Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Does not compute

I've begun streaming the Netflix remake of Lost in Space. That may be why today's subject line occurred to me. But not the only reason. Consider:

"IBM's tiniest computer is smaller than a grain of rock salt." Actually, the amazing fact is that something so small does compute. "IBM has unveiled a computer that's smaller than a grain of rock salt. It has the power of an x86 chip from 1990 ... The publication says that the machine will cost under $0.10 to manufacture, which gives credence to IBM's prediction that these types of computers will be embedded everywhere within the next five years."

But what surely doesn't compute is the mess Facebook has made of elections and (un)civil discourse. See -- if you can bear to revisit it -- " ‘A grand illusion’: seven days that shattered Facebook’s facade."

I have my doubts this omelet can be reassembled into eggs, but if you are (or want to be) more optimistic, consider, "How the Government Could Fix Facebook."

Cambridge Analytica didn't even need to hack Facebook, but plenty of cyber mischief remains hacking-centric. Remember -- it wasn't but two months ago -- the city of Atlanta being held for cyber ransom? The city refused to pay up, and I applaud them for that (if not for their vulnerability). Do you believe Atlanta's government did the right thing by toughing it out? See "Should paying even a paltry ransom to hackers be a federal crime?"

As our last topic for this computation-centric post, consider the increasingly human-sounding nature of the best synthesized speech and (still only in limited domains) the expanding capabilities of artificial intelligence.

Google recently demoed an assistant that could, for example, make a haircut appointment for you -- without disclosing that this was AI. The outcry ("A Google program can pass as a human on the phone. Should it be required to tell people it’s a machine?") was fierce. The outcome (with which, FWIW, I agree): "Google now says controversial AI voice calling system will identify itself to humans."

No comments: