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A Mind at Play, book review: The life and work of information theory's founding father

ZDNet

Imagine a drunk stumbling down the street. We can't predict exactly when or in what direction they will stumble, but it doesn't take long for us to be able to predict with a high degree of accuracy where they're trying to go. We can also predict with some confidence that if there are lamp posts along the route, the drunk will likely navigate toward them. This is one of the analogies Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman use to explain information theory in A Mind at Play, the excellent new biography of information age founder Claude Shannon. Like all the best science writing, their explanation of Shannon's groundbreaking work is a deceptively simple read.


How Information Got Re-Invented - Issue 51: Limits

Nautilus

With his marriage to Norma Levor over, Claude Shannon was a bachelor again, with no attachments, a small Greenwich Village apartment, and a demanding job. His evenings were mostly his own, and if there's a moment in Shannon's life when he was at his most freewheeling, this was it. He kept odd hours, played music too loud, and relished the New York jazz scene. He went out late for raucous dinners and dropped by the chess clubs in Washington Square Park. He rode the A train up to Harlem to dance the jitterbug and take in shows at the Apollo. He went swimming at a pool in the Village and played tennis at the courts along the Hudson River's edge. Once, he tripped over the tennis net, fell hard, and had to be stitched up. His home, on the third floor of 51 West Eleventh Street, was a small New York studio. "There was a bedroom on the way to the bathroom. It was a boardinghouse ... it was quite romantic," recalled Maria Moulton, the downstairs neighbor. Perhaps somewhat predictably, Shannon's space was a mess: dusty, disorganized, with the guts of a large music player he had taken apart strewn about on the center table. "In the winter it was cold, so he took an old piano he had and chopped it up and put it in the fireplace to get some heat." His fridge was mostly empty, his record player and clarinet among the only prized possessions in the otherwise spartan space. Claude's apartment faced the street. The same apartment building housed Claude Levi-Strauss, the great anthropologist. Later, Levi-Strauss would find that his work was influenced by the work of his former neighbor, though the two rarely interacted while under the same roof. Though the building's live-in super and housekeeper, Freddy, thought Shannon morose and a bit of a loner, Shannon did befriend and date his neighbor Maria. They met when the high volume of his music finally forced her to knock on his door; a friendship, and a romantic relationship, blossomed from her complaint. Maria encouraged him to dress up and hit the town.


A 'Brief' History of Game AI Up To AlphaGo, Part 1

#artificialintelligence

This is the first part of'A Brief History of Game AI Up to AlphaGo'. Part 2 is here and part 3 is here. In this part, we shall cover the birth of AI and the very first game-playing AI programs to run on digital computers. On March 9th of 2016, a historic milestone for AI was reached when the Google-engineered program AlphaGo defeated the world-class Go champion Lee Sedol. Go is a two-player strategy board game like Chess, but the larger number of possible moves and difficulty of evaluation make Go the harder problem for AI.


A 'Brief' History of Game AI Up To AlphaGo, Part 1

#artificialintelligence

This is the first part of'A Brief History of Game AI Up to AlphaGo'. Part 2 is here and part 3 is here. In this part, we shall cover the birth of AI and the very first game-playing AI programs to run on digital computers. On March 9th of 2016, a historic milestone for AI was reached when the Google-engineered program AlphaGo defeated the world-class Go champion Lee Sedol. Go is a two-player strategy board game like Chess, but the larger number of possible moves and difficulty of evaluation make Go the harder problem for AI.


A 'Brief' History of Game AI Up To AlphaGo, Part 1

#artificialintelligence

This is the first part of'A Brief History of Game AI Up to AlphaGo'. Part 2 is here and part 3 is here. In this part, we shall cover the birth of AI and the very first game-playing AI programs to run on digital computers. On March 9th of 2016, a historic milestone for AI was reached when the Google-engineered program AlphaGo defeated the world-class Go champion Lee Sedol. Go is a two-player strategy board game like Chess, but the larger number of possible moves and difficulty of evaluation make Go the harder problem for AI.