Singapore Airlines’s Interpretation of Laksa

Source: The Points Guy, Oct 2016

AAAI Survey on Super-Intelligence

Source: MIT Technology Review, Sep 2016

In early March 2016, AAAI (American Association for Artificial Intelligence) sent out an anonymous survey … posing the following question to 193 fellows:

“In his book, Nick Bostrom has defined Superintelligence as ‘an intellect that is much smarter than the best human brains in practically every field, including scientific creativity, general wisdom and social skills.’ When do you think we will achieve Superintelligence?”

Over the next week or so, 80 fellows responded (a 41 percent response rate), and their responses are summarized below:


In essence, according to 92.5 percent of the respondents, superintelligence is beyond the foreseeable horizon. This interpretation is also supported by written comments shared by the fellows.

Even though the survey was anonymous, 44 fellows chose to identify themselves, including Geoff Hinton (deep-learning luminary), Ed Feigenbaum (Stanford, Turing Award winner), Rodney Brooks (leading roboticist), and Peter Norvig (Google).

The respondents also shared several comments, including the following:

  • “Way, way, way more than 25 years. Centuries most likely. But not never.”
  • “We’re competing with millions of years’ evolution of the human brain. We can write single-purpose programs that can compete with humans, and sometimes excel, but the world is not neatly compartmentalized into single-problem questions.”
  • “Nick Bostrom is a professional scare monger. His Institute’s role is to find existential threats to humanity. He sees them everywhere. I am tempted to refer to him as the ‘Donald Trump’ of AI.”

it’s possible that AI systems could collaborate with people to create a symbiotic superintelligence. That would be very different from the pernicious and autonomous kind envisioned by Professor Bostrom.

Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences – Neil Sloane

Source: Quanta Magazine, Aug 2015

the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS), often simply called “Sloane” by its users.

This giant repository, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, contains more than a quarter of a million different sequences of numbers that arise in different mathematical contexts, such as the prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11 … ) or the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 … ). What’s the greatest number of cake slices that can be made with n cuts? Look up sequence A000125 in the OEIS. How many chess positions can be created in n moves? That’s sequence A048987. The number of ways to arrange n circles in a plane, with only two crossing at any given point, is A250001. That sequence just joined the collection a few months ago. So far, only its first four terms are known; if you can figure out the fifth, Sloane will want to hear from you.

A mathematician whose research generates a sequence of numbers can turn to the OEIS to discover other contexts in which the sequence arises and any papers that discuss it. The repository has spawned countless mathematical discoveries and has been cited more than 4,000 times.

Are there other repositories of mathematical information that you wish existed, but don’t yet?

You would like an index to theorems, but it’s hard to imagine how that would work.

We’re trying to get a collaboration going with the Zentralblatt — the German equivalent of Math Reviews’ MathSciNet — about making it possible to search for formulas in the OEIS. Suppose you want the summation of xn over n2 + 3, where the sum goes from one to infinity. It’s very hard to look that up in the OEIS at present.

It’s Aliens!

Source: The Independent (UK), Oct 2016

A new analysis of strange modulations in a tiny set of stars appears to indicate that it could be coming from extraterrestrial intelligence that is looking to alert us to their existence.

The new study reports the finding of specific modulations in just 234 out of the 2.5 million stars that have been observed during a survey of the sky. The work found that a tiny fraction of them seemed to be behaving strangely.

“We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an [extraterrestrial intelligence] signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis,” write EF Borra and E Trottier in a new paper. “The fact that they are only found in a very small fraction of stars within a narrow spectral range centered near the spectral type of the sun is also in agreement with the ETI hypothesis,” the two scientists from Laval University in Quebec write.

Breakthrough Listen – an initiative set up this year to look for alien life and supported by people including Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg – said that the message was promising. But they said that further work will have to be done before they can be “unequivocally attributed” to aliens.

“The one in 10,000 objects with unusual spectra seen by Borra and Trottier are certainly worthy of additional study,” the team said in a statement. “However, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Related Resource: Phys, Oct 2016

To sum it all up, the two astronomers have found a tiny number of stars, very similar to our own Sun, that seem to be the source of pulsed signals. These signals are the same as predicted if a technological society was using powerful lasers to communicate with distant stars.


Gamers Beat Scientists for Protein-Folding

Source: Science Alert, Sep 2016
<research resource:  Nature, Sep 2016>

Gamers playing the science-based online game Foldit have recently beat trained scientists in a competition to see who could complete an accurate model of a specific protein the fastest, based on biochemical data given to both teams.

The team who led the competition says that the findings prove that gamers – or citizen scientists – can have a huge impact on fields that were once closed off to the public, and that gaming might be a great way to get more people interested in scientific studies.

“It shows that anybody with a 3D mentality, including gamers, can do something that previously only scientists did, and in doing so they can help scientific progress,” said the study’s co-author James Bardwell, from the University of Michigan.

The competition pitted 469 gamers playing Foldit, two highly trained crystallographers, two computer algorithms, and 61 undergraduate students using computer modelling programs against each other, in a battle to see who could accurately create a model of the protein YPL067C by interpreting electron-density maps.

In the end, the gamers came together to go through the painstaking trial-and-error process that comes with protein modelling and created the most accurate version of any one group.

Make Like a Tree and (Leaf)

Source: Mashable, Oct 2016

Consciousness as a Mathematical Pattern

Source: Science Alert, Sep 2016

consciousness exists, and it’s one of the most fundamental aspects of what makes us human. And just like dark matter and dark energy have been used to fill some otherwise gaping holes in the standard model of physics, researchers have also proposed that it’s possible to consider consciousness as a new state of matter.
…  he proposes that consciousness can be interpreted as a mathematical pattern – the result of a particular set of mathematical conditions.