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Archive for the 'Artificial Intelligence' Category

Crowd Sourcing Science

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I mentioned kickstarter in my last post. Until recently I would look at it and people would have projects there for games they wanted to write but often they were trying to raise ridiculously small amounts of money compared to what it takes to actually produce a game. The past month that seems to have changed with a few projects raising millions of dollars. Of course, these are well known people. I’ve had a game in mind for ten years or so I’ve wanted to write, but it’s hard to imagine doing it without large resources.

I ran across the site petridish the other day. They are attempting to crowd source science in the same way kickstarter does. I remember reading about DRACO, a project to create a broad spectrum anti-viral at MIT. It holds the promise to do to viruses the same thing that antibiotics did to bacterial infections. Those people should definitely get their project on petridish.

We occasionally have wasps building nests in our grill. At least they aren’t two and a half inches long!

This place is a good example of somewhere I would go a lot more often if I owned a self driving car. It’s about eight hours away and spectacular. You could just settle in for the night and wake up there. I had not thought about the point he makes in that link where people would probably own a lot less cars because most families could get by with one car. I disagree with his point in the last paragraph though. I think once most people have them, the insurance costs for driving your own car will become so high most people will not be able to afford it.

This is not a caterpillar.

Apparently there are glowing jellyfish in Japan.

And finally, something to make you say awww

Smart Machines

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

I was watching this TED talk today on machine intelligence.

It always strikes me how people say the singularity or omega as he calls it, is twenty or thirty years out.  I guess I should point out, that is when machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence (in case you didn’t watch the video). As he mentions, no politician is talking about it.  However, I think the impact will come much sooner. It got me thinking about the Jeopardy where the computer ‘Watson’ competed.

When I was looking for that video, I ran across this explanation of the really big mistake Watson made. Yesterday we were sitting outside after going to the vet to get more fluids for our cat, (giving them has gone very smoothly so far in case you were wondering). I said to my wife “Did we remember to get the needles?” She said “Noodles?” It was totally out of context, of course, as we weren’t talking about the vet or the cat. Anyway, humans do this too and machine intelligence has already progressed to the point where most of us could be replaced it’s just a matter of it being more cost effective.

Writing a game for Androids and iPhones really makes me think how odd it is that suddenly everyone is walking around with a supercomputer in their pocket. BashTheBankers wasn’t really the game I wanted to write. It was a game I felt I could write given the resources at my disposal. I think it’s a fun game but I haven’t yet published a free (advertising supported) version and there is so much free stuff out there. It’s hard to get noticed no matter what you do. If you have never seen kickstarter it is a site where people crowd source their projects. I suppose in hindsight I realized if you can’t get a large number of people excited and funding your project there, you might as well come up with another idea because people are not going to see your game unless there is some internet buzz about it.

Speaking of kickstarter I thought this was funny. [Edit] Oh well, it appears that link no longer works. It was a kickstarter project to buy kickstarter; maybe they didn’t think it was funny.

And, finally something to make you say awww…

 

Thinking Machines

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Unless you haven’t been on the web lately, you surely have seen one of these articles about a group of scientists at Cornell who developed a machine which was able to deduce the basic laws of motion from “observation”. While I don’t know much about their work, one of the questions which come to mind is how the A.I. is structured. I mean you have to give it something to work with and to get some sort of generic intelligent device you need to be careful not to ‘guide’ it towards the results you want. Not that machines can’t be terribly good at sorting through amounts of data no human could handle. I just wonder if you wouldn’t get a lot of  this kind of thing comparing lemons imported from Mexico with the U.S. highway fatality rate. As they point out, correlation is not causation. I can see where the lab robots they talk about later in the article would be very useful for doing a bunch of grunt lab work and summarizing the results. The other thing you would expect whether the thing is actually working or not is revealed later in the article when they point out after having it work on some problems of metabolism in biology, the machine kicked out some equations they are still trying to understand. I personally have always believed the day is coming when machines will be smarter than us and it will be a lot sooner and far more disruptive than people realize. Somewhere in one of its circuits that machine is just smirking and thinking “Stupid humans, don’t even try to grasp my wisdom”. Sigh, computers have come so far.

This isn’t really a game, it’s just a physics simulation of sand that is fun and fascinating  to play with. You can make barriers to the sand flow as well as make it flammable and so forth.

Yesterday we were sitting outside watching a squirrel walk down an electric line towards some birds. I joked to my wife maybe I should grab my camera in case it turned out to be a “YouTube” moment. I didn’t have time but instead of what we expected; the birds giving way to the much larger squirrel, the birds started dive bombing the squirrel nearly making it fall before it scampered off. This photo reminds me how you just never know how animals will interact.

