February 11, 2005


February 10, 2005

"God" is in Google

We all have become accustomed to the instant search results of Google, forgetting the small wonder behind its works, the fact that the search engine surveys billions of web pages in split seconds with satisfactory results. Its Page Rank algorithm which is responsible for predictably successful hits also serves as a model example for a functioning democracy...The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine a paper written by Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, the founders of Google, states:
    PageRank capitalizes on the uniquely democratic characteristic of the web by using its vast link structure as an organizational tool. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. Google assesses a page's importance by the votes it receives. But Google looks at more than sheer volume of votes, or links; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."(exerpt from Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki)
Most recently it has been discovered that Googles pages can serve as an immense database from which a software could potentially derive semantics. Up until recently any attempts to deduce meaning were hindered by the necessary overhead of creating vast textual libraries from which word associations could be deduced. Paul Vitanyi and Rudi Cilibrasi of the National Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, realised that a Google search can be used to measure how closely two words relate to each other.
    For instance, imagine a computer needs to understand what a hat is.To do this, it needs to build a word tree - a database of how words relate to each other. It might start with any two words to see how they relate to each other. For example, if it googles "hat" and "head" together it gets nearly 9 million hits, compared to, say, fewer than half a million hits for "hat" and "banana".
Automatic meaning Extraction, is an elaborate system of word comparisons which establishes the Normalized Google distance which has been proven to "distinguish between colours, numbers, different religions and Dutch painters based on the number of hits they return". Could it be that the indexed pages of Google contain all the primordial elements necessary for the inevitable emergence of Artificial Intelligence?

(Thanks Art, for the tip.)

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February 07, 2005


February 05, 2005

The Better Deal Swill

I can't get over a nagging suspicion that the Social Security reform proposed by G.W. Bush is more than just an attempt to restructure the American Society and it's economics in line with the radical neo-conservative ideology. I think it is a necessity meant to minimize liability for running the country into bankruptcy... The last 4 years of Bush presidency have propelled the country deep into a budgetary deficit, the upcoming 4 next, will only exacerbate the ailing financial affliction. An article in the National Review, Is the Money Where W’s Mouth Is? chronologically delineates Bush's inability to resist squandering our tax money:
    We should not forget that over the past four years, Congress and the president have cooperated to produce a 30-percent increase in spending, including a 36-percent increase in non-defense spending.
Not only has America been subjected to an unnecessary loss of life and resources in an unjustified war in iraq, but the government under G.W. Bush's lead swelled it's discretionary spending as if the country wasn't at war, as if the growing deficit would never have to be repayed.
    Although we should not obsess over the deficit per se, we should read it for what it is: a glaring sign that this administration is doing a very poor job with our money.
(Links via andrewsullivan.)
And now, G.W. proposes revamping the Social Security System. And no, it is not to lay his hands on the Social Security Trust Fund, because it is empty, but to eliminate the responsibility of ever having to repay it. It is an autocratic debt pardon to himself and the republican party. Isn't a cost of roughly $750 billion, according to an administration official to put the program into place, worth ever having to worry about coming up with 5.7 trillion to sustain the retirees between 2018 and 2041 when the Trust Fund money would kick in, if it was ever available? However, if Peter R. Orszag is right in his estimates: the program would cost the government over $1 trillion in the first 10 years the accounts were in place would be over $1 trillion and more than $3.5 trillion in the second 10 years, the administration only transfers the fiscal problem from empty into hollow, creating a veneer of remedying an ailment it is largely responsible for in the first place.

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