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Greg Lloyd

Greg Lloyd's Public Library

about 3 hours ago

21 May 2016: There are families of neural networks that can learn to compute any function, provided sufficient training data. However, given that in practice training data is scarce for all but a small set of problems, a core question is how to incorporate prior knowledge into a model. Here we consider the case of prior procedural knowledge such as knowing the overall recursive structure of a sequence transduction program or the fact that a program will likely use arithmetic operations on real numbers to solve a task. To this end we present a differentiable interpreter for the programming language Forth. Through a neural implementation of the dual stack machine that underlies Forth, programmers can write program sketches with slots that can be filled with learnable behaviour. As the program interpreter is end-to-end differentiable, we can optimize this behaviour directly through gradient descent techniques on user specified objectives, and also integrate the program into any larger neural computation graph. We show empirically that our interpreter is able to effectively leverage different levels of prior program structure and learn complex transduction tasks such as sequence sorting or addition with substantially less data and better generalisation over problem sizes. In addition, we introduce neural program optimisations based on symbolic computation and parallel branching that lead to significant speed improvements.

about 4 hours ago

According to Weyand and this team, “PlaNet is able to localize 3.6 percent of the images at street-level accuracy and 10.1 percent at city-level accuracy.” Furthermore, PlaNet was able to specify the country of origin in 28.4% of the photos, and which continent in 48%.

about 12 hours ago

There are books in which the footnotes or comments scrawled by some reader’s hand in the margin are more interesting than the text. The world is one of these books.
George Santayana (via austinkleon)

about 16 hours ago

10 Hun 2015: His private tragedy, Vladimir Nabokov once declared, was that “I had to abandon my natural idiom, my untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue for a second-rate brand of English, devoid of any of those apparatuses — the baffling mirror, the black velvet backdrop, the implied associations and traditions — which the native illusionist, frac-tails flying, can magically use to transcend the heritage his own way.”

  • In his fascinating if sometimes meandering new book, “Nabokov in America,” Robert Roper argues that Nabokov’s “claim to greatness rests most solidly” on his American books, and gives us an evocative portrait of the novelist in the United States that’s pungent with small, revealing Nabokovian details.
  • The image is an incongruous one: this highly cultivated Russian aristocrat — “the beneficiary of a superb Old World education” and exquisitely fluent in three languages — driving about the country with Vera in an Oldsmobile, logging upward of 200,000 miles in his hunt for butterflies in places like the Grand Canyon and the Rocky Mountains. And yet, Mr. Roper notes, Nabokov genuinely fell in love with the American West. And in love, too, it seems, with what he called this “lovely, trustful, dreamy, enormous country,” which offered him and his family safe harbor from the horrors of European history and a safe place in which to rear his son.
May 24, 16

In Japan, when talking about other people, one uses honorific titles. These go after the person's name. The most common title is san. It means all of "Mr", "Mrs", and "Ms." Mr Tanaka is referred to as Tanaka-san, as is Mrs Tanaka, and their unmarried daughter. Other common titles include sama, a more polite version of san, sensei, for teachers, kun and chan. These titles are placed after the name. These titles are not usually used with one's own name.

  • Correct use of titles is considered very important in Japan. Calling somebody by just their name, without adding a title, is called yobisute (呼び捨て), and is bad manners. 


  • Although titles are usually added to people's names, there are some exceptions. They are not used when talking about a family member, or another member of one's "in-group", to someone from outside the group. At work, Ms. Shimizu calls her boss "Tanaka san" when she talks to him, or about him to other people. But when she talks to a customer from outside their company, she calls him just "Tanaka". 


May 23, 16

21 May 2016: The photo above stems from the latest Internet Culture War blowup. Like all Internet Culture War incidents, the mere fact that we are entertaining a false-flag scenario as a serious possibility for some of what is going on speaks volumes about how deeply strange and recursive all of this is. There are layers upon layers upon layers. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the screenshot -- once one accepts that a false-flag might explain the worst aspects of social media fights, one also has to accept the possibility that evidence of the false-flag is itself a false-flag, and so on. Unless you like Haskell or Lisp, think carefully about leaping down this particular rabbit hole -- especially when the evidence comes from a murky and ephemeral forum like 4chan. Nonetheless, whatever the truth of this particular case, the unfortunate fact is that following Internet Culture War disputes for years forces everyone to become at least a little bit conspiratorial. There exists copious evidence that something like the screenshot at top has occurred in the past. I will not discuss such evidence, however, because it is both common knowledge to those who have followed Twitter and other platforms' descent into barbarism since 2013-14 and those who do not follow each and every granular detail likely will dismiss it out of hand as being too fantastical or strange. [0]

May 21, 16

Sep 2011: Buckminster Fuller (aka Guinea-pig B) lived his life to be a trim-tab. Heck he even had it printed on his gravestone! Bucky was a designer, author, and futurist and there’s lots of info on the web describing who he was and what his life was like (if you don’t know much about him definitely check out here, here, or here. He was an amazing man with much more to say than I can do justice to in this short post).

