Designing the Singularity: Intel receives the Overreaching Statement Award

Designing the Singularity: Intel receives the Overreaching Statement Award. “We’re making steady progress toward Ray Kurtzweil’s singularity,” says Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel.

THE Singularity, that’s what he’s talking about. You know, the point where machine intelligence jogs past human intelligence and brings us to a new era where combined computer cognition is the equivalent of a minor deity. Not only that, but it’s Kurzweil, without the T. I don’t know if that’s Intel’s fault or Cnet’s on the transcription.

What is the Singularity really? It’s where machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence – even by just a tiny bit. At that point, the machines, which are now more knowing than we are, can recursively improve on themselves in a never ending and rapidly accelerating cycle of getting better and better.

Kurzweil tones it down a bit and simply says it’s going to be a time where machines can manifest their own rapidly advancing technology. The implications of a meteoric rise in technology, self replicating smarter than human intelligences and you know, superbeings. . . it’s all still there though. Perhaps in Intel’s mind, the Singularity involves computers designing processors for their next of kin to the point where we have the 1nm Intel processors featuring 10,000 cores.

Is this something we really want to work towards? Is it inevitable? And will these machines become self aware? No one really knows but it’s certainly an interesting concept to think on.

For their part, I’ve awarded the first ever ArsGeek Overreaching Statement Award to Intel. Congratulations Intel! Stating that they are actively working on the Singularity goes a bit beyond miniaturizing processors and coming up with interesting ways to optimize code for multiple cores. It’s a bit like casually stating that your experiments on family dog have yeilded a doberman with the intelligence of your or I and the ability to speak several languages.


Adam Savage Is a Geeky God

Adam Savage Is a Geeky GodAt the end of July, the H.O.P.E. (Hackers On Planet Earth) conference was held in New York. One of the featured speakers was Adam Savage, co-host of the Mythbusters. Savage talked about his geeky passion for creating and learning, and described (among other things) his personal recreation of a dodo skeleton. He also took questions from the ArsGeek forum members.

The best part of the video is when Adam breaks from the itinerary to show a slow-motion video of fellow co-host Jaimie Hyneman slapping him across the face in an attempt to sober Adam up. While locating the file on his laptop, someone in the audience points out the somewhat suspiciously named “Batman The Dark Knight.avi” on Adam’s desktop, to which Adam responds, “Well, I hadn’t seen it yet.”

The video is an hour long, but totally worth watching.

Edit: It turns out the video in question was just the trailer of Batman. But still, Adam is a Batman fan, he recreated a Dodo skeleton, he hand-drew a map of Middle Earth, and his official occupation entails blowing stuff up on TV. He would be hard pressed to be any geekier (or cooler).

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video


See this fish? It wants to kill you. You and everyone you love.

See this fish? It wants to kill you. You and everyone you love.

This is the Giant Snakehead – a fish with a nasty gleam in it’s cold fishy eyes and the intent to leap at your throat. Sure, it looks mean, not like those friendly tuna or dolphins you find in cans at the grocery store but really, what’s there to worry about? Well for starters, LOOK AT THE TEETH! As if a Clint Eastwood glint wasn’t enough in a fish, these teeth belong to a dinosaur, not a fish. But wait, it gets better. These things can stroll out of the water and mosey around for up to four days. AND THEY EAT PEOPLE! Or at least, someone said they eat people and I read it on the internet so it must be true.

It gets worse though. These fish are normally found in and around Asia. Recently a specimen was caught in Leeds England though. LEEDS! Do you know what this means, to catch an air breathing, walking, man eating fish several thousand miles away from it’s normal habitat? No? Well lets go to the map:


I’ve added in a few custom graphics here to make this a bit clearer. See that bloody red circle in the lower right? That’s where old Clint normally spawns, lives, eats it’s share of humans and dies. Now look at the red speckled trail of blood leading across several countries, through France, across the channel and to England (highlighted by a red circle I turned into a sun in a fit of creative energy)! The red dots symbolize outbreaks of fear and paranoia, or possibly nice restaurants . It must have been a bloodbath! Why hasn’t CNN or FOX picked up on this trail of fishy carnage?

The Sun ran a report yesterday of this find with the catchy headline Psycho predator is Sid Fishious. Apparently there was widespread panic among anglers and conservationists. An unnamed agency known only as the Environment Agency was quoted as saying “Oh s***”. They’ve been practicing pronouncing several asterisks lined up for years now and finally got a chance to use it.

Andy, the dude who caught the fish, went on record as saying ” It had a gob full of razor-sharp teeth. To be honest it looked terrifying.” Off record he probably said something like “I plan on frying it up with some butter and mushy peas.”

These fish can grow up to 3 feet long, weigh in at as much as 44lbs., enjoy swimming in warm water, moonlit strolls on the beach and devouring babies stolen from their cribs in the dead of night. England – beware!

-Ben for ArsGeek insights


“and so gull baiting has become a hot game among dolphins”

dolphin.jpgCheck out this amazing story about Kelly the dolphin, who’s trained her trainers, has a view of the future, a sense of delayed gratification and likes to bait gulls with fish, then capture them and turn the min for a reward.

Read the original article at Deep Thinkers or after the jump.

At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Mississippi, Kelly the dolphin has built up quite a reputation. All the dolphins at the institute are trained to hold onto any litter that falls into their pools until they see a trainer, when they can trade the litter for fish. In this way, the dolphins help to keep their pools clean.

Kelly has taken this task one step further. When people drop paper into the water she hides it under a rock at the bottom of the pool. The next time a trainer passes, she goes down to the rock and tears off a piece of paper to give to the trainer. After a fish reward, she goes back down, tears off another piece of paper, gets another fish, and so on. This behaviour is interesting because it shows that Kelly has a sense of the future and delays gratification. She has realised that a big piece of paper gets the same reward as a small piece and so delivers only small pieces to keep the extra food coming. She has, in effect, trained the humans.

Her cunning has not stopped there. One day, when a gull flew into her pool, she grabbed it, waited for the trainers and then gave it to them. It was a large bird and so the trainers gave her lots of fish. This seemed to give Kelly a new idea. The next time she was fed, instead of eating the last fish, she took it to the bottom of the pool and hid it under the rock where she had been hiding the paper. When no trainers were present, she brought the fish to the surface and used it to lure the gulls, which she would catch to get even more fish. After mastering this lucrative strategy, she taught her calf, who taught other calves, and so gull-baiting has become a hot game among the dolphins.

“Intelligence” is a term with many definitions and interpretations. It’s difficult enough to measure in humans let alone other animals. Large brains are traditionally associated with greater intelligence, and the brain of the adult bottlenose dolphin is about 25% heavier than the average adult human brain. Generally though, larger mammals tend to have larger brains, and so a more accurate estimate of brain power comes from the ratio of brain size to body size – the “encephalisation quotient” (EQ). While river dolphins have an EQ of 1.5, some dolphins have EQs that are more than double those of our closest relatives: gorillas have 1.76, chimpanzees 2.48, bottlenose dolphins 5.6. The bottlenose’s EQ is surpassed only by a human’s, which measures 7.4 (Australopithecines – hominids that lived around 4m years ago – fall within the dolphin range: 3.25-4.72). But we don’t know enough about the workings of the brain to be sure of what these anatomical measurements truly represent. Today, most scientists share the view that it is behaviour, not structure, that must be the measure of intelligence within a species.

Ben for ArsGeek insights