Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Siri an artificial intelligence?

We have Siri on an iphone 5.  There has been debate on the web as to whether or not Siri constitutes
AI.  Certainly Siri began life as a project in an AI lab. My theory of thought (, cognitive science, theory of thought and mind) decomposes thinking into a dozen or more functions like memory, feature detection, deduction, etc.  Of these Siri possesses perhaps half of my list.  So Siri is an AI program but doesn't yet get "all the way."  With Asa H I've tried to cover all of the required functions. But Siri does a better job with natural language processing.  Siri is a specialist. Humans and Asa H are more generalists.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Speech recognition comes into its own

Running software like ViaVoice and doing the occasional error correction did not displace touch typing on a real keyboard.  But speech recognition on an iphone 5 is better than hunting and pecking on a tiny virtual keyboard when you want to text someone.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Spreadsheet AI

Back in the 1980s people were trying to do everything with spreadsheets.  (A more recent book on using spreadsheets to do physics calculations is: Doing Physics with Spreadsheets, Aubrecht, et al, Prentice Hall, 2000.)
The May 2005 issue of AI Expert Newsletter ( was devoted to spreadsheets, but devoted mostly to neural networks and automata.  Many more AI methods have been implemented as spreadsheets:
case-based reasoners (Freedman, et al, page 296, Proceedings of the first inter. conf. on AI app. on wall street, IEEE, 1991)
clustering (Aravind, et al, Inter. J. of Comp. App., vol. 11, No. 7, Dec. 2010)
decision trees
pattern matching
Markov chains (Ching and Ng, Markov chains, Springer, 2006)
genetic algorithms

I've deployed a version of chained case-based reasoning (see chapter 3 of my book Twelve Papers, , book) in Excel.

What innate knowledge should Asa H begin life with?

Asa H should not have to learn everything.  It would certainly be reasonable for it to have innate reflexes like:
pupillary light reflex (and self-scaling inputs in general)
blink reflex
withdrawl reflex (withdrawl from heat, "pain", etc.)
knowledge of how and where to recharge itself  (if its an embodied mobile robot)
a mobile robot should probably have a cliff sensor
If Chomsky is right a part of natural language skill should be innate.
Other pre and post processing will be possible depending on the inputs and outputs used.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Why Lego?

Why build robots with Lego NXT?  In student labs at ESU we have used Lego RCX, Lego NXT, Boe-bots, and Vernier sensors.  I also have several Roombas.  Robots are expensive.  Just the gripper for a typical industrial robot costs more than a new car.  I also wanted to be able to try out many different robot designs. Lego is not cheap but it was the most economical of the choices we had.

Advantages to numerical AI

"Numerical AI" and numerical representation has some advantages over symbolic AI in that it can draw from the mathematically well developed areas such as:
operations research
control theory
optimization theory
function approximation methods
neural network theory
constraint methods
extrapolation (forecasting, prediction)
Numerical AI is likely to be at more of a disadvantage when attempting things like natural language.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Asa H can make better decisions than (some) humans

In chapter 3 of my book Twelve Papers ( , book) I experimented with a program that predicted the likelihood of student matriculation at a given university.  That particular study made use of chained case-based reasoners.  I have presented similar data to Asa H 2.0 and to a human.  Asa H is more accurate at predicting student matriculation. 

This work on computer decision making is original for Asa H but is anticipated by many studies with other computer models (see, for example, The New York Times, technology section, 18 July 2006, Maybe we should leave that up to the computer, Douglas Heingartner).

I should probably emphasize (SOME) decisions as well as (some) humans.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Science versus management

If you leave science for 5 or more years you probably will not be able to get back into it again. Most management posts these days are so demanding that you must give up your research in order to be a good manager.  After 5 or so years as a manager you are then stuck.  You can't go back any longer.  So make the decision carefully.

More blogger oddities

When you click on "older posts" some are skipped altogether.
The blog archive list is sometimes written over/onto the right hand side of the blog picture.
Blogger sometimes leaves a line of text almost blank, except for a few words which appear centered in the middle of that line.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cloud computing

I have run small BASIC programs on quiteBASIC (at and applesoft BASIC in javascript (at and C++ programs on codepad, (at all free.  This is an easy way to do experimental programming (i.e., testing new algorithms, etc.) from any handly device that has internet access.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lego NXT Waldo

I've been experimenting with a "waldo" arm/hand built from 6 - 8 Lego NXT interactive servos.  The waldo would be used, by hand, to input sign language signs (with the servo motors powered down), and output signs using the servo motors (powered up).  Various manipulation tasks could be taught, and recorded, as well as sign language.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Alternate realities around us

For those who find it hard to believe in alternate realities (see my blog of 31 Dec. 2010 and references therein) I would point to the members of the republican party in the united states.  They see a world very different from the one I see.  This even reaches into the hard sciences. Earthsciences: they reject climate change.  Biology: they reject evolution.  Physics: they believe in a young earth and universe.

