Life Bits

A grab bag of terms floating in the techno-ether.

3 min read

Photo: Brian Stauffer

I've had the pleasure of working with Gordon Bell through the years. He has earned my respect and admiration with accomplishments such as leading the development of Digital Equipment Corp.'s VAX computer and shepherding the Internet at the U.S. National Science Foundation during a critical time in its maturation. Now he has gained a new and unique status in my eyes as the guinea pig in a fascinating experiment at Microsoft Corp.'s Media Presence Research Group in San Francisco, called MyLifeBits. It is an attempt to record digitally everything that Gordon reads, types, and hears, as well as a lot of what he sees.

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read
Image of a computer rendering.

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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