Machines Want Your Job : Interrogators

Fascinating. It shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that human’s are very susceptible to suggestion by authority figures when being asked to remember events such as police questioning. But apparently, this new study found that if the identical words are used for questioning but delivered by a robot (I don’t know if it was a disembodied robotic voice or some physical robot) then this influence disappears. I assume there would still be lots of ways to bias the witness by the text of questions you ask but a huge amount of the influence comes from reading cues and listening to the human voice. So, chalk that up for another future career under threat from robots: Interrogator.

New Scientist: Robot inquisition keeps witnesses on the right track.

Discussion on G+

Talking Robots and Psychedelic Drugs

Baby robot learns first words from human teacher – tech – 15 June 2012 – New Scientist

I’m always glad to see more methods from research in Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning getting coverage in the media and being explained with some level of detail. Take a look at these two articles on applications of Artificial Intellgience methods in the study of the learning language in infants and in the effects of psychedelic drugs diagnosis. They give a nice high level overview of two powerful approaches that are not quite standard in AI and Machine Learning. The language learning robot is doing supervised learning with reinforcement learning approach where the agent randomly explores a landscape and weights good experiences to improve it’s model. The drugs study is applying a classifier to text descriptions about psychedelic trips and trying to predict the drug that causes it.

Interesting Thought : Our Social Network Is Becoming an Agent for Us

Link: Discussion I got into on an article about automatically feeding your google+ content out to twitter and elsewhere

I’ve thought along these lines a bit, but it is an interesting idea to flesh out sometime. As we build ever more complex automated actions flowing out of our social network activity we will begin to form an agent that interacts on our behalf. This is already happening but it’s mostly static. Sites like and others are starting to have more logic. One of the huge impacts that widespread computational thinking in the population could enable is the ability to create services that describe loops, functions and recursion on our activity and and build or grow agents that behave ‘like’ us even beginning to carry out conversations on our behalf. It sounds like wild Singularity thinking, but each step along the way is not nearly as impossible as it used to seem. Worth thinking about.

AI graders get top marks for scoring essay questions

AI graders get top marks for scoring essay questions  – New Scientist

It seems like this has some pros and cons. Text analysis has advanced to the point where grammar and structure can be scored reliably, but meaning still gets left out. I would think you could do even better than this by searching wikipedia for correlations in concepts. Or perhaps ironically, scanning online essay databases people use for cheating. This could have the duel benefit of scoring the meaning somewhat as well as searching for exact matches which could indicate cheating.

But even if these tools are used in combination with the teachers grading essays manually it should save them lots of time. All the grammar markups could be thrown up on the essay so the teacher doesn’t waste time correcting those and tries to asses the orthogonal problem of how good the student’s ideas or comprehension are.

Data+Adventure = Science

Data+Adventure = Science

This is a cool idea for the future of citizen science data collection. Connecting people who want to go to remote locations and scientists who need data from remote locations. 

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