Monday, August 31, 2009

Turing Petition upto 12,041 signatories!

As of 17.40 Bank Holiday Monday, 31 August 2009, number of signatories to 10 Downing Street petition, re apology for mistreating the late, great Alan Turing is up to 12,041.


Note, petition open till 20 January 2010

From the BBC today:

Thousands call for Turing apology

Alan Turing is said to be the founder of computer science
Thousands of people have signed a Downing Street petition calling for a posthumous government apology to World War II code breaker Alan Turing.
Writer Ian McEwan has just backed the campaign, which already has the support of scientist Richard Dawkins.

In 1952 Turing was prosecuted under the gross indecency act after admitting to a sexual relationship with a man. Two years later he killed himself.

The petition was the idea of computer scientist John Graham-Cumming.
He is seeking an apology for the way the young mathematician was treated after his conviction. He has also written to the Queen to ask for a posthumous knighthood to be awarded to the British mathematician.

Alan Turing was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment" and his security privileges were removed, meaning he could not continue work for the UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

"This added insult and humiliation ultimately drove him to suicide," said gay-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who also backs the campaign. "With Turing's death, Britain and the world lost one of its finest intellectual minds. A government apology and posthumous pardon are long overdue."

Guardian piece on 'Why can't computers think?

Today's Guardian asks "Why can't computers think?:

At the end of this week, the 2009 Loebner prize will be contested in Brighton, to try to find a computer program that can fool a human that it is another human over five minutes of interaction through a screen. We know they will all fail. ......... It's not that computers can never fool people.

True, from Flirty bot passes for human:
"New software designed to conduct flirtatious conversations is good enough to fool people into thinking they are chatting with a human, a security company has warned. The CyberLover software was designed in Russia to engage people in conversations with the objective of inducing them to reveal information about their identities or to lead them to visit a web site that will deliver malicious content to their computers."

From Comment is free (Cif):
The 2009 Loebner Prize has just three computer entries, each of which will be compared against four humans interrogated by only four judges. This is in contrast to the 2008 Loebner Prize contest.

[Note, neither Elbot, Loebner Prize 2008's winner, nor runner-up Eugene have entered Loebner 2009]

To encourage and attract the best systems to enter a contest, the reward must be substantial. Professor Selmer Bringjord of RPI, said as much at the 2008 AISB Symposium on the Turing test.

Compare the Loebner Prize's $3000 and bronze medal award last year (same amount to be awarded in 2009) to DARPA's reward for their 2007 Urban Challenge:

1st Place: $2,000,000
2nd Place: $1,000,000
3rd Place : $500,000

Don't expect a machine to display 'thinking' in the lifetime of the Loebner Prize, or achieve the 30% deception rate required by Turing to pass his imitation game:

"average interrogator will not have more than a 70 per cent chance or making the right identification after five minutes of questioning". (Turing, 1950)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Mentalist's Simon Baker for the new Batman's Joker?

In The Mentalist Revealed Simon Baker says he "loves conmen and deception", that's why he "loves acting". He could more than adaquately replace his (late) Aussie compatriot, Heath Ledger, as the Joker, facing off Christian Bale's Batman.

Guardian report here.

The Herald report here.

Pictures from here and here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2009 Loebner Prize schedule

Sponsor of the Loebner Prize for Artificial Intelligence, Dr. Hugh Loebner, announces change to the Turing tests scheduled in the 19th Contest, hosted at Interspeech 2009:

Round 1: J1E1C1, J2E3C2, J3E2C4
Round 2: J1E3C3, J2E2C1, J4E1C2
Round 3: J1E2C2, J3E1C3, J4E3C4
Round 4: J2E1C4, J3E3C1, J4E2C3

The contest will begin at 11:00 AM
There will be FOUR rounds of 20 minutes duration.

- 10 minutes for interaction with entities (5 minutes with each)
- 5 minutes for judging
- 5 minutes for rearranging seating, etc.

Message #12811 on Robitron, Aug 22, 2009.

2009 Loebner Prize 12 Turing tests final (three machine entries, four judges and four hidden-humans) will be a short contest. (2008 Loebner Prize final's featured 96 parallel-paired Turing tests held over 24 rounds, 24 judges, 21 hidden-humans and five machines).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Alan Turing petition to 10 Downing Street

See MORE4 news article re 10 Downing Street petition to pardon Alan Turing:

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to apologize for the prosecution of Alan Turing that led to his untimely death. Submitted by John Graham-Cumming – Deadline to sign up by: 20 January 2010 – Signatures: 4,546"
(As at 21:23 Friday 21 August 2009 from here).

From Manchester Evening News:

"John Graham-Cumming, a leading British computer expert who launched the campaign, said: I think that Alan Turing hasn't been recognised in Britain for his enormous contribution because he died in his forties and almost certainly because he was gay.

It is atrocious that we don't recognise this man and the only way to do so is to apologise to him. This man was a national treasure and we hounded him to his death.

One of the things for people in the computing world is that he was part of the war effort but we don't give him recognition in the same way as other heroes. To me, he was a hero in the second world war.

Since his death, plaques, buildings and statues have been raised in Turing's honour. The computing world's equivalent of the Nobel Prize has been called the Turing Award since 1966."

