Search Results For: turing

The Next Turing Test

Sep 29 2014 @ 8:12am

It’s handwriting, according to Clive Thompson, who marvels that “the most avid prosecutors of Alan Turing’s sly and audacious 1950 thought-experiment have been not philosophers or computer scientists or advanced A.I. labs but … marketers”:

The former folks have foundered for years on the difficulties of understanding the fractal contours of human consciousness. The latter just want you to open up their damn mail.

Comprehending the mysteries of human thought and behavior is hard. Emulating it? Not so much! It’s partly why Turing’s test is so unsettling: Man, are we really that easy to copy?

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Are We Still Torturing?

Aug 11 2014 @ 11:43am
by Dish Staff

Nico Hines and Sami Yousafzai pass along a disturbing new Amnesty International report indicating that the US military “has systematically covered up or disregarded “abundant and compelling evidence” of war crimes, torture, and unlawful killings in Afghanistan as recently as last year”:

[The report] includes detailed investigations of 10 incidents in which at least 140 civilians, including 50 children, were killed in dubious circumstances. In the aftermath of nine of these, eyewitnesses and families report that no one was ever interviewed by the U.S. military. … Among the most disturbing allegations are claims of forcible disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial killings carried out by a rogue unit in Wardak province from the fall of 2012. “We interviewed a former detainee that had a really horrific story of just raw torture,” [report author Joanne] Mariner said. “It’s not only the testimony of this former detainee but a lot of bodies were found showing horrendous crimes of torture—people missing body parts and people whose corpses were badly mutilated.”

One of 125 victims and eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty in compiling this report was Qandi Agha, 51, an employee at the provincial Ministry of Culture, who says he was captured by U.S. forces who broke into his home and spirited him away to a dark wooden cell. “On the first night,” he said, “the Americans told me they were going to try 14 different types of torture on me. If I survived, they said, they’d let me go.”

He said he suffered electric shocks, beatings, simulated drowning, hanging from the ceiling, partial burial in freezing conditions, and the extraordinary and degrading torment of having a length of string tied tightly around his penis. “They left the string around my penis for four days. My abdomen was bulging. I wasn’t able to pee for those four days,” he said.

He was lucky. He says half of the men he was incarcerated with did not survive the ordeal, and he claims to have watched one man be beaten to death by a redheaded American commando.

Passing The Turing Test, Ctd

Jun 12 2014 @ 7:58am

With the last weekend’s breakthrough being called into question, Brian Barrett argues that these days, the Turing test “isn’t so much a test of computer intelligence as it is human gullibility”:

A bad chatbot might luck its way to victory if the judges aren’t familiar with tell-tale signs of chatbot-ness. That’s usually of less importance when your panel includes experts in the field of computer science. In this case, it included an actor from Red Dwarf and a member of the House of Lords, both of whom are incredibly accomplished and by all indications brilliant minds, but not specifically trained in this field.

David Auerbach argues that “Eugene Goostman” did in fact pass the Turing test – but that the test itself has a fatal flaw:

Trashing the Reading results, Hunch CEO Chris Dixon tweeted, “The point of the Turing Test is that you pass it when you’ve built machines that can fully simulate human thinking.” No, that is precisely not how you pass the Turing test. You pass the Turing test by convincing judges that a computer program is human. That’s it. Turing was interested in one black-box metric for how we might gauge “human intelligence,” precisely because it has been so difficult to establish what it is to “simulate human thinking.” Turing’s test is only one measure.

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Passing The Turing Test

Jun 9 2014 @ 4:00pm

Dante D’Orazio takes note of this weekend’s big news out of London:

Eugene Goostman seems like a typical 13-year-old Ukrainian boy – at least, that’s what a third of judges at a Turing Test competition this Saturday thought. Goostman says that he likes hamburgers and candy and that his father is a gynecologist, but it’s all a lie. This boy is a program created by computer engineers led by Russian Vladimir Veselov and Ukrainian Eugene Demchenko.

That a third of judges were convinced that Goostman was a human is significant – at least 30 percent of judges must be swayed for a computer to pass the famous Turing Test. The test, created by legendary computer scientist Alan Turing in 1950, was designed to answer the question “Can machines think?” and is a well-known staple of artificial intelligence studies. Goostman passed the test at the Turing Test 2014 competition in London on Saturday, and the event’s organizers at the University of Reading say it’s the first computer to succeed.

Kabir Chibber looks back to Turing’s exact prediction:

He said in 1950:

I believe that in about 50 years’ time it will be possible to program computers… to make them play the imitation game so well that an average interrogator will not have more than 70 percent chance of making the right identification after five minutes of questioning.

While this didn’t happen by the year 2000, it seems Turing was off by only 14 years.

Nathan Mattise has more on this weekend’s breakthrough:

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Capturing Chaos

Mar 6 2014 @ 10:03am

Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 11.47.27 AM

Photographer Marcel Christ combines his backgrounds in chemistry and photography to create startling images:

Through experimentation with countless liquids, the artist finds ways to give life to otherwise inanimate objects. In this ongoing series, Powder, Christ captures the expressive movement of colorful powders that pop out against a solid black background in unpredictable formations that result in an organized chaos.

From an interview with the artist:

I love to show things you can’t see with the naked eye, combined with all different subjects and textures. That includes bursts of powder and explosions. The aesthetics of destruction are very beautiful. That specific moment you see in these images lasts barely 1/10 000 of a second. A few moments later, the studio is a mess.

Find more of his work here.

