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Showing posts from October, 2020

My memory is in the clouds

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How I tried to get my google assistant to remember things for me. I have recently bought a couple of google home devices for my flat and I find it really nice to be able to interact in a way that doesn’t require my eyes to be open. I find I use the one on my bedside table most, asking it to turn off the lights and play music before I go to sleep. This way I can control the music, volume and lighting while I’m dozing off to sleep. The most common question I ask it though is for the time. As strange as it sounds when every device has the time in one corner or another. If I look for the time on my phone, I am so often distracted by other notifications which end up in 5 minutes of being on my phone, one distraction after the next. At night the brightness of the screen is unpleasant. I don’t have too many smart devices besides the bedside lamps in the flat and so what would make the google home most useful for me would be to program my own little conversations with it. One simple one that I

Invariance

  Invariance, as opposed to inflammable, means, does not vary. The phrase “invariant in time” simply means “not changing over time”. Einsteins theory of relativity is all based on trying to create a consistent view of the world where certain things shouldn’t change depending on who is measuring them and how they are being measured. Invariance is important in artificial intelligence too. It’s incredibly important because if you can assume something won’t change, you don’t have to perform a calculation working out how it has changed. Take the simple example of newtons laws of motion, summarised in the formula: F=ma The power of this formula lies it its invariance. It doesn’t vary with the day of the week or time of day. It doesn’t vary with shape, with the type of object, with who is in government. It doesn’t vary with who is looking at it or where they are. Physics is assumed to be invariant with things such as the political persuasion of the observer but why can we make that assumption

The importance of goals for intelligence

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What is intelligence? In artificial intelligence, there is a generally agreed-upon definition that intelligence is “The ability of an agent to correctly choose actions manipulating the world so as to achieve its terminal goal” . This definition is much easier to formalise and work towards than the more vague and anthropomorphic colloquial definition. That does mean that there are differences which might make the use of the term with this definition counterintuitive thinking in terms of the other. A common argument within my family is the question of if good recall constitutes intelligence (Not on its own according to this definition). An objection to this definition is that Donald Trump is considered intelligent, given his ability to take actions to achieve his goals (*Update post election, perhaps he is as lacking as he seems) . Other objections to this definition relate to how easier goals might make agents relatively more intelligent. Having an easier goal might make it seem that a

As many Barys as baryons.

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Recent thoughts on the applicability of models made me think about if it was valid that we use a model of people’s height which gives a non-zero probability to a person with a negative height. Trying to calculate the probability of a man having a negative height has its challenges because most normal distribution tables don’t include such extreme Z numbers. I used the numbers for the average hight and standard deviation of a man from this site . We can convert our normal distribution to a Z score using the following formula: “Adult men in the United States are approximately normally distributed with a mean of 70 inches and a standard deviation of 3 inches.” As we are looking at a raw score of not negative x will be 0. Mu is 70 and sigma is 3. That gives us a Z score of about -23. Since most Z score tables don’t get even to 5 standard deviations from the mean, we will need to calculate being 23 out ourselves. With a little bit of help in finding out how to use scipy to do numeri

Some thoughts on solving transcendental equations

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My thinking here is that although transcendental equations don’t have algebraic answers are there still links between them? That theory is supported by the contour lines in the following  So I wasn’t going to look into this but sometimes I just get captured by the mathematics. I have known for a while that most equations can’t be solved. The unsolvability of most equations leads to transcendental numbers. Numbers which aren’t the result of a solvable algebraic equation like 5x+1=7 or 2x^2=3 but can be computed, at least approximately. These numbers include pi and e. There isn’t a formula for pi or e, we can define them, we can even define them without the use of geometry. As I have found out in my curious investigations both numbers seem to crop up only when calculus is involved. e is the solution to the problem of The functions that produce these two have always seemed arbitrary to me. Why is it the case that when we don’t know the answer to we just say, the answer is the answer? We

Placing and sizing cities in an infinite world

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In my first post on this topic, I introduced the idea of ontogenetic generation. In this post, I want to explore some of the ideas I have had for being able to produce cities in a procedural world. There are a few resources I have found online which discuss the generation of procedurally generated cities but I haven't seen anything which discusses how you might place them in an infinite procedurally generated world like Minecraft. In my research into producing cities in the context of civilisations, I spent a lot of time looking into the way that the settlements in Dwarf Fortress are produced.  I found it surprising how little information there is about how settlements arise in the game. All of the interviews seem to focus on the terrain generation which is comprehensive. The more I have read about the systems used in the game the more interested I have become. First idea When thinking over the topic of how one might generate integrated city structures in a manner that would allow

Learnings from building a wifi bookcase

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I recently embarked on a project to take the standard Ikea bookcase we have in the flat and prepare it better for the nights drawing in as we approach winter. I had previously purchased an LED strip from eBay for my first room in London, as much of a broom cupboard as that was. You can buy the LED strips reasonably cheaply and so I thought I would add downlights on each shelf, which I hoped would help add warmth to the lighting on dark winter nights. The LED strips allow you to cut them every few LEDs but the problem is you then need a way to reconnect them to wire or however you want to light them up. Each of these connectors can be over £1 each which in a project like this adds up a lot. It seemed to me that it would actually be cheaper to buy a soldering iron and solder all the lights and wires together. I think it turned out cheaper as I only had to get the LED strips, wire and the soldering kit.   I hadn't soldered since uni and s

Structural engineering with cardboard

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Moving into a new flat I have ended up with a lot of cardboard and have actually struggled to get it to all be taken away. I then saw this Kickstarter on hacker news which introduced me to the idea that I could perhaps use the cardboard I had been throwing away the whole time. I have been toying with some ideas for building myself a robot, or at least a robot arm but they seem to be just ludicrously expensive and still not able to lift much weight. One of the problems with the advancement of robotics is that although processing power has come down in price at a rate that no other product ever has, the cost of actuators (The motion inducing components like motors) has remained largely the same. I want to explore an idea I have for using cheaper motors in a robotic arm in another post though. The problem I want to look at here is the possibility of being able to use cardboard, a material which can almost be considered to have a negative price, as the structure to the robot. I love the

Reading list 2019

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I have never been a big ready. My dyslexia gets in the way of that. Last year though I discovered the power of audible. I have been watching youtube at faster than 1x speed for most things since that was first an option back in 2017 (I thought it was earlier than that, although that might have been a chrome extension). Last year though I would try out audible.  I started with their d1 month free trial and mum admit to not singing perhaps as they would like people to use it. I don't think the price of £7/month would be worthwhile to me if it wasn't for the wonderful feature that you can return the books for no reason even after you have read them. This means that although I still only get a single credit per month I am able to once I have finished a book get another one. That is what has allowed me to get through quite the mass of books that I managed throughout 2019. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that in 2019 I read (listened) to more books that I had in

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