Category Archives: Software

Stop Calling Everything AI, Machine-Learning Pioneer Says – IEEE Spectrum

This is true – with a reminder that even as a brain injured idiot, I am a retired computer engineer and computer scientist:

Artificial-intelligence systems are nowhere near advanced enough to replace humans in many tasks involving reasoning, real-world knowledge, and social interaction. They are showing human-level competence in low-level pattern recognition skills, but at the cognitive level they are merely imitating human intelligence, not engaging deeply and creatively, says Michael I. Jordan, a leading researcher in AI and machine learning.

Source: Stop Calling Everything AI, Machine-Learning Pioneer Says – IEEE Spectrum

Much of our “AI” mimics some human behaviors while much more is sheer computational horsepower enabling us to create models with complex weighted input mappings which we refer to as “machine learning”. This is all good but its not the AI that many people think of when they hear the term.

And this is actually quite cool:

He says he believes that developments in machine learning reflect the emergence of a new field of engineering. He draws parallels to the emergence of chemical engineering in the early 1900s from foundations in chemistry and fluid mechanics, noting that machine learning builds on decades of progress in computer science, statistics, and control theory. Moreover, he says, it is the first engineering field that is humancentric, focused on the interface between people and technology.

U.S. Supreme Court rules: Oracle loses its Java copyright case against Google

Justice Stephen Breyer, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, agreed that Google’s use of the code was protected under fair use, noting that Google took “only what was needed to allow users to put their accrued talents to work in a new and transformative program.”

“To the extent that Google used parts of the Sun Java API to create a new platform that could be readily used by programmers, its use was consistent with that creative ‘progress’ that is the basic constitutional objective of copyright itself,” Breyer added.

Source: Supreme Court rules in Google’s favor in copyright dispute with Oracle over Android software

Google introduces mask filter for Android photos

April 1 – Google has updated its Android OS default camera app with a new “mask filter”. The apps uses AI techniques to automatically identify face masks and then filters them out of the photo, using AI to automatically generate the missing face area.

The update is available on all Android phones as of April 1.

Reviewers say the mask filter works as effectively as masks work in real life, which is to say, not that good. Google suggests applying the mask filter twice for more effective mask removal.

Boondoggle: Oregon’s smart phone contact tracing app failure

Smart phone contact tracing apps are a technology whose time never arrived:

Months after agency officials said they were actively “assessing the results” of a trial conducted at Oregon State University, state officials now say they have no final documentation about efforts to evaluate the project.

The decision by state officials not to formally assess the technology helps explain why the project has been delayed for months, leaving Oregon as one of just four states along or west of the Continental Divide that has failed to adopt the technology.

Source: Oregon can’t produce written evaluation of long-delayed COVID-19 exposure app –

Oregon is incapable of doing IT projects anyway. Cover Oregon was the $450 million failed “health exchange” that never enrolled anyone before they pulled the plug.

How 21st Century News Ought to be

For the most part, how the news is reported to the consumer has changed little in decades, perhaps a century.

When the Internet became available, television stations began to offer print (and video) stories via web sites. Newspapers began to offer web sites – and occasionally offered video.

But few took advantage of the underlying technologies to develop interactive news and analysis tools.

There have been some gradual tip toe steps towards providing these kinds of tools. During elections, results are often presented in interactive, clickable maps or charts.

A very few news sites have offer a bit of Covid-19 data in interactive form. When the news is based on data – or time – there is so much that could be done to deliver a richer, more informative interactive news experience.

An interactive time line would enable the news consumer to scroll through past timeline events – or just linked news stories – by time. This would help us see how the issue has changed, over time, or how the reporting has changed, over time.

Several web sites provide interactive tools to explore Covid-19 related data. Occasionally, an online news web site here and there will offer similar functionality.

It is now 2021 and the news media is still stuck in the past and not thinking “outside of the box” to deliver enhanced value made possible by technology.

