Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Camden Lock Down Stories

some i wrote during the current events are about 2 pages long soo there's no excuse for not reading them if you read this.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

comments on UK Research and Development Roadmap

The government just published, and asked for comments on their not much of a roadmap, more just a list of things we do in some weedy use case studies, rather than some sector-by-sector analysis of what strengths (and weaknesses and opportunities etc).

Sadly, the document contains virtually no recognition of:

1/ where people come from and go to - some sort of map of various career paths for typical successful UK researcher (including threading in and out of positions in other countries)...

2/ interconnectedness of ideas/funds etc would be obvious if they'd looked at

computing (games/cgi/mobile app industries, and school & university programs to match) or health/pharmaceuticals, or even sports and entertainment tech...

As anyone who'd actually worked in R&D could tell them, the UK's problem isn't in the basic Research. It is :

a) that industry (not government) massively under-invests in its own work compared with e.g. Germany or China or just about any industrialised nation, and 

b) the UK fairly badly under-promotes work from basic research into commercial exploitation compared to the US

These are two quite different things that need fixing...and need different remedies:

I'd claim 

a) is partly cultural (trying to get money out of BT for example is like blood from a stone even if you are Cambridge, but trivial if you are MIT -why?) - there's no longer a tax barrier, so its not about money  - I hesitate to suggest it (due to perverse incentives) but maybe tax people for R&D

investment abroad when there is local capability?

b) is much harder - until we realise that we actually have successful examples in biomedical so export that system into other worlds/sectors somehow - learn from successes. 

Part of it is having a big enough local customer base to grow work too a place where you don't see "being acquired by a big US outfit" as the only viable exit strategy - this works for health because of MRC/NHS/CancerResearchUK/Welcome eco system and I believe it works in sports tech because of the football league... so how would one build that up for computing, or environment or...?

The other (not unconnected too the last point) is the total failure in the roadmap is to have a plan B for what happens in 2021 if the government fail to negotiate membership of the EU research funding schemes (at least they admit that that is the preferred option) given the fraction of things funded that way today (not just in HE), a fairly thorough  contingency plan is essential.

So like a lot of things this government does, dismal.Could do better.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

what the dickens? new lessons in the banality of evil, and the nobility of good.

It was the best of times,
It was the worst of times

These two incidents in the same events, UK BLM marches exemplify the straightforwardness of  a noble and brave act, with the utter banality of evil. I'm not going to say that the "gentleman" who chose to relieve himself  against the plaque commemorating a policeman who died preventing a terrorist attack against government is, himself, evil. However, he chose too go with people o na march against BLM peaceful protestors, to take part in "defending" statues, none of which were at risk of any more than annoying graffiti at worst. He chose to drink (apparently) 16 pints so that when he got to his ironic role (where his "side" were throwing rocks an fireworks at the police, who are actually employed too protect property (like statues) and people, he literally had no idea where he was or what he was doing.

In contrast, the chap who rescued someone possibly of the same ilk, from very serious injury, and risk to himself, was utterly aware of the risk, and the significance of his act, contrasting it to the US cops who stood by while their colleague murdered a member of the public.

The contrast in awareness and attitude could not go deeper.

These are not two sides of a debate. This is right and wrong. There's no need to give the wrong side any platform. They have nothing to offer. They are a void. They are Brexit, Boris, botched pandemics, Britain that was never great, brutish, bald-faced and banal.

Monday, April 06, 2020

So it really was 5G after all

We're often reminded that Isaac Newton did some of his best work whilst Cambridge University was closed during the plague year of 1665. But has anyone considered that we have not done our causal inference correctly. What if plagues are actually caused by an excess density of information? And it was that excess information that led Newton to discover gravity and calculus, written on the wind. So the Black Death of 1346-1353 was really the result of the impending wide availability of books to the great unwashed public. And the Spanish flu was a symptom of the incurably informed,  due to the forthcoming advent of radio broadcasts of news. The later avian and swine flu epidemics were no such thing as cross-species transmission of viruses: these were a side effect of the Internet. Of course, if we regard information as a form of life, then this should be unsurprising, since life is a form of information, and both spread virally in any case whether by syzygy or other means.

