There’s a robot for that. In the day an age of every intangible calculation being performed by an iPhone app, it seems fitting that there are also robots for almost all tangible activities. I for one welcome our technological overlords.
Archives For technology
Check this out.
I downloaded the free version (a Spanish to English or English to Spanish module will set you back 4.99). And it works. Magic.
Douglas Coupland coined the named Generation X and wrote some books that I like. He’s put forward forty five theses on the future. That are interesting and thought provoking. Here are some of my favourites.
8) Try to live near a subway entrance
In a world of crazy-expensive oil, it’s the only real estate that will hold its value, if not increase.
9) The suburbs are doomed, especially thoseE.T. , California-style suburbs
This is a no-brainer, but the former homes will make amazing hangouts for gangs, weirdoes and people performing illegal activities. The pretend gates at the entranceways to gated communities will become real, and the charred stubs of previous white-collar homes will serve only to make the still-standing structures creepier and more exotic.
17) You may well burn out on the effort of being an individual
You’ve become a notch in the Internet’s belt. Don’t try to delude yourself that you’re a romantic lone individual. To the new order, you’re just a node. There is no escape.
21) We will still be annoyed by people who pun, but we will be able to show them mercy because punning will be revealed to be some sort of connectopathic glitch: The punner, like someone with Tourette’s, has no medical ability not to pun.
33) People who shun new technologies will be viewed as passive-aggressive control freaks trying to rope people into their world, much like vegetarian teenage girls in the early 1980s
1980: “We can’t go to that restaurant. Karen’s vegetarian and it doesn’t have anything for her.”
2010: “What restaurant are we going to? I don’t know. Karen was supposed to tell me, but she doesn’t have a cell, so I can’t ask her. I’m sick of her crazy control-freak behaviour. Let’s go someplace else and not tell her where.”
35) Stupid people will be in charge, only to be replaced by ever-stupider people. You will live in a world without kings, only princes in whom our faith is shattered
This new Saeco, the Xelsis Digital ID SLX 8870 MS, is a triumph of integrating disparate pieces of technology in a novel, but mostly pointless, way. It takes almost all the effort out of making coffee – which, for a Super Auto machine, is taking things to a whole new height.
This machine has a fingerprint scanner. It saves user profiles, and at the swipe of a finger will produce your “usual”…
Speech to text recognition software is one of personal computing’s final frontiers. The dream of sitting in a room and talking to your computer (and having it understand, compute, and respond accordingly) is, apparently, unlikely to ever become an actual reality. The problems are manifold – the biggest problems being that words are aurally ambiguous and we instinctively translate them based on context and expression, and that certain words have an array of meanings.
Here are a couple of snippets from this fascinating article, that ends up being more about language than voice recognition (you might also notice a couple of things I’ve posted recently in that article).
In 2001 recognition accuracy topped out at 80%, far short of HAL-like levels of comprehension. Adding data or computing power made no difference. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University checked again in 2006 and found the situation unchanged. With human discrimination as high as 98%, the unclosed gap left little basis for conversation. But sticking to a few topics, like numbers, helped. Saying “one” into the phone works about as well as pressing a button, approaching 100% accuracy. But loosen the vocabulary constraint and recognition begins to drift, turning to vertigo in the wide-open vastness of linguistic space…
Many spoken words sound the same. Saying “recognize speech” makes a sound that can be indistinguishable from “wreck a nice beach.” Other laughers include “wreck an eyes peach” and “recondite speech.” But with a little knowledge of word meaning and grammar, it seems like a computer ought to be able to puzzle it out. Ironically, however, much of the progress in speech recognition came from a conscious rejection of the deeper dimensions of language. As an IBM researcher famously put it: “Every time I fire a linguist my system improves.” But pink-slipping all the linguistics PhDs only gets you 80% accuracy, at best…
Researchers have also tried to endow computers with knowledge of word meanings. Words are defined by other words, to state the seemingly obvious. And definitions, of course, live in a dictionary. In the early 1990s, Microsoft Research developed a system called MindNet which “read” the dictionary and traced out a network from each word out to every mention of it in the definitions of other words.
Words have multiple definitions until they are used in a sentence which narrows the possibilities. MindNet deduced the intended definition of a word by combing through the networks of the other words in the sentence, looking for overlap. Consider the sentence, “The driver struck the ball.” To figure out the intended meaning of “driver,” MindNet followed the network to the definition for “golf” which includes the word “ball.” So driver means a kind of golf club. Or does it? Maybe the sentence means a car crashed into a group of people at a party.
To guess meanings more accurately, MindNet expanded the data on which it based its statistics much as speech recognizers did. The program ingested encyclopedias and other online texts, carefully assigning probabilistic weights based on what it learned. But that wasn’t enough. MindNet’s goal of “resolving semantic ambiguities in text,” remains unattained. The project, the first undertaken by Microsoft Research after it was founded in 1991, was shelved in 2005.
