Sunday, December 20, 2009

I love James Cameron's Planet Pandora - Avatar is 3D Awesome!

What a movie! I want to IMAX-enjoy James Cameron's giant blue cat-Navi Avatars and experience the beauty of planet Pandora again and again and again!



"On Friday, Avatar wrangled a stellar estimated $27 million on approximately 7,000 screens at 3,452 sites (including $3.5 million from its midnight start). The picture's 3D presentations at 2,038 sites accounted for 58 percent of the gross. Avatar's first day stands as the third highest-grossing ever for a December release." (From IMDb)

Update January 2, 2010: "during the week between Christmas and New Year, the box office seemed on track to chalk up $500 million for the week, a record, analysts observed. (The previous record was set last year following the opening of The Dark Knight, when combined ticket sales reached $396.2 million.) Leading the field was Fox's Avatar, which added another $18.5 million to its domestic gross on Wednesday, bringing it to $268.9 million after 13 days. (Far more impressive, however, is the foreign gross, which stood at $525.3 million on Tuesday.) " From IMDb







Haunting score and theme song awaken memories of Titanic; scenes reminiscent of Cameron's Aliens, Spielberg's Jurassic Park, Gibson's Apocalypto and Rob Cohen's Dragonheart, Avatar's allegory may not be new, but the 3D epic, in ginormous IMAX presentation, is what cinematic spectacular experience is all about, thrilling, breath-taking wonder. Cheers, whistles, applause from IMAX's audience, energy that transported to a technical, special effects planet of daunting monsters, exquisite creatures, and a proud Navi people entwined within a soft love tale, battling an oppressive invading force, you just didn't want to leave, you wanted to experience it again, and again. Avatar has received four Golden Globe nominations, it deserves them all (for 'Best Motion Picture - Drama', 'Best Director - Motion Picture', 'Best Original Score - Motion Picture', and 'Best Original Song - Motion Picture'). Let's hope it receives those awards, and some Oscar nominations too. Cameron's interview:








Thank you to James Cameron, the cast and all who were involved in bringing Pandora to life through such a fantastic movie!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

BCS_SGAI 2009 Machine Intelligence Winner: Fly by Ear Helicopter

As reported by Richard Wallace, developer of Alicebot, Fly by Ear won the 2009 BCS_SGAI 2009 Machine Intelligence Competition for Progress Towards Machine Intelligence.


Well done to De Montfort University's Benjamin N. Passow and Mario A. Gongora. About Fly By Ear:

"Hearing is an invaluable sense for humans and has been greatly under-explored in the fields of AI and robotics. We show how communication and the sense of hearing can vastly improve the intelligent behaviour of an autonomous indoor helicopter. The audience will see the autonomous helicopter fly and manoeuvre on-stage while a supervising machine reads its intrinsic sound, extracts a variety of valuable information and feeds it back to the helicopter to enhance its stability and flight path. This novel use of artificial hearing presents an important advance in control, robotics, and machine intelligence."


From here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AVATAR - IMAX: 1-Day To Go

Most anticipated movie this year - James Cameron's AVATAR! One day to go before I get to see the 3D cinematic spectacular at the BFI IMAX tomorrow, can't wait!




Signourney Weaver, botanist Dr Grace Augustine in AVATAR, appeared on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, Monday 14 December, 2009. Catch her on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour here.




Leona Lewis's
"I see You" theme for AVATAR:

Friday, December 11, 2009

YouTube of James Cameron's Avatar Premiere in London




YouTube of last night's London Leicester Square premiere of AVATAR here.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhTyGcKBh

From The Guardian newspaper:

Special praise is reserved for Sigourney Weaver, as "a scientist so unimpeachable that she can get away with smoking on board an intergalactic spaceship".

MIT vs UCL debate "Is global warming largely man made?"

"Is global warming largely man made?" web-chat debate currently live at Times Online between Mark Maslin, Director of the Environment Institute at University College London, with special interest in global and regional climates, and Richard Lindzen, Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

So far:

Times Online:
We're ready to start the debate. To kick off, I’d like to establish whether you both accept that the Earth has got significantly hotter over the last century – whatever the underlying cause.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:34 Times Online
1:34


Dick Lindzen:
What do you mean by significant?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:34 Dick Lindzen
1:34


Mark Maslin:
Hi. More simple answer. Temperature rise over the last 100 years is real and global. This week the Met Office and WMO published data showing the last decade is the warmest on record and 2009 will be the 5th warmest on record.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:34 Mark Maslin
1:35


Times Online:

Whether you'd agree that the WMO data published is an accurate reflection of global temperatures.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:35 Times Online
1:36


Mark Maslin:
well I do
Friday December 11, 2009 1:36 Mark Maslin
1:36


Dick Lindzen:
That hardly answers the question. This still amounts to less a degree. Moreover, having reached a relative maximum in 1998, mere fluctuations guaranty that there will be years with temperatures among the highest.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:36 Dick Lindzen
1:36


Dick Lindzen:

And this has nothing to do with whether there is any trend.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:36 Dick Lindzen
1:37


Mark Maslin:
are you saying you disagree with the WMO and Met Office?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:37 Mark Maslin
1:38


Dick Lindzen:
And accuracy is associated with error bars. These leave any temperature uncertain to the order of 0.2C. This has nothing to do with whether one accepts the published figures.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:38 Dick Lindzen
1:38


Times Online:

Mark, why would you argue that a temperature rise of less than a degree is important? Temperatures in the past have been hotter than they are today.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:38 Times Online
1:39


Mark Maslin:
so a trend over the 100 years of 0.8 degrees (with your suggested error of 0.2) is significant then Dick
Friday December 11, 2009 1:39 Mark Maslin
1:39


[Comment From John Graham-Cumming John Graham-Cumming: ]
How important is the 'hockey stick' data to the overall story of global warming? For example, suppose it was much hotter on Earth 2,000 years ago, would that matter?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:39 John Graham-Cumming
1:39


Mark Maslin:
A degree in global terms is alot. Think about it during the last ice age when ice 3 km thick sat over USA global temperature dropped by only 5 dgrees
Friday December 11, 2009 1:39 Mark Maslin
1:40


Dick Lindzen:
Given that the temperature record oscillates, and thus deviates from CO2 means that there are other things going on that are at least as important. Mark's point about the ice age is misleading. The mean temperature change was a residue not a cause.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:40 Dick Lindzen
1:41


Mark Maslin:
I think the past data is extremely important for putting current warming trends into context. If we take all the different data sets for the last 2000 years or even the last 8000 years there has a been a long term small cool trend. The so called hockey stick shows us that what has happened in the last 100 years has not happened in the last 8000 years.


