Google Assistant – A.I.

Wow. I just watched a video from Google’s Developer Conference where an app (Google Assistant) makes a phone call to a hair salon for the user. The conversation was natural and fluid. The hair salon would have no idea that were speaking with a computer, and the user didn’t need to do anything other than to tell their phone to book them a haircut appointment. This technology is evolving and developing very fast. Here is the video.

Language

Language

I have always found language learning to be challenging and also very frustrating. I took 4 years of Spanish in High School and 2 years in College and can barely remember anything I learned during that time. I have been convinced that the methods used to teach language learning in American classrooms are terrible and that other methods can be far more successful than the classroom environment. I spent a summer in Mexico and got myself to a point where I could understand a lot of Spanish, but speaking it was entirely different and very difficult for me. I can read Spanish better than I can listen to it or speak it, but that provides limited benefit when trying to interact with somebody.

I was recently reading about some of the cognitive benefits of being bilingual in this Science News Article. The article spends a lot of time mentioning the benefits for children who learn two languages early in life, but also mentioned adults benefitting from being bilingual. These benefits include quicker thinking and problem solving skills. In addition to cognitive benefits for the bilingual individual, language helps shape our world view. Stanford University and MIT have been researching how a persons language impacts how they view the world and how they perceive or not perceive various aspects of their surroundings. The movie Arrival takes this concept to the extreme with an alien species teaching a human a language that causes her to perceive time itself differently where she no longer lives her life linearly. I don’t believe language can impact our perception of reality to this extreme, but I believe it helps shape how we view the world. I have a minor in Cross Cultural Studies so I have always been interested in how different people view the world. This is also the lens I use to look at politics and I always find it interesting that people can view the same events and the same set of facts and come to completely different conlusions. An individuals world view has a profound impact on their life. Learning another language, in theory, would allow me to see the world differently, to think about it differently and to understand things differently. My theory has been that bilingual speakers have an advantage in being able to see the world from a unique perspective because of how language shapes their world view. At 39 years old I have felt that I have missed the window to learn a new language and become a bilingual individual. Fortunately research shows I am not too old to learn a new language, but it may be more difficult than if I had tried when I was younger. If I put the time into it, I should be able to achieve one of my life goals of being bilingual.

As I pondered how I would go about learning Spanish again I had a thought, “Why should I learn Spanish?” My initial thought was that it should be easier due to my education and background. Then I thought “I don’t want easy.” I want a challenge. I want to do something that I am not sure is possible for me to do. I decided to see what languages are the most commonly spoken around the world. I learned that the top 3 languages are Chinese, Spanish and then English. Chinese is spoken by 1.2 billion people and China is making significant strides in business and technology. My interest in cryptocurrency and what Tron (TRX) is doing also has sparked an interest in China and how internet decentralization could be good for people living in China and the rest of the world. This is when I decided to look into learning Chinese. I found an app for my phone (Hello Chinese) that makes bold claims that in 10 minutes a day I could be fluent in Chinese in 3 months. While I don’t believe that claim, I found there are many tools to help someone who is a beginner start learning Chinese. Duolingo is another app that I will be using to try and learn some of the basics. So, I downloaded the app and started down the path of learning Chinese. Additional interest in Chinese stems from having friends who will be adopting from China in the coming months and a co-worker from China who can correct any improper pronunciation I may have along the way, which I am certain will be an issue for me. If 10 minutes a day gets me to where I would be at a 5 year olds level of communication I would consider that a huge success.

Now, this is where I also had another thought. “Why stop at being bilingual? Why not trilingual?” That would certinaly be more difficult than only knowing two languages and if I were to be able to communicate in English, Spanish and Chinese then I would have the three most widely used languages on the planet covered. That would be an impressive accomplishment. So, I am also going to be practicing more Spanish while focusing on Chinese. I am also looking for apps that connect people interested in language learning for live discussion and practice (HelloTalk and WeSpeke are two I have located so far). I recognize that without actually speaking my learning will be inhibited so I will need to find ways to practice speaking.

It is currently May 9, 2018 and my goal is to have basic fluency in both Chinese and Spanish by May 2020. I am hopeful that the concept of 10 minutes a day is actually enough for this old brain of mine to learn a new language. I am also hopeful that I will be able to achieve this goal well before the two year window I am giving myself. I figure the worst that will happen is that I will still only speak English by this time in 2020.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are going to change the world within my lifetime. Tasks that people do every day will become things that robots or other devices will take care of for us. Imagine having a robot in your home that would handle your dishes, do the laundry, even prepare dinner for your family. It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. As wild as it may seem the technology for devices or robots like this are beginning to emerge.

