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.

Dennis Oppenheim’s, Device to Root Out Evil, 1997
 

I just read something sad. An artist died. It was Dennis Oppenheim.

Mr. Oppenheim went to the California College of the Arts (Oakland, CA) and received his MFA at Stanford. Then, like many artists, he moved to New York to pursue his art career and practice. His art work is grandiose and forces you to move in the environment differently than you normally would. I heard of him but never had the opportunity to study his work more intimately. Now, I feel compelled to do so.

Perhaps, that’s why I’m saddened by the art world’s loss. Artists are always posthumously recognized by the the rest of the world. Even if you eat, sleep, and breath art, it’s difficult to know everything and everyone and all the art movements (yes, there are TONS). Yet, I feel consolation in the fact that artists are probably the only types of human beings that create the most substantial artifacts of our civiliations within a lifetime. With such large scale work that is undoubtedly present and created with such magnitude, well, that’s quite impressive.

You can read The New York Times article here.