In recent times, there has been talk of computers taking over a growing number of jobs. While mechanisation has historically been limited to repetitive blue-collar jobs, some have suggested that traditionally middle class creative jobs could be next.
This leads to an important question: Just how good is artificial intelligence at creative pursuits such as, for example, writing a novel?
It’s said that if you give a thousand monkeys typewriters, eventually you’ll end up with the entire works of Shakespeare. But what about a thousand processor cores?
Over at The Verge, Josh Dzieza looks at the computer programming competition that aims to do just that:
It’s November and aspiring writers are plugging away at their novels for National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, an annual event that encourages people to churn out a 50,000-word book on deadline. But a hundred or so people are taking a very different approach to the challenge, writing computer programs that will write their texts for them. It’s called NaNoGenMo, for National Novel Generation Month, and the results are a strange, often funny look at what automatic text generation can do.
Robocop? Microsoft’s robotic security guards
Along with artificial intelligence, robotics is another area that some say could soon radically reshape the workforce.
Aside from appearing on the New York Times best seller list, could you soon find your friendly local mall cop has been replaced by a robot?
Over at the Daily Dot, Imad Khan has a look at why Microsoft has recently hired a fleet of robots to guard its offices:
Robots are increasingly replacing humans in a variety of mundane tasks, like bolting a car together or making lollipops, but now they are moving into the security business.
Microsoft recently installed a fleet of 5-feet-tall, 300-pound robots to protect its Silicon Valley campus. The robots are packed with HD security cameras and sensors to take in their organic, protein-based surroundings. There’s also an artificial intelligence on board that can sound alarms when the robot notices something awry. It can also read license plates and cross-reference them to see if they’re stolen.
The computer candidate’s act of presidential generosity
Billionaire Ross Perot is perhaps best known as the third-party candidate who managed to score a remarkable 18.91% of the vote in the 1992 US Presidential election.
However, his other claim to fame is as a tech entrepreneur. Amongst his other ventures, he founded pioneering tech companies Electronics Data Systems and Perot Systems. He was also a key investor in NeXT, the company Steve Jobs founded during his early ‘90s hiatus from Apple that developed the predecessor for Mac OS X.
In Wired, Brendan I. Koerner explains how the billionaire also helped to preserve one of the world’s oldest computers:
Eccentric billionaires are tough to impress, so their minions must always think big when handed vague assignments. Ross Perot’s staffers did just that in 2006, when their boss declared that he wanted to decorate his Plano, Texas, headquarters with relics from computing history. Aware that a few measly Apple I’s and Altair 880’s wouldn’t be enough to satisfy a former presidential candidate, Perot’s people decided to acquire a more singular prize: a big chunk of ENIAC, the “Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer.” The ENIAC was a 27-ton, 1,800-square-foot bundle of vacuum tubes and diodes that was arguably the world’s first true computer. The hardware that Perot’s team diligently unearthed and lovingly refurbished is now accessible to the general public for the first time, back at the same Army base where it almost rotted into oblivion.
Why Samsung’s Galaxy S5 failed
Recently in Control Shift, I discussed how Samsung’s weak quarterly results and the rapidly changing smartphone marketplace have had a big impact on the South Korean conglomerate.
In Forbes, Ewan Spence has an interesting take on the same subject, suggesting that overconfidence and arrogance in the launch of its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, played a contributing role in the conglomerate’s recent stumble:
Forty percent of the manufactured Samsung Galaxy S5s are reportedly still in warehouses around the world. While Samsung was confident that it had a hit phone and increased production by twenty percent, the S5 has sold 12 million units; four million units less than a year-on-year comparison with the Galaxy S4.
While sales of the Galaxy S5 are up in the US, other key territories saw Samsung’s estimates to be punishingly out of step with reality.
Get me off your f-cking mailing list: The academic paper
In recent times, there have been a growing number of scammers that are trying to hoodwink researchers into paying for articles in fake scientific journals.
Over at Vox, Joseph Stromberg explains how one Australian computer scientist managed to outsmart the scammers:
The paper above, titled “Get me off your fucking mailing list,” has been accepted by the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology.
Let us explain.
The journal, despite its distinguished name, is a predatory open-access journal, as noted by io9. These sorts of low-quality journals spam thousands of scientists, offering to publish their work for a fee… An Australian computer scientist named Peter Vamplew sent it to the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology in response to spam from the journal. Apparently, he thought the editors might simply open and read it.
Instead, they automatically accepted the paper — with an anonymous reviewer rating it as “excellent” — and requested a fee of $150.
This incident is pretty hilarious. But it’s a sign of a bigger problem in science publishing.