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Supercomputer passes the Turing test by mimicking a teenager

Alan Turing

After 64 long years, it looks like a machine has finally passed the Turing test for artificial intelligence. A supercomputer in a chat-based challenge fooled 33 percent of judges into thinking that it was Eugene Goostman, a fictional 13 year old boy; that’s just above the test’s 30 percent threshold. Developers Vladimir Veselov and Eugene Demchenko say that the key ingredients were both a plausible personality (a teen who thinks he knows more than he does) and a dialog system adept at handling more than direct questions.

You’d have good reason to be skeptical about such bold claims. Others have touted success in the Turing test, only to be shot down later; even then, 33 percent isn’t exactly a decisive margin of victory. However, Eugene’s creators argue that theirs was a true test, where there were no topics deemed off-limits. They also had independent verification for the results.

AI like Eugene is still far from being truly persuasive, let alone sentient. Still, this could be a significant milestone in building computers that mimic the subtleties of human conversation. The timing is also exceptionally fitting — it came both on the 60th anniversary of Alan Turing’s death, and just months after the computing legend received a pardon that put the spotlight back on his achievements.

Filed under: Science


Via: The Telegraph

Source: University of Reading


Android can now wake you up when you’re close to your bus stop

Sleeping on the subway

If you’ve ever taken the bus or subway home after drinking too much at a party, you know how tough it can be to get off at the right stop — you may fall asleep well before then. That shouldn’t be an issue if you’re using a recent Android phone, however. Android Police has noticed that the latest version of Google Now on Android lets you set an alarm that wakes you up shortly before a favorite destination comes up; you can safely catch some shut-eye knowing that you’ll still be home on time. There are third-party apps that offer similar reminders, but it’s good to have a built-in safety net when you’re not entirely sober.

[Image credit: Jose Antonio Navas, Flickr]

Filed under: Cellphones, Transportation, Internet, Mobile, Google


Source: Android Police


Customize the Daydream feature in Android with Daydream Widgets

Daydream Widget

Like most of us, are you trying to make your Daydream feature in Android a little more useful? Daydream Widgets is the missing link in making one of the most underused features in Android actually useful.

Added in Android 4.2 Daydream is a feature that Android added that is more or less a screensaver for your device while idle or docked. The feature will allow the Daydream screensaver to display an array of visually appealing colors, photo frame, photo table, and more to entertain you while your device is docked. Some apps have built in Daydream plugins to display information relevant to the app, but most are not very customizable.

Daydream Widgets takes this bland Android feature a step further by allowing you to put almost any widget you want on the Daydream screen. You can pick a couple widgets and even personalize the background color of the Daydream. Imagine having your weather widget displaying by your email and your calendar while your device is docked. The widgets will cycle and show up one right next to each other or one after another depending on how you have it configured. The goal is to personalize the Daydream to your specific needs so that it will be most useful for you.

This app is an extremely easy to use and fully customizable solution developed specifically to make Daydream full of useful information, information that you want.

Daydream Widgets is a free app that you can download in the Google Play Store.

The post Customize the Daydream feature in Android with Daydream Widgets appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Alleged iPhone 6 Rear Shell Shown From Multiple Angles in New Photos

Back in late May, a single photo of an alleged rear shell from the iPhone 6 surfaced, showing what appeared to be a thin metal part with cutouts on the rear for not only the camera, microphone, and flash, but also the iconic Apple logo.

A new photo set shared by [Google Translate] now shows a similar part from various angles, with its apparent high quality bolstering speculation that this may indeed be a genuine iPhone 6 shell.

iphone_6_shell_front_rearInterior (left) and exterior (right) of alleged iPhone 6 rear shell
Side views of the shell show the now familiar cutouts expected for the iPhone 6, including the standard mute switch and elongated volume buttons along the left side. The right side features a SIM tray toward the middle and what has been reported to be a relocated power button, with Apple perhaps moving the button from the top edge to the side to make it more accessible on the larger device.

iphone_6_shell_sidesLeft and right sides of alleged iPhone 6 rear shell
The report mentions that the cutout for the Apple logo points to the possibility of a lighted logo that could be used for notifications, but we believe this to be unlikely. Shell cutouts for the Apple logo are not uncommon for iOS devices, although they have not been seen on the iPhone before. But for iPad models, Apple has traditionally preferred to use a shell cutout with an embedded Apple logo rather than printing the Apple logo on the shell, in some cases such as in the original iPad placing antennas in the region to help overcome the shielding effects of the metal casing.

For the iPad mini, the Apple logo was printed on the first-generation models, but for the current generation the company has shifted to an embedded logo. As a result, we expect an embedded iPhone 6 logo to similarly be for aesthetic or perhaps antenna reasons rather than for illuminating the logo itself.

The iPhone 6 is expected to debut around the September timeframe, perhaps initially with the rumored 4.7-inch model while an even larger 5.5-inch model arrives up to several months later. Apple should also be releasing iOS 8 to the public at around the same time based on past patterns, and Apple’s iWatch is tentatively targeted for an October unveiling.


