Vol. 1 / No. 33 – A Turing Test, Free Patents, and Taking A Punch For Evolution

Photo:  Flickr User J D Hancock , CC BY 2.0
Photo: Flickr User J D Hancock , CC BY 2.0

Turing Tested


Earlier this week the sound of amazement went out into the æther: a computer had passed the Turing Test, convincing a substantial number of testers that it was not a computer, but a flesh-and-blood human. Then the wind went out of everyone’s sails a bit. So what actually happened? Turns out, a chatbot named Eugene managed to convince 3 out of 10 judges that the reasons behind his bizarre and often nonsensical responses was due to his being a 13-year-old from Ukraine. And what’s more, it’s something arranged by Kevin Warwick out of Reading University, who has a history of, if not fraudulent,then at least exaggerated claims. Check out a great analysis over at PopSci for a rundown of how things really stand.

In more interesting news, check out LEVAN, a computer designed to LEarn EVerything about ANything. Slowly but surely it’s learning, and that’s only a little creepy.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit: Flickr User Steve Jurvetson, CC BY 2.0

Patents For Everyone


Tesla founder and rocket tycoon Elon Musk this week nearly broke the internet by rendering all of the electric car company’s patents free and open source for anyone who wants to use them. As he tells it, his worry when patenting the tech was that other car manufacturers would use their massive systems id production to copy and outsell the startup Tesla Motors, instead he found the opposite: an almost complete lack of a market. So, in the hopes of creating a shared and open standard, he’s releasing it all for free. This article at Forbes sums up my feelings on the matter:“It’s a brave move by Tesla and it should be applauded.”

Photo: From "A Manual on Extracting Teeth" (1868)
Photo: From “A Manual on Extracting Teeth” (1868)

Can You Take A Punch?


In a new hypothesis being proposed this week in the journal Biological Reviews, male violence is linked to the evolution of certain facial features of humans and their precursors. The hypothesis, called the “protective buttressing of the hominin face”, suggests that since men punch each other in the face, and since without medical care a broken jaw is a death sentence, that thicker jaws and male facial differences from female ones might have been the result. Check out the article over at io9.com for more , or check out the article itself at Biological Reviews .

Military Quantum Teleportation


Last week I found out that scientists had managed to transmit data across a room using quantum entanglement. This week, the United States Army announced that it’s done the same. Only they say they can use it to transmit data securely. Now. Something about the way it’s being described makes me think of it as a quantum computing tamper-proof seal rather than teleportation, but if it is, then we’re already further into the future than we thought.

Fusion Takes Shape


Over at Gizmodo this week there’s a great time lapse video of the 9 year construction of the Wendelstein 7-X , an experimental fusion reactor nearing completion in Germany. While not predicted to be able to reach the holy grail of nuclear fusion, being able to produce more power than it consumes, it may well demonstrate the ability to maintain a reaction for up to half an hour, a necessary step to keeping the lower of the sun in a bottle and using it to power the future. Check out the article at Gizmodo for more , or just watch the video below.

That’s all for this issue since I’m blogging from a low signal vacation spot! Have a great week!