137 episodes

We make software-related technical topics intelligible. We aim to help you develop an intuitive understanding of each subject, instead of emphasizing formal definitions. Join us as we learn about the wide world of software.

Kopec Explains Software David Kopec, Rebecca Kopec

    • Education
    • 5.0 • 28 Ratings

We make software-related technical topics intelligible. We aim to help you develop an intuitive understanding of each subject, instead of emphasizing formal definitions. Join us as we learn about the wide world of software.

    What is Machine Learning?

    What is Machine Learning?

    Machine Learning is a discipline within the broader field of Artificial Intelligence concerned with using insights from datasets to make predictions, classify new data points, and generate content. The algorithms used vary greatly in complexity and the real world applications that they are applicable to. Instead of concentrating on any particular algorithm, in this episode we aim to provide a broad understanding of machine learning and what it is used for. We also discuss bias in datasets and some common misconceptions.

    You may want to listen to our prior episode on Artificial Intelligence before diving into this episode.

    Show Notes

    Episode 13: Artificial Intelligence
    Episode 103: Expert Systems: A Forgotten Area of AI
    The Classic Computer Science Problems Book Series by David
    The Hundred-Page Machine Learning Book by Andriy Burkov

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    • 22 min
    Abandonware

    Abandonware

    Abandonware is old software that is no longer commercially available. It's not a legal term, and in fact it's not legal to download most of the software that is termed "abandonware." In this episode we explain what abandonware is, the different legal situations that old software finds itself in, and we discuss whether or not downloading abandonware is ethical.

    Show Notes

    Episode 10: What is an Emulator?
    Episode 26: Napster

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    • 19 min
    Grace Hopper

    Grace Hopper

    Grace Hopper is one of the most iconic people in the world of software. Her career as a mathematician, software innovator, computer science advocate, programmer, and technical leader spanned the early era of computing through to the 1990s. One of the first notable computer programmers, Hopper developed the first programming text book, one of the first compilers, and perhaps most importantly she was the visionary who ideated and developed the first programming language with an English-like syntax. That programming language, FLOW-MATIC, was instrumental in the later development of COBOL, which she advised. COBOL is still used to this day. Her contributions were immense and her legacy has been honored by multiple national awards and the naming of the largest conference for women in software.

    Show Notes

    Harvard IBM Mark I - Manual via Harvard
    The Queen of Code via YouTube
    Grace Hopper: The Math Genius who Taught Computers to Talk via Fierce
    Grace Hopper: Full lecture at the University of Tennessee, 1983 via YouTube
    Grace Hopper via Wikipedia
    FLOW-MATIC via Wikipedia
    Episode 11: What is a Programming Language?
    Episode 87: Compilers and Interpreters
    Episode 129: BASIC

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    • 19 min
    BASIC

    BASIC

    The creation of BASIC was one of the most important steps in the democratization of computing. BASIC, coupled with the Dartmouth Time Sharing System, was developed by math professors John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz along with a team of undergraduate students at Dartmouth College in 1964. They revolutionized who could use and access a computer. In the 1970s BASIC became the defacto standard interface to early personal computers. In this episode we contextualize BASIC, tell its story in broad strokes, and explain why it was so successful.

    Show Notes

    Birth of BASIC Documentary by Dartmouth College via YouTube
    BASIC at 50 Website via Dartmouth College
    First BASIC Instruction Manual via Dartmouth College
    BASIC via Wikipedia
    Dartmouth Time Sharing System via Wikipedia
    Episode 16: The Personal Computer Revolution
    Episode 11: What is a Programming Language?

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    • 18 min
    Copyright & Machine Learning Models

    Copyright & Machine Learning Models

    Many large sophisticated machine learning models, like those employed in generative AI, are trained on immense amounts of copyrighted images or text. How is that legal? In this episode we delve into the exceptions to copyright law that enable such uses to not be seen by courts as infringement. This includes expressive vs functional uses of a copyrighted work, fair use, and the possibility of a data mining safe harbor law. We also discuss whether such interpretations are to the benefit or detriment of society as a whole.

    A note: as mentioned in the episode, we are not lawyers, and this episode should not be considered legal advice. It is just a discussion of the issue based on our somewhat limited understanding of the legal arguments and expanded to consider the societal implications. Also as mentioned in the episode, we based much of our understanding on the article "Does Training AI Violate Copyright Law?" by Jenny Quang which is linked below in the show notes.

    Show Notes

    Does Training AI Violate Copyright Law? by Jenny Quang via Berkeley Technology Law Journal

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    • 19 min
    The Google Search Antitrust Lawsuit

    The Google Search Antitrust Lawsuit

    In 2020 the Trump administration and eleven state attorney generals initiated an antitrust lawsuit against Google for its alleged anti-competitive behaviors in the search engine market. Last month, the lawsuit went to trial. In this episode we explain what a monopoly is, the government's antitrust allegations, and weigh-in on whether we agree that Google has abused its monopoly position. We also provide some critical background information necessary to better understand the lawsuit. It's worth nothing that Google is in the midst of several other antitrust lawsuits, including one recently initiated by the Biden administration related to the ads market. In this episode we exclusively concentrate on the search engine lawsuit.

    Show Notes

    Justice Department Sues Monopolist Google For Violating Antitrust Laws via Justice Department
    So what exactly is Google accused of? via The Harvard Gazette
    Episode 126: How Does Google Make Money?
    Episode 98: How Does Apple Make Money?
    Episode 108: How Does Mozilla Make Money?

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    Theme “Place on Fire” Copyright 2019 Creo, CC BY 4.0

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    • 17 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
28 Ratings

28 Ratings

Sashbogosh ,

Makes challenging topics understandable

I am so grateful for this podcast! I unexpectedly ended up in a job where I needed a working knowledge of a lot of internet and computer technology, of which I had basically none. This has really helped me get up to speed in a way I think few other resources could.

mixseadragon ,

great pod :D

really enjoying the pod! undergrad psych:human factors major and found the episode on HCI really useful!

Stevenapk ,

Best Software Concepts / History Podcast Around

This podcast alone segued me into a greater understanding of the software industry. David is an amazing teacher that explains concepts in a way anyone can understand and his love of the topic matter comes through. I listened to every episode, learned a ton, and now am on my way to becoming an iOS developer. Couldn’t recommend the Kopec Explains podcast more!

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