Thursday, August 16, 2018

The 2018 Top Programming Languages

IEEE Spectrum has published its fifth annual interactive ranking of the top programming languages. As they point out: "because no one can peer over the shoulders of every coder out there, anyone attempting to measure the popularity of computer languages must rely on proxy measures of relative popularity." Auckland University's very own R language is in 7th place reflecting the growing popularity of data science and analytics.




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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Half a million page views!

This blog has just passed 500,000 page views! Now I realise that not all of those views are individual readers, many will be web crawlers and bots, but those are the only stats I have. The most viewed post is Turing and the Apple logo (49,030 views), with The largest prime number is... (19,815 views) coming in second. Now to hit 1 million.

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Thursday, August 2, 2018

Top 20 Python AI and Machine Learning Open Source Projects



Dataquest has compiled a very useful resource for new data scientists, as they say: "Getting into Machine Learning and AI is not an easy task. Many aspiring professionals and enthusiasts find it hard to establish a proper path into the field, given the enormous amount of resources available today. The field is evolving constantly and it is crucial that we keep up with the pace of this rapid development. In order to cope with this overwhelming speed of evolution and innovation, a good way to stay updated and knowledgeable on the advances of ML, is to engage with the community by contributing to the many open-source projects and tools that are used daily by advanced professionals." You also might want to take a look at the book "Python: Machine Learning."


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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Artificial intelligence will be net UK jobs creator

A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers has argued that AI would create slightly more jobs (7.2m) than it displaced (7m) by boosting economic growth in the UK. The firm estimated about 20% of jobs would be automated over the next 20 years and no sector would be unaffected. This counters a lot of doomsayers who have predicted that AI will potentially decimate employment. In some sectors these pessimists are not wrong: PWC predicts that transportation and storage will lose 38% of its jobs to AI. However, PWC are predicting that these job losses will be more than countered by gains in health and social work, education, professional and IT work, and other service sectors. You can read PWC's full report here.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Mega AI conference in Stockholm, Sweden

A massive gathering of AI academics and professionals is taking place in Stockholm, Sweden. The 27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence and the 23rd European Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the premier international gathering of researchers in AI! IJCAI-ECAI-18 is part of the Federated AI Meeting (FAIM) that takes place at Stockholmsmässan in Stockholm July 9-19. The other conferences running alongside include AAMAS, ICML, ICCBR and SoCS. The World Computer Chess Championships will also take place in parallel.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

They promised us...

The Guardian newspaper has been running a series of articles under the banner "They promised us..." The articles explore why we don't have flying cars, ray guns, hoverboa rds, teleportation (like in Star Trek), jetpacks and several other things SciFi has promised to deliver. So if you're disappointed in our lack of progress read these articles to find out why.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

So, modern programmers, you think that you have it tough

Garry Tee, who has long been associated with University of Auckland Mathematics and Computer Science Department is going to fully retire this August, aged 86. Garry topped the NZ scholarship exams in 1948 and graduated from the University of Auckland with a First class Masters degree in Mathematics. Among his many adventures, he worked for English Electric at Whetstone, Leicestershire in the UK from 1958 to 1964 as a Mathematician/programmer using the DEUCE computers. These were direct descendants of Turing's 1946 designs for the ACE.

To start with, Garry programmed the DEUCE in binary machine language as a sequence of 32-bit words. Working programs were published as research reports and, luckily, Garry has preserved some of these. Below is an extract from one of his programs. The instruction code words were expressed as 4 decimal fields, with the card punch operators converting them mentally to binary, in passing. Turing predicted in 1945 that programming would be done by Mathematicians. That was certainly a skill needed for the DEUCE!





