I'm Alex Kearney, a PhD student studying Computer Science at the University of Alberta. I focus on Artificial Intelligence and Epistemology.

When I'm not playing with robots, I hang out with the indieweb community, drink tea, and scubadive.

What I did Sept 8 - 16th

  • Went to Amii's inaugural monthly AI tech meetup and chatted with a bunch of people.

  • Moved into the Amii office downtown.

  • Worked on my Camera-ready copy of my AAAI fall symposium paper.

  • Wrote a proposal for the Distinguished Lecturer Series.

  • Watched Christopher Robin.

  • Read Weapons of Math Destruction.

  • Harvested what was left of my garden.

  • Finished the skull on my sweater.

  • Made yogurt!


Are any #indieweb folks heading to #ghc2018 this year? If there's any interest, I'd love to have an ad-hoc homebrew website club!


At the wildly talented @melosare’s tech talk at @AmiiThinks #AI meetup. Learning about the promise and peril of #ml in medicine.

The room is absolutely heaving! It’s great to see so much interest in #yeg AI 😊 🤖


What I did Sep1 - Sep7

Indieweb-stuff:

  • Tried to federate my indiewebsite so that I could interact with mastodon through it (unsuccessfully)

  • Hacked together a websub hub which passes all of the websub.rocks tests.

  • Rebuilt large chunks of my site---particularly the back-end---so that the posting interface is nicer and easier to test.

  • Factored out my markdown albums, webmentioning, and hashtag extensions into separate repos which I can independently maintain.

  • Hooked up webmentions again so that I can see webmentions as part of an ongoing effort to improve usability of federation.

  • Hooked up in_reply_to again, so that I can send webmentions. This also lets me reply-tweet using brid.gy

  • Started posting albums and articles I'd held off on posting.

Reading:

  • Research proposals from different disciplines to figure out how I want to structure my candidacy document.

  • Bickhard's interactivism and process metaphysics

  • Anthony Chemero's take on representationalism

Other stuff

  • Karaoke 🎤
  • Symphony under the sky
  • Knitting an aran sweater I designed
  • Yoga 🧘


Important points about the value and importance of communication in research here.

Other additional factor to note:

  • spending time on outreach will necessarily mean less time on fundamental research. It’s a trade-off that needs to be appreciated more.

I often see this expectation that the people doing outreach and community coordination will just magically be able to do that and produce the same amount of work as people who aren’t taking on these other tasks. Eventually it just becomes expected that some of the students will take on these projects alongside their research responsibilities.

They get burnt out. They stop. The community goes through an outreach drought.

This happens a lot with minority students in STEM get tapped to do community outreach. It’s all good if you’re interested in community building, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to work on these issues. The effort should be recognized as coming at the expense of research.

Moreover, people leading diversity initiatives shouldn't feel entitled to minority student's time when it comes to contributing to diversity projects just because they're a minority. Too many times I see people working on these sorts of projects getting shoe-horned into the roles because they're in an under-represented group.

Even if students are interested in diversity projects, it becomes a balancing act in maintaining their academic reputation: the more they work on these community and diversity building initiatives, the less of a serious scientist they are to some people---even if they're a wildly talented researcher. This is a massive shame that holds the whole community back.


Deep Learning Summer School & Reinforcement Learning Summer School

Sights from DLLS & RLSS 2018 in Toronto.


MOMA with Kathy

Visited the MOMA in San Francisco with Kathy after Grad-CRAW


Grad-CRAW San Francisco


I got to drive in a Canadian #autonomouscar today! 🚘 🇨🇦 # sucansummit



Walking in Toronto


Art Gallery of Ontario


Swimming With the Fishes: Visiting Ripley's Aquarium


In Ann Arbour for #RLDM 👩🏼‍💻


Today in grad-school: robot tea parties.


Someone complimented me on my handshake: apparently it's the best in the room.


Where I'm living for the next two weeks. #yyc


That feeling when you finish a semester and get back to living like a real human being 💀✨


Today in grad-school: brains need 25 watts---the same amount as a light-bulb.


Today in grad-school: French robots reciting Asimov's laws of robotics.


Today in grad school: learning how to play poker really well.


Today in grad-school: students pretending to be dolphins to understand actor-critic reinforcement learning.


Things I did yesterday: throw a large number of pom-poms at my supervisor's head.


The lab telepresence robot is actually being used, and it's kind of weird.

The robot sways to give a life-like sense to the speaker, but it still feels like they're a disembodied head.