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Posted By Peter Bentley
Another week and another mention in New Scientist. After the review for my latest book Digitized last week, the work of myself and colleague Soo Ling Lim is featured as lead technology story this week. Paul Marks wrote a nice story describing our ALife model AppEco. He focusses on our forthcoming paper for GECCO 2012, where we explore which app developer strategies might be more successful than others. If you're wondering what the answer is - I'm afraid it depends on what everyone else is doing at the time... But in general the app store settles down into a stable state all by itself, with the more dodgy strategies (copying the successful apps of others, or milking a single idea endlessly) tend to be in the minority compared to more imaginative strategies (optimizing good ideas or innovating new concepts). So in general we found that it's better to innovate or optimize than be a milker or a copycat. Which is just as well, because Apple specifically has clauses in the developer agreement which are designed to discourage milkers and copycats.

It's an interesting piece of work and I enjoyed helping Soo Ling create the model. We're still working on it, and are looking at the effects of publicity strategies, different charts, and all kinds of other things...

The article is available online here, or below if you want a quick view.


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
A month or two ago I was asked to give a list of my favourite books to be featured in the Expert Bookshelf in BBC Focus Magazine. It's part of the publicity we're drumming up for my new book Digitized. It was a difficult task to choose. I get most pleasure from reading science fiction, but here I decided to focus (mainly) on non-fiction. Although I'm a computer scientist my favourite books are not really just about computers - the books that I think have been most influential in my research and in my field tend to be those that give us a new perspective on what we do. After some thought, I came up with this list:

The Blind Watchmaker - Dawkins inspired a whole generation of computer scientists and artists with this work, which even included output from a computer program he had written to evolve forms.

Evolutionary Art and Computers - William Latham and Stephen Todd showed just how powerful evolution in computers can be. This book inspired me personally through my early career.

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. David Eagleman. A quirky but fascinating view of life and death, which includes some science fiction and computer-enabled afterlives.

Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI (Bradford Books). Rodney Brooks helped change the way we approach Artificial Intelligence by thinking about emergence, bottom up processes instead of engineered, top down intelligence.

The Unnatural Nature of Science. Lewis Wolpert - Like all his books, this is a joy to read. It's also a fascinating exploration of what science is and is not. To a computer scientist this is essential reading, for Lewis explores the difference between science and technology - a topic often confused in my field!

In their wisdom, the BBC Focus folks decided to focus on three. They rang me for an interview (my words may be online somewhere as a podcast as well). This article was the result:


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
On Monday my new book Digitized was launched in Waterstones, Gower St., in an event kindly sponsored by UCL CS and supported by my publisher OUP. We had a good turnout with Peter Kirstein and many other "names" from the world of computer science coming along to participate in the event. We sold a few and I signed several for those who bought theirs on the day. A number of the researchers that I interviewed in the book were also able to come along, which was very nice.