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The Beautiful Mind of Neural Networks

A “second-best” technology moves to the center of our lives

3 min read
Illustration: Greg Mably
Illustration: Greg Mably

I was telling someone how intelligent my dog was. He shrugged dismissively and said, “Dogs are just really good pattern detectors.”

Afterward, I looked at my dog a little differently. “Are you intelligent, or just a pattern detector?” I asked her. She just wagged her tail and said nothing, and I suppose that’s open to interpretation. She swims in a sea of data from vision, sounds, and smells. From this data, she forms a model of the world—a dog’s world, and one that is unknowable to us, and yet seems to have commonalities with our own. She knows the objects and inhabitants of her world and the patterns of everyday experience and she is keenly aware of any anomalies. I once heard a speaker on intellectual property say that “your dog knows where your property ends.” I’m not sure that my dog does, but if so, it would be an example of deriving an abstract rule from patterns of behavioral data.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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