* Posts by Matthew Taylor

134 posts • joined 30 Jan 2009


Is your kid looking at GCSE in computer science? It's exam-only from 2022 – Ofqual

Matthew Taylor

Not a science

The study of algorithms and the programming of computers is not a science. The theoretical algorithmic elements are a branch of Mathematics, and the writing of software is an engineering discipline. To discard the writing of programs from the curriculum is incomprehensible.

Fake prudes: Catholic uni AI bot taught to daub bikinis on naked chicks

Matthew Taylor

Of course... but maybe

Sounds like one of Louis CK's "Of course but maybe" bits.

Of COURSE we throw away the reverse model that removes the bikinis from the women - it has to be deleted, the hard drive set on fire, and all copies hunted down and destroyed, to preserve the sanctity of the female body outside the confines of marriage. Of course... of course.

Thought black holes were donut-shaped? It turns out they're more like deadly fountains

Matthew Taylor

It turns out that...

This will sound like a silly nitpick, but I dislike the phrase "It turns out that..." - especially when used in science articles. A few years ago it "turned out that" black holes were doughnut shaped, now it "turns out" they're like a fountain. Both times, the phrase implies that now we've finally got it right, and the job is done. It's not done, science is never done, and it's extra definitely not done when studying something like black holes.

(Not to take anything away from the actual research discussed here, which is excellent and fascinating).

Great Scott! Is nothing sacred? US movie-goers vote Back To The Future as most-wanted reboot

Matthew Taylor

Re: what the people want

"ESPECIALLY nauseating when the aforementioned SCHLOCK contains all of those 'parental lessons' embedded within them. [cartoons are supposed to be FUN, not an attempt at Disney doing parents' jobs for them]."

Inspector Gadget springs to mind. As a young'un I felt personally insulted by that programme. It's creators must have considered me especially dim, if they thought I wouldn't notice the plodding do-gooder messages sprinkled throughout it.

Can you trust an AI data trust not to slurp your data?

Matthew Taylor


"Can you trust an AI trust not to slurp your data"? No. You can't. They will slurp it all. All of it. Every last byte. Every time.

Alexa, cough up those always-on Echo audio recordings, says double-murder trial judge

Matthew Taylor

Re: Sounds about right

What about "undisirregardlessly"? 'Tis a common word, down our way.

'Pure technical contributions aren’t enough'.... Intel commits to code of conduct for open-source projects

Matthew Taylor


"If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him." Cardinal Richlieu.

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too

Matthew Taylor

Logie Baird's "stupid" ideas.

"He also came up with some stupid ideas: like trying to make diamonds by heating graphite, designing a glass razor (which shattered) and inventing a pair of pneumatic shoes whose internal balloons burst."

How are any of those things stupid ideas? Okay, they didn't pan out - but they all seem plausible enough to me, and precisely the sort of ideas a creative, inventive mind might come up with.

Alexa heard what you did last summer – and she knows what that was, too: AI recognizes activities from sound

Matthew Taylor

"Smart" faucet

"Alexa, informed by this model, could in theory hear if you left the water running in your kitchen and might, given the appropriate Alexa Skill, take some action in response, like turning off your smart faucet."

If the only way of telling that a smart faucet is on, is listening for the sound of running water, it doesn't sound terribly smart. Please give us some more brilliant reasons why we should welcome 24/7 audio monitoring of our private living space.

First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

Matthew Taylor

Re: Feeling old yet?

"I'd occasionally still see DC-3s flying overhead, often on their way in to Stansted, in the early sixties."

At least one of them was a regular visitor to Hurn airport in the late 70's early 80's, when my mum would take me there plane spotting. It, along with the Handley page Herald,ran freight to the Channel Islands, if I recall.

A much rarer visitor was the Vickers Vanguard. I saw it at Hurn one time, parked far away, and apparently it was not due to leave for several days. The next week I was playing on the green outside our house when I heard an unfamiliar aircraft noise (I could recognise the "regulars" by their sound) and over it flew, nice and low, as if just for me.

