By samzenpus from Slashdot's you-keep-using-that-word-I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means department
An anonymous reader writes "There is certainly no shortage of stories about AI systems that include the saying, 'like the brain'. This article takes a critical look at those claims and just what 'like the brain' means. The conclusion: while not a lie, the catch-phrase isn't very informative and may not mean much given our lack of understanding on how the brain works. From the article: 'Surely these claims can't all be true? After all, the brain is an incredibly complex and specific structure, forged in the relentless pressure of millions of years of evolution to be organized just so. We may have a lot of outstanding questions about how it works, but work a certain way it must. But here's the thing: this "like the brain" label usually isn't a lie — it's just not very informative. There are many ways a system can be like the brain, but only a fraction of these will prove important. We know so much that is true about the brain, but the defining issue in theoretical neuroscience today is, simply put, we don't know what matters when it comes to understanding how the brain computes. The debate is wide open, with plausible guesses about the fundamental unit, ranging from quantum phenomena all the way to regions spanning millimeters of brain tissue.'"Read Replies (0)
By timothy from Slashdot's honey-i-shrunk-the-gamers department
When I bumped into Abram Thau at Metrix Createspace
in Seattle's Capitol Hill, he showed me a few printed figurines, including a Storm Trooper (of the Star Wars variety), and I thought at first that he had printed them as duplicates of similar-sized commercial products. Not so: It turns out these are made-from-life, specifically from cos-players who have stood on Abram's human-suitable turntable (powered by a chicken rotisserie motor hooked to a 3-D printed pulley) while he scanned them in. Thau's apartment is practically shouting distance from Metrix, but that pulley was made on a large Deltabot filament printer in the corner of his living room. (A living room usefully cluttered with tools, bottles of resin, projectors in various states of repair, and more printed objects.) More interesting still, Thau's figurines are produced with a home-built resin printer. Resin is messier to work with than the filament feedstock of RepRap/Makerbot style printers (and the resin itself has a slight odor), but it allows different results. Overhanging pieces are possible without requiring elaborate support pieces built into the mesh, and the resulting product can be noticeably smoother than typical filament printing, though all 3-D printing techniques are getting better. Thau didn't buy one of the commercially available resin printers, though (like FormLabs's), but instead decided to build his own out of scavenged and off-the-shelf components. Budget concerns and improvisation rule the day (Thau is also a grad student, studying to be a middle school teacher): That means there's a book holding up the projector which is vital to curing the resin, and the printer's case is recycled from a previous one. The results look as good as the affordable commercial ones I've seen, and he's excited to teach others to make their own. Third-party resin makers and a robust market in used projectors mean that other hobbyists can follow his lead and turn their friends into figurines. (Alternate video link
)Read Replies (0)
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fighting-fire-with-gasoline department
An anonymous reader writes "A new study (abstract) in the journal Informational Security evaluates the U.S. military's strategy for killing off al-Qaeda's leadership using remote drone strikes. The study argues that the strategy is ineffective, calling into question both the military's rationale for doing so and the allocation of defense funds to run it. Essentially, there are two different types of terrorist organizations: those held together by a small number of charismatic leaders, and those who have developed their own bureaucracy, almost like a business. 'Companies don't fall apart when they lose their CEO or CFO; other people are being trained to do that job and there are institutional mechanisms preserving the knowledge the CEO brought to the table. Also, rules create clear lines of succession, so destabilizing struggles over who gets to take over the group's leadership become less likely.'
Intelligence on al-Qaeda indicates it's more of a bureaucratic group — unsurprising, since terrorist organizations that have been around for a while tend to evolve that way. Since the drone attacks started, there has been no significant correlation between successful strikes and a reduction in al-Qaeda attacks. 'The case for the drone program, at its heart, is that killing significant numbers of underlings AND a small number of high-level leaders is severely weakening the group's operating ability. Jordan's study suggests that al-Qaeda just isn't the kind of group that can be beaten that way.'"Read Replies (0)
By Roblimo from Slashdot's the-network-is-the-grid-computer-in-the-cloud department
is someone we'd all like to sit down with and learn from. She's worked as a software engineer for Ford, as an engineer for Sun, as founder and CEO of a company called Grid Dynamics
, and as founder and CEO of her latest company, Qubell
. Before that, she and her husband taught chess. Here's an article in which Victoria talks about "Envisioning a New Language"
back in 2005 when she was still at Sun. Because of this and other early musings on what came to be called network computing, grid computing, and later cloud computing, Victoria has been called "the mother of the cloud." Maybe, maybe not. In any case, she knows a great deal about cloud developments. For this conversation she brought along Qubell's CTO, Stan Klimoff, who also knows his stuff.
This interview doesn't cover all we learned from Victoria and Stan, just all we could fit into our new "keep videos under 10 minutes" mandate, which we don't mind because, in return, there's a new button that lets you skip preroll ads longer than 30 seconds after only five seconds. Yay! We'll post another conversation with Victoria next week or the week after. We're looking forward to it and hope you are, too.Read Replies (0)