Gadget Rewind 2004: iRobot Roomba Discovery

Little robot helpers found a place in our hearts and homes in 2002 when iRobot introduced the Roomba. This house-cleaning ‘bot definitely made for an odd addition to the company’s existing lineup of space exploration, minesweeping and tactical support devices. But beyond the novelty factor, the first Roomba model wasn’t an immediate success for the company.

After heading back to the drawing board, iRobot released a vastly improved model in 2004 called the Roomba Discovery. It had enhanced cleaning powers, longer battery life and was significantly smarter. The Discovery may not have been a true replacement to traditional vacuuming, but it definitely justified its cost and earned a solid customer base. It was also affordable, costing only a couple hundred dollars compared to competitor products like the 2004 Electrolux Trilobite, which shot well past the $1,000 mark.

Whereas the first iteration of the Roomba spent most of its time traversing in ever-growing spirals and occasionally hugging walls and furniture edges, the Discovery had a better grasp of its environment. Its underbelly featured independently controlled wheels and a brushing mechanism for clearing away muck and mess that it stowed in an onboard, bagless bin. Sensors informed the Discovery when it had given most of a room enough of a cleaning, and even helped it return to the charging dock when it was finished. The Discovery was even smart about battery management: If its two-hour battery life was waning, it would head to the dock early to charge up.

Although the Discovery was better equipped to sense its surroundings, it wasn’t foolproof. On many occasions, owners would find their confused robovac repeatedly seeking an escape from a wall corner, caught between table legs, or held up by wires or various other household items. And while it was a fairly successful solution for light housekeeping, the Discovery wasn’t meant to thoroughly clean an entire house. It was designed merely to do a dry sweep of rooms, not mop floors. To cover that functionality gap, iRobot expanded the line in 2005 to include the Scooba, a model made specifically for washing and scrubbing floors.

iRobot’s success with its Roomba and Scooba lines eventually led to a variety of spin-offs with dedicated functions. In the late aughts alone, the company released the Looj for gutters, the Verro for pools, the Dirt Dog for industrial workspace messes and the Roomba Pet Series. The Roomba line may have splintered off over the years to service different cleaning needs, but one thing has remained consistent: its ability to entertain pets.

Filed under: Household



The Big Picture: Beijing’s urban e-waste economy

Head out of Beijing in a north-westerly direction, and you might pass Dongxiaokou village. Perched on the outskirts of town, the Dongxiaokou is where a lot of Beijing’s electrical waste goes to be forgotten about. Not by everyone, though. The village has become a hub for immigrant workers that make a living plundering the e-waste for scrap materials or repairable items. Despite the tough living conditions and low income they receive, residents are concerned that plans to urbanize the area could mean an end to their livelihood.

[Image credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters]

Filed under: Misc


Source: Reuters


Google considers $15M Songza purchase


With streaming services booming, Google is apparently looking to supercharge its services, now in talks to acquire Songza, according to the New York Post.

Songza, a music curation and streaming service, creates playlists based on time, date, mood, activity, etc., which are all things missing from Google Play Music All Access.

Some examples of playlists from the Songza website homepage include “Waking Up Happy,” “Drinking Gourmet Coffee,” “Working Out,” “Recovering From Last Night,” and “Brand New Music.”

Songza, which has about 5.5 million active users, is a free service that has been dabbling with advertising as of late, creating playlists co-branded with products such as Febreze’s “Sleep Serenity,” the Post said.

Rumor has it that Google is offering Songza around $15 million to help it better compete with services like Spotify with 24 million active users and Pandora with 77 million active users.

If the deal goes through, it could just push the search giant to become an even bigger player in the music streaming industry, and they may need it too to compete against Apple and Beats.

Source: New York Post

The post Google considers $15M Songza purchase appeared first on AndroidGuys.


Inhabitat’s Week in Green: Terrafugia, Urban Skyfarm and a motorized ‘home in a box’

Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.

Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast in the fall of 2012, causing widespread devastation and billions of dollars in damages — and future superstorms will likely be worse. But the US government is doing something about it, providing nearly $1 billion in federal funding for projects that will make the coast more resilient in the face of climate change. HUD announced six winning proposals this week, and they include some of the world’s top design firms. OMA, the firm founded by Rem Koolhaas, received $230 million to rebuild the damaged areas of Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken and protect them from future superstorms. Bjarke Ingels’ BIG Architects was awarded $335 million to create a series of protective planted berms and flood walls in lower Manhattan’s flood zones to make them more resilient to storm surges. SCAPE/Landscape Architecture won funding for its Living Breakwaters project, which will provide a buffer against wave damage on Staten Island. A team from MIT also won funding for its plan to transform and protect the Meadowlands basin in New Jersey and expand current marshland restoration efforts. And Walter Meyer has developed a proposal for creating a 50-acre nature park with sunken forest that could protect the Rockaways from future storms.

