Ep 200: will robots rule the world?



will robots rule the world?

If we were to create an artificial intelligence that’s more intelligent than we are, would it take over and force us into extinction? Can a machine have a mind equal to or even better than our own? Today, we take a look at such questions, along with some side trips to sharks and whales and monkeys, and rocks and chocolate. I swear the candy thing really was relevant; I just got distracted.
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Damn local minima!



So, here’s the game, implemented in game.java. A certain number of cycles is chosen, between a minimum amount, 10 at the moment, and a maximum, 50. Then a coin is flipped that determines whether the light is on or off for this round. One port will, when called, set b to 1 if the light is on, and -1 if it’s off. So far so good. This is enough for the figures to have the simplest eye imaginable. They can detect whether or not the light is on, something that even single cells are capable of. Next, we attempt to get them to react to whether or not the light is on, again, something that some of the simplest life forms can do.
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Ep 199: Unconscious learning, your brain, and savant syndrome



Unconscious learning, your brain, and savant syndrome

Today we talk about your brain and unconscious mechanisms of learning. From losing a skill for no apparent reason, to acquiring languages, to unfortunately learning paralysis and pain, to savants who apparently learn without consciously attempting to, we cover some oddities about the way your brain works and how you learn.
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Their first task was easy



Their first task was easy. Can the digital organisms I wrote, called “figures,” learn to call a good command and avoid a bad one?

My first job was easy. It only took 6 lines of code. Each digital creature, each “figure,” has a certain amount of energy.

Figure.energy = 12,168;

Each time a figure has a turn, (when they execute one command,) the energy level drops.

Energy=energy-1;

When a figure is out of energy, it dies. It is completely deleted from the system, leaving behind it’s children, if it had any.

If (figure.energy < = 0) Death.kill(figure) [scary music!] End if Continue reading Their first task was easy


It’s about time I tried using my artificial life as an artificial intelligence



It’s about time I tried using my artificial life as an artificial intelligence. It’s been the goal since day one. Before I could do that, I had to come up with the algorithm in the first place, and then make sure that the figures could actually evolve. To evolve, they need to change, and some of those changes should help them survive and reproduce, passing on their successful tricks to their offspring.
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Ep 198: A rough sketch or two, of you, inside of you.



A rough sketch or two, of you, inside of you.

Inside your brain, there are individual neurons that correspond to specific places on your body. If you figure out which cell goes to what part, you’ll notice that the map in your brain looks like a nightmare sketch of you, drawn by a mad artist who’s only heard of humans by rough description. The body and legs are way too small, the hands are huge, your lips are oversized, and your face is upside-down. Today, Phil and I talk about these parts of the brain, with many side trips and much confusion.
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Ep 197: right brain, left side body; left brain, right side body… why?



right brain, left side body; left brain, right side body… why?

Our brains have crossed wires. Each cerebral hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body. When I move my left hand, it’s my right brain that’s doing it. Today, Phil and I look at a theory about how and why that’s true for us, and every other animal with a spine.
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Ep 196: How neurons find their home



How neurons find their home

Even before birth, billions of brain cells have to figure out what sort of cell to be, where to be, and which other neurons to connect to. Today we talk about the complicated processes that help neurons find their home.
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Ep 195: Baby’s brain before birth



Baby’s brain before birth

As we continue our close look at the human brain, we take some time to look at how it grows and develops. The story starts before you are born, when a man and woman love each other very much, and…
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Ep 194: The lowly, yet complex, neuron



The lowly, yet complex, neuron

Finally done with natural history, today we start talking about the brain. It is extremely complicated. Even a single brain cell, one neuron, is an intricate little machine. Today we take a look at the neuron, and how it sends signals.