Oxygen doesn't grow on trees.

My grandparents enjoying their great-grandchildren#‎throughglass‬
I may have to get an extra pair




This blog now has an About page.


A little over two years ago, I attended an event and listened to Brad Templeton speaking about the Google driverless car and how hard it would be for society to adapt to this new method of transportation.

I’ve stumbled upon a recording of him lecturing about the topic at “Driving Innovation: A Speaker Series Powered by Nissan Motor Company” (also on iTunes).

Here’s the transcript.

One of the biggest barriers is that for some unknown reason people don’t like being killed by robots… they’d rather be killed by drunks.

They were actually more afraid of possible injuries and accidents that could come from a robot than they would be afraid of it being done by drunks and other human negligence.

And this is a real thing, there is a real fear, and so when these vehicles, because they will not be perfect, and it would be a serious mistake to set a standard that demands that they’d be perfect, that demands that they’d be as good as elevators. I think that would be a serious mistake because we’re looking, outside, at the second most dangerous consumer product that is allowed to be sold in terms of unintentional deaths. To be more dangerous you’d have to light it on fire and breathe it into your lungs, that’s the most dangerous product.

And this is an effort to take that dangerous product and make it safer, make it kill fewer people. And I think that’s a grand effort and I think it’s an effort on par with even curing polio which killed fewer people than cars as of today.
More people have died in car accidents in the United States than in all the wars in the history of the United States going back to the revolutionary war. It’s an astoundingly huge number and to reduce that number I think is a grand goal, and so I think that the standard of care here should be to do better than that. But if the standard of care is more like an elevator, where perfection is demanded, the technology will never be deployed (or almost never, it would take a very long time), and a lot of people will die in the meantime.

What happens next starts with you.

You are a pioneer, a founder and an architect of what’s possible.
You are a Glass Explorer. We have an exciting journey ahead of us,
and what happens next starts with you.

Start exploring at google.com/glass

I can’t remember the last time I had to RTFM before figuring out how *turn on* a gadget I purchased.

And that’s the first thing I was planning to do with it…


PZ Myers wrote an essay claiming that “Ray Kurzweil does not understand the brain”, which has some good points, but is entirely based on the premise that Kurzweil says we will reverse-engineer the brain from the genome, that contains 25 million [relevant] bytes, or a million lines of code (second-hand comments on erroneous press reports, taken out of context).

Kurzweil responded to the claims in a lengthy article, well worth the read. The relevant part regarding the quote that was taken out of context is

I mentioned the genome in a completely different context. I presented a number of arguments as to why the design of the brain is not as complex as some theorists have advocated. This is to respond to the notion that it would require trillions of lines of code to create a comparable system. The argument from the amount of information in the genome is one of several such arguments. It is not a proposed strategy for accomplishing reverse-engineering. It is an argument from information theory, which Myers obviously does not understand.

The reasoning behind the “million lines of code” calculation makes sense if you think about the Kolmogorov complexity of the DNA responsible for coding the design instructions for building the brain.

Trying to reverse engineer a complete brain biologically, in order to have a computer simulate the same principles (only faster) is dumb. I’ve read Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind, and he knows his shit. He gave specific examples of how his team gained some insights that helped improve speech recognition from reverse engineering several processes.

I completely agree with HuguesT’s Slashdot comment

Mostly I think that in general the human population, myself included, is an incredibly stupid, short sighted, nasty, egotistic species with occasional streaks of artistic, political or scientific brilliance. Hopefully we can do better than simulate that.

Next month marks the 8th anniversary since the registration of the tra.cx domain name. Words can’t describe the way I feel right now, after reaching yet another peak in this amazing journey, with my five partners and a dream-team of amazingly talented people making Tracx a global leader, a family and a home.

For the next week our dashboards are displayed on a 15×10 meters screen in Times Square NYC, the most visible place on the planet, showing real-time data about the Super Bowl, the most watched sporting event in America.

This is a photo of Jewish women from Subcarpathian Rus who have been selected for forced labor at Auschwitz-Birkenau, march toward their barracks after disinfection and headshaving (source, probably appearing in this book).

One of these women is my grandmother (marked here) who is celebrating her 86th birthday soon.

/u/Eclectix did an amazing job of cleaning up and colorizing the photo.

Not only did he do a professional job on the technical side, he also did some research to be as accurate as possible:

I’ve been researching the clothing worn in the camp, and it seems that grey is pretty much the predominant color, with the major exception being the head coverings which belonged to the people who wore them, and were usually white, grey, or brown.

I have eased out the grain as far as I can without doing real harm to the photograph. I particularly softened the grain in the shadows, where it was most noticeable and the details less essential. I added a sky with light cloud cover, as the day is obviously bright as revealed by the hard shadows present. The last thing I did was adjust the levels to increase the overall sharpness and contrast.

In addition to general restoration and colorization, I also brightened up your grandmother’s face just a tad to make it more visible. I hope you and your grandmother both enjoy the picture.