Monday, March 28, 2011

Artificial Intelligence in Dire Need of Better Brain Architectures?

Randal Koene - Whole Brain Emulation from Raj Dye on Vimeo.

The above is a video from a conference on artificial general intelligence (AGI) held in Switzerland, last year. The speaker is a neuroscientist -- an outsider to the typical AI person who attends AI conferences. His appearance at the AGI conference indicates that the entire approach to AI is in a state of flux.

The attitude up until recently has been that intelligence does not rely upon any particular substrate, eg, a brain. AI researchers have boldly believed for several decades that intelligence could be built algorithmically inside machine architectures over a relatively short time span. "Sometime within 10 years . . ."

They have been saying the same thing -- "within 10 years" -- since the 1950s. Clearly not very much has happened in the way of significant breakthroughs since the 1950s. In fact, contemporary AI researchers themselves may well be growing less impressive, over time, than the pioneers of the field.

Hence the perceived need for possibly re-thinking the whole "substrate" approach. Another video in the series deals with the requirements of "cognitive architecture." An impressive phrase, although the reality is likely to prove far less impressive.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Surface Detail Fractal World

Another intriguing fractal video. Amazingly complex transformations take place according to very simple rule sets. Change occurs at all scales, and the end result -- if any -- is not predictable. It sounds like the basis of a gambling game. I know! We can call it "life."

Video h/t


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

US Cities De-Populating


First, US cities saw "white flight" -- where white Americans fled cities in the face of dropping property values and rising crime rates and tax rates. Now we are seeing "black flight" from US cities for some of the same reasons. Detroit is the worst example of this de-population phenomenon, but not the only one, according to the 2010 US census.
In all, the city [Detroit] lost more than 237,000 residents, including 185,000 blacks and about 41,000 whites. The Hispanic population ticked up by 1,500. Meanwhile, the black population in neighboring Macomb County more than tripled to 72,723, constituting 8.6% of the county's population in 2010, compared with 2.7% a decade earlier. Oakland County's African-American population rose 36% to 164,078.

...In 1950, Detroit was the fifth-largest city in America, behind New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and it was in the top 10 as recently as the 1990 Census. Now, Detroit is likely to fall to 19th, behind Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio.

...Some pockets of Detroit are seeing growth, led by immigrants, young professionals and artisans, which Mayor Bing sees as an important trend. "We are getting a lot of that 21-to-30 population moving back to the city," he said. "I think that bodes very well for us."

...Detroit's largely Hispanic southwest neighborhood remains stable, helped by new immigration, cheap housing and low barriers of entry, said Angela Reyes, executive director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corp., a community organization. _WSJ

The movement of populations out of crumbling, crime-ridden cities to safer and better-maintained outlying areas is just a foretaste of a larger and wider migration. Americans are in fact moving out of states that are dominated by machine politics, government unions, and high-crime cities. They are moving to states with lower taxes, more business-friendly policies, fewer compulsory unionisation policies, and generally less crime.

Relative newcomer governors of New Jersey, Wisconsin, Ohio, and other states are fighting to save their states from the fate of Detroit, Michigan, Illinois, and California -- states that had been particularly burdened by debt caused by government unions and machine politics. But success is not guaranteed.

In order for western nations such as the US, Canada, the UK, and several European nations to survive, they will need to adopt an entirely new psychology of resourcefulness, toughness, and responsibility. The current paths of hyper-indebtedness, high taxes, over-sized governments and government unions etc. cannot be sustained.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

An Arch of Towering Dimensions


Think of it as a skyscraper laid on its side, shaped into a dome with large holes in it. There is a lot of living and working room implied, depending upon the thickness of the dome itself, and its diameter.
This proposed arched building is a unique solution to the question of how to create density without dominating a skyline or swallowing green space. Proposed for the city of Rennes, France, the gargantuan inhabited dome placed second in this year’s eVolo skyscraper competition. Designed by Yoann Mescam, Paul-Eric Schirr-Bonnans, and Xavier Schirr-Bonnans, Flat Tower envelops a vast green space, has the ability to collect sun and rainwater and is also a sustainable solution to developing appropriately large scale developments. _Inhabitat


It is easy to imagine a seastead dome of this type, arching over a floating base of sufficient buoyancy. The lower, semi-submerged portion may be a mirror-image inverted dome, or another shape more conducive to cross-water directional travel.

The most important consideration is often to nudge oneself out of conventional, rutted ways of thinking, into a workspace for envisioning novel structures, mechanisms, and devices.


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