  • The “trim-tab” metaphor came up during a conversation between some friends and I the other day. For those that’ve never heard this metaphor, it describes someone whose small action eventually leads to big, and often unpredictable, results.
  • Here’s how Bucky described life as a “trim-tab” in the February 1972 issue of Playboy Magazine:
  • Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.


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May 20, 16

19 May 2016: Anybody who's walked in (or near) a McDonald's lately has seen the all-out Angry Birds onslaught, but this is apparently nothing compared to the enthusiasm going on in China, where one of the many new movie tie-ins is this questionably colored Naughty Green Pork Burger. Locations are getting total angry-avian makeovers, and there's also an Angry Red Burger, but its pastel-y scarlet bun just doesn't shock the senses like the Bad Piggy sandwich's can.

  • The picture is courtesy of Chinese magazine That's. It conducted a taste test and reports the sandwich "wasn't half bad," explaining that the pork patty is topped with an egg, shredded lettuce, and a "mysterious sauce with a hint of jalapenos." As for the bun, the real-life version looks like it was made using parts of Kermit, some Soylent Green, or maybe just matcha powder — any of which could be tastier than the artificial food coloring it probably uses in reality. Still, gotta give the chain points for having guts: Other burger-makers would be sweating a bun that immediately calls to mind mold, but this is a McDonald's burger, so stores can rely on customers knowing that's a literal impossibility.
May 20, 16

My slides for #ianno16 today: (shifting from #iannotate) Published on May 19, 2016
Update from the W3C Web Annotation Working Group on its progress towards establishing a data model,

May 19, 16

19 May 2016: The passcode can always be used instead of Touch ID, and it’s still required under the following circumstances:

      • The device has just been turned on or restarted.
      • The device has not been unlocked for more than 48 hours.
      • The passcode has not been used to unlock the device in the last six days and TouchID has not unlocked the device in the last eight hours.
      • The device has received a remote lock command.
      • After five unsuccessful attempts to match a fingerprint.
      • When setting up or enrolling new fingers with Touch ID.

  • So, lock your iPhone or iPad and go to bed, and if it’s more than eight hours before you unlock it in the morning, you’ll be asked for your passcode.
  • Apple has not explained the reason for the change, but it may be in response to court rulings that have compelled suspects to use Touch ID to unlock their iPhones. The Fifth Amendment means that nobody can be compelled to reveal their passcode, but two separate courts have ruled that there is no protection against providing a fingerprint to unlock the phone.

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May 19, 16

19 Dec 2014: it turns out you can’t write about the cuisines of American and Cambodia—Khmerican food—without writing about doughnuts. Aside from the many doughnuts made by Cambodians, it’s very difficult to find Cambodian food in the States. The connection between Cambodia and American pastry entrepreneurship is most pronounced in California, where, by one recent count, 90 percent of all independent doughnut shops are owned by Cambodians.

  • Doughnuts are big business in California. The California Restaurant Association estimates approximately 2,400 shops currently operating independently in the state. With slim profit margins but low-low overhead costs, doughnut purveyors have been rolling in it since the industry boomed in the 1980s—also the decade the number of Cambodians living in the United States swelled to 150,000, with the majority settling in California. Overwhelmingly, the new immigrants did not start making the kind of food they grew up with, at least not in restaurants. There are just four Cambodian restaurants in the city of Oakland—granted, that’s probably four more than in most American cities—but it’s almost impossible to find a chocolate glazed here that isn’t rolled and fried by a survivor of the Khmer Rouge.
  • The story of how this came to be boils down to one man, Ted Ngoy. Ngoy was living in Thailand when Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took control of his country in 1975. Instead of returning home to Cambodia, where the Maoist revolutionary leadership was advancing a genocide that would result in the death of one-third of the entire Cambodian population over the next four years, Ngoy came to the United States. With no English skills, but possessed of a wily entrepreneurial spirit, Ngoy soon began working in a doughnut shop in Southern California. After a while, he saved enough money to open his own shop. Then, as the story goes, under Ngoy’s influence and example, scores of other Cambodian refugees followed suit, with whole families working for cheap around the clock to best their rivals’ profit margins. Newer war refugees followed relatives or friends to work in those same doughnut shops. And once they saved up enough to try something on their own, it only followed that that would be doughnuts. Ngoy’s nephew opened up a doughnut supply business, B&H, that offered easy credit to Cambodians hoping to get into the business of doughnuts, and soon Cambodians had the market pretty much cornered. Doughnuts became the proverbial bootstraps by which an entire immigrant community pulled itself up in America, and specifically in California—just as laundry was for Chinese at one time, or gardening for Japanese, and later Mexican immigrants. And Ngoy became the so-called king of the Cambodian doughnut.
  • II. The only doughnut shop in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


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May 18, 16

17 May 2016: In the new global environment innovation is tending towards Platform Disruption, and is more focused on waves of change than single technology disruptions. The competitive capability of different innovation cultures, rather than technology, therefore becomes the critical success factor. In this article, Haydn Shaughnessy examines product and service platforms as the new organisational form and suggests that modern enterprises need to take the leap to a new way of business.

