Radically Inept
Monday, May 17, 2004
  Science Monday
Yeah, it's science Monday, and it's actually happening on a Monday. Mark your calendars.

As usual, most of what comes below I found following links in my KurzweilAI.net newsletter.

The Parallel Universe Home Detection Kit *batteries not included

A Home Test for Parallel Universes
by Sam Sachdev
"Why, you may be wondering, if thereis a detectable parallel universes around us, why don't we detect, or notice it, more often? David Deutsch writes, the answer, "...can be found in the quantum-mechanical laws that govern them." Every particle, for instance, has counterparts in other universes and is only interfered with only by those counterparts. Any other universe, therefore, can only be detected when the particle in, say, our universe converges with its counterpart in another universe. The path of the particle and its counterpart have to be exactly right. They have to separate and join together again, as in this experiment, and the timing has to be right. If there's a delay in the particles or any interference, the particles won't converge. Also, a parallel universe is only detectable between universes that are very alike. In short, because these events are extremely rare, so is the detection of parallel universes is difficult.

It should be added that most physicists disagree with Deutsch's conclusion that what is detected in this experiment is another universe. For brevity's sake, the argument against can be summarized as, there is something interfering with the light in this experiment, why does it have to be a parallel universe? Why can't it be just be left to something that we don't yet understand?

If you're interested in how Deutsch answers his critics, I recommend the "The Fabric of Reality" for his answers and reasoning."
Well as long as I can use shadow money to pay the taxes in the alternate universes,...I'm not sure what I think, but I do have a basement and a laser pointer, so I guess I'll at least see if it works as laid out.

Happiness is a warm gun-toting robot
Wired 12.05: VIEWasks us this quetion:
"The prospect of autonomous weapons naturally raises ethical questions. Who is to be held morally accountable for an unmanned war crime? Are machines permitted to give orders? In a world of networked minefields and ever-smarter bombs, are we blundering into mechanized killing fields we would never have built by choice?"
And includes this cute tidbit:
"Frontier number four is social: human reaction to the troubling presence of the humanoid. Sony created a major success with its dog-shaped Aibo, but the follow-up may never reach consumers. The new product, known as the Qrio, is technically good to go and would be hopping off shelves in the Akihabara district right now - except for one hitch. The Qrio is a human-shaped, self-propelled puppet that can walk, talk, pinch, and take pictures, and it has no more ethics than a tire iron.

In his 1950 classic, I, Robot, Isaac Asimov first conceived of machines as moral actors. His robots enjoy nothing better than to sit and analyze the ethical implications of their actions. Qrio, on the other hand, knows nothing, cares nothing, and reasons not one whit. Improperly programmed, it could shoot handguns, set fire to buildings, and even slit your throat as you sleep before capering into a crowded mall to detonate itself while screaming political slogans. The upshot is that you're unlikely to be able to buy one anytime soon."
That's what the world needs, a million programable 'Chucky' dolls. Sleep well...

This is for the Pacifier
The New York Times > How It Works: Building Character, Wrinkle by Wrinkle, in a 3-D World:
When normal mapping is used, game artists can first create a richly detailed model - a hero's dimpled face and wrinkled clothing, say, or a bullet-riddled prison wall - by using millions of polygons, the basic construction elements of a video game. Then special software is used to translate, or map, all that rich detail onto the same object in a model made with far fewer polygons. The result is a realistic-looking object that, because it is made up of few polygons, does not require much computer power to manipulate. (Conversely, Mr. Wanat said, if a game's polygon count is too high, the game could grind to little more than a slide show without the fluid motion of movies.)

The benefit is two-fold, game designers say. Not only are game environments and objects vastly more realistic than games developed even a few years ago, but the reduced amount of processing power required also allows game resources to be redirected to other visual effects. That may include smoke and fog or background actions like the occasional bird flying by or palm trees swaying in a make-believe tropical breeze.

"Now artists are no longer handcuffed by the constraints of the machine running the game," Mr. Wanat said. In the not-so-distant past, he noted, artists often had to narrow their vision of game worlds and characters. The artist might want a brick wall to be pitted and mottled, say, but the lack of normal mapping and the low polygon limit would usually result in a flat geometric pattern of uniformly smooth, red bricks with no texture to them.

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