All ghosts now, these memories.

Linux kernel's Torvalds: 'I am truly sorry' for my 'unprofessional' rants, I need a break to get help

Matthew Taylor

His own idea?

In these paranoid times, one can't help but worry that Linus is withdrawing at gunpoint. Hopefully the impetus for this change came from within, and just reflects Linus wishing to mellow out and manage his blood pressure as he gets older.

Boffins bash Google Translate for sexism

Matthew Taylor

Good intentions

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, though reading drivel like this, it must be at least a 6 lane motorway.

At last: Magic Leap reveals its revolutionary techno-goggles – but wait, there's a catch

Matthew Taylor

Star Citizen?

Can I play the final release of Star Citizen on my Magic Leap?

Ex-US pres Bill Clinton has written a cyber-attack pulp thriller. With James Patterson. Really

Matthew Taylor

"I was literally this morning staring at this with a blank look of complete stupidity, wondering where or when I'd ended up. I was deep in a WH Smith store, mind, which didn't help."

I read as far as "deep in a WH",and I thought it was an acronym for White House - so I looked again at your username, but the uncertainty remained. ;-)

As Tesla hits speed bump after speed bump, Elon Musk loses his mind in anti-media rant

Matthew Taylor

The media marketplace

The media does not need to be organised by a cabal into operating in a particular way - it will self-organise. In the internet age, news is an efficient, liquid market, with thousands of providers available, all of whom have (mostly) the same information. So how to differentiate oneself? Sensationalism. The rewards for making mountains out of molehills are clear, so, even if certain scrupulous publications resist, many others will not, and soon this elevated sensationalism becomes the new normal. Then, even more sensationalism is required to stand out from the crowd, and the exaggerations escalate, feeding off each other.

LLVM contributor hits breakpoint, quits citing inclusivity intolerance

Matthew Taylor

Stagnation through niceness.

The best, most driven people aren't always the most well behaved (hello Mr Torvalds) - but the same passion that makes them volatile on message boards, can also drive a project to greatness. This is especially true in software, whose best practitioners tend to eschew the subtleties of social politics. Of course, as soon as a project comes to be seen as "established", the niceness police kick the door in, and, like a rocket when the main booster cuts off, the project begins to coast.

Facebook scandal: EU politicians should aim for straight answers, not star witnesses

Matthew Taylor

I'm for whichever option involves more of Zuckerberg failing the Turing test, while getting hauled over the coals by a room full of bigwigs.

While Zuck squirmed, Reddit revealed it found and killed 944 Russian troll factory accounts

Matthew Taylor

More embarassing anti-Russia fluff.

Russian troll accounts on Reddit? Please stop it, it's embarrassing now. Someone powerful is hell bent on having a scrap with Russia, come what may. They will throw anything and everything at us until they find something we'll get angry enough about to let them do what they're so clearly desperate to do.

Pharma bro Martin Shkreli to miss 2024 Paris Olympics

Matthew Taylor

A contrary view

The hate on here for Shkreli is wildly disproportionate in my view. So he hiked a drug price - the US pharmaceutical industry does that all the time, especially with medicines that are not widely used. Shkreli was astoundingly arrogant, utterly tone deaf to how his pronouncements would go down with the public, and to be honest, had a really annoying face. But he's not ISIS, or a child murderer, and in fact he did do some genuine medical research at various points. Let's retain a bit of proportion. (Donning my asbestos lined coat)

It took us less than 30 seconds to find banned 'deepfake' AI smut on the internet

Matthew Taylor


I couldn't resist, I took a look on the subreddit before it got taken down. I was not impressed, to be honest. The porn-y fakes looked especially rubbish, barely resembling whoever they claimed to be impersonating. That said, actual realistic versions are surely in the post.

