Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Truly great American people elect a charismatic man born to lead: Obama US President elect

Unbelievable, truly marvelous, that a country of only 12% blacks with a vile history in the slave trade would elect, so early in the 21st century, its very first half-white, half-black African American, America. I salute you and especially John McCain a most gracious man in defeat, awesome.

From 00:55 early this morning, McCain was in the lead with 21 to 3, looking good for the Republicans, but then Sky news had it 25 to Obama, 21 to McCain at 1:08, as I followed this historic night with fellow cricket fans across the Internet, where it was reported that 18-29 group and females were favouring Obama. At 1:14, according to one cricket poster, MSN had Obama 103 to McCain's 34, seemed at this point Obama was running away with it, the excitement was palpable. At 1:46, McCain had leapt to 69, Obama remained with 103, then came news that Elizabeth Dole, wife of Bob lost her North Carolina seat to Kay Hagan. At 4:52, we heard that CNN were reporting that it would be difficult for McCain as he had lost Pennsylvania.

At 2:03 Fox news projected that New Mexico and Ohio as Obama wins but then pulled back on their Ohio call. At 2:08, MSNBC had Obama at 175 with McCain on 70. At 2:16 McCain was up to 76 with his home state, Arizona, too close to call! At 2:18, McCain had moved to 81 to Obama's static 175, could he pull it off? At 2:23 Fox recalled Ohio for Obama, with two other networks following suit by 2:26. BBC at 2:30 had Obama on 195 to McCain's 76. At 2:37 it was 200 to 85 in Obama's favour. At 2:39 one fan called it for Obama, he'd won the Presidency and that it was all over, Obama had won New Mexico. At 3:06 Obama had 207, McCain 129; at 3:25, Obama had 260 with McCain 135. Around 4am CNN called the Presidency for Obama, after Huffington's blog called the win on their site. What a night!

Stayed up to listen to McCain's brilliant speech, he set the right, cooperative tone to some crowd boos, only the very great can lose so graciously as did American hero, John McCain. Then came the winner's speech, fantastic, tears on the faces of crowd members in Chicago, including Oprah Winfrey and Jesse Jackson, I can't imagine what they must have been feeling, well maybe it was the feeling those on the Subcontinent felt back in August 1947 when it was finally freed from Colonial rule, but no Obama's win is bigger, much more profound. America truly is the promised land.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sarah Palin, and the ECB, fail the Turing Test!

Steven Pinker declared in June this year, at a memorable lecture at the LSE in London, "humans are easily fooled". This was no more apparent than this weekend, when America's hottest hockey mom was convinced she was speaking with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy:

In an over-the-top accent, one half of a notorious Quebec comedy duo claims to be the president of France as he describes sex with his famous wife, the joy of killing animals and Hustler magazine’s latest Sarah Palin porno spoof.

At the other end of the line? An oblivious Sarah Palin.

The Masked Avengers, a radio pairing notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state, notched its latest victory Saturday when it released a recording of a six-minute call with Palin, who thought she was talking with Nicolas Sarkozy.

Throughout the call, which was making the rounds in U.S. political circles by day’s end Saturday, Palin and the pranksters discuss politics, pundits, and the perils of going hunting with Vice-President Dick Cheney.

“We have such great respect for you, John McCain and I, we love you,” Palin gushes, evidently unaware she’s speaking to an infamous Quebec comedian named Marc-Antoine Audette.

At one point, Palin even comes close to confirming her intention to one day run for president, when Audette slyly remarks he can see her taking over the big desk in the Oval office.

“Maybe in eight years,” she replies with a nervous chuckle.

Over the course of the interview, Palin doesn’t seem to realize she’s being tricked until Audette comes clean near the end of the call.

From: Canadian Press.

Me thinks Palin went slightly over the top too, with her "we love you" :-)

And in another prank, Sir Allen Stanford's West Indian superstars duped the ECB Eleven into believing that they could become dollar millionaires in a sensational winner-takes-it-all, $20million dollar cricket match. This was England's preparation for their upcoming Indian tour, oh dear!

Links to articles:

Tony Cozier.

In ECB's attempt to out-IPL the Indians, they may just have assisted Stanford in his dream to revitalise West Indian cricket. Let's hope so, cricket can only be better for a strong West Indian team.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The other BA - British Association for the Advancement of Science

Now lists both University of Reading hosted events on 12 October, 2008:

AISB 2008 Symposium on the Turing Test. Programme and speakers can be found here.


2008 Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence

For tickets to the AISB Symposium, contact Dr. Mark Bishop:

What's wrong with the Turing Test?


Though many would argue that it should be killed, because it does nothing to further the science of understanding human consciousness and intelligence.

