“I’ve data mined myself. I’ve violated my own privacy. Now I am selling it all.”
Data mining is big business—but what if Internet users could monetize their personal data on their own? New York University grad student Frederico Zannier stalked his own online activity for two months, and is now selling the data.
There’s a theory that human intelligence stems from a single algorithm.
The idea arises from experiments suggesting that the portion of your brain dedicated to processing sound from your ears could also handle sight for your eyes. This is possible only while your brain is in the earliest stages of development, but it implies that the brain is — at its core — a general-purpose machine that can be tuned to specific tasks.
About seven years ago, Stanford computer science professor Andrew Ng stumbled across this theory, and it changed the course of his career, reigniting a passion for artificial intelligence, or AI. “For the first time in my life,” Ng says, “it made me feel like it might be possible to make some progress on a small part of the AI dream within our lifetime.”
In the early days of artificial intelligence, Ng says, the prevailing opinion was that human intelligence derived from thousands of simple agents working in concert, what MIT’s Marvin Minsky called “The Society of Mind.” To achieve AI, engineers believed, they would have to build and combine thousands of individual computing modules. One agent, or algorithm, would mimic language. Another would handle speech. And so on. It seemed an insurmountable feat.
When he was a kid, Andrew Ng dreamed of building machines that could think like people, but when he got to college and came face-to-face with the AI research of the day, he gave up. Later, as a professor, he would actively discourage his students from pursuing the same dream. But then he ran into the “one algorithm” hypothesis, popularized by Jeff Hawkins, an AI entrepreneur who’d dabbled in neuroscience research. And the dream returned.
It was a shift that would change much more than Ng’s career. Ng now leads a new field of computer science research known as Deep Learning, which seeks to build machines that can process data in much the same way the brain does, and this movement has extended well beyond academia, into big-name corporations like Google and Apple. In tandem with other researchers at Google, Ng is building one of the most ambitious artificial-intelligence systems to date, the so-called Google Brain.
This movement seeks to meld computer science with neuroscience — something that never quite happened in the world of artificial intelligence. “I’ve seen a surprisingly large gulf between the engineers and the scientists,” Ng says. Engineers wanted to build AI systems that just worked, he says, but scientists were still struggling to understand the intricacies of the brain. For a long time, neuroscience just didn’t have the information needed to help improve the intelligent machines engineers wanted to build.
What’s more, scientists often felt they “owned” the brain, so there was little collaboration with researchers in other fields, says Bruno Olshausen, a computational neuroscientist and the director of the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley.
The end result is that engineers started building AI systems that didn’t necessarily mimic the way the brain operated. They focused on building pseudo-smart systems that turned out to be more like a Roomba vacuum cleaner than Rosie the robot maid from the Jetsons.
But, now, thanks to Ng and others, this is starting to change. “There is a sense from many places that whoever figures out how the brain computes will come up with the next generation of computers,” says Dr. Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Rovers are not just for exploring distant planets. Here is a NASA rover exploring Greenland.
NASA Rover Prototype Set to Explore Greenland Ice Sheet
NASA’s newest scientific rover is set for testing May 3 through June 8 in the highest part of Greenland.
The robot known as GROVER, which stands for both Greenland Rover and Goddard Remotely Operated Vehicle for Exploration and Research, will roam the frigid landscape collecting measurements to help scientists better understand changes in the massive ice sheet.
This autonomous, solar-powered robot carries a ground-penetrating radar to study how snow accumulates, adding layer upon layer to the ice sheet over time.
Greenland’s surface layer vaulted into the news in summer 2012 when higher than normal temperatures caused surface melting across about 97 percent of the ice sheet. Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., expect GROVER to detect the layer of the ice sheet that formed in the aftermath of that extreme melt event.
Research with polar rovers costs less than aircraft or satellites, the usual platforms.
“Robots like GROVER will give us a new tool for glaciology studies,” said Lora Koenig, a glaciologist at Goddard and science advisor on the project.
GROVER will be joined on the ice sheet in June by another robot, named Cool Robot, developed at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., with funding from the National Science Foundation. This rover can tow a variety of instrument packages to conduct glaciological and atmospheric sampling studies.
GROVER was developed in 2010 and 2011 by teams of students participating in summer engineering boot camps at Goddard. The students were interested in building a rover and approached Koenig about whether a rover could aid her studies of snow accumulation on ice sheets. This information typically is gathered by radars carried on snowmobiles and airplanes. Koenig suggested putting a radar on a rover for this work.
Koenig, now a science advisor on the GROVER Project, asked Hans-Peter Marshall, a glaciologist at Boise State University to bring in his expertise in small, low-power, autonomous radars that could be mounted on GROVER. Since its inception at the boot camp, GROVER has been fine-tuned, with NASA funding, at Boise State.
The tank-like GROVER prototype stands six feet tall, including its solar panels. It weighs about 800 pounds and traverses the ice on two repurposed snowmobile tracks. The robot is powered entirely by solar energy, so it can operate in pristine polar environments without adding to air pollution. The panels are mounted in an inverted V, allowing them to collect energy from the sun and sunlight reflected off the ice sheet.
A ground-penetrating radar powered by two rechargeable batteries rests on the back of the rover. The radar sends radio wave pulses into the ice sheet, and the waves bounce off buried features, informing researchers about the characteristics of the snow and ice layers.
From a research station operated by the National Science Foundation called Summit Camp, a spot where the ice sheet is about 2 miles thick, GROVER will crawl at an average speed of 1.2 mph (2 kilometers per hour). Because the sun never dips below the horizon during the Arctic summer, GROVER can work at any time during the day and should be able to work longer and gather more data than a human on a snowmobile.
At the beginning of the summit tests, Koenig’s team will keep GROVER close to camp and communicate with it via Wi-Fi within a three-mile (4.8-kilometer) range. GROVER will transmit snippets of data during the trial to ensure it is working properly but the majority of data will be recovered at the end of the season. The researchers eventually will switch to satellite communications, which will allow the robot to roam farther and transmit data in real time. Ideally, researchers will be able to drive the rover from their desks.
“We think it’s really powerful,” said Gabriel Trisca, a Boise State master’s degree student who developed GROVER’s software. “The fact is the robot could be anywhere in the world and we’ll be able to control it from anywhere.”
Michael Comberiate, a retired NASA engineer and manager of Goddard’s Engineering Boot Camp said the Earth-bound Greenland Rover is similar to NASA missions off the planet.
“GROVER is just like a spacecraft but it has to operate on the ground,” Comberiate said. “It has to survive unattended for months in a hostile environment, with just a few commands to interrogate it and find out its status and give it some directions for how to accommodate situations it finds itself in.”
Koenig hopes more radar data will help shed light on Greenland’s snow accumulation. Scientists compare annual accumulation to the volume of ice lost to sea each year to calculate the ice sheet’s overall mass balance and its contribution to sea level rise.
GIGS2GO is a small set of ‘Tear and Share’ USB drives, about the same size as a credit card, that can be torn off and used or handed out to others… the four-pack of thumb drives is made from 100% post-consumer molded paper pulp with no plastic. You can tear off an individual 1GB drive like a phone number on a flyer for a cat-sitter.
Forget about checking Facebook on your iPhone or Android app. Or waiting until you get home. The social network introduced its own addition to the Android operating system in a highly-anticipated announcement today, called “Home.”
Home is a series of apps that you can install and that becomes the home of your phone.
“Our phones are designed around apps not people,” Zuckerberg said. “We want to flip that around.”
April 12th. The day Smartphones will turn in Dumbphones again