Erik I

My public writing. You can reach me at

Inquirer writes:

If you scan a banana on the self-checkout tills, it requires the approval of a shop assistant. So I input them as carrots to save time and money. And today, in my boldest move yet, I didn't even pretend they were carrots. I scanned the rest of my shopping, paid for it, then simply picked up the banana and left the store.

It is funny how far companies go to incentivize people to do the wrong thing.

Filed under #observations

So this got discussed on HN. The title is “AI made from a sheet of glass can recognise numbers just by looking”.

The results are interesting enough but the write up and discussion is what prompted me to write about it.

Maybe I’ve just been somewhat daft when it comes to Artificial Intelligence; I studied Computer Systems Administration, not Computer Science, so AI wasn’t part of my curriculum – and while I can enjoy good Sci Fi – I haven’t been very interested in the technical implementations of AI.

However – as presented – I think the way the article presents it it is more or less at the level where you could follow up with calling a special chiseled rock for AI. To continue on someone’s example, say you created a coin sorter from a rock for example:

Blimey, this is really stretching the definition of AI, surely? It’s a piece of glass that has been designed by a lot of trial and error to perform one specific task. It sounds like humans were analysing the fitness and making the modifications. I wouldn’t call it “unpowered AI” any more than I’d call a coin sorter that.

silveroriole, 2019-07-13

to which atoav replies

Because it uses glas as a substrate and light as a information carrier? Most of what we call “AI” today also uses prelearned weights for their neural networks and in many use cases these weights are not touched after deployment. I don’t see why a neural network encoded in glas should not be an AI while the same neural network on a computer is one — either you have to call both AI or neither.

atoav, 2019-07-13

At this point I realized I agree with atoav that we either have to call this an AI or stop calling other systems AI, and of those alternatives, at least for now I’ll choose the one that means I won’t end up having to call a block of rock or a slab of glass with no moving parts for an AI, meaning I think a stand alone feed forward neural network cannot be an AI.

Recurrent neural networks however might cut it for me, again for now, and, I guess: so might about anything containing enough memory and feedback loops, if implemented correctly.

If you read the rest of the discussion here and the linked article you might find some interesting thoughts but you might also like me come to the conclusion that there’s more buzzword abuse than you’d thought before.

Warning: the rest of this post is more or less a collection of small rants.

  1. I should point out that while I think the word AI is abused we might not be far away from some sort of seriously useful and/or dangerous implementation.

  2. For now however I see mostly artificial stupidity. Even the devil learns from his mistakes the saying goes, Google however didn’t for 12 years many times I clicked I wasn’t interested.

  3. If someone still thinks the “AI” mentioned in the article is an AI I have a self driving car concept to sell, carved from pure rock, to be adapted to any modern car by just strapping it to the top of the existing accelerator. Same goes for my first foray into finance AI: a physical neural network that sorts coins based on value by inferring value from size.

  4. If you just want to throw around fancy words, xkcd has some good ideas:


Comments welcome on my mastodon account or write your own post, prove me wrong and let me know. Edit: I also posted it to HN, so you can leave a comment there as well:

Filed under #ai #artificialintelligence #discussion and #hn

I recently saw something really unusual, someone getting GDPR right.

Here’s the situation: I’m visiting someone and I need to type in my name and phone number so they can put me in contact with whoever I’m visiting.

Then – for my convenience- the system asks me if I want it to store my contact details


This happened the other day when I opened Google Play:

Google asks me if I want to install additional browsers.

Above: installing Edge just to test the UX. No glaring dark patterns except putting Chrome at top but that might have been random for what I know. They even included a link to a description of how to switch default browser so I choose to file this under actually trying to do the right thing.

This also happened:


So. I got an iPad. For someone who has been on Android since HTC Hero (after being burned badly by Mac OS X on a laptop fron 2009 to 2012) it felt almost scary to by another Apple product, even if I had a strong feeling that I would like the iPad alot more.

So far I've been right.


Someone recently asked me if my hobby was to fix things and I guess it is, at least it is one of my hobbies.

Here’s the the mail box post I made with room for our mailbox and 4 more. All the wood is reused/salvaged:

The mailbox post I made.


Straightened the lawnmower blade.


In the past I’ve shared some screenshots of Googles automated systems missing the mark, like: – – and

Here are a some from Amazon:


-and for a long time I didn't see it coming

For a long time I thought that because of Windows updates, improvements to antimalware technology and persistent education of end users we were winning the battle against spyware.

Earlier this year I realized I had been blindsided. Badly.


I might write more about this another time bur for now let me just point out that humans are good patter matchers. Seing the patterns as a picture might help you realize things such as:

  • this mostly happening around lunchtime