Not all technology belongs in the hands of consumers. And selling these to the general public for a relatively low price just sounds like a bad idea. But hey. Lasers. No, let me say that again right. LASERS. Lasers that burn stuff. Yeah. That’s right. And they’re shaped like lightsabers.
Standard warnings about not letting children near them obviously apply…
It’s called the “Spyder Pro Arctic Laser,” which even sounds like a weapon from a Bond movie.
Details, from the website:
The Artic emits a 445nm cool blue, ultra high power 1W beam which appears up to 4000% brighter than the Sonar’s 405nm violet beam. This direct blue laser diode is the result of the evolution of laser technology. Less than one year ago, this laser would have cost thousands of dollars to build. Don’t let the Arctic name fool you, this laser possesses the most burning capabilities of any portable laser in existence. That’s why it’s also the most dangerous laser ever created.
In recognizing and mastering the power of direct blue diodes, the Wicked Lasers’ Arctic shall become the standard by which all other blue lasers are judged.
Warning: Extremely dangerous is an understatement to the power of 1W of laser power. It will blind permanently and instantly and set fire quickly to skin and other body parts, use with extreme caution and only when using the included eye protection. Customers will be required to completely read and agree to our Class IV Laser Hazard Acknowledgment Form.
I’ve never been so proud to be an Australian. Our army is employing Segway robot soldiers. At this stage the Segway robots are only being used for training exercises as target practice:
“Australia based Marathon Robotics have taken Segways and turned them into human-shaped autonomous robots capable of moving around streets and buildings just like people in a crowd! The Marathon bots can act like insurgents, hostages, or civilians, letting armed soldiers practice before being exposed to the real thing. The Australian Department of Defense already has a training camp using the robots, and the US Marine Corps will be establishing one this year. You’ve got to see these robots in action in the video below – this puts all other shooting ranges to shame!”
Here they are in action:
If you’re a paranoid parent – and what parent isn’t a little bit paranoid – and you want to know your child’s secrets, the type they’d only tell their talking teddy bear, you need one of these.
Sure, it might look a bit creepy, but it’ll ask your children questions and then email you the audio of their response.
- Your child’s closest confidante serves as your eyes and ears
- Cuddly bear talks to your child, encouraging them to share their secrets
- Says over 20 phrases, including:
- “I love you. Do you love me?”
- “You’re my best friend and I think you’re special.”
- “Best friends always share their secrets.”
- “Sometimes I feel sad. Does anything make you feel sad?”
- “Sometimes I get angry. What makes you angry?”
- “Sometimes I’m scared. What scares you?”
- “Do you have a secret, best friend? You can tell me anything.”
- Trigger phrases turn on the audio & video recording, which continues until child stops talking
- The confession files are then emailed to the parent (WiFi network required)
- Integrates seamlessly with Twitter, Facebook and Gmail.
- Retractable USB cord allows child to “charge” the bear (and secretly transfer files to parent’s computer)
There’s a character in Douglas Adam’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency who made his mark in computer world by writing a program that turned financial spreadsheets into music.
This guy wrote a program that turns pictures into music – taking the RGB values of every pixel and converting them into a three note harmonic.
It sounds clever – clever enough to be worth patenting. Only somebody else has already done that. So he’s closed down the program that used to be online. One day though people. One day I will hear the sound of turtles… they don’t actually make noise.
I have more storage capacity on my keyring than the first five or six computers we owned combined.
Here’s a nice storage infographic from geekologie.
Ignore all the comments on this Reddit thread and just be completely blown away by the complexity of our genetics against the complexity of our best technology.
A single sperm has 37.5MB of DNA information in it.
An adult male produces 170 million a day.
That’s 6375 terrabytes of data. If my maths is correct.
I subscribe to Dinosaur Comics. I read them most days. I find them vaguely amusing about 60% of the time and laugh out loud amusing about 2% of the time.
Today’s comic, and the associated diatribe about the way old people handle stories about young people and technology made me laugh. The story it’s responding to is this one about a young guy who used an updated Facebook status as an alibi. You can’t get that from the comic…
But the associated editorial spells it all out…
But as that article goes on, it slides deep into “oh man OLD PEOPLE STEREOTYPES” territory. Joseph Pollini, who otherwise sounds awesome because he lists “hostage negotiation” as his primary area of expertise, says that teenage HACKERS could have posted that pancake-centric Facebook update to Rodney’s profile while posing as Rodney at his home computer, while Rodney was actually out busy robbing at the time – which, you know, is possible? But it’s not very likely, and it takes some knowledge. No problem, says Joseph! Teenagers are really good at internet, because “they use it all the time”. “They [teenagers!] could develop an alibi. They watch television, the movies, there is a multitude of reasons why someone of that age would have the knowledge to do a crime like that.”
ABC Radio up here in Townsville has an amusing weekly segment with a local lady in her twilight year (how do you say “old” in a politically correct manner?). Last night she was talking about kids and their fat thumbs that come from an insatiable desire to play the latest greatest games.
