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review 2018-08-13 18:42
GOFAI vs AML: "Common Sense, the Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI" by Hector J. Levesque
Common Sense, the Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI - Hector J. Levesque

 

 

“Its is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.”

 

 

S. I. Hayakawa, quoted by Hector J. Levesque In "Common Sense, the Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI"

 

 

The problem here is in the frequent ambiguity of the English language caused by its excessively simplistic grammar, made so by the collision between Germanic and Romance that produced the English language of today, essentially a creole construction. It would not arise in a language that is less mixed and more precise, e.g., German (my favourite language for rigorous thoughts and statements). Yet, it should be easy enough to fix, by making the parser look up idiomatic expressions and test them against the context of the conversation. The devices of gender and declension, present in German, allow for quite precise associations.

 

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, read on.

 

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review 2018-08-13 10:41
Star Wars: Ahsoka
Star Wars Ahsoka - E.K. Johnston

It was probably a coincidence, but at the same time, Ahsoka had been around long enough to know that coincidence and the Force rarely went together. There was always some sort of link.

 

When Lucas created the Force, did he know he’d be forcing countless future authors into lazy (if entertaining) writing? Force Ex Machina: the easiest way to get your characters from point A to point B. For example:

 

Ahsoka – “I’m going to hide on this tiny Outer Rim agricultural moon that couldn’t possibly be of immediate interest to the Empire.”

 

Empire – “We are immediately interested in this tiny Outer Rim agricultural moon because reasons.”

 

OMG, WHAT ARE THE ODDS?! (Never tell me the odds!) The Force is to Star Wars books what London fog is to cozy mysteries, and the number of Force non-coincidences in this book is high.

 

Blatant for(c)eshadowing aside, I was hoping for an entertaining account of what Ahsoka got up to between her last appearance in The Clone Wars (which I absolutely recommend watching before reading this novel) and her first appearance in Rebels, and this delivers. Mostly. The climactic confrontation was a bit meh. Based on this book, I’d say writing action isn't E.K. Johnston’s strong suit. Her characterization is pretty good, though, so I’m looking forward to her upcoming Padmé novel.

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text 2018-08-13 01:30
The Flat Book Society: Nominations are open for November read

Also, while I'm at it, the voting list has been cleared and is now open for nominations for our November read.

 

Please stop by and nominate the popular science books you're most interested in the group reading come November.  If you're not already a member, and popular science books are your jam, please consider this an invitation to join us.

 

Looking forward to ditching this hat...

 

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text 2018-08-13 01:24
The Flat Book Society: September Read begins in 18 days!
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

It's almost September - which everyone who is playing Halloween Book Bingo knows, but it's also the start of The Flat Book Society's September read, also known as our Birthday read!  This marks our 1st full year as a group and we've yet to kill each other or even maim anyone!  Whoo hoo!   

 

I jest, of course.  That's why we have Huggins; he's not only our mascot - he keeps things sweet.

 

I'm looking forward to Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright  and I hope everyone else is too.  

 

A witty, irreverent tour of history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and a celebration of the heroes who fought them.

 

Unfortunately, our read this year doesn't strictly fit with any Halloween Bingo Squares, but I have posted a question on the discussion about whether or not it could be used for the centre square, because really, this book totally fits right in with the whole Halloween theme.  I'll update when I hear a verdict.  

 

Either way, I hope this won't put people off from participating; with so much going on in September this is likely to be a slower paced buddy read, so if you're interested in joining in, please do.  The more buddy readers, the louder our communal "EWWWWW" will be.

 

Nobody ever looked intimidating wearing a birthday hat.

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review 2018-08-12 23:31
To Terminator, With Love by Wes Kennedy
To Terminator, With Love - Wes Kennedy

Dexter Wu isn't a terribly social guy. He's a grad student whose life currently revolves around his big project, a robot named HAL that's supposed to be able to read stories to children. He has one close friend, Sandhya, who's about to move back to India. He's trying not to let that fact utterly wreck him, but it's hard. He's tired, stressed out about finals and HAL, and...suddenly in a confusing and terrifying amount of danger.

According to a powerful device owned by a shadowy group known as the Agency, HAL is going to destroy the world. Dexter's work on it must be stopped at all costs. The Agency's people don't normally try to kill their targets, but for some reason protocol is being broken this time around, and Dexter's running for his life. Luckily he has one agent on his side, Andre Jackson.

I bought this because it was listed as sci-fi with an asexual main character and its description sounded decent. The title and relatively vague description made me think that HAL would be prominent and that there would be time travel. This turned out not to be the case. There were a few brief Terminator references, but the nature of the Agency's secret device meant that it had more in common with Minority Report.

Sci-fi and fantasy pop culture references were all over the place. The one I enjoyed the most had to do with Dexter's efforts to figure out his role in this action story he'd suddenly been plopped into:

"Because he wasn't Neville Longbottom. He wasn't even Jar Jar Binks; he was Leeroy fucking Jenkins." (76%)

It's the kind of line that's fun if you know who Dexter's referring to but that would be completely incomprehensible to every one else. As it was, I had to google the Leeroy Jenkins reference - I'd heard the name before but that was it. The text is peppered with this sort of thing. I mostly liked it, but I could see it being annoying and exhausting for anyone who doesn't have the right pop culture background.

I was a bit iffy about the asexual rep. While it was nice that there was zero drama and nastiness over Dexter being ace, it felt really weird that he and Andre didn't talk about it at all beyond a brief mention. The two of them started making out, Dexter paused things to tell Andre that he was asexual and that he enjoyed kissing but wasn't interested in having sex, Andre calmly accepted this, and they never talked about it again. Granted, I'm not sure if they could be considered a couple since the story only takes place over a couple weeks, but it ended with Dexter hoping they could keep in touch and continue their relationship. I don't know.

In the end, I wanted to like this more than I actually did. Andre and Dexter were adorably geeky together, and the humor was decent. Unfortunately, the story was so-so, Andre and Dexter's relationship didn't really work for me, and I was disappointed that HAL was ultimately unimportant, little more than another one of the story's many SFF references.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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