If you read the comments at the bottom, apparently a number of these beautiful wildlife photos aren’t photos at all. Oh well, they are still striking.

While we are on the subject of illusion, check out this amazing magic act.

You may have to be a bit of a scientist to get this one. Light behaves as both a particle and a wave.

I guess Mythbusters will be coming back on the air this Wednesday. If you have ever watched the show you know they often blow things up. Apparently one of their ‘experiments’ was a little more intense than they realized. Kids, don’t try this at home.

We did a lot of things with liquid nitrogen when I worked in a lab but we never made ice cream using it. That’s one pricey ice cream maker.

Great, another way we could all die; from a massive sun storm that wipes out just about everything electrical.

I’m not sure why I found this description of a 40 year long experiment of breeding tame foxes so interesting. By the way, NOVA is available on Hulu now but not the episode about dogs mentioned in the article.

This is pretty cool. It’s a shot of the space shuttle lifting off taken from the International Space Station.

I got a laugh out of this.

Who would have thought bats could be cute?

This is just another silly dog photo.

Just the other day I was thinking about a program a friend of mine once wrote to generate names and I ran across this.

Here are some very stunning examples of infrared photography.

I would love to eat at an underwater restaurant. Seafood anyone?

I was completely blown away at how colorful crabs can be. O.K. now I’m hungry.

And finally, usually when I walk with my cat Kelly she takes the lead and I follow but if it has snowed she lets me lead and then jumps from one of my footprints to the next. Here is a cute little photo essay of a cat dealing with 15 inches of snow.

Thaw

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

We are finally getting a nice break from winter here in the Midwest. It’s funny how just not having to bundle up or watch your footing can seem so nice.

We spent part of the weekend playing this physics game called Perfect Balance. I can’t say I cared much for the sound track so I just turned off the audio but it was a good example of how a simple balancing game can get your puzzle solving skills fired up. We also played a game at the BBC called CDX. It’s the second game we have played from the BBC and in both cases they were terribly disappointing. It’s painful to see a game with a lot of professional video production but such terrible game play.

Speaking of the Brits, the following interview is actually from Australia and it’s a real interview but if you have ever seen Monty Python you’d swear it was one of their skits.

I have Matt to thank for that little gem; he also sent me this rather amazing video of dolphins.

Last week I created my first hand draw animation in years. I can’t say it was very good. It was just a stick figure walking and I’m just trying to learn some tools. While searching the web for animation resources I ran across this page on claymation. Most of what it says is pretty obvious but one of the tricks it mentioned was putting magnets in the feet of the characters and placing them on a cookie sheet. Years ago when we did a very short claymation, we did have problems with the characters falling over and that would have helped.

Speaking of stop action, here is a simple stop action video done by a couple kids.

I got a laugh out of this.

This is another one of those street painting perspective illusions. This one is of a glacial type ice age scene. I wonder how large the painting was.

Ever wonder how cats purr? Skip down towards the bottom for the simpler explanation.

I have seen fractal zooms before. This one is just a lot longer than most.

Darpa is funding a project to reverse engineer the brain.

A company called Jovion Corporation has been issue a patent for a zero point energy device. I’m a little skeptical useful energy can be extracted from the Casimir effect but I hope the thing works.

The RepRap 3D printer can finally make a copy of itself!

Here are some pretty cool pictures of an Alaskan ice festival.

If I saw one of these crossing the road, I would definitely stop.

I have seen pictures of these monkeys in a hot spring before. I think this is in Japan.

This is a funny bear cub shot.

Here is a cute story about a hot koala.

And finally, here are some very cute pictures of a kitten and a bird.

The Lost Week

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

After putting together my computer this week I was left with the decision whether to update my old drive or do a clean install and set it up from scratch. I chose the latter and what a pain it has been. You just want to sit down with your shiny new hardware and do something but instead it’s an endless series of installs and reboots. On top of that, the connector on my old keyboard got loose I had to replace it. This is the first time I have tried to type very much on my new one and it’s going to take getting used to.

Last week someone left a comment asking if I had tried the Nick Bounty games at Pinhead Games. Saturday we spent a lot of time doing things like dealing with frozen water pipes. Luckily they weren’t damaged. So it was nice to kick back on Sunday and play some games. The Nick Bounty series are classic adventure games with full voice acting and the look, talk, get, etc. verb set. One thing I was reminded of when playing them was although choosing a verb as opposed to just clicking on an object is more work, in the old adventure games as well as these, adding the extra step provides a way to inject more (often silly) humor into them. The plot lines were pretty silly too but that is the point to playing them I suppose. I did laugh at some of the jokes and there is a pretty funny scene in the second game where everything is dark and the voice actor describes an outrageous scene to you.