Maturing With Middlemarch

Feb 8 2014 @ 3:35pm

In My Life in Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead interweaves memoir and literary criticism, illustrating how George Eliot’s classic has affected her throughout her life. In a review of the book, Hannah Rosefield describes why the novel endures:

Mead first read the novel aged 17, living in the southwest of England and preparing for university examinations, and she has read it every five years or so since. Middlemarch is, of course, not the only novel that changes with the age of its reader, but it does attract a particular kind of rereading. Writers, academics and non-specialist readers alike talk about a distancing from Dorothea as they grow older, a realization of the irony in Eliot’s portrayal of the girl who wishes she could have married Milton or any other great man “whose odd habits it would have been glorious piety to endure.” They discover their sympathy, especially if they are academics, for Dorothea’s elderly husband Casaubon, the scholar fixated on a project that he has neither the will nor the intellect to complete. To the young, Middlemarch is about the young; to the middle-aged, it’s about middle age.

Pamela Erens elaborates:

[Protagonist] Dorothea feels an inchoate longing to do or become something that the provinces don’t provide a ready picture of. Mead experienced this, too, although she had a better image of what might lie in the big world outside, and opportunities to reach for it.

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Torturing The Mentally Ill

Jan 14 2014 @ 11:46am

Reporting on the shocking treatment of mentally ill inmates in South Carolina’s prisons, Andrew Cohen asks why the state has refused to do anything about it:

On Wednesday, in one of the most wrenching opinions you will ever read, a state judge in Columbia ruled that South Carolina prison officials were culpable of pervasive, systemic, unremitting violations of the state’s constitution by abusing and neglecting mentally ill inmates. The judge, Michael Baxley, a decorated former legislator, called it the “most troubling” case he ever had seen and I cannot disagree. Read the ruling. It’s heartbreaking. The evidence is now sadly familiar to anyone who follows these cases: South Carolina today mistreats these ill people without any evident traces of remorse. Even though there are few disputed material issues of law or fact in the case, even though the judge implored the state to take responsibility for its conduct, South Carolina declared before the sun had set Wednesday that it would appeal the ruling—and thus likely doom the inmates to years more abuse and neglect. That’s not just “deliberate indifference,” the applicable legal standard in these prison abuse cases. That is immoral.

But what makes this ruling different from all the rest—and why it deserves to become a topic of national conversation—is the emphasis Judge Baxley placed upon the failure of the good people of South Carolina to remedy what they have known was terribly wrong since at least 2000.

Nicole Flatow examines the horrors the inmates suffered:

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Picturing Prufrock

Jan 11 2014 @ 2:32pm

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Julian Peters creates comic-book adaptations of poetry, with subjects ranging from Keats to Poe to Rimbaud. His latest is T.S. Eliot’s classic, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” In an interview, Peters explains why he chose it:

First off, because it is one of my very favourite poems. The language is incredibly beautiful, of course, and lord knows I can relate to Prufrock’s indecisiveness. And it is one of those poems that has always spontaneously created a multitude of vivid images in my mind’s eye. I also think it is just the sort of poem that works best as a poetry comic. First because it lays forth a narrative of sorts, and second because it is not too concrete in its imagery, so that in converting it into visual form there is little risk of being too straightforwardly illustrative. …

[U]ltimately the most challenging aspect of making poetry comics for me is getting the pacing right. There should be a rhythmic flow to the comic that captures the corresponding flow of the poem. Achieving this is mainly a matter of how to break up the text between the panels, how to arrange the panels, how to pace the visual narrative, and where to place the text in relation to the imagery. Of course, these aspects can be judged the most successful the less the reader is immediately aware of them.

Last month, a Boston Globe profile of Peters’ work underscored the connection between comics and poetry:

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Belated Justice For Turing

Dec 30 2013 @ 7:35pm

Alan Turing, the great British mathematician who cracked Nazi codes and later killed himself after the government chemically castrated him for being gay, received a posthumous royal pardon last week, 61 years after his conviction (NYT). Peter Tatchell wants the pardon extended to everyone convicted under the “gross indecency” law, which remained on the books until 2003:

Why him alone? Singling out Turing for a royal pardon just because he was a great scientist and very famous is wrong in principle. The law should be applied equally, without fear or favour, regardless of whether a person is a well-known high achiever – or not. Selective redress is a bad way to remedy a historic injustice. At least 50,000 other men were convicted under the same ‘gross indecency’ law from the time it was first legislated in 1885 until its repeal in 2003. They have never been offered a pardon but deserve one, equally as much as Turing. An estimated 15,000 men of these men are still alive. It is not too late for them to receive a measure of justice in the form of a royal pardon.

Ally Fogg is on the same page:

Turing should be forgiven not because he was a modern legend, but because he did absolutely nothing wrong.

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Capturing America’s Conflicts

Nov 11 2013 @ 6:00pm

In honor of Veterans Day, the Washington Post has created Portraits of War, a portfolio of some of the greatest war photography of the last 150 years. Among the ten featured photographers is Mathew Brady:

dish_bradyBrady remains the single most famous photographer of the Civil War. His name came to overshadow those of other photographers, causing some mistakenly to believe that Brady had almost single-handedly created the immense photographic archive. Brady deserves credit for envisioning the possibility of using photography systematically to document the war. He would send teams of photographers – and occasionally go himself – to create images of battlefields and important leaders. His public display of “The Dead of Antietam” was the first time the American public viewed images of dead soldiers on the battlefield.

Brady’s efforts to document the Civil War pushed him into a series of bankruptcies. In the years after the war, he campaigned to get Congress to buy his collection of negatives and prints. In 1875, Congress finally bought the rights to his work for $25,000.

See the full tribute here.

(Photo of Union soldier by gun at US Arsenal, Washington DC, 1862, by Mathew Brady via Wikimedia Commons)