Articles, Page 24 of 200
Babies are so gullible. Researchers have determined that at roughly 18 months, human babies can discern between conscious and inanimate objects. Naturally, scientists found it necessary to mess with their feeble minds and introduced a series of robots to play with the infants. The children welcomed their future overlords unwitting associating them fellow humans as long as their robotic demeanor was friendly. The test itself is designed around the idea that babies will follow the gaze of other sentient beings. When exposed to other humans interacting with the robots for as little as 90 seconds, the babies assumed the robot was sentient and would look wherever it looked. Without that prior interaction, they did not associate sentient qualities to them. In a nutshell, this means simple robots can now use the “Look! A Blimp!” ruse to fool babies and slip past them sneakily.
Those crazy scientists that gave us modern conveniences like the Internet, GPS and stealth technology are at it again. One new point of research lies in a contract with Boeing to develop an aircraft capable of sustained flight at 60,000 feet for five years without coming down. Such a craft would of course be invaluable for providing battlefield intelligence or carry communications packages. It’s designed under the VULTURE program to be an ultralight, solar powered vehicle capable of remaining on target providing resources at significant cost savings over a dedicated satellite.
I’ve been around ON for awhile lurking in the back shadows. Needless to say, there’s a whole counter-culture seemingly lost in the rampant conservatism here. I for one, feel its time to shake up the nerds.
I wonder if it’s coincidence that vibrators sound like weedwackers? I mean, vibrators were invented in the 1800s, long before vajazzling and bacon strips went mainstream. There were … weeds back then. But now, weeds are whacked. Puberty is SO 1800s. It’s all about prepubescence in 2010.
Personally, I like that polarizing issues are put to a public vote instead of being decided behind closed doors by politicians supporting deep pocketed investo … excuse me, campaign financiers. For the upcoming vote this year, my area has been absolutely inundated by campaigns over the construction of a slot machine casino near a mall here in Maryland. This one just stood out to me because the advertising campaigns have been so intense that I think I hear more on this issue than the traditional dirt on the political candidates. What I do find disturbing on the matter is that given the ads, I have no idea of what the real truth is – all that seems to matter is that whoever has the most money to dump into their campaign is going to seem like the voice of truth.
It’s late, but here are the albums I purchased in September 2010:
- 36 Crazyfists – Collisions and Castaways – More decent post-hardcore.
- Arcade Fire, The – The Suburbs – I’m forever indebted to late night talk shows for helping me find these guys years ago. They keep getting better. (The Arcade Fire, I mean; not late night.)
- Azure Ray – Drawing Down the Moon – I wish they weren’t headed in the Sarah McLachlan direction. It’s the indie-ness that drew me in, and they seem to be losing it.
- Black Mountain – Wilderness Heart – It’s so refreshing to have bands like this stick to their (parents’) roots.
- Books, The – The Way Out – Still doing their electronic indie thing, this is music to play while doing something else, imo. Still good, though.
My employer has a big fundraising drive to support United Way each year – and even goes so far as to match employee donations. Typically there is a coordinator assigned for each group, and he/she works to ensure everyone goes online and makes an election to donate or not. (Traditionally, the biggest reason people don’t donate is because they “weren’t asked” or “didn’t know.”)
I have a different charity of choice, so I typically opt out of making a donation. I’ve always thought of the United Way as being the kind of organization I would support, though. For some reason, I picture the work they do as being worthwhile and not wasteful.
Question for you Nerds:
How much anti-virus protection, if any, do you recommend for your Mac at home, and why?
I’ve been hacked twice in the last week; once, my online bank account and the other time, my WoW account. It really popped my bubble regarding what I thought I knew about Mac security. After reading a bit online, I realize that was probably a combination of being slightly ignorant and vastly over-confident. Bad combination.
What say you?
When discussions of gaming artificial intelligence arise, the topic usually centers around chess algorithms and brute forcing move scores with super-computers. The AI and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference took a different approach, develop artificially intelligent players for the popular video game Starcraft. There were a variety of bot categories and competitions ranging from control strategies, combat, and overall strategy amongst others (results and video demonstrations available here). Although the winners were very successful, the competitive human player still prevailed assuring mankind’s tenuous dominance over Skynet will continue for awhile longer.
While students are developing autonomous racers and researchers make power sliding cars, the military has built a self-patrolling robot to monitor the nation’s nuclear material. It’s designed with enough AI to patrol on its own without operator intervention at 20mph for 16 hours and detect irregularities in the desert environment. When the robot detects something out of the norm, it turns control over to a human. It seems that it would take a small patch to drop in the Avenger’s weapons and targeting to make a fully autonomous killing machine. Sweet!
On 10 October, CBS aired a 60 Minutes episode that provides an excellent overview of Wall Street’s High Frequency Trading systems. It very accurately hits on the points that the system exists to capitalize on penny sized arbitrages executed in huge volumes to profit against probability.1 In the past year, HFT has grown from 30% to nearly 70% of all trades. Their cryptic and proprietary algorithms have been implicated directly in what is now called the Flash Crash. Goldman Sach’s technical director gave a lecture to Princeton on the very topic, detailing (as much as their legal department let him) the evolution of HFT systems, how they played out the Flash Crash and possible remedies for the future.
Not too long ago, the Ninth Circuit Court approved secret federal GPS tracking of vehicles, to include planting the device while it’s in your driveway. An American born student, Yasir Affi discovered one of the devices in his car and reported it to Wired to figure out if it was real. Within 48 hours, the FBI came knocking on his door demanding the return of their equipment.
What bothered me was how BIG the device was. You’d think they would have something far more discrete [see the link to Wired for the picture]. And here I was thinking I’d have to find crazy small bugs when I sweep through my Jeep periodically looking for foreign surveillance devices.
CG effects these days are pretty awesome. But producing photo-realistic CG movies like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 1 or even animated CG movies like Up require years of production, software development and powerful render farms. The Blender Foundation is an organization using and promoting the open source Blender application for three dimensional, CG rendering. Previously, the Blender Foundation has released Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny as entirely collaborative efforts using Blender. They’ve since released a third visually amazing feature, Sintel which required fourteen people about $550K and just over a year to produce for fifteen minutes of screenplay.
Once upon a time, it was joked that nobody would ever need more than 640K of memory.1 Today, some people wonder of what use ever increasing multi-core processors will provide. But given current technology, it seems a performance wall exists around 48 cores according to MIT researchers. The problem centers around concurrent access to the same memory. At certain levels of concurrency, processes are using different portions of memory and there aren’t any conflicts with running in parallel. However, as the number of cores increases, the probability of overlapping needs to access the same overhead and management code (and thus memory) increases to the point that contention becomes a performance bottleneck.
Not too long ago, the Blackberry was all over the news as overseas governments were miffed about not being able to snoop on the mobile devices due to encryption (RIM uses 3DES and AES). They’ve since quieted down somewhat and it may be due to some Russian software. As is usually the case, the best hacks often don’t place where you expect them. Whenever you sync your phone with your computer, a backup is often stored locally for disaster recovery. Both the iPhone and the Blackberry encrypt this file, but Elcomsoft has recently announced the ability to decrypt the Blackberry’s backup (they’ve been decrypting the iPhone for awhile). Despite the strong encryption, the Russians were able to find a weak point in the communication between the mobile and the host allowing them to capture passwords and data to compromise older backup files.