Friday, 26 April 2019

Philosophy & Technology --- and Computers




It is run by the University of Twente and promises 

"The course focuses on the relations between humans and technologies. You will learn how philosophy can help us understand the social implications of technologies."\

Clearly many of the problems I have had with CODIL arise because the philosophy of the approach I have taken - which is that humans live in a complex and uncertain world - is very different from the regimentally predefined computer systems in common use. 

I find such courses are a good way to stimulate new ideas and will post anything of note either as a comment to this post or as a separate blog post. Maybe I will even meet some of you on the course!

Saturday, 20 April 2019

CODIL & the Leo Computer Society Archives at Cambridge



A couple of weeks ago the LEO Computer Society had a reunion in London where the members celebrated the 70th anniversary of the start of work on the LEO I computer The LEO I construction followed the design of Cambridge University's EDSAC computer and it is recognized to be the first computer ever built for purely commercial use. The pioneering engineer who led the project was John Pinkerton, and what has been described as the first corporate systems analyst was David Caminer.

Friday, 19 April 2019

My experience of bullying at Universities

Following a report on BBC News, The Guardian has just published an article "UK universities must break their silence around harassment and bullying". It appears that UK Universities have spend at least £87 million on gagging orders in the last 2 years. Many academics said they were "harassed" out of their jobs and forced to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) by their university after making complaints about inappropriate sexual behaviour or bullying by more senior staff.

I'm springing into Action for Easter

Those of you who have read the dedication on my "Genealogy in Hertfordshire" Website (In memory of my daughters, Belinda and Lucy) will not be surprised that I need to control my stress levels and sometimes I have to lie back and let the world roll by.

Usually this is only for a day or two but last year my stress levels rocketed, in part at least because I found the chaos surrounding Brexit very unsettling. As a result the recent period of relaxation has lasted many months - during which time I have posted very little online - neglecting this blog..

In fact when I am in maximum relaxation mode I still need to keep my mind active by doing some kind of research.  On this occasion I decided to track down an artist who had produced comic cards for the Crown Publishing Company of St Albans in about 1908. Rather than just sitting and watching the TV much of my time has been spent trawling through thousands of comic postcards on ebay. The research has been most entertaining and proved very complex (and so a stimulating mental challenge). It took much longer than expected but I have now established that the card fragment on the left was drawn by a well know comic card artist called Fred Spurgin [ See details of the research]

As I am now more relaxed I have decided to restart posting on this blog, and will use it for general comments - and also for my further work on CODIL and the Evolution of Human Intelligence - as trying to split the CODIL related posts off was one of the causes of stress.

[I will post this on my other blogs - in each case saying how "springing into action" will affect future activity.]

Thursday, 1 November 2018

How far are ordinary people's imagination trapped by their experience

The British Psychological Society Research Bulletin this week has an article entitled New evidence that the "Chaotic Mind" of ADHD brings creative advantages based on a paper Thinking Outside the Box: Unconstrained Creative Generation in Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. Students (some with ADHD) were asked to draw alien fruits that did not resemble any fruits that they knew - and the above was the result.
While the size and nature of the group tested may make generalizations about the average ADHD suffer unreliable my reaction is that the experiment confirms how difficult it is for the average person to think outside the box formed by their experiences.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

How Homeopathy can help reduce the plastic mountain

About 25 years ago I purchased a bottle of Harrogate Spa Water. 

When it was nearly empty I decided to test out the principles of homeopathy - which claims that the properties of something are preserved when you dilute it. so when the bottle was nearly empty I topped it up with tap water and put the bottle back in the fridge. If homeopathy is true the contents are still effectively Harrogate Spa Water - as it clearly still said on the label. 

Nearly every night since then I have taken the bottle from the fridge and poured a glass of cold Harrogate Spa Water for a final drink before I go to bed.- topping the bottle up every time it is nearly empty. 

So far the water has been diluted 10-fold on about a thousand occasions and I guess that not one of the original molecules of Harrogate Water remains in the bottle - but each night I still enjoy a lovely cool drink. By now not one atom of the original contents remain ... 

Perhaps I should write a review saying how wonderful Harrogate Spa Water is and how its excellence has lasted 25 years - and perhaps my review would be republished as a recommendation from a satisfied customer in an advert .

But wait. The label is starting to disintegrate. Perhaps the bottle is embarrassed and is trying to tell me that homeopathy does not work, and it no longer wants to be seen carrying a misleading "Harrogate Spa" label.  

But do I care what the bottle thinks about the effectiveness of homeopathy?  Of course not. By repeatedly diluting the original water I have avoided having to throw away 999 plastic bottles (and saved myself a lot of money).

So if you want to help save the planet may I suggest that everyone should start drinking homeopathic water - just buy one bottle and keep it topped up from the tap.

Captured by the Camera - Relaxing Ripples

Relaxing Ripples at College Lake
Home affairs have been rather busy recently, and to give a flavour of the problems just one of the distractions from posting here has been the need to try and get a stair lift installed by Christmas. In such circumstances one of my top priorities has been to spend some time relaxing at College Lake, or one of the many other rural spots a few minutes drive from home.

One of the pleasures this year has been that the resident pair of swans have succeeded in rearing two cygnets - when in previous years they have been unsuccessful - possibly due to predation by mink.

An Evolutionary Model of Human Intelligence

I have just posted a summary of a paper "An Evolutionary Model of Human Intelligence"  together with some notes on future research plans, which will normally be reported on my new blog - although key updates will be cross-reported here.