Circuit fault diagnosis

Our electronic circuit (and component) models (be they in the form of equivalent circuits, characteristic curves, etc.) are models of how correct circuits operate when assembled out of "on spec." component parts.  These models do not, in general, tell us much of what faulty components will do or how incorrectly wired circuits will behave.  Some simple fault models can be added to our circuit models ( see, for example, Simply Logical, by Peter Flach, Wiley and Sons, 1994, pgs 163-166 and Digital Systems, 5 th edition, R. J. Tocci, Prentice-Hall, 1991, pgs 130-139) But we typically can't anticipate all possible fault mechanisms.


I do not agree with mind-body dualism.  Today the consensus view is that thought and mind is a combination of processes like memory, generalization, deduction, organization, induction, classification, feature detection, analogy, etc. performed by computational machinery.  But I believe that quantum mechanics is a plausible dualist theory of reality (R. Jones, Bull. Am. Phys. Soc., vol. 56, No. 1, March 2011).  Alternatively, if other spaces exist (see my 1 Nov. 2012 blog), dualism might exist as forces (like gravity?) acting ("leaking") between two (or more) different spaces (universes).

Emergent phenomena again

"...we now know that the most interesting properties of cells are 'emergent' properties, resulting from elaborate networks of interactions between many different molecules..."  Bruce Alberts, Science, vol. 337, 28 Sept. 2012, pg 1583. (see my paper in the Kansas Science Teacher, vol. 10, pg 11, 1994)

Science Fairs or STEM Fairs

Perhaps we need "STEM Fairs."  When looking over "science" projects I look for measurements (and theories, and hypotheses, etc.).  But engineering projects are more about building things (things which perform particular tasks). Similarly "computer science" projects may be programs that perform various useful functions.  The judging criteria need to be expanded if "science" fairs are to include engineering, math, and technology as well as science.

Scientific pluralism and consistent quantum theory

P. C. Hohenberg says (Rev. Mod. Phys., vol. 82, pg 2835, 2010) that "consistent quantum on...the simultaneous existence of multiple incompatible representations of single framework suffices to fully characterize a quantum system." "...there is not a unique exhaustive description of a physical system or process."  I advocate the same description for non quantum systems, "scientific pluralism." (see R. Jones, Bull. Am. Phys. Soc., vol. 54, #1, March 17, 2009 and my blogs of Sept. 8, 2011 and Sept. 26, 2010)

Hohenberg goes on to state a "single-framework rule" that "Any prediction of the theory must be confined to a single framework and combining elements from different frameworks leads to quantum mechanically meaningless statements."  I would not say that of scientific pluralism in general since we might well sum over a whole set of models in order to obtain a prediction. (see the Bayesian argument in my blog of   Aug. 17, 2012) But perhaps Hohenberg is saying much the same thing when he says that "different frameworks capture different real aspects of a quantum system and a full description of that system requires the set of all frameworks."

A nervous system for mobile robots (embodied AI)

The NXT platform has a rather limited number of inputs and outputs but we have extended these somewhat by using multiple NXT bricks as well as input and output multiplexers. (not shown)
The NXT hardware can be assembled and modified in much the same way that we assemble and modify system software. A good reference is: From Bricks to Brains, M. Dawson, et al, AU Press, 2010 (also available free electronically on line). My software is, of course, built around Asa H 2.0

A new quantum theory?

After hearing John Ralston's talk at the Nov. 8-10, 2012 APS meeting, "Quantum mechanics without Planck's constant" I read his paper of the same name, arXiv:1203.5557. After hearing the talk my first question was, Is this correct?  My second question was, Is this just a change of variables, a kind of principal component analysis? (dimensional analysis?)
Even if no new physics comes from Ralston's reworking of quantum theory there might be important changes to our ontology (see my Feb. 26, 2012 blog).

Freedom to lie

Should freedom of speech really allow you to lie (regularly and systematically) on (right wing) cable "news"?  Isn't there a problem with this?  How can we fix it? How can we get them off the air?

"You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."  Daniel Patrick Moynihan