Mind Matters Reporting on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

TagMicrosoft

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China: COVID-19’s True History Finds an Unlikely Home — GitHub

The Chinese Communist party, rewriting the COVID-19 story with itself as the hero, must reckon with truthful techies

For a brief window of time at the beginning of 2020, China’s internet censors didn’t block stories about Wuhan and COVID-19, the coronavirus. Caixin, a widely-read news magazine, published a multi-page investigative report on everything leading up to the outbreak, including the way in which the provincial authorities in Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital, suppressed knowledge of the virus. Fang Fang, an award-winning novelist, kept a Wuhan diary online on Weibo, which was recently published as a book in the U.S. (HarperCollins 2020). For that short time, comments on the coronavirus were not being censored (Wired) at WeChat. Many people were thus able to vent their frustrations and pay their respects when 32-year-old ophthalmologist and whistleblower Li Wenliang…

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Curious boy looking out the window with binocular

Has Microsoft Ever Really Innovated?

That’s a question worth asking, with a history of litigation winning out over innovation

An interesting question in a 2010 discussion thread at Quora is “Why has Microsoft seemingly stopped innovating?” A deeper question is “Has Microsoft ever innovated?” Microsoft’s Bill Gates should be celebrated as a gifted and highly competitive entrepreneur and businessman. But his background as a computer scientist and student of algorithmic information theory is questionable. For this reason, Bill Gates’ assessment of the future of AI should be questioned. Undergraduate Gates dropped out of Harvard University to pursue the founding of Microsoft. He was a knowledgeable programmer with early computer hardware but his more significant talents as an entrepreneur did not require deep studies in computer science. Much of his success came from his business instincts and his team of…

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iron chain and castle on the silk national flag of Hong Kong with beautiful folds, the concept of a ban on tourism, political repression, crime, violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens

Hong Kong: Tech Companies Face Serious Ethical Decisions

As Hong Kong is transformed into a police state, Western companies, faced with demands for snitching on users, are rethinking cozy relationships with China

The semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is no longer semi-autonomous, at least in practice. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), circumventing Hong Kong’s parliament and courts, passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 that effectively abolishes the “one country, two systems” regime outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The law was passed one day before the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China (July 1, 1997), in time to quash any pro-democracy candidates who would likely win in the September elections. Although the CCP justifies its moves from the Hong Kong Basic Law and claims that Hong Kong will maintain autonomy, in practice, it has already arrested dissidents and formed a secretive agency called the Office…

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Flying futuristic central processing unit. electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program performing arithmetic, logic, controlling.

Coronavirus: Is Data Mining Failing Its First Really Big Test?

Computers scanning thousands of paper don’t seem to be providing answers for COVID-19

If Alphabet’s Deep Mind or Microsoft had successfully data mined the 29,000 papers and found useful coronavirus information, that would be pretty impressive. But they appear to be giving others a chance to try instead, raising issues once again about the value of data mining in medicine.

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Panoramic aerial view of St Peter's square in Vatican, Rome Italy

Why Does the Vatican Need Microsoft?

Should the Church really partner with IBM and Microsoft to make pronouncements on tech regulation?

When giant corporate actors like IBM and Microsoft promote “transparency and compliance with ethical principles?”, we run the risk that they are helping to craft regulations that hinder future competitors (“regulatory capture”). Rather than partner with them in making statements, the Church should stay clear.

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Photo by Eugene Triguba

AI has changed our relationship to our tools

If a self-driving car careens into a storefront, who’s to blame? A new Seattle U course explores ethics in AI

A free course at Seattle University addresses the “meaning of ethics in AI.” I’ve signed up for it. One concern that I hope will be addressed is: We must not abdicate to machines the very thing that only we can do: Treat other people fairly.

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Is Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity Now Nearer — or Impossible?

In response to Kurzweil’s talk at the COSM Technology Summit, panelists noted that AI achievements are revolutionary in size but limited by their nature in scope

George Montañez, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, took issue with Kurzweil’s claim that AlphaGoZero needed no instructions to beat humans at the game of Go: “For a system like this to work, a human must define the incentive structure, also encoding the assumptions.” The sheer power of a computing system does not cause it to do anything at all.

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Former Microsoft Head of Research: Machines Will Soon Know Better Than Your Doctor

Other experts at the COSM Technology Summit were skeptical of Craig Mundie’s claims

Mundie, former Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer, formerly told his audience that Big Data will enable each person to be “completely understood” by machines that can produce a computer facsimile of each detail. It would be far too complex for human physicians to make sense of, he said.

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Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene: How to Spell Gud

Also, Google and Apple ditching college degree requirements is not really that new

Twenty years or so ago, when I worked in Seattle, Microsoft was famous for the testing coding skills of their applicants and asking Mensa-like questions. Degrees were secondary.

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