Posted by Dante in Uncategorized on September 11, 2009
About a month ago, I signed up for a petition to our government asking for an official apology about the treatment of Alan Turing.
Today, I woke up with an email from 10 Downing Street (the home of our Prime Minister) here’s what it said;
2009 has been a year of deep reflection – a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.
Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ – in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.
Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.
I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.
But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate – by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices – that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.
So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.
For starters, I am a British citizen, I was born and raised in the UK and I have had more then ample time (thanks to my disabilties) to tell you exactly what the NHS is like.
You see, when I was born, I had difficulties. I have cerebral palsy and Aspergers. The former was noticed first; I was put in physiotherapy (free of charge, as was my delivery) and any and all equipment/medication I needed (pain pills, walking stick, wheelchair) were also provided free of charge.
Later in life, I found I required glasses. They were free (though the glasses themselves are handled by the private sector) I also required psychiatric help (to deal with Asperger’s and heavy depression) which was also provided free, along with the relevant medication. I do not have good teeth, but my dentist providies treatment for free, everything from fillings to root canals…
Other things are not free, but these are little things; doctor’s notes to appease the bean-counters at work when I ask for sick-leave, normally over-the-counter high priced medication provided for free on prescription…
The emergency servies are free, as is my treatment in them. Operations (everything but cosmetic, and even then cosmetic surgery is provided for free should I be, say, someone with 4th degree burns, or heavily disfigured…)
American people have asked me about the UK, many can’t quite understand why everything is provided for free. Let me let you in on a little secret; money should not corrupt the Hippocratic Oath, here; it dosent.
To sqaush some rumors, has the NHS ever refused treatment to people who are worthless to society? No, they have not. They also have not refused to treat the dying, they try to make them as comfortable as they can.
If there is one thing I dislike, one thing I really can’t stand; it’s ignorance, and sadly most of this ignorance seems to be stemming from America. Please, good people, get it into your heads that money is NOT the center of the Universe!
There can be no Singulairy whilst such…pathetic money-making goes on. Should America really feel as though they deserve to be known as a Developed Country, then they must rid themselves of that illness.
…ok, rant over. Sorry. :/
For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about NEPOMUK. It’s taken a long time (almost a month, I think) but it’s finally done. You’ll find the link below, click and save
Thankfully, now that this is done, I can perhaps get on with more blogging!
Excuse me, I’ll just go and fall into bed…
Sorry about the long time, no posts.
I’ll be back soon, I promise. Just had a lot of projects going on at the mo.
Ok, what is lined up for 9.10? (Note, this list is not direct confirmation)
EXT-4 installed by default. EXT-4 is the improved journaling file-system taken out of beta several months ago, last Christmas in fact. It was going to be included in 9.04 but there were concerns over stability.
Rhythmbox replaced with Banshee. Rhythmbox in 8.10 was always quite annoying, the ‘smart playlist’ especially. (Hardly smart, in my opinion, but then I’ve never liked such systems) It’s actually gone sane in 9.04. Banshee and Rhythmbox have many of the same features, Last.FM intergration, radio….almost the exact same, save for the fact that Banshee can scan for media and Rhythmbox cant. Nor can Rhythmbox scan for cover art. Both are just as well intergreated into the GNOME enviroment as to little as makes no diffrence.
Ubuntu AppCenter Add/Remove, Synaptic, GDebi and Update manager incoroperated into Ubuntu AppCenter (possibly for 9.10) with the look of add/remove, the range of Synaptic, the abilty to install local packages like GDebi and the Update manager being intergrated. There has been word it’ll use PackageKit for a backend, at least in some aspects.
Encrypted Home Directory offered during install As far as I know, Home directory encryption was only offered on the alternate CD until now.
10 Boot Time.
Enhancements for NotifyOSD
Tighter WINE Intergration
Project NATAL, an integrated speech/emotional/body posture/face recognition system that utilizes a new(ish) technology that effectively means you have a MOCAP model WITHOUT green screens and ping pong balls and only one camera.
Project Natal for XBOX 360
As you can see from the video above, it certainly seems very interesting. This tech has been around for years, yet NOW it is only being intergrated into one item for the mainstream.
Now, lets see some of this in action.
