Profile cover photo
Profile photo
Derek Rawlings
The man in the back who said "Everyone attack."
The man in the back who said "Everyone attack."

Derek's interests
View all
Derek's posts

Post has shared content
In the first game of a five-game match between 9-dan player Lee Sedol and DeepMind's #AlphaGo , the AI has won. Even if it doesn't win a single other game this match (and I would quite expect Sedol to win the rest!), this is still a tremendous accomplishment: the first time a computer has ever beaten a top-tier international player in a regulation game of Go.

For comparison, the first time a computer did this in chess was in 1996, when Deep Blue beat Garry Kasparov in the first game of a six-game match, before Kasparov turned around to win three and draw two. But the next year, Deep Blue and Kasparov played again, and this time Deep Blue won the tournament, 3.5 to 2.5. By 2006, computers could reliably beat humans at chess.

Go is a much more complex game than chess, especially from a computer's perspective, and this level of competition was thought to be a decade or more away. DeepMind's success in this is significant not just because of the milestone, but because it illustrates the tremendous power of the new foundational techniques in AI that they have been exploring. These techniques are likely to have a huge effect on how machine learning works over the next several years, and together with the major advances in neural networks in the past few years (many of which happened at Google, DeepMind's sister company in Alphabet), we should expect huge strides in the abilities of computers to observe and understand the world around them in the years to come.

Congratulations to the #AlphaGo  team!

Post has shared content
Yeah, that kind of sums it up... 

Post has shared content
The Gorgonorhynchus
So the strange white thing that seems to “erupt” from the worm is its proboscis. This is a tubular sucking organ that some worms use to feed.
During eversion, which takes place almost explosively, the short main trunk first appears, then this divides and the finer and filter branches appear, but since each one of these is the result of an evagination the effect is almost indescribable. It is as if a large number of lively, wriggling, minute worms had been shot out.


  #gorgonorhynchus   #worms   #proboscis   #coolcreatures  
Animated Photo

So one of the things I promised myself to do this year was publish something. After some deliberation I've decided I want to publish a system-agnostic town setting book.

Since this is intended to be consumed as a pdf I intend to thoroughly hyperlink the book, so that it wiki-esque. 

Here's my question for the masses: How should I structure this book?

- Should I write more in a media-style big to small picture way?
- Should I embed story hooks and secrets of the town into the meat of the book, or break them out their own sections?

As you'd expect, I've never done one of these before, and I've read very few that legitimately took advantage of the digital medium, so I'd love your thoughts.


Post has shared content
Have some inspiring art! 

Post has shared content
An eldritch cuddly horror approaches... 
"I took a panoramic picture of our living room, but my cat decided to walk through." #rollforinitiative

Post has shared content
I cannot wait for this future. My personal belief is that the article is too ambitious in terms of timeline, given the obvious existence that they will face. Unlike +Yonatan Zunger​, though, I think we're talking about highway automation by 2020 and full autonomy by 2030.
I think that this article does a good job of describing what the world will look like once (once, not if) autonomous cars have taken over completely, and the many ways in which this will make all of our lives a lot better. (Saved lives, saved time, less pollution, less cost to each of us individually, etc) However, I think he grossly overestimates the speed of the transition: by 2025 I'd expect to see large-scale experiments rolling out, but I wouldn't expect to reach the final equilibrium point he's describing until 2050 at the soonest.

I think that he also underestimates the violence with which these changes will be resisted. As he points out, several existing industries are likely to be cratered, most notably car manufacture (autonomous cars serving people on-demand could be active 95% of the time, versus 4% of the time for passenger cars today; that's a 24x reduction in the number of cars needed per person) and professional drivers. We're already seeing tremendous resistance by vested interests in the existing taxi business to even ordinary competition like Uber; what will happen when it starts to become clear to them that the entire business is about to go away, never to return? 

In this regard, I think that we can draw useful lessons from the collapse of the longshoreman industry with the rise of containerized shipping. On the US' West Coast, strong longshore unions negotiated a phased shutdown with shipping companies; on the East Coast, weak unions spent more time fighting and undercutting each other than negotiating, and the net result was a serious collapse of all shipping to those ports, with the longshoremen bearing the brunt of it. Marc Levinson's book The Box has an interesting discussion of this. I suspect that similar phenomena will be seen here.

But even more so than with the transition to containerized shipping, the transition to autonomous vehicles is likely inevitable: the advantages are too large and too widespread, and the disadvantages too limited, for groups to successfully be able to prevent it for their own interest.

Post has shared content
It's a legitimate strategy! 
Wait while more posts are being loaded