Jonathan Bartlett

Senior Fellow, Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence

Jonathan Bartlett is a senior software R&D engineer at Specialized Bicycle Components, where he focuses on solving problems that span multiple software teams. Previously he was a senior developer at ITX, where he developed applications for companies across the US. He also offers his time as the Director of The Blyth Institute, focusing on the interplay between mathematics, philosophy, engineering, and science. Jonathan is the author of several textbooks and edited volumes which have been used by universities as diverse as Princeton and DeVry.

Archives

Understanding the Fall of FTX — the False Reality of Market Caps

Let’s have a look at the critical question that was never asked in the first place…
In finance, the “market capitalization” or “market cap” of a security or currency is a simple way to evaluate the overall “value” of the total entity (this is also called “network value” in terms of a cryptocurrency). It is easiest to think about market caps in terms of stocks instead of currencies. In the stock market, if ABC Company is broken up into 100,000 shares, and the going market price is $3 per share, then the market cap of ABC is $300,000. Likewise for coins, if there are 100,000 coins available, and the current market price of the coin is $7, then the market cap of the coin will be $700,000. The idea behind the market cap is that, if…

The Graying of the Art — and AI — World

Why is so much modern media made up of rehashes and remakes?
The world of popular art (TV, movies, etc.) has a problem. I would even go as far as to label it a crisis. The problem is that the art world is becoming increasingly derivative. There are some points where it is obviously derivative—every movie is a remake, and every TV show is a reboot. We are getting the same stories regurgitated instead of novelty. However, there are also more subtle ways that this is happening.  TV comedies work largely by including inside jokes from previous TV shows.  One of the most popular writers of the 20th century was Louis L’Amour. What I think made L’Amour’s stories so great is that he could draw from a vast amount of personal experience. He could write about a lot…

Tesla’s Optimus is Sub-Optimal

With other robotics programs far outrunning Tesla, it can be hard to see what Elon Musk is adding to the field and why he's even trying
As promised, Elon Musk demonstrated his prototype robot “Optimus” at the 2022 Tesla AI Day.  The original plan for the robot included: Navigating the world through AutoPilot (the Tesla vehicle’s driver assistance system) Being able to perform repetitive or dangerous tasks safely Being able to be instructed using natural language instead of programming A year later, the Tesla robot has not even remotely demonstrated the ability to do any of these things with any sophistication.  That’s not surprising given Elon Musk’s penchant for promising things and not delivering them, but it does drive home the point that many of Musk’s mistakes stem from his more general misconceptions about the nature of the world.  Musk is great at organizing people, capital,…

The Vector Algebra Wars: A Word in Defense of Clifford Algebra

A well-recognized, deep problem with using complex numbers as vectors is that they only really work with two dimensions
Vector algebra is the manipulation of directional quantities. Vector algebra is extremely important in physics because so many of the quantities involved are directional. If two cars hit each other at an angle, the resulting direction of the cars is based not only on the speed they were traveling, but also on the specific angle they were moving at. Even if you’ve never formally taken a course in vector algebra, you probably have some experience with the easiest form of vector algebra — complex numbers (i.e., numbers that include the imaginary number i). In a complex number, you no longer have a number line, but, instead, you have a number plane. The image below shows the relationship between the real…

Musk’s Starlink Tied to Traffic Chaos in Orbit and on Earth

If nothing else, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has brought public attention to the future of space, who it belongs to, and how it is paid for
This week has seen quite a struggle for Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its satellite-based internet service Starlink. SpaceX had recently pocketed some interesting wins for Starlink. Its offer to keep Ukrainians online in the midst of the recent crisis earned Starlink favor in the eyes of both the military and Eastern European nations. It has also started launching operations in Latin America. Just days ago SpaceX performed its 35th launch of the year, adding 52 more Starlink satellites. However, Starlink has also faced a number recent headwinds which could spell trouble for the service. While its public beta test performed well for many users, as the service has expanded, the capabilities of the network appear to be stretched. Despite promises…

Just As Cryptocurrencies Went Mainstream — a Huge Collapse!

A central weakness is that investors must go through exchanges which have none of the safeguards established for the blockchain itself
The cryptocurrency markets have been in total upheaval for the last several months. The blowup essentially started when the stablecoin UST (provided by Terra) suddenly lost its peg to the US dollar. A stablecoin is supposed to maintain a 1:1 trading match to an underlying currency, so 1 UST is supposed to be worth $1. Most trading in crypto is trades between stablecoins and other coins rather than actual cash transactions using stablecoins. Due to some unforeseen (but not necessarily unforeseeable) issues, UST lost its peg; between May and June its value dropped from $1 to just over two pennies. This near erasure of value affected Terra’s other cryptocurrency, LUNA, which dropped from $80 to effectively zero over the same…

How Well Do Researchers Say Chatbots and Other AI Really Perform?

The 400 researchers found that getting moderately high performance requires models with around 100 billion parameters, an exponentially hard problem
A vast team of over 400 researchers recently released a new open-access study on the performance of recent, popular text-based AI architectures such as GPT, the Pathways Language Model, the (recently controversial) LaMBDA architecture, and sparse expert models. The study, titled the “Beyond the Imitation Game,” or BIG, tries to provide a general benchmark for the state of text-based AI, how it compares to humans on the same tasks, and the effect of model size on the ability to perform the task. First, many of the results were interesting though not surprising: ● In all categories, the best humans outdid the best AIs (though that edge was smallest on translation problems from the International Language Olympiad).● Bigger models generally showed…

Reviving the Relational View of Mathematics

Unfortunately, some textbooks teach number rules rather than relationships, so students may not know why the rule matters
While helping a friend’s teenage son with math, I was perusing the textbook used. I was dismayed by the presentation of the topic of translating graphs. More than that, I believe the issue reflects some general problems with how mathematics is typically presented to high school students. Specifically, the text addressed how to do graph transformations for exponential functions. That is, if you have a function with the form y = a ⋅ bx (where a and b are constants), how would you create a new equation whose graph was moved up, down, left, or right? The method the book proposed, while technically correct, misses a huge opportunity to help students. The book presents a general form for transforming exponential…

New York Times Documentary Takes on Musk’s “Self-Driving” Claims

In an era where Big Media tend to just play along with Big Tech hype and vaporware, a Season 2 film homes in for a closer look
The New York Times has a new TV show through FX Networks, called The New York Times Presents, a series of standalone documentaries presented by journalists from the paper. Mind Matters News readers will likely take a special interest in the first documentary of Season 2 because it deals with the technology of self-driving cars at Tesla and we have been talking about these issues for years. The film, titled Elon Musk’s Crash Course, follows the development of Tesla Motors and its claims about full self-driving vehicles. On the whole, while the I can commend the documentary as one of the first large-scale media efforts to take the issues with Tesla self-driving cars seriously, overall it emphasizes the wrong issues.…

Arm in the Cloud?: Lower Cost and Higher Performance

A quick tutorial on why Arm technology has 90% of the cell phone market
Central processing units (CPUs) are usually classified according to their architecture. Historically, desktop computers (especially non-Apple computers) were almost entirely based on Intel’s x86 32-bit architecture, with more recent ones supporting AMD’s 64-bit extensions for more modern computers. The x86 architecture has never ruled because it was a great architecture for the future, but merely because of compatibility — essentially, if you write software to one architecture, it won’t run on another one. The one company that pushed more aggressively for new architectures was Apple, which switched its Macintosh operating system through four major CPU architectures: Motorola 68k, PowerPC, Intel x86, and now Arm. Not only that, their earlier Apple II series ran yet another CPU architecture—the 6502. Because Apple…