Archive for the ‘Information Technology’ Category

I just saw this video on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheIndependentOnline/videos/10155437888846636/

I am not absolutely sure how much of it is a genuine conversation between the human and the robot, and how much of it has been fashioned deliberately i.e. as if it were a film with a script.

Having said that, I find it horrifying. This is not only because of the risk of a “Planet of the Robots” becoming true, but also because I see an issue that is far worse and perhaps a lot closer to being manifested: The issue is that, by means of these spectacular advances in getting machines to simulate human thought and responses, humans are going to be drawn into identifying with these inventions. They will quickly get to the point of regarding them as fellow humans. And that is a downright fallacy.

I am a Software Engineer by profession with 28 years of experience in the field of software design and programming. I would never trade the warmth of a real friendship with a real human being for a relationship with a machine, such as Sophia.

We need to ask ourselves whether we really want to do this. Machines are good for their purposes: a phone, a laptop, a GPS etc. But they are not good for absolutely everything in life. Fire in the kitchen is good, because we can use it to cook our food. However, when it ravages a forest, then it is not good.



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Thumbs up to the film “The Imitation Game” and to Benedict Cumberbatch for giving such a convincing portrayal of Alan Turing.

The film is interesting, well-done and easy to understand by people who have little or no knowledge of Mathematics.

One of Turing’s achievements was the concept of a test, which could test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. This has come to be known as the Turing Test. I was pleased to notice how subtly the film handled and paid homage to this concept in one of the last scenes. There, Turing is shown concluding his conversation with the detective and saying: “So, am I a man, a machine, or a war hero?” It was as though Turing was turning the test onto himself…

The detective replies “I cannot judge you, sir”. It goes without saying that Alan Turing’s final years and treatment by the British judicial system were tragic and disproportionate to his contributions to victory in World War II, Mathematics and modern Computing. He died at the age of 41 on 8 June 1954. Had he lived for longer, he might have borne witness to the grand advances in Computing during the 60s and later: Unix, the Mac, maybe even Windows. Surely, he would have made his mark there…

PS As a Mathematician I could not help noticing a small slip by Keira Knightley: In the scene when Turing and Joan Clarke are on the lawn solving a mathematical problem, Keira Knightley alludes to a theorem of Euler, pronouncing the “Eu” as in “yew”. It is actually pronounced “oy” as in “boy”.

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Hello, PHP 5.6

Yes, the new version of PHP is out. You can read about what’s new in this article by Avinash Zala.

I am particularly happy with the introduction of constant scalar expressions, both for numeric and string literals. This should come in very handy.

The mechanism for unpacking arguments is also a nice thing to have. Enjoy!

Note: The actual version released at the time of writing this is 5.6.1.


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I have been inspecting some examples of the new CSS Shapes specification, which is in its middle stages and I am eager to see it adopted by all popular web browsers in the near future.

CSS Shapes will allow us to structure web content in a manner more akin to the one we are used to seeing in printed magazines where, for example, the text of a recipe for a certain dish may be seen to flow around a picture of the actual meal itself.

For anyone wanting to experiment with the specification, here is a very interesting tutorial by Patrick Catanzariti.

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Are you looking to define what’s next in your career?

VMware will be hosting an invite only hiring event in Athens, Greece in early June for a variety of developer roles within our Management Business Unit (MBU) & Suite Business Unit (SBU) at the VMware Sofia, Bulgaria site.

Visit the following link to learn more: http://bit.ly/1iVEZjU or send your resume to ttorelli@vmware.com

*These job openings will require relocation to our office site in Sofia, Bulgaria. VMware will provide relocation assistance for candidates receiving offers.

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Wordle is an interesting tool, which produces word clouds from input text. In a given piece of text, the most commonly appearing words appear in larger print.

You can try it at http://www.wordle.net/, but you will need the Java runtime to run it; this is available from http://www.java.com.

I gave Wordle the text of C. P. Cavafy’s famous poem Ithaca and here is the result:

Wordle: ithaca (Hellenic Version) by C. P. Cavafy

(An English translation of this wonderful poem appears here).

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A pleasant “accident” occurred to me in the beginning of this year…

I forgot my USB memory flash stick inside my shirt pocket. As usual, the shirt was put in the washing machine and I realised where the flash stick was only after the shirt had made its way to the clothes line.

Terrified at what may have happened to 8 gigabytes of memory as they got washed at 40 degrees centigrade, I placed the flash stick near a radiator to make sure all traces of water disappeared.

Later on, I anxiously connected the flash stick to my PC. A miracle! The stick functioned perfectly and all my files were intact.

Repeating the experiment (experience…) is not something I would advise, but keep in mind that a flash stick’s survival was achieved!

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