Why the future doesn't need us.

Posted: 2010-07-24 01:21   |  More posts about computer science computers internet robotics science

I finally managed to get around to reading Bill Joy's article Why the future doesn't need us the other day while waiting to board a plane. Bill Joy is a renowned computer scientist who co-founded Sun Microsystems and authored the popular UNIX text editor vi. The article is concerned with the ever increasing speed of "progress" in fields of new technology (primarily robotics, nanotechnology and genetic engineering) which Joy views with apprehension, arguing that the products of these fields will eventually render mankind obsolete and lead to our self-destruction.

There's no point trying to quote it, so instead you can read the article here, read more about Bill Joy here, or read responses and criticism of the article here.


Tricks with python and music

Posted: 2010-05-22 17:30   |  More posts about art code computer science computers experimental music oddities

From Music Machinery:

One of my favorite hacks at last weekend’s Music Hack Day is Tristan’s Swinger.  The Swinger is a bit of python code that takes any song and makes it swing.  It does this be taking each beat and time-stretching the first half of each beat while time-shrinking the second half.  It has quite a magical effect.  Some examples:

Every Breath You Take (swing version) by TeeJay Sweet Child O' Mine (Swing Version) by plamere

You can find more examples in the original blog post. The results really are truly impressive. I'm looking forward to playing with Tristan Jehan's code, and also having a look at his PhD thesis:
Machines have the power and potential to make expressive music on their own. This thesis aims to computationally model the process of creating music using experience from listening to examples. Our unbiased signal-based solution models the life cycle of listening, composing, and performing, turning the machine into an active musician, instead of simply an instrument. We accomplish this through an analysis-synthesis technique by combined perceptual and structural modeling of the musical surface, which leads to a minimal data representation.

Fascinating stuff!


The idea behind reCAPTCHA

Posted: 2009-06-13 19:50   |  More posts about computer science computers funny internet words

An entertaining talk from Luis von Ahn, the guy behind CAPTCHAs, about the reinvention of the idea in a way to benefit mankind. Some pretty incredible statistics throughout, especially towards the end.


The first few miliseconds of a HTTPS connection

Posted: 2009-06-10 18:10   |  More posts about computer science computers cryptography internet

Stumbled across this very detailed description of what exactly happens when a HTTPS connection is established between a client and server. It includes a well written, easy-to-read description of the mathematics behind RSA public key cryptography.

Worth the read!


A sneak peak at Wolfram|Alpha

Posted: 2009-05-14 17:48   |  More posts about computer science computers internet

There's been a buzz about the internet in the past few months about Wolfram|Alpha, a "computational knowledge engine" announced in March. It's been put together by Wolfram Research, the same people who came up with the Mathematica programming language and the project is headed up by English physicist Stephen Wolfram. It seems to be due to be released in 4 days, on the 18th of May, 2009. Today, a video was released demonstrating the power of the tool.

I can honestly say I've never seen anything in computer science or computational linguistics (question answering and information extraction are rather busy fields of research in CL) that's impressed me so much. The sheer power, flexibility and ingenuity of the engine is indescribable.

The opportunities for computer scientists it will open up, once it's released, are also endless. If the project can take the strain of its inevitable popularity and keep advancing at the current rate of development, I dare say it'll be a definite watershed moment in the history of the internet.

I implore you to watch this video in its entirity.