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Thursday, June 28, 2018

AI Is Making Hardware Sexy Again

Another hardware post, although this time a bit more general than a new supercomputer. Almost 20 years ago at an AI  conference in Austin, Texas, I remember a discussion revolving around how great it would be if we AI people had the processing power that game designers insisted on for their games to run. If gamers could insist that their computers had powerful game cards, why couldn't AI insist on dedicated AI cards? We never got the AI cards and so we learned to use GPU's to enable our algorithms to run in reasonable time. However, now things are changing and increasingly hardware is being tailored to AI's needs as this article in Forbes makes clear.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

A new supercomputer

MIT's Technology Report has introduced the world's most powerful supercomputer as "tailor-made for the AI era" Since 2013, Chinese machines have occupied the number one slot in rankings of the world's most powerful supercomputers. Now America is back on top again. The computer, called Summit, occupies an area the size of two tennis courts and carries 4,000 gallons of water a minute through its cooling system to carry away about 13 megawatts of heat. It performs at 200 petaflops — 200 million billion calculations a second!




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Friday, June 15, 2018

iPad or Kindle Fire

iPad & Kindle Fire
I don't often do product reviews or comparisons but I recently bought a Kindle Fire HD 8. That will surprise people who know me as I'm a huge Apple fan. Between my wife and I, we have 9 Apple devices at home. However, I've also always been aware that the Kindle is an excellent e-book reader (my wife and father-in-law have them). The Kindle is light, has excellent battery life (weeks) and its e-ink screen is great in bright conditions. But, the Kindle Fire is different to previous Kindle's; it's not just an e-book reader, instead, it's a fully functional tablet, just like the iPad.
I decided to buy a Kindle Fire to compare it to my iPad partly because it's so cheap. The Kindle is $59.99 (USD) compared to an iPad for $329 (USD). In other words, the iPad is 5.5 times more expensive than the Kindle! In fact, you can buy a Kindle for less than the iPad's optional cover! So how does the Kindle compare? Well, the Kindle isn't as fast as the iPad, the touchscreen isn't quite as responsive and its backlight isn't quite as bright. The battery life is fine easily lasting a day of use.
Amazon has its own app store for the Kindle, but it doesn't stock all of the apps that the Apple app store or Google Play for Android devices stock. However, Amazon doesn't advertise this, but since the Kindle is running Android as its OS you can quite easily (5 mins) install Google Play on your Kindle (just Google it) and then you have access to all Android apps. This means you can install all the productivity apps and games you are familiar with.
Finally, although the Kindle has less built-in memory than the iPad, 32GB max vs. 128GB (add $100 to the iPad's price for this) you can easily upgrade the Kindle's storage by using a micro SD card ($38.20 for a 128GB card). In conclusion, the Kindle Fire is a perfectly usable tablet. If work was paying for my new tablet I'd insist on the iPad, but if I was paying myself I'd buy the Kindle Fire and spend the $269 I'd save on something else.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

Tips to improve your online privacy

Since the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal a few months ago online privacy has become a popular topic. The New Zealand Herald recently published some very practical tips you can use to improve the privacy of some popular apps. Read about the tips here.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Yet another GDPR email

You may have noticed that in the last week your inbox has been flooded with emails from almost every company you've ever interacted with online. All of them wanting to update their terms of use and privacy policy. Many companies have been resorting to humour to try and get us to open these emails. However, as The Guardian has pointed out "... legal experts have argued that many of these emails are unnecessary, and may even be illegal under the new data protection laws." If you don't know what has caused this burst of email activity it's due to a new EU law - the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Can we be friends with robots?

Associate Professor Elizabeth Broadbent, Department of Psychological Medicine,  University of Auckland, University of Auckland is giving a free public lecture this Thursday, May 24.

Social robots are now being made to assist us in our daily lives in our homes and workplaces. These robots typically look humanoid and are designed to display signs of attention, cognition and emotion. This lecture will discuss research on how people feel about living with such robots, and the benefits and harm robots may bring.

The talk will draw on a series of New Zealand studies examining how people respond to robots in their own homes and in healthcare settings for long periods. People's attribution of mind to robots and their feelings of companionship with robots will be a particular focus.

Drinks and nibbles will be served from 6pm at 260.088 Level 0 Foyer, Owen G Glenn Building University of Auckland. The Lecture commences at 6.30pm. 

Find out more information about the Gibbons Lecture Series.

If you cannot attend the lecture you can watch it live or later here.

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