Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Fibonacci Sculptures That Animate Under A Strobe Light

My colleague Bob Doran brought this beautiful video to my attention. 3D Fibonacci sculptures that animate under a strobe light. Isn't maths wonderful!

Blooms: Strobe-Animated Sculptures from Pier 9 on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Future of Life Institute

"Technology has given life the opportunity to flourish like never before... or to self-destruct." So warns the Future of Life Institute a "volunteer-run research and outreach organization working to mitigate existential risks facing humanity." Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have both recently warned that AI could cause the end of humanity. The FLI is therefore focusing on potential risks from the development of human-level artificial intelligence. If you are working in AI or related disciplines you are encouraged to sign an open letter "arguing that rapid progress in AI is making it timely to research not only how to make AI more capable, but also how to make it robust and beneficial."

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The IKEA "BookBook ™"

It's still sort of the holiday season in New Zealand so we are enjoying the more lighthearted side of life. This parody Apple advert amused me - introducing the  IKEA "BookBook ™"

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Poker program Cepheus is unbeatable

My research group has been developing computer poker applications for many years so it was with considerable interest to see a headline in the Guardian newspaper that read "Poker program Cepheus is unbeatable, claim scientists." Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada, who have long been the leading research group in computer poker, have used "four thousand computer processors, each handling six billion hands every second. With each game Cepheus [the name of their system] played, the program built up a database of cards dealt, betting decisions and outcomes. At the end of the marathon training session, the database contained 11 terabytes of information on calls, raises and folds for every hand a player could have." It will be interesting to see if Cepheus competes in the annual Computer Poker Competition and if it shows a step change in performance. However, we will have to wait until 2016 for the next competition.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Artificial intelligence reveals previously unrecognised influences between great artists

My colleague, Mark Wilson, brought this interesting application of machine learning to my attention; a program that detects artistic influences between artists.

It's quite easy for us to see that Georges Braque’s Man with a Violin (left) and Pablo Picasso’s Spanish Still Life: Sun and Shadow are clearly related to each other - both were painted in 1912 and are pioneering cubist works. However, a new technique developed at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Microsoft research in Cambridge, UK can find relationships and influences which hitherto have been unknown to art historians. You can read more about the project here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Tears of Donald Knuth

Happy New Year. I hope you all had a good festive season. I'll start this year's blog with a link to a fascinating article on the history of computer science by Thomas Haigh in the Communications of the ACM titled "The Tears of Donald Knuth" brought to my attention by colleague Bob Doran. This interesting piece puts forward a very cogent argument as to why there is so little written about the history of computer science - basically you can't make a career at it; computer science histories are therefore mostly written by CS academics as a hobby in their spare time, not by trained historians. You can read the full article here.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Harvard Researchers Build $10 Robot

There's been a lot of attention in the last year about various initiatives to encourage children to learn how to code; with new programming languages and of course the inexpensive and increasingly popular Raspberry Pi computer. To this we can now add a robot developed by Harvard University researchers that will cost just $10. The "Affordable Education Robot is a low-cost robot designed to introduce students of all ages to the fundamentals of programming and control of robots, with the hope of inspiring them to further pursue studies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)." Learn more about this robot here.