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07 March
2010

The main reviewing periods for Robotics Science and Systems (RSS) and for the Conference on Computer and Robot Vision (CRV) are both done. RSS is not the the reviewers response phase to be followed by discussions and an Area Chairs meeting in LA at the end of the month. CRV reviews are being processed and I am guessing (without specific knowledge) that missing reviews are being beaten out of late reviewers. For CRV my job is kind of done, but for RSS as as Area Chair there is a lot to do, greatly compounded by some taxing work at McGill and at home. The RSS process will probably be harsh since there were a lot of papers this year.

This year I did not do grant reviewing for NSERC, which would have been too much. That review process is complete too and the applicants should get there news shortly, once it is approved by the Canadian Treasury department and whomever else.


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
08 June
2010

I was awarded a prize from the Canadian Image Processing and Pattern Recognition Society at the annual CRV conference. Thanks!


Me and my plaque


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
16 June
2010

Last week I was in London, England with my daughter and we had a chance to visit the British Museum. It is, of course, an exceptional cross section of the human civilization. What of the great aspects of the collections are their breadth: the way you can compare and contrast are creations of different civilizations that are greatly separated by time and geography. For example we visited the Elgin marbles from ancient Greece, and then almost immediately afterwards went to see a collection of Chinese Buddhas and then, on the way out, I had a chance to look at one of the heads from Easter Island.

During the visit I was struck by two obvious realizations. Firstly, there is both a huge diversity, variety and depth of feeling that various civilizations have been able to express in their artworks. Even though the subject matter at hand is often the same, different cultures have managed to depict is highly characteristic ways. Even one civilizations are closely related and intentionally use the same expressive forms, as with Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, the individual nature of the local context is irrepressible. Much like different people interpreting a Rorschach, each civilization cannot help but leave it's own unique signature.

Secondly, the immense productivity and impact of our current technological civilization are totally out of keeping with everything that has come before. Not only has our current phase been amazing brief so far, but the extent of its impact is completely off the scale in every possible measure. We all know there are been immense technological chance in the last hundred years, but seeing the artifact of one long-lived civilization after another provides tremendous emphasis to how weird and anomalous the last hundred years have been. It's not just technology, but the nature of what we are now producing that is so different.

In some ways a species is defined not merely by its genome (DNA) or phenotype, but by the information matrix is carries along with it. For many species this matrix of ideas, behaviors and thoughts is encoded in DNA and constantly rebuilt (for example, with ants). For some non-human species, there are substantive cultural characteristics that are passed from parent to child, as with some hunting animals of chimpanzee clans. It is similarly easy to imagine that if true machine intelligence is every achieved, then the information matrix that defines it will be the primal characteristic of a species, just as it defines the distinction between Microsoft Word versus Apple's iPhoto. For humans today, it seems we have crossed a barrier between a state where the information binding us was evanescent, as with ants, to a very different mode of existence where our species has been redefined by a combination of physical form and information state.

Mummy at the British Museum
Mummy at the British Museum



By Gregory Dudek at | Read (1) or Leave a comment |    
15 August
2010

The perseid meteor shower had ideal conditions this year: clear skys, almost no moon, and bearable temperatures. Unfortunately, we saw only a small number of meteors, but the overall viewing conditions make the experience nonetheless very pleasant.

I've been on holiday, but planned to do some work while away. My laptop broken irreparably on the second day, however. While it has been somewhat inconvenient, it has made for a superlative vacation in terms of stress relief and relaxation. All the better to stay up watching the stars.


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
31 August
2010

I gave up my cell phone plan close to a year ago, and rarely regret it. The companies that provide cell service in Canada, and most of the US, are despicable money grubbing monstrosities. Despite the chronically awful customer service, Canadians have become accustomed to paying outrageous prices for cellular service; some of the highest in the world. We are gradually moving back to a mediaeval systems where workers pay a substantial fraction of their salary as a tithe and are never able to get out of debt.

Worse yet, the cell companies (and some ISPs) often impose ridiculous and essentially untenable terms of service. I happen to have looked at some of the terms from Rogers.com today and was disheartened to see how crazy their terms had become.


The Acceptable Use Policy at https://www.rogers.com/cms/pdf/en/Unified_AUP_Eng.pdf sets out some very arbitrary restrictions of what you can do with a cell phone if you get service fro them. For example


  • You may not "attempt to use the Services in such a manner so as to avoid incurring charges for usage." hah! no waiting until evening to make a call because it's cheaper, no looking at your watch to see how long you have been on the phone, no making a call on a land line to be economical, I guess!

  • You may not "use, reproduce, distribute, sell, resell or otherwise exploit the Services or content we provide or which you obtain through the Services for any commercial purposes." No making arrangements to go to work, sell a book on craigslist, or arrange to do babysitting -- that would all be a commercial purpose. Where to they get off proscribing this stuff?

  • They reserve the right to remove any content they like at their sole discretion.


It goes on and on. They have set themselves up to do what they bloody-well like.

At least in Quebec (which has a great consumer protection act) there are some restrictions on how their terms of service cannot change at any time, but elsewhere they can redefine the terms at their discretion irrespective of what they were when you agreed to your contract (see https://www.rogers.com/cms/pdf/en/TOS_Eng.pdf ).

There is hardly any need for a legal system, and this is very serious since the services provided by a few such companies determine our ability to function in today's society. Where are the regulatory agencies? This is madness. This awful evil company and its ilk need to be brought under control.

By Gregory Dudek at | Read (1) or Leave a comment |    
17 October
2010

The evidence that Canada's foreign affairs minister is a buffoon became incontestable and utterly embarrassing this week. I rarely comment on politics here, but this time I could not resist. Canada lost an election at the UN for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council this week, the first time ever. Our Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon attributed it solely to tangential comments made in the Canadian media by the leader of the political opposition party (Michael Ignatieff) and "denied any knowledge that other issues might have played a role" [ Globe and Mail 15/10/19]. This bizarre, and in my opinion, unbelievably disingenuous assertion was made at a time when the bloom was off Canada's rose at the UN for all the following reasons: African UN ambassadors criticized Canada's comments regarding the UN Relief Agency (we said it aided terrorism), they complained about our position on international debt relief, we reneged on global health promises, Canada has been oppositional in getting an international agreement on global warming, and the UAE was actively campaigning against our getting a security council seat because we exhibited protectionist policies in our airline industry (at the expense of consumers).

How dumb and clued-out can a Foreign Affairs Minster be? It's not that I think missing out on the security council is such a disaster, or that our policies are necessarily wrong, it the "explanation" that rankles. Is our minister a liar who has no clue how to even come close to telling the truth, or is he just just too foolhardy, thoughtless and uninformed to realize how the world works, or is there some other more bizarre explanation for these comments? My guess is that he may suffer from multiple deficiencies at once since he not only uttered such embarrassing statements, but also let our foreign affairs situation degenerate this badly in the first place. How sad. If Canada wants to do better our dog Schnoodle might be willing to give the job a shot. He won't do a thing and probably won't ever show up at his office, but at least he won't lie or actively tarnish our reputation, or raise false expectations.


By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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