Friday, October 28, 2011

2011 Loebner Prize won by Rosette

The 2011 Loebner Prize competition is over and the winner is... Rosette, by Bruce Wilcox, who scored 1.5 and wins the bronze medal and $4000 USD. None of the entries fooled the judges, so no silver or gold medal was awarded. As far as we know the Minsky Loebner Prize Revocation Prize has still not been awarded either. Judges this year included Noel Sharkey, Antony Galton, Paul Marks, and Jonny O'Callaghan. This year's event was held at the University of Exeter. The rest of the 2011 results can be found on the Exeter website. Full transcripts have not been published yet but should appear on the Loebner website shortly. The I Programmer blog posted the transcript of Rosette's winning conversation. If you'd like, you can chat with Rosette yourself. Read on to see a transcript of my own chat with Rosette.

Timely as I'm off to a seminar on 'AI - a Legal Perspective' via Ryan Calo's Stanford Internet Law group, who seem to be the group spearheading the discussion of robot identity.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Another cool Aussie company - first Siri hack

Great company/duo from Australia, Omar Kilani and Emily Boyd with Remember the Milk. See the full write up in SMH article "Aussies First to Get Inside Siri's Head"

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Collaborative Discovery Engine meet Water Hackathon?


Two great ideas I've been following recently: Hybrid Wisdom Lab's Collaborative Discovery Engine and World Bank's Water Hackathon.

I wonder if there's a future together for them? Solutions to water problems shared by water professionals using this visual social search?

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Only Spiders!


Only saw spiders on my walk today. Atleast I finally got to walk this week. I also saw the mist lifting off the tops of the hills like rising steam. Wait a minute. I only saw spiders? (borrowed picture again not mine)

There were spiderwebs everywhere, little ones on every blade of grass, large ones strung between trees, funnels on the ground, streamers in the air. I am always amazed by how my default interest is searching for bobcat and deer and other roughly pet or person sized things.

I wonder if this is a social reflex or visceral? Ironically, the deadliest creature on the planet is the mosquito, so I shouldn't be searching too hard for snakes and sharks!

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Monday, October 17, 2011

Whitehead’s Media Theory—a beginning

Adventures in Jutland

Whitehead’s Media Theory—a beginning


(Alfred North for those not living in the 1930s) Whitehead presents a little remarked upon but comprehensive ‘media theory’ that resituates media in the world, not “bifurcated” from a large slice of it. This theory is arguably more complete, if similar to, and yet predating, McLuhan’s. Indeed McLuhan read Whitehead extensively (see Douglas Coupland, Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! 45, 59). In Whitehead’s theory of media there is no “bifurcation” between different types of signal (technical or natural, for example). Thus Whitehead’s philosophy becomes one in which the complexity of signal at the level of the world is paramount. Signals become “vectors of transmission” for the (“prehension” of) feeling which is central to his account of process. The world is a medium (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 286)—or a multiplicity of worlds (284) are mediums—for such vectors. For “the philosophy of organism the primary relationship of physical occasions is extensive connection,” (288) not simple extension of previously existing “things” (such as “us”).

Whitehead also preempts the very basis of both McLuhan’s thought–“the medium is the message.” He writes, “These extensive relations do not make determinate what is transmitted; but they do determine conditions to which all transmission must conform” (ibid.–see also Steven Shaviro, Without Criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics, 52). In a similar but again perhaps more comprehensive manner than McLuhan, Whitehead further understands the “the human body” as a kind of signal transducer or modulator, “…as a complex ‘amplifier’–to use the language of the technology of electromagnetism” (119). Even more than this,  “the predominant basis of perception is perception of the various bodily organs, as passing on their experiences by channels of transmission and of enhancement” (119).

There is more to say on this on another occasion. Here I will just point once again to the undoing of the bifurcation of nature within Whitehead’s philosophy with regard to signal.

Douglas Coupland, Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work! [New York: Atlas, 2010]

Steven Shaviro, Without Criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics [Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009]

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality [New York: The Free Press, 1978]

Andrew Murphie's take on Whitehead and McLuhan's media theory is very succinct. McLuhan has become popular again but close examination of his work reveals sources including Whitehead and Innis, both of whom have more depth to their theories. Whitehead's process philosophy seems increasingly relevant in understanding a world where the 'original' separations between animate and inanimate, human and non-human are shifting and "the relation is the smallest unit of being and of analysis"(Haraway 2008:156).
I don't know why Andrew Murphie's blog is called Adventures in Jutland. More reading is called for.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Planet of the Apps - not totally unreal

Planet of the Apps

New toy ... intrigued gorilla prods iPad
New toy ... intrigued gorilla prods iPad

A GORILLA prods the new toy which scientists hope will transform the way primates are kept alert and happy in zoos — an iPad.

Animal behaviour experts handed out the gadgets to five apes in an experiment. The super-smart gorillas quickly learned to turn the screens on and off and seem fascinated by the colours and pictures.

