Friday, March 22, 2019

Terror Bites at Twenty Thousand Feet

no, not snakes on a plane - machine learning on telemmetry from all planes, continuously distributing and updating a model of what is working, wearing and possibly worrying in pilot's interactions with the controls, readouts and each other, and warning everyone when their 737 Max really shouldn't be flying...

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Inflationary Tendencies of the NHS

so i just went through the slightly weird procedure of having a virtual colonography - if you have to have someone look inside you from the lower end, this is much less horrific than a full on colonoscopy, so recommend (apparently its more accurate too) but it's slight odder

what they do is stick a balloon up, inflate it to a gazillion atmospheres to stretch the walls beyond credulity, and, while you are lying in an undignified position with what feels like a weather gadget in your intestines, wobbling (luckily not full of helium else you might end up like the strange uncle in the original mary poppins movie), they put you through a CT scanner...kudos the amazing Godfrey Hounsfield, who the radiology nurses today hadn't heard of (had a nice chat with them - one from north London near where I'm from, about schools and music venues and pub quizzes, witness, the school leaver who saved a zillion lives by persisting with the computer tomography invention and deservedly got a Nobel for it) -

some of you may recall my previous inflationary procedure, which entailed having a bubble of sulfur hexafluoride inside my eye for a while - i must say this one was probably less alarming.
recently, i had occasion to have a serious hearing test (hard, I can tell you), and they didn't put bubbles of air or weird chemicals in my ear, but they did virtual sound stuff which was really amazing, anechoically speaking.

while you might say "so that's why health care is costing so much more than in the past", I would totally disagree - these procedures stopped me being i) dead ii) blind iii) deaf, which would have (over the past 10 years) cost you lot a shedload of money supporting me or my family, instead of me doing it and making money for other people too. plus actually, the virtual colonography is faster and better than the older procedure (actually so was the eye&ear ops) so the thruput is betterer too...

you just have to equip enough places to do this (we do way way better than bl00dy private healthcare systems coz we statmux the scarce resources really really well (if you don't know what statmux means, thing "sweat that resource"...)

no pennecillin was harmed in the making of this blog

Saturday, February 23, 2019

New Rose Zions


These are the displaced people. displaced because of a cyberphysical war that has driven them away from their Land and Sea - sea is how they refer to their upload space. land is where they download to RL - to take their bodies for a ride, a walk, a swim, sex&drugs&rock&roll....it was found after the singularity that pure upload beings suffer severe drift, diffusing. like mist, into a virtual smear, with no identity, and previous little memory. some folks were ok with this, but most preferred to retain their soul, indeed, their life and soul and right to party, so relatively frequently (a difficult term, since the Sea moves differently towards maximum entropy than dry land, ever true. Nevertheless, resynch turns out to be essential for cybersanity.

Now someone or thing has invaded these folks Sea and filled it with Sea Monsters, and the sea rose and drowned their land, and the people that survived, wandered to other Seas and Lands, and became known as the New Rose Zions.

But where they went,  wasn't that someones' elses' already? The displaced displaced.

what's wrong with this picture? how can there be a shortage of Sea? I mean, land, sure, but why fight over something we can just magic up more of? but what about time? if we can change the passing time at will, at Sea, then can we not parcel up time on land differently for the different displaced people? can we not just time share land in RL, and clone the virtual? but what if, people in this duality wanted to meet up? what if ships n the night wished to be camels in the day?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

how to use this book

you know all those  blurbs on the back of novels? tremendous waste of space.

What we really need is a user manual (pace, George Perec). A How To (obviously, not a read me)

First of all, it could say handy things like
Do Not Read This Book, it is more suitable to replace stockpiled toilet paper (most fantasy fiction fits this category well), or else as a stand for your laptop (I use the History of MI5 and MI6 for this).
or
This book contains letters from unfamiliar alphabets. It could be mathematics or perhaps a Russian spy's code book. Hand it in at a police station nearby, immediately.

If the book merits reading, the user manual should first of all establish whether this is feasible, by clarifying:
Before opening this book, make sure that you can read.
If the book is long, the manual might want to advise:
If you are at death's door, it is ill advised to start reading this (e.g. The Stand, by Stephen King) as you will never finish it in time, and therefore you will not know the ending, which will then haunt you for the rest of your days.

Assumming we pass these simple tests, then the book's suitability should be established.
For example,
This book is excellent for insomniacs, so save it til about 10 or 11pm
or
This book is a cure for narcolepsy, and should be kept with you at all times, especially when flying a plane or parachuting out of the plane.

As well as style, we should also make sure that mood and content (e.g. tone) are clarified:
This is not a book for super-happy people - this book will bring you down, even if you are the world's most optimistic son-of-a-gun. This book is for people who are already depressed and can go no lower - indeed, it will confirm their views of humanity, and this potentially make them happier.

On the other hand, some books are dangerous to some users for the exact opposite reason:
This book will potentially make you believe in the human race, and therefore make you susceptible to all kinds of terrible disappointments, and possibly the victim of multiple scams. If you are incurably optimistic, this book will prove a cure, ironically, as a result, but the cure will take a long time to act.