E3 2009 – Project Natal – Milo Demo with Peter Molyneux
Milo is perfect example of Game AI, he dosent understand EVERY word said to him, only keywords, but there are enough to superimpose meaning
Below is an interview between EuroGamer and Peter Molyneux, CEO of Lionhead Studios, a game maker that has produced another AI centric game, Black&White and Black&White 2.
How long have you been working on Milo?
There are two answers to that. We started work with the Natal stuff in
December, and the first thing we did was go round all the Microsoft
people – the handwriting recognition people, the facial recognition
people, the motion recognition people. We brought the technology
together and put it in there.
the world you see created here has been in development since December.
Before that, we’d been working on this thing called emotional AI since
we finished the first Black and White.
Is this what you used to call Project Dmitri?
I’m trying to understand how much of this comes from Lionhead and how much comes from Microsoft…
A lot of stuff, like the voice recognition stuff, is based on things
like Windows 7 technology. We just went round and took all that stuff
and fitted it together. The interesting thing is, a lot of that stuff
existed without reason – and when you bring it all together with
something like this, it kind of works.
So what can Milo do?
Milo can recognise the emotions on your face and the emotions in your
voice. He can recognise certain words you say. You can have
conversations with him, you can read stories to him. We’re trying to
bring all these things together. Some of them are tricks – I’ll be
absolutely honest with you – to make you believe Milo’s real.
He can recognise what you’re wearing. If he notices you’ve got dark bags under your eyes he will say, ‘You look tired today.’
Absolutely, all of that works. We’re combining all that together to
make you really believe that he understands what you say.
try an experiment. When a human voice says something funny, there’s a
different tone in the voice. Even though Milo’s not trained to
recognise your voice, if you say something funny to him, he should
recognise it as something amusing. Try it now.
Tell him a joke, you mean?
[Looks up, smiles and nods]
Bloody hell. Er, OK. A Times New Roman walks into a bar. The barman says, ‘We don’t serve your type.’
Now, he didn’t really understand every word you said, but from the tone of your voice he guessed you were telling a joke.
But I put it to you, Peter, that was not a very good joke. So the fact
he laughed at it demonstrates a serious flaw within the software.
Well, that wasn’t a real laugh. That was a polite giggle. Let’s move
on. The game is called Milo and Kate and you play through a story.
There is another character called Kate. Kate is a dog.
But of course! Wait, are you sure it’s not a parrot?
No, it’s not a parrot. Milo can recognise your writing – you can write
words, write numbers, draw pictures, and put them into his world.
Can you draw a nob? Because most people, given the opportunity to draw something, will draw a nob.
That’s the interesting thing, you see. We’ve been very, very clever
about this. Although you can put stuff in his world, you’ll notice he
never shows you the stuff. So although you could do obscene stuff,
he’ll just look at it and he won’t understand it. He won’t pin that
picture up on the wall, because I’m fully aware people will do things
Can you explain more about the pocket money system and how that works?
You can buy stuff for Milo’s world, like a bicycle or a trampoline.
He’ll come back from school one day and say, ‘Oh, Alex’ – Alex is this
character at school who always does a bit better than Milo – ‘Alex has
got a new bike. When can we get a new bike?’
get that bike you need to earn money by doing activities. There are
three activities you can do, and the amount of time you spend on each
activity sculpts your Milo in different ways – so everybody’s Milo will
be completely unique to them.
If you do lots of work, your Milo
will be very studious. His hair will have a side parting. He’ll be
quite worried about his appearance and he won’t like to get dirty.
Whereas if you do more of the play stuff with Milo, he’ll be more of a
kid who goes out and scratches his knees.
Your character doesn’t have to be a boy, it can be a girl. At the start you can choose whether to be play as Milly or Milo.
One of my colleagues did want me to ask why you made him a 12 year-old boy, and not a nubile 17 year-old lady acrobat?
If we were making a porn game, I probably would do that. He’s not 12,
he’s about 10, and that’s before he’s hit puberty. Part of the amazing
impact of this is he can remind you of your childhood.
My colleague pointed out that if it was a 17 year-old acrobat, instead
of things like ‘Have you done your homework?’ you could say, ‘Will you
take your bra off?’