I’ve been writing this blog long enough I have gotten to the point where it is hard to remember whether I have already mentioned something or not. I guess if it’s a good thing it’s worth mentioning again. That’s the way I felt about this video of people doing maintenance on high voltage cables. I suppose you probably get used to it but there’s no way I would get out there.

I know I’ve mentioned this alloy before, I’m pretty sure I linked to this video. It’s also known as muscle wire because it is not only a shape-memory alloy but it also shrinks when heated so you can make things move by running current through it.


More Science experiments at 5min.com

Check out these awesome ice storm photos.

Speaking of winter, that’s a lot of snow!

Last night we watched Resident Evil- Degeneration. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the other Resident Evil films but I wanted to see it because it is computer generated. It’s funny how not-quite-real computer generated people look creepy. This article at New Scientist talks about that and how machines are coming closer to people in other ways like talking and playing music.

According to this article the next group of people to be put out of jobs by technology will be call center workers.

I thought this was kind of interesting; this guy was an expert at putting things in bottles.

If you’re not a programmer you probably have never heard the phrase “That’s not a bug, it’s a feature“.

It’s kind of fuzzy but this is what meteors look like from space.

This is what a hermit crab in a glass shell looks like.

Here are some long time exposure photos. The one of the fireworks is particularly cool.

If you are prone to seizures you probably don’t want to follow this link. Here are more examples of what I call wiggle vision 3D photos. The author calls them lenticulations. It kind of makes my head hurt to look at them. I thought the one of the dog (14) was the best one.

I suppose you could call lenticular clouds lenticulations. This one looks a lot less like a UFO than others I’ve seen.

How would you like to live in a house made of paper that costs 5000 dollars? By the way, 36 square meters is 387.5 square feet.

Here are some large computer generated fantasy landscapes.

This is a pretty cool picture of a drop of seawater and what is inside.

I thought this was kind of funny. A bank made a mistake and deposited a bunch of money in a couple’s account. They claimed they didn’t notice. This actually happened to a friend of mine, but he was smart enough not to try to keep it.

This is just a nice sunset picture.

My fingers hurt from this new keyboard. Here is your funny animal picture of happy seals.

Follow Up

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Last spring two wild kittens showed up in our driveway. With our neighbor’s help, we found a home for them but not before we got a chance to get them to adapt to humans. I wrote about it in this post and this post. We learned they are growing up strong and happy and I have a picture. They sure have grown!

Jack and Jill look happy

Jack and Jill look happy

I’m not sure I ever posted about this word game where they donate rice for every answer you get right. I may have played it before I started blogging. According to this they have surpassed their billionth grain of rice.

This looks pretty fun but you would need a really large place to fly it. It’s basically like being tied to a small blimp and strapping on wings to direct it for you own personal airship.

This example of using nanotube sheets as speakers is exactly the kind of technological advance which will produce products in the future you can’t imagine. It’s interesting they can use heat instead of motion to make sound.

I thought this ‘fountain of youth‘ drug sounded really promising but I had to laugh at this quote.

“The search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age.”

Most seniors? What? Did they do a survey? Does anyone want to become fragile?

Speaking of aging, this article about the coming singularity where machines become more intelligent than humans touches on so many points. The internet surpassed the capability of the human brain in 2006? I think Marshall Brain, (is that really his name), has a point about 50 million people being put out of work.

Probably not appropriate if you are at work. Heidi Klum re-enacts a scene from the movie Risky Business in a commercial for the new Guitar Hero game.

Here is an unusual design for a staircase.

Check out this clever theme for a bar.

When my friend Matt sends me pictures of dogs dressed up in costumes he says this is why dogs bite people. Here are a bunch of pictures of dogs dressed up in funny costumes.

These cats aren’t in costumes but they are scary and funny anyway.

And this dog is just too cute.

Finally check out these pictures of a cat and a lynx who are buddies.

Brain Theory

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I saw this TED Talk by Jeff Hawkins the other day on a theory about how the brain works. I think his main point about intelligence was interesting. When I took Artificial Intelligence I remember seeing some interesting programs, but when you saw the code it was like a magic trick where once you know how it’s done, the ‘magic’ vanishes. Could it be intelligence is just a matter of sophisticated pattern matching?

I really think someday people will walk around with their computers rolled up into little tubes like this example of flexible TV displays. On the other hand I can’t imagine how much better looking a laser based TV would look. Also, once they are small enough to project from your cell phone, you wouldn’t need a display to fold up.

It takes a minute to get going but once this landslide starts up, you see an entire forest slide down the hill.

As the worlds financial markets melt down, keep in mind the less control you feel you have the more likely you are to see patterns or connections that don’t exist.

