Rehearsal For Armageddon – The Balkan Wars 1912 – 13

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

The long and bloody history of the Balkans is like any other hotly-contested region of the world, where various groups or states have ‘interests’ which unfortunately (for the general population) overlap… The original hotchpotch of petty feudal states evolved after the fragmentation of the old Roman Empire, and continued a precarious existence on the edge of Europe’s two enormous medieval … Read More

Dyalog 17 begins!

Peter MerrittEventsLeave a Comment

As a major player in the APL arena both here and the USA, this week a large contingent of our development staff are attending the prestige event on the APL calendar, the ‘Dyalog 2017 Conference’. Dyalog are streaming a number of conference events live here, but all the sessions will be available via their website shortly after the conference. This … Read More

The Mysterious Case of the ‘Engine-Stopping Rays’

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

In Most Secret War, Dr. R. V. Jones discusses the human tendency to “conjure up fear under conditions of stress,” a tendency the modern Westerner—stalked by fears of terrorism, crime, and economic catastrophe, international mergers—will no doubt appreciate. The example Jones cites, though seemingly trivial in hindsight, is both entertaining and revealing. Bear with me on this one as it … Read More

Fortunate Correlations

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

The more successful his efforts proved, the more pressure Dr. Jones and his team felt. He grew increasingly concerned that they would miss something vital. The most direct solution would be to hire more staff, which he considered, somewhat skeptically. Unfortunately, at that point all the ablest people had been fitted into posts, and it was now difficult to pries … Read More

The Problem of Playing It Safe

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

This item challenges us to truly examine our motives in giving advice to clients (or colleagues). We may be working in high-tech IT, but we are still not all that far from our hunter-gatherer ancestors… As always, I am indebted to my colleagues both here and in the US professional gaming community for the inspiration and basis of this article. … Read More

Things that go FUD…(Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt)

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

This item involves an illustration of some of the exaggerated and warped ‘group-think’ which was engendered by the famous V2 missile, the first man-made object into space. Whilst much of Jones’s comments in the article concern the missile, try to think of it in our terms as the next, fab solution/fad… As always, I am indebted to my colleagues both … Read More

The Value of ‘Hierarchical Attenuation’

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

In Reflections on Intelligence, R. V. Jones briefly reviews the British decision to adopt a convoy system during World War I. The case brings to light two useful insights: The Admiralty was dead set against a convoy system. One of their main arguments was that convoys would require an impractical number of escorts. They based their conclusion in part on … Read More

Historical Lessons for New Consultants

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

This is the first in what may be an occasional series which seeks to make historical lessons more widely available to 21stC business. All of these are taken from the work of Dr R.V. Jones, a home-grown genius from WW2. I am indebted to some American colleagues involved with what is known as ‘red team’ training, the awkward squad developing … Read More

AI & Android Considerations – Who Cares?

Peter MerrittTechnologyLeave a Comment

It has long been an accepted tenet that most important IT developments (not simply academic ideas, important though they are) have been led by the oldest twin drivers of our human civilization – war and sax(ophone)**. The former driver of course is represented by the ‘military-industrial complex’ and targets the key military requirements from each service of carrying, searching, guarding, … Read More

Do Not Pass ‘Go’ – AI Considerations

Peter MerrittTechnologyLeave a Comment

You would all have seen the recent news items which followed the world championship “Go” contest in South Korea, won – for the first time ever – by an AI system vs a human Grand Master. This is significant as ‘Go’ is pretty much to chess in complexity what chess is to checkers…and so I thought it time to add my own observations. As the science and technology of AI develops, smart artefacts are increasingly being deployed and their widespread deployment will have profound ethical, psychological, social, economic, and legal consequences for human society and our planet. Here we can only raise, and skim the surface of, some of these issues – but as builders, as well as citizens, it is our duty to think on and act responsibly.

Money talks, but can’t spell…

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

It is well known that computers are superb at handling numbers (and before anyone raises it, even spelling and other nifty Word-processing tools are reduced to numeric rules and ‘weightings’; sorry…). However, for arcane reasons dating back well over two hundred years, some contractual statements of financial amounts must also be expressed in written English, presumably because potential 18thC fraudsters … Read More

Sonification: Listening to Big Data

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

First off, this has nothing to do with certain weird old Hedgehog-oriented video games (for more details on that, see here). The term actually applies to the translation of often complex, massed data streams from a variety of sources into sounds. Like the associated use of colour, it uses the specialised sensory areas of our brains to easily target (approximate) … Read More

Creating Logical Search Vectors

Peter MerrittAPLLeave a Comment

We are all well aware of the power of manipulating logical vectors. However, those happy-go-lucky users out there just keep pushing the boundaries (and their luck). Some time back, we were presented with a semi-formatted character vector (from several source files) containing code-delimited sets of data, something like: “…OpenCodeF$ text number number more text other ClosingCodeF$ stuff stuff number OpenCodeB$ … Read More