Yeah, you could do. You could make a great porn game with this stuff,
that’s absolutely for sure. But I’d love the idea that you’ve got this
character who you are inspiring. It is such a wonderful feeling that to
inspire anything, whether it’s a dog or a person or a kid. When you see
and feel that emotion, it’s pretty emotional.
You said he only understands certain words. So presumably you can’t have a conversation about the situation in Palestine?
The number of words he understands is built up over time. For Claire
[the lady who demoed a conversation with Milo during Microsoft's
conference], it’s something like 500 words.
we haven’t cracked the real problem, which is him understanding the
meaning of it all. He’ll give you the illusion he does that. The
interesting thing is you can only talk to him when the Talk icon
appears at the bottom of the screen. That’s when he’s listening to you;
the rest of the time, he’s not. He’s listening to you because there’s a
context in which you can talk to him.
One of the journalists who came in before you had obviously read up on the Turing test.
He asked Milo one of the questions in the test – ‘Do you remember when
we met yesterday?’ Well, of course, we haven’t cracked the Turing test.
If we had, then applying it to a computer game would be the last of the
solutions we’d use it for.
Looks like my time’s up, so briefly: are you going to change your name to Gepetto Molyneux?
As in Pinocchio? I could do, I suppose. I have to tell you, it is
amazing. You do feel, in a way, that you are creating something that
has never existed before. When you show it to people, especially
non-gamers, it does promote this incredible emotional reaction.
I was nearly in tears during the E3 conference. But that was partly
because I am a girl and I have jetlag and the internet wouldn’t work
properly for the Live Text. But yes, I was nearly in tears. I didn’t
want Shane Kim to see me cry though.
We have had people in tears, because there are times when this is quite
an emotional journey. It’s very different. It’s very ambitious. But
we’re going for it.
Thankfully few times in my life have I ever been put into a position where a lesser man would have a seriously messy bowel movement.
Today, however, was one of those times.
Since I started my “Career” in Artificial Intelligence, I’ve always seen the storm on the horizon, yet today, we moved closer to that storm. I’ll list this below;
Last month, Wolfram/Alpha ( www.wolframalpha.com ) went on-line. Wolfram/Alpha is a mathematical engine, designed to take apart queries constructed of natural language looking for keywords to answer questions with a mathematical element in them. (I also wish for it be on record that Wolfram/Alpha’s launch has to be the most open and enjoyable launch ever seen, with live webcasts, twitter feeds and facebook pages, not to mention the many tools to easily get to Wolfram/Alpha.
‘Google Squared’ is now available, a sort of ‘data system’. ( http://www.google.com/squared ), Google is more or less the biggest repository of information, it has archives of many, many, MANY sites. Has complete access to a good deal of the world’s books and has quite high resolution imagery of the Earth, the stars and Mars. Google Sqaured, however, is designed to give you statistics on any item you fancy; you could type in ‘Dog breeds’ and you’d get the different breeds of dog, complete with height, weight and country of origin. (Note; this service is still in Google Labs, which means it is still under development and testing, think of it as being in ‘Alpha’)
Then we have Siri, a ‘decision engine’ if you will, a system that is designed to answer the question that no other system can; “What shall I do?” From the news of Siri, it seems to gather information about local events before suggesting a course of action. It can, of course, do other things, like recommend restaurants around your position. Looking at the various ‘interviews’ with the system it seems to know you a little bit, as well, like where you work, your interests, and so on as well as local services, weather reports and whatnot. It also accepts speech as input. And personally, is the only app I’d buy an iPhone for. ( www.siri.com )
But those items of interest above are only the first step in Web 3.0. I will now tell you why I REALLY wrote this article. What REALLY made me throw away a good pair of pants.
Lionhead Studios, a British game maker, known for making the game series Black and White (heavy AI-human interaction) and the Fable series (a large, open-world area set in mystical times that relies heavily on user empathy for it’s “AI”) came out with a new project during E3 2009 a few days ago. Milo.
Milo is a boy, but not just any boy, you interact with him via speech and emotional recognition, as well as Microsoft’s new interface (which is seemingly an idea stolen from poor ol’ Nintendo). Your role in this ‘game’? To be his friend.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I must lie down, After watching that I’ve gone all quesy.