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.
Feeling a little bit worn? Need to upgrade your body? We've been doing it for a long time. An overview of more recent advances (PDF) and a near-future timeline. [more inside]
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.]
Friendship is Optimal is not a "My Little Pony" fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals. Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into "Equestria Online" anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you'll never forget the phrase "satisfy human values through friendship and ponies".
A report was recently released suggesting a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons - robots that can pick and choose whom to fire on. If this sounds vaguely alarming to you, don't worry - the Department of Defense issued a directive indicating that fully automous robots may only decide to tase you.
The mash-up clip music group Electic Method re-mix and paste together sounds from Sci-Fi movies to create THE FUTURE
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
I See What You Did There: Software Uses Video to Infer Game Rules and Achieve Victory Conditions. A French computer scientist has constructed a system that successfully divines the rules to simple games just by using video input of human players at work.
Happy 100th birthday, Alan Turing! 2012 is the Alan Turing Year, with celebratory academic events around the world all year. BBC News has a set of (brief) appreciations, including one in which two of Turing's colleagues share memories. Google has an interactive Doodle of a Turing Machine today (that article has some explanation and links to a useful video if the doodle's confusing). [more inside]
Our planet is inhabited by two distinct kinds of intelligent beings — individual humans and corporate entities — whose natures and interests are intimately linked. To co-exist well, we need to ﬁnd ways to deﬁne the rights and responsibilities of both individual humans and corporate entities, and to ﬁnd ways to ensure that corporate entities behave as responsible members of society. (SLAX)(pdf warning)
Weavrs are a species of new autonomous, emotive, social bots. They feed off of social API streams, wandering around the real world looking at things, posting recipes and dreaming. They can be used for what some might consider evil and what some might consider good. You can extend them with your own code or create a hero's journey for them to experience. If the New Aesthetic was a movie, Weavrs would be the extras.
On November 22, 2011, TEDxBrussels held an all day event whose theme was: "A Day in the Deep Future." Speakers were asked to try and contemplate what life will be like for mankind in 50 years. Overview. [more inside]
In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these. The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth -- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect," a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger. More: Table of Contents - Publishing history - Technical discussion - Buy a paperback copy - Podcast interview - Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace" - possible sequel discussion
John McCarthy, AI pioneer, ACM Turning Award winner, National Medal of Science winner, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford University and inventor of the Lisp programming language passed away suddenly last night at the age of 84.
In 1987 Apple predicted a complex language voice assistant built into something called the Apple Knowledge Navigator, a tablet computer. With today's announcement of the refined (and integrated) version of Siri, it appears they were less than a month off.
Stanford's 'Introduction to Artificial Intelligence' course will be offered free to anyone online this fall. The course will be taught by Sebastian Thrun (Stanford) and Peter Norvig (Google, Director of Research), who expect to deal with the historically large course size using tools like Google Moderator. [more inside]
Computer Gets 33% Better at Playing Civilization, By Reading the Manual: An MIT experiment has apparently succeeded in getting a computer to learn from human-readable, English-language text, the computer extrapolating useful strategies and tactics from an instruction manual so effectively as to dramatically increase its victory ratio in the Sid Meier universe. Via io9.
"I can tell you right now there is no I in A.I., and nor should there be." Veteran game programmer Mike Diskett (Syndicate, Magic Carpet, GTA IV) offers his thoughts on response mechanics, and how fuzzy logic can fail to account for the fog of war.
"Milton Babbitt definitely cared if you listen, but according to Noah S. Weber, Emily Howell definitely does not since it is not possible for Emily Howell to care about anything. However, David Cope, Emily Howell's creator, sees it somewhat differently." -- Frank J. Oteri
Claude Shannon and Marvin Minsky collaborated to create the concept of The Ultimate Machine, a device capable of shutting itself off after activation. Out of the numerous and often transparent homages to the invention, a new variant has emerged, with more rigorous defenses. [via]
Tama River Film: Tama River by Anders Edström & Karen Langley. Music: Yoko Ono, Let’s Go On Flying. Model: Ai Tominaga
John Baez (mathematical physicist and master popularizer, former operator of This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics, current promoter of the idea that physicists should start pitching in on saving the world) interviews Eliezer Yudkowsky (singularitarian, author of "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality," promoter of the idea that human life faces a near-term existential threat from unfriendly artificial intelligence, and that people can live better lives by evading their cognitive biases) about the future, academia, rationality, altruism, expected utility, self-improvement by humans and machines, and the relative merit of battling climate change and developing friendly AIs that will forstall our otherwise inevitable doom. Part I. Part II. Part III. [more inside]
It’s not simple, and there’s a lot of hand waiving involved, but an IBM researcher has published a guide to building your own "Watson Jr." using only commodity hardware and open source software. [Previously 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5] [via]
