Edge.org: Datasets over Algorithms

Depending on how much attention you've paid to the evolution of AI this may come as a surprise, or seem expected. Without data, what's an algorithm to do?

Note: this couldn't be a better argument for standardized and universally-accessible electronic health records. Watson isn't perfect, but it can't parse what isn't there, or is there, but only partially, and not transcribed from decades of horrific handwriting, and not in any sort of standardized format. 

Source: https://www.edge.org/response-detail/26587
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The Minecraft Generation - The New York Times

Heck of a piece about the Minecraft generation -- which, considering its popularity, is a fair title.

I've got three young kids and three nephews and part of me is so super jealous of the many awesome branded Lego kits -- Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and more. All I ever had was my tiny Alpha Centauri base, which I cherished the shit out of.

But only after years of building whatever I dreamed up from my big buckets of bricks. 

So I'm not hating on the branded sets -- there's some serious wish-fulfillment that I do love and would have loved even more as a kid -- but there's something special about open-ended imaginative play. The Minecraft designers clearly feel similarly.

Block-play was, in the European tradition, regarded as a particularly “wholesome” activ­ity; it’s not hard to draw a line from that to many parents’ belief that Minecraft is the “good” computer game in a world full of anxiety about too much “screen time.” In this way, Minecraft has succeeded Lego as the respectable creative toy. When it was first sold in the postwar period, Lego presented itself as the heir to the heritage of playing with blocks. (One ad read: “It’s a pleasure to see children playing with Lego — Lego play is quiet and stimulating. Children learn to grapple with major tasks and solve them together.”) Today many cultural observers argue that Lego has moved away from that open-­ended engagement, because it’s so often sold in branded kits: the Hogwarts castle from “Harry Potter,” the TIE fighter from “Star Wars.”

“It’s ‘Buy the box, open the box, turn to the instruction sheet, make the model, stick it on the shelf, buy the next box,’ ” the veteran ­game designer Peter Molyneux says in a 2012 documentary about Minecraft. “Lego used to be just a big box of bricks, and you used to take the bricks, pour them on the carpet and then make stuff. And that’s exactly what Minecraft is.”

I get it.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/17/magazine...

How My Grandparents Met

My grandfather wrote this in 1993, fifty years after his high school graduation. My grandmother, parents, siblings, and I (and later, our incredibly patient spouses), heard the story countless times. So I thought I'd share. He wrote this on his trusty typewriter in his home office, the same typewriter that lived next to the stack of Tastycake chocolate cupcake wrappers (he was diabetic).

He was irreplaceable: one of the kindest, wittiest, hardest-working and most honest men I've ever known. He often told me his gallbladder surgery scar was from a Japanese bullet in World War II (he was a radioman on a submarine in the Atlantic).