[Comment From Pierre Gosselin Pierre Gosselin: ]
If global warming is real, then why has the Antarctic ice mass been trending upwards the last 30 years?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:43 Pierre Gosselin
1:43


Dick Lindzen:
John,

Of course it is relevant. The whole point of the hockey stick was to conclude that the current warmth unprecedented even if it seems small. If the earth was warmer then it becomes impossible to claim significance. Even the hockey stick team doesn't argue for 8000 years, and no reviewer accepts the results beyond 400 years.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:43 Dick Lindzen
1:43


Mark Maslin:
so if Dick accepts temperatures are rising does he also accept that carbon dioixde levels are rising
Friday December 11, 2009 1:43 Mark Maslin
1:43


Dick Lindzen:
Of course
Friday December 11, 2009 1:43 Dick Lindzen
1:44


Dick Lindzen:
Are rising? Not temperatures currently
Friday December 11, 2009 1:44 Dick Lindzen
1:44


Dick Lindzen:
The temperature anomaly for 2008 was not statistically significantly different from 1987.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:44 Dick Lindzen
1:45


Mark Maslin:
Antarctica is an excellent example of the skeptics taing excellent science done at UCL and twisting it. Scientist report the facts. The fact reported in scinetific papers are that Greenland is shrinking and so is the Western Antarctic ice sheet. But because of warmer conditions and more snow the Eastern Anatrctic ice sheet is in fact thickening. So you have to read all the facts not just the ones put out by the skeptcis!
Friday December 11, 2009 1:45 Mark Maslin


Follow live debate here.




Web-chat is now over, but the remainder of the discussion is copied below:

Friday December 11, 2009 1:45 Mark Maslin
1:46


[Comment From Nick J Nick J: ]
I don't think anyone questions that man is indeed contributing to the global temperature, we should reduce waste and cut emissions where possible, however, figures show that the earth is in fact cooling (when you rule out the hockey stick 'trick'), so how can man be the sole blame for this? The planet runs through its course of cycles, we're tired of being blamed when we are not the single cause.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:46 Nick J
1:46


Dick Lindzen:
And still the conclusion is that no one knows because the changes argued about would take thousands of years to raise sea levels discernibly.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:46 Dick Lindzen
1:47


Dick Lindzen:
To Nick: Exactly
Friday December 11, 2009 1:47 Dick Lindzen
1:47


Mark Maslin:
The problem is under no climate scenario does the East Antarctic ice sheet melt, it contains over 60 m of global sea level. But the small greenland and Western Antarctic ice sheets are much more vulnerable and could contribute up to 13 m. But most scientists believe that it could be next century before these really start to melt and most of us hope we can reduce co2 before we trigger this melting
Friday December 11, 2009 1:47 Mark Maslin
1:48


Dick Lindzen:
Could, might, etc. Who are these 'most scientists?' Glaciology is a really small field. [Well said!]
Friday December 11, 2009 1:48 Dick Lindzen
1:48

Friday December 11, 2009 1:48
1:50


Mark Maslin:
Dick, you were an author of the IPCC 3rd report. You know who these scientist are. You know the peer review process and you know the length that NASA and other groups go to get the best and most infomred data.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:50 Mark Maslin
1:50


[Comment From darren darren: ]
When Greenland was last ice free in the lowlands what was the level of CO2 and when was this?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:50 darren
1:51


[Comment From Paul Paul: ]
Does Mark accep that the temparature anomaly is not statistically different from 1987?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:51 Paul
1:51


Dick Lindzen:
Mark: In many cases yes. The question as always is what does it mean. Also, the IPCC review process is a bit farcical. And, there was pressure to avoid criticizing models.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:51 Dick Lindzen
1:51


Times Online:

Leading on from Paul's comment - is it meaningful to compare anomalys from individual years?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:51 Times Online
1:53


Mark Maslin:
I think the Met Office apporach of looking at decades is the best way to looking at the data, Because we all know that there can be large varaiation between years. So picking 1987 as year to compare this decade would not work. So you must look at the data over the last 100 years to see the clear trend which Dick has mentioned.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:53 Mark Maslin
1:53


Dick Lindzen:
Paul: This was the case over most of the earth's history. CO 2 however is believed to have varied. Sure, as long as it is carefully stated, the comparison is meaningful. Trend analysis is as most statisticians will confirm a dicey business.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:53 Dick Lindzen
1:54


Dick Lindzen:
Mark,

Then you agree that the stock market is currently at an all time high.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:54 Dick Lindzen
1:55


[Comment From Mike Mike: ]
you cite peer-review process. Is that the same scientists reviewing each other work?
Friday December 11, 2009 1:55 Mike
1:55


Mark Maslin:
Dick if you count in terms of dollars flowing through the system and you use this decade as a comparison to all the others for the last 100 years. Then yes I would be right.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:55 Mark Maslin
1:56


[Comment From Junkk Male Junkk Male: ]
Why are the choices we are presented with always so clear cut, either/or? Do I think man is largely the cause of GW? Don't know. Yet. Do I think it's natural only? No.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:56 Junkk Male
1:56


Dick Lindzen:
Mike,

That's right. But usually an editor determines whether comments have been answere. In the case of the IPCC, it is the authors who do this.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:56 Dick Lindzen
1:57


Mark Maslin:
Science is a self correcting process. This is why it is a solide mechanism which has allowed us to build the technological society we have at the moment. Peer review is the process by which competing scientists review peoples work before it is published. Also once a paper is published scientist rush out to prove or disprove people newest data or idea. It is very solid system
Friday December 11, 2009 1:57 Mark Maslin
1:57


Dick Lindzen:
Junkk,

Yes and no answers are a sure way to indicate that politics are at play.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:57 Dick Lindzen
1:58


Times Online:

In her Washington Post op-ed this week Sarah Palin described the climate community as a “highly politicised scientific circle”. Would you agree with this characterisation? [Oh for heaven's sake, is it necessary to draw Palin into this serious debate!!!!]
Friday December 11, 2009 1:58 Times Online
1:59


Dick Lindzen:
There is quite a lot of evidence towards this conclusion. However, it isn't always the case.
Friday December 11, 2009 1:59 Dick Lindzen
2:00


Mark Maslin:

I would. When you are trying to present science in a balanced way and you have lobby groups funded by oil and gas companies ... you have to try and counter that. For example the smoking indutry used to employ scientists to tell you it is safe to smoke. If the scientists and doctors had understood the weight of indutrial money being thrown against them we may have known about this sooner. In this case scientist found out from day one what they were up against to get the truth out. This is why we are still having these discussion with people funded by the energy companies.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:00 Mark Maslin
2:00

Friday December 11, 2009 2:00
2:01


Dick Lindzen:
Mark,
I think you will find that energy companies are far outspent by environmental NGOs.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:01 Dick Lindzen
2:01


[Comment From David Sutherland David Sutherland: ]
Do the 'climate change deniers' including some countries with a vested interest in selling fossil based energy have any chance of derailing the progress to getting this issue to the top of everyone's agenda.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:01 David Sutherland
2:02


Dick Lindzen:
Not if the banks that have an even bigger interest in cap and trade have their way.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:02 Dick Lindzen
2:03


[Comment From DAVINA PEACE DAVINA PEACE: ]
Absolutely - and it's time we take responsibility for our actions
Friday December 11, 2009 2:03 DAVINA PEACE
2:03


