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Monday, June 25, 2012

Alan Turing's Birthday 

It was the late, great, Alan Turing's birthday this weekend. Turing was a polymath and a genius from whose mind spawned the connection to binary logic that enabled the computer to move from concept to reality. He made computers happen. Turing also contributed the test that is still used to determine artificial or machine intelligence.1 He broke the Axis's secret codes and helped turn the tide of World War II. He paved the way mathematically for both chaos and complexity theory.

My what British teeth you have, Dr. Turing...

Tragically, one of the great minds of the 20th century was hounded and harassed until his untimely death at the age of only forty-two. Don't let anyone tell you that prejudice is anything but societal self-sabotage.2 Read some of what this man accomplished and ask yourself what else he might have done for the world if he hadn't been stigmatized, derided and attacked for his sexuality.


Gay is not an insult.

1At the Clarion Content this weekend, we saw another great example of how machine intelligence fails to match human intelligence at the most fundamental levels. Shazam, one of our favorite iPhone apps, struggles with classical music recognition. Shazam is genius when it comes to looking up pop tunes. Hold your phone up to the music playing and it can identify the artist and title track almost every time. But it is not intelligent like a human, it does not recognize tunes. Classical music kicks its proverbial butt.

For example, the ditty playing is the 1812 Overture, if Shazam knows that particular version by that particular orchestra, bam, it has your back and can identify it just like a top-40 tune: the 1812 Overture by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.

But if it does not know that recording, it is not intelligent like a human, it does not know the tune. It cannot say, well, that is the 1812 Overture or Beethoven's 5th Symphony, even though I, Shazam, can't identify who is playing it, the music, the notes are quite familiar. No, for the binary machine it is all or nothing. No nuance. No AI.

2Prejudice is societal self-sabotage.

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nice quote of Alan Turing . Thanks for sharing his birthday message with us.

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