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Friday, November 13, 2009


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42Suppose we can build a machine that can awesnr any question. How do we know we are asking the right question? How do we know the data being used is correct? How do we know the computational algorithm applies in all cases? The selection of the algorithm is based on human intelligence which is limited. We cannot build a comprehensive QA test set for programs of medium complexity, how can we know that increasingly complex programs are actually correct? We can't, hence the desire to find simple rules' that can generate apparently complex systems (emphasis on apparently). The system seems non-deterministic and seems to be evolving. The TED chair pointed out the comparison with fractals which create beautiful, apparently random patterns from simple algorithms. I'm not a mathematician, but when we needed to use polynomials encoded into to logic to create random patterns for structural test coverage of semiconductors (because you could never create enough functional test, like QA tests), the mathematicians reminded us that they were pseudo-random, not truly random, they only appeared to be random to a human because of our limited processing ability, even though we have the best pattern recognition machine in the universe between our ears. Recognizing that Wolfram's machine is still Alpha (does anyone know when the beta is expected, is that in 10 years or 2045?) the awesnr to the question how much wood asked of the knowledge engine was not computed, but simply quoted from another book, doing no more than a Google search.We all use Wikipedia. We all know that the data is not always accurate, but most often it is good enough for information that we quickly need at the moment. So what is good enough?So why not experiment with Wolfram alpha yourself, and see if it can awesnr simple questions of interest to IT. I tried it, it did not know what a teraflop was. That is the measure used by the Top500 supercomputer list that is published every 6 months. It could tell me that a teraflop was a 1000 gigaflops (I'm sure Homer Simpson knows that). As I poked around for a while, it eventual found the awesnr of what a flop was (that was curious, why did it not recognize it at the first question). I'd like to know if there is a correlation with a nation's GDP and the amount of teraflops a country has with supercomputers on the Top500 list. An interesting IT question Wolfram Alpha did not understand that question, I got a chart, but it did not make any sense.All this to say that there is a simple rule for the computational universe ; garbage in = garbage out

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