I’m back and ready to round up some of the best and most interesting stories from around the web you may have missed this week (with a couple older ones thrown in there).
David Deutsch writes an interesting article about AI, specifically AGI or Artificial General Intelligence, the ability to think like a human.
“To state that the human brain has capabilities that are, in some respects, far superior to those of all other known objects in the cosmos would be uncontroversial. The brain is the only kind of object capable of understanding that the cosmos is even there, or why there are infinitely many prime numbers, or that apples fall because of the curvature of space-time, or that obeying its own inborn instincts can be morally wrong, or that it itself exists. Nor are its unique abilities confined to such cerebral matters. The cold, physical fact is that it is the only kind of object that can propel itself into space and back without harm, or predict and prevent a meteor strike on itself, or cool objects to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero, or detect others of its kind across galactic distances.”
And while we are on the subject a bot has been created for UT2004 that passes the Turing test. This of course does not make them better, they just appear more human.
“We may look back on this moment and realize it was the beginning of the end for the human race. Scientists and students at the University of Texas at Austin created bots in Unreal Tournament 2004 that were perceived by other players as human opponents more often than the actual human opponents. “
Failing to make your robot have human like intelligence? Lets face it in many applications human intelligence is a drawback not a benefit. How about looking a bees for your inspiration?
“Honey bee brains could soon be helping robots act more independently. The way that bees smell and see is being studied in a £1m project to produce a simulation of the insect’s sensory systems.”
Next up some astronomy, a new comet has been discovered and it is going to be coming pretty close.
“If astronomers’ early predictions hold true, the holidays next year may hold a glowing gift for stargazers—a superbright comet, just discovered streaking near Saturn. Even with powerful telescopes, comet 2012 S1 (ISON) is now just a faint glow in the constellation Cancer. But the ball of ice and rocks might become visible to the naked eye for a few months in late 2013 and early 2014—perhaps outshining the moon, astronomers say.”
This week it turns out Jeremy Clarkson may have been right when he said a Land Rover Discovery was more environmentally friendly than a Toyota Prius.
“The Norwegian University of Science and Technology study found greenhouse gas emissions rose dramatically if coal was used to produce the electricity. Electric car factories also emitted more toxic waste than conventional car factories, their report in the Journal of Industrial Ecology said.”
And, still on cars, what about driverless cars? I am of the opinion that driverless cars will be the only thing that makes travelling in the UK possible 5-10 years from now. Building new roads won’t do it, there is no room, and ultimately it is people that cause traffic jams by driving too close or breaking too hard not the volume of traffic, if the cars were driverless this would be a thing of the past. There are some concerns though
“Google co-founder Sergey Brin believes that “self-driving cars will be far safer than human-driven cars” but who trusts them enough to drive in them or even alongside them? Drivers will not need a driving licence by 2040. At least that is what the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers believes. It thinks autonomous cars capable of driving to any destination are set to become the norm.”
Dyson Spheres. No, nothing to do with vacuum cleaners that never loose suction, a Dyson Sphere is the idea of building a structure in a solar system to harvest the energy of a star, popular in Science Fiction and named after Freeman Dyson, some scientists think that looking for them in space may be our best shot at detecting alien civilisations.
“A team of alien-hunting astroboffins has been awarded a grant to search the sky for immense engineering feats that would reveal the existence of astral civilizations far, far more advanced than us puny humans.”
Now in politics it is quite common to, if you can’t refute your opposition’s policies, start slinging mud, digging up their shady past and exposing it to the world. But what if there is no mud to sling? Well I can only assume that this was the case this week…
“Maine Republicans have created a webpage revealing that Democrat candidate Colleen Lachowicz plays an orc rogue in World of Warcraft (WoW). Ms Lachowicz’s liking for back-stabbing and poison in WoW raise questions about her “fitness for office”, they claim.”
Video this week comes from the BBC (thanks to funtech31 for uploading it on YouTube). The only thing that I would argue about is that more people need to learn physics regardless of gender, but getting some equality in there first is not a bad idea.
Have a brilliant week!