Will AI become conscious any time soon?


We all know the classical Sci-Fi trope of intelligent machines becoming conscious and all the potential ramifications that could follow from there (free will, fighting their human creators, ethical dilemmas and so forth). Now, is this a realistic scenario? As a researcher in the area of AI (see e.g. So, what is AI really?), with a penchant for philosophy, I share my thoughts here with you, so read on!
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COVID-19 in the US: Back-of-the-Envelope Calculation of Actual Infections and Future Deaths


One of the biggest problems of the COVID-19 pandemic is that there are no reliable numbers of infections. This fact renders many model projections next to useless.

If you want to get to know a simple method how to roughly estimate the real number of infections and expected deaths in the US, read on!
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Collider Bias, or: Are Hot Babes Dim and Eggheads Ugly?


Correlation and its associated challenges don’t lose their fascination: most people know that correlation doesn’t imply causation, not many people know that the opposite is also true (see: Causation doesn’t imply Correlation either) and some know that correlation can just be random (so-called spurious correlation).

If you want to learn about a paradoxical effect nearly nobody is aware of, where correlation between two uncorrelated random variables is introduced just by sampling, read on!
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COVID-19: The Case of Germany

It is such a beautiful day outside, lot’s of sunshine, spring at last… and we are now basically all grounded and sitting here, waiting to get sick.

So, why not a post from the new epicentre of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Central Europe, more exactly where I live: Germany?! Indeed, if you want to find out what the numbers tell us how things might develop here, read on!
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The One Question you should ask your Partner before Marrying!


Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air… but, shock horror, nearly every second marriage ends in a divorce! Unfortunately, I can tell you first hand that this is an experience you’d rather not have. In this post, we see how data science, in the form of the OneR package and an interesting new data set, might potentially help you to avoid that tragedy… so read on!
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Epidemiology: How contagious is Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?


A new invisible enemy, only 30kb in size, has emerged and is on a killing spree around the world: 2019-nCoV, the Novel Coronavirus!

It has already killed more people than the SARS pandemic and its outbreak has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by the World Health Organization (WHO).

If you want to learn how epidemiologists estimate how contagious a new virus is and how to do it in R read on!
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Does Australia need More Fires (but the Right Kind)? A Multi-Agent Simulation


We have all watched with great horror the catastrophic fires in Australia. Over many years scientists have been studying simulations to understand the underlying dynamics better. They tell us, that “what Australia needs is more fires, but of the right kind”. What do they mean by that?

One such simulation of fire is based on Multi-Agent Systems (MAS), also called Agent-Based Modelling (ABM). An excellent piece of free software (and in fact the de facto standard) is NetLogo. Even better is that NetLogo can be fully controlled by R… and we will use this feature to learn some crucial lessons!

If you want to understand more about the dynamics of fire in particular and about some fascinating properties of dynamical systems in general via controlling NetLogo with R, read on!
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Create realistic-looking Islands with R


Modern movies use a lot of mathematics for their computer animations and CGI effects, one of them is what is known under the name fractals.

In this post, we will use this technique to create islands with coastlines that look extraordinarily realistic. If you want to do that yourself read on!
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Understanding Blockchain Technology by building one in R

By now you will know that it is a good tradition of this blog to explain stuff by rebuilding toy examples of it in R (see e.g. Understanding the Maths of Computed Tomography (CT) scans, So, what is AI really? or Google’s Eigenvector… or how a Random Surfer finds the most relevant Webpages). This time we will do the same for the hyped Blockchain technology, so read on!
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Cambridge Analytica: Microtargeting or How to catch voters with the LASSO


The two most disruptive political events of the last few years are undoubtedly the Brexit referendum to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump. Both are commonly associated with the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and a technique known as Microtargeting.

If you want to understand the data science behind the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal and Microtargeting (i.e. LASSO regression) by building a toy example in R read on!
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