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The Future of Video Gaming January 7, 2010

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This new game system is incredible…hard to believe.

A Step Closer to Google World Domination December 9, 2009

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Google has recently rolled out some new features (admittedly, a phrase I could probably repeat every week). But these features are finally interesting enough to take a closer look at.

1. Adding live updates to results: Has anyone tried this yet? I just did a trial run with “Iraq” and watched as the news continually updated. The New York Times Companies section makes the good point that this feature will be most beneficial when information is changing at a dramatic pace. In my own experience, this is how I learned of changes to the now infamous “balloon boy” scandal back in October on Twitter, as people continued to update with links from multiple news stations.

On the other hand, there is the “search overload” so hilariously addressed in bing.com commercials. As librarians, this is something we are constantly combating, both in search strategies and information literacy instruction. So while Google may be attempting to remain the public’s primary source of information by competing with live websites like Twitter and Facebook, we must always remember that quantity does not always equal quality.

2. Google Goggles: This feature particularly interests me because I presented a paper about just such a “futuristic” innovation being researched by Japanese companies only a year ago, to the oohs and aahs of classmates. Google Goggles will enable users to take a picture and then, sending it to Google, receive information on it, much like a reverse image search. The same Times’ article suggests that this feature might help you to remember the name of a forgotten acquaintance, but I would surmise that we are still a long way from that. (More info from PC World on Google Goggles.)

3. The article finally discusses improvements to Google’s voice search, a feature I already use regularly and with which I have had great success. Google voice search will be adding Japanese to their list of usable languages, a list that already includes English and Chinese.

What’s the next feature that you wish Google would develop?

Check out the whole article here.

Speaking of AI, Meet Cleverbot November 18, 2009

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Cleverbot is a chatbot program, that simulates a conversation between a user and the computer. Remember the unsophisticated ELIZA, who roboticly parroted back your own thoughts? Well, Cleverbot has been designed using an algorithm based on the thoughts of thousands of users, to respond in a more “human” way.

This article begins a fascinating philosophical discussion about the artificially intelligent being, by explaining the thought experiment known as the “Chinese Room“and the difference between understanding and simulated understanding.

I played with the program for a little while earlier today, and was somewhat impressed at its ability to respond, however it could only handle one thought at a time. There was no cohesion from one thought to the next. For example, I had the following conversation:
Me: have we talked yet?
Bot: We have, have we?
Me: I think we have
Bot: You think we have what?

Check it out – it’s kind of fun. But watch out, don’t let this happen to you:

(source: xkcd.com)

(via Nerdabout)

AI was just the beginning November 18, 2009

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To prepare you for Friday’s niche blog post I’ve found this video on TED.com that shows David Hanson’s newest robot prototype–one that can read and mimic facial expressions, or as he states it, a robot that can “empathize with you.” Videos of some of David’s other robots (he has made 20 in the last eight years) are astounding and quite spooky. It would also seem, from this presentation, that you can find much more of his work on YouTube. He ends the video with the prototype of a toy-robot designed as a “childhood companion for kids” and priced at $299. Whatever happened to the kid next door?