Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene: How to Spell Gud

Also, Google and Apple ditching college degree requirements is not really that new

“’Really Good Speller’: Trump’s Handwritten Note Shows Embarrassing Mistakes” (HuffPost) As you hvae proebaly seen, one of the gaetr thngis aoubt rdeanig is taht shrot wodrs can be milselpesd and slitl be raed if the fsrit and lsat lteters are in the rhgit pacle. Good splel chcekres shulod do as wlel. Mcootifrst Wnoidws and MS Otoulok hvae triberle splel chcekres. I otefn hvae to cpoy a wrod itno Glogoe to get the rhgit splienlg. Tihs siad, as I tpye, MS Wrod fexis shrot wrods ikie “lkie” to “like” and “wrod” to “word” in rael tmie. But it can’t frigue out taht “rhgit” is “right.” Raiedng mxied up wrds wroks eevn if all the ltesrs are not tehre. Tihs shwos taht sglinas wtih nisoe can siltl be doecded wtih no erorr. Yuor clel phnoe deos it. Lnog wdros lkie “oaclionslcy,” “dfiuteifclis” and “cretnorctng” are of cruose hrader. Cneoxtt aslo hlpes. Taht’s why preiaidive txet wrkos on clel phnoes msegeeisgng.

“Google, Apple ditch college degree requirements” (AXIOS) In a way, this is old news. Twenty years or so ago, when I worked in Seattle, Microsoft was famous for testing the coding skills of their applicants and asking Mensa-like questions. Degrees were secondary. I had many students who were interviewed at Microsoft and they shared some of these questions with me. Here are three samples:

  • Why should manhole covers be round?
  • You travel ten miles south, three miles east and ten miles north and arrive at where you started. If you are on the earth but not at the north pole, where are you?
  • You grab a seat at the bottom of a ski lift that has 100 chairs. The lift stops at the top and lets you off. In your trip from the bottom to the top, how many ski lift chairs did you pass that were going from top to bottom?

All these questions address reasoning skills. There are no tricks. The questions are expected to be answered in real time during the interview. One master’s student of mine gamed the system by gathering Microsoft questions and answers from colleagues prior to his interview. He was hired by Microsoft but did not last a year.

“Taxi Industry Leaders Got Rich. Drivers Paid the Price” (New York Times) Uber and Lyft are replacing taxis. New York City taxi drivers paid up to seven figures for their right to drive in the city. Some taxi drivers borrowed from the bank to pay their fee. While the drivers were making their monthly payments, in came Uber. The New York Times reports: “In the past year and a half, eight professional drivers, including three taxi medallion owners, have died by suicide. Since 2016, 950 taxi drivers have filed for bankruptcy.”

Disruptive AI is going to take us over a lot of troublesome bumps like this as the economics of the job market are disrupted.

Shame on the New York administrators who charged taxi drivers up to a cool million dollars for the right to earn a living.

● “Apple Is Experimenting With Augmented Reality Art Installations” (Observer) The term augmented reality was coined in 1990 by Boeing researcher and friend Tom Caudell. Tom, who has sported a duck-dynasty beard for as long as I’ve known him, used augmented reality to guide workers on the Boeing factory floor in Seattle. Tom was the General Chair and I was the Organizational Chair of the first IEEE Virtual Reality Annual International Symposium (VRAIS) in 1993. Tom headed a project at Boeing where neural networks were used to categorically sort the unbelievably large number of parts required to assemble a big plane. He first introduced me to genetic algorithms on a typically beautiful Seattle summer day at a table outside the student union building at the University of Washington. Tom and I published a lot together.

One of the great honors of my life has been working with brilliant and innovative minds like Tom Caudell.

Note: Dr. Marks will be addressing these topics at the COSM technology summit, October 23–25, 2019, in Bellevue, Washington.

Here are some of his takes on recent AI news items at Mind Matters News:

Random thoughts on recent AI headlines: Google gives away “free” cookies… Also, why AI can’t predict the stock market or deal with windblown plastic bags

Random thoughts on recent AI headlines (March 18, 2019): There is usually a story under those layers of hype but not always the one you thought


Top Ten AI hypes of 2018: More help, less hype, please!

Featured image: “Always Check For Spelling Errors”/thinglass, Adobe Stock


Robert J. Marks II

Director, Senior Fellow, Walter Bradley Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Besides serving as Director, Robert J. Marks Ph.D. hosts the Mind Matters podcast for the Bradley Center. He is Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University. Marks is a Fellow of both the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the Optical Society of America. He was Charter President of the IEEE Neural Networks Council and served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks. He is coauthor of the books Neural Smithing: Supervised Learning in Feedforward Artificial Neural Networks (MIT Press) and Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics (World Scientific). For more information, see Dr. Marks’s expanded bio.

Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene: How to Spell Gud

Skip to toolbar Log Out