Amazingly not a SINGLE one of the five tablets which download apps has been broken since being given out at Port Lympne wild animal park three weeks ago.

Head keeper Phil Ridges said yesterday: "We thought they would bang them on rocks but they carry them round as if they were babies."

Gorillas get iPads to aid alertness and keep them happier in zoos | The Sun |News
.... this story is dated April 1st .... but I couldn't resist it.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Bobcats Up Close!


A surprise bobcat sighting on my walk today. A pair of bobcats sauntered past me while I was stretching at the top of the little hill trail near home. They weren't fussed by my presence at all. From the squalling and caterwauling after they went into the bushes, they must have been a mating pair.

Every time I go for a walk I see something new and interesting but it can be just small things like butterflies, scat, clouds etc. and I nearly didn't go out today because it was already the middle of the day so I didn't expect largish animals to be about.

One of them was going to walk straight by me on the trail, while the other was more cautious and went around the tree, but by the time I'd fussed around finding my phone to take a photo, they'd both gone into the underbrush. I've borrowed a lovely photo from Tory Kallman Photography that looks just like my sighting.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New Zealand 'Hasn't Forgotten... |

NZ 'hasn't forgotten Christchurch'


Last updated 05:00 08/10/2011

Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae wants Christchurch to know that the rest of the country still cares, even if the focus appears to have shifted to the Rugby World Cup.

Mateparae yesterday spent a "sobering" morning walking the earthquake-hit streets of Redcliffs, stopping to talk to residents.

"It is over a year since the September quake, and then the February quake ... and you can still see the physical devastation," he said.

"That doesn't convey the emotional and people tragedies, which had been very sobering. But people do still think about them, even with the passage of time, and even with the Rugby World Cup, people do still care."

Redcliffs resident Fletcher Stanton, who helped establish the Redcliffs on Sea community information centre after the February 22 quake, gave Mateparae a tour of the area.

"It's unfortunate that no-one takes any notice [of Redcliffs] because we're supposed to be filthy rich, but everyone is in the same boat here," he said.

Redcliffs on Sea started as a small stall on February 23, giving out bottled water and food.

It grew into a big operation, supplying pet food, fresh water, hot meals and finding tradespeople to fix damaged properties.

- The Press

Next Christchurch Earthquake 2011 story:

Big variation in quake buyout legal fees

The Press Homepage

Sponsored links

Post a comment
328   #4   05:39 pm Oct 08 2011

No, NZ hasn't forgotten about Christchurch; its just that alot of them are sick to death of hearing about us and our shattered city, houses, businesses, and lives. They have no concept of what happened or of the damage. I have had people in Europe, Australia, and even parts of NZ, who innocently asked me 'so, has life returned to normal now'.

Michael   #3   02:14 pm Oct 08 2011

yeah right!

maggie   #2   01:24 pm Oct 08 2011

@1 Jeffrey, I have to agree. I went to a mtg in Wellington for work recently and no-one seemed to be aware that life had changed here or even asked whether it had. You get to the point where you just don't talk about it to anyone outside Chch. This is very sad, and adds to the feelings of isolation and despair. I begin to understand why people needed RSL clubs after the war as they couldn't talk about their experiences to anyone else but those who had been through it.

Jeffrey Huffadine   #1   01:04 pm Oct 08 2011

NZ hasn't forgotten Christchurch?At least it is interesting to see that the new Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae has actually been touring Christchurch and has thought of Christchurch since the February and September and June quakes and reiterated and reminded NZ that this country hasn't forgotten Christchurch.Not many governor generals would say that NZ hasn't forgotten Christchurch.The reason for Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae for being in Christchurch was because of the Rugby World Cup and also my guess is as good as anybody elses that NZ cares about Christchurch.

Post comment

One year of earthquakes for Christchurch, NZ. I'm living in the Bay Area now but hearing stories from my old home town makes me realise just how unprepared I am for a serious earthquake event. The few relatives I have still in Christchurch are incredibly stoic. So much was destroyed that everyone is grateful for whatever they still have, but the cost of rebuilding and the length of time it takes is hard to grasp when you are safe. The TV cameras aren't on anymore.

While the same applies to Japan in the aftermath of the tsunami, and also Joplin, USA after the tornado or New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, there is one huge difference. NZ is not a very large country. Japan's horrific tsunami is economically the worst natural disaster in total cost, but the cost of the Christchurch earthquake to every person in NZ is approx $200,000 per person and blowing out all the time.

There have been three major quakes (Sept 2010, Feb2011 and June 2011) and many small aftershocks are felt every day. More stories from the front line include this collection at:

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ada Lovelace Day - Carol Bartz

It's Ada Lovelace Day and to share the woman in tech who inspires me was hard. I can think of a lot of fantastic tech heroines. Ultimately, I choose Carol Bartz, ex CEO of Yahoo and AutoDesk. Throughout her entire career she has not been afraid to be a woman in a hostile environment. She stayed in tech, she fought to the top of the industry and she kept a family life balance, saying it's not possible to be perfect. She looks totally glamorous, swears like a trooper and worked her way through a comp sci degree as a cocktail waitress.

