2017-10-15 (Summertime)

Today, I learned that:

On the Southern hemisphere, we are moving on towards the brightest season of the year. One of the signs of that is the adoption of daylight saving time, a.k.a. summer time, when the clock advances one hour instantaneously. However, the Brazilian government continues to make that happen at midnight, moving ahead to 01:00. Although this might not be a big obstacle right now, when moving back to standard time in February, 2018, it will occur once more at midnight, jumping back to 23:00. I think that the European model, where the change occurs at a time when much less people are active, involving 02:00 and 03:00, is much better, and its also does not involve two different dates. References #1 and 2 remembers that wonderful time of the year, seen through the hands and voice of George Gershwin and Janis Joplin.

And for the following people, in jail because of corruption, summer time may be some sort of relief:


Cartoon from Folha de S. Paulo today:
“-We managed to reduce your stay! -How much? -One hour. Summer time is about to start.”

In my post of 2017-09-29, I mentioned the word infinitesimal used in a broadcast from Radio National, Australia. In the same interview is also remembered the old commercial from Esso, “Put a tiger in your tank”, which can be answered by “What is the use of a tiger in tank, if there is a jackass at the steering wheel?” (See also the transcript in reference #3 below).

As a parallel, watch the two videos in references #4 and 5 below. So what is the use of high speed automated routing system for packages when they are treated so badly at the destination?

But everything in Brazil is not as pessimistic as it may seem from the examples above. The Swedish-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (Swedcham) just published its annual survey of the business climate in Brazil for 70 Swedish companies. Despite the Brazilian recession, 36% of the companies say that they are satisfied with the present business climate. You can read the complete report in reference # 6 below.

Finally, here are two interesting examples of how AI (artificial intelligence) is helping out in the fields of health and beauty:

  • In an eye clinic in the Aravind hospital in Madurai, India, AI is examining photos taken of the eyes of diabetic patients. If they are not treated in time, there is a risk that they may go blind. So together with Google, the hospital has developed a computer program to examine the photos of the retinal fundus of the eye. Tests have shown that the program has the same accuracy as the professional ophthalmologist, up to 90 %, and in much less time. See references # 7 and 8 below.
  • Intel has developed a mobile application (named Face It) that uses computer vision to acquire data about a user’s facial structure as well as machine learning to determine the user’s face shape. This information is then combined with manually inputted information to give the user a personalized set of hair and beard styles that are guaranteed to make the user look his best. A personalized list of tips are also generated for the user to take into account when getting a haircut. See the screenshot and reference # 9 below.

Example of tips generated by Face It

That’s what I learned in school !


1: Summertime

2: Janis Joplin – Summertime, Live 1969

3: Micropayments could amount to large sums for conservation

4: Shipping Warehouse Robots

5: Flagra de funcionário dos Correios jogando encomendas

6: Swedish business climate in Brazil 2017

7: AI räddar synen för diabetiker

8: Ophthalmoscopy

9: Face It – The Artificially Intelligent Hairstylist

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-12 (Saturday)

Today, once more I learned that:

There are machines all around us, performing all kinds of tasks. Below are three interesting examples of their versatility.

Solution to Problem # 4, Drilling square holes, posted on 2016-03-06

The question was: How would you construct a tool to drill square holes? The solution can be found in the following drawing. See also the amazing video in reference # 1 below.

Corner mill

This drawing from the Japanese company Dijet show the principle of successive milling of the corners of the hole, which results in a square hole.

Update on AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol

Just as we could expect, AlphaGo did it again, and won also the third game against Lee Sedol. There are still two more games to go, but the 3-0 lead that AlphaGo already has is of course sufficient to win the match. See the following images and reference #2 below.


Top: The result of the third game of the historic match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, played in Seoul 2016-03-09–12. Bottom: AlphaGo operator Aja Huang, Lee Sedol, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, on a photo taken before the third game. Graphic and photo supplied by Google.

