Tag Archive: artificial intelligence


Artificial intelligence is the key to flying cars

This a great presentation on why we don’t have flying cars yet.

Here’s the summary for those of you protected from YouTube by your overlords:  It’s just too expensive to make flying cars safe in a crash, so the only way to make them safe is to make them avoid crashes.  Once we have ground vehicles that avoid crashes (i.e. self-driving cars), we can have flying cars.

University of Texas at Austin AI wins Turing Test in Unreal Tournament

An artificially intelligent virtual game bot created by computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has won the BotPrize by convincing a panel of judges that it was more human-like than half the humans it competed against inside the virtual world of “Unreal Tournament 2004,” a first-person shooter video game.  [Granted, FPS gamers aren’t very humanlike to begin with, but still, quite an achievement.]

“When this ‘Turing test for game bots’ competition was started, the goal was 50 percent humanness,” said Miikkulainen. “It took us five years to get there, but that level was finally reached last week, and it’s not a fluke.”

The winning bots both achieved a humanness rating of 52 percent. Human players received an average humanness rating of only 40 percent.

The complex gameplay and 3-D environments of “Unreal Tournament 2004” require that bots mimic humans in a number of ways, including moving around in 3D space, engaging in chaotic combat against multiple opponents, and reasoning about the best strategy at any given point in the game.

Even displays of distinctively human irrational behavior can, in some cases, be emulated.  “People tend to tenaciously pursue specific opponents without regard for optimality,” said Schrum. “When humans have a grudge, they’ll chase after an enemy even when it’s not in their interests. We can mimic that behavior.”

Sebastian Thrun starts new online computer science university

Sebastian Thrun (who taught the free online course “Intro to AI” at Stanford last semester) has quit his tenured professor position at Stanford and started his own online university called Udacity.  “Now that I saw the true power of education, there is no turning back. It’s like a drug. I won’t be able to teach 200 students again, in a conventional classroom setting.” 

Udacity’s first two classes are “Programming a Robotic Car” and “Building a Search Engine”.  Both classes are 7 weeks long and will have online lectures, exams, and programming assignments in Python.

Clarification:  he notes that he quit his tenured position to do more work at Google and continues to be a non-tenured professor at Stanford.

Artificial hippocampus restores and enhances memory

This blows my tiny organic mind:  researchers have proven that if you know enough about how a brain region codes and transmits information, you can completely replace its functionality in real time with an electronic implant.  The device was able to restore long term memory in rats with a damaged hippocampus.  "Flip the switch on, and the rats remember. Flip it off, and the rats forget," said Theodore Berger of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.  Furthermore, when installed in rats with a normal functioning hippocampus, it enhanced their ability to form and retrieve memories.

Since the hippocampus is the critical component in accessing and forming long term memory, and the first to get fried by Alzheimer’s, this is good news for Alzheimer’s patients, stroke victims, and Guy Pierce (the guy in Memento).  For the rest of us, it means the money we’re saving for our kid’s college fund might actually go towards buying an Ivy League® brand brain implant and the college experience can finally be all about the parties.

Here are some more details: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-06/uosc-rmr061211.php

Here’s the full scientific paper they published in the Journal of Neural Engineering: http://iopscience.iop.org/1741-2552/8/4/046017

Digital is dead: Lockheed Martin buys first commercial quantum computer

D-Wave sold their first quantum computer to Lockheed Martin (a “security company” apparently, according to the article).  It’s a 128 qubit superconducting processor sitting in a 10 meter square shielded cryogenic chamber. It’s going to be used for “problems that are hard for traditional methods to solve in a cost-effective amount of time. Examples of such problems include software verification and validation, financial risk analysis, affinity mapping and sentiment analysis, object recognition in images, medical imaging classification, compressed sensing and bioinformatics.”  http://www.dwavesys.com/en/pressreleases.html#lm_2011

Digital programming is for dinosaurs, quantum programming is the new l33t!  Here’s where you can get started (PhD in theoretical physics not required…but probably recommended):

http://dwave.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/learning-to-program-the-d-wave-one-software-you-should-install-a-book-you-should-buy/

© 2017 Robert Corvus