What did we say about Tesla's self-driving tech? SpaceX Roadster skips Mars, steers to asteroids

Matthew Taylor

>So... is this the first Tesla powered by internal combustion? :-D

External combustion, surely?

Next; tech; meltdown..? Mandatory; semicolons; in; JavaScript; mulled;

Matthew Taylor

Re: Tabs v spaces

>applications made by "copying and pasting a mish mash of stackoverflow answers"

An IDE centered around gluing code fragments from stackoverflow and github together, would surely be the next big thing.

1 in 5 STEM bros whinge they can't catch a break in tech world they run

Matthew Taylor

A little gratitude...

A lot of hate for white males on here. If we're going to be lumped together as "white males", then speaking as one, I'd like to defend our record. After all, we've invented the majority of the technological world we live in these days, and in my view it's pretty bloody good. I'm all for meritocracy - I believe everyone deserves a fair chance at success in the technology industry, just like in any other endeavour. But people seem to want to run white males out of town on a rail, and fill the spaces left behind with women, just "to make it fair". And there's nothing fair about that.

Audio tweaked just 0.1% to fool speech recognition engines

Matthew Taylor

He who laughs last...

To everyone who is chuckling that "it just goes to show, AI is useless after all", consider this. One of the problems with training these systems is a lack of good training data, so this "attack" is a boon to AI researchers. They just need to add lots of adversarially hobbled speech samples to their network's training set, and it will learn to classify speech much more robustly.

Game of Thrones author's space horror Nightflyers hitting telly

Matthew Taylor

Iain M Banks

This sounds interesting - I love aliens / scifi, especially when it's laced with spooky mysterious happenings. I hope they can stand to reveal things slowly (Alien / Babylon 5 / Signs) rather than sparf everything out up front in the trailer.

What I'd love to know is, when will some of Iain M Banks' wonderful books make it onto our screens. I bet Netflix could do a great 8 / 10 part serial of Player of Games, for example.

Skynet it ain't: Deep learning will not evolve into true AI, says boffin

Matthew Taylor

Re: Deep learning?

"No simulation can have a Planck Length smaller than or equal to the Planck Length of the universe it is being simulated in. Otherwise you are trying to compute with more information than your universe contains."

You are assuming:

1. that the universe is simulated at "Planck fidelity" throughout all of space-time. Depending on the simulation's purpose, that might well not be necessary.

2. That "space" has the same meaning in the simulator's reality that it does in ours. For example, there may be many more dimensions.

Matthew Taylor

Re: Deep learning?

"If we're in a simulation where is the I/O bus? there must be one. A simulation has to run ON something and there must be information flow between them.We live in a universe with a speed limit, which means there must be lots of little local I/0 links. Where are they? why hasn't CERN seen signs?"

Super Mario can only run at a certain, maximum speed, so therefore there must be lots of i/o links in his world. Why has he not yet discovered these links? Surely he must at least see a hint of them if he looks really hard.

Time's up: Grace period for Germany's internet hate speech law ends

Matthew Taylor

Re: Well this could get messy...

"There are well-documented cases in Medieval Christian Europe of marriages being *arranged* at such a young age "

The key word there is "Medieval". Times change, Christianity has moved with the times - Islam, not so much.

Matthew Taylor

Re: Well this could get messy...

"Isn't that what Trump said Mike Pence wanted to do."

No it isn't. And even if it were - how many people have been executed for being gay in the USA in the last 50 years? Even IF Mike Pence yearned to string up some gay people (which I'm certain he does not) - he COULD not do it, even as president, because of the robust system of government and the rule of law we have developed in the west. Contrast that to Saudi Arabia, where the Koran wielding Sultan's word is the whole of the law.

"USA executes people or incarcerates them without trial. Is that much better?"

For murder, rape, and things like that. Not for being gay. Don't get me wrong, I hold no brief for the US prison system, but are you seriously equating Western judicial system with that of Saudi Arabia?

Matthew Taylor

Re: Well this could get messy...