What is the Turing Test? When a machine, unseen and unheard deceives a human into believing that they are in conversation with another human, then that machine must necessarily be deemed intelligent. Why? Because it has mastered the art of deception, and has convinced that it is human through dialogue.

I contend that the Turing Test is the bottom rung on a long ladder to 'True AI'. It provides a platform to enable conversation between human and machine, thanks to Weizenbaum's paradigm seen in the first, pre-Internet natural language understanding system Eliza.

Turing's idea is simple yet brilliant. Turing even pointed the way to proceed with design of an artificial conversational entity (ACE - Shah, 2006). By dividing the problem into two parts: child programme and education process:

Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind,

why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child’s? If this

were then subjected to an appropriate course of education one would

obtain the adult brain (Turing, 1950 - see link to right).

Turing further added:

We cannot expect to find a good child-machine at the first attempt. One must experiment with teaching some such machine and see how well it learns.

Structure of the child-machine = Hereditary material

Changes in the child-machine = Mutations

Natural Selection = Judgment of the Experimenter

Turing added that a simple child-machine might be constructed on the principle of associating punishments and rewards with the teaching process.

Current ACE, based on Turing’s Test, can be seen in two annual competitions: Chatterbox Challenge (CBC) and the Loebner Prize.

The Loebner Prize is sponsored by American scientist and philanthropist Dr. H.G. Loebner. Transcripts of conversations from the Prize provide a feast of information about how human conversation works, an insight into human consciousness and the problem with defining conversational intelligence. It is so subjective.

© Huma Shah (first posted in blog in 2006)

The Turing Test, The Rickman Test and now the Warwick Test

We know the Turing Test is a conversational measure for machine intelligence.

We have the Rickman Test, a means for a machine to display creativity and originality through comedy (The Philosopher as a Joker).

We now have the Warwick Test:

Kevin Warwick (2008) says

"When/if a machine could do that (and you can't tell the difference from a human) then it would have passed the Warwick Test."

Mechatronics and Madame Tussauds: can you beat Sadie and Kaya's extraordinary body artistry and win the Warwick Test?!

A link to Sadie and Kaya's Internet sites can be found here and here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I love Jon Stewart (He of The Daily Show)

Not only is Jon Stewart serious eye-candy, he is the comic genius of the current era. (Mock the Week makes me laugh too!)

According to The Daily Show web site, ex-British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is set to guest on the 18th September show; can't wait for his answers to the gorgeous JS's questions on that 'sexed-up' document!!!

Interesting Guardian pieces on the delectable Jon Stewart:

But the point about the Daily Show is that it isn't just a comedy programme. It is gloriously funny – Stewart was praised in a Guardian leader earlier this month which concluded "no comedian alive offers quite the same joyful, cathartic dose of satire as does the 45-year-old New Yorker" - but the real reason why it's become cult viewing is because its analysis is so incisive.

From here.


The Daily Show is satire with substance, a spoof news programme in which Stewart mercilessly punctures the headlines and skewers the powerful with cleverly edited film clips, sharp one-liners and bemused expressions. It features interviews - guests have included Victoria Beckham, Bill Clinton, Tom Cruise and Pervez Musharraf - and parodic news items from a team of roving reporters. Ridiculous stories delivered with a straight face, in the style of the fake newspaper The Onion, are combined with the bracing iconoclasticism of Michael Moore minus earnestness or ego. British viewers - who can catch it on the More4 channel four times a week or via the Comedy Central website - might be reminded of the Nineties news spoof The Day Today with Chris Morris and Steve Coogan, Angus Deayton's irreverent hosting of Have I Got News for You and Armando Iannucci's taste for the politically preposterous. Add the rottweiler instincts of John Humphrys or Jeremy Paxman, and throw in some downright silliness, and you have something approaching The Daily Show.

From here.

ps given the choice of a dinner date with either Imran Khan (my cricket hero), or Jon Stewart, sorry Imran but I'd choose The Daily Show's JS :-)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Demented Zardari's Doctors Deserve Nobel for Medicine!

Asif Ali Zardari, now President of nuclear-Pakistan, probably the most dangerous, profligate, terrorist recruitment nation in the world, is one moment of dementia away from pushing the nuclear button.

"...disclosure of medical records indicating that as recently as last year, doctors hired by Zardari had diagnosed him with mental problems including dementia, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Lawyers for Zardari had argued in London's high court that he was too ill to testify in corruption-related cases, and they submitted recent mental-health evaluations as evidence."

Medicine's Nobel Prize for Mr 10%'s hired doctors? He's cured from dementia, hurrah for Pakistan!