On balancing a career with family, Bartz says: "I have a belief that life isn't about balance, because balance is perfection ... Rather, it's about catching the ball before it hits the floor." ^ Kharif, Olga. “To Autodesk – and Beyond?”Business Week. (May 12, 2004) via Wikipedia/Carol Bartz.

In the 70s, Bartz worked at 3M but they wouldn't promote her because "women don't do these jobs", so she moved on to various companies including DEC and Sun Microsystems. As CEO of Autodesk in 1992, Bartz transformed the company into a focussed highly successful business. Bartz also served on several boards and has been a member of the United States President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Bartz's move to Yahoo in 2009 was perhaps a 'glass cliff' as most were sceptical about the chances to resurrect one of the original internet dinosaurs, huge but facing extinction.

 In spite of pleasing business analysts with her performance over the last two years, Bartz was ignonimously dumped from Yahoo a few weeks ago, whereupon she called the board a bunch of 'doofuses' who had 'fucked her over'. I love how Bartz went out fighting. She also continues to behave with integrity, honoring commitments made before leaving Yahoo for talks, donations, and visits. 

She's telling it like it is. Sometimes it just can't be rosy for women in tech. I love the Wired cover of Limor Fried, who is another kickass tech girl goddess. But evoking Rosie the Riveter just reminds me of what happened to all those women who ran the factories and farms while the men were at war. Booted out when the war was over.

Although Ada may have been forgotten, originally computer programming was going to be a female job, while the men built the hardware. But it seems that the moment an industry looks interesting and/or lucrative, it becomes a male industry. 

Statistically, no matter how well women are performing academically, and no matter how many great role models we can now point to, there still aren't many women at the top.

"Since 1966, the number of women receiving bachelor's degrees in science and engineering in the US has increased every year to come close to half. The proportion of grad students closer to 40%. The more technical an area is seen to be, the fewer the number of women.

Research on women's participation in the "hard" sciences such as physics and computer science speaks of the "leaky pipeline" model, in which the propoertion of women "on track" to potentially becoming top scientists falls off at every step of the way, from getting interested in science and math in elementary school, through doctorate, postdoc, and career steps. Various reasons are proposed for this, but the vast differences in the "leakiness" of this same pipe across countries and times argue for a cultural interpretation.



Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Robotics Club Fun again

The first Lego League Season is in mid swing. I'm delighted to have the chance to coach at my children's middle school, having suffered withdrawals from Newtown Robotics Club. 



Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Exploring identity politics


Technology is able to infer relationships between objects that might otherwise require a curator or human interpreter to describe. Both the instruments pictured above were used to brand or define. The devil is in the details. (via catherine styles)
As part of his ‘Mining the museum’ installation at Maryland Historical Society in 1992–93, artist Fred Wilson placed a set of shackles in a display case with fine silverware and titled it Metalwork. Pow. United by the metal of their fabrication, the racially-divided, hierarchical histories of these objects dramatically distances them:

Who served the silver? And who could have made the silver objects in apprenticeship situations? And [...] whose labour could produce the wealth that produced the silver?

A general principle can be distilled from this. Perhaps: In the very moment we identify a similarity between two objects, we recognise their difference. In other words, the process of drawing two things together creates an equal opposite force that draws attention to their natural distance. So the act of seeking resemblance – consistency, or patterns – simultaneously renders visible the inconsistencies, the structures and textures of our social world. And the greater the conceptual distance between the two likened objects, the more interesting the likening – and the greater the understanding to be found.

This simultaneous pulling together and springing apart of the sociophysical world interests me, and I’ve been thinking about it in relation to Sembl, where the challenge of the game is to identify a way in which a given object is related – surprisingly or humorously or otherwise interestingly – to another object.

What constitutes ‘interesting’ is of course difficult to define and depends to a large degree on the particular players playing. But if the natural conceptual distance between the two related objects is great, the relationship is more likely to be interesting – perhaps because it enables you to think about something in a new way. That’s what made Wilson’s juxtaposition of shackles with silver tableware interesting, and powerful.

Posted via email from andragy's posterous

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Key To Success: Be A Man | The Current Conscience

It’s been nearly two months since I launched this website, which primarily features my point-of-view and my writing. It’s also been seven months since I began actively writing about women.

In my writing, I discuss issues that brilliant women writers and commentators have already written and talked about for many years—these women are much more talented than I am and they are the ones who actually face the issues that I address.

So, even though I am not always discussing anything new, my site has received hundreds of thousands of hits in the last month and a half, with little promotional effort on my part.

And while I know I worked hard to get here, hours and hours of endless writing and research, more all-nighters than I can count, there’s an overriding element that plays into my success: I am a man.

An enjoyable read. One minute I think this is good, the next...

Posted via email from andragy's posterous