Month: December 2018

Uncategorized

A.I. without borders

Some researchers from African countries were barred from attending last week’s  A.I. conference  in Montréal due to visa issues. 

The story is covered in this Wired article

The organizers of the Black in A.I. workshop were working around the clock with immigration experts, but at least 40 presenters were not able to attend. 

Even Justin Trudeau has promised an investigation, though after the fact.

This story again puts front and center the ways in which technologies that offer so much in the way of potential are being circumscribed by the diminishing commitment to open and fair borders.

A major AI conference will be hosted in Addis in 2020. Will that be a step towards opening the borders of research and development in AI?

Uncategorized

Missed Opportunities for Using Text in Data Visualization

Data for Breakfast

Richard Brath, a partner at Uncharted Software and the author of Graph Analysis and Visualization, recently completed his Ph.D. thesis on using text in data visualization. Recently, Richard talked about his thesis with data visualization enthusiasts at Automattic. Before Richard’s talk, it seemed me that text has been treated as a “second-class citizen” in the data visualization world. But even I was surprised about the wealth of visual information that we can offer using text.

Richard Brath was kind enough to allow us to publish his talk for the global audience. You can find Richard’s blog at https://richardbrath.wordpress.com.

Enjoy the lecture.

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GeorgiaHistorySocial JusticeUncategorizedVoting

Who’s worse Brian Kemp or Lester Maddox?

Feeling some despair headed back to Georgia, and the U.S. generally after a month in India.

It’s about this question: Will Brian Kemp govern Georgia like Lester Maddox?

Lester Maddox became the governor of Georgia during my childhood. He was openly racist, was famous for selling axe handles with which to beat down civil rights activists, and actively fought a state memorial immediately after Dr Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Until Brian Kemp, I don’t remember any Georgia governor who so actively and openly embraced race based voter suppression and racist immigration messages.

Yet Maddox apparently went on the most aggressive hiring of African Americans in the state’s history.

I’m finding solace knowing that people of color in Georgia nonviolently sacrificed their livelihoods and their lives to end the Maddox mode of governance.

Those sacrifices opened the door for people like Stacey Abrams, Andrew Young, and Jimmy Carter.

Our grandmothers and uncles and neighbors did this with an inner soul power (to quote Dr King) that could not be suppressed by axe handles or tear gas. I find strength knowing that we can call on that soul power to do the same again.

MathematicsTravel

Calculus and The Mother

Last weekend we spent a beautiful afternoon with cousins at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Delhi

There was a lecture going on about the divine inspiration of Calculus — a meditation on how both Newton and Leibniz came to discoveries of infinite series and limits that led to the starting point for advanced maths.

As I pondered the spirit of The Mother, my mind went back to the visit we’d taken to the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur — an astronomical observatory built around the time of Newton’s discovery. Surely, a society that had the capacity to develop highly accurate astronomical predictions had the sophistication to develop the machinery for dealing with infinitesimal rates of change.

Newton — or more likely Leibniz — was indeed late to the game by at least 200 years! 

Keralan mathematician Nilakantha Somayaji in the 1400s seems to have worked out machinery for dealing with infinitesimal velocity and converging series.

This was in service of improving the accuracy of astronomical calculations. I’m not even sure if Somayaji’s work was used in the Jantar Mantar observatories, but there is now speculation that the Kerala school might well have been known to Leibniz.

Chalk another wonder up to globalization, I’ll give props to The Mother for the inspirations.