Coming back to the present, has anyone checked? Maybe Wuhan was the first city in china to have 5G deployed? But I'm not talking about the network - I'm talking about the handsets. Let's do some numbers. The mean life of a smart phone in the developed world is about two and a half years which is about 900 days. in the UK there are 65M people, so that means new handsets are arriving at the rate of about 70,000 a day. now what if the handset manufacturer didn't employ enough telephone sanitisers? What if they'd all gone home because of Brexit - maybe like fruit pickers, telephone sanitisers are like, seasonal zero hour contract workers. So there's your vector - 5G handsets. I know what you're saying: what about countries without any cellular networks yet, or precious little Internet, or poor satellite coverage? You'll note I've already discussed that above in earlier events. A high enough density of information in  the near future is sufficient to disrupt things in the present. The very idea that there may be very ideas coming over the horizon is worse than the early warning of an earthquake so well known to alert even the dumbest of our pets.

If only we'd been on the B-Ark, the telephone sanitisers, all this tragic loss would have been averted. Remember, people - be careful out there - too much knowledge can make you ill. Wisdom is often fatal, especially for the elderly, just when they've acquired so much of it - no coincidence there.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

six of one

it was fifty fifty whether the relationship would outlast the lockdown, until the Discontinuity Girl came on the scene. The scion of a long line of breakups, she couldn't help it. It just happened everywhere she went, whatever the weather. And she wasn't a weather girl either.

What made it curious was that no-one could remember why, or even recall her much either. It was like she was a really strange attractor, once fallen for, then twice forgotten. Her orbit was too narrow, or else she came in on the ecliptic, and then went polar. It was hard to say - people were too upset with their broken lives.

One day, she got work in the film industry working for the London Film Makers Cooperative, and she never looked back. Mind you, she hadn't look back before, which could be the source of her secret sauce.

Some people say she came for the stars, but she didn't.

Saturday, April 04, 2020


i've been trying to read. i usually get through novels in a couple of days. they're mostly some form of escapism - SF, Tec, or writers that have imagination - jeanette winterson, kate atkinson, thomas pynchon, you know...

so i first noticed the problem watching tv - in the ad break - usually we fast forward but this was streaming service that didn't let you. and all the people on the street, kids running to the new car, playing in the park - friends meeting, greeting, hugging kissing in bars, going cafe to caberet, like she sang. it reminded me of olden days, when all the guys like that would take out a cigarette, and act like bogart, offer it and a light to the girl. she'd be lauren bacall. long, cool, calm in a crisis. we don't see that any more.

i want to scream at the screen - that is so unreal. I reel. i can't take it. so i go to bed and try to read a book. and if it isn't 10,000 years in the future, or 1000 years in the past, i can't believe it. writers who were so convincing now describe fantasy scenes that make Avengers Assemble look like a walk in the park. literally. not figuratively, literally.

this is harder than i expected.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Leaky time time.

Frank K woke up with a start. it was dark. he didn't usualy nap this long in the lab. he looked over at his lap top, and noticed the dashboard showed his cloud app was still using 80% of Azure's global compute resources. including FPGAs. and GPUs. and RDMA NICS. omg. what could it still be working on? he had all sorts of resource threshold kill switches - why was it still going.

hours later, having dismantled several data centers he was still none the wiser.
and where was his missing evening and half the night? that was another mystery.

he called up his old mate Mills - Dave was the ultimate clockmeister - he'd be able to figure it out.

he shared the dashboard window over zoom, and said "i'm stumped - what is it? where did all the  time go?"

dave asked him  to point his camera at the DAGv7 boards connected to the bus boys.

"there's your problem" dave said - "you've got counterfeit clocks running off FTL Italian Neutrinos."
"so what does that do" asked frank, ever humble at the feet and feats of the bearded guru.
"well, you know about space leaks, of course - thing of  the past now we write all our systems in rust. but that doesn't stop what we now call a time leak. but in this case, the measurement device has coupled the processing to a quantum clock which has altered the local manifold, so that time is slowed right down on the board, but speedup everywhere else nearby - its like offload, only the opposite. thank heavens you didn't wire it the other way, or there'd be very little left to do til we get to the big bang again. Next time, call me earlier" he offered, expansively.