Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think

The Atlantic

Indiana University professor and artificial intelligence expert Douglas Hofstadter directs the Fluid Analogies Research Group (FARG) in a mission to understand how humans think and to write software that functions in the same manner. FARG believes the mind is akin to a unique piece of software and to understand how software works, you must write it yourself. If successful, the group will not only explain human thought, but also make truly intelligent machines. Although in the early 1980s Hofstadter was hailed as a leader in the emerging AI field, his popularity waned as AI proved more difficult than first envisioned and mainstream AI embraced more attainable goals. For example, IBM in 1988 started a language translation project called Candide, opting for a machine-learning approach instead of trying to create a system with a true understanding of semantics, syntax, and morphology. However, Hofstadter dismisses AI shortcuts such as IBM's Deep Blue, which mastered the game of chess but had no deeper insights. "To me, as a fledgling AI person, it was self-evident that I did not want to get involved in that trickery," he says. Although many believe that Hofstadter's work will not yield tangible results in his lifetime, Hofstadter points out that Einstein developed the light-quantum hypothesis in 1905, but it was not accepted until 1923.


Killer Apps that Could Keep You Healthy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recently hosted a competition in which graduate students designed two mobile apps, called FoodFeed and FL•U, to fight the threats of food-related illnesses and the flu, respectively. FoodFeed alerts users about threats that come from food, whether it is from a grocery store or restaurant. The app has three tabs, one of which is a news feed featuring articles and alerts on food recalls, illness outbreaks, and other breaking consumer-safety information. The second tab shows health code violations at restaurants. The third tab provides general information on the risks associated with food. FL•U enables users to share if they have influenza or flu-like symptoms. Users can create a customized avatar that visually displays symptoms the users submit. The app could benefit local health departments, and enable users to see how many people are sick in their area. "Whether it's a natural disaster or a disease outbreak, a public health event can come out of nowhere," says PNNL research analyst Chrissie Noonan, who helped mentor the students. "We're asking how we can stay ahead of the curve, and one answer is to develop mobile tools."


Walk On The Wild Side – The Legacy of Lou Reed for Innovators

Innovation Excellence

Lewis Allan “Lou” Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American musician, singer and songwriter. After serving as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground, his solo career spanned several decades. The Velvet Underground were a commercial failure in the late 1960s, but the group has gained a considerable cult following in the years since its demise and has gone on to become one of the most widely cited and influential bands of the era– hence Brian Eno’s famous quote that while the Velvet Underground’s debut album only sold 30,000 copies, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band


Lesson 1 – Keep it Simple “One chord is fine. Two chords are pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz” – Lou Reed

Lesson 2 – Get the right words and words right

So many times, the quality of an idea is judged by the way it is expressed and delivered. Lou Reed did not have a great vocal range but he really knew how to convey a message within that range.

Lesson 3 – Be unafraid of the dark

Lou Reed was not afraid to write songs that dealt with difficult themes such as addiction, depression, terminal illness, poverty, politics to name but a few. Some will of course say that music is meant to be bouncy and happy. Lou Reed gave music an ability to deal with subjects well beyond sugary pop…

Lesson 4 – Challenge everything

Perhaps the most extreme statement from this ‘rock’n'roll animal’ came from his album “Metal Machine Music”, which consists of 64 minutes of unstructured feedback. This record, following on the heels of commercial success, tested his audience’s patience to destruction. On the sleeve notes Reed remarked:

“My week beats your year”   This uncompromising approach to artistry may be hard to copy, but most innovators break through boundaries.


Lesson 5 – Influence to innovate

“The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.”


I Am Woman, Watch Me Hack

NY Times

The ranks of women in computer science are low and dwindling, and many industry observers blame the field's gender disparity on a public image problem. Although women represented 29 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer and information sciences in 1990-91, the figure dropped to 18 percent 20 years later. Currently, only 0.4 percent of female college freshmen say they plan to major in computer science, and women account for just a quarter of all Americans in computer-related occupations. Many young people do not encounter computer scientists in their daily lives and do not understand the field. Many observers believe that TV shows such as "CSI" and "Bones," which feature women in forensics as leading characters, have helped turn forensic science into a primarily female field in recent years. Few characters in computer science or engineering occupations appear in today's family films, children's shows, and prime-time programs, and among those that do, the ratio of men to women is 14.25 to 1 in family films and 5.4 to 1 in prime time, according to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The Labor Department projects 1.4 million computer-related job openings this decade, and experts say the women of tomorrow could help fill these jobs domestically while earning high salaries in flexible positions.


