More useful junk

Technology
In a paper published today in PLoS Genetics the research supporting the value of so-called junk DNA gained more ground. As is stated in the article biologists have known about junk DNA for many years but it was felt that it was mostly extraneous data in the genetic code. If you have read the research behind SDNEAT, you know that scientists are starting to change their perceptions of junk DNA. Segmental duplications seem to be critical in the evolution of species, they allow for high levels of genetic variation and mutation with a smaller chance of disabling the original genome all together. This new study suggests that DNA 'retrotransposons" are important to human evolution. One specific set of retrotransposons are called Alu elements: "Alu elements are a major source of…
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Autonomous Helicopters

Technology
These automatons are certainly not adrift but they are definitely airborne and capable! Computer Scientists at Stanford have developed an autonomous helicopter that can learn from a human expert pilot to perform complex manoeuvres better than the original human expert! The learning system does not just copy the controls for performing the manoeuvres it watches several built in sensors for the state of the environment around the helicopter and through several iterations develops an algorithm that can handle situations that were not part of the training but allow the autonomous pilot to complete the manoeuvre. These adapted agents could even keep more precise control over the aircraft than the original pilot could. "For five minutes, the chopper, on its own, ran through a dizzying series of stunts beyond the capabilities…
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The Learning Algorithm of the Brain

Technology
A group of researchers at NYU have been given funding to "discover the learning algorithm of the brain". This will be some exciting work, many scientists believe the easiest method to general artifical intelligence is through duplicating the human brain, that the sum of the parts is the soul so to speak. These researchers will be focusing on the visual system and how it manages to identify all the important bits in a photograph or any real world scene. They will then apply what they learn from these experiments to see if the same methodology works on similar brain structures. I am not certain but this research may be related to the recent full simulation of the human visual cortex on Roadrunner currently the most powerful computer in the world.…
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Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. Turing

Personal, Technology
Well yesterday was Thanksgiving, my wife and I went to our friends house and cooked a turkey. Quite the proceedure, I researched several sources including YouTube and my mother, to figure out the best way to get the job done. The turkey was fabulous. The human beings ability to take in information from several sources, assimilate it, process it and use it to understand and reproduce something is remarkable. Computers got a bit closer to that on the same day. The Turing Test I wrote about in my last post happened yesterday and quite a few of the systems did quite well. The program Elbot actually managed to fool twenty five percent of the judges into thinking it was a human. That is no small feat, as even the tiniest…
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Turing test next weekend.

Fun Bits, Technology
Next sunday there will be a fun little challenge happing at the University of Reading. Several computer programs will be competing to pass the 'Turing test'. To explain it simply, the Turing test, is an experiment to test a computers intelligence by having it attempt to fool a human into believeing it is human as well. A human judge faces off against a computer program and a human pretending to be the same program simultaneously. If the judge cannot tell which conversation is the human and which is the program, the program will have passed the Turing test. Some people will definitely argue that the program doesn't understand what it is saying, it is simply following rules to respond to the questions posed to it, and it does not represent…
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If there is an algorithm for intelligence…

Fun Bits, Technology
Then we could run it in about 50 atoms worth of space. That is assuming that we could build the smallest state machine possible in that amount of space and then actually wire it up to some tiny interface. The smallest possible universal state machine was proven to exist a couple days ago by Alex Smith of Birmingham, UK. This really does have some significant impact. While I don’t think we would run the algorithm for intelligence on this particular state machine, we could. We could in fact run any program at all on this state machine and have it input and output any possible string of information. You can think of this as the smallest possible independent microprocessor. This could be a significant step in the advancement of massively…
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Simbad a quick introduction

Technology
Simbad is the 3D robot simulator I am using for my autonomous agent research. This is just a brief look at the simbad interface and how you can interact with the simulation environment. We won’t even peek at the really cool features, like its ease of use or potential for Evolutionary Artificial Neural Network research! [caption id="attachment_10" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The Simbad user interface."][/caption] If you click on the image you will see a larger copy of the picture. The large main window is the world view. This is the visualization of the 3D world your simulated robots traverse. It is roughly 20 meters x 20 meters and the basic agents have a radius of 0.5 meters. Underneath the world window is the control window. This interface provides controls for the…
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This process has just begun…

Technology
I don’t really know what I will be writing here. I decided I would start to blog about my research and the various nifty problems I encounter every time I try something new. Maybe I will just talk about that, maybe I will talk about other things. If you are reading this and I haven’t told you to come here then you probably don’t even have a clue who I am. I will hopefully put a page up about myself in the next few days and a page about my research shortly after that, then we can start talking about the fun things.
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