Tay has been retired, Blade Runner style

It is always unexpected when fiction becomes real. Tay, the adolescent AI, survived for about 24 hrs on Twitter. She turned into something socially unacceptable. Then she has been retired. See Gizmodo story.

Almost two years ago I posted Microbes take over and then destroy the HAL 9000 prototype. I gave 9 seconds as an estimate for the chance of life of an AI in the real world, where there is no control and faced with  the “extremely dynamic medium of decentralized, artificial life based computation we all use every day“(that post suggests an artificial life, not AI version of the future internet).

Now, the story of Tay seems unbelievably close to the Blade Runner world. The genius of Philip K. Dick manifests here because  he mixes AI with synthetic life with real life.

Real people socially hacked Tay. Virtual microbes destroy HAL 9000. The common themes are: in a decentralized environment and AI vs life (real or virtual).

Not many people understand that today obsessions with security, control, privacy are all lost battles.

Which side you take: ASAPbio or Alphabet?

Times are changing fast and old time thinking dies hard and ugly. We have winners and losers.

Winners side: the #ASAPbio hashtag signals that biologists are ready to adopt the arXiv model of research communication.

“On Feb. 29, Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University became the third Nobel Prize laureate biologist in a month to do something long considered taboo among biomedical researchers: She posted a report of her recent discoveries to a publicly accessible website, bioRxiv, before submitting it to a scholarly journal to review for “official’’ publication.” [source: NYTimes]

OK, many people are still confused about “preprints”, mainly because the fake open movement Gold OA enshrined this distinction preprint-postprint into the brains of honest researchers looking for Internet Age ways of communication. The goal was, without doubt, to throw a shade over the well known arXiv model (which used the name “eprints” before Gold OA was a thing). And to preserve for a while longer the obsolete print business (as witnessed by their immediate association with the legacy publishers against Sci-Hub). But now, with bioRxiv, there seems to be a historical shift.

Biologists are already leaders into imagining ways to share and validate big volumes of data. They are certainly aware that sharing all data, aka Open Science, is a necessary part of the scientific method.

The scientific publishing industry, a largely useless business in the Internet Age, is the only loser in this story.

Losers side: Alphabet, the mother company of Google, sells Boston Dynamics. To be clear, BD is one of those research groups who does real impact, hard research. According to Bloomberg:

“Executives at Google parent Alphabet Inc., absorbed with making sure all the various companies under its corporate umbrella have plans to generate real revenue, concluded that Boston Dynamics isn’t likely to produce a marketable product in the next few years and have put the unit up for sale, according to two people familiar with the company’s plans.”

I am sure that there are all sort of reasons for this move. Short term reasons.

Why is this important, for researchers: because it shows that it is time to seriously acknowledge that, technically:

  • we need more data and access to research data, not more filters and bottlenecks in the way of research communication
  • and research data on the Internet is a particular kind of big data. Not even very big compared with the really big data collected, archived and used today by big commercial companies. It is technically possible to manage it by those who are the most interested, the researchers. This is not a new idea. Besides arXiv, and now bioRxiv,  see for example Bjorn Brembs  calls for a modern scientifc infrastructure.
  • Big commercial companies are not reliable for that. At any point they might dump us. Social media venues for research news and discussions are great, but the infrastructure is not to be trusted when it comes to the management of research data.

 

 

Let’s discuss the 3 Sci-Hub ideas

The site http://sci-hub.io/ has a part called “Sci-Hub ideas”. I have not seen any discussion about this in the commercial social networks, where almost everybody is a lawyer, apparently.
What if we look at these ideas, a bit more?

Screenshot from 2016-02-28 01:23:34

 

Further are my opinions about those:

1. Knowledge to all. I totally support this idea. That is why I always supported Green OA and not Gold OA. Open Science, which is a far more general and future oriented concept than OA, proposes the same, because the only scientific knowledge is the one which can be independently validated. This is not possible if there are walls around knowledge.

A more sensible point is the “inequality in knowledge access across the world”. This inequality has to be recognized as such and we should fight it.

2. No copyright for scientific and educational resources. It is very convenient to forget that the copyright has been a barrier for progress, several times in the past. Aviation and PC hardware are two examples. Some people understand that: “All our Patents are Belong to You”.

3. Open access. The most puzzling reaction against Sci-Hub, at least for me, was the one coming from some of the proponents of OA. I agree that Sci-Hub is not a solution for OA publishing of new articles. It is not a OA publishing model. OK. But OA itself is a very murky thing. Is arXiv.org OA? According to many OA advocates, it is not, is only an open repository. However, arXiv.org was a real solution for publishing, i.e. fast dissemination of knowledge. People used arXiv.org (and they use it now as well) in order to learn and communicate, via scientific articles, open and fast. There was no publishing revolution, just people using a better system than what the legacy publishers proposed. Likewise, Sci-Hub responded to a big need of many researchers, as witnessed by the fact that the site is heavily used. I think the support of Sci-Hub for OA is only lip service, what they really want to say is that they created a solution for a real problem which is not solved by OA.

