Welcome to my blog. I am a computer scientist by training. I still remember writing my first program, in middle school, using one of those Wang terminals with cassette tape storage. What’s a cassette? Well, it is a miniaturized reel to reel tape system enclosed in a plastic casing. Between the two reels magnetic tape about 1/8 of inch in width, with variable length (depending on how many minutes of music the cassette will store), is spooled and unspooled from one “reel” to other. The cassette tape was developed as a means of delivering musical content to portable devices (tape players, which begat the boom boxes). And in the same way magnetic tapes were used by the big mainframes to store data, the small computers used the cassette tape to store data. The first commercial microcomputers, the Apple II, the TRS-80 Model One, the Commodore Pet all used cassette tape storage. It was a slow way to save and load data (and computer programs). It was delicate. It was cheap (relatively speaking) and readily available. How much data did it store? About 25-50mb, depending on compression rate, storage density, cassette length, etc. That’s twelve to twenty five iphone pictures worth of data storage. Wow.
Anyway, I ended up studying Artificial Intelligence in grad school. I did not do much with AI in my computing career. And now, AI is once again the rage. I still remember those classes on computer vision, genetic algorithms, case based reasoning, natural language processing (NLP). Now, when I read the technical papers in AI, I am in awe of all the research and advancements that have happened since I finished grad school. One thing that hasn’t changed. We still have not developed a deep understanding about the ethics of Artificial Intelligence. What will it do? What will we let it do? What happens when it becomes “alive?” How do you even define a sentient artificial entity? What happens when AI is so pervasive that civilization cannot function without it? Will it be smarter than us (it probably will be the minute it becomes self aware)? The questions are inexhaustible, but the work being done to understand the implications of such a civilization altering technology is wholly inadequate for the changes that it will bring about. Ethics and philosophy are often afterthoughts in a rapidly progressing technological civilization. Can we afford to be so lax?
I have lived in Virginia for most of my life. I have seen the Washington D.C. area grow from a small southern town (where everything was closed on Sundays) to the modern, heterogeneous, multi cultural metropolis that it is today. I am married with two children. The older son is now a computer professional, the second child is close to finishing his undergraduate degree. Time is never a constant. It is a stream that has become a river, full of memories and experiences that grow ever broader with each passing day.
I love science. I like reading. I like watching movies. I love astronomy. I love politics. I love music, having learned to play the violin in middle school (but never practicing enough to become really good at it). And of all my interests, one has remained with me for most of my life. Photography. And art. No, I don’t draw. I take pictures. I go to museums. And then I take more pictures. I learned to love the outdoors through my love of photography. In my minds eye, I see images all around me. The camera lets me capture that reality that I see.
This blog will be about photography. And the images that I capture with the camera. And every once in a while (well, more often than not), a random thought will pop up. It’s who I am.
I love your mind and photos. Thanks for sharing your blog.
Did you write Almazar: the search for the super being?
I did write The Search for Almazar in the 1980’s (originally in TRS-80 BASIC for the TRS-80 and then ported it to an IBM 3033 mainframe running the Michigan Terminal System in Fortran 77).