Henrietta Leavitt and Artificial IQ

4 Jun


I was reading about a book called AIQ yesterday, AIQ is based on a simple premise:

If you want to understand the modern world, then you have to know a little bit of the mathematical language spoken by intelligent machines. AIQ will teach you that language but in an unconventional way, anchored in stories rather than equations.

In 1912 an American woman, Henrietta Leavitt worked out how to measure the true brightness of of stars by a prediction rule drawn from the pulsating of stars, As a result of Henrietta’s work, scientists have been able to measure distances of objects millions of light years away.

Cepheid variable, Henriettas dicoverydeltacephei

She found that a certain type of star, the Cepheid variable, pulses at a rate that’s related to its brightness. A Cepheid variable star’s pulse rate reveals the star’s true, fundamental brightness. The amount by which the star’s brightness is dimmed by distance allows the star’s distance from the earth to be calculated and the universe could be mapped out.

Henrietta’s developed a method of ‘training the model’, which is hugely scaled up with AI, which can learn from living examples, from the vast amount of data we create every day, an approach with is flexible and not rigid. These ideas are taking off in the world of  Alibaba, China’s $24 billion EBay version. Alibaba Algorithms are based on Henriettas ideas.

Alibaba is making a big play in Cloud Computingali2

Alibaba is predicting orders weeks in advance of the users clicking  by constantly changing its prediction model, based on the vast live streaming data sets, it learns as it goes, and it gets better and better.

But Alibaba’s ambition is to be the leader in providing cloud-based AI. Like cloud storage (think Dropbox) or cloud computing (Amazon Web Services), cloud AI will make powerful resources cheaply and readily available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, enabling new kinds of businesses to grow.

The real race in AI between China and the US, then, will be one between the two countries’ big cloud companies, which will vie to be the provider of choice for companies and cities that want to make use of AI. And if Alibaba is anything to go by, China’s tech giants are ready to compete with Google, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft to serve up AI on tap. Which company dominates this industry will have a huge say in how AI evolves and how it is used.

They dont mention Henrietta Leavitt, but this is what Alibaba say…

But at Alibaba, “We have our own computing power, we have our own algorithms and the Alibaba economy itself is the world-leading use-case for artificial intelligence,” he said.

E-commerce, financial payments, logistics, entertainment—all of these different application scenarios exist within the Alibaba ecosystem. And the company has algorithm-based, real-time updating based on all of data collected from its products, from the commerce on its platforms, and around its users.


How 7 lines of code changed the internet

7 May

If you make something easy for people to do, they will do it 

Today, I happened on an article by the founder of iZettle, Jacob de Geer, he mentioned that…

“mobile payments are all about the experience”


And that got me thinking, it reminds me about a story I read a while back about how Two Brothers Turned Seven Lines of Code Into a $9.2 Billion Startup.

As it turns out, they has a simple vision, and it was to…

“increase the GDP of the internet,”.

Introducing Patrick and John Collison, two really technology high performers, who grew up in the country in Limerick.


“If you think about the broad trajectory of the internet, most of the breakout successes are still to come,” Patrick says.

Patrick’s desk is covered in books. There’s a copy of  “The Dream Machine”, about J.C.R. Licklider, the technologist who conceptualized and funded the early internet.

The volume was out of print, but Patrick loves it so much he bought the rights and paid to publish hundreds of copies for employees and guests.


I like this bit about time and his life…

The wallpaper on Patrick’s computer displays a countdown clock for his life: He has 52 years and a few days left.

“This is a very coarse estimate, but it’s a reminder that you get old quickly,” he says, a touch of gray now in his red hair.

“When you talk to people who are old, some wish they had enjoyed themselves more, but not many wish they had wasted more time.”


Whats interesting about Stripe is their payment solution was targeted to developers and all the developer had to do was copy and paste to solve a complex problem.



Stripe use an algorithm to select lunch buddies for their employees, and every few months everyone moves seats

Cut and paste has never been easier

The 7 lines of code (actually 12) that implements the Stripe interface7Lines

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