Author Archives: Vic Grout

About Vic Grout

Professor of Computing Futures at Wrexham Glyndwr University, Wales, UK.

Reset?

Has this blog been looking a little stale of late?  Does it need a change of focus or direction?

[XKCD, https://xkcd.com/1854/]

Thoughts welcome: comment, reply, message Facebook, Twitter, etc. …


Technology Isn’t the Enemy: Reprise

Often, ‘simple says it best’!

Technology could help us all … but it won’t.


Spurious Accuracy

“At one point, the drone was estimated to be approximately 98 feet from the passenger jet.”

“Estimated?”  “Approximately?”  98 feet actually looks astonishingly accurate doesn’t it?  Is someone having a laugh?  No, not exactly; it’s just the sort of thing that happens when people do silly things with numbers.

We’ll come back to that one.  For now, to get an idea of what’s going on, let’s take another example, adapted from Darrell Huff‘s magnificent How to Lie with Statistics

Suppose you’re a would-be statistical researcher and you’ve decided to write something on how long people sleep.  You’re going to talk to 100 people (which isn’t a huge number for a study but things have been published on less data) about it.  And here’s where it starts to go wrong …

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Fake News Had to Happen; But Why?

The following conversation, set in an executive boardroom – around ten years ago, may or may not have taken place …

  • Rupert: “G’Day Cobber. How’s it hangin’?” (You’ll have to imagine an appropriate accent.  Also imagine him sitting in a large black chair, stroking a white cat, if it helps.)
  • Bruce: “G’Day Boss. Bit of a bugger, tell the truth!” (Same accent; no cat)
  • Rupert: “Whassa problem, Bruce?”
  • Bruce: “It’s this ‘social media’, Boss. I dunno what we’re going to do with it.”
  • Rupert: “No worries, Bruce. I’m the most important man in the world. I can do anything to anything. What do I need to do to this ‘Media’ drongo? (Where’d he get a funny name like that?) And just what makes him such a sociable figjam, anyway? (Burp) I’m the cultured one around here. (Fart) Just ask Bushie and Blarie: they always said so.”
  • Bruce: “It’s not a fella, Boss; it’s a thing. Like Facebook and Twitter and stuff like that?”
  • Rupert: “Why should I be worried about that crap? Doesn’t make me any money.”

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