Mark Maslin:
why would you not trust climate scientists. That is lik saying I do not trust doctors who told me about AIDS. Just because you do not like the message does not mean the messenger is lying to you. I also do not understand what the motivation for climate scientists to ly to you .... I get paid by a University and can do any work I like. Why would i just follow the courd?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:03 Mark Maslin
2:03


[Comment From Amy N Amy N: ]
Go Mark! [Oh, please!]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:03 Amy N
2:04


Dick Lindzen:
Actually there are licensing requirements for MDs. Virtually anyone can be listed as a climate scientist.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:04 Dick Lindzen
2:04


Mark Maslin:
sorry that should have been crowd in the last message ..!
Friday December 11, 2009 2:04 Mark Maslin
2:04


[Comment From Mike Mike: ]
Why use the term denier i thnk that is deeply offensive.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:04 Mike
2:04


Times Online:
Dick, would you describe yourself as a "denier"?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:04 Times Online
2:04


Mark Maslin:
Dick does that include you them?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:04 Mark Maslin
2:05


Dick Lindzen:
In a sense. Skeptic presumes that there is a good case to begin with. I don't. [Well put!]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:05 Dick Lindzen
2:05


[Comment From James Kirkpatrick James Kirkpatrick: ]
How do Mike and Dick explain the fact that even though the majority of climate scientists believe global warming is mostly man mad, the opinion of the readers of this blog are divided almost 50/50?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:05 James Kirkpatrick
2:06


Dick Lindzen:
The readers can read behind the propaganda? Remember, it was claimed that all scientists agreed about this in 1988, and yet 100 billion euros have been spent since then trying to establish this.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:06 Dick Lindzen
2:07


Mark Maslin:
Because climate change ... means we have to re-assess what we do and how we do it. And many people dislike change. There is also a growing anti-intellecual movement in America and UK over the last few decades and so the trust in experts is dropping. It is also because the public through the media is never given the balance picture. Look here on skeptic verses me. Whereas behind me are over 5000 scientists involved in the IPCC. While Dick has Exonn (is this correct Dick?). So relly in a fair fight this is 5000 to 1.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:07 Mark Maslin
2:08


[Comment From patter patter: ]
mark how much are you being paid for your views such as attending this web chat
Friday December 11, 2009 2:08 patter
2:08


Dick Lindzen:
What are the rules on slander in the UK? [hehehehe!!]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:08 Dick Lindzen
2:09


Dick Lindzen:
There are currently several hundred physicists (including at least one Nobel laureate) who are protesting their societies endorsement of the iconic claim of attribution.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:09 Dick Lindzen
2:10


[Comment From Tom Wakeford Tom Wakeford: ]
What about the significant funding by those same Oil companies into climate research or are Shell BP and Exxon out of the oil business now then?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:10 Tom Wakeford
2:10


Mark Maslin:
Dick I asked a question of who was funding you. Patter I am funded as a University professor at UCL, same as all the other. I am not being paid for this web chat and none of my other media work. I am paid by the University which like all UK Universities is a charity funded by the Government.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:10 Mark Maslin
2:10


Dick Lindzen:
Moreover, the claim concerns only attribution of globally averaged temperature anomaly. The relation to catastrophes is impossible to establish.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:10 Dick Lindzen
2:11


Dick Lindzen:
I am funded exclusively under the Dept of Energy's climate program. I have also been supported by NASA and NSF. I have never been supported by any private body.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:11 Dick Lindzen
2:12


[Comment From Paul Binns Paul Binns: ]
It's disingenuous to refer to "5000 scientists". The IPCC's reports may be based from the work of 5000, but they are selected and interpreted by a few.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:12 Paul Binns
2:12


[Comment From Max Tronske Max Tronske: ]
If atmospheric CO2 levels are critical then what would be more effective in countering this - reducing energy usage (most agreements simply look to moderate the growth) or looking at alternative ways to capture CO2?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:12 Max Tronske
2:13


Mark Maslin:
I personally believe that oil, gas and oter energy companies have a huge and very positive role to play in the future. 70% of the global energy demand predicted for 2030 has yet to be built. But we need it as low carbon or carbon neutral as possible.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:13 Mark Maslin
2:13


Dick Lindzen:
Paul,

The numbers are much smaller than 5000. Moreover the several hundred who write the reports do not all agree with the iconic statement. Many of the reviewers don't as well.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:13 Dick Lindzen
2:14


Dick Lindzen:
Mark,

That is why the emails showed active interaction with BP and Shell?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:14 Dick Lindzen
2:15


[Comment From David Sutherland David Sutherland: ]
What tecnical research outcome can resolve this question one way or another to the satisfaction of the general public? Or has it become like 'evolution' almost religious in magnitude?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:15 David Sutherland
2:16


Mark Maslin:
Max I believe we have lots of great ways of reducing our co2 pollution. 1. Stop deforestation and land use changes which cause about 20% of our emissions. We can go beyond this and start reforesting .... which not only helps climate change but also return vital ecological services. 2. Energy efficence ... why we can alreayd make a 100 mpg car why not give it to people, 3. Alternative energy ... even if you are not sure of Climate change what about energy security why when we can generate all our own do we want timport russian gas etc etc
Friday December 11, 2009 2:16 Mark Maslin
2:17


Dick Lindzen:
David,

I actually think that careful analysis of satellite radiation data can resolve the issue of climate sensitivity sufficiently to eliminate 'dangerous' possibilities. However, there are few incentives to end this issue.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:17 Dick Lindzen
2:18


[Comment From Martin Martin: ]
Gordon Brown has just given away £750m of this country's money to other nations to "combat climate change".
Friday December 11, 2009 2:18 Martin
2:18


Dick Lindzen:
Actually energy efficiency is likely to effectively reduce the cost of energy and increase its usage.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:18 Dick Lindzen
2:18


[Comment From Martin Martin: ]
By my calculations we could buy 2.5 million solar panels with that and start here, at home, ruducing our carbon footprint.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:18 Martin
2:18


Dick Lindzen:
Brown's generosity is impressive. Perhaps it isn't his own money. [Maybe it's the super-tax from the bankers' bonus?]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:18 Dick Lindzen
2:19


Mark Maslin:
Dear David, for the majority of scientist, leaving Dick on one side, we feel that we have sufficient science to clear show man made global warming. How we explain this to the pubic is another matter one that all of us have struggled with. Because the issue is not one that directly effect individuals the way that other threats do. So I think we need much better eduction on how science works, how "Weight" of evidence is so important. How verifying results and data is central to the whole process.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:19 Mark Maslin
2:19

Friday December 11, 2009 2:19
2:19


Dick Lindzen:
Verification is certainly important but it must be rigorous rather than anecdotal. [Solid point]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:19 Dick Lindzen
2:20


Mark Maslin:
I agree with Dick
Friday December 11, 2009 2:20 Mark Maslin
2:20


[Comment From John Graham-Cumming John Graham-Cumming: ]
Speaking of verifying results and data... why has it taken a major scandal for the UK Met Office to release something as simple as temperature measurements from around the world?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:20 John Graham-Cumming
2:21


Dick Lindzen:
Mark,

So you agree that we should stop talking about polar bears, specific hurricanes, etc.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:21 Dick Lindzen
2:21


