Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Happy Birthday, Alan Turing!

Jun 23, 2012 GMT

June 23rd, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Alan Turnings' birthday. Particularly on this day we might reflect on the triumphs of this man.Alan Turing is considered by many to be the “father of computer science” and “the father of artificial intelligence”. I have purposely separated the two concepts, because even one of them might be considered a “life work” for most people. Today we look back on them and take the concepts for granted, but in those days there were a lot of people who laughed at the concept that a machine could be controlled by numbers that were self-generated, and that machines might be able to be consciously aware.Developing two such concepts in such a short...
Compadres' Day

Jun 16, 2012 GMT

It is the day before Father's Day, a day that will never be celebrated in my honor.I sit in a foreign country watching two young boys out the window of the house where I am staying.  They are barefoot, playing together, sharing their toys, speaking a language that is alien to me.   They start kicking a soccer ball, as soccer is the national sport for them.One of the boys lives in the house where I am a guest.  Early this morning I found him opening a kitchen cabinet door, climbing up on the cabinet shelves, reaching for something very much higher than himself. I came to his aid, and found that he wanted a biscuit.  Using motions and signs I assured him that I...
Blame the user, not the tool

Jun 13, 2012 GMT

For the past several days people have been tweeting at me (and Linus) to change the license of Linux to forbid the kernel's use for war. These tweets were due to the issue of Linux being used in the drones of the US Military. I tweeted back “Do not blame the tool”, but I think that answer was too subtle, as the people kept tweeting. So here is a longer answer for them.First of all, Linus (and certainly not I) do not “own” Linux. The copyright holders of Linux are many, and some of them are no longer working on the project or even dead. Therefore to change the license terms at this point is both legally and morally impossible.Secondly, this request flies in the face of GPL Freedom...
Campus Party Europe: BIG THINK, BIG Ideas, Free Admission, Accommodation and Transportation

May 22, 2012 GMT

Many of you know that I am involved with events called “Campus Party”, which started sixteen years ago in Spain and have spread out to Latin America.Briefly, Campus Party events bring together between 7,000 and 10,000 “campuseros” who live in tents under a gigantic roof, supplied with large amounts of electricity, tabletops, comfy chairs and state-of-the-art Internet. These “campuseros” then share ideas and experiences while having the chance to listen to some of the greatest thinkers of today.Last year Campus Party started a program called “Something Better” where groups of campuseros worked on projects during the week that benefited non-profit organizations. I was proud...
A Time To Remember

Apr 20, 2012 GMT

The Titanic is probably the most discussed ship of all times. Last weekend on the 100th anniversary of its sinking I went to see the 1953 classic movie “Titanic” with Clifton Web, Barbara Stanwyck and a very young Robert Wagner at our local “arts” theater, the Wilton Town Hall Theater. The movie was free (donations to local charities recommended), and a huge bucket of fresh-popped popcorn, with real butter, is only 5 dollars.There are also the movies “A Night to Remember” in 1958, and James Cameron's Oscar-winning movie “Titanic” in 1997 which changed a disaster movie into a love story and the 3D version out this year.The DEC Alpha version of GNU/Linux was first started as...
The Eyes Have It

Apr 06, 2012 GMT

The last couple of days the press has been reporting on the glasses from Google, and the press seems to think that this is something new. Far from it.As early as 1980 at MIT “Cyborgs” roamed the halls.One of the more famous of them was Steve Mann, who now works at the University of Toronto. When Steve first started his research into “wearable computing” he was a bit strange looking, wearing a hat with rabbit-ear antennas coming out of it, a large backpack to carry the equipment and a huge “heads up” display over one eye, but over time as the equipment became smaller, lighter and more powerful he eventually could hide the equipment and all the wiring under a suit-coat. ...
The Centenial Year of a Great Man: Alan Turing

Jan 05, 2012 GMT

I was four years old when Alan Turing died At the age of four I never knew I would become involved with computers, in fact I did not know what a computer was.It was only when I entered university in 1968 and started studying what was then “computer black magic” that I heard about the man who conceived of the theory of the Turing Machine, and later the classic test for artificial intelligence, the Turing Test.When I worked at Digital Equipment Corporation, we had conference rooms named after great computer scientists, and of course the “Turing Room” was one of them.This year I will be 62. I will have lived twenty years longer than Alan Turing, and despite many things I am proud of...

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