James Cameron's AVATAR Day: 21 August 2009

At Slashfilm, view the teaser trailer of James Cameron's much-awaited 3-D flick Avatar, described as a "pixar adult movie" (Slashfilm).

From Wild About Movies:
"Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people. More than ten years in the making, Avatar marks 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. WETA Digital, renowned for its work in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and King Kong, incorporated new intuitive CGI technologies to transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery that transports the audience into the alien world rich with imaginative vistas, creatures and characters."

From The Times Online:

"It is the movie that could change film-making for ever. It has the power to alter your mind. Watching it will be like dreaming with your eyes open .... an immense leap forward for film — the equivalent of the first movie with sound or in Technicolor... But sceptics argue that the importance of Avatar to film studios has less to do with its creativity and more to do with the fact that 3-D movies are hard to copy and therefore, inevitably, attractive to an industry ravaged by online piracy.

Many in Hollywood hope that the Avatar 3-D experience could not only change cinema but save it."


"Friday 21 August, is officially designated Avatar Day, the public unveiling of a full 15 minutes of teaser footage from the new 3D blockbuster from director James Cameron, playing at hundreds of sold-out cinemas across the planet; the date that could come to define how Hollywood frames the world.... Director Ridley Scott claims that Cameron's film is "phenomenal", while his fellow film-maker Jon Favreau describes it as "a game-changer. I think it's the future".... Reportedly budgeted at a whopping $237m (which would place it just one notch below Spider-Man 3's record-breaking $258m) ... In the UK alone, only around 320 out of 3,600 cinemas are digitally equipped, while in the US the ratio is even worse (2,500 out of 38,000)".

Image from:

Other Avatar movie links:


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Wikipedia's Rorschach test controversy

BBC2's Newsnight, Monday 3 August 2009, included a piece on Wikipedia's Rorschach test article.

The controversy, surrounding the inclusion of 'ink blots' - used in clinical diagnosis to determine mental disorders, on the Wiki page is best summed up by comments from its discussion/talk page:

Social Impact
This test hold an important place in the psychee of the Western world

This is an encyclopedia for a general audience. It is not an instruction manual on how one would administer a Rorscharch written by experts for experts. The reason why we are all here debating this page is the Rorschach is one of the most famous and well known bits of psychology and has infact had an impact on Western culture. This impact would be of interest to many readers.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 03:10, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

I think that a thoughtful and neutral and well-sourced discussion of the place of the Rorschach in contemporary culture would be quite appropriate to the page. Personally, I think the combination of absolutely rotten face validity and terrific clinical validity, plus the historical connections to the least-supportable aspects of old-school psychoanalysis and the position that has in the culture, has made it resonate with people's anxieties about having their minds read and/or controlled. ... Mirafra (talk) 20:06, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

Irrevocable Harm to Authors/Dangerous Precedent

1. By putting the cards onto a large public forum (yes, it many ways, Wikipedia is more akin to a forum than an encyclopedia), not only is the test technique harmed, but so are the many, many authors who have contributed to the literature. Whatever one thinks of the Rorschach, good or bad, there have been many who have put years into writing books and publishing research on it. So while the Rorschach itself is not completely "copyright," the many years of work done by many authors (Weiner for one) is being slowly being deemed meaningless. By the way, Exner's scoring system is absolutely copyrighted material - and that's where the normative data come from (what "typical" responses are and so forth). By placing so much detail as to the scoring of the measure, I would imagine that violates Exner's copyright, no?

2. I fear that placing the cards onto Wikipedia is setting a dangerous precedent. This is a slippery slope; if Wikipedia allows this, what will keep them from basically reproducing other psychological/neuropsychological material. That would be TERRIBLY HARMFUL to not only psychologists and other behavioral scientists, but to children, families, parents - it would affect our ability to accurately evaluate conditions such as dementia, learning disabilities, developmental conditions, etc. It's akin to publishing a contemporary version of the SAT. While some don't like that test, if it were put onto Wikipedia, we'd lose a vital aspect of measuring a very important predictor of college success. Most of the standardized tests are under clear copyright, but the way some of these individuals are acting in this discussion suggests that the "everything should be free and available" ideology pervades much of Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Takamine45 (talk • contribs) 18:20, 29 July 2009 (UTC)

More comments, from Wikipedia's Rorschach test discussion page, can be found here.

According to, Saskatchewan doctor (and a Wiki editor), James Heilman "posted the 10 inkblots to the [Wiki] website last month following an ongoing, at times uncivil, editorial discussion about whether a single Rorschach test image should be posted on the web-based encyclopedia. A small vocal minority of psychologists who edit Wikipedia content opposed posting the images."

Full article here.

Kirsty Wark's Newsnight discussion (at 40minutes 45 seconds into the programme), featuring a representative from Wikimedia in the US and a clinical psychologist in the studio, can be found here.

I'm not sure the 'validity' of the test is that compromised, having seen the ink blots. I would'nt give the same answers as the "frequent responses", especially for plates 4, 6 and 7-10, but I do agree that what you say, if asked "what do you see?", could say a lot about you as a person.