Week notes: 13 Oct 2021
Once again, it’s been a while since I last updated my list of interesting things I’ve been reading about. And I’ve been in hospital briefly for a scheduled op, which means that I am in a recovery period now, but has given me a little bit more time for catching up on my list.
- I finished Prof. Melanie Mitchell’s Artificial Intelligence - A Guide for Thinking Humans If you’re struck by the punniness of the title, and think that it sounds a bit Douglas Hofstadter, that’s not a coincidence. Prof Mitchell was a PhD student in Hofstadter’s research group, having first fallen in love with Gödel, Escher, Bach (didn’t we all? I certainly did). But this book, while it touches on analogies and reasoning a bit, is mostly a lively overview of the current state of deep learning, and why it’s going to be hard for DL systems to transcend their task-centric boundaries to achieve generalised intelligence. I really enjoyed the book, and wholeheartedly recommend it.
- I know a lot of programming languages, but I haven’t built that many full-scale Python apps. So I want to know a bit more about how to write really good Python code. That’s ostensibly the premise of Dmitry Zinoviev’s Pythonic Programming. It was … OK, but it’s no Eloquent Ruby or Confident Ruby. Those books try hard to instil the actual principles of good Ruby code, whereas Zinoviev’s book is a collection of 100 tips that attempt to convey something of what constitutes the Pythonic way. It’s not bad, and I certainly did learn some things. But I also found myself wanting something a little more principled. And I’m afraid I do disagree with a small number of the tips!
- I enjoyed hearing Michele Hansen on the IndieHackers podcast, so I bought a copy of her book Deploy Empathy. It’s a collection of tips and suggestions for doing better customer research during product development. I’m only part-way through so far, but enjoying it.