Category: Science Fiction

Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present, & Futures

22 Artificial Intelligences (3 Real)

My Philcon artificial intelligence talk is at 1pm tomorrow at Virtual Philcon 2020. You can register for it here.

I’ve uploaded a PDF of the talk to slideshare. The Obama Deep Fake movie was too large to uploaded, so I just used a still for that. The PDF has the references as well as the sources of all the images in the splash page above.

There are 22 images, 3 “real”, the rest from various films & so on.

  • Talos — Jason & the Argonauts
  • The Mechanical Turk — popular chess playing fake (18th century)
  • Tik-Tok — Wizard of Oz
  • Robot Maria — Metropolis
  • Joe (transparent robot) — The Proud Robot
  • Roy Batty (replicant) – Bladerunner
  • R2-D2 & C-3PO — Star Wars
  • Terminator — Terminator
  • Rommie (ship avatar) — Andromeda
  • Android Gunslinger — West World
  • Commander Data — Star Trek Next Generation
  • Mecha — AI
  • Sonny — I, Robot
  • BB-8 — Star Wars
  • Eve & Wall-E — Wall-E
  • Asimo — Honda robot
  • Johnny 5 – Short Circuit
  • Sophia — The First Robot Declared a Citizen by Saudi Arabia (2016)
  • Janet — The Good Place
  • Ava — Ex Machina
  • Samantha — Her
  • Denise Virtual Assistant — NextOS (now Realbotix)

And I have a number of references. These should be useful starting points. One of the striking things about these is that all are from the last five years; and all but two from the two years. The field is moving that fast!

  • Miller 2019 – The Artist in the Machine
  • Mitchell 2019 – Artificial Intelligence
  • O’Neil 2016 – Weapons of Math Destruction
  • Pickover 2019 – Artificial Intelligence
  • Scharre 2018 – Army of None
  • Shane 2019 – You look like a thing and I love you
  • Tamboli 2019 – Keeping Your AI under Control
  • Trask 2019 – Grokking Algorithms

2020 Philadelphia Science Fiction aka Philcon

Philcon runs from about noon this coming Friday (11/20/2020) till early evening Sunday (11/22/2020). It is, inevitably, virtual this year. With that said, they are going to a lot of trouble to make it as live & immediate as possible. And are clearly much helped by the benefit of earlier virtual conferences this year. For instance, the program participants were invited to training sessions to check out their setups & make sure they knew how to present on Zoom & Discord. I found mine helpful. Thanks Syd Weinstein & crew!

I have my schedule as well:

 Joy in SciencePlaza 1Science & TechnologyPanelFri 8:30 PM
What about Science first drew us in to it?

Remembering our sparks of inspiration. Recountings and tall tales of our best discoveries and why they continue to inspire us. With Carl Fink (moderator), John Skylar (the invariably intelligent!), Tom Purdam (always witty & knowledgable), and myself.

Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present, FuturesPlaza 1Science & TechnologyTalk by John AshmeadSat 1:00 PMDuration: 00:50
Artificial Intelligence — Too late to escape it, but too soon to panic.

From Oz’s Tik-Tok to the Mechanical Turk, from Neural Nets & Genetic Algorithms to Chess & StarCraft, from fighting the Coronavirus to flying Killer Drones, from Facial Recognition to Fakes, Deep Fakes, & Anti-Fakes, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere today. How did it start? What do we mean by AI? What are the basic AI techniques? How is it being used? What are the benefits? 

Drift Compatible: The Science of Neural Interface TechnologyPlaza 1Science & TechnologyPanelSat 4:00 PM
Plug in, tune out, or control the world — your call

What can be done with current technology? Are we going to be piloting mechs with our minds before the decade is out? With the ever charming & erudite Catherine Asaro, Rebecca Robare (one of the filk), and myself (as moderator). For me, a nice follow-on to my Arificial Intelligence talk!

Dust to DirtPlaza 1Science & TechnologyPanelSun 4:00 PM
OK, we’re on Mars. What an Expanse of possiblities? Red, Blue, or Green?

 The practical considerations of building a city on Mars, from the habitat to the technology of living on an inhospitable world. I’m moderating based on my talk of a few years back, Mars or Bust! And have Robert Hranek (who has already scared me with his level of preparation), Premee Mohammed (who has scared me with her Lovecraftian Beneath the Rising and who is basically the advance team for Mars), and Tobias Cabral (who I’ve shared many panels with & who is not at all scary — meaning no offense!) to put questions to!

Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present, & Futures

I will be presenting a talk on Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present, & Futures at the 2020 Capclave (virtual). That’s this coming Sunday from 1:30 to 2:25. Capclave is running Saturday & Sunday.

Virtual, yes, but they have rather a good line up of former guests of honor, kaffleklatsches, talks, panels, and so on. I’m looking forward. As to my talk:

Artificial Intelligence: Past, Present, Futures (Ends at: 2:25 pm)
Participants: John Ashmead (M)
From Oz’s Tik-Tok to the Mechanical Turk, from Neural Nets & Genetic Algorithms to Chess & StarCraft, from fighting the Coronavirus to flying Killer Drones, from Facial Recognition to Fakes, Deep Fakes, & Anti-Fakes, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere today. How did it start? What do we mean by AI? What are the basic AI techniques? How is it being used? What are the benefits? risks? and how should we manage AI going forwards?

Philcon 2019 — Recap

Ultimately my “Time dispersion in quantum mechanics” is an attempt to answer Gisin’s question

Got some great questions during my talk at Philcon: lots of stuff I had not considered before. If quarks are high-energy beasts, and if high-energy means short time, and if short time means increased effects of time dispersion, shouldn’t you look at impacts on quark calculations. Should & will! And what of quantum computing: would dispersion in time provide additional bandwidth for quantum computing? Very probably! Not to mention additional insight into the bugaboo of the quantum computing, decoherence.

I also liked that the audience really picked up on why I centered the investigation on falsifiability: I wasn’t trying to prove that there is dispersion in time, I have presented a way to prove there is not. Falsifiability is what makes science science.

I have uploaded the Keynote, PowerPoint, and PDF versions of the talk.

My panels were, as usual, interesting.

Hildy Silverman did a great job moderating Dystopia Now! she kept the discussion focused & moving. Fellow panelist Hakirah D’Almah, a journalist with a focus on the Middle East, was particularly trenchant. Hard to find the bright side of Dystopia, but I think we did. 1984 is a deeply optimistic work: by writing it (Orwell’s last, he died shortly after completing it) Orwell helped us avoid it.

I will admit the Evolution of Mars panel, while interesting, drifted a bit (Wild Marses I Have Known would have been a more accurate description).

I was happy to be the moderator on Looking for Life in our Solar System: the great thing about being a moderator — especially when you are the least qualified person the panel — sit back & let your fellow panelists — Earl Bennett, Dr. H. Paul Shuch, John Skylar — do the heavy lifting. Which they did very well!

And I was also moderator on The Blurry Line between Cutting Edge and Pseudoscience. The panel was right after my talk, so made a nice seque. The best question came from an audience member: how do I tell, when I see stuff on the web, what level of credibility to give it? Just asking that question is the first step. The panelists suggested credentials of the author, links to it, and my personal favorite: does the author find the good in his/her opponent’s arguments, recognize the weak spots in his/her own?

Mars or Bust! The Theory and Practice of Travel to Mars — At Philcon tomorrow

NASA Mars Travel Poster The annual Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention (Philcon 2018) starts today & continues thru Sunday. I’m doing a fun science talk: Mars or Bust! tomorrow at 5pm

Sat 5:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—Mars or Bust! The Theory and Practice of Travel to Mars

Why do we want to go? How do we get there? How do we live there? What might we find? What are the dangers: radiation, low gravity, dust, our fellow humans? Is there life on Mars now? Was there once? and did our own evolution actually start on Mars?

And I’m doing six panels besides:  Mars, Mars, Mad Scientists, Black Holes, Star Trek versus Star Wars, and Evil Tech.   Seems to be aimed generally in a pretty sinister direction!  War planets, mad scientists, all-devouring black holes, death stars versus battle-cruisers, and generally evil tech.  Curious.  I hope Philcon programming knows that I’m largely opposed to evil.

John Ashmead (mod)

    • Fri 7:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—Black Holes Explained! (3073)

      What they are, what they are NOT, why it’s A Bad Idea to confuse a black hole with a wormhole, and how to use them in scientifically accurate ways in your writing.

Dr. Valerie J. Mikles (mod), Bob Hranek, John Ashmead, Jay Wile, Peter Prellwitz

    • Sat 12:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—The Depictions of Technology in Star Wars and Star Trek (3108)

      How do these universes differ in the ways they depict their tech? How did the history of each world affect the invention and uses of medical devices, weaponry, methods of transportation, and robotic beings?

