Google’s Grim

Following up on the Lancet Study I found more examples of how Google’s Adwords mistakes / regular listings can be somewhat odd and grim. The search was “Iraq Deaths”

[Google] Sponsored Links

Iraq Deaths
Looking for Iraq Deaths?
Find exactly what you want today.

Internet for US Soldiers
Satellite Internet access available
in US bases Iraq and Afghanistan

The Flamingo Hotel, in 1946. Bugsy Seigel’s Desert Dream

The Flamingo Hotel, in 1946. Bugsy Seigel’s Desert Dream

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck.

An image of early Las Vegas – the Flamingo Hotel – from pictures on the wall at the Tropicana. I was struck by how modest and small these original hotels seem by modern standards, especially those of Las Vegas where resort palaces like the Wynn and MGM now tower above the Flamingo and Tropicana, themselves huge versions of their original humbly gangsteresque Las Vegas beginnings.

China – Lenin had it backwards

This note from the China Venture News:

… nearly 75 percent of Chinese employees would prefer to work for wholly-owned foreign companies rather than joint ventures companies and wholly-owned Chinese companies according to Manpower research.

Lenin is often quoted as suggesting that capitalists would sell to communists the rope the communists would use to hang them. Sorry Vladimir but you had it pretty much backwards. Communism in both Russia and China is in the process of evolving into a new form of capitalism, and the workers of the world are uniting with … us (aka the capitalists),  preferring the stability of US capitalism to the challenges of neo-capitalist communism.

There goes the neighborhood Mr. Lenin dude!

How Artificial is your Intelligence?

This is Jabberwacky, winner of the top Artificial Intelligence award.

More artificial intelligence bots are at this AI link, showcasing several programs that are designed to communicate as a human would communicate.

While Jabberwacky makes extensive use of user input to create it’s answers, most of those at the other link are based on A.L.I.C.E., a remarkable chatbot program that often fares well in Turing Test competitions, though no computer has yet to pass the Turing Test which suggests that a skilled judge’s inability to distinguish an artificial intelligence from a human one will be a key milestone in computing. I’d guess this is only a few years away, though computer consciousness appears a more elusive goal with most experts estimating the date of that milestone to be around 2020.

Ian notes the limitations of these ALICE bots in the comments below, and at his blog suggests a Googley alternative that would take Google query info and embed it in a conversational style to pass Turing.

Las Vegas – Bodies… The Exhibition

The Las Vegas to Minnesota to home trip had two big “educational” highlights. The first was the Tropicana’s Bodies Exhibition in Las Vegas which showcases human bodies preserved using an advanced technique of injection and plastination. A similar exhibit called “Body Worlds” is touring many major cities and I’ve since learned that Body Worlds is actually the first such exhibit, with other copycat (or CopyHuman) exhibitions like the one I saw in Vegas. Nonetheless it was a fantastic exhibit, gazing as you did into dozens of hearts, brains, and bodies of amazingly preserved human cadavers.

The circulation system, injected and illuminated in all it’s full body glory, was the most stunning of the exhibits for me. Like a giant plant the arteries and veins extended throughout the body.

However in terms of intrigue I simply can’t get the little 3 pound brain exhibit out of my head. Or maybe I should say it’s so clear that you really CAN separate the 3 pound brain from the rest of the body. It would not work for long without the bodies supportive mechanisms but it’s reasonable to assert that it’s that little 3 pound organic computing mechanism where we find so much of the stuff that makes it fun to be a human.

Coming as I had from an Internet conference and very computerized sensibilities, it struck me how this little blob held all the answers to science’s elusive and exciting goal of conscious computing, or the creation of an artificial intellect that is aware of it’s own existence.

I’m using my own conscious computing mechanism to suggest that the debate over differences between our own brain and mechanized intelligences will eventually prove to be almost irrelevant to the issue of “consciousness”.

Clearly our organic computing mechanism, the brain, brings a lot more to the table than the current crop of silicon bretheren, but equally clearly the silicon versions have surpassed us in many respects such as mathematical computation, chess, etc, etc. In fact it’s hard to think of highly structured “intellectual” activity where computers can’t outshine humans. I’d predict that this superiority will increasingly move into the realms of arts, literature, and other abstract endeavors.