Viewing entries tagged
artificial intelligence

Machine of Human Dreams #sheffdocfest

Machine of Human Dreams #sheffdocfest

Today, I took part in a conversation focused on the ideas within a documentary directed by Roy Cohen called Machine of Human Dreams. It focuses on the story of Ben Goertzel and his work to make a robot which could demonstrate Artificial General Intelligence. It was a great chance to re-visit some of the early ideas around the AI research world and we covered so much ground, from Deep Blue vs IBM and the Turing Test, to a future in which all human jobs become automated and where we need to figure out what will be left for us to do.

It was fantastic to take part in this event and fantastic to see how a neuroscientist who took a documentary film module while at university found a way into telling one of the most complicated stories in science today. Very grateful to Erinma Ochu, who worked with Wellcome Trust to curate this programme of events, which gave me a chance again to be at the amazing and inspiring Sheffield Documentary Film Festival.

Drones in the House of Lords

Drones in the House of Lords

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This week, I received a report from Lord Haskell, detailing the House of Lords debate of 8th September, in which he kindly mentioned my work on drones. This is an important citation for Project Daedalus and great to have made a link there for NESTA. Here's the report, crucial reading for all UAV/drone users. Our online toolkit is also online now! Here's a link to get started on learning about drones.

Drone Society

Drone Society

Video essay, from my talk at #YorkFoi York's Festival of Ideas.

Drones at #CheltSciFest

Drones at #CheltSciFest

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This week, I took part in a panel at the Cheltenham Science Festival focused on the use of drones in every day life. I talked a lot about Project Daedalus and some new innovations, particularly high authority autonomous systems - essentially completely intelligent drones - while Gerry Corbert from the Civil Aviation Authority gave a run down of the rules and regulations surrounding application. He was quick to point out that the guidelines that surround UAVs were never designed for the very small UAVs which can now be picked up in toy stores or even the Apple store, but there were some key issues that seem unresolved. One of them relates to this video:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZkZ4FONiiw

This example of a form of augmented reality glasses being used to give FPV perspective of the drone's camera is provocative because the CAA guidelines stipulate that flying with FPV goggles is actually not legal, since the pilot must always have visual line of sight (VLOS). However, these glasses offer transparency which permits VLOS, while locating the drone's camera feed within the glasses as well. So the question is, 'is this legal?'

This seems one of the future directions around the use of augmented reality devices with drones, making even more complicated the way in which the rules operate.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 11.50.45
Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 11.50.45

Salford Sonic Fusion Festival

Salford Sonic Fusion Festival

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As each month passes @SalfordUni, there is another amazing thing happening. The other week it was #SonicFusion, directed by Prof Stephen Davismoon who just happens to be best mates with Prof Eduardo Miranda, a remarkable composer and AI researcher at Plymouth, whom I have worked with and known for a few years now. There is a staggering amount of experimental innovation at Salford University and this weekend of really provocative and beautiful audio visual experiences was no exception. Here's what I grabbed during the weekend:

Happy birthday to you? When sentiment becomes automated

Happy birthday to you? When sentiment becomes automated

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Yesterday, I published a piece in the Huffington Post about the increased use of automated technology within social media.

Photo of "LoveLetters_1.0”' by David Link 

Happy birthday to you?

by Andy Miah, for Huffington Post

Today is my birthday. It began in the typical fashion - checking my mobile for Facebook birthday wishes. Afterwards, everyone got up and we opened presents, had breakfast, and so on. Later came text messages, then telephone calls and, eventually, the post. This seems to be the communication hierarchy today. But, it was really Facebook who occupied prime position today.

I say ‘who’, as if Facebook is a living person, which of course, it is not. Yet, we do imbue our computers and devices with identity and intention. Computer programmer Alan Turing imagined a world where computers did exhibit the same kind of intelligence as humans and automating intimate birthday greetings may be one step closer to that.

Just this month, the Computer Conversation Society awarded a prize to an artistic installation by David Link, who recreated a programme from one of Turing’s contemporaries, Christopher Strachey, who created an automated ‘love letters’ programme, which would spew out messages designed to stimulate feelings and emotion.

After having read a few of my lovely greetings from lovely people, I started to feel whether something similar was going on. Could there be an app that is allowing my ‘friends’ to create automated birthday greetings? After all, some of the people who were sending messages were not really close friends, not even people within whom I interact once in a blue moon.

So, a quick search and yes, there is an app that does this. You can even personalize the automated message by introducing a name or creating a selection of possible greetings that it will select randomly, so it doesn’t seem suspicious. Before you ask, no, I am not sharing the link to this application! In fact, I think such an app is both an indication of what is great about web 2.0 and what may bring about its demise.

Transforming such an intimate communication as a birthday wish into an automated message, betrays the value of social media and the human relationships it is supposed to foster. But, people do need help. Most of us far exceed Robin Dunbar’s counsel that the human brain has space for only around 150 meaningful relationships and ‘add friends’ like they are going out of fashion.

Like many, I am someone who forgets birthdays and tries hard to put birthday dates into my digital calendars to ease the burden. However, with calendar migration, new devices, etc, things have got lost and I’ve missed birthdays. Furthermore, my trusty kitchen wall calendar doesn’t have much ink on it these days. Facebook has become our most reliable place for anniversaries, because the person – or thing - whose birthday it is reminds us, since they who imputed the date into the global calendar.

The problem is that this service has become so good that Facebook is getting dangerously close to being a ‘who’ rather than a ‘it’. Facebook is starting to take more credit for my birthday greetings than my friends and the entire process of expressing sentiment between people is becoming automated.

Being forgetful is one thing – even if it is forgetting someone special on their birthday. Removing the entire human agent from the communication process because of this forgetfulness is quite another.

The problem is that, whichever way we turn, we are in trouble. If we don’t write a message that could make Alan Turing’s computer fail, then our friendship is in jeopardy. Yet, tailoring every message to the recipient would be a full time job. At the same time, if we don’t have time to write the message, then I’m not even sure it’s reasonable to expect the recipient to click ‘like’ in respond

For my birthday, I’m determined to reply to every greeting. Even a conversation that starts with an automatic message may lead somewhere fruitful. Although, I do wonder whether there is an automated ‘birthday greeting reply’ app out there.