Computer Science Education: The 'Why' and 'How'

eSchool News

Some U.S. states are starting to boost computer science education as a way to prepare students for high-paying jobs that will help boost the economy. In May, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill to count Advance Placement (AP) computer science as a math or science credit. The state previously offered computer science as an elective, and many students passed over the course for others that met graduation requirements. However, only 35 of the state’s 622 high schools offer AP computer science. Nationwide, just 10 percent of schools offer programming classes, and only 10 states count computer science toward math or science requirements for high school graduation. Experts say the sooner students develop a love for computer science, the better, and in- and after-school activities will be key to helping cultivate and sustain their interest in the subject. Data from the New Jersey Institute of Technology suggests that 150,000 new computing jobs will need to be filled each year for the next 10 years. Computer science is the highest-paid college degree and jobs are growing at twice the national average, but fewer than 2.4 percent of graduates earn degrees in the subject, according to


Top 5 Health Innovations of the Week


Doctor Chair Brings Healthcare Into The Living Room
Japanese electronics company
Sharp has developed a healthcare support chair that can measure the user’s blood pressure, pulse, temperature, body motion, and other vital signs.

Web Robot Can Analyze People’s Moods Through Their Voice
MIVOR is a Mood Interpreting Voice-Operated Robot that is designed to visualize the user’s inner self.

Keyring Makes Medical Records Portable And Secure
MedicalKeyring is a mobile storage device that helps anyone to carry their medical records wherever they go, protected by biometric security.

Fitness Program Uses Google Glass To Gamify Running
Race Yourself is the first app specifically made for Google Glass that enables users to augment their surroundings while exercising.

Slimming Perfume Repulses Dieters From Snacking
Stink Yourself Slim, which markets itself as the ‘world’s first malodorant,’ is a non-toxic but foul-smelling perfume that people can spray around the food that they want to stop eating.


Here's Why 'The Internet Of Things' Will Be Huge, And Drive Tremendous Value For People And Businesses

Business Insider

The Internet Of Things represents a major departure in the history of the Internet, as connections move beyond computing devices, and begin to power billions of everyday devices, from parking meters to home thermostats.

Estimates for Internet of Things or IoT market value are massive, since by definition the IoT will be a diffuse layer of devices, sensors, and computing power that overlays entire consumer, business-to-business, and government industries. The IoT will account for an increasingly huge number of connections: 1.9 billion devices today, and 9 billion by 2018. That year, it will be roughly equal to the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined.


Want people to trust you? Try apologizing for the rain

BPS Research Digest

If you want people to see you as trustworthy, try apologising for situations outside of your control such as the rain or a transport delay. That's the implication of a new study by researchers at Harvard Business School and Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

The most compelling evidence came from Alison Brooks and her colleagues' fourth and final study in which a male actor approached 65 strangers (30 women) at a train station on a rainy day to ask to borrow their mobile phone. Crucially, for half of them he preceded his request with the superfluous apology: "I'm sorry about the rain!" The other half of the time he just came straight out with his request: "Can I borrow your cell phone?" The superfluous apology made a big difference. Forty-seven per cent of strangers offered their phone when the actor apologised for the rain first, compared with just nine per cent when there was no apology.

The field study followed three laboratory experiments. In the first, 178 students thought they were playing a financial game with a partner located in another room. They were told that on some rounds the computer would override their partner's decisions. Later, if their "partner" (actually the whole thing was pre-programmed) apologised for a computer override, the participants tended to rate him or her as more trustworthy and were more generous towards him or her as a result. This despite the fact the apology was superfluous and for a situation beyond their (the partner's) control.

In a second experiment, 177 adult participants (average age 28) watched a video of a stranger approaching a flight-delayed passenger at an airport to ask to borrow his/her mobile phone. The participants were to imagine they were the passenger and to decide how to act. If the stranger was shown apologising for the flight delay before making his request, the participants were more likely to say they'd agree to share their phone with him, as compared with a no-apology control condition, an initial conventional apology ("Hi, I'm sorry to interrupt"), or an initial neutral greeting (Hi, how are you?).


'Sadly by Your Side' is a Music Video Experience with Synesthesia


In a world full of interactive music videos trying to make it to the top, "Sadly By Your Side" may take the cake. Developed by graphic designer Matteo Di lorio, the project is a book, iPhone app, interactive experience, music video and debut album all-in-one for electronic musician edisonnoside. It's the second product of Fabrica's "Objectified mp3" series, a campaign in which all of the firm's studios collaborate to redesign the way that they create, distribute and share its music.

The experience incorporates sound, imagery and literature in an experience the designer likes to describe as synesthetic. Once you open the app on your iPhone, you aim your camera at a page in the book to calibrate the colors on the page to your surroundings. Each song has its own page in the eight-page book. After the app recognizes the image and its colors, it will incorporate the three colors (red, blue and black) to the images coming through your camera—almost like you're a part of the music video.



Dying teen covers Katy Perry's 'Roar'

CNN    YouTube

Cool story - Liv Wise Fund