"This is not the first time the US is putting its weight behind a sick person in an important positon in Pakistan."


"In the final analysis, the sold-out souls ..... will cause more damage to the US than the fictitious and non-existent enemies. These opportunists tell the warlords in the US want they want to hear. They promote their assumptions and lend them credibility. Instead of telling them the truth, all their advice to the US government is based on their self-interest, lies and deception. People, who are not loyal to their own people and their own county and faith, can never be faithful to the outsiders whose favours they consider vital for their self-promotion."

From here.

Bush castrated by Putin the Panther

Metaphorically speaking, this is exactly what Russia have done, a slap in the face of US 'world supremacy':

Venezuela received what the US called "Cold War era" bombers from Russia and joined Bolivia in ordering out the US ambassador ..... Russian officials have said that neither of the two TU-160 strategic bombers is carrying nuclear weapons. They have also said the November war games were planned in July and were not linked to events in Georgia.

From here.

While Bush further increases anti-American sentiment, through authorisation of drone effected firing in tribal areas without the approval of Pakistan's Government, killing twelve "mostly Taleban".

From here.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin, the lip-red pit bull

Okay, not quite red lips!

No longer spouting their “not ready yet” mantra, the US Republicans have now jumped on the “change” bandwagon at their convention, with Palin the pit bull, as she proudly described herself, the best of the change on offer, between her and Moses Obama!

So what did she say? Once again Palin introduced her family as ‘normal’, with, she claimed, its ups and downs. Palin family ups included her son and nephew's enlistment to serve in Iraq (why, when, as Palin says, victory is near in Iraq?). Pride in her husband's achievement: “world champion snow machine racer” (does he have a winter Olympics gold medal?!). Is the world to believe then, that impending grand-mother- hood is a down for Palin?

Understandably she didn’t mention her eldest daughter’s predicament. What she could have said, or rather, what her speech writer could have written, is that she’ll ensure US teenage moms have access to a good education, so that they can rear their children with integrity, decency and honour and don’t decline into poverty.

“I'm not going to Washington to seek their (media’s) good opinion - I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country”

she Palined!

Full speech here.

Which people might they be? Those that have lost their homes through the sub-prime mortgage mess? What’s Palin going to do for them? She didn’t say. What’s her plan for the US storm corridor, Gulf of Mexico, how’s she going to help her American people to rebuild New Orleans? She didn’t say. What about the US troops in Afghanistan, how long is it going to take them to find Bin Laden? She didn’t say. Is she aware that 'cracking down on Al-Qaida' now includes US troops killing villagers/civilians in Pakistan?

About China and India’s rising economic power and their effect on the US, what are her views on that? She didn’t say.

Yes, Palin spoke good, the way the US likes it, “kick-ass” filmy battle talk, but she took the easy route. She ignored the hard route; she’s too parochial for that.

While in Europe, the mentality really has changed: France’s Sarkozy met with Syria’s President to discuss Iran, that’s after making an effort to broker a peace deal with the Russians over Georgia. But at the Republican convention, well, they just sprayed their same old message: “evil of radical Islam”.

If last week’s US Democrat Convention was TV Dallas-esque, so far this week, the US Republican’s Convention has appeared as Desperate Housewives!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

That Palin Pregnancy

Who directs the media? Media barons would undoubtedly feel they do. Not so, necessarily.

Witnessed this weekend, I think originating from The Moderate Voice blog, was a story questioning the motherhood of the fifth child of Sarah Palin, US Presidential candidate McCain Multiple-Homes’ running mate. Previously unknown on the world stage, before her introduction by said Multiple-Homes, now the world knows some and wants more. Let me make it clear, I have no vested interest, do not live in the US, nor have any voting rights in the forthcoming US election. But, as a citizen of the world, I comment here, because Sarah Palin could be in situ, second-in-command of the most powerful, richest nation on earth, come next January.

Back to her introduction, and now that we know her teenage daughter is unmarried and pregnant, when Palin gushed forth her and her family’s achievements, why did she not include the milestone of impending grandmother-hood? Was she embarrassed to do so? Did she truly believe that this news would remain within the confines of her family? Are they that backward in Alaska, unaware of the power that the Internet yields to ordinary e-folk and anonymous bloggers? With amusement, I followed and read the comments this weekend. And lo and behold! Heard the clarification of Palin motherhood, on BBC news no less.

Now, I completely approve of the ‘Reformed Republicans’ (well, they do wish to peel away the veneer of the Bush era), family response, that they support their daughter. Very good. Most unlike what would happen in other parts of the globe, in some tribal areas of Balochistan, for instance, where they would shoot and bury alive their daughters for much less misdemeanors:

"killing of five women ............ shot and buried alive because three of them wanted to marry men of their choice. The women were killed in Babakot village, 320 km (200 miles) east of Quetta, in July."
From here.