A robot I would not mind having as my partner

Here comes a perfect example of how advanced robots are today. It is the US company Boston Dynamics that has developed Atlas. How about teaming up AlphaGo and Atlas, thus forming the ultimate Go player? See the following photo and another fantastic video in reference #3 below.


Atlas lighting a box weighing 4,5 kg. I suggest that Google employs him together with AlphaGo to form an invincible Go player.

… That’s what I learned in school!


1: Square Hole Drill

2: AlphaGo’s ultimate challenge: a five-game match against the legendary Lee Sedol

3: Atlas, the next generation

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-10 (Thursday)

Today, I learned that:

The world is undergoing a constant evolution, and in the field of technology it seems more evident than ever.

Do you remember Deep Blue, the first computer to beat a human world champion in chess? It happened in 1996, when it won the first game of six against Garry Kasparov, although Kasparov came back and won the series with 4-2. But in 1997, Deep Blue got its revenge, winning a tough series of games with 3,5-2,5. Deep Blue was a joint project between IBM and Carnegie Mellon University. Kasparov accused IBM of cheating and demanded a rematch, but IBM denied it. Later it was the inverse, IBM challenged Kasparov again, in vain. However, Deep Blue gave inspiration to other chess playing programs and nowadays it is quite common to see human chess players go up against their virtual opponents. See also reference #1 below.


To the left: Deep Blue (photo by James the photographer – http://flickr.com/photos/22453761@N00/592436598/), and to the right: Ken Jennings, Watson, and Brad Rutter in their Jeopardy! exhibition match (Wikipedia)

Then came Watson, yet another implementation from IBM. In 2011, a computer won the popular quiz game of Jeopardy! against the champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. IBM later continued development of Watson further into a commercial application for management decisions in lung cancer treatment, announced in 2013, see reference #2 below, and an update in January 2016 (reference # 3 below) gives more recent examples of where Watson is finding applications for its skills.

Both Deep Blue and Watson are good examples of what is commonly called Artificial Intelligence (AI), and yesterday, 2016-03-09, represented another historic date for AI. This time, the application is playing the ancient Chinese boardgame Go, considered to be far more complex than chess. The British company Deep Mind started in 2010 to develop a computer system which purpose was to play Go the way no man (or machine) had ever done before. Google acquired the company in 2014 and here comes the graduation task for AlphaGo: beat the world’s leading Go player.

The series of best of 5 games, which is held in Seoul, started yesterday, when AlphaGo won the first game of Go against the world’s best player, the Korean Lee Sedol. Also in the second game, held today, AlphaGo defeated its opponent, and unless Sedol wins the remaining three games, we will have proof, once more, that well designed computers can beat the best players in the world in their respective specialities. The following images show the result of the first two games. For more information about the match and Go in general, see references #4 and #5 below.


The two first games of the historic match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol, played in Seoul 2016-03-09–10. Graphic produced by Google.

Finally, although the machines are clever, do not forget that there are humans behind them, responsible for the programming. Reference #6 below talks about a case revealed today about how hackers were able to transfer US$ 81 million from the US Federal Reserve Bank in New York to Asia, completing thus 4 of the assigned 13 transfers. But on the fifth task, a routing bank in Germany detected a misspelling of “foundation” as “fandation”, which stopped the remaining US$ 850 million from getting stolen.

This reminds me of the old slogan for Esso gasoline to “put a tiger in the tank”. Such a procedure will not have any effect if there is “a jackass sitting behind the wheel” !!!

… That’s what I learned in school !


1: Deep Blue (chess computer)

2: Watson (computer)

3: The Rise Of Thinking Machines: How IBM’s Watson Takes On The World

4: AlphaGo’s ultimate challenge: a five-game match against the legendary Lee Sedol

5: Go (game)

6: Hackers tried and failed to steal a billion dollars from bank

+: What did you learn in school today ?