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23 June 2012 @ 10:39 pm

Wow. When I decided to treat the public part of my journal as just a fic-and-occasional-essay/meta repository, I didn't imagine that there might be a time I simply won't have the chance to get any of that written for extended periods. But now seems to be such a time, and my last public post was in January (and a signal boost, at that - I hadn't written it myself). I know why I adopted the policy of "post only what's super representative in the public entries" when I did, but at the same time I don't want my LJ to go totally silent just because it may be a while before I can get any fandom writing done again.

So, I think I'll be posting a "random" thing without the friendslock every now and then. Why not. Better than sitting around posting nothing as LJ's traffic keeps dwindling.

Today's post isn't going all that random, anyway. I wanted to pay respects to the fact that it's been 100 years since the birth of Alan Turing. I've celebrated by googling him - I think he'd approve - and came up with some surprisingly okay articles published in assorted places today, so I'll share some of the links. (Did you have a go at the brilliant little Google "minigame" commemorating the anniversary? I did and even solved it twice, no doubt just out of my sheer admiration for the man.)

Eat some apples today - I've had two - and be glad if they're healthy and not laced with bigot venom.

Speaking of anniversaries and fiercitude, today really must be a day with high concentrations of badass in the air, as it's also the 478th birthday of Oda Nobunaga. While he's not an entirely unobjectionable figure, what with the whole Demon King thing and all, I've been moderately obsessed with the Sengoku era and Samurai Warriors lately and have a soft spot for the big baddie. HOW MEDDLESOME.

...and apparently Alfred Kinsey was born on June 23, too. You know, the one who trolled cultural memes about ~compulsory~ heterosexuality by presenting figures of how same-gender sexy encounters were a lot more common than previously thought. And brought at least the concept of a scale for human sexuality instead of some mandatory binary opposition into the public mind.

Well, well. If this isn't a fabulous day, actually.

tiamariaanactoria on June 23rd, 2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
Well, well. If this isn't a fabulous day, actually.

Indeed. It certainly seems like a good excuse for celebratory wine.

Yeah, I'm not keen on the whole LJ-to-Tumblr migration that seems to be going on. I mean, I have one, but it seems so much less conducive to discussion and sociability in general.

(Or, alternatively, maybe I'm just turning into a grumpy old person. It's bout time.)
See you later, instigator: Metal Gear Laws - Governmentoudeteron on June 23rd, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC)
I've had celebratory tea. At some point I came across a story that Turing chained his tea mug to something in his office to have it always at hand, so I think it's apt. XD

Yeeeah, I feel the exact same way. I've tried using Tumblr but just ugh, it's like someone gutted it of all the features I find the most useful. I just can't really warm up to it.

(All these kids, get off my lawn! /throws shoes XD)

燕雀安んぞ鴻鵠の志をしらんやcowgirlmaxwell on June 24th, 2012 01:04 am (UTC)
I celebrated by reading a few chapters of a pretty fantastic book called 'The Annotated Turing - A Guided Tour Through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine ' by Charles Petzold- I'm in the middle of Swot Vac so I couldn't really do much else. He basically takes apart Turing's thesis and explains it in terms that even people without much of a maths background can understand it. There's also an introductory chapter that gets readers up to speed on number theory. I just think that it's hard to appreciate the sheer brilliance of Turing without understanding what he did at least a little bit, whether it be on his work on cryptography/computers or morphogenesis.
See you later, instigator: Lu Bu & Xiao Meng - face the musicoudeteron on June 26th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the rec, since admittedly I wasn't even interested in this field until fairly recently (apart from AI, which I think has logical and philosophical problems to it as well, in addition to the fact that someone has to make it work - but Turing's famous paper on that is seriously entertaining enough to read in its own right). But I agree that the more you know, the better you get why what he did was so admirable (and still is).
燕雀安んぞ鴻鵠の志をしらんや: roarshach iconcowgirlmaxwell on July 4th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
~Late Reply Time!~

