Friday, October 16, 2020

Voting in Kansas 2020

For the 2020 general election I requested a mail ballot.  I got it and voted today for Biden and Harris.

Last time around it felt like it was bad people voting for a bad man.* But, of course, "good" and "evil" must be represented by a vector quantity.** The components of this vector*** are different for different people. A man can simply be both good and bad at the same time but in different ways and as judged by  different observers.****

* See my blog of 9 November 2016.

**See my blog of 20 October 2010.

***See my blogs of  12 November 2016 and 6 April 2019 for some possible examples.

****Here I intend to make excuses more for the people doing the voting and less for the man being voted for.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

A good republican

 "This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right to amend it, or exercise their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."  Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address, 1861

Monday, October 12, 2020


After using mostly Apple and IBM computers and Unix I came to ESU which had adopted Windows PCs. There is so much software out there for Windows that I slowly adopted it too. Similarly, over the last few years, as I look at other people's AI work I have been forced to read more and more Python code. My AI code library previously consisted mostly of BASIC, PROLOG, C/C++, and LISP programs. To this I have now added 50 or 60 PYTHON programs.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Online experiences

 As students contracted covid and went into quarantine I was asked if  "someone might videotape my lectures" for use online. I was happy to say yes since I was thinking to do this very thing if we all went into lockdown again.* It quickly became me that was expected to do the taping. During the first one or two weeks the videos only successfully uploaded to CANVAS** about half the time. The IT people reloaded all of the software, then ultimately changed out the entire computer in the "smart classroom." On the first day using the new hardware I turned the monitor an inch or two toward me, there was a "bloop" "bloop" sound, and the screen went black. Loose plug. I think (hope!) all is now working. There is still a bit of a distraction having to limit myself to perhaps two of my four blackboards, etc.***

*I'm not sure if having videotaped lectures available online makes it more likely healthy students will cut classes. Videos are certainly not as good as the real thing.

** CANVAS is a cluttered mess. Whoever designed it violated the K.I.S.S. principle. 

***On top of which I have only half the usual number of lectures available this semester. (Because of Covid limits on the number of people in a classroom.) This means I must go faster. That, in turn, probably means I will make more mistakes. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020


For many years we have been doing much of our interviewing via teleconference calls. We are now doing all of our department meetings via Zoom. Virtual scientific conferences are also on the rise. The American Physical Society's division of plasma physics annual meeting is a virtual meeting this year.

There is a RAND report, Challenges in Virtual Collaboration, TK5105.6.W35, 2005, that shows that things like Zoom and teleconferences are not as good as the real thing. 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

AI curriculum and vocabulary

The best curriculum for training any given AI agent is probably dependent upon the specialization that that agent will take up. For the case of an artificial general intelligence I've felt that perhaps one should begin by giving the agent something like the set of concepts listed in my blog of 1 October 2015, then filling in the remaining concepts needed for the Toki Pona language. From there one can build up the vocabulary of Ogden's Simplish language. After that, reading of dictionaries and an encyclopedia. (This tends to emphasize human conceptualizations and vocabulary of course while deemphasizing possible alternative concepts.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

AI reading again

 At one time or another I have taught A.s.a. H. much* of Ogden's Simplish (Basic English)**. Rather than reading the internet perhaps A.s.a. should read a good dictionary, grow its vocabulary, and then read a good encyclopedia.*** The whole issue of AI curriculum again.

Humans typically employ a fairly large vocabulary. What can be done with a small vocabulary like Toki Pona and what requires a larger one? Is greater compression simply placing more demands upon context?

* I don't necessarily want to give A.s.a. concepts of church and religion for example.

** What vocabulary an agent needs depends, of course, on its specialization.

*** There are computer programs to translate English into Simplish. I don't know how good they are.