Monday, September 8, 2014

Ever wondered how Amazon makes money

Amazon often seems to sell things so cheaply that we often wonder how they can possibly make on profit on that. Is it just because of the massive volume of sales. This article on the Andreessen Horowitz blog drills down into some detail precisely how Amazon's business model actually works - it's complicated. This article was brought to my attention by my colleague Mark Wilson.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Plan to Build a Massive Online Brain for All the World’s Robots

This is a clever idea (in fact I thought of it a few years ago as well). Now with excellent WiFi and 4G connectivity there is no need for an individual robot to carry all its processing power onboard. Instead they can delegate some decisions to the cloud. Wired recently reported on a project to do just this - to build a massive robot brain in the cloud. Indeed I believe that Google's driverless cars can also use the cloud to aid their decision making. I can't find a link for this so would be grateful if a reader who knows a relevant URl could comment.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tate Britain Is Offering Everyone Remote Tours, Using Robots

One of my favourite art galleries recently offered remote tours of its exhibitions by robot after hours. Wired reports that "Since at least the 1960s, we’ve romanticized night time visits to art museums. In From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, published in 1967, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a 12-year-old runaway’s chosen hideout destination." I really wish I'd been able to take a tour and I hope other museums take up this idea. In the meantime this video will have to suffice.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Email Is Still the Best Thing on the Internet

We keep being told that email is unproductive and there are better ways to communicate productively. For example Justin Rosenstein , the co-founder of Asana a productivity software startup says: "Email has become a counter-productivity tool.” However, an interesting article in the Atlantic Monthly puts all these sales pitches in their place. Email is a great tool, possible the best thing about the Internet!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Forget Turing, the Lovelace Test Has a Better Shot at Spotting AI

I recently blogged about a chatbot, called Eugene Goostman, that was claimed to have passed Alan Turing’s famous measure of machine intelligence in June by posing as a Ukrainian teenager with questionable language skills. Motherboard notices that "the world went nuts for about an hour before realizing that the bot, far from having achieved human-level intelligence, was actually pretty dumb." This article proposes the Lovelace test for AI that demands an act of creativity from an AI rather than automated conversational skills - it's an interesting idea and would be a good way of honouring Ada Lovelace.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Claude Shannon's Ultimate Machine

Claude Shannon is best know for inventing digital logic, proving that boolean logic and binary arithmetic can be implemented with just AND, OR and NOT (or indeed just NAND or NOR). Not content with that discovery he went on to found the science of information theory. But perhaps his crowning achievement is the invention of the "ultimate machine" a device of cunning digital simplicity.

Monday, August 11, 2014

These robots cheer for absent fans at South Korean baseball games

File this one under "weird." The South Korean baseball team, The Eagles, haven't won the championship in 15 years; they're commonly know as The Chickens! But still their loyal fans come to watch and cheer their side on. So of course, being South Korea, it was natural for them to create robots who could cheer for absent fans. An unusual use of the concept of telepresence. Watch the video below to see how it's done. This story was brought to my attention by my colleague Mark.