Continuing with the theme of disaster preparedness and resilience, this week Inhabitat took a look at Intershelters, prefab dome homes that can be assembled in less than a day, providing instant shelter for up to five people. In other green design news, MIT Media Lab has created a motorized and compact “home in a box” that can make a 200-square-foot space feel like a room three times larger. Best of all? The room expands and contracts with a wave of your hand or the sound of your voice. Aprilli Design Studio has drawn up plans for Urban Skyfarm, a massive tree-like vertical farm that provides food and renewable energy for urban dwellers. At this year’s Venice Biennial of Architecture, Zaha Hadid and several other leading architects unveiled Titled Antarctopia, a pavilion that explores man’s relationship with Antarctica by showcasing present and future models of living in the polar continent.

Could airplanes of the future be powered by nothing more than the sun? A pair of Swiss aviators thinks so. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the men behind the Solar Impulse airplane, recently completed a successful maiden flight of the Solar Impulse 2. Next year, the two men plan to fly the solar-powered plane around the world. In other exciting aviation news, Terrafugia is seeking $30 million in funding so it can begin to produce its flying cars by as soon as 2016. But the most practical (and greenest) mode of transportation is still the trusty bicycle, and France recently rolled out a plan to pay people to ride their bikes to work. In the US, eight states just formed an alliance to drastically cut emissions by boosting the number of zero-emission vehicles on the road to 3.3 million by 2025. And electric carmaker Tesla announced this week that it will tweak the Model X crossover vehicle to make it look better (and make it more appealing to the ladies).

Ocean plastic is a major problem, but we’re only beginning to understand the full extent of it. Canadian scientists have announced the discovery of a new type of rock made from the scraps of melted plastic waste and ocean debris. The best way to limit plastic waste is to stop using the stuff. In Germany, a pair of entrepreneurs is preparing to launch the country’s very first zero-waste supermarket. In 3D printing news, the team at AKEMAKE has just unveiled Spirula, the world’s first 3D-printed speaker that’s made entirely from wood. Can you imagine a world in which you could forgo baggage fees, and email your luggage to yourself? Finnish designer Janne Kyttanen suggests that in the future we could use 3D printers to produce our clothes and other necessities at travel destinations. On the green design front, Inhabitat got a window makeover with the help of window-covering company Decorview. In Lego news, a group of schoolchildren and workers in Hungary teamed up to create the world’s tallest Lego tower, shattering the previous record set by a group of high school students in Delaware. Lego has also announced plans to expand its collection of female minifigs by creating a set of female scientists. And if you’re looking for a way to use your smartphone more productively, Inhabitots recently gave the (free) group text-messaging service GroupMe a test drive.

Filed under: Misc, Transportation, Internet



Scientists use lasers to imitate an exploding star here on Earth

University of Oxford mimics a supernova

It could be centuries (if ever) before humans can observe the behavior of a supernova first-hand, but scientists at the University of Oxford may have delivered the next best thing. They’ve recently simulated an exploding star by zapping an extremely thin carbon rod with a powerful laser; the resulting extra-hot blast (1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit) ripped through a chamber much like the real thing, as you can see pictured here. To add an extra dose of realism, the team added a plastic grid that replicated interference from dust and gases.

The ensuing swirls supported theories behind not just the behavior of supernovas, but the universe at large; turbulence in the test chamber amplified magnetic fields, suggesting that the earliest magnetism was created through similar chaos. Whether or not there’s an opportunity to prove this in the future, it’s clear that researchers are at least on the right track.

[Image credit: University of Oxford]

Filed under: Science, Alt



Source: Nature Physics


San Francisco takes the pain out of joining secure public WiFi

Looking down Market Street in San Francisco

Security on public WiFi tends to be either non-existent or a bit of a hassle; it’s not fun to track down passwords just so that you can get online from the street corner. If you frequently visit downtown San Francisco, though, it’s now a relative breeze. The city has launched a new version of its public WiFi that uses the Hotspot 2.0 standard to give you an encrypted connection with a minimum of fuss. So long as you’re using a recent platform (newer Android devices as well as iOS 7, OS X Mavericks and Windows 8), you only have to install a simple profile to get going instead of putting in some credentials.

The service is still limited to the same footprint as San Francisco’s recent WiFi network, which runs along Market Street between Castro Street and the Embarcadero. However, it’s potentially significant as one of the first city-scale uses of simple-yet-secure WiFi. Typically, you won’t see Hotspot 2.0 unless you visit specific places (think airports), and you may still need to subscribe to an internet service like Boingo or Time Warner Cable. San Francisco’s deployment takes the guesswork out of it — you can stay online throughout a large urban area knowing that others can’t easily snoop on your activity.

[Image credit: Scott Loftesness, Flickr]

Filed under: Cellphones, Wireless, Networking, Mobile


Via: CIO of San Francisco (Twitter)

Source: City of San Francisco

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