Palin's daughter is fortunate. Not so those innocent Balochans. Dishonourable murders of females, by their neanderthal fathers/brothers/uncles, is for another post, another day.

A question remains, on Palin: what else is she hiding? The worst aspect to any notion of freedom of speech, not just in the blogisverse, is that unfairly or fairly mud sticks. Although not of blog-creation, anyone who follows cricket and recalls UK’s 2006 Oval Test, Umpire Hair freely expressed his opinion. Consequently, Pakistan were branded ball tampering cheats, and a bunch of whiners - result of that match overturned. (Not saying that Pakistan haven't been pulled up quite rightly on some occasions, whereas anything England do to the ball - Michael Atherton, Rob Key, Marcus Trescothick, is seen hardly as serious an offence.)

Listen to Jonathan Agnew’s TMS interview of Tresco at Lord’s Sunday 31 August 2008. At 11.13 on this BBC Sports page, England vs South Africa 4th ODI.

I digress again!

So, finally, my advice to Palin, not that she’ll get to read this, but hopefully her advisory team will imbue it in her speech this week at the Republican convention, is: be honest. Lay bare your cupboard skeletons. At your peril you don’t, because bloggers will!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Robot with 300,000 rat neurons and brain functions

"..... the disembodied neurons are communicating, sending electrical signals to one another just as they do in a living creature. We know this because the network of neurons is connected at the base of the pot to 80 electrodes, and the voltages sparked by the neurons are displayed on a computer screen.

It's these spontaneous electrical patterns that researchers at the University of Reading in the UK want to harness to control a robot. If they can do so reliably, by stimulating the neurons with signals from sensors on the robot and using the neurons' response to get the robots to respond, they hope to gain insights into how brains function. Such insights might help in the treatment of conditions like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

"We're trying to understand what is going on inside this brain material that could have direct implications for human health," says Kevin Warwick, Reading's head of cybernetics, who is running the project with Hammond and Ben Whalley, both neuroscientists."

Full article in New Scientist Tech.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New Turing Book

Parsing the Turing Test: Philosophical and Methodological Issues in the Quest for the Thinking Computer
Editors: Robert Epstein, Gary Roberts & Grace Beber

Dr. Epstein opens with a Quest for the Thinking Computer, introducing Loebner's platform for developers to showcase their attempts at passing the Turing Test. One human in 1991, the very first Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence, was considered a machine by three of the ten judges, - the confederate effect (Shah & Henry, 2005), reverse of the Eliza Effect (Turkel, 1997 - when machines are deemed human).

Noam Chomsky records his take on Turing's Imitation Game (chapter 7, page 103), while John Searle (chapter 10, page 139), discusses fifty-five years on from Turing's seminal paper (also included, at chapter 3 of the book, page 23).

Andrew Hodges, Jack Copeland, Paul Churchland and Ray Kurzweil are amongst other chapter contributors.

Robitroners (and past Loebner winners), Robby Garner and
Kevin Copple feature with chapters, along with the late Chris McKinstry. Hugh's in there too!

Thank you to Dr. Richard Wallace for mentioning me (for a little referencing) in his piece on 'The Anatomy of A.L.I.C.E.' (chapter 13, page 209).

At $199 for the 542-paged book, think I'll ask the Uni to order a copy! Individual chapters, at $25 are available from Springer.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Loebner 2008 Update: MATT communications protocol

Update for the 2008 Loebner Prize can be found here:

The communications protocol, which will be used in the final phase of the Prize (Turing Tests), is a message-by-message facilitator between each judge/machine/hidden-human.

Details for the MATT protocol can be found here:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rules: Loebner 2008 at Reading University



2b. CLOSING DATE Friday 30 May 2008

3. Who can compete?

This will be an ‘OPEN competition’- Turing Test to see which artificial conversational entity (ACE) can pass, AS CLOSE TO TURING's vision of the imitation game as he wrote of in his 1950 paper, given 5 MINUTES of questioning by each interrogator.

3.1 The competition is open to any individual or group, but no individual or group may be associated with more than one entry.

3.2 Entrants must affirm that they have intellectual rights to their entry and that it, and its components, comply with all artistic licenses.

3.3 Entrants younger than 18 years of age must accompany their submission with a written statement of permission by at least one parent or guardian

3.4 ACE may pretend to be of either gender.

For full Rules, see

Loebner 2008 Rules have also been posted on Robitron (Yahoo groups), and .