kottke.org posts about Ray Kurzweil

Turing Test passed for the first timeJun 08 2014

A supercomputer running a program simulating a 13-year-old boy named Eugene has passed the Turing Test at an event held at London's Royal Society.

The Turing Test is based on 20th century mathematician and code-breaker Turing's 1950 famous question and answer game, 'Can Machines Think?'. The experiment investigates whether people can detect if they are talking to machines or humans. The event is particularly poignant as it took place on the 60th anniversary of Turing's death, nearly six months after he was given a posthumous royal pardon.

If a computer is mistaken for a human more than 30% of the time during a series of five minute keyboard conversations it passes the test. No computer has ever achieved this, until now. Eugene managed to convince 33% of the human judges that it was human.

I'm sure there will be some debate as members of the AI and computing communities weigh in over the next few days, but at first blush, it seems like a significant result. The very first Long Bet concerned the Turing Test, with Mitch Kapor stating:

By 2029 no computer -- or "machine intelligence" -- will have passed the Turing Test.

and Ray Kurzweil opposing. The stakes are $20,000, but the terms are quite detailed, so who knows if Kurzweil has won.

Update: Kelly Oakes of Buzzfeed dumps some cold water on this result.

Of course the Turing Test hasn't been passed. I think its a great shame it has been reported that way, because it reduces the worth of serious AI research. We are still a very long way from achieving human-level AI, and it trivialises Turing's thought experiment (which is fraught with problems anyway) to suggest otherwise.

Kurzweil reviews HerFeb 18 2014

Futurist Ray Kurzweil reviews Spike Jonze's Her.

I would place some of the elements in Jonze's depiction at around 2020, give or take a couple of years, such as the diffident and insulting videogame character he interacts with, and the pin-sized cameras that one can place like a freckle on one's face. Other elements seem more like 2014, such as the flat-panel displays, notebooks and mobile devices.

Samantha herself I would place at 2029, when the leap to human-level AI would be reasonably believable. There are some incongruities, however. As I mentioned, a lot of the dramatic tension is provided by the fact that Theodore's love interest does not have a body. But this is an unrealistic notion. It would be technically trivial in the future to provide her a virtual visual presence to match her virtual auditory presence, using, lens-mounted displays, for example, that display images onto Theodore's retinas.

According to Jonze in interviews, Kurzweil's work on the singularity was a definite influence on the movie.

The oldest living things in the world, photographedSep 30 2009

Rachel Sussman has travelled the world to take photographs of the oldest living things in the world. This is actinobacteria from Siberia; it's 400,000 years old.

Actinobacteria

There's a map and a progress blog and an unassociated Wikipedia entry that tells of the ocean-going species Turritopsis nutricula:

The Hydrozoan species Turritopsis nutricula is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again. This means that there may be no natural limit to its life span.

Who wants to bet that Ray Kurzweil drinks a Turritopsis nutricula smoothie every morning? (via @bobulate)

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