Jonathan Bartlett

Senior Fellow, Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence

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Tesla Continues to Walk Back Full Self-Driving Claims

In 2016, Tesla (TSLA) couldn’t tell enough people that its cars would soon drive themselves
In 2019, Tesla raised billions of dollars on the prospect of a fleet of a million robotaxis by the next year. However, starting on the Q3 2019 earnings call, CEO Elon Musk started walking back some of those claims. To begin with, in that earnings call, Musk started saying that “feature complete” really just meant that the “City Streets” version would be operable, not that it could actually drive without assistance. A year later, in regulatory filings with the California DMV, Tesla said, “As such, a final release of City Streets will continue to be an SAE Level 2, advanced driver-assistance feature.” In the accepted terminology around levels of self-driving, truly self-driving vehicles are classed as SAE Level 5. Level…

Will Popularity Spell Doom for Bitcoin?

How is that possible? Well, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have a hidden weakness…
Cryptocurrencies, from Ethereum to Bitcoin to Dogecoin, seem to be all the rage these days. Altcoins (i.e., lesser-known cryptocurrencies) have become increasingly mainstream. The increasing fracturing and pluralism in the cryptocurrency space has meant that few people are directly trading with any particular currency. Most users go through trading and wallet platforms where the platform —not their own computers—hosts the cryptocurrency. Additionally, transactions are increasingly processed via third parties as well, not directly on the cryptocurrency platform. This separation between the user and the direct cryptocurrency platform has enabled a new option: a payment gateway for a website that collects payments in a number of different cryptocurrencies using a single set of tools. PayPal, one of the top gateways, recently…

Do Not Be Fooled: The “Self-Driving” Car Doesn’t Drive Itself

Over-reliance on technology that is not intended to be used without human attention can be deadly
Two people died in a car crash in a Tesla on Sunday morning. While many details are yet to be confirmed, the investigators have confirmed that no one was in the driver’s seat at the time of impact. Additionally, the resulting fire required more than 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish because the batteries continued to reignite. Here at Mind Matters, we want to reiterate to our readers that even though Tesla’s driver assistance system is officially named “Full Self-Driving”, no one should take that to mean that the car can drive itself. We have been fully documenting the problematic nature of Tesla’s self-driving claims for many years. Recently, the hype coming from Tesla has been so problematic that many other outlets have begun…

The Fundamental Problem With Common Core Math

Intuition relies on skill, not the other way around
In 2010, a bold effort to reform math curriculum was adopted by the majority of the United States. Known as “Common Core Math,” the goal of this endeavor was to establish a common foundation of mathematics education across the country, and to help bolster not only students’ mathematical abilities, but also their mathematical intuition. The goal was to help students think about math more deeply, believing that this will help them work with mathematics better in later years. Before discussing problems with this approach, I want to say that I appreciate the idea of helping students think more deeply about mathematics. After years and years and years of mathematics education, many students wind up thinking about mathematics as merely a set…

Practicing the Basics: Teaching Math Facts in the Classroom

How to help students make deeper connections within mathematics with creative games.
Many people learn to hate math early on. One of the places where people learn to hate math first is in high-stakes speed testing for math facts. This has caused quite a bit of angst in mathematics education for people on both sides of this issue. On the one hand, some have advocated for getting rid of math facts memorization altogether. On the other hand, others have doubled-down, saying that we need speed tests in order to make sure that the cognitive load of arithmetic is limited for later mathematics work. While I fall more into the latter camp than the former, I do think that a more balanced approach to mathematics education may help students in the long run. …

The Startling Energy Costs of Bitcoin

As Bitcoin gains credibility, power consumption worries grow
Most people are aware of the rising price of Bitcoin. Despite the fact that most people are unaware of how to transact in it, and few merchants take it as a form of currency, Bitcoin is becoming an increasingly popular investment. As interest in Bitcoin grows, a few people are starting to take notice of the startling energy costs associated with Bitcoin transactions. As Mind Matters has been pointing out for years, the energy costs associated with having a “trustless” system such as Bitcoin is immense, with Bitcoin transactions generally costing 400,000 times as much energy as a single transaction on the Visa network. According to the BBC, the Bitcoin network – which, again, very few people are regularly transacting in – now consumes more energy than the…

The Needless Complexity of Modern Calculus

How 18th century mathematicians complicated calculus to avoid the criticisms of a bishop
Would you be surprised if I told you that the essentials of calculus are actually very straightforward and simple?

Antiracism In Math Promotes Racism and Bad Math

If you are scratching your head over how math might be racist, you are not alone
Recently, a conglomeration of California education associations got together to work on a series of resources for mathematics teachers. The goal? Eliminate racism in mathematics classes by promoting Equitable Math. If you are struggling to imagine how mathematics could be racist, you are not alone. I am certain there exist racist teachers, and probably teachers who exhibit racist expectations of their students. I would support any reasonable action to get rid of or reform such teachers. But that is not the primary goal of these resources. The website, equitablemath.org, instead believes that the very way that mathematics is commonly taught is not just racist, but is specifically white supremacist. While I consider myself to be somewhat of a mathematics reformer…

The Myth of “No Code” Software (Part III)

The complexities of human language present problems for natural language programming
Many visions of the future include humans programming through “natural language” — where humans merely state what they want and computers “figure out” how to write code that does what is requested. While there have been many demos that have led people to believe that this will be possible, the truth is, the idea has so many problems with it, it is hard to know where to begin. Let’s begin with the successes of natural language programming. Wolfram|Alpha is probably the best-known natural language programming system. You type in a command in natural English, and Wolfram|Alpha converts that command into native Mathematica code and runs it. In 2010, Stephen Wolfram announced that Wolfram|Alpha signified that natural language programming really was…

The Myth of “No Code” Software (Part II)

Why (and where) no-code doesn't work
In my previous article, I noted that what programmers do is translate ambiguous specifications into very exact specifications, taking into account all of the specific subtleties that the implementation requires. However, I recognize that those not familiar with custom software may not recognize the problem. This article describes in additional detail the kinds of considerations that cause no-code solutions to be problematic. The essence of the problem is this: there are an infinite number of possible ways your business could possibly work, but only one way that it actually works. The work of the programmer is to make sure the software matches the specific way that your business works. Let’s take something simple like calculating shipping. It might be easy…