"During the competition, each of four judges will type a conversation with one of us for five minutes, then the other, and then will have 10 minutes to reflect and decide which one is the human. Judges will also rank all the contestants—this is used in part as a tiebreaking measure. The computer program receiving the most votes and highest ranking from the judges (regardless of whether it passes the Turing Test by fooling 30 percent of them) is awarded the title of the Most Human Computer. It is this title that the research teams are all gunning for, the one with the cash prize (usually $3,000), the one with which most everyone involved in the contest is principally concerned. But there is also, intriguingly, another title, one given to the confederate who is most convincing: the Most Human Human award." [more inside]
"Welcome to the Zion Archive. You have selected Historical File #12-1: The Second Renaissance." So begins the short film of the same name by Mahiro Maeda [Flash: 1 2 - QuickTime: 1 2] -- a devastating yet beautiful work of animation. Originally produced to explain the backstory behind the Matrix trilogy, Maeda's project ended up telling a story far darker and more affecting than any blockbuster. Using a blend of faux documentary footage and visual metaphor, his serene Instructor relates in biblical tones the saga of Man and Machine, how age-old cruelty and hatred birthed a horrifying, apocalyptic struggle that consumed the world. Packed with striking imagery and historical allusions galore, this dark allegory easily transcends the films it was made for. But while "The Second Renaissance" is arguably the best work to come from the Matrix franchise, it's hardly alone -- it's just one of the projects made for The Animatrix, a collection of nine superb anime films in a wide variety of styles designed to explore the universe and broaden its scope beyond the usual sci-fi action of the movies. Click inside for a guide to these films with links to where they can be watched online, along with a look at The Matrix Comics, a free series of comics, art, and short fiction created for the same purpose by some of the best talent in the business. [more inside]
Forever Alone? No one to talk to? Not anymore! Cleverbot is chatbot AI that learns from people and provides a surprisingly realistic simulation of inane chatter. It's also a Beatles fan. [more inside]
Shanghaiist reports that the Chinese authorities have followed through on their promise to tear down Ai Weiwei's studio. (previously). The artist is under house arrest in Beijing. [more inside]
See that Mechanical Red Eye? That's YOU, and you are an Insane Rogue AI. (Friday Flash Fun) [more inside]
Ted Chiang is perhaps the finest author in contemporary science fiction -- and the most rarefied. A technical writer by trade and a graduate of the distinguished Clarion Writers Workshop, Chiang has published only twelve short stories in the last twenty years, one dozen masterpieces of the genre whose insightful, precise, often poetic language confronts fundamental ideas -- intelligence, consciousness, the nature of God -- and thrusts them into a dazzling new light. Click inside for a complete listing of Chiang's work, with links to online reprints or audio recordings where available, as well as a collection of one-on-one interviews, links to his nonfiction essays, and a few other related sites and articles. [more inside]
The Watson Artificial Intelligence system has been discussed on MeFi before. The Jeopardy AI will get a chance to prove its skills in early February when it squares off against Jeopardy titans Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter for the prize of a million dollars.
The Africa Portal is an online knowledge resource for policy-related issues on Africa. An undertaking by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Makerere University (MAK), and the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), the Africa Portal offers open access to a suite of features including an online library collection; a resource for opinion and analysis; an experts directory; an international events calendar; and a mobile technology component—all aimed to equip users with research and information on Africa’s current policy issues. [more inside]
The Never-Ending Language Learning system or NELL is learning the internet. Follow NELL's discoveries on Twitter.
"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]
Alex, I'll take "Kickass Text Analysis Algorithms" for a thousand, please. "Over the rest of the day [at IBM labs] Watson went on a tear, winning four of six games. It displayed remarkable facility with cultural trivia (“This action flick starring Roy Scheider in a high-tech police helicopter was also briefly a TV series” — “What is ‘Blue Thunder’?”), science (“The greyhound originated more than 5,000 years ago in this African country, where it was used to hunt gazelles” — “What is Egypt?”) and sophisticated wordplay (“Classic candy bar that’s a female Supreme Court justice” — “What is Baby Ruth Ginsburg?”)." Next up, a live match up against human winners of Jeopardy. But of course the real question is how good are you? Can you beat Watson?
Easy AI with Python. High school-level introduction to a few artificial intelligence concepts, with relatively short open source Python code snippets. [more inside]
Reddit interviews Peter Norvig (reddit discussion) related: Seeds of AI at Google -- how the internet is shaping intelligence and learning and, in turn, the role of human culture in natural selection1,2 and why we are not living in western civilization. (via)
Science Fiction writers Alastair Reynolds, Vernor Vinge, Karl Schroeder and MeFi's own Charles Stross discuss the Singularity - which, Stross cheekily points out, has been around the corner for a good 20 years.
Two AI Pioneers. Two Bizarre Suicides. Wired's David Kushner examines the work of two young, competitive AI researchers, and the eerie circumstances of their deaths.
Impressed and alarmed by advances in artificial intelligence, a group of computer scientists is debating whether there should be limits on research that might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems that carry a growing share of society’s workload, from waging war to chatting with customers on the phone. From the NYT: Scientists Worry Machines May Outsmart Man.
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]