I stayed at the West Wing hotel in Tampa, FL that used a robot to deliver pillows, blankets and any items you may request from the front desk. My family was fascinated by this robot and we followed it around and watched it navigate around us and even control the elevator. It is basic, but it does its job well and frees up the front desk staff to focus on customers coming into the hotel. It is a robot that doesn’t replace anyone, but allows the person on site to focus on other tasks. I used to work in hotels and often had to leave the front desk to deliver items. Murphy’s Law always had someone come in who needed to check in or needed assistance while I was away from the desk. So, Wes, the robot at West Wing is a truly great use of new technology, which I am sure is just a sample of things to come.

Care-O-bot 4 is a modular robot that can be programmed to do various tasks. Far more avanced than the robot I saw in person. This robot has two arms and can move around and manipulate items it encounters much more like a person would do. This hardware framework coupled with advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) could mean highly functional robots doing tasks around the world within a few decades. Once this technology gets a consumer friendly point of entry, lives will be changed. I am sure it will begin with the wealthy having robots doing tasks for them, but as the technology becomes more refined and affordable a robot in your home may become a normal thing within 20 years.

We are already beginning to see the impact of autonomous cars and how they alone will change how people travel. Autonomous vehicles could impact even the core desire to own an automobile. If the vehicle drives itself, will people want to own it? Aspects of our society will change as robots begin to do more for us. Ideally this will allow people to do other more desirable or valuable tasks and not deal with tasks that can be automated. This will involve a cultural shift and could mean some jobs or positions may be filled by robots in the future. Time will tell if this possible future is on the horizon, but it looks like the pieces are lining up for actual highly functional robots will be a reality in my lifetime.

Verified on Po.et

April 11th 2018, 21:34

ProtonMail

ProtonMail

The past couple of years I have been very interested in encrypted email and other encrypted communication methods. This is primarily after learning how wide open the protocols we primarily use are to interception and abuse. Email is a big one where private and personal information is passed around the globe in a format that can be read and intercepted easily. Read more of my thoughts on why email encryption is important. PGP encrypting email is the surest way to use email more securely. However, others need to use it as well. PGP encryption is not considered a simple process for most people so people just don’t use it.

protonmail_logo_purpleI have been following a company based in Switzerland called ProtonMail that has been working on an encrypted email solution that uses PGP encryption rather than some “in-house” encryption solution. This company has also made a portion of their work open source so others can audit their work. It should be noted that the backend of their system is not open source which is not ideal when overall trust of a system is of importance. However, I recognize that what ProtonMail is doing overall is a positive move for more users to adopt secure email as an option while using an open standard like PGP. All other systems I have looked at are completely closed in that they have implemented their own encryption system that requires all encrypted communication to be done through their service. I have had an account with ProtonMail since near when they started in Beta a couple years ago.

On January 26th ProtonMail will be opening up to everyone and moving out of Beta. This means anyone will be able to get a ProtonMail account and easily send encrypted emails and receive PGP encrypted emails. In fact you can reserve your account name now if you want. January 26th is also is when the iOS and Android apps will be made available to everyone, and users will be able to use their own domain names with the service as well. This is huge as PGP encryption can be a hurdle for people as it is, and even more so when mobile solutions are considered. One caveat with ProtonMail currently is that using your own PGP key is not yet available nor is sending traditional PGP encrypted emails to addresses outside of ProtonMail. Once these two items are completed I am likely going to move to ProtonMail as my primary email. Currently an encrypted email to an external user utilizes the ProtonMail servers and an agreed on password between recipients which is a bit awkward but certainly gets the job done when communicating to users who are not using encrypted email. The good news is ProtonMail revealed their roadmap and full PGP implementation is coming in 2016 so encrypted emails will be sendable to users who use PGP outside of ProtonMail. I anticipate that by mid 2016 or early 2017 that ProtonMail will have in place all of the pieces for me to use them as my primary email and also be an email service that I can recommend to friends and family for encrypted email.

Feel free to send me an email at hc.liamnotorpnull@wotsirbffej if you would like to discuss email encryption. You can grab my PGP public key below and send me an encrypted message as well if you are using PGP. I also welcome messages from my PGP encrypted form from my website if you want to send an encrypted email but really have no idea how to go about doing that.

PGP Public Key Jeff Bristow’s ProtonMail

Divi Lazy Loading Images

A project I have been working on with the Divi theme (which is hands down the best WordPress Theme ever) required lazy images to essentially be disabled, and this was months after the site had been built with a lot of images already in place on pages. I could change the properties in Divi 2.5 on each image or I could do the following.

Look for the following bit of code in the following file: wp-content\themes\Divi\includes\builder\scripts\frontend-builder-scripts.js at line number: 2834


if ( $.fn.waypoint ) {
$( '.et_pb_counter_container, .et-waypoint' ).waypoint( {
offset: '75%',
handler: function() {
$(this).addClass( 'et-animated' );
}
} );

If you change the 75% to something like 400% then lazy loading will essentially be disabled for all intents and purposes on the site. Quick fix.