They remain stuck with click bait, fear inducing headlines. This is not the path forward for journalism success. It is long past time to embrace available technologies. They have demonstrated they can do it – but mostly for special features. It’s time to make these tools a standard part of reporting.

(Oh, and could you cite references? The story that says “a new study says” but never gives the title of the study, the publication, or a link, is DOA for me.)

“Hit and Run” will be a thing of the past

Microsoft joins GM in self driving vehicle initiative.

To unlock the potential of cloud computing for self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, to commercialize its unique autonomous vehicle solutions at scale. Microsoft, as Cruise’s preferred cloud provider, will also tap into Cruise’s deep industry expertise to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transportation companies across the globe through continued investment in Azure.Microsoft will join General Motors, Honda and institutional investors in a combined new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise, bringing the post-money valuation of Cruise to $30 billion.

Source: Cruise and GM team up with Microsoft to commercialize self-driving vehicles – Stories

This past year, the FAA wanted to track toy remote controlled model airplanes in real time, once per second. If the government thought they needed real time tracking of toys, you can be sure they will demand real time tracking of all automobiles.

Every vehicle incident will be tracked – in real time. The era of people driving away in hit-and-run accidents will come to an end. So will privacy but what ever, right? It’s probably for the children anyway.

Trump pardoned engineer who pled guilty to stealing Google’s automated driving technology 

Hmmmm….: Trump pardons former Google engineer who stole trade secrets

Before leaving [Google], Levandowski downloaded a trove of Google’s self-driving car technology, leading eventually to 33 counts of intellectual property theft against him. He plead guilty to one count and was sentenced to 18 months in prison last summer.

Revisting UW IHME’s Covid-19 projections

This part of the post was written on September 4th, but not published until December 30.

On September 4th, the UW IHME disease modeling team projected 410,000 deaths in the U.S. by January 1st, 2021:

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine is predicting more than 410,000 deaths by January if mask usage stays at current rates. If governments continue relaxing social distancing requirements, that number could increase.

Source: Coronavirus live updates: Model predicts 410K US deaths by January; Labor Day weekend brings risk; South Dakota stages state fair

By September/October, most of the US was averaging 90+% face mask compliance. The areas with bad outbreaks were seeing 95+% compliance according to COVIDcast at CMU.

On September 4th, the CDC reported a cumulative total of just over 187,000 deaths.

As of December 31st, the CDC reports:

Including Dec 31 in the final tally will likely bring that to over 340,000 for the year.

Since last April, I saved many of the UW IHME projections. Their projections, when compared to reality, ranged from being wildly off to off in space.

In every projection I saved, the UW IHME significantly over estimated future deaths.

As they got closer to December 31st, IHME revised their past projection to 296,000 to 348,000 – moving their own goal posts so they could later say, see, we made a correct projection! And they can claim with a straight, but covered, face that the real world was at the high end of their projection!

UW IHME continuously updates their past web site projections, much like the Soviets used to rewrite history – so that at any point in time, their projections look really good 🙂

They also insert a random variable of unknown value – face mask usage – such that they can later justify any possible real world scenario. The CDC itself has said it has no quantitative data to compare face masks versus social distancing or hand washing or any other mitigation. In other words, UW makes up assumed values for their face mask wearing model – meaning they can generate any projection and then later blame errors on face masks. IHME assumed – back in May – that wearing a mask provided a 50% risk reduction. This was based, then, on early comparisons that ignored the time dimension. For example, CA “proved” that mitigations and mask wearing worked – In May! Now in Dec, CA has the worst outbreak nationwide after having the toughest restrictions for the longest period of time compared to elsewhere. It looks like IHME is making up a fudge factor value so their projection can always agree with the narrative du jour.

Their projections have been consistently awful. Yet much of the media – whose business uses gloom and doom click bait to sell eyeballs to advertisers – eagerly publicize these “expert predictions” as if they were meaningful.