Friday, September 29, 2017

Rocket travel

Elon Musk talks about rocket flight to anywhere on earth in less than 1 hour. Such high speed is not warranted unless flights are scheduled frequently and you can get to and from an airport and through security and customs in similar time scales. Noise made even supersonic airplanes problematic. I would guess that there might be a limited number of military applications for such a capability. (I agree with Mr. Musk about the need to make intelligent life multiplanetary. Especially with guys like crazy Donald in charge. I just believe we should be spreading mechanical life.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Asa H speech recognition

I've tried a few different approaches to speech recognition. Once Asa has been taught english words/names for some of the concepts it has learned human speech can serve as an additional sensory input. (See my book Twelve Papers, pg 13.) With Asa H ported to RobotBASIC and Windows Speech Recognition turned on its possible to simply use commands like INPUT x in order to log verbal input. Workarounds exist that don't require you to say "enter" after each input. (See John Blankenship's, Arlo, the Robot You've Always Wanted, CreateSpace, 2015, chapter 11.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Attention again

Attention to some important Asa H inputs can be increased by simply manually cranking up the gain on those particular analog signals. Low battery voltage ("hunger"), breakage, high temperature, low temperature ("pains"), for example.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Asa speaks

Asa has frequently been taught to associate english words with a number of the concepts that it learns. If these words are later output this has typically been as printed text using commands like Print X$ where X$ is something like "obstacle" ... "slow down" ... "turn left." (See, for example, page 13 of my book Twelve Papers, at, under "book") By running the PortalGroove Speechplayer  it is possible, instead, to vocalize these outputs using commands like
SetCBtext(x), where x="obstacle"..."slow down"... etc.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

What constitutes a "robot?"

In the 1950s a "robot" was typically defined as "a machine-made man." Today's Oxford English dictionary says "a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically." Or Bekey says "we define a robot as a machine that senses, thinks, and acts." (Autonomous Robots, MIT Press, 2005, pg 2) By these more modern definitions even my use of Asa to control a plasma or ion source was a "robot." I had thought of it at the time as "interfacing", a continuation/extension of my work with computerized plasma diagnostics. Several of us taught a computer interfacing course in those days (about 30 years ago). I guess I had begun assembling my robotics lab even back then.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A problem with online instruction

I am not a fan of current online courses. For a number of reasons I believe they are, on the average, inferior to traditional instruction. (Are we even sure who did the work for an online course?)

ESU would like us to have an online masters degree in physics. Math has one. Such a degree would usually have to be completed with a thesis or project involving THEORETICAL work. There would be a strong bias against experimental problems.

Self plagiarism?

During a faculty discussion on student cheating someone brought up the subject of  "self plagiarism." My Oxford English dictionary defines plagiarize as "copy another person's words or ideas and pretend that they are your own." Since "another person" is not involved by this definition "self plagiarism" is not possible. What could be at issue are violations of copyright law.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Attention mechanisms again

Attention has been an issue with Asa H since the beginning. I am currently exploring the degree to which austerity of the environment contributes to attention control. Sleep might be an extreme example of this.

Friday, September 8, 2017


I'm told areas in Florida now get regular flooding due to sea level rise. Florida too had a chance to elect Al Gore and do something about climate change. Now they get their punishment. They should have counted all the votes.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Credit hours required for the bachelor's degree

Many students now take more than 4 years to complete an undergraduate degree. I believe this is in large part due to the reduction in financial aid available to them. (And the resulting need for part time employment.) The state of Kansas is now asking us to justify the credit hour requirements for such degrees. They are seaking to reduce this number. (120 hours is the current minimum.) My own view is that the number should probably be increased. Since knowledge grows over time what is required to enter a field has grown and takes longer to acquire.

Friday, September 1, 2017

More philosophy using A.s.a. H.

What is the self? Hume, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, Parfit, Fichte, Nagel, and many others have tried to understand the self. With Asa H I am exploring what self is as it evolves (as I think it does) from raw sense impressions (patterns). (See my blogs of 21 July 2016 and 1 January 2017.)