Finally, we should make sure there's truth in advertising: "there are approximately 25 million books in the British Library", and if you read one a day, and live to be 75 years old, you could have covered about 1/10th of a percent. Take care to choose carefully.

Have a nice day!

Friday, February 08, 2019

open science versus fair peer review.

so a recent posh conference just got super strict about not revealing anything about work under submission including open repository pre-print versions or even discussion on social media.

the obvious intended goal here is to re-enforce fairness in peer review, but I think this is
a) way over the top and
b) has serious consequences in terms of fairness

firstly, really significant work often is part of a body of work and experiments in guessing who did the work in at least 1 major conference that does double-blind reviewing were upwards of 50% accurate, simply because anyone who's technically knowledgeable should be aware of the work going on in the field.

secondly, researchers like to air their ideas early to get feedback before investing a lot of effort on the big project to really make an impact. so we have a whole bunch of mechanisms for this, including giving talks in seminar series, organising entire week-long retreats in cool places like Schloss Dagstuhl or Bertinoro or Tahoe, where people discuss partially formed notions in a friendly (i.e. non competitive and non-plagiaristic, collegiate) social setting.

This argues that really the extreme version of double blind is both impossible (and unfair) but also counter to the entire way science openly progresses.

we need to come up with another way to ensure fair peer review - my personal favourite is to have completely open peer review (i.e. reviewers sign reviews, authors are known) and iterative process (already used in quite a few top conferences now) where revisions allow progress, but require visibility to make the system converge.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

above your station

"Bear up, Paddington", said Mrs Brown. "Why the down face?".
"It's family again, Mrs Brown. Aunt Lucy wrote that my cousins want to come and stay".
"what could be so wrong about that, Paddington? I mean it's not as if they're wild animals, is it?"
"No, Mrs Brown, but they are all rather odd".
"Tell us about them, Paddington", asked Mrs Bird, who had just come in from changing the oil in the land rover.
"well, I'm not wild about them - there's cousin Victoria - she isn't too bad, so long as she's not enamoured of another female bear. Then there's cousin Teddy, who used to be called Mary-le-bone, but underwent endangered species re-assignment surgery, as she was so bullied about her name, and was thoroughly stuffed. Last of all, there's cousin Euston, who claims he's neither one thing nor another, but is a bear-faced liar - a case for a good hard stare, if ever I met one".
"oh dear" said Mr Brown. "But perhaps they will all be fine after a good marmalade sandwich or two?".
"No" retorted Paddington. "That's just it. Victoria hates marmalade - won't eat anything but sponge. And Mary, I mean Teddy, has given up eating altogether. And Euston just gets in one jam after another. I live in despair".
"but can we bring them to school" cried Judy and Jonathan. "It's not every family that has a sleuth of lgbt bears at home!"
"paddington's not gay" cried Mrs Brown, but Paddington was already blushing to the edge of his hat.
"political correctness gone mad" muttered Mr Curry, who had his ear to a cup against the party wall and had overheard everything.

to be discontinued...

Thursday, November 08, 2018

"but would you let your daughter marry one" - deconstructed

heard this phrase from some article about israel/palestine - you can probably guess but it could be from a guy (yes a guy) from any extreme group there - let's deconstruct this shall we?

"but would you let your daughter marry one"

but - so the phrase usually follows some apology (I'm sure they are all fine, but- or even I'm not a racist but). i.e. the speaker is a racist.

would you - why does the speaker think their view is like the listener ("you")?
how about my answer is "none of your business" - but also, why "would"? it isn't up to me.

let - see "would" - someone who wants to marry is by definition legally (and possibly religously) allowed by the state (church, mosque, synagogue etc), so it isn't up to the speaker or listener if the daughter is allowed - it would, indeed, in most countries nowadays be illegal and in many religions unethical, immoral and untenable to "not let" someone follow their heart...

your daughter - raises to questions immediately - 1. do you know (assuming it is a guy speakning or listening) that it is your daughter - there's no guarantee without dna testing. 2. why single out female children (actually grown up since they are of marrying age)? what's worse about a daughter than a son marrying "out"? is there some sexual deviance about this, or is there some incestuous unhealthy obsession or is there some property rights question? all mediaval bullshit.

marry - marry, why now? but why is marriage a "step" too far? and what if its same-sex marriage, does that make it ok, better, or worse? if the marriage is to someone of a different (or no) faith, then perhaps there's conversion going on (either side, either direction) or abandoning of religion, or, hey, guess what, the other "side" might be more tolerant of mixed religion marriages - given the above (daughter) and matriliear rules on the religions in the source region in question, what exactly is the "concern"? precision please, in your bigotry.

one - reduce the daughter's chosen loved one to "one", as in "any one of" - like people are interchangeable if they aren't the right kind of people? great, reveals what is really going on which started with "but" and ended up only 7 words later revealing inherent lack of regard for some people as humans.

I'm sure there are more things one could extract from this phrase, but it sure is revealing of the speaker's mindset.