Tag Archive for 'bbc articles'

Newsflash: This Is Not Okay

This BBC article about the controversy of an Australian mayor in a small mining town suggesting that “with five blokes to every girl, may I suggest that beauty-disadvantaged women should proceed to Mount Isa” is my newest please-tell-me-someone-did-not-really-say-that moment. It could just be a mishap, right? No. There’s more.

“Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face. Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness. […] Some, in other places in Australia, need to proceed to Mount Isa where happiness awaits. Really, beauty is only skin deep. Isn’t there a fairy tale about an ugly duckling that evolves into a beautiful swan?”

It takes my breath away. I seriously wonder when people will realize that their gender-related comments are offensive. There are some very simple ways to evaluate this. For example, before speaking, replace the word ‘women’ (or ‘girls’ or ‘lasses’ or whatever poorly chosen synonym you have in mind) with ‘Blacks’ or ‘Jews’ or ‘Native Americans’ or ‘Veterans’ or even ‘Republicans’ and ask yourself, “Would this be an appropriate comment?” If the answer is no, or if there is any sort of hesitation whatsoever on your part as to the appropriateness of your comment, then don’t say it! If this method does not work, chances are that you have Severe Issues and need to be removed from society until such a time as you can be taught basic human decency.

Checkers and A.I.

So the BBC informs me that computers have now “solved” the game of checkers such that their program can play every game to a win or a draw. Cool. How did they do it? Well, basically, they did it the way I would have done it if I were faced with said problem: try every possible combination of moves. But, because ‘brute force’ doesn’t sound as nice as ‘non-heuristic approach,’ you can guess what the researchers called it. One of the head researchers is quoted as saying:

“I think we’ve raised the bar – and raised it quite a bit – in terms of what can be achieved in computer technology and artificial intelligence.”

Maybe I’m confused on what we’re counting as artificial intelligence these days, but I was under the impression that forcing a computer to check every possible combination of moves did not count. If there were some sort of clever optimization algorithm hiding in there, maybe, but there’s no mention of anything of that nature in the article. Maybe one of you computer-science types can step in and enlighten me? Please?

English Triumphs Again!

The Gods of the Internet, Lords of the Grammar Nazis, have heard my plea. Or, you know, they got an editor to look at the follow-up to that scramjet article.

This makes [a scramjet engine] more efficient than a conventional rocket engine as it does not need to carry its own oxygen supply, meaning that a vehicle using one could potentially carry a larger payload.

I still protest to rockets and air-breathing engines being compared this way, but I guess that’s why I’m an engineer and not a journalist. (No offense, Greg 😉 )