Also on the subject of the financial melt down, here is how to live with almost no money. I haven’t gotten a chance to read much of it but it does involve eating varmints.

Guess what is more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

I had seen the study about strippers before but I had not heard the one about armadillos changing history.

And finally, not only is this a funny animal picture, it’s also quite a striking photo.

Robot Painters

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

We are painting the living room. We’ve gotten to the point where you look at it and decide whether to do another coat or it’s good enough and time to move on to another room. We have a lot of house plants and it won’t be too long before we have to get them inside. As I work, I can’t help but think how I would design a robot to paint a room. I found a couple of painting robots but they aren’t the kind that paints a house. This one ‘Action Jackson‘ mimics Jackson Pollock’s style of painting. This site had a number of examples including a simple one you could build.

Speaking of different ways of creating art, here is a video of what happens when you pour salt on a speaker.

Google is celebrating their tenth anniversary by offering ten million dollars for a world changing idea.

Canon has a new camera.

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera features a 21.1-megapixel full frame 24 x 36mm CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 imaging processor and significantly lower noise, with an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

It does full HD video too, and my wife says “No, you can’t have one”. Someday it will be nice to have something that’s not only very high resolution but so fast you can shoot in any natural light.

I thought these videos of the most amazing UFO sightings were intriguing but the camera work could have been so much better. The second one is interesting because you see the movement.

Here is something you also don’t see everyday. It’s a video of a crab riding a jellyfish.

My guess is most Americans who read my blog are familiar with both nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

I got a laugh out of some of these crazy bikes.

And finally, here is your silly animal picture.

Wetware

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Every once in a while I read an article that makes me think yeah, we are living in the future. That is the way I felt about this article on a robot with a biological brain. It does make you wonder if in the future, we will have household robots with biological brains that are useful but somewhat unpredictable in their behavior. I suppose it’s not that different than owning a pet.

Offshore drilling is one of those things you would not think would divide up neatly upon party lines. I would think if you live on the ocean or have a vacation home there you would probably be against it. Also if your living depends on tourism or fishing you would be against it as well. Perhaps the government shouldn’t determine our energy policy but there is no real way to avoid its role. When you see evolving technologies such as this one where they have genetically altered bacteria to produce fuel which is compatible with existing pipelines and could be used in gasoline engines, you really wonder if the development can’t be accelerated.

This guy has an interesting view of the future. I can see a lot of those things happening but maybe on a longer time-line. It takes so long for new medical treatments to be approved, if you’re my age you probably won’t have nanobots swimming around your bloodstream. The replicator is a common subject for science fiction. I’m pretty sure someday they will exist but I’m thinking later than 2025.

Here is a follow up on the post I made yesterday on Bigfoot. Turns out one of the guys has been involved in Bigfoot hoaxes before.

This video of a huge propane explosion has some language some might find offensive. Unfortunately when the main blast hits, the person holding the camera understandably moves the shot off center. It’s a pretty dramatic scene though with a very visible shock wave.

This is kind of sad and funny. It’s a coffee cup with the bill of rights printed on it. Add hot coffee and watch your civil liberties disappear.

Smoke pictures are something I have never got around to trying along with high speed water drops. The best ones are at the bottom and aren’t real pictures but computer effects.

And finally, check out these cute guinea pigs.

The End Of The World As We Know It?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

You have to wonder what the mood would be like at a Global Catastrophic Risk Conference. I suppose mostly somber with a few people partying like it’s the end of the world. This article at CNN quotes some of the things Ray Kurzweil said I’ve linked to before. Some of the comments are interesting. I have often thought people will infuse themselves with artificial blood just because it makes them feel better. The idea you could spend hours under water hadn’t occurred to me. I don’t see how the economy could function once an intelligent machine could surpass a human. Companies wouldn’t bother paying enhanced people if they could get the same work done without the brain part. You would end up with some tiny enhanced rich part of humanity and a whole lot of poor people. I suppose it’s possible everything would become really cheap but if you have no income it wouldn’t matter.

Speaking of the future, this article about fusion is encouraging. If we are all going to be super humans we are going to need a whole lot of energy.

I’ve always thought we should have cars that can travel short distances where we could then link up to a rail system which not only guides the car but also provides the power. Finally someone is building something which is like that. It’s not surprising a guy who worked in the roller coaster industry had the idea.

I’m curious about the game Spore. I would really like to see what the code looks like for the game. Here is an article about it. You can download a free version of the creature creator here.

Living in a garbage truck doesn’t strike you as pleasant, unless it was this one.

Some of these houses made from bottles look pretty cool. I wonder what you do if you break one.

After reading this article about exotic fruits I was really wishing I could taste them.

And finally, this isn’t normally what you think of when you hear the term ‘food fight‘.