Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis


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Arm in the Cloud?: Lower Cost and Higher Performance

A quick tutorial on why Arm technology has 90% of the cell phone market

Central processing units (CPUs) are usually classified according to their architecture. Historically, desktop computers (especially non-Apple computers) were almost entirely based on Intel’s x86 32-bit architecture, with more recent ones supporting AMD’s 64-bit extensions for more modern computers. The x86 architecture has never ruled because it was a great architecture for the future, but merely because of compatibility — essentially, if you write software to one architecture, it won’t run on another one. The one company that pushed more aggressively for new architectures was Apple, which switched its Macintosh operating system through four major CPU architectures: Motorola 68k, PowerPC, Intel x86, and now Arm. Not only that, their earlier Apple II series ran yet another CPU architecture—the 6502. Because Apple…

New York, USA - 26 April 2021: Kubernetes company logo close-up on website page, Illustrative Editorial.
New York, USA - 26 April 2021: Kubernetes company logo close-up on website page, Illustrative Editorial

How Does A Kubernetes Cluster Work?

A general overview of the Kubernetes environment

Now that you have some concrete experience using Kubernetes, this article will present the basic theory of how a Kubernetes cluster works. We won’t talk about how to accomplish these things in the present article – the goal is to provide you with a broad understanding of the components of Kubernetes. Basic Kubernetes Components Kubernetes comes with a lot of different components, and it is hard to get them all shown on the same diagram. Therefore, I will just give a high-level picture of what a Kubernetes cluster looks like. The image below shows the basic setup, which we will cover in this article. You see here a separation between the internal Kubernetes network and the Internet. Note that this…

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Getting Started with Kubernetes: A Cluster Setup Walkthrough

Setting up a Kubernetes cluster in Linode is incredibly simple

This series will give you an overview of Kubernetes, the popular open-source cloud computing platform developed by Google. Kubernetes allows for the development of cloud-based platforms using entirely open specifications, so you are never tied down to a specific vendor. Many cloud vendors, such as AWS, have proprietary ways of developing scalable web applications (such as their Lambda system). The problem is that this ties your application to their system, and, as we have seen with Parler, Amazon gives and Amazon takes away. Therefore, it is wise to not tie your infrastructure too tightly to a single vendor. Kubernetes allows you to build large-scale scalable applications in the cloud in a way that is transferable to a variety of vendors.…

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Getting Started with Kubernetes: A Brief History of Cloud Hosting

A history lesson for a better understanding of why web infrastructure hosting is the way it is

Oftentimes it is hard to understand why something is the way it is unless you understand its history. To start with, I want to present a quick overview of the history of web infrastructure hosting to give you a better feel for what sorts of problems cloud native development solves. The Old Way Way back in the early days of the Internet, web applications were hosted on specific server machines. That is, when you wanted to host a web application, you had to purchase a physical machine, install Linux or some other operating system on it, and then pay an Internet Service Provider to put your machine on their network. This process was both time-consuming and expensive, often costing hundreds…

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First Steps to Serverless on AWS: A How-To Guide

A step-by-step tutorial on how to build and deploy a simple serverless web application on AWS

In a previous article, we talked about what serverless applications are and how they work. In this article, we will build and deploy a simple serverless web application on AWS (AWS is the cloud computing platform created by Amazon). For this application, I will assume that you have an AWS account already set up (if not, start here). While AWS has an enormous number of tools available for developers, we will focus on two: Lambda and API Gateway. Lambda is the general serverless function-invocation system on AWS. Essentially, everything that happens in AWS, whether it is a file upload, a video transcoding job, or an HTTP request, can be enabled to trigger a function defined in Lambda for further processing. Lambda functions…

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Serverless Computing: What Is It?

A serverless system makes for a more convenient and efficient experience

A new trend in cloud programming these days is known as “serverless” programming. This term is a bit confusing, because it does not mean that your code isn’t running on a server. What it does mean is that you don’t have to manage the server(s). The Physical Server In the early days of the Internet, nearly all communication was directly between the “client” (the person using a web browser or other application) and the “server” (the physical device you were communicating with). Of course, there is a limit to the number of connections that a single physical machine can process. Early on, several mechanisms were developed that allowed companies to grow their services beyond what a single machine could handle,…

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NoSQL Databases are the Problem, Not the Solution

NoSQL means that you will be continually rewriting your code

It’s amazing how much we forget about our own history. Many people think that NoSQL databases are the “next big thing” in technology, and that we should write all of our core applications using them. However, NoSQL databases actually predate relational databases, and common relational databases were established to solve the problems that NoSQL brings. What are the advantages of NoSQL databases? There are essentially two — they are fast, fast, fast, and they can scale, scale, scale. This much is true. However, if you aren’t building the next Facebook, you probably don’t need that much speed and scale. The fact is, this much speed and scale comes at a cost, and, even in the 1970s, with the limited computers…

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Beautiful woman undecided which man to choose

