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Interview: Ask CEO Anant Agarwal About edX and the Future of Online Education 55

Anant Agarwal is a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the CEO of edX. A massive open online course platform founded by MIT and Harvard, edX offers numerous courses on a wide variety of subjects. As of 2014 edX had more than 4 million students taking more than 500 courses online. The organization has developed open-source software called Open edX that powers edX courses and is freely available online. Mr. Agarwal has agreed to take some time out of his schedule and answer your questions about edX and the future of learning. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Interviews: Ask David Peterson About Inventing Languages 87

samzenpus writes: David J. Peterson is a language creator and author. He created the Dothraki and Valyrian languages for HBO's Game of Thrones, and more recently has created languages for the CW's The 100 and MTV's The Shannara Chronicles. His new book, The Art of Language Invention, details how to create a new language from scratch, and goes over some of the specific choices he made in creating the languages for Game of Thrones and Syfy's Defiance. David has agreed to give us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil a question 174

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading authors, inventors, and futurists. Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Among Kurzweil’s many honors, he received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in the field of music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. He has given us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Interviews: Ask Attorney and Author Mike Godwin a Question 83

Mike Godwin worked as the first staff counsel of the EFF and served as general counsel for the Wikimedia Foundation. He has been a contributing editor of Reason magazine and was elected to the Open Source Initiative board in 2011. Mike is probably best known however for coining the internet adage Godwin's Law. He is currently general counsel and director of innovation policy at the R Street Institute. Mike has given us some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question (and one comparison involving Nazis or Hitler) per post.

Interviews: Ask Stack Overflow Co-Founder Jeff Atwood a Question 129

Jeff Atwood is an author, entrepreneur, and software developer. He runs the popular programming blog Coding Horror and is the co-founder of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network. In early 2012 he decided to leave Stack Exchange so he could spend more time with his family. A year later he announced his new company the Civilized Discourse Construction Kit, Inc. and the Discourse open-source discussion platform which aims to improve conversations on the internet. Jeff has agreed to give some of his time to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Interviews: Ask Mathematician Neil Sloane a Question 189

Considered by many to be one of the most influential mathematicians alive today, Neil Sloane has made major contributions to the fields of sphere packing, combinatorics, and error-correcting codes. He is probably best known for being the creator and curator of the On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS), known simply as “Sloane” by its many users. The repository is over 50 years old and contains over 260,000 sequences.

Neil recently turned 76 but his passion for mathematics remains as strong as ever. Talking about a recent project, he writes: “Back in September I was looking at an old sequence in the OEIS. The sequence starts 1, 12, 123, 1234, 12345, ..., 123456789, 12345678910, 1234567891011, ... The n-th term: just write all the decimal numbers from 1 to n in a row and think of this as a big number. The entry for the sequence had a comment that it is expected that there are infinitely many terms which are primes, but that no prime was known, even though Dana Jaconsen had checked the first 64,000 terms. So I asked various friends and correspondents about this, and people extended the search somewhat. In fact Ernst Mayer has set up a cloud-source project to look for primes in the sequence, and the sequence has now been checked to nearly n = 270,000 without finding a prime. But I am hopeful that a prime will appear before we get to n = 10^6. When a prime is found, as it surely will be, it probably won't be the largest prime known, but it will be close to the record (which is held by the latest Mersenne prime). We may make it into the top ten. It will certainly be the largest known prime which is easy to write down! (Explicitly, I mean. You may know that 2^32582657-1 is prime, but you won't be able to write down the decimal expansion without using a computer).”

Neil has agreed to take some time away from his favorite sequences and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

Interviews: Ask Alan Donovan and Brian Kernighan About Programming and Go 185

Alan Donovan is a member of Google’s Go team in New York and holds computer science degrees from Cambridge and MIT. Since 2005, he has worked at Google on infrastructure projects and was the co-designer of its proprietary build system, Blaze. Brian Kernighan is a professor in the Computer Science Department at Princeton University. He was a member of technical staff in the Computing Science Research Center at Bell Labs, where he worked on languages and tools for Unix. He is the co-author of several books, including The C Programming Language, and The Practice of Programming. Recently, the pair have co-authored a soon to be released book titled The Go Programming Language. Alan and Brian have agreed to give us some of their time to answer any questions you may have about the upcoming book, Go, and programming in general. Ask as many questions as you'd like, but please keep them to one per post.

Interviews: Ask John McAfee About His Presidential Run 157

samzenpus writes: He's run a multi-billion dollar company and hidden in the jungles of Central America while being chased by Belizean authorities, but John McAfee's presidential bid may be his most interesting adventure yet. Last week John said: "Our government is in a dysfunctional state. It is also illiterate when it comes to technology. Technology is not a tool that should be used for a government to invade our privacy. Technology should not be the scapegoat when we fail to protect our digital assets and tools of commerce. These are matters of priorities," when announcing his run. According to his Cyber Party website: "Donkeys and elephants just don't make sense in the modern world. If the federal bureaucracy adopts technology in a meaningful way, it will become much easier to adapt to changes in policy or procedure. 10 hour long congressional hearings will no longer be needed for a simple change in workflow. By adapting a lean approach to government, the amount of savings that can be realized by improved efficiency will eliminate the need for wholesale changes to foundational policies. Other parties consistently lag behind trends in technology – Cyber Party members are committed to staying ahead of the curve and remaining proactive in policymaking." John has agreed to answer any questions you have about his step into politics or any other questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
GNU is Not Unix

Interviews: RMS Answers Your Questions 246

The Free Software Foundation will be celebrating its 30th anniversary on Oct. 3rd. Recently, you had a chance to ask its founder Richard Stallman about GNU/Linux, free software, and other issues of public concern. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. Learn more about how you can join the FSF here, and help fight the good fight.

Interviews: Ask Dr. Tarek Loubani About Creating Ultra-Low Cost Medical Devices 54

Tarek Loubani is an emergency medicine physician who works as a consultant doctor in the emergency departments in London, Canada and Shifa Hospital in Gaza. He is also an assistant professor at the Department of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario. Tarek has been working in Gaza for the past 5 years, where he made news recently by creating a 3D-printable, 30-cent stethoscope that is better than the world's best $200 equivalent. The need to develop free and open medical devices due to the lack of medical supplies resulting from the blockade, inspired Loubani who hopes the stethoscope is just the beginning of replacing expensive proprietary medical tools. Tarek has agreed to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.

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