Jeff Warner (mod), John Ashmead, Inge Heyer, Jay Wile, Anna Kashina, Glenn Hauman

    • Sat 2:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—The Moon, The Stars, and Mars: The Ethics of Colonizing Space (3121)

      How do we expect to change the galactic landscape in an ethical way, and what can we do as humans to decrease our impact on it? What does it mean to establish human settlements on worlds not our own? A discussion of space travel, space colonies, and morality.

Jazz Hiestand (mod), John Ashmead, Inge Heyer, Tom Purdom, Tobias Cabral, Joseph Haughey

    • Sat 5:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two—Mars or Bust! The Theory and Practice of Travel to Mars (3122)

      Why do we want to go? How do we get there? How do we live there? What might we find? What are the dangers: radiation, low gravity, dust, our fellow humans? Is there life on Mars now? Was there once? and did our own evolution actually start on Mars?

John Ashmead (mod)

    • Sat 6:00 PM in Plaza III (Three)—Our Fascination with Mars (3061)

      Since the days of H.G. Wells, Mars has figured greatly in SF. How have SF views of Mars changed as our understanding of the planet grew. Why does it still matter today?

Jazz Hiestand (mod), John Ashmead, Michael D’Ambrosio, Paul Levinson, Tobias Cabral

    • Sun 10:00 AM in Crystal Ballroom Two—The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Current Technology Trends (3107)

      What’s the hottest tech about to change our world? Join us to discuss the promise, threat, and some things people usually don’t want to talk about.

Bob Hranek (mod), John Ashmead, Earl Bennett, Charlie Robertson, John Skylar

    • Sun 1:00 PM in Plaza II (Two)—The Myth of the Mad Scientist (3078)

      Despite a long history in fiction of solo geniuses making the ultimate breakthroughs in their basement labs, collaboration is necessary for scientific advancement. So why do we glorify the loner scientist trope? Can we make collaborative science feel equally heroic? How do we portray science being done realistically while still meeting the needs of the story?

Jim Stratton (mod), John Ashmead, Aaron Feldman, Anna Kashina, Alan P. Smale, Tee Morris

Practical Telepathy at Capclave 2018

 

Why are mind waves always blue or green?

I’m doing my Practical Telepathy talk at Capclave tomorrow 9/29/2018 (Saturday) at 12:00 pm:

Practical Telepathy: the Science and Engineering of Mind-to-Mind communication. (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Washington Theater

From van Vogt’s Slan to Willis’s Crosstalk, telepathy has been a staple of science fiction. But what are the real world chances of reading another person’s mind? With MRI & PET scans we can see what images a person is thinking of, with brain implants we can help the blind to see, and — the way the science is going — we are only a half-step away from direct mind-to-mind communication. Nothing to worry about here!

I have the latest version up on Slideshare.

Then I am doing two panels:

Saturday 7:00 pm: Even Hard SF uses FTL

What science is taken for granted in SF and can it really happen? What new scientific discoveries are more likely than others? What science is underused in SF?

I’m on with Catherine Asaro and David Bartell for that.

Sunday 11:00 am: What Do We Do With Sentient AI

Can your toaster have the right to vote? (Only if it is a Brave Little Toaster!)

I’m moderating with moderatees: Mark Laporta, Edward M. Lerner, James Morrow

Linux & StarGates – Open Source meets Open Stars

Linux & Stargates

The talk has been rescheduled:  it is now April 4th, 2018, same place:  University of the Sciences, same time:  7pm.

Some new stuff:  thanks to the 7th observation of a gravitational wave, the speed of gravitational waves is now known to be the speed of light.  And researchers have built a carillion using black hole frequencies as the pipes.

I’ll be doing my StarGates talk at the Philadelphia Linux meeting at the University of the Sciences this coming Wednesday.

Why StarGates & Linux?

  1. Both are really cool.
  2. Both take us to the limits of the possible.
  3. And both let us push the limits of the possible another half-step beyond where it is.

As to #1, if you are reading this the odds are you are already current with the cool of each.

And #2 goes without saying:  Linux is an amazing work, putting the most powerful general purpose operating system in the hands of the open source community, in the hands of the world.

But #3 — extending the limits of the possible — is what I will be focusing on in my presentation:  by asking questions about the impossible, we can extend the reach of the possible:  get our grasp a bit closer to our reach, as the saying goes.

So March 7th, at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, at 8pm, great if you can make it, and if not, have your imagination hop over & have a look.

To infinity and beyond!

