Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pink Noise Signals You And Your Computer Are One

Interesting article about new study that seemingly proves Martin Heidegger theory that everyday tools become part of ourselves.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Artificial artificial intelligence: Mechanical turks get creative

Until real artificial intelligence hits the scene, there is always artificial artificial intelligence.  In 2005, amazon launched mechanical turk, a website (with a pretty cool name) that allows workers and employers to create a global marketplace for those simple online tasks that stump even the smartest web crawlers.  Amazon calls these tasks "HITs" (human intelligence tasks) and links those that are willing to complete them with those who are willing to pay.

Even if amazon's HIT market hasn't been a runaway success (and has been criticized as a virtual sweatshop) it makes for some pretty interesting possibilities.  Quarter stories, created by new media guru Phil Lamplugh, is a series of stories written by mechanical turks who are paid 25 cents to find inspiration in a photo from Lamplugh's life.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Better Life With Bionics

Check out the latest National Geographic feature on Bionics – complete with a feature article, an interactive section on the bionic body and a photo gallery capturing how bionics are changing lives for the better.

World's First Sex Robot Can Talk About Football

Full Story at the Telegraph.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Artwatch: Memory Helmet by Seungjoo Lee

Protection is the fundamental purpose of the helmet. This helmet, a conceptual design project by Seungjoo Lee, enables the storage and protection of memories.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

State Department Tells Twitter To Delay Scheduled Maintenance

Twitter delayed its scheduled maintenance yesterday after a meeting with the US State Department. The State Department highlighted that Twitter was a very important form of communication in Iran. Like in Moldova, Twitter has help facilitate the organization of protests in the country. Full story.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Topsy Searches Tweets, Bing Rivals Google

I think many who heard about Microsoft's new search engine expected a flop. But 'Bing' rivals google in search results and may even make some improvements in personality features and search result organization. Slate discusses the new engine on the block here, and mentions the short-lived interest in Topsy, a search engine powered by tweets.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Raja Parasuraman Discusses Neuroergonomics

Raja Parasuraman calls neuroergonomics "the merger of neuroscience, the study of the brain, with ergonomics, the study of how to design systems and technologies to be more compatible with what we know about human capabilities and limitations." Full story here.

Google Your Way To Better Brain Health

UCLA find that in older adults, googling and surfing the internet stimulates and may actually improve brain health. "The researchers noted that compared with reading, the Internet’s wealth of choices requires that people make decisions about what to click on, an activity that engages important cognitive circuits in the brain." Full story here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Internet Metaphors: From Static Pages To Streams

In a recent TechCrunch article, Eric Schonfeld discusses a metaphoric shift. For the internet, the dominant metaphor is that of a book, with pages. Now, more and more we are seeing something that looks more like a stream (First with RSS and now with twitter and friendwall). These sites are driving a trend toward fluid, INSTANT information. Traditional websites can't afford not to take note. Schonfeld says "The stream is winding its way throughout the Web and organizing it by nowness."

It does seem interesting that a decade or so after the 'surf' metaphor we get another water-based metaphor in 'stream.' Are we kayakers now? Or still surfing the rapids of the stream. I need someone to organize all the water for me? Maybe a water management technician? A beaver?

(Ward, thoughts on this?)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Newly Unveiled Search Engine Wolfram Alpha Challenges Google

Try the new search engine at

Read the review about how it stacks up versus google here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Search Engine, Wolfram Alpha, Takes Us Closer To Intelligent Search Engine

On May 18th Stephen Wolfram will release the search engine Wolfram Alpha. The program, which is already getting use in the scientific community, employs sophisticated algorithms to answer questions like how high is Mt Everest, what is the fish production in Italy, and what was the weather in London on the day John F Kennedy was killed.

Although not ready to replace traditional search engines like google, Wolfram Alpha shows the potential power 'understanding' searchers questions by utilizing artificial intelligence techniques. (full story here).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ray Kurzweil: Futurist, Inventor, Extremely Interesting Guy

In the new interview in the Guardian, Ray Kurzweil doesn't disappoint, treating interviewer Ed Pilkington to a "high-velocity monologue."  He reveals that since the age of eight his fantasy has been to become a female rock singer called Ramona (a fantasy that he sees becoming a reality with the advent of the singularity circa 2035).  

He also discusses his philanthropic ideas including his desire to "design software that could be downloaded on to all African cellphones that would easily diagnose and provide remedial directions for leading local diseases."

Finally the article concludes with a list of Kurzweil 'Eureka Moments' including:

1984 Perfected the electronic keyboard. Used sampling of the sounds of instruments to produce rich authentic reproductions of the entire orchestra. His Kurzweil K250 is used by Keith Emerson, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton and others

Monday, April 27, 2009

IBM Challenges Jeopardy Contestants

First it was Gary Kasparov, now Alex Trebek. IBM's newest game-playing super computer (named Watson) is set to compete against human contestants in the game show Jeopardy. These occasional publicity stunts are a great way to bring awareness to the huge strides in the field of artificial intelligence.

Compared to chess (in which IBM's Deep Blue defeated Kasparov), Jeopardy is a much different challenge and will tax Watson's grasp on the nuances of the English language. Thus far Watson's performance has been mixed:

For example, given the statement, “Bordered by Syria and Israel, this small country is only 135 miles long and 35 miles wide,” Watson beat its human competitors by quickly answering, “What is Lebanon?”

Moments later, however, the program stumbled when it decided it had high confidence that a “sheet” was a fruit.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Researchers Seek To Map The Connectome

The Economist explores the concept of the connectome and the push to map it:

For, just as every organism has a genome (the complete set of its genes, as encoded in its DNA), every organism with a nervous system has a connectome (the complete set of its nerve cells and the connections between them). In practice, of course, a connectome will change over the course of time as new connections form and old ones die. But that does not stop people like Dr Lichtman dreaming of a Human Connectome Project inspired by the success of the Human Genome Project.