Saturday, August 31, 2013

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” – Rita Mae Brown

Why Can't My Computer Understand Me?

The New Yorker

University of Toronto computer scientist Hector Levesque recently presented a paper at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence highlighting the flaws in artificial intelligence. Although Alan Turing's renowned Turing test has been accepted for years as a measure of computer intelligence, Levesque says computers can easily bluff their way to success in the test. Rather than performing tricks to pass an arbitrary test, AI should focus on building true intelligence, Levesque says. He suggests an alternative test called the Winograd Schemas that he developed with his colleagues, which asks questions that are simple for an intelligent person but extremely challenging for a computer. For example, the test might ask, "Sam tried to paint a picture of shepherds with sheep, but they ended up looking more like golfers. What looked like golfers?" This type of question, impossible to answer using a search engine, requires knowledge of social interaction, common sense, and complex language understanding. The field of AI is distracted by "serial silver bulletism," or always looking to the next big thing, instead of performing the necessary work of unraveling the complexity of ordinary human intelligence, Levesque says. "There is a lot to be gained by recognizing more fully what our own research does not address, and being willing to admit that other...approaches may be needed," he says.


Masters Degree is New Frontier of Study Online

New York Times

The Georgia Institute of Technology's offering next January of a low-cost master's degree in computer science via massive open online courses (MOOCs) could herald a sea change in higher education, which up to now has not awarded credit or degrees for completing such courses. "This is the first deliberate and thoughtful attempt to apply education technology to bringing instruction to scale," notes University of Maryland physicist S. James Gates Jr. "It could be epoch-making." The basis for the new program is a partnership between Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun and Zvi Galil, dean of Georgia Tech's College of Computing. The school will provide MOOC content and instructors while Udacity will supply the computer platform and course assistants, with revenue split 60-40. Degree program participants will take proctored exams and will be able to access tutoring, online office hours, and other support services. However, some Georgia Tech faculty members are concerned that the MOOCs could devalue a degree from the university. Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities president M. Peter McPherson speculates that online learning will become more commonplace, but no single absolute model will emerge.


Here’s what you find when you scan the entire Internet in an hour

Washington Post

On Friday, at the Usenix security conference in Washington, they announced ZMap, a tool that allows an ordinary server to scan every address on the Internet in just 44 minutes.

The EFF team used a tool called Nmap that sends a request to a machine and then listens for the recipient to reply. These requests can be conducted in parallel, but keeping records for each outstanding request still creates a lot of overhead, which slows down the scanning process.


Science is Not Your Enemy

Steven Pinker New Republic

The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists. Not only did many of them contribute to mathematics, physics, and physiology, but all of them were avid theorists in the sciences of human nature. They were cognitive neuroscientists, who tried to explain thought and emotion in terms of physical mechanisms of the nervous system. They were evolutionary psychologists, who speculated on life in a state of nature and on animal instincts that are “infused into our bosoms.” And they were social psychologists, who wrote of the moral sentiments that draw us together, the selfish passions that inflame us, and the foibles of shortsightedness that frustrate our best-laid plans.


How To Be a Disruptive Hero

Change This

Disruptive heroes are the people who either completely change the rules or teach us that the status quo needs to be pushed, challenged or broken.

They have a major impact on what we believe is possible, what we do and who we become.

If that sounds daunting for you to take on…don’t freak out! You get to pick the scale and scope of your efforts. Focus on something that’s mostly within your control and becoming a hero will be easier than you first thought. But if you would like to change the world as a disruptive hero, could you? Yep. Most of the biggest names in arts, government, business, social movements and more got there by being disruptive. Go for it!”


The Future of Work Is Learning

Social Enterprise Today  (a couple years old, but good)

As a result of John Tropea’s wonderful blog post from yesterday, which I have blogged about over here, there has been also quite an interesting and rather refreshing conversation developing on the side over at Google Plus around the topics of business processes, BRP (Barely Repeatable Processes), the role of traditional hierarchies and structures in today’s work environment while mixing and mingling with a networked organisation and where learning fits in there altogether. Some fascinating stuff in there, for sure! And one of the various reasons why I keep digging quite a bit G+ over other social networking sites. The depth of the conversations has been like no other so far! And it’s thanks to those conversations themselves how one keeps bumping into golden nuggets like the one shared yesterday by Dennis Callahan on that very same thread around “The Future of Work“.


Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius

TED  ß recommended

Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.

