• Do LLMs understand their output?
    You will often read statements to the effect “LLMs do not understand what they produce as output”. My controversial view is that, in a way, we do not understand what we are saying. Consider this. When we speak words flow from us in a stream without ratiocination, that is, straight from our neural network. If stopped and asked to justify what we have said we are able to create a … Continue reading
  • Improving Large Language Models
    The rules of syntax are well known but the rules of semantics (beyond predicate calculus) are not and this limits the capability of Large Language Models (LLMs). My PhD thesis, “A Conversation Problem Solving System Represented as Procedures with Natural Language Conceptual Structure” ( attempted to approach this problem. It was based on the early work of Roger Schank ( on “Primitive Concepts Underlying Verbs of Thought” ( explained more … Continue reading
  • Ancient Egyptian Art
     The ancient Egyptian civilisation lasted for over 3,000 years. In fact, we are today nearer in time to Cleopatra than she was the the building of the pyramids. The enormous timescale can be subdivided into the: Early Dynastic period (c. 3150-2613 BCE) Old Kingdom (c. 2613-2181 BCE) First Intermediate Period (2181-2040 BCE) Middle Kingdom (2040-1782 BCE) Second Intermediate Period (c. 1782-1570 BCE) New Kingdom (c. 1570-1069 BCE) Third Intermediate … Continue reading
  • William Beechey, ‘Portrait of Sir Francis Ford’s Children Giving a Coin to a Beggar Boy’, exhibited 1793
    The 1790s were a time when society and the arts debated the relative merits of good sense and reason as opposed to sensibility. ‘Sensibility’ was a heightened awareness of beauty and deep feelings. Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811 and was set in the same decade as this painting. We see this heightened sense of feeling takes the form of a fashionably dressed girl and her brother … Continue reading
  • Thomas Gainsborough, ‘Giovanna Baccelli’, 1782
    If you have visited Knole House near Sevenoaks, Kent, then you might have noticed a nude woman reclining on a chaise longue at the bottom of the stairs. This is a sculpture of Giovanna Baccelli by Giovanni Battista Locatelli. Baccelli was principal ballerina at the King’s Theatre Haymarket and mistress of John Frederick Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset, the owner of Knole. He was a handsome, extravagant man with a … Continue reading
  • Artificial Intelligence and Go
    Go is the oldest game in existence, it was invented in China 2,500 years ago. The rules are simple but the strategic thinking required to play well led many people to claim that a world-class human player would never be beaten by a computer. However, in 2016 one of the best Go players in the world was beaten by a computer program called AlphaGo. AlphaGo is an example of Artificial … Continue reading
  • ‘A Stroll Through Tate Britain’ extended
    The Hampton course ‘A Stroll Through Tate Britain’ has been extended by a week to 6 December 2017. Apologies but I had to cancel the class on 11 October because of a slipped disk.
  • Bruce Nauman
    I just gave my first tour of the Bruce Nauman gallery at Tate Modern. The tour went well and my guide notes can be found at
  • Sonnet 116
    William Shakespeare Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no; it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests, and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks … Continue reading
  • Sea Fever
    John Masefield (1878-1967), Poet Laureate 1930-1967, from Salt-Water Ballads (1902) I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by; And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking, And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking, I must go down to … Continue reading
  • Do not go gentle into that good night
    Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), originally published 1951 Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night. Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds … Continue reading
  • The Fermi Paradox
    The Fermi paradox is the puzzling conflict between the high likelihood of finding alien life or signs of alien life on earth and the fact that we have found none. There are many explanations for this discrepancy (see Wikipedia Fermi paradox) but they ignore one important factor—self-replicating spacecraft. If we could build a spacecraft that made a copy of itself after it had landed then it can be shown that our … Continue reading
  • Blue and Black Dress or White and Gold, an Explanation
    Some people see this dress as white and gold and others see it as blue and black. The dress is actually blue and black but this is irrelevant as the key question is why do some people see the dress in this photograph as one combination of colours and other people see it as another combination? The best explanation I have found is that we have all evolved to remove the … Continue reading