"Could you substitute Mohammed with God / Christ and replace much of the hated of women with (anything other than straight male) and change Islam to Judaism / Christianity."

No, you couldn't. Not even remotely. And if you disagree, I would ask you to name a state run under Islamic law that allows the freedoms we enjoy in the (nominally Judaeo-Christian) West. Our way of life doesn't just happen naturally, it has been fought for, and refined over hundreds of years, by argument and bloodshed - and we have reached this current pinnacle not in spite of Christianity, but precisely because of it. It is a truly precious thing, so naturally, it is taken for granted and devalued.

"Get out more....you may be surprised. I know many that you would class as moderate, heck one even puts up Christmas trees."

I'm sure that's true, I know many myself. However that is beside the point. If you went to Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Pakistan you would also meet many excellent people. Friendly, reasonable people who you or I would be proud to call friends. Yet Iran hangs homosexuals from cranes, and Saudi Arabia chops hands and heads off.

Matthew Taylor

Re: Bah!

"No one is not talking about it, but the language used can be polite and factual or it can be inflammatory. Which would you chose, you ignorant fucking bastard[1]"

Whichever way he chooses to express his views, perhaps he doesn't need his door kicked in at 6am by the police for choosing it.

In my experience such polite, factual discussions tend to end with no resolution, other than recognising that it is "a difficult, sensitive issue". Hands are thoroughly wrung, and pained expressions displayed on earnest faces. And the no-go areas continue to spread, and women continue to be raped in Sweden, and Germany. In my view, our polite and factual discussions are merely pretending to address this issue.

Google learns to smile, because AI's bad at it

Matthew Taylor

Meaning of Bias?

The word "Bias" seems to mean more than one thing within this article. There is the desire to ensure that facial recognition systems perform equally well on non-white faces, a problem which can presumably be solved by focusing training on such under represented faces, as the article suggests.

The second, more interesting usage is bias in terms of subjective qualities, for example the neural network that measures women's beauty. A subjective quality like beauty is inherently "biased" - being in the eye of the beholder, and all that. However that does not mean that meaningful statistical predictions cannot be made. The insurance industry is built upon such statistical modelling, after all. An insurance company will be "biased" against an 18 year old man from a poor estate with a turbo charged car, when he attempts to get car insurance - even if he is a safe driver. So sometimes bias is accepted, but when it comes to a machine judging women's looks, it is considered a problem.

I'm not sure why this is, my only thought is that it's not the application itself, but the perceived reason behind it getting written, (geeks getting uppity, judging higher status women with their technological wizardry, doubtless cackling and rubbing their hands as they do so). I think the collision between big data +AI prediction and modelling, and "right thinking" people's beliefs is going to be highly popcorn worthy.

Munich council: To hell with Linux, we're going full Windows in 2020

Matthew Taylor

A modest proposal...

Another possibility, that I'm sure everyone here will be happy to consider, is that perhaps Linux is not as good or usable as Windows in an environment consisting mostly of non-technical people.

I'll get my asbestos-lined coat.

39 episodes of 'CSI' used to build AI's natural language model

Matthew Taylor

An end to drudgery

A great example of AI relieving humanity of mindless, repetitive and boring tasks.

Car insurers recoil in horror from paying auto autos' speeding fines

Matthew Taylor

Re: Divadroid Inc.

>It only becomes past tense when they turn around and say "no more Red Dwarf".

A man can dream, can't he?

Forget the 'simulated universe', say boffins, no simulator could hit the required scale

Matthew Taylor

Omnipotent in our universe, not in its own.

Matthew Taylor

Or perhaps it can, but with a much coarser simulation fidelity (lack of sleep causes groggy, muddle-brained behaviour) In a similar vein, the greater the world population gets, the less simulation time is available per person, so the stupider we get. :-)

Matthew Taylor

Sonic the Hedgehog

In other news, Sonic the Hedgehog failed to make a viable computing device out of gold rings and other items lying about in his world, and declared that he had proved mechanical computation was impossible.

