You know a memorable photo when you see one, but now so does a new artificial intelligence (AI) system called LaMem.
MIT’s website lets you upload your photos to try out the algorithm, which we first saw over at Discover Magazine.
To create LaMem, the researchers showed a random set of 60,000 images to users of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk site.
One of the great laboratories of the future and its side-effects is science fiction. ‘The wall flickered partially out of existence as he stepped through to the corridor,’ wrote Arthur C Clarke in his novel The City and the Stars (1956), ‘and its polarised molecules resisted his passage like a feeble wind blowing against his face.’
Typical of the symbiotic relationship between science fiction and fact, Clarke seems to have got this idea from the physicist Richard Feynman, who in 1945 predicted the possibility of molecular engineering. Feynman argued that any material could one day be constructed from the atom up – and, moreover, that complex miniscule mechanisms (‘nanobots’) would become viable, ‘a billion tiny factories, models of each other, which are manufacturing simultaneously’. It was conceivable not just that concrete, for example, would be strengthened with polymers but that it could come to resemble a living substance, mutating on demand. And then where would that leave architecture? Read the rest of this entry »
Part I: Commandments on
to Have a Bad Graduate Career
I. Concentrate on getting good grades
– Only once I gave below B in grad course
– 3 prelim courses only real grades that count
– What matters: Letters of recommendation
» From 3-4 faculty & external PhDs who have known you for 5+ years
Last Sunday, I taught six kids of ages 5 to 7 how to program. “In what programming language?” you may ask. Well…I didn’t use a programming language, at least none that you know of. In fact, I didn’t even use a computer. Instead, I devised a game called “How To Train Your Robot”. Before I explain how the game works, let me tell my motivation.
I learned how to program during my freshman year at MIT when I was 19. It’s not because I didn’t have a computer at home or I hadn’t heard about programming languages. It was because (a) I thought programming was boring and (b) no one had told me why I should bother. In fact, my computer teacher in high school had told me “you don’t need to waste your time learning how to program. Now we have visual tools to build programs. Programming languages are already obsolete.” That was in 1994 and he was referring to Visual Basic. Luckily for me MIT
wiped all that nonsense away in a matter of weeks. But does one need to wait to go to college to get the proper education?
Herr told the story of his transformation from double amputee after a climbing accident, to exceeding what he was previously physically capable of on the rock face.
With technology I am released from these shackles of disability – we will end disability in this century
Herr was told by doctors that there were many things he would never be able to do in life, let alone ever climb again. However, 24 hours after hearing that news he decided the doctor was wrong.
“Technology is not invariant; it’s being upgraded all the time. My body was completely fine, beautiful and powerful. The only hold back was technology and bad design. Technology changes and we can innovate. I climbed at a superior level after my limbs were amputated.”
We will design nature and change nature under our own power – we will give ourselves new bodies
Herr said he embraced the challenge of what his new limbs could be, thinking of a “bionic limb”, rather than a fake-looking human false leg.
“I can be any height I want – think Inspector Gadget. I could climb where no one had before, with three-metre legs. A few people actually said ‘you’re cheating’.”
Herr said it was within our capabilities to fundamentally transform the biological brain and body, extending the sensory experience. He painted a picture of using technology to enhance our bodies.
“We will design nature and change nature under our own power. In the future people will be wearing robots. You don’t need a missing leg to exploit this technology – we will give ourselves new bodies.”
Herr said that in 30 year from now, everyone will be able to modify and sculpt their bodies in a way they see fit.
If you look at a photo after my legs were amputated, do you see the potential for a human who will go beyond human capability?
“Our bodies are plastic and malleable, our very identities are plastic and malleable. A year after I was told I was crippled, I was even more powerful and strong.
“If you look at a photo of me after my legs were amputated, do you see the potential for a human who will go beyond human capability?”
Herr believes that “disability will be overcome” through creativity and innovation.
“You can’t, with a straight face, say that I’m disabled. With technology I am released from these shackles of disability. We will end disability in this century.”
Herr concluded: “In the future, humans will experience a transformation in how they sense, think, feel and move. I dream of a world without disability; I ask you to dream with me.”
If you fall within the Gen-Y era like us, chances are you’ve given a bunch of thought as to how you would raise your own children in this day and age (assuming you don’t have children already). Especially with technology, so much has changed since our childhoods in the 90s. Here’s one question: Would you introduce the technological wonder/heroin that is the iPod and iPad to your kids?
Steve Jobs wouldn’t, and for good reason too.
In a Sunday article, New York Times reporter Nick Bilton said he once assumingly asked Jobs,“So your kids must love the iPad?”
Jobs responded: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
Especially in Silicon Valley, there is actually a trend of tech execs and engineers who shield their kids from technology. They even send their kids to non-tech schools like the Waldorf School in Los Altos, where computers aren’t found anywhere because they only focus on hands-on learning.
There is a quote that was highlighted in The Times by Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and a father of five. He explains what drives those who work in tech to keep it from their kids.
“My kids accuse me and my wife of being fascists and overly concerned about tech, and they say that none of their friends have the same rules… That’s because we have seen the dangers of technology firsthand. I’ve seen it in myself, I don’t want to see that happen to my kids.”
If our current addictions to our iPhones and other tech is any indication, we may be setting up our children for incomplete, handicapped lives devoid of imagination, creativity and wonder when we hook them onto technology at an early age. We were the last generation to play outside precisely because we didn’t have smartphones and laptops. We learned from movement, hands-on interaction, and we absorbed information through books and socialization with other humans as opposed to a Google search.
Learning in different ways has helped us become more well-rounded individuals — so, should we be more worried that we are robbing our children of the ability to Snapchat and play “Candy Crush” all day if we don’t hand them a smartphone, or should we more worried that we would be robbing them of a healthier, less dependent development if we do hand them a smartphone? I think Steve Jobs had it right in regard to his kids.
So the next time you think about how you will raise your kids, you may want to (highly) consider not giving them whatever fancy tech we’ll have while they are growing up. Play outside with them and surround them with nature; they might hate you, but they will absolutely thank you for it later, because I’m willing to bet that’s exactly how many of us feel about it now that we are older.