Mark Maslin:
The UK Met Office and WMO release these data every year. It was not release in reponse to climate gate ... which in itself is a media storm in a tea cup.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:21 Mark Maslin
2:22


Hannah Devlin:
Thanks for all your questions. We're posting as many as possible.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:22 Hannah Devlin
2:22


Dick Lindzen:
John,

Good question. Also why was raw data destroyed? [Yes, why? Please explain climate-doom mongers?]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:22 Dick Lindzen
2:22


Dick Lindzen:
Mark,

Cheating in science is not a tempest in a teapot. [Nailed it!!!]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:22 Dick Lindzen
2:23


[Comment From Mike Post Mike Post: ]
"How we explain this to the pubic is another matter one that all of us have struggled with." One for Private Eye, I think!
Friday December 11, 2009 2:23 Mike Post
2:23


[Comment From filosofee filosofee: ]
At last, agreement reached, on important issue of verifying data!
Friday December 11, 2009 2:23 filosofee
2:24


Mark Maslin:
But I would argue that this has already happened as part of normal science and will continue long after this debate. Because this is how science works.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:24 Mark Maslin
2:24


[Comment From Plato Says Plato Says: ]
Mark is over 30m hits on Google a 'teacup' ?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:24 Plato Says
2:24


Mark Maslin:
is that good or bad?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:24 Mark Maslin
2:25


Hannah Devlin:
Do you think there needs to be more transparency about the codes used in computer simulations?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:25 Hannah Devlin
2:25


Dick Lindzen:
Mark,

The released files show clearly that there are some scientists who are not happy with debate.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:25 Dick Lindzen
2:25


Dick Lindzen:
Hannah,

Absolutely.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:25 Dick Lindzen
2:25


[Comment From apache apache: ]
climate gate, far from being a scandal is evidence of one of the biggest scams in mordern history, read the emails yourself
Friday December 11, 2009 2:25 apache
2:25


[Comment From Tom Birkert Tom Birkert: ]
If CO2 is so bad, why did 20,000 people fly to Copenhagen? What message does that send to the public? How about a video conference instead?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:25 Tom Birkert
2:26


[Comment From Alan. Alan.: ]
How many hits do you think Jordan gets on her webiste - is that significant in the global scheme of things too?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:26 Alan.
2:26


[Comment From John John: ]
It's dissapointing to see so many people don't trusts climate scientists. If we treated every profession like this we'd scrub politicians, doctors would be seen as voodoo shaymen (no scientist is yet to murder their patients!!!) and don't start on the priesthood and some nationalities
Friday December 11, 2009 2:26 John
2:26


Dick Lindzen:
Tom,

I would recommend this for almost all meetings regardless of CO2.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:26 Dick Lindzen
2:27


Mark Maslin:
Dear Tom, that is a silly comment that is thrown around when ever this debate comes up. You can not negotiate a major treaty without doing it face to face.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:27 Mark Maslin
2:27


Dick Lindzen:
John,

Americans tend to have a different attitude toward authority. Suspicion is regarded as healthy.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:27 Dick Lindzen
2:27


[Comment From Graham Cresswell Graham Cresswell: ]
Surely the computer model algorithms used to underpin AGW should be in the public domain so that they can be tested agains everyone's data.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:27 Graham Cresswell
2:28


Dick Lindzen:
Graham,

Some actually are, and they do badly.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:28 Dick Lindzen
2:29


Hannah Devlin:
We're about to run out of time. But before you both go, what do you expect the outcomes to be from the Copenhagen Summit?
Friday December 11, 2009 2:29 Hannah Devlin
2:29


Mark Maslin:
I believe science and scientific data should be as open and transparent as possible. But there should be clear protection and guidelines about the miss use of data.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:29 Mark Maslin
2:29


Dick Lindzen:
Hannah,

I would suppose that they will agree to meet again.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:29 Dick Lindzen
2:30


Mark Maslin:
I expect there to be key agreements on deforestation and clear limits which will be discussed at the next meeting and hopefully agreed in Mexico
Friday December 11, 2009 2:30 Mark Maslin
2:31


Mark Maslin:
last word and old fable

A long time ago a lazy man decided he could not be bothered to walk out of the village to empty is chamber pot. So he started to empty it in his back yard. A few weeks later his neighbours started to complain of a bad smell. The lazy man denied that it was anything to do with him. Their complaints continued so he paid an old charlatan to explain to the village that it was nothing to worry about as smells came and went with natural and it would soon all go away. The next day the lazy man slipped in his back yard and drowned in his own …….! [How inappropriate and irrelevant!]

Friday December 11, 2009 2:31 Mark Maslin
2:32


Hannah Devlin:
Thank you very much to everyone who posted comments and to our panellists Mark Maslin and Dick Lindzen for a very lively debate.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:32 Hannah Devlin
2:32


Mark Maslin:
pleasure Mark
Friday December 11, 2009 2:32 Mark Maslin
2:32


Dick Lindzen:
So much for science v. anecdotes. [Exactly!]
Friday December 11, 2009 2:32 Dick Lindzen
2:32


Mark Maslin:
like your paper in the Times!
Friday December 11, 2009 2:32 Mark Maslin
2:32


Dick Lindzen:
Have a good weekend.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:32 Dick Lindzen
2:33


Mark Maslin:
you too, see you soon
Mark
Friday December 11, 2009 2:33 Mark Maslin
2:34


Hannah Devlin:
Any further thoughts on the debate? Please post below in the comments section.
Friday December 11, 2009 2:34 Hannah Devlin
2:35


Mark Maslin:
thanks for hosting this Hannah
all the best
Mark
Friday December 11, 2009 2:35 Mark Maslin
2:35


Now how civilised was that debate, please note UEA Professor Andrew Watson!!!! Polls conducted during the web-chat showed MIT as clear winner over UCL! Professor Lindzen possessed the upper-hand, more than 50% don't feel the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit will amount to much, not trusting climate change scientists, and not believing man-made causes are to blame for climate change.

Good debate, comment on it by following the link below:

Times Online:

"We hope you enjoyed this live event - we're always trying to make them better, so if you've got a few seconds to tell us what you think we'd be very grateful"

http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dGE1al9BMUlRQ1ZUTy1Dd0M1Qm55bWc6MA



Lastly, shouldn't the question be, Is global warming largely Western-civilised, first-world nations made?


Update, from Martin Cohen's piece in the Times Higher Education, "go along with the crowd" syndrome:

Whether rational or not, global warming theory has become a political orthodoxy. So entrenched is it that those showing any resistance to it are described as "heretics" or even likened to "Holocaust deniers"........... How this situation came about says much about how science is co-opted to sway public opinion. The case is built, deliberately or not, on misleading images and interpretations that have been perpetuated by parties with a vested interest.... Indeed, much of what is presented as hard scientific evidence for the theory of global warming is false. ..... But call it what you will, as long as you don't think that by calling it "science" it becomes irrefutable. Because that it ain't...........Much of the argument for global warming is based on modelling. The mathematics is sophisticated and certainly intimidating to everyone but experts............Modellers have an inbuilt bias towards forced climate change because the causes and effect are clear." .....Richard Lindzen and Yong-Sang Choi's ........graph .. contradicted all the others ... based not on a model but on satellite measurements. It showed the Earth's oceans dampening the heating effect.


