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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lifenaut Brings Historical Figures Back To Life

Lifenaut's Historic Lives project aims to bring historical figures back to life as conversational avatars. Although their speech abilities are still developing, the avatars have the potential to become excellent educational tools. With time, a student may be able to use a historical avatar like a sophisticated, entertaining search engine, calling up detailed information (from the mundane to the epic) about how these historic figures lived. The applications extend beyond the classroom however. Businesses equiped with conversational avatars of past CEOs could quickly reference parts of the companies history, not through the objective lens of a search engine but through the subjective and insightful lens of the CEO's memory.
In a variety of forums the organization of historic information in these conversational avatars has the potential to change the way we think about information organization and acquisition.
Are you a historic expert or buff? You can help Lifenaut assemble their avatars.

What Is Mindware?

Martine Rothblatt answers 100 questions about the coming age of our own cyberconsciousness and techno-immortality. Use the new blog link on the right to follow along.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless (Rat) Mind

The New York Times reports that researchers in Brooklyn are opening the door to editing brain memory. The process, performed successfully on rates, has potential for both erasing and strengthening memories.

Robot With Brain Of A Two Year Old Looks Unspeakably Evil

Image and story from Dvice.

This little fella reminds us of the importance of design and aesthetics when attempting to create robots meant to interact with humans. The topic was briefly considered in the post, I Respect You, I Love You, I Am Absolutely Terrified Of You.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Honda's Asimo Controlled By Thought Alone (Crocs Not Necessary)

Researchers fitted with a brain machine interface have successfully controlled the movements of the superstar robot Asimo through thought alone. The process isn't ready for public display however. Honda says that getting the human participants to avoid distractions is still and challenge and that each person's brainwaves are so different the calibration process takes several hours. Once these obstacles are overcome, the Asimo technology could become very useful for the elderly or disabled.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Martine Rothblatt Discusses Mindfiles

Interesting article on the blog Mindfiles, Mindware and Mindclones. In it, Martine Rothblatt says "your mindfile is accumulating regardless of your awareness of it." She goes on to lay out the reasons why individuals would want to systematically back up their entire mind through the organizations specifically devoted to the task.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Google's New Caddie Technology

New Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) from google automates email responses. Check out "intriguing webpage."

The Next Frontier For Pain Relief

Microtransponder aims to develop a wireless neurostimulation system for the treatment of chronic pain and several other neurological indications. The minimally invasive device will provide relief from chronic pain without requiring an implanted battery or wires. They have received the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and three separate NIH SBIR grants.