Tux & StarGates from Linux-Lovers

Practical Telepathy: the Science & Engineering of Mind-Reading

By The U.S. Printing Co., Russell-Morgan Print, Cincinnati & New York. – This image is cropped and color-balanced from the copy published by the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, uncompressed archival TIFF version (17 MB), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3590811

I’ve just posted the slides from my Philcon 2017 talk Practical Telepathy:  the Science & Engineering of Mind-Reading:

Talk went well:  SRO & the audience & I definitely on the same wavelength!  As it were…

So slides now up, some great references on the last slide, & any questions/comments please let me know!

Thanks!

John

StarGates Jump to FossCon — The Free & Open StarS Convention!

9/3/2017: I have just posted the slides from Fosscon on slideshare.  Comments, questions, problems, & buildable blueprints, all very welcome!


This coming Saturday I’ll be doing the latest revision of my StarGates talk at FossCon, the Free & Open StarS Convention!

(Pay no attention to those who assert this is the Free & Open Source Convention, that is a mere cover story.)

The convention is at International House in Philadelphia, starting at 9am, and is free.  As to my talk:

“Call them Stargates, Jumpgates, Fargates, Hypergates or just an invitation to every pest from the far reaches of the Galaxy to visit, they would be invaluable in helping mankind break free of this solar system.

Are StarGates only a convenient plot device — or could they actually be built? Accordingly to Einstein’s Theory of General Relavity, they are possible — at least in principle.

We will discuss how to glue black holes together to build a wormhole, how to avoid the dangers of spaghettification, radiation poisoning and paradox noise, and just what would it take to build one in practice.”

My talk’s at 1pm.  Hope to see you there!


And there I have you seen!  There was a nice turnout (in the South America room at International House) with a lot of questions.  We finished with a few minutes for additional questions, including my favorites:

What happens if you drag a wormhole through a wormhole?

I congratulated the questioner on the question & he just pointed at his young son sitting next, a lad clearly with a bright future as a scientist!

I had to admit I wasn’t sure, but I suspect it would be bad news for all concerned:  both wormholes, and any spaceships, space stations, or space-persons nearby!

How do you think this might actually be done?

I focused on wormholes because that is far & away the most popular of the approaches.  But if some sort of stargate were ever actually to come to fruition, I suspect a combination of the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky (EPR) effect and the ideas behind the Krasnikov tube would be at work.  The EPR effect is the spooky-action-at-a-distance Einstein objected to; the Krasnikov tube is an idea of — curiously enough — Krasnikov for laying out a tube of warped spacetime behind your slower-than-light spacecraft.  You’d have to go slower-than-light while laying out the tube, but could use it for faster-than-light thereafter. And as I said in the talk, negative energy & vortices are pretty sure to be involved.

 

 

Time to the Power of Tim

Three Time Travel Tales by Tim Powers

Three Time Travel Tales by Tim Powers

This year the guest of honor at Capclave was Tim Powers. (Capclave is the Washington DC Science Fiction convention.) Tim is not only the author of many fine science fiction novels, but a very nice guy.

This turned out to be a good thing, as the initial proposal was to have Tim & I appear together and do something physic-y about his novels.  I have never done a talk with a live author before (dead authors are no problem, I have that down cold), so I was a bit nervous about the whole thing.

But it worked out well:  Tim was very helpful & gracious and when the audience asked him if one of my theories about the time travel in his novel The Anubis Gates was correct he said, essentially, “Now it is.” 🙂

I focused on three of his novels, The Anubis Gates — his first big success (with romantic poets & time-traveling Jackel Gods), Three Days to Never — something like the bastard child of John Le Carre & H. P. Lovecraft, and Medusa’s Web — who can resist the Time Spyders?

One of the distinctive features of Tim Powers working method is that he starts with a place and a time, researches it looking for the curious facts, bizarre details, & strange omissions that point to an unknown but dark reality, then gradually teases out the true story of whatreallyhappened!

“I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.”

So Tim builds his novels from the bottom up. As a result, they tend to differ wildly from each other.  Other authors, once they have got a setting that works, tend to reuse it, Tim builds anew each time.  No ten volume trilogies here!

And he also works out the timelines of all of his critical characters.  At each moment, he knows where each of his on and off stage characters are & what they are up to.  His notes on this are a kind of secret history of the secret history!

He has 20 or more novels out, so I focused on just three, all involving time travel.  And in each the theory of time travel was radically different!  I had a lot of fun linking each up to the corresponding physics and going back & forth about all this with my stage-mate Tim. 🙂

The talk, minus alas, the actual talking, is now up on slideshare.  Download if you will & any questions/comments please let me know!  thanks!

 

 

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