Geoff Hinton on Deep Learning

This is a recent, and fairly non-technical, introduction to Deep Learning by Geoff Hinton. In the most interesting part of the talk (@25 min; see arxiv:1409.3215 and arxiv:1506.00019) he describes extracting “thought vectors” or semantic meaning relationships from plain text. This involves a deep net, human text, and resulting vectors of weights. The slide below summarizes some …

More

Good Stories

March is still roaring a bit, though with Mid-Michigan temperatures eking into the 60s it’s a bit more like a purr. Nevertheless, you have to squint pretty hard to see the crocuses peeking out of the ground or the little spots of green that will be turning into budding leaves in the coming weeks. I …

More

New Pushback against Corporate Philanthropy

Students and parents in the Oakland Unified School District have a complicated relationship with their superintendent, Antwan Wilson. Wilson has been described as a bold and effective school leader with the district’s best intentions at heart. However, in response to his recently proposed plan to create a single application process for Oakland’s dozens of neighborhood …

More

Can Genius Be Genetically Engineered?

See you at the 92nd Street Y tomorrow (Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 8:15 pm)! With rapid advances in genome sequencing, genetic analysis and precision gene editing, it’s becoming ever more likely that embryo selection and genetic engineering could be used to optimize the intelligence of our future children. Although the complexities of genetics, the brain …

More

A Nuclear Option

The moose in the room that most everyone is blind to it seems, is our utter acceptance of a bloated and constantly expanding military budget. Even our Nobel Peace laureate President is not beyond offering up yet another increase in the current budget for our supposed ‘defense’. The Project on Government Oversight called the new …

More

Mapping the Future of Virtual Reality

This is a good discussion of VR technology, on the Andreesen Horowitz podcast. I recently bumped into a tech founder who swears the transition to full immersion is real and right around the corner technologically. a16z Podcast: Mapping the Future of Virtual Reality Virtual reality is coming fast, and everyone seems to assume that it …

More

One funeral at a time?

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. — Max Planck I’m at the annual AAU meeting of research Vice-Presidents, and the “reproducibility crisis” (in some fields) is …

More

Seige of St. Augustine, 1740

This “map” shows a view of St. Augustine at the beginning of its 1740 siege by the British. I thought the most interesting thing about it was this one ship called the Squirrel (see close up from the map’s index), which is a pretty hilarious name, especially beside its other companion ships with impressive names like the …

More

Robert Miller on Tribal Constitutions and Their Influence on the American Constitution

Robert Miller has posted “American Indian Constitutions and Their Influence on the United States Constitution” on SSRN. Here is the abstract: This paper analyzes modern-day American Indian constitutionalism. It describes the development of written constitutions by Indian nations and primarily focuses on constitutions developed since 1934 under the auspices of the federal Indian Reorganization Act. …

More

Oedipus the Scientist

We’ve been doing “ways of knowing” in my class at Michigan State, and I’ve been resisting the temptation to drag my undergraduates through a tangent on Sophocles. Blog readers are not so lucky. You’ll recall Sophocles’ play about King Oedipus from your freshman class on world literature. The plot gets rolling because Creon, his brother-in-law and …

More

Interactions with the 2016 United States Presidential Candidates’ Facebook Pages

I came across this post on how to scrape data from Facebook pages for statistical analysis, and was motivated to give it a try. After thinking about which pages (including pages for educational organizations and communities) would be interesting to analyze, I looked at interactions with 2016 United States Presidential candidate’s Facebook pages. While the …

More

Days of Decision

To believe in the possibility of change is something very precise. It means that we believe in the reality of choice. That there are choices. That we have the power to choose in hope of altering society for the greater good. Do we believe that our governments must inevitably tax the poor through stealth taxes …

More

Arts & Letters Scholars

Ampersand Typewriter Hammer Early last fall, our Director of Marketing and Communications, Ryan Kilcoyne, came to me with a pressing issue that required a decanal decision. “Should we use the ampersand in the official name of the College?” he asked. The gravity of the question was not immediately obvious to me. On the surface, it …

More

Grad school poetry

Punya Mishra recently posted to his blog a digital version of a book that several of us in MSU’s Educational Psychology and Educational Technology program worked on together. It’s not your typical academic book; I think Punya puts it best in his description of it: Graduate school can be a grind. Academia can be dull …

More