Matthew Taylor

By that metric, one could argue that Cern scientists are actually endangering the universe. If their particle probings cause the simulator of our universe to have to work extra hard, whoever is running the simulation might decide our universe is over budget, processing-wise, and shut it down.

Silicon Graphics' IRIX and Magic Desktop return as Linux desktop

Matthew Taylor


Ah, the 90's. In the post production place I worked, we had several Onyx machines, which were something to behold. They were 5.5 feet tall, and you could fly a kite above their fan output vents. Awesome kit.

Official science we knew all along: Facebook makes you sad :-(

Matthew Taylor

Re: Chicken and egg

Cause and Effect are the outmoded tools of the Patriarchy, you monster! No PhD in Feelology for you.

Your IDE won't change, but YOU will: HELLO! Machine learning

Matthew Taylor

Convolutional nets

The article's description of deep learning nets is actually describing convolutional nets, which are typically used in image processing. These use a fixed, smaller set of weights which are applied in a sliding window over an image (hence convolutional). These are a type of deep learning system, but do not well describe the field as a whole.

That's cute. AI and IoT need 'ethics regulation', mumbles Lib Dem baron

Matthew Taylor


Seems fair enough to me. Ok, strong AI is still a way off, but facial recognition (for example) is real enough. And companies are already using deep neural architectures for data prediction. Both of those areas could raise ethical issues. As for IoT, how well are they secured? Could these voice activated home entertainment things get compromised by some nefarious third party?

That said, tasking ofcom with "analysing the algorithms involved" doesn't seem like a particularly sound approach.

God save the Queen... from Donald Trump. So say 1 million Britons

Matthew Taylor

Prince Philip

Prince Philip won't want to be outdone. I bet he's in the middle of an insult-training montage right now.

Apple Watch sales go over a cliff: Down 2.8 meellion per quarter in a year

Matthew Taylor

All gadgeted out.

My mobile phone is already beeping at me approximately 10x more frequently than I would like. The last thing I need is another yammering digital nag to double up the interruptions.

Pluto has massive underground oceans, say astro-boffins

Matthew Taylor

Plutonian overlords lurking in the ocean?

This post was nothing but a faint excuse to write the word "Plutonian".

A British phone you're not embarrassed to carry? You heard that right

Matthew Taylor

Re: AKA 'old rectory syndrome'

This is exactly true. We Brits like to play around at corporate sociopathy, but in truth, our hearts aren't really in it. Our dream is just to get out with enough cash to stop worrying, rather than to crush the world beneath our bootheels.

Coding will win you the election, narcissistic techies boasted to Hillary

Matthew Taylor

Re: What a load of BS

"if it's true that young people overwhelmingly favor Clinton, who won't touch H1B, doesn't that make them dumb?"

Not necessarily dumb, I think they're just easily led, and haven't looked into the details. Hilary Clinton is a woman, and of the left, so she MUST be the nice candidate, and Trump is a rich businessman, and a bit of a stupid-haired loudmouth so he must be the horrible one.

Personally I think Trump is a great candidate: he's anti-war, he can't be bought, he'd like to get along with Russia, he wants to penalize H1B hiring and other offshore outsourcing activities to favour American workers, and he supports universal health-care.

Ladies in tech, have you considered not letting us know you're female?

Matthew Taylor

Re: No dice gentzz

"How strange that you don't seek equal representation in child-care, textile workers, nursing, secretarial, shop assistants, care of the elderly, telephone receptionists and commercial cleaning."

It's not strange at all. He's not the one saying that men and women should have statistically identical job distributions - his point was that the people who do say that are cherry picking the careers for which they demand equality.

Nissan reveals self-driving chair

Matthew Taylor

Electric wheelchairs

Is this for normal healthy people? They can play all the quirky jazz/swing music they like over their ad, the users just look like sick people in electric wheelchairs.


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