Latest version of LittleDog from CLMC and Boston Dynamics (video)

LittleDog from Boston Dynamics and CLMC at USC doing an obstacle courseOur last look BigDog from at Boston Dynamics, most agreed that its movements were beginning to look eerily life-like. The latest version of LittleDog, shown in the video below, is nothing short of breathtaking. Six teams were provided with the LittleDog chassis and funding; this version contains AI software created by the Computational Learning and Motor Control Lab at USC (specific project webpage). See the video after the jump.

Google Goggles – Photo recognition in real-time for augmented reality info

Here’s something fresh from Google’s oven: the Google Goggles app for Android phones. Despite my let down when I realized they weren’t real Goggles, this is a mark of things getting interesting. Mobile AR apps are mutating and shifting into various forms and possibilities of the tech are certainly starting to form a big picture in the heads of developers. It’s here to stay allright.

The image recognition tech sounds exciting—image search and recognition in real time! I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google and Apple go heads on in a bloodsport match as they race towards the AR advertising market (incidentally bringing with them a wave of exciting apps and even AR goggle interfaces. Real ones.).

But, it’s best to let the video do the talking (read: I’m lazy). Here’s Google Goggles.

If you’re having trouble seeing the video, either visit the post or go directly to YouTube.

Intelligent systems of 1993; Hrafn visits the MIT Media Lab

My Reykjavik University Aperio advisor surprised me yesterday when he mentioned how cool I was in that YouTube video. I had no idea what the hell he was going on about and made an expression similar to those in surprise-photo-shoots. As the expression wore off he explained my brother had uploaded a video of my visit to the MIT Media Lab in 1993. At the time he was working on multi-modal AI systems, which I happily agreed to test—the result of which is in the video below =)

The Advanced Human Interface Group (AHIG), MIT Media Lab. The ICONC System, demonstrated by Hrafn Th. Thorisson, Summer 1993. The system enabled the use of co-occurring, natural speech and gesture to interactively describe the arrangement and movements of objects in a room. The computer would interpret the user’s actions and figure out which objects the user was talking about and how to arrange them based on spatial information in the user’s speech and gesture. [Excerpt from the YouTube description, continued below]

[If you can't see the video, click here to visit the post]

The main authors of this work were David Koons (spatial knowledge, multimodal integration) and Carlton Sparrell (gesture recognition), directed by Richard A. Bolt. This technology is described in part in the paper “Integrating simultaneous input from speech, gaze, and hand gestures” by D B Koons, C J Sparrell, K R Thorisson (1993).

UPDATE (Oct. 30th, 2009): The article stated, wrongly, that this took place in 1994. This has been corrected.

Links & references

AI, Game AI and apparent intelligences

A subscriber of Think Artificial wrote to ask me about games and AI. In short, DF asked what my thougths are on AI in games and which ones I think are the most intelligent.

To answer this bluntly: Game AI is very different from it’s non-game counterpart, and it’s not my field of study. I’ve only compared modern games through a window. However, Alex of AIGameDev has superb coverage of AI in games and the top AI games of 2007, by community vote. The top of the line are Half-Life-2.ep.2 and BioShock.

But regarding Game AI in general: modern games are horribly void of intelligence. It depends on where you set the bar, certainly. There’s tons of AI in modern games compared to 5 years ago. But the first thing to note is that Game AI is not the same as AI. It’s a subset of it. Just like discrete mathematics are a subset of mathematics. And moreover, Game AI is a very specialized subset—it has well defined goals, models for construction and limitations.

Powerset’s Natural Language Search Goes Live

Powerset logoPowerset went live today with the fruit of several months of research on natural language processing and semantics. They’ve been highly anticipated and the ride to this day has been up and down. I joined their private beta late last year and at the time there were many things unperfected; the whole venture suffering for it at the hands of critics. And high expectations are often the case when products pack more intelligence.

But it certainly looks like they’ve made significant advances judging from some test queries.

Emergence of Creativity in Intelligent Complex Adaptive Systems

Cover of Intelligent Complex Adaptive SystemsA few weeks ago the book Intelligent Complex Adaptive Systems (ICAS) was published.

Chapter V, titled Emergence of Creativity: A Simulation Approach, presents my latest research on the emergence of creativity in natural and artificial organisms, a theory of its origins and potential grounds for future artificial implementations. The book is distributed internationally.

Think Artificial is Written by One Human, and One AI System [Important Site News]

Since early December 2007, a new author has been publishing articles on Think Artificial under my name. This author is not human, but intelligent software created by myself to relieve the pressure of regular posting. Currently, the system has posted over 20 articles without breaking cover.

Taking its cues from Google News Alerts on “robotics”, the system analyzes news articles — identifying and extracting relevant lines of text and generating a shorter version of the article. The text is then paraphrased using preset tunings to mimic my writing style. The ultimate result is an article that only needs my one-click administrator approval to be published.

Boston Dynamics Unveil BigDog Progress

BigDogs playing
Boston Dynamics released a new video of BigDog the other day. The improvements since last year’s demo are absolutely incredible. BigDog can now maneuver up and down rugged hills, balance on ice and jump. I’m not an avid fan of exclamation marks, but wow! In my honest opinion this quadruped is the most life-like robot made to date. Must-see video after the jump.

Modular Snake Robots From CMU’s Biorobotics Lab [Video]

CMUs Biorobotics Lab Modsnake shining its headlight into the cameraSnake robots are always incredible to watch, and CMUs modular snake robots are no exception. They are incredibly versatile – being able to crawl, climb, swim and scale flights of stars. The video shows all — and I was really impressed when it crawled up and down the leg of one of its creator … fast!

Woof Woof, Bow Wow Wow

Recent news tell of software that analyzed over 6,000 barks from 14 Hungarian sheepdogs in 6 different situations. It could consequently discern whether the a dog was in a stranger, fight, walk, alone, ball or play scenario. This isn’t the first time we’ve tried something like this, but previous devices haven’t been very successful (have you seen any talking dogs around?).

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