One Neat Thing a Day

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    Sean Daily is an English major from New Jersey now living in Las Vegas, the Other City of Lights. "I consider 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' to be comfort reading, I like the al pastor tacos at Tacos Mexico and I count among my literary influences the Chainsaw from 'Doom'. 'RRRRRR! You don't like that, do you, Mr. Undead Marine! RRRRRR!'"

    Shanoah Alkire is our Discordian at large. "Born in Santa Cruz, I grew up in Grass Valley and the Bay Area, and now lurk in Las Vegas. My literary influences include Ray Bradbury, Lewis Carroll, and Douglas Adams. I also program as a hobby, and currently maintain the Gtk port of Angband. You can find a rather old bio of me here."

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Archive for May 7th, 2008

5-7-08 Cyberflora

Posted by Sean on May 7, 2008

Well, I would keep the Supertramp supertrain going, Shanoah. But I found something today MySpace TV today and, well, I had to share. Courtesy of meatskunk.

I have walked on worlds in my mind’s eye, under purple and butterscotch skies, where the flowers were like this: gentle or vicious, voluptuous, faceless but expressive and tender. They still call to me, but sometimes I forget tem. I need something like this to remind me of them.

This display is called Cyberflora, a Personal Robots Group (PRG) project at MIT Media Lab overseen by Cynthia Breazeal. Per the Cyberflora site:

This robotic flower garden is comprised of four species of cyberflora. Each combines animal-like behavior and flower-like characteristics into a robotic instantiation that senses and responds to people in a life-like and distinct manner.

A soft melody serves as the garden’s musical aroma that subtly changes as people interact with the flowers.

Delicate and graceful, Cyberflora communicates a future vision of robots that shall intrigue us intellectually and touch us emotionally. The installation explores a style of human-robot interaciton that is fluid, dynamic, and harmonious.

Breazeal is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, and PRG, which she directs, is working toward one of the most important goals in the history of human existence: making me a robot buddy.

Well, not just me, and not just robot buddies (which probably won’t have warp drive, missile launchers or flamethrowers, as MIT is your typical lib’rul university). PRG studies how to make robots and computers interact with human beings. A lot of their work – not all, but a lot – is in socially expressive robots… like the venerable Kismet, which can interpret and participate in social situations by reading facial expressions, posture and other cues. (Courtesy again of meatskunk)

It may not look like much, but the implications are big. If a robot can interpret social cues, then you don’t need bulky computers, control boxes or giant Frankenstein’s lab-grade switches to control it (sorry Shanoah). It also means that a robot can make a lot of its decisions for itself, and the human user doesn’t need specialized training in order to handle it. Best of all, a lot of PRG’s work is immediately useful, or at least funky to watch.

The stuff I showed you is fairly old, especially Kismet. PRG still seems to be a viable concern, and Breazeal’s been publishing at a steady clip. Check out their Web site. You may get a peek a the future.


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Sleeping with the Fools Overture

Posted by shanoah on May 7, 2008

Well, I’m not really sure that’s so much modernizing the Logical Song as mangling it, really. But, again, I may be biased, having listened to the original many times.

For this post, I figured, why meddle with a theme?

Fools Overture – Supertramp

Here we have Supertramp playing one of their better (and longest) pieces, the Fools Overture. With bits from Winston Churchhill, WWII footage, and an atomic bomb, I’m not sure what else can be said about this song. It’s always been one I liked, off their Even In the Quietest Moments album (which is a great song in itself).

Sleeping With the Enemy – Roger Hodgson

This is actually the opening track of Roger Hodgsons first solo album, Eye of the Storm. I really like this song. And as you can see, he made a rather strange video for it, involving him wearing a loincloth, and assorted makeup.

I know the lyrics go “Had a dream; I was born; To be naked in the eye of the storm”, but I don’t really think we needed illustration. 😦 The bridge to the song appears to be missing, too.

Still, great song. And if you want to stay with the theme, Sean, I can manage several other posts about Supertramp and/or Roger Hodgson… ^_-

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