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

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…

How Does A Kubernetes Cluster Work?

A general overview of the Kubernetes environment
Now that you have some concrete experience using Kubernetes, this article will present the basic theory of how a Kubernetes cluster works. We won’t talk about how to accomplish these things in the present article – the goal is to provide you with a broad understanding of the components of Kubernetes. Basic Kubernetes Components Kubernetes comes with a lot of different components, and it is hard to get them all shown on the same diagram. Therefore, I will just give a high-level picture of what a Kubernetes cluster looks like. The image below shows the basic setup, which we will cover in this article. You see here a separation between the internal Kubernetes network and the Internet. Note that this…

Getting Started with Kubernetes: A Cluster Setup Walkthrough

Setting up a Kubernetes cluster in Linode is incredibly simple
This series will give you an overview of Kubernetes, the popular open-source cloud computing platform developed by Google. Kubernetes allows for the development of cloud-based platforms using entirely open specifications, so you are never tied down to a specific vendor. Many cloud vendors, such as AWS, have proprietary ways of developing scalable web applications (such as their Lambda system). The problem is that this ties your application to their system, and, as we have seen with Parler, Amazon gives and Amazon takes away. Therefore, it is wise to not tie your infrastructure too tightly to a single vendor. Kubernetes allows you to build large-scale scalable applications in the cloud in a way that is transferable to a variety of vendors.…

Getting Started with Kubernetes: A Brief History of Cloud Hosting

A history lesson for a better understanding of why web infrastructure hosting is the way it is
Oftentimes it is hard to understand why something is the way it is unless you understand its history. To start with, I want to present a quick overview of the history of web infrastructure hosting to give you a better feel for what sorts of problems cloud native development solves. The Old Way Way back in the early days of the Internet, web applications were hosted on specific server machines. That is, when you wanted to host a web application, you had to purchase a physical machine, install Linux or some other operating system on it, and then pay an Internet Service Provider to put your machine on their network. This process was both time-consuming and expensive, often costing hundreds…

What Do We Want With Mathematics Curriculum?

If we are going to dedicate such a large portion of our children's lives to learning mathematics, we had better know why
Modern policy discussions in America almost always leave out the biggest question – why are we doing what we are doing in the first place? Leaving out first principles always leaves people trying to find the most practical way to accomplish nothing in particular. We have become accustomed to not asking questions about first principles because they always sound too doctrinaire, but then we wind up, at best, making the misplaced assumption that everyone is reaching for the same goal, or, far worse, viewing the activities themselves as the goals. One place where this problem repeatedly rears its ugly head is education, and especially mathematics education. Why are we teaching math? What do we want people to get out of…