New: AI Learns to Simulate Common Sense

It is a simulation because the AI can perform the task but does not “understand” what the concepts mean

Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, was concerned AI had no common sense. In early 2018, Allen said “AI still lacks what most 10-year-olds possess: ordinary common sense.” He continued, “If we want AI to approach human abilities and have the broadest possible impact in research, medicine and business, we need to fundamentally advance AI’s common sense abilities.” Billionaire Allen coughed up $125 million and founded the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle. I believed that AI would never simulate common sense but always left the door open. Unlike understanding, creativity and sentience, common sense could possibly be computable. There was no indication that common sense was non-algorithmic. And now AI has simulated common sense. The classic test for…


The Pareto Tradeoff — Choosing the Best of a Mixed Lot

Navigating the knowns and the unknowns, computer engineers must choose between levels of cost and risk against a background with some uncertainty

In the first part of podcast Episode 161, “Bad news for artificial general intelligence”, Robert J. Marks and colleagues Justin Bui and Sam Haug from his research group at Baylor University looked at a fundamental reality of complex systems: Complexity adds but its problems multiply. More advanced AI would be faster but capable of bigger and more complex goofs. That leads to the world of knowns and unknowns and the Pareto tradeoffs that enable us to make decisions about artificial intelligence. So now Dr. Marks begins by asking about the late Donald Rumsfeld‘s notion of the knowns and unknowns: https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/34ccf6d5-16b1-4de8-8a69-9737d78ba4b4-Mind-Matters-Episode-161-Haug-and-Bui-Episode-3-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at 15:15 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Sam Haug: This…

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Iron Law of Complexity: Complexity Adds But Its Problems Multiply

That’s why more complexity doesn’t mean more things will go right; without planning, it means the exact opposite. The math is scary

In “Bad news for artificial general intelligence” (podcast Episode 160), Justin Bui and Sam Haug from Robert J. Marks’s research group at Baylor University joined him for a look at how AI can go wrong — whether it’s an inconsequential hot weather story or imminent nuclear doom. Now, in Episode 161, they start by unpacking the significance of an ominous fact: When we increase complexity by adding things, we multiply the chances of things going wrong. Never mind getting an advanced machine to solve all our problems; it can’t solve its own: A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: I recently vetoed a family member’s suggestion that we put a lock on our…

iot smart automotive Driverless car with artificial intelligence combine with deep learning technology. self driving car can situational awareness around the car, letting it navigate itself 360 degree

When AI Fails, the Results Are Sometimes Amusing. Sometimes Not.

Robert J. Marks, Justin Bui, and Samuel Haug examine five instances where AI went wrong, sometimes on the world stage

Even if artificial general intelligence (AGI) could be achieved, a problem looms: The more complex a system is, the more can go wrong. If a computer could really match human thinking, a great deal could go wrong. In “When AI goes wrong” (podcast 160), Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks is joined once again by members of his research group, Justin Bui and Samuel Haug, who is a PhD student in computer and electrical engineering. The topic is, what happens if AI starts behaving in bizarre and unpredictable ways? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/f5d26d44-cb33-4736-bc75-f95bd8f3ae5f-Mind-Matters-Episode-160-Haug-and-Bui-Episode-2-rev1.mp3 A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Robert J. Marks: Okay. I want to start out with Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story. Either…

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Have a Software Design Idea? Kaggle Could Help It Happen for Free

Okay, not exactly. You have to do the work. But maybe you don’t have to invent the software

In a recent Mind Matters podcast, “Artificial General Intelligence: the Modern Homunculus,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks, a computer engineering prof, spoke with Justin Bui from his own research group at Baylor University in Texas about what’s happening — and isn’t happening — in artificial intelligence today. The big story turned out to be all the free software you can use to advance your own projects. This time out, Dr. Bui focuses on what open source (free) Kaggle software can do for you, including competitons. Call it science non-fiction, if you like… https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/d4505b4a-de80-40ae-a56c-2636563f3453-Mind-Matters-Episode-159-Justin-Bui-Episode-1-rev1.mp3 This portion begins at 12:58 min. A partial transcript and notes, Show Notes, and Additional Resources follow. Justin Bui: Kaggle is owned by Google; I…

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Jonathan Bartlett: An Interview With the Author

"Learn to Program with Assembly" teaches programmers the language needed for a better understanding of their computer

“Learning assembly language is about learning how the processor itself thinks about your code. It is about gaining the mind of the machine.” Jonathan Bartlett, Learn to Program with Assembly: Foundational Learning for New Programmers, p. 1 Jonathan Bartlett is a man of many talents: an engineer, a software developer, a mathematician, a researcher and writer. He has been a faithful contributor here at Mind Matters News for many years, on topics ranging from programming and coding to math to education to technology. His books have become required reading at Princeton and DeVry Universities. Now, he has written a new book, Learn to Program with Assembly: Foundational Learning for New Programmers, and he sat down with Mind Matters to talk…

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Rittenhouse Trial: Are Attorneys and Judge Tech/Math-Challenged?

