“[...] what the M.I.T. robots may lack in looks or finesse,
they make up for in originality: they are programmed to learn the way
humans learn, through their bodies, their senses and the feedback generated
by their own behavior.”
“ Sociable robots come equipped with the very abilities that humans
have evolved to ease our interactions with one another: eye contact,
gaze direction, turn-taking, shared attention. They are programmed to
learn the way humans learn, by starting with a core of basic drives
and abilities and adding to them as their physical and social experiences
accrue. People respond to the robots' social cues almost without thinking,
and as a result the robots give the impression of being somehow, improbably,
“Now, the SWORDS [special weapons observation remote reconnaissance direct action system!] won't act on a command, unless it's received
right away. A three-part arming process -- with both physical and electronic
safeties -- is required before firing. Most importantly, the machines
now come with kill switches, in case there's any odd behavior.”
“The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft continue exploring where
nothing from Earth has flown before. In the 30th year after their 1977
launches, they each are much farther away from Earth and the Sun than
Pluto is and approaching the boundary region -- the heliopause -- where
the Sun's dominance of the environment ends and interstellar space begins.
Voyager 1, more than three as distant as Pluto, is farther from Earth
than any other human-made object and speeding outward at more than 17
kilometers per second (38,000 miles per hour). Both spacecraft are still
sending scientific information about their surroundings through the
Deep Space Network (DSN).”
“[...] Voyager’s famous golden records, which include sounds
and images of Earth. The selections portray people young and old, male
and female -- not to mention examples of many other species -- and include
information about every continent on the planet, as well as Earth’s
location in space. Earlier NASA missions included plaques with information
about Earth, in case an intelligent alien race intercepted the probes.
This spurred, John Casani, Voyager's first project manager, to appoint
astronomer and author Carl Sagan to head a committee to come up with
a message for Voyager. In his book "Murmurs of Earth," Sagan
later described how the committee created the record and chose its contents.
Physicist Frank Drake suggested the idea of a record that would have
pictures on one side and sounds on the other side. The group had less
than six weeks to come up with a record that would represent the entire
population of Earth -- in addition to the planet itself -- if it were
ever discovered by an intelligent alien race. A mission that was supposed
to last just five years is celebrating its 30th anniversary this fall.
Scientists continue to receive data from the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft
as they approach interstellar space.”
1 currently is the farthest human-made object at a distance from the
sun of about 9.7 billion miles (15.6 billion kilometers). Voyager 2
is about 7.8 billion miles (12.6 billion kilometers).”
“In December 2004, Voyager 1 began crossing the solar system's
final frontier. Called the heliosheath, this turbulent area, approximately
8.7 billion miles from the sun, is where the solar wind slows as it
crashes into the thin gas that fills the space between stars. Voyager
2 could reach this boundary later this year, putting both Voyagers on
their final leg toward interstellar space.”
“The Voyagers call home via NASA's Deep Space Network, a system
of antennas around the world. The spacecraft are so distant that commands
from Earth, traveling at light speed, take 14 hours one-way to reach
Voyager 1 and 12 hours to reach Voyager 2. Each Voyager logs approximately
1 million miles per day.” [Quoted from SPACE.com]
With examples of application to al-Qaeda videos. The program creates pretty pictures
that show the manipulated parts very clearly.
Each resave degrades the image.
Added images also increase degradation (pixel error rate).
Credit: Hacker Factor.
“Error level analysis involves re-saving an image at a known error rate
(90%, for example), then subtracting the re-saved image from the
original image to see every pixel that changed and the degree to which
it changed. The modified versions will indicate a different error level
than the original image.”
“Given an input image with a missing region, we
use matching scenes from a large collection of photographs to complete
the image.” [Image credit: Hays
Alternative scene completions
It is increasingly possible to fake photos, and not
just by using the cloning tool in Paint Shop Pro or Photoship.