Spoilers: I wouldn't worry about the whole "philosophical problems" to do with AI- it's more speculation from scifi. Philosophical/moral issues that can arise from AI only really come into effect once we get to the technological level of actually, truly, properly creating machines that are fully able to think unassisted at the level and scope of human beings (or more 'intelligent' animals, such as apes etc etc), and we have so much more progress to make before we can even get to that. You just don't hear about that, because the media likes to talk about the pseudo "AI" that people are developing because people who don't know better think it's Cool Shit. To give you an idea of the barriers we have to cross- the P and NP problem will probably have to be solved, or at least close to. If you read more about Turing, you'll find that the whole basis behind his work on computers was based off his question of whether a machine could be built that can have the intelligence of a person- a question that still has to be answered (also related to the P and NP problem). In other words, "We" actually don't know if we can even create a machine that is truly intelligent. Maybe we would if Turing didn't die so early!

(What you see as AI developments is pseudo AI- it's based off an algorithm not general enough to allow for 'knowledge' beyond the scope of what is explicitly programmed, which is not intelligence at all. Also keep in mind that human intelligence also encompasses emotional intelligence, something that will be much harder to 'develop' than the learning/knowledge processes of a computer.)

tl;dr bumping into moral/ethical/social problems in AI isn't very likely to happen until much later in, or after, our lifetime, because it's going to require computer scientists and mathematicians to work together (lol)
See you later, instigator: Gigaville - coffeeoudeteron on July 11th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
Actually, I wouldn't be so dogmatic on the "not in our lifetime" part.

I think you can still consider the "philosophical" issues from your perspective, i.e. not the perspective of the machine (while obviously you're not going to have the level of tested data to be able to prove if you're "really" guessing what's going to happen right). Turing interrogated the criticisms that were made against AI during his time, and pointed out where they fell short from what he could postulate. It's a question whether we know where we're falling short now.

If you read more about Turing, you'll find
Assuming I haven't read more than two short articles, or...?
燕雀安んぞ鴻鵠の志をしらんやcowgirlmaxwell on July 18th, 2012 08:31 am (UTC)
The link that you posted just then is kind of what I'm talking about- that sort of stuff has been pretty commonplace for a while now, Google has just managed to do it in a more show-y way. What they did is getting a computer to accumulate a large database of similar information, calculate aggregates from that information, and compare those aggregates to "identify" images of cats. It's very similar to what Facebook does with recognising where peoples' faces are in a photo, except done in a far more technical, time-consuming way. The computer is still unable to 'apply' this knowledge in any meaningful way- learning to know something is still a different process to learning to apply knowledge and a whole different ballgame (the latter is when you can start making arguments about 'free will' standards of thinking, the former is where they are at now). See the difference? The computer may be fed information/programmed about cats to 'learn' about cats, but they can't draw their own conclusions or make their own observations about them- and that's what is meant by 'humanoid AI'.

Assuming I haven't read more than two short articles, or...?
To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what you mean by this, but to clarify: I was referring to more the higher-end maths he did during (mainly) the latter part of his career- from your above comment I was under the assumption that you hadn't read much into that by then.
See you later, instigator: Kaz Miller - no commentoudeteron on July 18th, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC)
I didn't get the impression that the article was selling what the computer can do at the moment as "humanoid", but I do think this is part of the process of getting there (or finding out whether it can get there). And I would call it significant since something tells me Google has a quantity of data to feed this system that isn't so readily available from other sources/in smaller research projects. Turing himself didn't apply the term "free will" to a machine at all that I can recall, so free will and its feasibility or not isn't even the main point to be concerned about here? At least, not in relation to Turing. Otherwise, sure, good question.

I don't know, your comment came off as sort of condescending, as if you were assuming I could only have read the two news articles I was linking. (But maybe that's just my previous experience as far as interacting with you goes colouring my judgement, but even then, who's to say discomfort isn't valid?) It's true that I'm not getting into higher maths because it's so far in many ways from what I specialize in on a higher level (language) and I don't have the time or resources to start self-learning maths now. That said, I did read the primary sources on AI because it's just something I'm interested in. And you were very firmly talking about AI when you made that comment. (You'd be right in saying I'm not good at maths, though.)