fact a computer."

One of the LMU researchers took a stab at why readers "always rated articles attributed to journalists more favorably" even when the attribution was false. "Readers' expectations differ depending on whether they believe the text to have been written by a person or a machine, and [ ] this preconception influences their perception of the text[.]"
An experimental study has found that readers rate texts generated by algorithms more credible than texts written by real journalists.
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They're coming for the rest of us. At first, it was the world champions.

The author, a former world champion, commiserates and welcomes another former champion to an elite club.

It’s the Future and they face the reality that their own individual talent, the thing that’s made them special is no longer so special. The best human talent is being replaced by machine intelligence. Lee Sedol, the latest victim, described himself as “very surprised,” and then “in shock” and “quite speechless.”

This new opponent, unlike all the other competitors the former champions faced in the past, can never be overconfident or become intimidated. There’s "a disorienting, airless vibe" to facing this type of challenge. There’s "no way to play it psychologically," because it has no feelings, no id, no ego.

The well-financed tech "labs full of anonymous nerds" are arrayed against us. After they're done making examples of the world champions, they're coming for the rest of us. 
On Saturday, the machines won again. At a luxury hotel in downtown Seoul, South Korea, a program developed by Google defeated Korean grandmaster Lee Se ...
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If this isn’t artificial intelligence, what is?

A neural network is a way of "structuring a computer so that it looks like a cartoon of the brain, comprised of neuron-like nodes connected together in a web." Each node performs a very basic function, but collectively they can tackle difficult problems. More importantly, with the right algorithms, they can be taught.

One of the difficulties of using the term artificial intelligence is how tricky it is to define. As soon as machines have conquered a task that previously only humans could do — whether that’s playing chess or recognizing faces — then it’s no longer considered to be a mark of intelligence. As one computer scientist put it: "Intelligence is whatever machines haven't done yet."

Computers aren’t replicating human intelligence. "When we say the neural network is like the brain it’s not true." "It’s not true in the same way that airplanes aren’t like birds. They don’t flap their wings, they don’t have feathers or muscles."

If we do create intelligence, it "won’t be like human intelligence or animal intelligence." It’s very difficult for us to imagine, for example, an intelligent entity that does not have the impulse towards self-preservation.
Artificial intelligence seems to have become ubiquitous in the technology industry. AIs, we’re told, are replying to our emails on Gmail, learning how to drive our cars, and sorting our holiday...
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STRANGER THAN FICTION
California Highway Patrol Officer Josh McConnell thought he had seen it all in his years of service until the calls started coming in that a unicorn was running down Avenue 12 in Madera Ranchos. Residents of the town couldn't believe their eyes when they saw a white unicorn roaming the neighborhood.

The chase lasted more than three hours. According to the unicorn owner's mother, Sandra Boos, “She was running amuck in a couple of orchards with some white blooms, so she kind of blended in with the scenery as well and she’s not real tall so she turned out to be stealthier than we imagined.” The unicorn is named Juliette and is owned by 5-year old Tatum Boos.

As evening dusk wore on, a CHP helicopter with a spotlight was dispatched to help in the efforts to corral the wayward animal. The hero of the story is Renee Pardy, a neighbor who rode in on a horse named "Shady." Juliette eluded all efforts at capture, until the owner's friend, Renee Pardy, (the hero of our story) got the idea to go home and get her horse. Shady happens to be friends with the unicorn.

“They had met before and I kind of just walked off with my horse and she followed and luckily we had another Ranchos resident to help get us on the property and get her into a closed spot,” Pardy explained.

The investigation into the mystery of Juliette, the unicorn, reveals that she is a small white pony who was wearing a disguise for a photo shoot. While the owner was taking photos with a group of young children, Juliette made a move and broke free from her handlers.

All's well that ends well. It was a fairy tale ending. Little Tatum Boos got her pony back, no one was hurt and no citations were issued. When asked to make a statement, Little Tatum said “I love my pony, she likes apples and carrots.”
“The call came out ‘the unicorn was in custody’ and I think as tense as the situation was I think it was the comedic relief that was needed at the time.”
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You can be creative in all sorts of ways. Just because you're not creative in one aspect of life or business does not mean you're not a creative person.

The article is written by someone who finds a creative solution to one area in life where she is short on creativity.

"It may not be what Pinterest is intended for, but I think it's the most helpful piece of its platform."

One point the author makes is that there is no right way to use a web site. And a website's intended use may not be the "right way" for you.

"For the last year, I've been using Pinterest nearly everyday. I don't use it to create boards (I currently have zero boards)." #creativity #fashion

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Changes in transportation and communication that started in 1920 became fundamental parts of daily life half a century later.

Air travel was a perilous, uncomfortable endeavor in 1920. Charles Lindbergh did not cross the Atlantic until 1927 and many died attempting similar feats. By 1970 jumbo jets connected major cities around the world and were quite safe. Indeed, in many ways flight in 1970 was more pleasant than today, with no security lines and larger, more comfortable seats in coach class — albeit at a much higher price than today.

Traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast went from being a multi-day affair by train to a trip made in less than a single day, for those who could afford it.

By 1970, cars were comfortable, with options like radios and air-conditioning. They were driven on  smooth, safe surfaces on the interstate highway system, most of which had been built by 1972.

Some of the biggest changes to everyday life since 1970 have been around information and entertainment. The cliché about TV going from three channels a generation ago to hundreds actually understates it and doesn't even take into account the internet.
Which was a more important innovation: indoor plumbing, jet air travel or mobile phones?
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There are those who like to point out that artificial intelligence is not a technology. But it might be on its way to becoming one. Modern operating systems respond appropriately to many voice commands including "schedule an appointment." Google increasingly delivers built-in AI services on its platform. Facebook is jumping on the bandwagon. Amazon meanwhile sells AI like electricity, a metered utility service.