The author of 'Eat, Pray, Love,' Elizabeth Gilbert has thought long and hard about some large topics. Her latest fascination: genius, and how we ruin it.  


Have a Rocket to Launch? NASA’s Massive Launch Platforms Are Now on Sale


Space pioneers, super villains, and delusional architects, get your checkbooks ready. NASA is putting its Mobile Launcher Platforms up for sale, and if you’ve got the cash and a business case, you can snag one of three 4,115-ton space shuttle platforms. But you won’t be able to drive it home.

Built in 1967, the trio of MLPs were designed for the Apollo and Saturn programs, and then modified in the ’70s to support the Space Shuttle. The platforms stand 25 feet tall and measure 160 by 135 feet, with an unladen weight of 8,230,000 pounds. Add on an unfueled Shuttle, and it tops 11 million pounds.

But there’s a problem.

NASA is only selling the platforms, not the 5,500-horsepower transporter that crawls along the tracks at 1 mile per hour. That means that whoever buys the MLPs will need to have it completely disassembled, packaged, and shipped from Florida. And no, the space agency won’t help.


Basketball Sleeve Knows When You’ve Hit the Perfect Shot

New Scientist

THINK you've got game? Try this on for size: a sensor-laden sleeve promises to improve basketball players' shooting skills by tracking their arm movements and calculating the arc of their shots.

The sleeve is equipped with accelerometers that sit over the player's biceps, forearm and back of the hand. As they practise, the sleeve keeps track of every arm movement and compares it with an ideal model of arm motion for a basketball shot.

It can either provide feedback through a series of light and sound cues from the sleeve's sensors, or run in silent mode so the player can focus on practising. Afterwards, they can check their performance on a laptop.


U.S. Open To Debut A Giant Social Media Wall To Engage Fans Worldwide


The U.S. Open kicks off on 26 August with plenty of on-site entertainment for tennis-goers. To add to the long list of attractions, The Open will also feature a giant social media wall measuring 50 feet wide and 8 feet tall.

The high-tech wall will pull content from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and display the tweets, posts and photos in real-time. Fans can lend their voice by using the official hashtag #usopen. The wall will also highlight what’s trending and keep attendees up to date with the latest news and upcoming events.


Nicole Jeter West, director of digital strategies and partnerships for the USTA, believes that the wall will have a global reach commenting that, “It also connects our global fan base, combining them with the live event and the attendee.”


Wormhole Is Best Bet for Time Machine, Astrophysicist Says


The concept of a time machine typically conjures up images of an implausible plot device used in a few too many science-fiction storylines. But according to Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, which explains how gravity operates in the universe, real-life time travel isn't just a vague fantasy.

Traveling forward in time is an uncontroversial possibility, according to Einstein's theory. In fact, physicists have been able to send tiny particles called muons, which are similar to electrons, forward in time by manipulating the gravity around them. That's not to say the technology for sending humans 100 years into the future will be available anytime soon, though.

Time travel to the past, however, is even less understood. Still, astrophysicist Eric W. Davis, of the EarthTech International Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, argues that it's possible. All you need, he says, is a wormhole, which is a theoretical passageway through space-time that is predicted by relativity.


Joy of Play

Huffington Post

I remember when I was a kid, playtime was what I looked forward to the most. I think that's on par with most kids. But something happens to us as adults where we get indoctrinated into a system where play gets relegated down the priority list. It's not something we intentionally choose, it's a subtle process where a belief is planted and nurtured that play simply isn't important and as the years go on we wonder why we "feel so old."


Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said:  "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."


This quote hits the nail on the head. Youth is a matter of mind and attitude. I was recently sitting with a friend, who is 62 years old, but he doesn't look 62, he looks younger. He told me, "My face reflects who I am on the inside." Yes, this is true; he is a playful guy, "young at heart" as they say.


Like To Flirt At The Office Water Cooler? A Microsoft Intern Built A Water Cooler That Flirts Back

Business Insider

Some of the projects Microsoft interns create are hilarious.

There's one particular project, from intern Halley Profita, that really caught our eye. Profita is earning her Ph.D. at the University of Colorado Boulder by creating clothes with computer sensors. Your T-shirt might one day monitor your health condition, if Profita has her way.

As cool as that sounds, her summer internship at Microsoft was even cooler because it involved an actual water cooler.

She spent the summer turning ordinary objects into interactive games and placed them in renovated buildings around the Microsoft campus. Using a Kinect sensor, she built a water cooler that flirts with you.

Stare into its bubbly eyes and it stares back.   Microsoft sent us a picture.