Category Archives: Algorithms

Abstract Data?

The arguments about ‘abstract art’ (compared with ‘real’ art) rage on.  But could we soon be having similar debates about data?  Or has it already happened?

(The first part of this post is deliberately written from the point of view of an analytic treatment of art.  If you’re going to scream, ‘No, you can’t reduce it to that!’, then it’s not aimed at you – but ‘sorry’, anyway.)

‘Abstract art’, sometimes ‘modern art’, divides people.  To some, it’s the pinnacle of human achievement, the height of our civilisation; setting us spiritually apart from the functional necessity of other species.  To others, it’s a pointless diversion; an excuse for people who can’t read, write or add up to feel worthwhile about themselves and give each other awards and qualifications.

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Sackville Gardens

A walk in a Manchester Park on a Sunday morning …

Tucked away between Manchester Piccadilly and Oxford Road train stations is a quiet – but very touching – memorial to Alan Turing.  In Sackville Park (or Sackville Gardens, depending on which map you consult), a figure sits, holding an apple, on a bench.  Both are cast in bronze.  The relief reads, ‘Alan Mathison Turing 1912-1954′ along with an ENIGMA-style coding of, ‘Founder of Computer Science’.  At the figure’s feet, a further inscription reads, ‘Father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice … Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture’, the second part being a quotation from Bertrand Russell.

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Conscious

Now available as eBook and paperback

What makes something sentient?  What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord?  Is it a gift from God or hard science?  Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size?  There are many models, of course.  But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!

Oh, wait …!

The widespread ramblings, which have appeared on this blog over the years, now make a partial contribution to a novel.  (See http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/vicgrout)

hiresfront

Vic Grout’s Conscious is set a year or three into the future.  The ‘Internet of Everything’ is making the world a more connected place than ever before.  People’s lives are becoming increasingly automated.  But something odd is happening … ‘Things’ are beginning to misbehave and no-one can work out why.  What starts as an amusing inconvenience quickly becomes very serious indeed!

A ragged bunch of academics, scientists and philosophers are on the case – and may know the answer.  But now they have to convince people that their crazy explanation is true.  And that’s only the start.  Against a backdrop of a world suddenly beginning to fall apart, they’re in a race against time to get someone to do anything about it.  And not everyone is on their side!

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New Novel: ‘Conscious’ by Vic Grout

What makes something sentient?  What does it take for an entity to be aware of its own existence and to want to interact with the world of its own accord?  Is it a gift from God or hard science?  Is it something fundamentally human or animal in nature or is it a simple technological principle based on brain size?  There are many models, of course.  But, if consciousness is simply a natural product of neural complexity then eventually, in theory, we might build something – a computer or a machine – that was actually big enough to wake up!

Oh, wait …!

The widespread ramblings, which have appeared on this blog over the years, now make a partial contribution to a novel: http://tinyurl.com/VicGroutConscious

hiresfront

Vic Grout’s Conscious is set a year or three into the future.  The ‘Internet of Everything’ is making the world a more connected place than ever before.  People’s lives are becoming increasingly automated.  But something odd is happening … ‘Things’ are beginning to misbehave and no-one can work out why.  What starts as an amusing inconvenience quickly becomes very serious indeed!

A ragged bunch of academics, scientists and philosophers are on the case – and may know the answer.  But now they have to convince people that their crazy explanation is true.  And that’s only the start.  Against a backdrop of a world suddenly beginning to fall apart, they’re in a race against time to get someone to do anything about it.  And not everyone is on their side!

Continue reading