A two-part essay by Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post on the growing unease among some technologists. [more inside]
The Deep Mind of Demis Hassabis - "The big thing is what we call transfer learning. You've mastered one domain of things, how do you abstract that into something that's almost like a library of knowledge that you can now usefully apply in a new domain? That's the key to general knowledge. At the moment, we are good at processing perceptual information and then picking an action based on that. But when it goes to the next level, the concept level, nobody has been able to do that." (previously: 1,2) [more inside]
Hyperreal numbers: infinities and infinitesimals - "In 1976, Jerome Keisler, a student of the famous logician Tarski, published this elementary textbook that teaches calculus using hyperreal numbers. Now it's free, with a Creative Commons copyright!" (pdf—25mb :) [more inside]
A supercomputer has fooled judges a third of the time that it is a 13 year old Russian schoolboy named Eugene Goostman.
IBM's supercomputer Watson (previously) (and more previously) best known for crushing puny humans on the game show Jeopardy, recently began using profanity after researchers - attempting to teach it more nuanced language styles - had Watson memorize the Urban Dictionary. When the adolescent computer began responding to its progenitors' questions with phrases like "that's bulls**t" the irate programmers scrubbed its memory of the foul language. No word yet on whether the supercomputer has been grounded or not.
The simulated brain - "First computer model to produce complex behaviour performs almost as well as humans at simple number tasks." [1,2,3,4,5,etc.]
Television Without Pity re-capper Jacob Clifton has written a short steampunk story for Tor.com. “There’s a level on which the story is an indictment of using steampunk as a fashion or trend. It came about because I wanted to see what would happen if you substituted Jane Austen for Jules Verne in the steampunk equation...” The Commonplace Book
"My web site will encourage kindness among those who support it, and creative punishment for those who do not." Mefi's own Shepherd "got a little carried away" creating his blog's under construction placeholder page. The result is a terrifying dystopic epic. [via mefi projects]
The simulated brain - "The scientists behind Blue Brain hope to have a virtual human brain functioning in ten years... Dr. Markram began by collecting detailed information about the rat's NCC, down to the level of genes, proteins, molecules and the electrical signals that connect one neuron to another. These complex relationships were then turned into millions of equations, written in software. He then recorded real-world data -- the strength and path of each electrical signal -- directly from rat brains to test the accuracy of the software." Is it possible to digitally simulate a brain accurately? Can it only be analog? And are there quantum effects to be considered? (previously 1 2 3 4) [more inside]
The coming memristor revolution in electronics and how it works. The newly created memristor, only the fourth fundamental fundamental type of passive circuit element, has the promise of computing advances both prosaic (faster, cheaper and "bigger" flash drives) and momentous (relatively effortless mimicry of brain cells and their activity). This is the story of the memristor's genesis, told by R. Stanley Williams, the leader of the team that created the device. [more inside]
Victim of the Brain A 'docudrama' about Godel, Escher and Bach author, Douglas Hofstadter, and philosopher Dan Dennett produced in 1988. I'm not sure how to describe it, other than incredibly strange and fascinating.
Meet George -- 39, single, quirky sense of humour, looking for friends to chat with online. Last year, he won the Loebner Prize, to bots who can most successfully pass the Turing Test. More here from BBC. How long before we have our own Mefibots?
The first Transhuman Conference On the Law of Transhuman Persons: Whether or not you believe humans are set to evolve into gods, or AI is destined to achieve self-awareness the idea of the Transhuman is a thought provoking concept. Philosophers have debated the nature of the self, of the human for millennia. Is it time to start drafting new laws to govern all possible sentient beings on this planet? or is it all just a science of fiction? a comfortable humanist illusion?
Meet Cyc. This endeavor to produce AI has been going on since 1984. In ’86 it asked if it were human; it later asked “if any other computers were engaged in such a project”. It’s strength lies in a database of assumptions and generalities, in the hopes that it will eventually “generalize as much as possible until further generalization would be false”. Is this going to be the breakthrough, or does it just seem really cool? (yes, via Slashdot)
Go for the gold! Concord 2002: Site of the upcoming Loebner Prize. Can reigning champion A.L.I.C.E. repeat her triumph? Chat bots from around the globe are scouting out their rivals on the AI competitive circuit and studying their crib notes.
Given the recent cinematic floppery of late, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across an article about real-world Artificial Intelligence that was written in a solid down-to-Earth manner about some very technical concepts. If you're into AI it should be worth a look to you. How would you like to have a computer that learns and adapts? Heh...how'd you like your computer to pout because you won't buy the latest processor? ;}
Clicking for consciousness Depressingly reductionist. It is wrong to think that if we can't tell the difference between a binary machine in a box and a person in a box we should behave as if there were no difference.