Computer-generated fake papers are flooding academia

This story is all over the Internet, even making the Guardian newspaper. I’m not entirely sure I agree with the statement that fake papers are “flooding” academia, but nonetheless it is worrying that bogus papers are being published by reputable publishers like Springer and the IEEE. However, in their defense these organisations/publishers do delegate the decisions on academic quality to individual conference chairs and programme committees. It’s also not true that conferences with poor or negligible standards are just restricted to China. In 2004 I had two MSc students write and submit papers to a conference taking place in Wellington, New Zealand (KES2004). The students’ work was not very good and the papers they wrote were quite unexceptional and I fully expected that they would be duly rejected. I thought the rejection would be a good learning experience for the students and may encourage them to work harder in future; both were somewhat arrogant.
    I was very surprised, and slightly mortified, when both papers were accepted by the conference. My name was on these papers as co-author and knew them to be substandard. Nonetheless, I thought that attending the conference might be a good experience for the students. When they returned I was very surprised to see that the conference proceedings, published by Springer in their LNCS series, ran to two volumes of 600+ pages each. Nowhere in the proceeding’s introduction did it say how many papers were submitted for review and what percentage were accepted. This conference series, run by a respected UK academic, seemed like a vanity publishing project to me.

from The Universal Machine


The IT History Society

If you have an interest in computing and its history you may be interested in joining the IT History Society, or just using its digital archives. Dedicated to preserving IT history the IT History Society (ITHS) is “an international group of over 600 members working together to document, preserve, catalog, and research the history of Information Technology (IT). Comprised of individuals, academicians, corporate archivists, curators of public institutions, and hobbyists.” Its online resources include:

  • A global network of IT historians and archivists
  • Our exclusive International Database of Historical and Archival Sites
  • IT Honor Roll of people who have made a noteworthy contribution to the industry
  • IT Hardware and Companies databases
  • Research links and tools to aid in the preservation of IT history
  • Technology Quotes
  • Calendar of upcoming events
  • An active blog
  • And more

from The Universal Machine

Common Lisp: The Untold Story

Lisp is a remarkable programming language with a very long history; part of which is described in this republished paper published in Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Lisp, edited by Charlotte Herzeel, the conference record of Lisp50 @ OOPSLA’08 (Nashville, Tennessee, USA, 2008). That collection is available through the ACM Digital Library. If you love Lisp you’ll enjoy this, and if you’ve never heard of Lisp you learn something – enjoy.

from The Universal Machine

Why Watson and Siri Are Not Real AI

A recent article from Popular Mechanics 

raises the common argument that what people call AI actually isn’t AI. This argument is based on John Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment in which he clearly demonstrates that computers just manipulate symbols. They do not, cannot, ane never will understand what those symbols mean. However, Alan Turing, the father of AI, never claimed that machines would understand. His test for machine intelligence, now called the Turing Test, he originally called “the imitation game.” He envisaged that computers would “imitate” intelligence not be intelligent in the sense that we are. Read the Popuar Mechanics article but keep this in mind – it’s ok for computers to imitate intelligence using different techiques to people just as it’s ok for planes to fly without flapping their wings like birds.

from The Universal Machine

This day in computing history

Thomas J. Watson Sr. was born. A shrewd businessman, Watson started his career as a cash register salesman, eventually taking the helm of IBM and directing it to world leadership in punch card equipment sales. Watson died in 1956 and control of IBM passed on to his son, Thomas Watson, Jr. brought IBM into the electronic age and, after several bold financial risks, to dominance in the computer industry.

from The Universal Machine

Turing’s Halting Problem

Wired recently published an excellent article on Turing’s Halting Problem (including the humorous poem SCOOPING THE LOOP SNOOPER that describes it). As Aatish Bhatia says: “Computers can drive cars, land a rover on Mars, and beat humans at Jeopardy. But do you ever wonder if there’s anything that a computer can never do?Well there is – solve the Halting Problem.

from The Universal Machine

Facebook at 10: Zuckerberg hails ‘incredible journey’

You can’t have missed all the coverage of Facebook’s 10th birthday in the media. If you stop and think it really is a remarkable story; from a University dorm room to a profitable global service with more 1.2 billion monthly active users. This article in The Telegraph sums it up well.

from The Universal Machine