Investments in AI startups are booming. It "reached $310 million in 2015, almost a seven-fold increase in five years."

"Machine intelligence is also evolving to the point where it can be used by more people to do more things." Deep learning machines allow a small team to "devise complex applications with little expertise in a given field. The hard part may be figuring out how to make money." David Malkin's company "intends to help Japanese schools grade papers—a prosaic exercise that may change the game in a country where tests are still handwritten."

 Unlike typical software programs built around rigid rules (also known as algorithms), deep-learning AI is modeled on how humans process information. Both humans and the new AI machines can figure out the context of new information and arrive at decisions based on stored information. The traditional approach to software doesn't allow it to process certain types of information, like recognizing spoken language or interpreting images.

Things are changing with rapid advances in machine learning. According to David Malkin, "Now you can be a reasonably smart guy and make useful stuff. Going forward, it will be more about using imagination to apply this to real business situations."

David Malkin has a Ph.D. in machine learning. He is one of a team of four engineers with almost zero knowledge of Japanese who created software, in just a few months, that can decipher handwriting in the Japanese language.

The Japanese writing system is generally considered to be the most complicated in use anywhere in the world. It consists of three character sets, (or scripts) one of which is used for foreign words.  Almost all Japanese sentences contain a mixture of the two main scripts. There are a few instances where one word contains all three scripts.

Most Japanese words are written in a script called Kanji. It has several thousand characters. Each can have a range of meanings and most have more than one pronunciation. It all depends on context. There are no spaces between words in written Japanese. School students need to learn over 2,000 Kanji characters, which comprises 95% of characters used in written text.

On a related note, a project director at Fujitsu Laboratories says "Deep learning for handwritten Chinese character recognition is already catching up to human capabilities and will probably eclipse them."
How four programmers with almost no knowledge of Japanese designed software to read handwriting.
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The article identifies four economic trends that drive businesses to develop better and cheaper products and services.

1. Downward price pressures

2. Entrepreneurs can use the platforms of digital service companies to sell products and services

3. Platform operators leverage their own platform to create new services

4. The rise of zero marginal cost products and services

The authors cite convincing examples of free and cheap services that disrupted companies to the point of extinction.

The article concludes with the prescription in the title. If you want to succeed, make products that are better and cheaper.
Technology that drives better and cheaper innovation isn't just a random event. Four converging economic trends are driving the phenomenon, certain to disrupt industries far from computers and consumer electronics with Big Bangs yet to come.
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What is an algorithm?
— and
How does Amazon crowd-source a logistics operation that rivals the revenues of the largest retailers on the planet?

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem or executing a set of instructions. Before neural networks recently came into vogue, algorithms were the most common way that machines and computers could exhibit "artificial intelligence."

On 2015’s Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, something stood out about the retailers. Nearly all of them, companies that were growing by 1,000 percent or more, had websites that looked a decade out of date. Like, a homepage. Maybe a few links to products. Why? That’s because, these days, such retailers don’t use their own sites much. They build their businesses on platforms—eBay, Walmart.com, Overstock, and especially Amazon.

Anybody can sell just about anything right alongside Amazon’s wares. But to be successful, you need one or more algorithms.
This post originally appeared on Inc. To show off the secret behind Pharma­packs, his $70 million retail business, Andrew Vagenas picked up an EOS lip ...
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Huh. The power of arbitrage. It's not just for MMOs!
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In reading this piece, these two words came to mind.

Threat: a statement of the intention to inflict damage or injury in retribution for something done or not done

Measured: careful, restrained or otherwise calculated and deliberate 
Last week I received an email from Henry Gomez, head of marketing and communications at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, objecting to a column I’d written the previous week. In it I’d repeated the advice his boss, Meg Whitman, gave to an audience at
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Q: What is the value of a liberal arts education?
A: It's complicated.

Should students focus on vocational training for certification in a specific job title? What is the value of being a member of civilized society who has a deep appreciation for its past contributions? And what about the cost of a college education? In the U. S., a four-year college education can cost anywhere from an average of $40,000 at the low end to $128,000 at the high end.

More than simply having some value, the author (in spite of being a scientist) believes that "an education that fails to place a heavy emphasis on the humanities is a missed opportunity." A background in the liberal arts gives an adult the opportunity to participate in democratic society as an informed citizen with a range of thinking skills that has been learned and is cultivated. Such a background also gives one the benefit of a framework for thinking deeply about his place in the world and in any community to which he might belong.

As we live longer, as retirement age keeps retreating, and as the world becomes more complex, we can expect to have "multiple career phases requiring a wide range of skills."

As each day passes, it becomes more critical for everyone in the workforce to be able to understand basic aspects of computer science and have some familiarity with coding and algorithms. If you want to write screenplays, you still may have to know how to create a web page or develop a mobile app.

With many companies, there is less and less of a choice between the humanities or technology, they need both. One tech behemoth spends lots of time and effort with metrics to determine which page design is the most pleasing and which shade of blue will have the most desirable effect on the end user. Historians rely on big data as one of the tools in their arsenal.

Choosing the right education can be the result of a family decision or the prodding of a personal preference and the best decision is different for each individual. But the more you know about what is available and the challenges that lie ahead, the better decision you are likely to make. #education
Old barriers between the humanities and technology are falling and skills needed in jobs today require knowledge that crosses the road from technology to humanities and back, says Prof. Adam Frank.
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  • LandMark Publications
    Publisher, 2010 - present
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Gary is working on his first novel. He runs a publishing company.

If you are an artist, techie or writer, add him to one of your circles.
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  • Harvard Law School
    1986 - 1989
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