Sunday, July 31, 2005

Public Notice

This blog is still alive. Sort of.

As you may have noticed, there haven't been any updates here in a while. I've been enormously busy the past two-three weeks with work and study. I don't forsee taking the time to update this very often in the next few months, so I'll just post what I had drafted back on the 23rd:

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend UCO Edmond's "Shakespeare in the Park". They were presenting "Love's Labor's Lost" by William Shakespeare. We arrived late, so we didn't catch the beginning, but that didn't seem to affect the show - I didn't figure out what was going on until shortly before the intermission, and then had to look up the play after we got back to make sense of it.

Pretty interesting, huh? I think the next play (next weekend?) is Romeo and Juliet. I had been thinking about going to it, back before crunch time came, but it has since been moved to a much lower priority.

In other news, I was up really late last night (This morning? 3:30ish?) studying. Since I didn't wake up until 10:30, I didn't go to church. Instead, I listened to a sermon by A. W. Tozer on "The Menace of Religious Movies". It was interesting. He had seven points why 'Religious movies' were a bad thing. I'd like to go back and listen to it again and take notes. The sermon can be found on here, along with a brief summary. I think Tozer's definition of 'Religious Movie' would include the Left Behind movies and The Passion of the Christ.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Assets v. Liabilities

Well, the summer cold and flu season has arrived. Yes, I got hit by it.

In other news, I recently discovered a 'new' viewpoint on personal wealth: Things are predominately assets or liabilities. Wealth comes from buying assets, lack of wealth comes from buying liabilities. I'm going to put some more thought into this one...

I think time can be viewed in the same way - either we spend time on something that has value, or we spend time on something that doesn't. However, it can be difficult to quantify what activity "has value" and what doesn't. For example, writing in a blog can have value- it provides an avenue to learn how to articulate thoughts, it provides an opportunity to communicate, and it can provide a bit of impetus to journal or keep a diary. Ergo, blogging can be an asset. However, reading cases and studying for Law School is also an asset. Since there is a limit on how much Law School study time there is, the Law School study is a greater asset than blogging.

Looking back at what I just wrote, the example provided is pretty clear-cut.

Well, back to studies!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Long Two Weeks

With the advent of my blog, I've found that I have a bit of an obligation to post regularly (i.e., at least once a week). I just didn't expect the excitement to wear off quite so rapidly. :-)

A bullet-point summary of the past two weeks:

On July 02 (Saturday) I had the opportunity to go see the Thunderbirds perform. It was incredible. It probably would have been even more impressive if we had left on time, and made it to the AFB where they were performing, instead of watching them fly overhead from my car.

July 04 we had a pizza party! A group of us, 7 I think, got together for pizza and games starting around 6:30. At 9:15 we left for Bricktown to watch fireworks. We found a great spot just east of where they were being launched from, so we were able to enjoy quite the view - not many other people had discovered that particular location, and there was plenty of room with no crowding.

Since then, I've been working furiously to catch up with my studies - there's an atrocious amount reading for Constitutional Law, and I have a Legal Writing assignment due by the end of the week.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Emergent Behavior

Earlier this week I read an article about a game/simulation/research project wherein virtual robots were trained to effectively fight enemies. The robots were programed with a simple learning algorithm, and the training would consist primarily of a reward/punishment system for encouraged/discouraged behavior.

By compounding desired traits, such as "move towards the enemy", "shoot the enemy", "don't get too close to the enemy", "Don't clump together", etc., the robots would learn how to effectively fight an enemy. Additionally, after a certain time period, some of the robots could 'teach' their acquired skills to new robots, and impart a time-compounded education.

Individually, the bots' behavior started out pretty simple. Move towards the enemy, don't get too close, and shoot it. However, when there was a whole squadron of similarly trained bots, they could be taught to work together, and those that were most effective could be selected to 'train' subsequent generations of bots, and eventually develop unique attack styles as individuals or teams.

This got me thinking: About two and a half years ago I read an article on using emergent behavior in small real-life robots to develop a higher sort of intelligence (in the form of "Swarm Intelligence"). One white-paper application (similar to this one) was to send a swarm of robot ants, about 6-8 inches long, to Mars. Once there, they would interact with the martian landscape and each other, serving as an exploration rover of sorts that would potentially be much more fault-tolerant than a larger single-unit rover. Since the bots would also be interacting with each other, sharing data etc., a higher form of A.I. would develop. I wasn't able to find the original article, but the concept is outlined here and here.

An existing example of emergent behavior is Conway's Game of Life. With a few basic rules concerning which cells reproduce, lie dormant, or die, complex patterns can arise from an initially random field.

Another example that's a bit more globally dispersed is an ant colony or bee hive. Individually, an ant or a bee might not appear to have a great deal of smarts - they react in certain ways to certain situations, and are (individually) weak. However, when the ants or bees are viewed as a colony or hive, they are very resourceful. They can eliminate threats, store up supplies for winter, regenerate (repopulate) the unit, and adapt itself to changing conditions.

It looks like emergent behavior will probably be the organization of future A.I. units. The basic principle of simple routines leading to complex behavior is already well implemented in computer programming in the form of subroutines and Object-Oriented programming, so it's not too much of a stretch to take those principles and apply them to a logic type processing unit.

Things are going to be interesting.