Friday, May 06, 2011

It's Friday, it's ... Great Thoughts Time

Richard Hamming said it better in his speech entitled You and Your Research:

Along those lines at some urging from John Tukey and others, I finally adopted what I called ``Great Thoughts Time.'' When I went to lunch Friday noon, I would only discuss great thoughts after that. By great thoughts I mean ones like: ``What will be the role of computers in all of AT&T?'', ``How will computers change science?'' For example, I came up with the observation at that time that nine out of ten experiments were done in the lab and one in ten on the computer. I made a remark to the vice presidents one time, that it would be reversed, i.e. nine out of ten experiments would be done on the computer and one in ten in the lab. They knew I was a crazy mathematician and had no sense of reality. I knew they were wrong and they've been proved wrong while I have been proved right. They built laboratories when they didn't need them. I saw that computers were transforming science because I spent a lot of time asking ``What will be the impact of computers on science and how can I change it?'' I asked myself, ``How is it going to change Bell Labs?'' I remarked one time, in the same address, that more than one-half of the people at Bell Labs will be interacting closely with computing machines before I leave. Well, you all have terminals now.

Ok, I don't know if those a great thoughts, but here are some of my questions:

  • Can we have dumb AI ? (especially since memories and CPUs are cheap).
  • If I were training a brain inspired computational visual system on photos and text and I were to get that system to read webpages: How much time would it take to get a similar heat map as that of a human ?
  • What does it mean to be past Peak Oil ? (figure from here) while at the same time potentially facing global warming ?

With one billion internet enabled cameras:

  • Can we do a better job at diagnosing at 6 months old, conditions like Autistic Spectrum Disorder ?
  • Can we use star tracker algorithms for finding stars to perform regular check for skin cancer detection?
  • How long before people share their stools for diagnosing purposes ?
  • How will people share private data for these new diagnosing tools to emerge ?

And you, what are your thoughts ? they don't have to be questions!


John Sidles said...

Igor, my favorite (and happiest) "great thought" is that in the 21st century, we will rewrite all the great textbooks of the 20th century, in the more mathematical natural languages that we have been slowly learning. My experience has been that this style of translation is both reasonably feasible and plenty of fun too!

As a compressive sensing researcher, what textbooks do *you* most think might be enjoyably rewritten, with deeper math tools?

Saurabh Hooda said...

Great Thoughts time is most utilized time ever. One should include this as a routine by adding time for that in calendar every week else it will be forgotten with time.