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Comment Interesting proof of concept (Score 4, Insightful) 88

If the construction costs cited are true, even given the small size of the demonstration house, this seems a very viable approach. One would imagine most of the human labor could ultimately be replaced by robots, and (although 24 hour completion is impressive) taking a whole week would not alter the economics significantly. (I guess that might not be true if the capital cost of the printer makes the investment uneconomic at, say, 20 to 30 houses a year, but I doubt that is the case.)

Comment Re:What is Facebook thinking? (Score 5, Informative) 122

It is even worse than the summary suggested. The BBC did not originally send the evidence to FB. They did so when FB asked them to ahead of an interview arranged with FB's director of policy Simon Milner. Reporting them to the police for providing what they were requested to beggars belief.

Comment Facts and alternative facts (Score 5, Insightful) 94

In the current political climate, a computer that can simultaneously deal with facts and unfacts may have useful applications. In the past, we only needed to keep track of real data. Going forward, it seems we need to simultaneously handle both actual data and what the user wants to be the actual data. Being able to draw conclusions from the superposition of both versions of reality needs to be extended from social media into practical applications.

Comment Important milestone (Score 4, Interesting) 164

Unlike with games like Chess (best moves can be precisely calculated) and Backgammon (simple probabilities), Poker requires adapting to human behavior, indeed varying your play depending on what you learn about your opponent. The techniques are going to be applicable to a wide range of situations. For instance, I will go so far as to claim that we will shortly be wise to use an AI to advise us on investment decisions. (In the past, the computer has been used for speed, and reacting to subtle market signals, but not so much for long term investment planning.)

The next challenge is going to be independent learning. I believe human experts still supervise the learning process of all the best AIs. Once the need for the human adviser goes away, AIs are literally going to be everywhere. Your phone AI will recognize and react to your current mental state, as well as help you overcome everyday problems. The AI in your fridge could become a huge help in keeping you compliant with your diet plans.

Comment Re:This is so depressing (Score 1) 153

I guess your point is that artificial intelligence can never exist. Even when, as now, the final trained system operates in ways we do not fully understand, we still know the algorithms that underlie the learning process. Only something mysterious and not properly understood in its entirety could be regarded as "intelligent". As a corollary, scientists who rely on computer simulations to predict climate change are not showing intelligence. Only climate deniers who use their intuition, unbiased by stupid computer models are showing creativity and intelligence. In fairness, intelligence is a difficult thing to define. However, dissing everything involving algorithms and processing power as inherently unable ever to be considered as "artificial" intelligence appears to me misguided.

Comment This is so depressing (Score 5, Insightful) 153

I can remember when /. attracted some of the best informed and intelligent people you could find anywhere on the Internet. Now, all we have are members who inform us that we do not need computers, and their ability to find correlations in huge data sets. All we need is the intuition of smart people.

Look back at the early proposed tests for artificial intelligence. When supervised deep learning systems can use the immense processing capabilities of modern computers, to not only match, but to exceed the capabilities of humans in a wide range of problem spaces, it is appropriate to describe the result as "artificial intelligence". We do not mean literally that we have an intelligent bunch of integrated circuits and harddrives. But, the overall system can produce results that we would until recently have considered only achievable by human experts. Indeed, our AIs, in many situations, exceed the capabilities of the best human minds.

I am used to the idea of the general public feeling threatened by the capabilities of modern technology. I just wish sites supposedly intended for intelligent, scientifically-informed individuals could be exempted from such lack of reason.

Comment Basically, the mainstream theory, or not? (Score 4, Informative) 90

As I understand it, the Giant Impact Hypothesis has Theia's impact creating debris that gradually coalesced into the moon. That this debris formed several smaller moons before they joined up seems plausible, but I am not sure what is really different about what they are proposing.

Comment Re:Neural net != Artificial Intelligence (Score 1) 99

The term used for the popular recent solutions is "deep learning". To be more specific, the most effective solutions are "guided deep learning". The term "guided" means that the important inputs and outputs are partly chosen by humans trying to tune the learning process. Progress has been rapid in just the last two or three years. Image recognition, for instance, an extremely tough area until very recently, is now pretty much solved. In this area, the next frontier to be cracked is totally independent learning without any need for humans to be involved. Such a breakthrough may or may not be achieved quickly.

Another very interesting area of research is how to deal with imperfect information. Where large amounts of data is available, and that data can unambiguously be used to determine a correct solution (such as moves in chess, or analysis of MRI scans for tumor analysis) artificial intelligence can already surpass the performance of any human if the AI system is given sufficient training. With AIs that must deal with imperfect information (especially prediction of what humans or other AIs might do) progress is being made, but the best humans are generally still superior to the best AIs. Examples are playing poker, and stock market decisions (though the latter is still heavily AI assisted).

Still a major problem for AIs is where limited clearly relevant data to guide decision making is available. Clearly, humans rely on a lot of peripheral experience to suggest a plan of action. The actions taken may be imperfect, but at least there is a basis for the decision. Before AIs can be made equally (or hopefully more) adept, the process needs to be better understood.

Comment Re:Neural net != Artificial Intelligence (Score 1) 99

If you want to eliminate neural nets as a form of artificial intelligence, you are going to need to conclude that most human "reasoning" is similarly not really intelligent behavior. Plenty of research shows that humans make most decisions in a manner highly analogous to those in neural nets (and you can predict the result of this "reasoning" by brain monitoring before the subject knows which decision he is going to make). It is true that humans, if challenged, will attempt to justify their decisions, but their justifications are often pretty nonsensical. Meanwhile, while complex neural nets, trained by large volumes of empirical data, indeed cannot simply explain how decisions are reached, we at least can control the data used for that training. Human "decision making" is based on data that is often highly dubious, and (although subject to attempted justification) similarly shaped by complex training from large data sets that cannot be explained simply.

Comment Where is my USB port? (Score 1) 52

I like the idea of a USB stick that can reveal my HIV status. However, I have two questions about how this works:

  • Where do I plug the USB stick in?
  • How does the USB stick display the results? Does it have red and green lights that glow appropiately when the analysis is complete?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Comment All speculation (Score 1) 711

If it really does work (and extraordinary claims do require extraordinary proof) we have absolutely no idea how. The current explanations do not make any sense within known science. Who knows, maybe we have stumbled onto a way of directing dark energy. At this stage, I am not dismissing the possibility that it is the science discovery of the century, though I still consider it more likely than not that further study will debunk it.

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