“We present a system for inserting new objects into existing
photographs by querying a vast image-based object library, precomputed
using a publicly available Internet object database.” [Quoted
The Computer Graphics department at Carnegie Mellon
University has several people working on related projects, whether ‘photo
clipart’ merging or ‘scene completion’.
Two of the developers, Hays and Efros, suggest using
Flicr or Picasa as sources for the large numbers of images to use as a
source database. They used LabelMe database and their own images, while
thanking Flicr for the images downloaded from there.
“What can you do with a million images? In this paper we present
a new image completion algorithm powered by a huge database of photographs
gathered from the Web. The algorithm patches up holes in images by finding
similar image regions in the database that are not only seamless but
also semantically valid. Our chief insight is that while the space of
images is effectively infinite, the space of semantically differentiable
scenes is actually not that large. For many image completion tasks we
are able to find similar scenes which contain image fragments that will
convincingly complete the image [...] ” [Quoted from graphics.cs.cmu.edu]
There are other, somewhat similar programs available.
The creators, Hays and Efros, of this current graphic application say
that there are situations where their software fails to match the patched-in
images seamlessly, and other cases where other programs do find a better
image match and so a better final result.
Hays and Efros reckon that the next best software after
their new program, is written by Criminisi, Perez and Toyama, who also members of the Carnegie Mellon
University Computer Graphics department.
“No computer can calculate every single possible move in a chess game, but today's best chess programs can see an astounding 18 moves ahead.
“Yet poker involves not just myriad possibilities but uncertainty, both about what cards the opponent is holding and more importantly, how he is going to play them.”
“'You basically compute a formula that can at least break even in the long run, no matter what your opponent does,'' Billings said.
“That's about where the best poker programs are today. Though the best game theory-based programs can usually hold their own against world-class human poker players, they aren't good enough to win big consistently.
“Squeezing that extra bit of performance out of a computer requires combining the sheer mathematical power of game theory with the ability to observe an opponent's play and adapt to it. Many legendary poker players do that by being experts of human nature. They quickly learn the tics, gestures and other ''tells'' that reveal exactly what another player is up to.
“A computer can't detect those, but it can keep track of how an opponent plays the game. It can observe how often an opponent tries to bluff with a weak hand, and how often she folds. Then the computer can take that information and incorporate it into the calculations that guide its own game.”
“One of the most popular board games in history, checkers
has been definitively proved to end in a draw when played perfectly
by both sides, according to Jonathan Schaeffer, professor of computer
“As for the question of solving a game like chess, which people
suspect will also result in a draw, the amount of data is even more
monstrous. The number of positions in checkers is thought to be roughly
the square root of the number of positions in chess. That’s somewhere
in the order of 1040 to 1050 positions. Schaeffer says that even with
the two-pronged technique he used in solving checkers, a breakthrough
such as quantum computing would be needed to even attempt to solve chess.
But he isn’t quick to rule out the possibility. “The one
thing I’ve learned in all of this is to never underestimate the
advances in technology,” he says. ”
Bletchley Park was where, during World War Two, German code
messages were decrypted. Here is where Alan
Turing, with help of others such as Max Newman, Tommy Flowers and
Alan Coombs, developed the digital calculating machine Colossus that was
the forebear of today’s computers.
Left: German Enigma coding machine. Right: Bombe
machine used to decrypt Enigma messages.
“Codes And Ciphers Heritage Trust (CCHT) is to establish the National Museum of Computing in Block H at Bletchley Park.
“Built in 1944, Block H was designed to house the world’s first digital
computers, the Colossus machines.
Reconstructed Colossus digital calculating
“The museum will allow visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra secret pioneering efforts of the Colossus, through the mainframes of the 1960s and 1970s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s. Using original systems restored to working order with the help of the BCS’s Computer Conservation Society, the museum will encourage visitors to operate and learn from our exhibits, and enjoy using machines they once used, programmed, or simply played with.”