Last month the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College announced its first annual prizes for the best algorithmically generated short story, sonnet or live DJ set. The three competitions are: DigiLit, "create a 'human-level' short story of the kind that might be intended for a short story collection produced in a well-regarded MfA program or a piece for The New Yorker;" PoetiX, computer-generated sonnet writing; AlgoRhythms, a live dance music DJ. Prize for winning a Turing test for a story, sonnet or music set: $5,000. First prize for each category: $3,000.
Fractran (previously) is a Turing Complete language invented by John Conway (yes that John Conway) that uses only a simple list of fractions to form each program. Astonishingly it takes only a list of 14 fractions to form a program to generate all the primes. Here's the man himself explaining how it all works. [more inside]
The Ultra Hal chatbot converses with itself. Ultra Hal is a learning chatbot and virtual assistant from zabbaware, as well as a $29 ticket to an Uncanny Valley of sexism, materialism and banality.
Walter Pitts rose from the streets to MIT, but couldn’t escape himself. Pitts was used to being bullied. He’d been born into a tough family in Prohibition-era Detroit, where his father, a boiler-maker, had no trouble raising his fists to get his way. The neighborhood boys weren’t much better. One afternoon in 1935, they chased him through the streets until he ducked into the local library to hide. The library was familiar ground, where he had taught himself Greek, Latin, logic, and mathematics—better than home, where his father insisted he drop out of school and go to work. Outside, the world was messy. Inside, it all made sense. [more inside]
A supercomputer has fooled judges a third of the time that it is a 13 year old Russian schoolboy named Eugene Goostman.
Reaction-diffusion reactions used to design housewares, puzzles, and more. If you want to experiment yourself, you might get some ideas from the demos at WebGL Playground or you might use this brief intro as a jumping-off point.
Alan Turing, the cryptographer and mathematician whose work was credited with shortening the Second World War, has been pardoned. Turing, a gay man, was convicted of gross indecency following consensual sex with a man in 1952. Ordinarily, a pardon will only be granted if the person is believed to have been innocent of the offence and the request is made by a family member. Turing met neither criteria, but his application was supported by a petition of over 37,000 people. Of course, this comes far too late for Turing, who poisoned himself over 60 years ago at the age of 41. (previously)
Alan Turing's paper The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis described reaction-diffusion systems. Jonathan McCabe writes about adapting Turing's math to generate trippy images and videos. [more inside]
Enigma breaker Alan Turing will be posthumously pardoned. Turing helped the Allies win WWII by developing the methods that broke the German Enigma code -- which didn't stop Britain from convicting him of gross indecency under anti-homosexuality legislation in 1951 and subjecting him to chemical castration. Two years later, he committed suicide by swallowing cianide. The British government has now "signalled that it is prepared to support a backbench bill that would pardon Turing."
Some of the plays are about the lives of scientists, such as Richard Feynman (Moving Bodies), Alan Turing (Breaking the Code), Galileo (The Life of Galileo), and Rosalind Franklin (Photograph 51). [more inside]
Turing Drawings is a simple web app that uses Turing Machines to draw randomly generated compositions on a digital canvas. The results vary from stuff like striking static designs, organic forms that slowly devolve in to chaos, repeating animations, and systems with complex interactions. If you find a combination that you like, you can copy and paste the URL in the lower right hand corner of the site to share it. The creator, Darius Bacon, has some other cool stuff that mixes computer science with the humanities on his blog.
"One might think that, once we know something is computable, how efficiently it can be computed is a practical question with little further philosophical importance. In this essay, I offer a detailed case that one would be wrong. In particular, I argue that computational complexity theory---the field that studies the resources (such as time, space, and randomness) needed to solve computational problems---leads to new perspectives on the nature of mathematical knowledge, the strong AI debate, computationalism, the problem of logical omniscience, Hume's problem of induction, Goodman's grue riddle, the foundations of quantum mechanics, economic rationality, closed timelike curves, and several other topics of philosophical interest. I end by discussing aspects of complexity theory itself that could benefit from philosophical analysis."
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]
"He is the kind of boy who is bound to be rather a problem in any school or community, being in some respects definitely anti-social." Alan Turing's school reports.
Alan Turing, British code-breaker during WWII, imminent computer scientist, and much else has been denied a posthumous pardon from the British government for his 1952 conviction on charges of "Gross Indecency" because of his homosexuality. [more inside]
"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]
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]
UK government apologizes to Alan Turing. It might be a long time overdue, but it's a really nice apology. [previously]
Alan Turing, one of the men responsible for computers as we know them today, was persecuted by the British government for being a homosexual. [more inside]
Think you can stump the Elbot? Give it a try. Maybe your interaction will enable it to "learn" an extra 10% more to pass the 30% threshold of the Turing Test. The test is to fool a panel of people who talk with AI entities via text and guess if it's a real person or a robot.Mr Smarty Pants where are you?
Bletchley Park: A WWII juggernaut. It decrypted German Enigma (try one!) and Japanese messages on an industrial scale in huts and blocks, had an outpost in Mombasa, and built one of the first modern computers (it helped that Alan Turing was on staff). Now a diverse museum with or without a funding problem, it generated yet more intrigue in 2000 when an Enigma was stolen, and hosts a rebuilt, working Colossus that launched a cipher challenge. Beating it wasn't easy! [more inside]
The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science - an allegory told with iPods as Universal Machines.
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?
Among his collected works, in the few, short years before mathematician Alan Turing was driven to suicide, he published "The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis", theorizing how a standing wave-like distribution of "cannibal" and "missionary" chemicals might explain how plants and animals develop their shape and pigmentation. Blogger Jonathan Swinton focuses on this more obscure aspect of Turing's research, and reviews some of his posthumous and unpublished efforts — including one of the earliest known examples of digital computation applied to the field of biology.
Somewhere between theoretical constructs like finite automata and Turing machines and feature-rich programming languages like Perl and C++ lives a world of misfits. These so-called esoteric languages frequently employ obfuscation and fustian as central design goals; but that doesn't mean you can't do some neat (useless) things with them.
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? ;}
Has the Turing test fallen? One of the holy grails of computer science is the Turing Test -- and these guys think they're near to passing it.
Fight spam with silly human tricks! This service is built around a low rent Turing test. Anyone who is not already on your list of approved correspondents gets their message bounced back to them. If the poor sod can't pass a "fast and simple" challenge, their mail won't be passed on to you as they'll be presumed to be a spambot. I use Pine: I guess I'd fail. (Found via Webmonkey).