I think future children are going to be playing the games their fathers give them. The old old generation miss the point that the new old generation embrace technology the same way the new new generation do. Though I suppose there’s a difference between the way even my youngest sister approaches technology and the way I do.
Mark Driscoll, when he was in Australia, made a comment about faith – one generation wholly owns it, the next accepts (or assumes) it, and the next denies it. I think technology works in reverse.
Let us, for a moment, take a look at my family as a case study…
My dad was a classic early adopter. He was an electrical engineer which put him at the front of the curve when it came to developing computer technology. So far at the front of the curve that he wrote a book about one of the first computers. This, through a variety of circumstances detailed in that link, led to a lifetime of early adopting. His generation (and to be kind, the one before it) built the computer industry.
This in turn meant that I grew up experiencing a heap of new computer products and games. I think I wrote my first assignment using the Internet (CompuServe) in 1994. It was about Rwanda. It was, on reflection, possibly the best assignment I ever wrote (except maybe for the self help guide to writing self help books). I like technology. I use technology. I find technology incredibly useful. I think, though this hasn’t really been tested, I could function without it.
My generation benefited greatly from the work of the generation previously – and many of us (not me) are now internet millionaires and billionaires because we missed the first dot com boom and caught the second. We are also a generation of hackers and pirates who believe technology should work for us, not us for it.
Meanwhile the next generation down couldn’t really live without it. Lets take little sister number three as an example. I suspect if I stole her mobile phones (that’s right, plural) she’d go into meltdown. She can correct me if I’m wrong.
Her generation have grown up immersed in technology – some of them have one mobile phone with a bunch of different SIM cards based on who they want to call on free deals. They have adopted a new, and very stupid language where words substitute numbers for letters and acronyms and initialisms flourish.
I’m friends with some of her friends on Facebook. And they’re all like “OMG, OMG!!! I’d totally die without my phone? I totes* need to update my Facebook Status with every meaningless thought” and “where’s my pancakes?”… though that’s sans punctuation including apostrophes. Because they don’t know how to use them.
Her generation, well, they write viruses that carry popular internet pranks onto the phone handsets of many of my generation’s geeks. Those people running around with unlocked iPhones.
I don’t know if there’s a point to this diatribe. Except perhaps to highlight how silly it sounds when any generation talks about the next generation without completely understanding where they’re coming from. People older than me didn’t grow up with computers – though they design the computers and the software that I like to play with… To bring in another topic altogether, this is like music. Young people think anyone about ten years older than them must be out of touch with their music and what’s cool – and yet they’re all listening (with the exception of Jonas Brothers fans) to music made by people ten years older than them.
I think it’s sad when people my age are excited by the prospect of seeing Britney Spears (who’s two years older than me) in concert. Don’t they realise she’s just a vacuous example of our generation? Why aren’t they listening to Radiohead or someone respectable.
The other area this whole generation gap expresses itself in is fashion. I want to know if I’m going to suddenly start dressing like an old person – or if what I wear now, or what others of my generation wear now, will suddenly become old person clothing at some point. I can’t wait for vintage vintage T-Shirts to be the clothing of choice for vintage people. As someone who grew up wanting to find grandpa shirts in op-shops I sense some sort of irony in people buying the t-shirts I wear now in op-shops in twenty years. All in a bid to be cool and authentic.
That is all.
*Totes is an actual quote from several of the next generation’s statuses. It’s a dumb word. It means totally. This is the generation gap at work people.
No, not Pizza pockets… those are an entirely different, and entirely less awesome thing…
Dominos has just launched its iPhone application allowing you the power to order pizzas from your phone… oh wait… we’ve always had that power.
But now, we don’t have to talk to people, and that can only be a good thing… here’s a screenshot…
I may or may not be allowed to talk about Robyn’s school and things that she tells me. But I thought this was pretty crazy.
We were talking about this last night – and a timely study has revealed children are now getting their first mobile phone at eight in the UK.
A certain teacher I know had to write a note home to parents asking them not to call their children on their mobiles during class time.
I’m all for children having mobile phones. That’s great. Provided they’re not just using them to send naked pictures to each other like the Herald keeps pointing out. I’m no luddite. My kiddies will have their own mobile phones and Facebook pages at birth. That way I’ll be able to keep tabs on them. That’s probably an exaggeration. But calling them while they’re at school? In class? No way. How embarrassing for the kid who gets a call from his mum during spelling:
Kid: Hi mum
Mum: Hi kid, did you remember to brush your teeth this morning.
Kid: Yes mum, I did remember to brush my teeth this morning.
Mum: Good, just checking.
Kid: I really don’t know why you needed to call me to talk to me about it.
Mum: Just checking up because I care. I love you.
Kid: (mumbling) I love you too.
Mum: What was that? Speak up son.
Kid: I love you mum.
Entire class: laughter, teasing, poking, prodding…bullying.
Why would you inflict that on your child? Seriously.
I’m really not qualified to give parenting advice. But parents. Don’t try this at home.
Plus there’s the disruption to the rest of the class. I think that’s the point of this teacher’s objections.