Rest of the article and comments here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Truth and Honesty, Rather than Deception, About Climate Warming, Please!

This week will see the 2009 Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, attended by Government leaders from around the World, including US President Obama.

Under the backdrop of that gathering, are the stunning emails hacked from the University of East Anglia, which suggest data manipulation, bullying tactics over journal peer-review process - an excerpt from Wall Street Journal:

" .... opponents of such caps said the foundations of the case for man-made global warming are in question because of the disclosures from thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit. The emails suggest that prominent climate researchers sought to disguise important discrepancies in their data showing a trend of rising global temperatures and attack those who disagreed with their views.

"However this controversy comes out, the result will not call into question the bulk of our understanding of how climate works or how humans affect it," said Mr. Holdren, director of the Office of Science, Technology and Policy. He agreed it is important to "get to the bottom of" the emails' meaning, but emphasized that the vast majority of scientists who have studied climate change agree that failure to act promptly to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases is "overwhelmingly likely" to lead to extreme and damaging impacts on the planet.

His comments were challenged by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican who said the emails "at worst" suggest "a massive scientific international fraud."

From here.


The arrogance of academics at the University of East Anglia, who ought to be showing some contrition and humility, was on display, on BBC 2's Newsnight programme last Friday, 4 December 2009. Professor Andrew Watson, at UEast Anglia, called another Newsnight guest, Marc Marano, US Senate Environment Committee Communication Director, 2006-2009, an "asshole". What a great science role-model the Professor is. See 11.42/11.43 mins into the programme here BBC2 Newsnight, Friday 4 December 2009 edition.


Nor did Ed Milliband, UK MP and Climate Change Secretary, fair any better with his disingenuous dismissing of those leaked emails, completely ignoring their inflammatory content - interactions between climate change scientists anxious that the scale of global warming was less than it needed to be to suit, not to mention their hi-jacking of the peer-review journal process in that field. See here, here, and here.

And again today, Ed Miliband accuses ex-UK Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, of misleading, on BBC1's Politics Show, (Sunday 6 December 2009), when it is Milliband who is glossing over the fact that there is no scientific consensus of the human impact on climate change, while Lawson quite rightly points out that the poorest people on this planet require support and development, using cheapest fuel, to get out of their poverty-stricken no-opportunity despairing lives:


This Daily Telegraph poll shows that half of those questioned are yet to be convinced of human-effect climate change.

The ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph will dismay proponents of "man-made" climate changeincluding leading scientists and the majority of world governments – as they gather in Copenhagen for the landmark climate summit.

Asked if they backed the main conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), that humans are largely responsible for modern day rises in temperatures, ..[48 per cent of voters disagreed]...

39 per cent said climate change had not yet been proven to be man made, while seven per cent simply denied the phenomenon was happening at all. Furthermore, fewer than one in four voters (23 per cent) believed that climate change was "the most serious problem faced by man" – a view endorsed by governments across the world.
A clear majority (58 per cent) said it was merely "one of a number of serious problems" while 17 per cent believed it has been exaggerated and is "not a very serious problem."

Read more here.

"The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right. In science, consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus." Michael Crichton

Let's have some truth and honesty injected into this debate, but where politicians are involved with scientists, I rather doubt this will happen.


On a much lighter note, this is genius, especially the last line "Or I could write it up for Scientific American".



Thanks to Obnoxio's blog for that YouTube video :-)

Friday, December 04, 2009

IET Turing Lecture 2010


"Embracing Uncertainty: The new machine intelligence"
talk by
Professor Christopher Bishop
Chief Research Scientist, Microsoft Research Cambridge
at
The IET
, Savoy Place, London
on
Thursday 25 February 2010



Image from IETsite.


Bernard Richards describes his work with Alan Turing

Fascinating article from The Rutherford Journal, in which Bernard Richards describes his work on morphogenesis with Alan Turing:


"I first met Dr Alan Turing in early 1953 after I had just graduated with a degree in Mathematics. ...... when I met with Turing later that day I recognised that here was a genius, since having heard about his programming talents in that morning and his Morphogenesis work in that afternoon, he seemed to me to transcend both. I left that introductory meeting knowing that, whilst I had taken upon myself an intellectual challenge, I was embarking on a stimulating experience."

Read more of Bernard Richard's account here.


Thanks to Leeds University Professor S. Barry Cooper for this information

Thursday, December 03, 2009

AVATAR 3D Movie Live Event, Thursday 3 December 2009

Few minutes to go until Avatar Live on Facebook! Director, James Cameron, with actors Zoe Saldana, and Sam Worthington answer questions LIVE!

Link to Avatar Live on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Is Sky Blue for UK Science? More Views on Debate

Update, 2 December 2009: on 'Sky is Blue' Science Debate, 30 November 2009 .

From Twitter's #sciblue posts, a dark sky image emerges for the prospects of UK science. Comments include:

Paul_Crowther: study on exodus from UK of physics graduates

stephenemoss: RBS. One bank. £1.5bn in bonuses. Roughly double the annual MRC budget. Isn't it great to feel valued as a scientist.

dlfresources: Britain losing top scientists to 'brain drain', economists warn - Telegraph

Luna_the_cat: @LordDrayson - fundamentally different goals and models. Don't cripple academia by penalising it for not being business.

AlexConnor: UK public spending is ~£650bn. In a few weeks we will sack astronomers and physicists for the want of £40m.


Yet another comment

alomshaha: We have a shortage of excellent science teachers. We have some excellent sci-commers with a shortage of work. So...


suggests that out-of-work/short-of-work science communicators not only possess PGCEs, they're also capable of teaching science inspiringly.


What UK science needs is, Government putting its money where its expectations of science is, and science celebrities on TV more, those who make science inclusive and attractive, such as Cyberneticist Kevin Warwick, organiser of science contests (Turing tests), and cited as the inspiration of 2009 National Young Scientist of the Year, Peter Hadfield (at 07.23, BBC Radio 4 Today programme).

The debate can be viewed here.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Problem with Real Science: It Doesn't Always Ask the Right Questions

Imagine this, flash forward to the future and it's all bright, sky blue with no clouds for UK science.




Picture above from:
http://murdon.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/flashforward-logo.jpg


Unfortunately, this was not the picture that emerged from yesterday's disappointing debate with UK Science Minister, Lord Drayson and others. The discussion did highlight the lack of funding for UK science research, and the problem of effectively communicating the benefit of science to the masses.

Admittedly, the panel did not represent all science, nevertheless a significant part: physics. Innovations in physics contribute to UK's GDP and employs many (according to the Institute of Physics 2007 Report, prepared by Centre of Economics and Business Research Ltd.)

In contrast to science fiction, much of real science is mediocre, conducted by dull scientists incapable of inspiring others, somewhat overwhelmed by their own hubris, with poor, lazy research skills (recently aghast at a respected peer-reviewed journal in which an article cites Wikipedia as a source, not once, but twice*).

