Tag Archives: Big Data

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.

Continue reading


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!

Continue reading


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


The ‘Prof on a Train’ Game

The Shazam for People discussion revisited as an article, ‘Identity Voyeurism‘, in September 2015’s British Computer Society (BCS) IT Now Magazine, made all the more relevant by recent breaches of personal privacy

Grout BCS IT Now Identity Voyeurism 1

There’s more than one type of identity ‘crisis’.  Conventional identity ‘theft’ is one thing but what of identity ‘voyeurism’?  How much of ‘us’ is ‘in the shop window’ anyway?  Are we in control?  What are the risks?  And where’s it heading?

The next time you’re on public transport, try playing the ‘Prof on a Train’ (PoaT) game.  (It doesn’t really have to be a train or an academic but it’s a good example to work with.)  Take a look at the person opposite you.  Armed only with your senses, intelligence, intuition and an Internet connection, how much can you find out about them?

Well, if they’re quietly dozing in the corner, unremarkably dressed, with no distinguishing features whatsoever, you’ll probably lose.  However, any activity at all or any visible clues might give you a chance.  Are they doing, reading, saying or wearing anything?  Who’s with them?  Are they easier to identify?  Where did they get on and do you know where they’re going?  Anything odd?  Here’s the basic strategy, on which PoaT is based:

They’re reading an academic paper on a certain subject (X) and you know where they got on (Y).  A quick look at the photos on the ‘Department of X’ webpage for the ‘University of Y’ might be enough.

Continue reading