Why are computers still... dumb? Remember the predictions in the 60's and 70's that by the year 2000 computers would be smarter than peoplethat HAL was inevitable? Why are computers so difficult to communicate with?
The quintessential example of a smart computer is one you can talk to. Computers already can turn continuous speech into words, but those words have absolutely no meaning attached. Enter CYC, a growing, learning knowledge database. As an ambitious project which started in the late 80's, CYC has been learning millions of basic bits of knowledge, things like "a glass of water spills if it's not held upright" or "if you call someone in the middle of the night, you'll probably wake them up." To understand the sentence, "Napolean died in 1821Wellington was saddened," required a two-month explanation of life and death.
Using these facts, CYC then draws connections between them, allowing it to sort of learn on its own. For instance, it once concluded that everyone born before 1900 was famous, because all the people that it knew about and who lived in earlier times were famous people. Besides feeding CYC new knowledge, trainers must check through its conclusions for errors.
For more info, read this old, unofficial FAQ on CYC. I'm curious to know if CYC is fulfilling its goals of adding common sense and reducing software brittleness in knowledge-based systems. A very good article by Doug Lenat appeared in the Sept. 1995 issue of Scientific American. A more recent article, The World in a Box, is available online. Here are several news articles available on CYC's web site.
I firmly believe in the value of funding an organization like NASA to deepen our understanding of the processes which occur throughout the universe and our solar system. This knowledge is important to anyone who's sat back and wondered "Why?" Exploration of our universe has started giving us some answers.
Here are the latest hot topics of discovery going on at NASA right now.
NASA's daily press releases are extremely informative and not too technical. For instance, Galileo has withstood three times the radiation is was designed for, and in Dec. 2000 it took part in a dual-spacecraft study of Jupiter as Cassini flew by on its way to Saturn.
Planet profiles provide pictures of all the planets in our solar system and vital data on their features.
Check recent status reports for current and historic spacecraft missions, including pictures from Galileo, SOHO (to the sun), Voyager (still ticking!), Mars Pathfinder (1997), the Mars Global Surveyer, and Hubble. There's also information on Cassini (reaching Saturn in July of 2004), Ulysses (orbiting the solar poles), the failed Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander missions, the International Space Station, and the status of all the shuttles. Check these links out for new and old pictures, movies, and highlights from their missions. Where are the probes now?
Some NASA FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How is warp drive research coming along?
Several independent sites cover what's going on at NASA. Try NASA Watch, SpaceRef, and Space.com.
As a child I visited the forest creek behind my grandparents' house a hundred times. And my family enjoys taking the dog out to romp in the field behind their house. Both of these places have been or soon will be destroyed by housing developments.
If you've visited Europe, you've seen some of the wonderful things American cities are not, thanks to the lack of urban sprawl and better management of growth.
| Scott's complete bookmarks list (text file)
My friends on the web
• My friends and family: Alison Aldrich, Damien Eversmann, Roland Geisler, Andy Kohler (and blog and MySpace), Frank Lesko, Wes Lloyd, Devang Mehta, Darren Shrager, Johanna Teresi (Four Legged Scholars dog training), Erin Sprouse, Tom Wilcox, Jackie Wyse, and Jest Jugglers.
Signs of me elsewhere on the web
One of my photos is on this page at Cleveland Skyscrapers.
An interview with me appears on this page on a site I helped create, LearnFromMyMistakes.com.
Google Maps satellite photos of any address, and TopoZone topographical maps
Aurora Borealis forecasts
Moon and sun rise and set tables
Weather forecasts up to a year in advance
How Stuff Works
Scientific American's Ask the Experts
The paranormal (on this site)
The physics of everything
Run up into the hills with the Bay Area Hiker!
National parks, the park service, scenic drives, and state parks (also here)
Road Trip USA, and Roadside America
Sleeping in airports
Kasbah comprehensive travel guide
SkiTown and GoSki
The Soda Constructor: Fun with spring-loaded mathematical models
Where's George dollar bill tracker
Dilbert and Calvin and Hobbes archives
Roger Ebert's movie reviews, Yahoo TV listings
Magic tricks at About.com, and a magician's webring
The last page of the internet
Professional photography, and photos at National Geographic
New York City graffiti
The Jazz improv primer, jazz piano tutorials, and lessons
Still-surviving OLGA guitar tab archives
Musician's Friend: advice on home recording
ZZounds music equipment
The Ultimate Band List
Food for Thought
ZMag, AlterNet: Alternative media
NewCity: Alternative news aggregator
Wired News: Geek news
Stock chart analysis, market philosophy at the Motley Fool, Yahoo stock quotes
Cheap long distance and utilities
Telemarketing, junk mail, and spam opt-out lists
SpamCop spam reporting
Comparison shopping at Froogle, Epinions, MySimon, DealTime, PriceScan, and Computer Shopper
The WayBack Machine: archives of web sites from years ago
Versiontracker - Freeware, shareware, and commercial software downloads for PC/Mac
Macintouch, MacFixit: Daily news for Apple computer users
Remote Central: the new frontier of remote controls
History of Apple
Randomized e-mail addresses
Were you looking for a different "Scott"?