Artificial Intelligence

PersonaSynthetics: Sally
PersonaSynthetics: Sally

If you’ve been watching anything on Channel 4 recently you’ll have seen a trailer for PersonaSynthetics – advertising the latest home must-have gadget.  The ad itself is slightly creepy, despite the smiling family images, and the website supports this sterile AI view to an extent that some people have expressed concern over a genuine product being available.  It’s a fantastic ad campaign for their new series Humans, which in itself looks like it’d be worth a watch (there’s a nice trailer on the website), but it has raised again the issues around artificial intelligence, and how far should it go.

This is of particular interest to me as I am starting a new project in machine learning and, while my work isn’t going to lead to a home based automaton, there are some interesting questions to be considered in this area to ensure that we don’t end up making ourselves obsolete as a species. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence

3D Printer – an aside

I’ve had a few discussions recently as to why I’m building a 3D printer using one of these collect the parts magazine rather than either a) buying one outright or b) getting a “proper” build-it-yourself kit from an online store.  Now seems like a reasonable time to address the reasons behind this.

If you’ve been following my 3D printing posts you’ll know I’ve subscribed to Eaglemoss’ 3D Create and Print magazine and am gradually building my own printer.  With the weekly cost of the magazine this will eventually cost me £650 and I won’t have a complete printer until the middle of next year.  While this is cheaper than buying one outright now, with the speed of change and improvement it’s likely that the printer will be out of date, and this is not the only argument:

Continue reading 3D Printer – an aside

3D Printer Part 3: Y-axis motor and testing

Following from building the Y-axis assembly of my 3D printer, this post covers the fitting of the motor and the circuit boards to test, using the pieces in issues 7 to 10 of the 3D Create and Print magazine.  It’s a good job that, even though this is a “weekly” magazine, the issues arrive in sets of four as otherwise I imagine it could be very frustrating waiting, not able to add to the printer, until issue 10.

I don’t actually see why this stage was any different to the earlier steps – if the pieces had been delivered in a different order then there would have been no need to wait until the 10th issue before starting.  I can only assume that someone may have been tempted to power it all up before it was ready, which is why the motor itself is the last piece from this stage to arrive.  Continue reading 3D Printer Part 3: Y-axis motor and testing

3D Printer Part 2: Y-axis assembly

Today I finally started unwrapping the pieces of my 3D printer.  After the issues with getting the magazines into their binding, I have been putting this off until I had the time and space to work through it properly.  I have 15 pieces to work through and this includes several circuit boards and a plug.  This entry covers the first 6 issues of 3D Create and Print by Eaglemoss Publications where we create the y-axis assembly up to the point of being ready for the motor and power.

Parts 1 and 2 and the tool kit
Issues 1 and 2 and the tool kit

The last set of pieces also came with a handy tool kit with everything I need to build and maintain the printer – another reason that I hadn’t done this earlier – no matter how many screwdrivers or allen keys I’ve bought over the years, I can never find any when I need them.  The one thing the tool kit is missing is a sharp pair of scissors to break open the plastic packaging of the printer pieces, but you can’t have everything! Continue reading 3D Printer Part 2: Y-axis assembly

How Old Robot – Well played

How Old example
Example of How Old Robot doing its thing

So, a few days ago, the internet had a new toy: How Old Robot – a very simple website where you can upload a photograph and it will guess your age and gender.  For many people the guess was about right, but there were some howlers, with very similar images being uploaded and giving age results differing by (several) decades!

The site doesn’t hide the fact that it’s a learning tool based on Microsoft’s facial recognition technology and is built on the Azure platform as an example of how quickly it is to build and deploy sites using Azure.  What started off as a quick demo from the Build conference soon became viral, with people all over the world loading their photos into the app and sharing the results on social media.  This is exactly what Microsoft wanted and they’ve been oh so clever with this and here’s why.

Continue reading How Old Robot – Well played

Public-Private Keys

This morning I had a tutorial for module MS221 of my OU Maths degree.  In addition to complex numbers, groups, and proofs one of the topics we covered was RSA encryption and decryption.  As I’m a little behind in my study I’m going to use this post to explain how this type of encryption works (even though this is already covered elsewhere e.g. in wikipedia).   You’re going to need a little maths to follow this, but hopefully not too much!

Firstly, a quick recap.  Public-private key encryption means that you have a pair of keys – the public one you can give out without a care and anyone can use this to encrypt messages to you.  Without the private key to decrypt, it’s practically impossible to decipher the encrypted messages, so as long as you actually keep your private key private, everything is (relatively) safe.  As an aside, if your private key is obtained by someone else then they will be able to read your messages and you would never know.

Continue reading Public-Private Keys

An academic professional

I’m three days in to my new role and, while there is some run of the mill development that I’m managing there’s also a very exciting project just starting that I’ll be taking from the very beginning based on a discussion I had with the CEO on my first day.

This new secret project means I’ve got to become an expert in Deep Learning and also all the changes in AI and since I wrote my own thesis.  I discovered very quickly that the way I knew was the “old way” and that machine learning has come on very considerably in a short space of time. So the past few days I’ve regressed into academic mode.

Continue reading An academic professional

New Horizons

So, most people know by now that in a week’s time I start a new role.  After 12 years of working for established business both small and large I am joining a start up in an area at the current edge of what is possible in computer science.  I’m very much looking forward to having my technical and scientific abilities stretched as far as they’ll go and, not unsurprisingly, the immersion in a new venture where the focus is on the solution and not why things can’t be done (often the case in established companies).

I have a reading list as long as the references for my own thesis to get through in the next few weeks so I can become an expert in my new field: deep learning and artificial intelligence.  One of the first things I’ll be doing is attending the ReWorkDL summit in Boston, MA, which is just a fascinating line up of some of the leading people in this space.  All being well I will be presenting at the 2016 summit.

I’ll be tweeting throughout the event with thoughts and comments and will do a summary post afterwards.