Friday, May 29, 2015

Singularity? What singularity?

Have a read of this (courtesy of   Here is the original post by Zeljko Svedic.
I must agree with Svedic's claims: most of the worry about "singularity" or smart mchines are based on anthropocentrism and irrational human ideas. This is the main reason that I have not read all the hype by the fear merchants about this supposed techno-apocalype.  If the machine is so smart why would it bother having anything to do with a bunch of insects?

There is also a whole of baloney about some machine that has the purpose of making paperclips, but ignore that - if it only has the purpose of making paperclips and it has not thought beyond that then it is not intelligent at all, certainly not smarter than a human. We know what the paperclip is used for, and we know the greater purpose of paperclipping: an intelligence does not obsess over one tiny goal, it survey the bigger picture to see what the greater purpose is, and it probably would not care about humans except as a footnote in it's history.

Thankyou Zeljko Svedic.

There is also another lesson here for humans:  Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and various other important people are no smarter than you or me.  Don't ever be fooled into thinking that someone else is soooo much wiser than you: none of us are and we can all be fooled and manipulated by emotive content if we are not watching out for it.

Scarey huh?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

No robot takeover this year

No doubt you have heard of the Singularity preachers or the fear of robots turning into Terminators and wiping out all those stupid, inefficient humans  . . . .  well, just in case you are concerned about that happenning,  here is a video that will spell out just how far, far away that mythical event is.

Don't get me wrong, I admire the work these people are doing - but it is quite clear how far we are from a robot that can do the simplest domestic duties.  Check out the Darpa Robotics Challenge on June 5th to see the best they can do too.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Wanting To Believe?

Getting around in space is very wasteful because the only known way to do so is to take some mass (matter) and throw it out the back of your ship as fast and hard as possible (thus "Newtonian motion": action producing reaction). 
The reports of a device that claims to derive thrust without throwing matter away can be seen here on The Verge  (The EM drive) I am not surprised if it doesn't work, since the idea behind it seems to be vague and it is hard enough to make a real object from a clear idea.
But . . . . 
There are also a number of variants of a mechanical thrust-producing device loosely termed The Dean Drive.
Look here and here at Steve Hampton's site.  This is very different from the previous example which featured microwaves bouncing around in a metal container: the site includes video of mechanical devices that can and do provide thrust without exhaust or movement of the outside medium (air or water).

Okay, I amit that I want to beleive this, but there is something more to it: on the Dean Drive page we see simple diagrams explaining how it works.  If Steve Hampton has faked it, why did he keep building more versions and models if the first one didn't work?

I fully expect that this type of drive will not be able to get a ship into space or levitate a car against gravity - the thrust derived for weight of the device would make that very difficult, but it could be used to drive things in space provide it works as shown in the video . . . . so the question then becomes "Why is this not getting researched by NASA and others?"

Here are my probable answers, you can choose among them for yourself.

1. Science has become a bureaucracy and it has rules, the most fundamental being Newton's laws of motion. Anyone claiming to modify or otherwise alter these holy laws is automatically wrong.

2. Trendy scientist don't like mechanical devices any more - they are too "last century", and scientists have already discovered EVERYTHING about mechanical devices. If it were solid state and involved electronics, that would be okay. 

3. Something to do with patents, lawsuits, ownership and so on: someone already has claimed this and will sue the ass off anyone trying to use it for serious commercial gain.

4. NASA has already tested it and it didn't work in space - so show us the proof - the Youtube vid where they tested it  on rails (or whatever) in a vacuum chamber and it DIDN'T move.
DON'T give me any long winded "explanation" by a Ph.D about why "it won't work".

Ah, but I really don't expect any replies to this.  Nobody reads this, it's just my own example of one hand clapping.

The Sprout

I haven't bought a 3D printer yet, but I'm looking . . . .  I just stumbled onto this: The HP Sprout.

It's a PC with built-in 3D scanner (in the unit overhanging the screen along with a projector and lights) and a huge touchpad which the overhead projector can turn into any control interface you can imagine.  It runs a Core i7 and a 1TB Hybrid drive and Windows.
You can check out a review of it here and here is HP's own video ad for it.

I'm guessing this is part one of HP's 3D strategy: part two, the HP 3D printer, is due next year and should be really interesting: how will they deal with two big issues of 3D print at the moment, colour and speed, while making something ordinary folks can afford? 

Regardless of that, nobody else seems to have noticed that this device has a pretty darn amazing interface  - if that pad had a soft surface and an LCD under it instead of the projection over the top, it would be the interface design I imagined as a kid - an infinitely flexible, design-your-own  approach to control.  Apparently the interface needs some tweaking but that's to be expected from a new idea, and I'm sure HP geeks are hard at work on it right now. This is the first new idea to actually excite my nerdiness for a long, long time.  Great work HP. 

What? That other computer company? no sign of them in 3D space so far. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Web Teev gets Betterer

The grand non-event that was Netflix free for a month is nearly up. It was a non-event because when I went to use it, it installed MS Silverlight  (which I already had) . . . .  then nothing. Not a soss . . . nor could I find any help that would allow me to figure out why it didn't work .  . . . . but then I really don't care,  I stopped watching telly a long time ago.  Netfix and it's ilk are really Teevee on a computer - and we have a Teevee already. 
The one thing I saw recently that I enjoyed watching was a cartoon show from Adult Swim called "Rick and Morty".  It was free over the net of course. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Intelligence? You must be joking!

Have a look at this: Someone has assembled a large database of people from data publicly available  on LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites who claim to have experience using Spook grade software and work experience in  Spookery.   I can see a whole lot of people getting dismissal notices if this is true: seroiusly, you would have to be pretty stupid to post online in publicly available databases anything relating to your job if you really were a spook, right? I can imagine that some poor idiots might post claims to work for Security Organisations in attempts to impress people or counter their personal sense of insignificance . . . . It would be nice to think that REAL spooks would not be so dumb . . . . .  but then human nature is what it is.  Oh well, look on the bright side: anyone looking for a job in spying can probably expect a whole lot of vacancies coming up real soon.