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Comment Re:Intelligence doesn't require that many neurons? (Score 4, Interesting) 75

Khorosho skazano.
The problem is that our so-called 'modern' CPUs can only do exactly what they're programmed to do. Yes, they can perform incredibly complex calculations, such as pattern search and recognition, many orders of magnitude faster than humans. But that's not really the same kind of 'intelligence' that we can clearly see in the behavior of living creatures.

The behavior of CPUs is deterministic, i.e. tend to produce the same output, for a given set of inputs. Biological creatures, OTOH, tend to behave non-deterministically, that is their behaviors, given identical inputs, tend to produce varying sets of output behaviors, with ranges of variances that are difficult to predict.

Nature itself is only partially predictable. (We like to call the part we can't predict "noise".) So the behavior of electro-mechanical robots is very noisy because robots must process noisy sensor data using deterministic methods. Their programs merely react to input, so the humans who write their programs must somehow 'teach' them how to anticipate and react to all possible input scenarios. Which of course is computationally intractable, even for a planet-sized digital computer.

So, mathematically, robots are modeled as servomechanisms, which can operate automatically (more or less) by measuring responses received on their sensors and applying a kind of negative-feedback to reduce the variance of possible behaviors caused by 'recognizing noise' in a non-deterministic world.

We living creatures are much better at this kind of 'automatic behavior' because we are intrinsically non-deterministic machines, whose behaviors don't always 'make sense', but get us, sometimes, to some desired goals, more effectively and efficiently than simple 'random' behavior.

I believe there is a 'Life Principle', which is not yet fully understood, that makes this possible, by imbuing living creatures with mechanisms for consciousness (self-awareness) and motivation (desires and fears). So living creatures tend to have real-time 'situational awareness', which allows them, in effect, to connect to reality and understand and react to the world in terms of their own fears and desires. More or less.

Humans seem to have a lot of this kind of intelligence. Bumblebees not as much. But even the humblest earthworm seems to perceive a buzz of reality which helps them find the dark moist places they love (and avoid the dry, prickly places they fear). Digital computers perform more poorly in these simple reality tasks. (But can compute Pi to a million places easily!)

Will humans be able to build robots with this same kind of Life Principle? I think so, but first we have to study biological life more and actually figure out how it works, up to understanding how consciousness, fear, love and hate operate at a microscopic level.

Currently we can't even draw the simplest circuit diagram for 'consciousness', or build any simple device that 'understands' reality like we (think) we do.

Comment TFA misses point ... (Score 5, Interesting) 33

... namely that these nanorods are incredibly small (5 nanometers), such that they can be 'liquefied' and used as "semiconductor paint". So it's primarily a breakthrough in 'scaling down', not multitasking. Conventional LED's have always had the capability to detect light. (Ever hear of 'photo-diodes'?). But exploiting this dual-functionality has always been inefficient, due to the relatively large size of individual LED's (on the order of millimeters).

As stated in TFA:
"Shim concedes that is possible to use a LED light bulb as a light-emitting device or as a light-detecting device. Even more, for thin film inorganic semiconductors this is relatively easy thing to do, and, in fact, sort of similar to what the researchers have done here at the individual nanorod level. But because the researchers have made the LED pixel from this colloidal nanorod, it can be processed in solution and in turn be used to make large arrays of LEDs."


Comment Re:It is a deterministic machine, has no "free wil (Score 1) 73

> A number of the current hardware random number generators use either resistor noise or balanced diodes.

Yes, by sampling avalanche noise etc. But these devices have to be carefully timed and balanced to eliminate sampling biases. I doubt that such finicky devices would be used in remotely deployed systems. Indeed, the pseudo-random generators tend to be far more useful, in a systems engineering sense, because test sequences can be easily generated by repeating a seed number, for regression testing etc.

In any case, I don't think human free-will (if it indeed exists) is the same as perfect randomness, because I think we'll all agree that human behavior is somewhat predictable on a broad scale. But at the smallest scale, human actions can seem to be very "surprising", yet simultaneously "intelligent". Is that free will? I don't really know.

But so far, no functioning robot, AFAIK, has made any decision that it was not programmed to make, even if it was just flipping random switches.

Comment It is a deterministic machine, has no "free will" (Score 3, Interesting) 73

This is journalistic BS, disguised as 'science'. Like all computers, these robotic vehicles do only what they are programmed to do. Even so-called "random number generators" are deterministic, given the seed which generates them.

We won't be able to impart true "free will" to machines, in the human sense, until we eventually verify that we humans actually do have free will and understand how it works in us. Including understanding self-awareness ("consciousness") and how human reasoning and volition works. (Seems to be and "analog" process, not "digital").

