Category Archives: Strange Days

Google Has Created A Quantum Computer

Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Hasn’t Created a Quantum Computer.
Google Has Created a Quantum Computer.

VR News

In case you missed it, Time magazine (yes, those things your great uncle still reads) recently had a ridiculous cover about VR. And, because internet, people are having a field-day with it. Per usual, Forbes’ David Thier’s comments on the matter echo my own, so go read his post.

Five years from now, this shit will be ubiquitous and none of this will matter. That said, I seriously doubt the Oculus founder’s street smarts. Google should probably tamper him down a bit and let him just focus on releasing a rad product (instead of trying to market it).

“VR Fail” Is The New Clickbait

Last year was so VR is so next year. This year is so VR is so fail. Take this Re/Code article with the attention grabbing headline of “VR Is Still Not Ready For Primetime”. In the article, the author (who I enjoy reading, btw) posits that VR is only ready for niche consumer adoption. The argument goes like this: VR in the 90s was a joke (true) because the tech was shit (true). VR in the teens is a joke because, while the tech is great, it is only for nerds for a host of reasons (content, cost, image, etc). These two arguments are apples and oranges.

My issue with the clickbaity article boils down to how we define “Prime Time”. The article defines Prime Time as 300 million devices. Well, okay, if that’s the definition of Prime Time then I guess microwaves aren’t prime time yet. VR is going to happen. It’s going to be “big”. It probably will never be 300 million big (roughly 2 per US household), but it will be at least 20 million big within 10 years in the US alone. That seems like prime time to me.

J, Keep Your Grubby Hands Off Our Water (But Send Us Your Grapes)

The Shat’s 30 billion kickstarter to pipe H2O from WA to CA hasn’t started yet, but my guess is that it won’t get very far. This blog, however, makes a great point that maybe we should consider the opposing view: instead of sending the water to California, send the crops up to Washington.

Side note: This is an awesome blog if you are into PNW weather. (And really, who isn’t?)

Is AI MIA?

There’s been a lot of talk recently about AI being super-scary and that it represents one of humanity’s greatest risks. This has been mentioned, with almost hyperbolic sincerity, by Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. While that might happen someday, the current state of AI is simply not there.

Google search, while impressive, isn’t “thinking”. At it’s heart, Google search is searching through a bunch of big lists, looking for some key terms and returning associated results. Then, periodically, those lists are tweaked and updated to become more accurate over time (note: Google is super smart; I’m way-trivializing here to make a point). While they are likely using all sorts of machine learning (iterating over big sets of data to generated more precise associations) to do this, the GoogleBot is not actually–literally–understanding what we’re typing. Most voice recognition stuff (think Siri, and I’m guessing Echo too–though I don’t know for sure) are using similar techniques.

What’s the difference? Well, if I ask, “what’s 2+2”, Google looks through its lists and finds that people searching for “what’s 2+2” want an answer of four. So they open up a little calculator app with 2+2 as the input and 4 in the output screen. However, if I ask the Google: “Google, what is the sum of numeral two added with the number two?” the Google looks through a bunch of lists and finds a bunch of possible associations. The first result Google decides to show me is the wikipedia entry for the number “2”. So, yeah. If I had asked you the second question, you would have said, “Four. Why are you so damn verbose?”

The big AI breakthrough will come when machines can finally comprehend and truly learn. And maybe once that happens, there will be an avalanche of AI progress, and then the computer overlords will smite us. That’s certainly possible, as this article about AI progress at Google seems to hint at. I would love to hear the finer details here, though I’m sure they would be difficult for me to comprehend.

My guess is that this will be an area that eludes us for some time. I usually err on the side of faster pace when prognosticating on tech advancements, but I think this problem is exponentially greater than many of the things the tech industry has solved up until now (I’m looking at you, My Singing Monster). Machine learning, in its current form, is a long way from machine comprehension.