Hence, was not shocked when one of the panelists asked if "philosophy is done here?" - this in a country where Philosophical Transactions, one of the oldest, peer-reviewed and "essential reading for mathematicians, physicists, engineers and other physical scientists" is the journal of the Royal Society: "the world's oldest scientific academy in continuous existence".


The debate can be viewed again at the Times Higher Education site from 6pm GMT today.

As it was a Monday night, was really pleased when the debate was over, because it's FLASH FORWARD night. Based on Canadian author, Robert J. Sawyer's book of the same name, the TV show dramatises, in spectacular fashion, the result of a 137 seconds world-wide blackout that causes people to view their future six months ahead (25 years in the book). Now that show, even better than William Petersen's CSI, shows physics/science in all its glamorous glory. Ah, if only real science were as exciting!



Picture from:
http://screenrant.com/flashforward-premiere-mikew-27514/

(* Authors include UNESCO Chair in Information and Computer Ethics, and Junior Research Associate - Information Ethics Group (IEG), University of Oxford; February 2009 issue of Minds and Machines)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Trailblazing Programme launched by The Royal Society to mark 350th anniversary

"Trailblazing is an online, interactive timeline launched to commemorate the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary in 2010."

....

The Royal Society is the UK’s academy of sciences and the world’s oldest science academy ... it wants people all over the UK to join in celebrating 350 years of scientific achievement and endeavour.

That is why it is undertaking a broad and exciting programme of activities – exhibitions, lecture, conferences, a new book, a vast science festival on the South Bank in London, television and radio broadcasting and much more besides."



See here for more information on the Royal Society's 350th anniversary events.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Prospects for UK Science: Blue Sky Debate

UK Science Minister, Lord Drayson will debate the challenge to inspire the next generation of scientists, web-cast by Times Higher Education on 30 November 2009, 7pm. View here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Countdown to James Cameron's 3D AVATAR Release


23 days to go!

Join the Official Avatar Community on TypePad.

From yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

'Avatar' as innovation: 'We were in new territory...there was no road there'
November 25, 2009 | 2:43 pm

"AVATAR" COUNTDOWN: 24 DAYS

"Avatar" may be the most ambitious film of 2009, and here at the Hero Complex we're bringing you coverage that fits this major movie moment with 30 stories in 30 days. Today it's the first installment of a two-part conversation with Rick Carter, one of Hollywood's most celebrated production designers, whose credits include "Forrest Gump," "Jurassic Park" "War of the Worlds," and "The Polar Express.."

GB: You've worked with a relatively narrow group of directors but it's quite the list -- Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Robert Zemeckis and now Zack Snyder. I would imagine, too, that "Avatar" is already feeling like a career highlight for you just based on its aspirations...

RC: Absolutely. Jim has made an amazing movie. He's quite a talent and when he puts his mind to something it's quite formidable.

GB: Coming into this project, what were some of the specific challenges it presented to you?

RC: I take a page out of the philosophy that obstacles are surmountable opportunities. I'm pretty optimistic because things have gone well for me. Coming into "Avatar," I had only really been working with Spielberg and Zemeckis up to that point. That's twentysomething years. My approach is to orient myself toward the vision of the director and that becomes the sole thing I have to concern myself with. There are many decisions but the one challenge really is to fulfill that vision. Those guys are so strong as directors that it's nice because the process isn't diluted with other concerns, like executives from the studio or even public opinion, which can happen to some degree sometimes. Its about the director's vision, solely, and completing it and realizing it. And at the point where there isn't something there, the task is, "What can I offer? What can people in the art department offer?"

GB: Where did you begin on "Avatar"?

RC: Coming into "Avatar," it took me about 3 1/2 hours to read the script, even before I had the interview with Jim. I really wanted to take my time to "see" the movie. It was clear that what he was doing was not just about a literal translation; you couldn't just piece it together by thinking of things you had seen in other films because it was an entirely new world. As I started reading through it there was a part -- and it's a part, actually, that's not in the movie anymore -- but one of the alien characters says, "When you see everything you see nothing." And I stopped at that and thought, "What does that mean?" And I realized that the state that I was in reading the script was that I was so overwhelmed with all of what I was seeing that I was actually starting to see nothing. I was in a state of what I call whiteout, where everything is in there. I liken that actually to "Pinocchio" and wishing on a white star that comes down and fills the frame of the window and out steps the Blue Fairy and out of that something is created, Pinocchio comes to life. So in a very lyrical way I gave myself over to that idea that there was too much for me to see.

Read more of the interview here.


Watch trailer at Official AVATAR movie homepage.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Peter Kay: "Generous Genius" of BBC Children in Need

Oh, how cute is Peter Kay's new BBC Children in Need 2009 single!

Featuring an "Animated All Star Band", the song "unites children's TV characters from over fifty years" including The ThunderbirdsTM:




Doing a Live Aid-esque rendition, Peter Kay's Animated All Star Band perform "a medley of popular songs for all generations to enjoy; Can You Feel It (originally by The Jacksons), Don't Stop (originally by Fleetwood Mac), Jai Ho (originally by Pussycat Dolls), Tubthumping (originally by Chumbawamba), Never Forget (originally by Take That), Hey Jude (originally by The Beatles), and One Day Like This (originally by Elbow)." (From BBC Children in Need)


Here's the song:



And I thought he was going to pull off "All you need is love", but what he's done is simply brilliant! Corr, watching ThunderbirdsTM brings back memories: loved Scott Tracy (but not as much as Captain Scarlett!!! In full SUPERMARIONATION, here're the Thunderbirds team:




Congratulations to Peter Kay for pulling of another unique, fun single for charity. And the fantastically, loveable big-hearted comic genius has announced he'll be back on tour next year!! Can't wait. In the meantime, Peter Kay's 'Animated All Star Band' single is available for pre-order from iTunes, please download and help the cause.

BBC Children in Need 2009




"Get it first! Peter Kay and 100 Famous Faces sing for Pudsey" - from the BBC Children in Need website:

"BBC Children in Need is delighted to announce this year's world-exclusive charity single from Peter Kay is available to pre-order on iTunes!

Be the first to get the single that promises to be another must have chart hit from Peter Kay. With over 100 famous faces from the UK and America, there will be something for everyone!

Not only is the single a musical delight for the whole family's ears, but for every video or song sold, the purchase will benefit the BBC Children in Need Appeal. This means if you buy the single, you will be helping to make a positive change to a young life in need here in the UK.

Perfect for a gift and just in time for Christmas, the single will be jam-packed with friendly faces and a bundle of joy and laughter that you can watch again and again. Plus, it has a guarantee of amusement from the comedian himself...

"It's taken two years of planning to create the video and I just know people are going to be both astonished and delighted,' Peter Kay said. 'It's been a real labour of love but the result is joyous, potentially another Amarillo!"

Kay will reveal the single during BBC Children in Need's Appeal show this Friday, 20 November, on BBC One, but the public can pre-order the single and video on iTunes and be the first to get the single!