Does simple pinch and zoom change pixels? The devil, though, is in the details

In one of the many exchanges between lawyers and Judge Schroeder in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, the degree to which pinching and zooming change cell phone images was addressed. Rittenhouse lawyer Mark Richards claimed it does. The district attorney Thomas Binger claimed there is no change. Richards first claimed that an image prepared by the prosecutor changed pixels using AI and logarithms. If AI is defined as any “gee whiz” technology, he was right. But pinch and zoom was invented in 2007 by Steve Jobs and uses nothing that can be considered modern AI. All nerds should laugh at the claim that “logarithms”  were used in the pinch and zoom.  Attorney Mark Richards obviously meant “algorithms”  To his credit, Richards confessed he knew…

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Search Engines: Closing the Gap for Minority Languages

Thousands of the world’s languages are spoken by fewer than 100,000 people. At COSM 2021, Phil Parker outlined a plan for giving them access to information

We’ve all consulted “Dr. Google” for a health ailment or to find a recipe or learn how to fix something perhaps. Sometimes helpful, sometimes not. But what if you asked Google something — and it didn’t even recognize your language? Phil Parker, speaking at COSM 2021, told the story of a woman in Ethiopia searching for “lump in breast,” using one of the over 80 languages or dialects spoken in the region. Her language was one of thousands spoken by only a comparatively small population. The search engine did not recognize her input and returned no hits. She tried her query in Swahili, but there was nothing she found informative about “breast lumps” in Swahili. She finally tried her search…

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How Even Random Numbers Show Evidence of Design

Random number generators are actually pseudo-random number generators because they depend on designed algorithms

In Define information before you talk about it, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor interviewed engineering prof Robert J. Marks on the way information, not matter, shapes our world (October 28, 2021). In the first portion, Egnor and Marks discussed questions like: Why do two identical snowflakes seem more meaningful than one snowflake. Then they turned to the relationship between information and creativity. Is creativity a function of more information? Or is there more to it? And human intervention make any difference? Many questions arose during the discussion. Does Mount Rushmore have no more information than Mount Fuji? Does human intervention make a measurable difference? That’s specified complexity. Putting the idea of specified complexity to work, how do we measure meaningful information? How…

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The Search for the Universal Algorithm Continues

Why does machine learning always seem to be rounding a corner, only to eventually hit a wall?

DeepMind, a part of Alphabet (i.e., Google), has made many headlines in the past. The biggest was its development of AlphaGo, which used reinforcement learning to beat the number one Go player at the time (2017). DeepMind generalized this into AlphaZero, which is supposedly able to solve any two-player game of perfect information. DeepMind has come back into headlines recently with the attempt to build an AI which can generate any algorithm. While they are starting with map data, the goal is to generalize this and generate any desired algorithm. The search for such a “universal algorithm” has been essentially equivalent to the search for a perpetual motion machine in physics. The allure of both is obvious. In physics, if you…

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Code Debt is not Real Debt

Equating code debt with monetary debt can lead to strategic technology mistakes

The term “code debt” in computer programming refers to the idea that certain decisions in writing computer code will lead to future consequences which have to be dealt with. By saving time now, the programmer is setting himself up for the need to take more time later. In other words, he is “borrowing” from the future. While this metaphor is helpful to use in many situations, there are some significant differences between code debt and real debt, and those differences need to be included more often in software development discussions. First, for those who are not familiar with the concept of code debt, let me give a simplified example. Let’s say that I need to deliver a project next week,…

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The Entrepreneur’s Worst Mistake In New Technology Ventures

As a new entrepreneur, you won't make it to 100,000 users unless the product works well for your customers

I’ve worked with many tech startups over the years. By and large there has always been one overriding factor that has caused tech startups to falter — trying to build their application to handle too much traffic upfront. The goal of every tech entrepreneur is for everyone in the country to use their next product. Everyone is going to make the next star application, like Facebook. In order to accomplish this, tech entrepreneurs give a command to their tech team that is probably their worst mistake: “Make the application able to scale to millions of users.” That might sound like a reasonable request, but I can assure you that it is absolutely the worst possible plan of attack. Programming legend…

Printed circuit board

“Listen to the technology; find out what it’s telling you…”

That’s the motto of CalTech’s Carver Mead, who will speak at COSM 2021

A COSM 2021 speaker that tech watchers won’t want to miss is CalTech’s Carver Mead (1934–), best known in computer history for pioneering the automation, methodology and teaching of the integrated circuit design used in microprocessors and memories. According to the Lemelson–MIT Student Prize program, “Carver Mead has made many of the Information Age’s most significant advances in microcircuitry, which are essential to the internet access and global cellular phone use that many people enjoy and take for granted every day.” Mead is also honored as a teacher. Forty years at CalTech, he advised the first female electrical engineering student there, Louise Kirkbride, who went on to become a tech developer and inventor in her own right. He has helped…