Sunday Links

  • Writing about writing about writing about language: John McWhorter helps kick off Vox’s new “Big Idea” section with a review of Tom Wolfe’s evaluation of Chomskyan linguistics. This is a nice opinionated summary of a decades-long debate.
  • C.A.R. Hoare reflects on software engineering experiences in “The Emperor’s Old Clothes”:
    Our main failure was overambition. "The goals which we have attempted have obviously proved to be far beyond our grasp." ... What was amazing was that a large team of highly intelligent programmers could labor so hard and so long on such an unpromising project. You know, you shouldn’t trust us intelligent programmers. We can think up such good arguments for convincing ourselves and each other of the utterly absurd. Especially don’t believe us when we promise to repeat an earlier success, only bigger and better next time.
  • Debugging machine learning.
  • What’s going on in my head when I’m thinking of an image?