This is Peter Kay's fourth charity single in five years. Previous hits include chart topping "Is This The Way To Amarillo", "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)" and "Once Upon A Christmas Song."


From BBC Children in Need website.



Love Peter Kaye, can't wait to hear his new track for this cause, know it'll be awesome.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

End Water Poverty

"Waterborne diseases kill thousands every day" (End Water Poverty)


picture from End Poverty Water site


"There is a global crisis in water and sanitation. Billions of people live in the kind of squalor that was eradicated long ago in the rich world.

884 million people don't have clean water and 40% of the world’s population suffer without a safe toilet, that’s 2.5 billion people.

This crisis kills many and dramatically affecting life in developing countries."

Please help End Water Poverty and End the sanitation crisis by signing here.

Charter for Compassion

16308 have joined the Charter for Compassion so far:

"...call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

....urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community."


Acts of compassion include:
Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group in California


Act here.

See also Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Problem with BCS's Machine Intelligence Competition

BCS 2009 Machine Intelligence Contest announce A.L.I.C.E* involvement:

"The British Computer Society Specialist Group on Artificial Intelligence (SGAI) has announced the finalists in the BCS Machine Intelligence competition, the eighth in a regular series held at its annual conferences at Peterhouse College, Cambridge. The prize is awarded on the basis of delegate voting to the system ‘which best demonstrates progress towards machine intelligence’.

One of this year’s finalists is ALICE, a chatbot developed by Dr. Richard Wallace and his colleagues at the ALICE AI Foundation. It aims to demonstrate that simple behaviourist stimulus-response methods, when applied on a large scale, lead to a believable illusion of intelligence in the context of Turing's Imitation Game. It has three times won the prestigious Loebner Prize, an annual international artificial intelligence competition for the most human-like chatbot." (From BCS_SIGAI email)


* Alice last won a Loebner Prize back in 2004. In that competition, in points awarded it was actually runner up to John Precedo's system, disqualifed on a technicality. Alice came sixth in Loebner Prize 2008.


"Will it win the BCS Machine Intelligence prize to add to this, in the face of opposition from

Dora the Explorer, a mobile robot which is able to inspect its own world knowledge for gaps and then perform behaviours to fill these gaps (e.g. by searching the room for objects which support inference about room category, such as a kettle in a kitchen).

Taaable, a system that illustrates how humans and machines can collaborate to reason and can share common knowledge on a particular domain, in this case creating recipes.

Fly by Ear, an intelligent autonomous helicopter which has been evolved to react optimally to its environment by listening to the sound emitted by the helicopter and interpreting the information transferred.

The competition is on Wednesday December 16th and is open to all delegates to the SGAI annual conference AI-2009 www.bcs-sgai.org/ai2009 or the SGAI Real AI Day (the following day) www.bcs-sgai.org/realai2009. " (From BCS_SIGAI email)



Problems with BCS's Machine Intelligence contest include that it is exclusive. Only delegates to BCS SIGAI conference have access. Secondly, the contest does not gather like-technology; contestants differ in what type of intelligence they attempt to demonstrate. For example, in 2009 Alice's dialogue will compete alongside Fly by Ear's helicopter autonomy.

As delegates decide, presumably not all can be experts in the dissimilar competing technologies, hence, judgment will be based on subjective opinion of "progress towards machine intelligence". Will the visceral concede to the abstract this year? Chatbot systems, Carpenter's Jabberwacky, and David Burden's HALO are past BCS Machine Intelligence contest entrants. Neither won it, good luck to Alice designer, Richard Wallace.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

'Alan Turing Year' on Facebook

Join 'Alan Turing Year' Facebook page for information and news of 2012 centenary events:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Alan-Turing-Year/199853901070

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Practical Turing Tests

Couple of new papers on Practical Turing tests:

1. Testing Turing’s five minutes, parallel-paired imitation game accepted for publication in (forthcoming) Kybernetes Turing Test Special Issue. Snippets from the abstract and conclusion -

Abstract: The authors consider Turing’s two tests for machine intelligence: the parallel-paired, three-participants’ game presented in his 1950 paper, and the ‘jury-service’ one-to-one measure described two years later in a radio broadcast. Both versions were instantiated in practical Turing tests during the 18th Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence hosted at the University of Reading, UK, in October 2008....

Conclusion: The Turing test supposes all humans are ‘packed’ with conversational intelligence, that interrogators could preclude their subjective notion of intelligence (Warwick, 2001), and what constitutes a machine-like response. .... What we have seen, and can conclude from that competition, is that .... ACE dialogue has improved since Eliza. Modern Elizas are able to recall, share information and disclose personal interests. The progress may appear slow, but it is present. [© Shah & Warwick 2009a]




2. Hidden Interlocutor Misidentification in Practical Turing Tests submitted for journal publication - snippet below:

Abstract: Based on insufficient evidence, and inadequate research, Floridi and his students report inaccuracies and draw false conclusions in their Minds and Machines evaluation, which this paper aims to clarify....

Conclusion: We suggest the interrogation strategy of 'power' .... resulted in a low correct identification rate. .... As Turing himself reminded: "[the] popular view that scientists proceed inexorably from well-established fact to well-established fact, never being influenced by any unproved conjecture, is quite mistaken" (1950: p.442). [© Shah & Warwick 2009c]




See also Myths and Misconceptions, re practical Turing tests in the 2008 Loebner Prize.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Android & Eve

Bridging Biology, Medicine and Technology, hosted at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Vienna Biocenter, November 12th – 13th 2009

Speakers include Miguel Nicolelis (Duke University):

Research
Miguel Nicolelis is best known for his pioneering work in "reading monkey thought". He and his colleagues implanted electrode arrays into a monkey's brain that were able to detect the monkey's motor intent and thus able to control reaching and grasping movements performed by a robotic arm. This was possible by decoding signals of hundreds of neurons recorded in volitional areas of the cerebral cortex while the monkey played with a hand-held joystick to move a shape in a video game. These signals were sent to the robot arm, which then mimicked the monkey's movements and thus controlled the game. After a while the monkey realized that thinking about moving the shape was enough and it no longer needed to move the joystick. So it let go of the joystick and controlled the game purely through thought. A system in which brain signals directly control an artificial actuator is commonly referred to as brain-machine interface or brain-computer interface.

Presentation:
In this talk, I will review a series of recent experiments demonstrating the possibility of using real-time computational models to investigate how ensembles of neurons encode motor information. These experiments have revealed that brain-machine interfaces can be used not only to study fundamental aspects of neural ensemble physiology, but they can also serve as an experimental paradigm aimed at testing the design of modern neuroprosthetic devices. I will also describe evidence indicating that continuous operation of a closed-loop brain machine interface, which utilizes a robotic arm as its main actuator, can induce significant changes in the physiological properties of neurons located in multiple motor and sensory cortical areas. This raises the hypothesis of whether the properties of a robot arm, or any other tool, can be assimilated by neuronal representations as if they were simple extensions of the subject's own body.


From here.