Comment Simple fix. No 3rd party required. (Score 4, Informative) 212

There are two Boolean flag vars in the Registry which turn off the automatic update and free-offer notifications. Using the builtin registry editor ("regedit") drill down to [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows] and look for key entries 'WindowsUpdate' and 'GWX'. If they're not present then use the editor to create new key names WindowsUpdate and GWX in the Windows key list.

Then to disable auto-update add a dword named DisableOSUpgrade under WindowsUpdate and set it to 1 (true)

To disable the freeWin10 upgrade offer notification add a dword named DisableGWX under GWX and set it to 1 (true)

That's it. Now you can turn the automatic Windows-update back and not worry about Win10 being installed. Also you won't be nagged about the free Win10 offer.

Comment Very Impressive (Score 1) 52

The image posted in the article seems to be the output of some kind of scanning microscope (note the vertical scan lines). Perhaps a 3-channel confocal "optical" microscope, which scans the image separately with red, green and blue laser beams, then combines them into a final image (like a "color" TV image). So it's really a false-color rendering of 3 mono-chrome images (but "true" color in the sense that each beam captures the actual color response of the inks in the printed image (like a TV etc).

The article doesn't mention the resolution of the actual image but, eyeball counting the scanlines, it looks like somewhere around 160x80 or maybe 200x100. With 25,000 dots per inch, that's about 984 nanometers per dot, slightly larger than the wavelengths of visible light (380-870 nm).

The limit of optical resolution is about a half-wavelength, so there seems to be enough headroom left for improving this result.

Comment Sea-level threat? (Score 5, Interesting) 289

Sure, when you live on an island barely six feet above sea level, passing hurricanes have threatened (and have succeeded in the past) to wipe these islands clean. But the threat of sea level changes, which have been slowly rising since the last Ice Age, is moot because, in recent times, most of these Pacific atolls have grown in size, due to increasing biomass of growing coral.

Cutting emissions, IMHO, will have no observable effect on these islands. But I can't blame the natives, though, for trying to get the rich nations of the world to give them free transport to higher and safer havens.

Comment Re:Spaghetti sort (Score 1) 82

No. It is a _total_ ordering over the relation "=" in the sense that all pair of elements in the linear are comparable, i.e. elements a and b must satisfy "a=b" or "b=a", which is the requirement for "totality".

In a _partial_ ordering (such as a collection of tree-structured elements) not all elements are necessarily comparable using "=", e.g. elements in different paths.

In plainer English: the strands of a spaghetti-sorted collection are totally ordered by length when traversing along the strand axis towards the table. I.e. each element traversed is greater or equal in length to _all_ ('totality') of the remaining elements yet to be visited.

Comment Re:Spaghetti sort (Score 1) 82

> It aligns their ends against the same reference ( the table top ),
> which has nothing to do with sorting.

But in the process of alignment, a linear ordering is imposed in one dimension, along the axis of the spaghetti rods, such that if you traverse this axis towards the table top, you are guaranteed access to the members of an ordered collection, tallest member first. Quite often that is an acceptable solution, especially if you are only interested in the tallest strands. Perhaps not a general solution to the sorting problem.

Mathematicians insist on perfect, general solutions. Scientists and engineers are often quite satisfied with "trade-off" solutions that work for the problem at hand.

Comment Re:Spaghetti sort (Score 1) 82

> While those methods can no doubt solve certain problems much more quickly than
> conventional serial or even conventional parallel computers, there are certain problems that
> they simply can't help with.

The price paid for surpassing "optimal" general solutions of a problem is that they won't work on all instances of the problem. Quite often that is an acceptable price. It's a trade-off.

Comment Spaghetti sort (Score 1) 82

Perhaps the only way to avoid the mathematically imposed restrictions on conventional computing machinery would be to (literally) use a different mechanism. One that is inspired by the nature of the problem.

For example, consider the problem of ordering a collection of random-length pieces of uncooked spaghetti. They can be ordered in O(1) time by merely grasping them in your hand and striking them against a table top. Ordering 500 strands takes no more time than 50 (ignoring preparation time). Scaling up is merely a matter of finding a bigger hand or table top.

For comparing strands of DNA consider using a 'chemical computer' based on the transcription of DNA in to messenger RNA, which is the 'algorithm' employed by Nature to encode the DNA sequences. Such a machine, in solution, equipped with customized sequences of interest, could theoretically recognize any desired DNA sequence in O(1) time (up to chemical reaction times).

So a simple solution to a complex problem. I'll leave it to you students to work out the details. ;-)

Comment TFA: "For the first time in recorded history..." (Score 1) 292

History has been recorded now for thousands of years, but it is only thanks to satellite technology, starting in the 70's, that we were able to observe and detect hurricanes over the vast Pacific region. So the use of the phrase "first time in recorded history" is a bit presumptuous, IMHO.

My guess is that this has certainly happened before but nobody able to observe and report it. Except ships at sea. And the Cat 4 storms probably sank them before they could get the word out.

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