Bacteria computer solving the burnt pancake problem

From http://www.engadget.com

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Texting Improves Parent-Teen Relationships?

A good exercise for discussion regarding media reports of statistics:
– how significant is the effect being reported?
– what is the sample size?
– what might be the margin of error?

http://news.digitaltrends.com/news/story/16392/texting_improves_parent-teen_relationships
By Nick Mokey
Staff Writer, Digital Trends News

A survey commissioned by Samsung suggests that over half of American teens and their parents would say that text messaging has improved their relationship.

It’s rare that technology actually gets credit for improving parent-teen relations rather than purported serving as another generational divide, but Samsung claims text messaging has actually moved the two groups closer together. According to a survey commissioned by the Japanese mobile giant, teens report better relationships with their parents since picking up texting.

The results show that 53 percent of teens who text would credit texting with improved parental relations, while on the other side of the relationship, 51 percent of parents who text would make the same statement about their kids, and say that they communicate more often with them than before. If it seems that the results are skewed because only a small percentage of parents actually text with their kids, think again: the survey also found that 68 percent of parents text with their kids.

Besides the surprising results suggesting improved parent-teen relations, the survey also turned up surprising data about the sheer volume of communication kids are carrying out via texting. On average, it found that teens send 455 text messages per month and receive 467, an average of 15 sent and 16 received daily. For their part, parents send 84 and receive 96.

The survey, carried out by Kelton Research, included 300 American kids between 13 and 19, and 500 American parents with kids between 13 and 19.

AI to pass Turing test?

I am somewhat doubtful whether this project will succeed, but let’s wait and see what it can do …

PORTLAND, Ore. — Passing the Turing test–the holy grail of artificial intelligence (AI), whereby a human conversing with a computer can’t tell it’s not human–may now be possible in a limited way with the world’s fastest supercomputer (IBM’s Blue Gene), according to AI experts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. RPI is aiming to pass AI’s final exam this fall, by pairing the most powerful university-based supercomputing system in the world with a new multimedia group designing a holodeck, a la Star Trek.

http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=206903246

Controlling computers by thoughts

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4074869.stm

A team of US researchers has shown that controlling devices with the brain is a step closer.

Four people, two of them partly paralysed wheelchair users, successfully moved a computer cursor while wearing a cap with 64 electrodes.

Previous research has shown that monkeys can control a computer with electrodes implanted into their brain.

The New York team reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The results show that people can learn to use scalp-recorded electroencephalogram rhythms to control rapid and accurate movement of a cursor in two directions,” said Jonathan Wolpaw and Dennis McFarlane.

Four qubits quantum computer

http://www.zdnet.com.au/news/hardware/soa/Light-based-quantum-circuit-does-basic-maths/0,130061702,339284517,00.htm

The quantum circuit pioneered by the Queensland researchers involves using a laser to send “entangled” photons through a linear optical circuit, White explained. Using this technology the group was able to create a circuit involving four qubits, which allowed them to calculate the prime roots of fifteen, three and five — such calculations will eventually be used to crack common data encryption keys.

Using World of Warcraft to study epidemics

Using analogies in research

Economist 2007.09

A plague in a computer game may have lessons for the real world

READERS of The Economist may not necessarily be familiar with the “World of Warcraft”. For those who are not, it is a cod-medieval online game in which goblins and trolls, warriors and wizards, and so on act out the fantasies of some 9m players who spend the rest of their lives in the alternative world of paper and pay-packets.

A couple of years ago the game’s owners, a Californian firm called Blizzard Entertainment, accidentally spiced things up by releasing a plague far more virulent than they had intended. It started in a sparsely inhabited area but soon found its way to the cities, where it wreaked havoc.

So far, so cod-medieval. However the plague, and the reactions of the game’s players to it, recently came to the attention of Eric Lofgren and Nina Fefferman, two epidemiologists at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Writing in this week’s Lancet Infectious Diseases, they propose that games such as “World of Warcraft” might be used to work out how people will react when faced with situations no researcher can ethically introduce into the real world.

One surprise was that players put themselves into risky situations more often than epidemiologists allow for in their models. An unexpectedly large fraction of players acted altruistically to protect their weaker friends. On the other hand, a significant number seemed intent on infecting as many other characters as possible—behaviour reminiscent of a small minority of people with AIDS. There was also a lot of dangerous curiosity, as players who were offline when the plague began started logging on only in order to find out what was happening, and thus risked the deaths of their characters.

It was this curiosity, in particular, that surprised Dr Fefferman. It is not trivial to give up safety in order to satisfy curiosity, even in a game, though she acknowledges that the cost is not equivalent to that of suffering an illness in the real world.

Logic Goats

Came across these logic goats at Boing Boing.

In the philosophy of mind we emphasize how computations can be multiply realized in different hardware. These are fun paper-made logic gates. The and-goat nods its head when the right button AND the left button are pressed. The or-goat nods its head if at least one button is pressed. Someone should build a general purpose computer out of these goats!

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