Sunday, June 07, 2009

CMU ahead of the curve again

I just listened to Obama's speech in Cairo from last week: with all the noise about it, I haven't heard anything posted about what I thought was the most interesting bit:

And this is important because no development strategy can be based only upon what comes out of the ground, nor can it be sustained while young people are out of work. Many Gulf states have enjoyed great wealth as a consequence of oil, and some are beginning to focus it on broader development. But all of us must recognize that education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century -- (applause) -- and in too many Muslim communities, there remains underinvestment in these areas. I'm emphasizing such investment within my own country. And while America in the past has focused on oil and gas when it comes to this part of the world, we now seek a broader engagement.

On education, we will expand exchange programs, and increase scholarships, like the one that brought my father to America. (Applause.) At the same time, we will encourage more Americans to study in Muslim communities. And we will match promising Muslim students with internships in America; invest in online learning for teachers and children around the world; and create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo.

On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.

On science and technology, we will launch a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs. We'll open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops. Today I'm announcing a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference to eradicate polio. And we will also expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health.

This was the closing portion of the speech, so maybe everyone else flamed out with indignation at something or other before it...but it was also by far the most concrete proposal. Sounds like CMU in Qatar is way ahead of the curve here.....

Friday, June 05, 2009

Google squared

Matt Hurst published some results today of some of his own experiments with Google^2.  It's kind of interesting to compare Google^2 to SEAL, which has more limited goals (it doesn't try and find attributes).   I don't think either one is clearly superior, from my trials, but it seems like SEAL does quite well comparatively.

Matt's first query, "small boats" gives mediocre results for Google^2, but SEAL gives

which is quite decent (modulo kayak and kayaks being the same).  "Sailing boats" gives spottier results in SEAL:

SEAL's result for "netbooks" is great, except "linux" creeps in somewhere in the top 30 results...

"Scottish regions" gives mostly cities in SEAL (like in Google^2), to the extent that I can recognize what it gives.  Matt's next queries are:

Test 5: ‘british overseas territories’ – SEAL gives a very reasonable list, as does Google^2, according to Matt.

Test 6: ‘plants native to the pacific northwest’ – Matt rates Google^2 as "very poor {gardening, botany, Hardcover, Your account, Add your first tag, Share your own customer images, paperback)".  SEAL starts with "Trees, Plant nursery, Washington" and then goes downhill....but it at least knows that it didn't find much and tells you that the list has low confidence.

Test 7: ‘novels of o’brian’ – excellent results from Google^2, and mediocre low-confidence results from SEAL.

Test 8: ‘jedi masters’ – Matt's comments for Google^2 is "oops {Obi-Wan kenobi, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Mace Windu, Star Wars Episode VI:return of the jedi, Jedi Temple, Kit Fisto, Younglings}".  SEAL gives

#Found Items
1Mace Windu
2Obi-Wan Kenobi
3Luke Skywalker
5Qui-Gon Jinn
7Shaak Ti
8Jedi Council
9Plo Koon
10Saesee Tiin

Nice, except for #8, but why is Mace-Windu first? still, this is pretty good.

Test 9: ‘movies of brad pitt’ – Google^2 gets "not bad, a reasonable list of movies with Director and Language fields. Note that it doesn’t attempt to normalize ‘USA’ and ‘United States’ suggesting that the system uses very superficial representations internally."  SEAL gets poor results, with a low-confidence warning.

Test 10: ‘progressive rock bands’ – Google^2 gets a "fail" from Matt.  SEAL gets

#Found Items
2Pink Floyd
3King Crimson
6Jethro Tull
7Gentle Giant
8Dream Theater
10Van Der Graaf Generator
13The Beatles
14Porcupine Tree
15Procol Harum
17Frank Zappa
18Led Zeppelin
20Art rock
21The Moody Blues
22Deep Purple
24Tangerine Dream
25The Mars Volta
26Punk rock
27Progressive metal
28Classical music
29The Wall
30Symphonic rock