In certain types of engineering practices, there’s this idea that the computer and mathematics itself are sort of  a-cultural. That they only exist in their own technical and formal world. Every computer system is built within a social and historical context of its time.

~Professor Fox Harrell

Last year, I delved into work and research of Professor Fox Harrell. He runs the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory (ICE) Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Click here for an introduction to the ICE lab.

The lab’s most recent work is the AIR Project, which stands for Advanced Identity Representation. This particular project looks at the ways in which end users can actively create a richer, dynamic identity within the virtual world. I’m oversimplifying here but I highly encourage you to visit the project site to read immerse yourself in the details. Although his work is based on computation and artificial intelligence (AI), the focus is on the human condition and our (virtual) interactions. This type of new media art helps shed light on the way we behave, perceive, and inevitably mesh and mold into identities we have created for ourselves. More to follow…

Currently reading: Toward a Theory of Critical Computing: The Case of Social Identity Representation in Digital Media Applications by Dr. Fox Harrell 

Had a great time with friends at the Hotel Stanford off Broadway Avenue! Lively discussion ensued. In particular, a new friend introduced me to Cleverbot. For some of you, I might be ridiculously late. As a surveying student of an Intro to Artificial Intelligence online class, I’m curious and willing to learn new methods utilizing Artificial Intelligence.

Trying to have a Cleverbot conversation using my iPhone | Please Note: The blue text is Cleverbot. ~ Image Source: Cleverbot

Below, you will find a screenshot of an early morning dialogue with Cleverbot. Not the most clever but it was entertaining. Trust me, I’ve heard some really unintelligible conversation between human beings! Lastly, just because Cleverbot doesn’t necessarily offer me the answer I want, does it mean it’s unintelligent? Think about it, from a GPS navigation system to Google Translate, artificial intelligence doesn’t always give the answer we’re looking for or hoping for (hope is such a human thing too). So, Artificial Intelligence isn’t so bad I guess? After all, it was developed and created by humans…hmmm.

Yet another chat with Cleverbot. This time, from my laptop. ~ Image Source: Cleverbot

I'm tellin' ya. Touching my actuator tickles. In a good way (I think).

I’ve gone through the videos and quizzes for the Intro to Artificial Intelligence (AI) class and it’s pretty fun and engaging. Sebastian Thrun has done a great job at providing the basics. He actually has the type of voice that smiles (if you can imagine that). I’m catching up and looking forward to Peter Norvig’s lectures and problem solving videos. The first set of video lectures has been about defining an intelligent agent, various applications of AI (i.e., in Medicine, Games, Finance, Robotics, etc.), and AI environments.

Something worth sharing is the definition of an Intelligent Agent. According to Thrun, an intelligent agent (IA) can intuit something about its environment through its sensors. Then, the sensors affecting the IA’s state through its actuators (mechanical device or source of energy). In humans, actuators run the gamut. I’ve oversimplifying here but if you’re an athlete, your actuators are your limbs (i.e., for catching, throwing, skating past your opponent, etc.)? Sounds about right. Nifty, eh?

Hey! How does Data have a beard and bear a striking resemblance to Brian Wilson? That's some advanced finagling of sensors!

Overall, the class is meant to explore the question of how AI make decisions based on data into the sensors then carried out by its actuators. I’m hoping the class will inspire me to get back into playing around with Processing (maybe even C++, okay, maybe not but one day) and looking at New Media arts differently. I’m sure it will.

Okay, I think I need to start watching Star Trek: Next Generation and study up on the character, Data? First question, how the hell is Data so incredibly pasty? I guess being on a ship (in space) doesn’t allow for any kind of work on a tan.

Click on the image to learn more about the Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Call me a complete slave to work and mental productivity but I just had to do it. The online course is free and in partnership with Stanford’s Engineering Department. I’ve gotta say I’m a bit more partial to MIT’s Open Courseware BUT Stanford did get a lot of Press for this Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI) class so I couldn’t resist the hype. Then again, my Mom reminds me that nothing is ever ‘free’. By the way, I acknowledge this endeavor will be time-consuming and I’m hoping my beloved doesn’t read this because she’s going to wonder about my already busy schedule and commitments. However, participants have the option of taking an advanced track (with homework and exams) OR basic track (logging onto the course site from time to time to learn more about the content). Easy! I’m not going to get into how I will approach the course and the subject matter but I’m hoping that it will give me a bit more insight into the world of AI as well as the infinite possibilities within the arts and technology realm.