Largest single-memory computer

The Machine sounds like something out of an old science fiction movie, like “Colossus: The Forbin Project“.

But The Machine is actually the largest single-memory computer in the world today.  It has 160 TB of data and in the future may scale up to “4,096 yottabytes, or 250,000 times the total store of data in the world today.”

This is a fantastic tool for researchers.  The Machine sounds NEWWorthy.  Let’s just hope the old 1970 movie “Colossus: The Forbin Project” remains fictional, and that The Machine and AI are used for medical, weather, and other non-catastrophic scientific breakthroughs.

Better humans?

I intended the title of this piece on artificial intelligence (AI) and humans to have more than one meaning.  It can refer to AI being better than human performance on the job.  In other words, when will AI better (surpass) humans in various jobs?   But it can also refer to when we can expect to see better humans.  I’ll spend a little time on each of these topics.

First, MIT Technology Review recently reported on the topic of “Experts predict when AI will exceed human performance.”  It would be amazing to see an AI beat college students in the Putnam Math competition by 2050, but that’s the prediction.  If it happens, that will certainly be NEWWorthy. You can see a sample Putnam problem every day on Harvard’s website.

Then there’s the issue of better humans.  I’ll simply say that we might all be better off if every human considered these 10 things (in the video below “10 Ways to be a Better Human”) before making big decisions.

NEWWorthy term: Cobot

In Computerworld recently, “The cobots are coming.  Is your IT team ready?”

What is a cobot?  It’s a collaborative robot.  According to, “The collaborative application of robotics enables humans and robots to safely and effectively work together in an uncaged environment, with no risk of injuries/damages.”

While the term collaborative robot has been around since at least the 1990’s, the shortened term cobot may have first appeared in the Wall Street Journal in 2000.  But with robotics as an industry really starting to take off now, the term cobot feels NEWWorthy.

A hyperloop passenger cabin

Okay, cabin may be an exaggeration.  It’s really called a capsule or maybe a pod.  Since it will travel at over 700 mph, presumably it will have to be austere to avoid safety hazards.  Also, compared to subways, you have to wonder if people will be allowed to stand during 760 mph travel from point A to point B.

World’s first cognitive website claims to be the world’s first cognitive website (made with IBM Watson).  While many of us are growing used to asking questions of various smartphone assistants, it feels a bit strange to come to a website that immediately starts talking to you.  That said, since they claim to be the first made with IBM Watson, I decided to ask it a few questions to decide if it is NEWWorthy.  Based on the responses below, I’m not ready to give it the NEWWorthy stamp.

“What is your name?” [my question]

“My name is Lusy but you can call me whatever you like. Apart from Siri. Or Cortana.” [I guess Lusy or Lucy doesn’t know about Google or other assistants]

“Are you really the first?” [my question]

“Sorry, I don’t know what you mean.” [a disappointing answer]

“Name another cognitive website.”

“…” [Lusy offered a definition of cognitive website, but gave no competitor names]

“Who are your competitors?”

“We don’t believe it’s our place to comment on other companies, but if you ask me some questions about Volume, you’ll soon discover what sets us apart.” [a sales person response]





AI and diagnosis

MIT Technology review recently published an article about “Many genetic conditions come with clues in a person’s face, and new technology can help doctors diagnose them…”  Face2Gene is relatively new facial recognition software that “compares pictures of a patient’s face with those of disease composites and returns a series of potential diagnoses, from most plausible to least.”

In another article in MIT Technology review, “Google researchers trained an algorithm to recognize a common form of eye disease as well as many experts can…”

As technology continues to revolutionize the future of medical diagnosis and healthcare, look for AI, Deep learning, and image processing to get many more mentions on NEWWorthy in 2017 and beyond.

Which is NEWWorthy: Surface Dial or Mac Pro Touch Bar?

Microsoft and Apple released new user interface aids — or toys, depending on how you perceive these kinds of things — recently.

Microsoft’s Surface Dial sells for about $100 and provides a new kind of input device, particularly for creative types.  Apple’s Touch Bar is only available initially with the new Mac Pro and adds about $300 or more to the cost.  It is a productivity aid, and Apple claims it’s better than the idea of providing a touch-screen computer.

So which is NEWWorthy?  It’s too early to tell, but here are some initial reactions.  Mashable says that “Apple’s new Touch Bar looks like an ergonomic nightmare“.  That’s not to say that you won’t be able to make good productive use of the touch bar, it’s just that you might suffer some pains in doing so.  Meanwhile, here’s Techcrunch’s “Hands-on with the Surface Dial.”

I haven’t had a chance to try either one.  But the Surface Dial appears to be the sexier, more exciting of the two new devices.  In time, we’ll find out which one is truly NEWWorthy.  For now, they both are.

Bot economy

Get used to hearing the term “bot economy” as bots slowly replace apps.  Chat bots are bots (software) that provide customer and other text services to humans.  There are also search bots, edit bots, anti-vandalism bots, and many others.  Wikipedia lists some of the Wikipedia bots.  There are also many, too many, malicious bots.

Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft make bots too, hoping that eventually their virtual helpers will be established as the best in the business.  App stores are flooded with apps, but The Economist informs us that the market for bots is just getting started.  Some, like Bloomberg, are calling it the “bot economy”.

Many bots don’t have faces, but many do have personalities and some have voices.  Consumer robots that help us in our daily lives with tasks like laundry, cleaning (not just vacuuming), driving, etc. may still be years away, but bots are here now.  Welcome to the bot economy.  Whether it becomes as big as the app economy has been over the last decade, time will tell.  For now, bots are NEWWorthy.


Pizza ATM

Blaze Pizza is — or is one of — the pizza company that made the 3-minute pizza famous.  Not only is it prepared quickly, many swear it’s good!

But Blaze’s success may also be problematic for them.  Now there’s Pizza ATM, which also makes pizza quickly but doesn’t require a preparer at the time of order.  The pizza ingredients are assembled earlier and placed in the Pizza ATM, to be cooked in a few minutes time when someone places their order at the kiosk.

Technological progress isn’t always pretty.  It’s like Uber drivers being replaced by automated cars.  In this case, Pizza ATM can easily coexist with Blaze and other quick-pizza businesses, because the ATM is only at one university in America so far.  Also, you can request much more variety on your pizza from a human preparer.

What if eventually cooking time comes down to 1 minute? Will consumers prefer a Pizza ATM at their local grocery store or other close-by location over driving to Blaze for the eat-out experience?  Or maybe pizza lovers will prefer that a robot deliver their prepared pizza to them.  Or how about robot pizza preparation for your eat-out pizza?  Time will tell.

Pizza Slice Mushroom Veggies Pepperoni clip art

Election ratings and forecasts

Presidential election polls seem to be all over the place this year, swinging one way or the other for who knows what reason.  Some analysts recently predicted that the polls may be more trustworthy after Labor Day (Sep. 5), but do they really know?

So I thought I would publish a list of links (below) of various ratings and forecast sites that use statistics or other means to try and get a more robust picture of the election race than a single or a few polls might paint.  Please note that this list is not complete, nor is it in any particular order.

Think you know better?  The American Statistical Association (ASA) is holding a contest to predict the next U.S. president.  It’s not as easy as just determining the winner, though.  Your statistical model really has to get the details right.

But whether you think your model or one of the existing models — statistical, betting odds, experts, crystal ball, or otherwise — is best, take a look at the BBC video below.  Models that may have gotten election prediction right in the past, don’t seem to agree this year.  At least not yet.



Princeton Election Consortium Electoral Map

The Cook Political Report



CNN Political Prediction market