Computers do many things well, cooking may not be one of them

Friday, 27 March, 2015

An IBM supercomputer, who I discovered one addresses as “Watson”, has been learning all about the foods that people enjoy, and is now crafting cooking recipes as a result. I guess you could describe Watson’s… style as experimental?

Watson does, however, produce some genuinely interesting combinations. I’m taken with the idea of adding marjoram to a blackberry and cherry cobbler, porcini powder to a spiced pumpkin tart and tamarind to a cabbage slaw. Sometimes, he reaffirms classic matches. No doubt the whole of Italy will breathe a sigh of relief when it sees his tomato and mozzarella tart. Phew. There’s no such endorsement for tomato, basil and mozzarella, though I spy a dish that has me wondering whether it could replace everyone’s fallback summer salad.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

A rose by any other name will still be Internet Explorer?

Thursday, 26 March, 2015

I’m not sure about anyone else, but news that Microsoft is doing away with web browser Internet Explorer, or IE, would surely have caught the attention of web developers and designers, passed and present.

For a time there, and we’re talking awhile back now, IE was about the only dependable browser around, though I think its bane days far outnumber the boon times. IE6 anyone?

Microsoft has tried, unsuccessfully, to shake off the negative image of Internet Explorer over the past several years with a series of amusing campaigns mocking Internet Explorer 6. The ads didn’t improve the situation, and Microsoft’s former Internet Explorer chief left the company in December, signalling a new era for the browser.

Mind you the web browser isn’t really going though, it’s just being renamed. I’ll probably be sticking with FireFox and Chrome for the time being however.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Designing Google’s new office

Monday, 9 March, 2015

US tech company Google are drawing up plans for a new office building at their Mountain View, California, headquarters. In short, they’re hoping to build a workplace that both melds with the environment and is one with nature.

They’re certainly taking a holistic approach here, and are probably fortunate in that they have the appropriate resources to do so. I wonder if this will be the way of things to come, in terms of workplace architecture?

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

No, not even white collar jobs may be safe from automation

Friday, 6 March, 2015

Technology displaces, rather than replaces, workers. A smart machine may take the job of someone here, but they should eventually find other work there. Or so we have always believed.

That notion appears to be under assault though, and financial and sports reporters, online marketers, financial analysts and advisors, some lawyers, and even surgeons, all people with roles that require varying degrees of skill, may find their jobs threatened by advancing technology.

Some experts say not to worry because technology has always created new jobs while eliminating old ones ones, displacing but not replacing workers. But lately, as technology has become more sophisticated, the drumbeat of worry has intensified. “What’s different now?” asked Leigh Watson Healy, chief analyst at market research firm Outsell. “The pace of technology advancements plus the big data phenomenon lead to a whole new level of machines to perform higher level cognitive tasks.” Translated: the old formula of creating more demanding jobs that need advanced training may no longer hold true. The number of people needed to oversee the machines, and to create them, is limited.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Forget driving or taking the bus, travel by jet pack instead

Thursday, 5 March, 2015

How’s your fear of heights? Travel by way of personal jet pack seems to be drawing ever closer. The P12, for example, as manufactured by the Martin Aircraft Company, reaches an altitude of almost one thousand metres, so not that far above the ground, yet high enough to circumvent frustrating peak-hour traffic.

It may not be as small as some of us might have envisioned personal jet packs to be, but the P12 looks like it will still stow away conveniently away in a corner of the garage. Commutes of the future may be about to become a whole more interesting…

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

Here’s what might happen when you apply for work at Apple

Thursday, 5 March, 2015

“We don’t waste time with the dumb”… well, I’m glad we clarified that from the get go. Brighton based UX and UI designer Luis Abreu describes his perspective of Apple’s recruitment process, when he was recently considering taking a role with the US technology company.

3 weeks after speaking for a total of 2 hours with possible future team members, I was invited for a new round of onsite interviews at the Apple Headquarters. Due to thanksgiving, workload, and holidays we ended up scheduling this new round of interviews for the second week of January 2015. I was given a link to Apple Travel and freedom to book a return flight and 3 nights accommodation at a hotel near the Apple HQ.

An interesting read, especially if you’re thinking of working one day for a large, multinational, tech company.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

So much for “doctor” and patient confidentiality online…

Tuesday, 3 March, 2015

Are you hitting the search engines looking for information about an illness you’ve – erroneously more than likely – diagnosed yourself with, based on material you’ve discovered by way of the same search engines?

It might be an idea to stop, and not just because you may have misinformed yourself, but on account of the apparent levels of surveillance such look-ups are subject to:

But an astonishing number of the pages we visit to learn about private health concerns – confidentially, we assume – are tracking our queries, sending the sensitive data to third party corporations, even shipping the information directly to the same brokers who monitor our credit scores. It’s happening for profit, for an “improved user experience,” and because developers have flocked to “free” plugins and tools provided by data-vacuuming companies.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

How long would we last without tools, if they were all somehow lost?

Monday, 2 March, 2015

A library full of books to help people rebuild civilisation, should the need arise, is one thing, but books may not be much use if we were without tools, or what may seem to us now, basic items of technology. Indeed, people may not last very long at all, a matter of mere days possibly.

This may come as a shock to those people – nearly always wealthy, well-educated, and comfortable – who see themselves as “all natural” or “anti-technology.” Typically, their first objection to the thought experiment is that, if any of this was true, then we would not be here, because our ancestors would have died. If they could survive without tools, why can’t we? The answer to that is simple if surprising: our pre-technology ancestors were from a different species. They had big teeth, strong jaws, small brains, moved mainly on four limbs, and were covered in fur. After them came our more recent ancestors, humans but not homo sapiens, that used primitive tools that eventually changed their bodies. Those ancestors gradually evolved into us.

A post apocalyptic world minus tools and equipment is an unsettling thought to say the least. In addition to the proposed library, maybe a store of tools should also be established?

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

A library full of books to help with the rebuilding of civilisation

Monday, 2 March, 2015

If resources were severely restricted, those who might one day find themselves, for whatever reason, having to rebuild the Earth’s civilisations, might have to rely on single sentence snippets of information as starting points. I’m not sure how much that would actually give anyone to work with though.

If it were possible though to preserve a number of books, somehow keep them somewhere safe, and out of the way of whatever brings down today’s civilisations, what titles should such a library, or depository, contain?

Music producer Brian Eno, writer and blogger Maria Popova, and Wired magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly, among others, have been on the case, and suggested titles that could constitute a section of a library to be called the Manual for Civilization, that would house such a collection of books.

Read more posts on related topics

, ,

If extraterrestrials invade, how much warning might there be?

Friday, 27 February, 2015

On the off chance you had been wondering about this very matter… a Slashdot discussion regarding the Earth’s distant early warning capabilities, as it were, if such a term is even applicable, and just how effective it might be:

My question is how good are we at the moment in detecting an alien ship/fleet that jumps into our solar system. Do we have radio dishes around the globe such that we can detect objects in space in all longitude and latitude degrees? I know we have dishes pointing to the skies but how far can they reach? Do we have blindspots perhaps on the poles? I also wonder if our current means, ie radio signals, are relatively easy to be compromised with our current stealth technology? To formulate it in more sci-fi terms, how large is our outer space detection grid, and what kind of time window can they give us?

Read more posts on related topics

, ,