Bereavement Bots?

It’s been a while….

… but nice to see the patterns of Computer Science coming in full circle again, this time revisiting the Turing Test in the form of our beloved AI-focused chatroom bots.

Interesting article in today’s SMH (snapped attached for your fiscal pleasure as behind the paywall) which mentions ELIZA in 1968 which I recall was the first practical automated Turing Test.

The honing of AI algorithms from consuming huge amounts of data reminded me of an episode of Black Mirror a near-future series of short Twilight-Zone type episodes.

Basic plot of this episode (“Be Right Back” from 2013) is that a woman’s husband dies in a car crash and she seeks comfort in an AI which mimics him. Essentially constructed via a service for the recently bereaved – you give the service provider access to all social media accounts of the deceased. An AI bot scans through every post made/emails sent/received, cross-refs with public posts etc. and constructs a bot tailored to the personality of the recently deceased…images-2

Starts off with a simple chatroom … and progresses from there through enhancing the simulation through the simulation of speech from old recordings and jumps past VR to 3D construction etc. A bit kitsch but fascinating premise nonetheless.

Macquarie Uni developing natural language tech ploughing through text collections, newspaper archives, Government archives etc. – not such a great leap to freaky deaky LawnMower Man? (and that pic is Lawnmower Man actor Jeff Fahey wearing a very familiar looking VR headset back in 1992 – not much changed in 24 years!!!!)




#googleglass goes underwater – #googlegoggles Cousteau 1.0

I hate swimming. It’s pretty boring going up and down and up and down and … you get the drift. Boom Boom. It needs to be sold to me to take the hook. They keep coming.

water bubblesSo I began to get mildly interested when Speedo launched their Aquabeat MP3 players integrated into their goggles some years back – latest product spec here.

I see Google Glass is to get an in-built iTunes type streaming music interface.

oceanic-04.8800.07Surely the next step is to stretch into a different product category and develop underwater Google Glass?! Simply acquire an HUD dive mask company, pop in some Glass tech on the mask, sprinkle in some Aquabeat MP3 tech (with the main processor integrated into the back of the mask) and Bob’s your Uncle – GoogleGlass (Google Goggles) v1.0 – “Cousteau”.

Input… ? Well, probably needs a little work, but either some Steven Hawking eye-movement tracking type stuff or the wearable “throat tattoo” microphone that Google have just patented (we’re getting progressively closer to the embedded-chip-at-birth concept here… !).

Throw in an HD camera with integrated light on the front for the scuba model and do-away with that cumbersome dive camera… dive computer and GPS to track your dive Nike+ style … feed to Facebook … cheers from your friends as you dive… not noticing your depth and/or sharks etc. etc.

Already a concept design model here – needs to Google bankroll to really get it going…

I’ll take my commission now thanks Larry. And a nice pool please.

Initial testing of Google Goggles underwater prototype.

Initial testing of Google Glass underwater prototype.

The Silicon Beach

I attend a Sydney startup group named Silicon Beach.  An apt name for the New Australian Economy?

Think about it…

  • Mining boom runs out – what is Australia going to do next?! (the “Dutch Disease“)
  • National Broadband network kicks in – connecting the whole country with a vast fibre optic network
  • Tony Simonsen, CEO of Equinix, in an article in the Australian Financial Review this week says “..I really believe the NBN is going to promote [and enable] small business and start-up ventures staying in regional areas”
  • Australia is a pretty big place, with a low population, and is really quite a nice place to live!

How about an influx of startups, tempted away from the Valley and other hubs, to enjoy state-of-the-art infrastructure in Australia, top weather, the best sharks (and not talking about the Venture Capitalists) and a choice of where to base yourselves for an awesome alternative lifestyle to the usual tech crowd.

Amazon drops in a cloud data centre into Alice Springs in the centre of Australia, buried underground with cooling systems driven by huge solar panels in one of the sunniest places on Earth.

Boosted by tax revenues, the Australian Government invests in entrepreneurial startup businesses with various incentive schemes, and lowers Australian company tax. Knock-on effect of stimulating the economy – building local infrastructure to support these distributed tech communities – and making Australia a more attractive hub in which to base regional businesses.

Planes get faster. The great Australian trade-off – seeing your homeland once every two years if you’re lucky – is less of an issue.

Roll on NBN, the New Australian Economy  – The Great Silicon Beach!

Natural Selection

Well TED is coming to Sydney in the shape of TEDx (I note that the TED global conference is in my home town of Edinburgh – sweet!).

I’ve filled out my 150 word application for a place at the conference, like every other person in Australia who’s ever looked twice at a keyboard. Fingers X!