  • time I had one worry about the innovation sphere, the role and task of the innovation manager. My worries have increased, but before going into that, here is what used to disturb me. Much of the innovation in an organization is driven by the IT department. Or, alternatively, it will be impeded by IT. Innovation managers rarely had access to IT or a dialogue that would allow them to coordinate significant change. I often wondered how they coped with being one removed from this important lever.


  • Here’s what worries me now. Innovation has been guided by the remarkable achievement of Clayton Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma. Although Christensen’s work is often paraphrased as “good enough products at low prices can kill incumbents,” it is also an extremely thoughtful account of the decision points that innovation managers face. It encompasses alternative scenarios like companies adopting and developing new technologies to develop for entirely new markets where there is “non-consumption”.
  • It is important because at any given point a research manager might have to confront the possibility that the overall architecture of a product is inhibiting the path forward and rather than keep on trying to improve it, the executive team need to make a big investment in an alternative approach. My second worry is that this dilemma is now less important. The growing area of concern is how do I switch my organization’s operating model? How do I do significant process model innovation?

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May 18, 16

17 May 2016: NEWS ANALYSIS: Google rolled out a new social app called Spaces. It's a great judo move. There's just one problem. Spaces is too mentally taxing.

  • Google this week introduced Spaces, which is not quite a social network and not really a messaging app. Spaces is a Googly cross between Slack and Snapchat, available from an app on iOS and Android, a Chrome extension and online at


  • Social networking entails "following" people and exchanging personal information about one's family, work, life, travel and so on. And pictures of your cat. When Google launched Google+ in 2011, social networking was on the rise.
  • Social media, on the other hand, is when you share memes, articles, photos and videos taken by someone else—pictures of someone else's cat—and other content that is not about your own life.

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May 18, 16

17 May 2016: Today, chef Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin, NYC) releases his first memoir, 32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line. It's a coming-of-age story that weaves through Ripert's childhood in the South of France and Andorra, where he was first introduced to the kitchen. The book takes a surprisingly dark turn when a young Ripert is faced with the premature death of his father and later, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. As a young man, Ripert honed his skills under legendary chefs Joël Robuchon and Dominique Bouchet before eventually, triumphantly taking over the kitchens at Le Bernardin. Filled with his most personal and defining life moments, 32 Yolks reveals the challenges Ripert overcame to became one of New York City's most celebrated chefs. Here now is an exclusive excerpt of the first chapter.

May 17, 16

Homer, Iliad 18.468-607

In this passage, Homer describes the making of the shield of Achilles, and, in particular, an elaborate picture engraved by the god Hephaestus, depicting a wide range of human activities. At this point in the Iliad, Achilles has moved to a new level of rage: beyond the insult to his honor that originally motivated his withdrawal from the Greek effort, Achilles is now seething because his dearest companion, Patroclus, has been killed by Trojan Hector while fighting in Achilles' own armor. Achilles once again enters the war, clad in some new armor (including the shield) from Thetis, his divine mother, and Hephaestus, but he's burning with savage revenge, which drives him to some horrific actions. Homer's audience was supposed to remember the shield as they listened to the blood-soaked marauding of enraged Achilles in battle, and the stark contrast it presents to the warrior ethic typically celebrated in Greek culture.

May 17, 16

13 May 2016: While the name Jean Giraud may not be well known outside of the comics world, it is not an overstatement to say that it would be impossible to imagine what modern science fiction would look like without him.

  • Better known by the pseudonym “Moebius,” Giraud helped found the magazine Métal Hurlant (published in the United States as Heavy Metal) and worked with the filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. After the two collaborated on the landmark comic book The Incal, Jodorowsky asked Giraud to be a storyboard and concept artist on his 1975 adaptation of the science fiction epic Dune. While that film never made it off the page, it introduced Giraud to Hollywood.
  • Here are four iconic films that Giraud helped design, or directly influenced—from a galaxy far, far away to the digital frontier of the Grid:
  • Star Wars


    Giraud didn’t directly contribute to Star Wars: A New Hope, but his fingerprints are all over it. From the Imperial Star Destroyers bristling with metallic panels, pipes, and other jutting shapes, to the sparse, desert sands of Tatooine littered with the bones of giant creatures and enormous, rumbling machines, George Lucas borrowed much of Star Wars’ visual language from Giraud’s comics work, Tim Maughan writes for The worlds that Giraud designed often felt lived-in and gritty, as opposed to the shiny, chrome aesthetic of sci-fi flicks from earlier decades. Giraud later collaborated with Lucas on The Empire Strikes Back, recycling a robot that appeared in the background of one of his earlier comics for the many-limbed Imperial Probe Droid.

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May 17, 16

Bill Loconzolo reveals the lessons learned from building the Intuit Analytics Cloud. Video by Bill Loconzolo May 17, 2016

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