SciHub and patent wars

The Wright brothers used their patents to block the building of new airplanes. The historical solution was a pool of patents, eventually. Now everybody can fly.

We all have and use PCs because the patent wars around computer hardware were lost by those who tried to limit the production of it.

Elon Musk announced in 2014 that All Our Patent Are Belong To You.

These days publishers  complain that SciHub  breaks their paywalls. They have the copyrights for the  research works which are publicly funded mostly.

This is a new version of a patent war and I believe it will end as others in the past.

Sci-Hub is not tiny, nor special interest

“Last year, the tiny special-interest academic-paper search-engine Sci-Hub was trundling along in the shadows, unnoticed by almost everyone.” [source: SW-POW!, Barbra Streisand, Elsevier, and Sci-Hub]

According to the info available in the article Meet the Robin Hood of science, by Simon Oxenham:

[Sci-Hub] “works in two stages, firstly by attempting to download a copy from the LibGen database of pirated content, which opened its doors to academic papers in 2012 and now contains over 48 million scientific papers.”

“The ingenious part of the system is that if LibGen does not already have a copy of the paper, Sci-hub bypasses the journal paywall in real time by using access keys donated by academics lucky enough to study at institutions with an adequate range of subscriptions. This allows Sci-Hub to route the user straight to the paper through publishers such as JSTOR, Springer, Sage, and Elsevier. After delivering the paper to the user within seconds, Sci-Hub donates a copy of the paper to LibGen for good measure, where it will be stored forever, accessible by everyone and anyone. ”

“As the number of papers in the LibGen database expands, the frequency with which Sci-Hub has to dip into publishers’ repositories falls and consequently the risk of Sci-Hub triggering its alarm bells becomes ever smaller. Elbakyan explains, “We have already downloaded most paywalled articles to the library … we have almost everything!” This may well be no exaggeration.”

Is that tiny? I don’t think so. I have near me the comparisons I made in
ArXiv is 3 times bigger than all megajournals taken together and, if we would trust the publicly available numbers, then:

  • Sci-Hub is tiny
  • arXiv.org is minuscule with about 1/40 of what (is declared as) available in Sci-Hub
  • all the gold OA journals have no more than 1/100 of the “tiny” baseline, therefore they are, taken together, infinitesimal

Do i feel a dash of envy? subtle spin in favor of gold OA? maybe because Alexandra Elbakyan is from Kazakhstan? More likely is only an unfortunate formulation, but the thing is that if this info is true, then it’s huge.

UPDATE: putting aside all legal aspects, where I’m not competent to have an opinion, so putting aside these, it appears that the 48 million collection of paywalled articles is the result of the collective behaviour of individuals who “donated” (or whatever the correct word should be used) them.

My opinion is that this collective behaviour shows a massive vote against the system. Is not even intended to be a vote, people (i.e. individual researchers) just help one another. Compare this behaviour with the one of academic managers and with the one of all kinds of institutions which a) manage public funds and negociate prices with publishers, b) use metrics which are based on commercial publishers for distributing public funds as grants and promotions.

On one side there is the reality of individual researchers, who create and want to read what others like them created (from public funds basically) and on the other side there is this system in academia which rewards the compliance with this obsolete medium of dissemination of knowledge (presently turned upside down and replaced with a  system which puts paywalls around the research articles, it’s amazing).

Of course, I am not discussing here if Sci-hub is legal, or if commercial publishers are doing anything wrong from a legal point of view.

All this seems to me very close to the disconnection between politicians and regular people. These academic managers are like politicians now, the system ignores that it is possible to gauge the real opinion of people, almost in real time, and instead pretends that everything is OK, on paper.

 

____________________

Neurons rewrites

A real neural network is a huge cascade of chemical rewrites. So I can try my chemlambda with that task. From a programming point of view, the problem is to understand neural networks as a graph rewrite model of computation, together with a (yet undiscovered) discipline of using them.

Further are some pretty images showing the first tries. They are all made by filming real simulations obtained with chemlambda.

Before giving them, I tell you that this task seems hard and now I believe that an easier one would be to use the ideas of chemlambda in the frame of quantum computing. (Do I have to add that in a new way, different from what was proposed in the many graphical formalisms associated to category theory? Probably! All those formalisms fall into the family: topological changes do not compute. Wait and see.)

 

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