Category: Articles

  • Genocide awaits our acknowledgement

    By the reckoning of many, Israel is committing genocide against the people of the Gaza strip, and has been since October 2023. It is doing so by means of starvation, brought on by a combination of blockade and the destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure. Tens of thousands have also died directly in the fighting itself.…

  • Lamarkdown

    I made a thing. Lamarkdown is an MIT-licenced document preparation system for Markdown/HTML, intended to address similar use cases to LaTeX (and not to be confused with static site generators like MkDocs). My Git logs tell me I’ve been working on this since late 2021, so its release is well overdue. (As is often taken…

  • Occam hates your simulated universe

    I love the discovery of a new and excitingly nutty cosmic revelation. It’s like unwrapping a present. Melvin M. Vopson got himself in The Conversation, opining on the old Simulation Hypothesis. I can’t say where the idea truly originated, but Nick Bostrom laid down an argument for it in 2003 (so I’m quite late, as…

  • Measuring the teaching vibe with Net Promoter Scores (or not)

    Recall being asked “How likely you would be to recommend…” something, on a scale from 0-10. Your response (combined with others) goes into creating a Net Promoter Score (NPS) for whatever you were asked about. NPS has become a commonplace tool for gauging public opinion of a product or service. But is it the right…

  • I am voting for the Voice

    Australia has travelled a long and oftentimes dark road in attempting to reconcile First Nations peoples with the waves of immigrants and their descendants who now reside here too. Right now, as on just a few prior occasions, we have a direction: a glimmer of light into which we can steer ourselves. The Indigenous Voice…

  • Roger Penrose’s “Shadows of the Mind”

    Sir Roger Penrose, a Nobel-prize-winning physicist, has the distinction of being (I believe) the most famous and gifted adherent to the view that artificial intelligence cannot and will not reach the point of human equivalence. He is a sceptic—perhaps the principal sceptic—of strong AI. In pursuit of this view, he’s written two key books: The…

  • The Philosophy of Nova Sapiens

    Isaac Asimov wrote[1]In the introduction to The Complete Robot (1982). that robots in science fiction fall into two categories: menace and pathos[2]Basically, the object of our empathy. I hadn’t come across the word “pathos” until I read this bit of Asimov.. Examples of both abound: The Terminator, The Matrix and Harlan Ellison’s I Have No…

  • The final paragraph: how to identify a nutter

    So you’ve been linked to some random weirdo’s blog, and you’re assaulted by an assertion, or better still a muted conspiratorial suggestion, that something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Well, that is mostly the sort of thing we like to read about. But how do you know whether you’re reading the considered opinion of an…

  • The flying car revolution will never happen

    One of science fiction’s greatest mistakes is the flying car. And that icon of the future is under further threat from a real technological revolution, the driverless car. My mental image of a flying car is shaped heavily by their depiction in the Fifth Element, in which Bruce Willis drives a yellow taxi that is,…

  • What lecturers think when students say…

    Now, you might think that I’ve turned into a jaded and cynical old man when you read the following. And you might be right. I should also emphasise that there are many things students say that are not silly or irritating. As for the rest… Student: I don’t understand X. [Silence] (Extra points for incoherent…