And, Niels Birbaumer:

Research
Birbaumer’s research focuses on neuronal plasticity and learning; Neurophysiological communication systems for motor paralysis (Brain-Computer-Interface); Behavioral medicine of epilepsy, Parkinson's disease; Amyotrohpic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and pain: Slow cortical potentials and psychological processes; Analysis and modification of anxiety and antisocial behavior; Self-regulation of electrical and magnetic and metabolic brain processes; Psychophysiology and behavior modification of chronic pain states; Neuropsychology of musical talent; Neural network models of brain activity, cognitive processes and non-linear dynamics; Functional Magnetic Resonance (fMRI) and learning; Magnetoencephalography (MEG) of cognitive and emotional processes, fetal brain processes and behavior; diabetes and brain processes.

Presentation:
Titel: Complete Silence: Brain-Computer-Interfaces and Paralysis
Abstract:The presentation summarizes recent work on the application of Brain Computer interfaces in Paralysis, Locked-In Syndrome and chronic stroke. Reasons for problems of brain communication in completely locked in patients are given and new data to solve the problem of "extinction of goal directed thinking" are discussed. The surprisingly good results in chronic stroke and movement restoration will be presented.Future applications of fMRI-BCI in psychiatry, neurology and psychology are illustrated with data from our lab.


From here.


[Prefer Android & She-borg for title!]

Friday, October 30, 2009

This is it!

No, not Michael Jackson, but this is truly it: BFI IMAX 3D-presentation of James Cameron's AVATAR, tickets now on sale:

"Tickets for James Cameron's highly anticipated blockbuster are now on sale. See the most talked about movie of the year in stunning IMAX 3D at BFI IMAX from Wed 16 Dec.

An ex-Marine finds himself thrust into hostilities on the alien planet Pandora, filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar - a human mind in an alien body - he is torn between two worlds in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of its indigenous people, the Na'vi. More than 14 years since the story's inception and four years in the making, Avatar marks James Cameron's return to feature directing since helming 1997's Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time and winner of eleven Oscars® including Best Picture.

Featuring brand new CGI technologies that will transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that transports you to a world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters. Avatar will break new ground in delivering a fully immersive, emotional story which promises to reinvent the moviegoing experience."




Picture and information from BFI IMAX site here.


Book online at www.bfi.org.uk/avatar or call 0870 787 2525.

AVATAR Trailer


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When will 'slave-trade' mentality, treating Africans as less than human, desist?

The Guardian newspaper has been gagged:

"The Guardian has been prevented from reporting parliamentary proceedings on legal grounds which appear to call into question privileges guaranteeing free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights."


However, the Spectator's Alex Massie reports:

"This appears to be the question in, er, question:

From Parliament.uk, “Questions for Oral or Written Answer beginning on Tuesday 13 October 2009″

(292409)
61
N Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of legislation to protect (a) whistleblowers and (b) press freedom following the injunctions obtained in the High Court by (i) Barclays and Freshfields solicitors on 19 March 2009 on the publication of internal Barclays reports documenting alleged tax avoidance schemes and (ii) Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura."


In May 2009, BBC 2 Newsnight's item, "Dirty tricks and toxic waste in Ivory Coast" detailed "the biggest toxic dumping scandal of the 21st century":

"When Newsnight first investigated the toxic dumping scandal in 2007 one of Trafigura's founders Eric de Turckheim told Jeremy Paxman "these materials were not dangerous for human beings. It was smelly, but not dangerous."

Newsnight's new investigation shows this was far from the case. Trafigura continues to deny any wrongdoing."

From here


The Guardian reported in September, "How UK oil company Trafigura tried to cover up African pollution disaster", revealing internal Trafigura correspondence:

"One trader wrote, on 10 March 2006: "I don't know how we dispose of the slops [lethal toxic waste] and I don't imply we would dump them, but for sure, there must be some way to pay someone to take them."

The resulting black, stinking, slurry was eventually dumped around landfills in Abidjan [Ivory Coast], after Trafigura paid an unqualified local man to take it away in tanker trucks at a cheap rate.

Trafigura's libel lawyers, Carter-Ruck, recently demanded the Guardian deleted published articles, saying it was "gravely defamatory" and "untrue" to say Trafigura's waste had been dumped cheaply and could have caused deaths and serious injuries. Both the Dutch paper Volkskrant and Norwegian TV said they were yesterday also threatened with gagging actions."

From here.

WikiLeaks presents Minton report, "Trafigura toxic dumping along the Ivory Coast broke EU regulations"

Disgusting. No qualms at their profit-focused, waste-disposal strategy, allegedly, disastrously affecting many Abidjanians, Trafigura's attempt to conceal their actions, and gagg the Guardian, is nothing short of heinous. When will Africans be considered as human as non-Africans? Al-JazeeraEnglish Youtube report:



UK residents can sign-up to support freedom of the press, Number 10 "petition the Prime Minister to enshrine in law the absolute right of the media to report the proceedings of The House in full at all times", here:

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/PressFreedom/


38 Degrees campaigns - write to your MP, takes 2 mins to sign up for "PROTECT OUR FREE PRESS: STOP THE GAG"


Update, 13.29:

"The existence of a previously secret injunction against the media by oil traders Trafigura can now be revealed.

Within the past hour Trafigura's legal firm, Carter-Ruck, has abandoned an attempt to prevent the Guardian from reporting proceedings in parliament that revealed its existence.

Labour MP Paul Farrelly put down a question yesterday to the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw. It asked about the injunction obtained by "Trafigura and Carter-Ruck solicitors on 11 September 2009 on the publication of the Minton Report on the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast, commissioned by Trafigura".

The Guardian was due to appear at the High Court at 2pm to challenge Carter-Ruck's behaviour, but the firm has dropped its claim that to report parliament would be in contempt of court."


From here.

Discussion can be followed via #Trafigura on Twitter.

Very good blog posts on the Trafigura scandal:

The Lay Scientist: Trafigura: A Carter-Ruck Fuck-Up

Jack of Kent: The Most Significant Constitutional Case Of Our Generation?

Iain Dale's Diary: Carter-Ruck Folds Over Guardian Gagging

Journalism.co.uk: The journalist and NGO collaboration to expose Trafigura toxic waste dump

OJB: Mugging the rich bastard lawyers

For other blogs on Trafigura, see this page.

And from Liberal Democrat Voice: "Which neatly proves the point: toxic material is very difficult to hide…"

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama is remembered by The Nobel Foundation

Astonishingly, the 44th US President, Barack Obama, is awarded the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize!

Considering how long ago, around February 2009, nomination(s) was/were made, you're left with the feeling that there's no area in which politics does not feature, be it in science, sports, arts or even in politics.

The announcement:


"for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"


I'm trying to recall what "extraordinary effort" towards world peace could have been made by the few-days-new US President by February 2009. He is, right now in a press interview, saying he is undeserved, and that challenges (for world peace) can't be met by any one leader, or any one nation. And, as if bombing Afghanistani and Pakistani women and children to oblivion is not enough, US/NASA bombs the moon in search of water on the same day Obama wins the Peace Nobel Prize!


Will UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown receive the 2009 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences? We'll know on Monday 12 October 2009.