Fascinating people, advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence

Daniel J. Foley

We just might want to keep an eye on this robot

In July I wrote a post “NASA has Launched a sort of HAL-like Robot to help an Astronaut on the ISS” about the cool new floating robot the European Space Agency (ESA) sent to the ISS. Its name is CIMON (pronounced Sigh Mon) and it was fun to watch and speculate about how it would help astronauts in the future.

 

It has now been six months and there has been a potentially disconcerting change as CIMON matures. According to the Quartz publication’s Nicholas Rivero, CIMON has gotten a little testy for what is supposed to be a friendly helping assistant. Astronaut Alexander Gerst asked CIMON to play some of Gerst’s favorite music. Instead CIMON played a song called “The Man-Machine” which annoyed Gerst and he asked the robot to please stop playing.

 

What followed seemed to be a tug of wills. It became reminiscent of HAL 9000. It may not be quite as creepy but I’m just sayin’.

 

The Pentagon’s Project Maven

Project Maven is an Artificial Intelligence system that assists human operators in finding objects of interest to the military. It is based on Machine Learning algorithms from very large databases of information. It is what the Department of Defense calls a “Pathfinder” meaning that is the beginning of a significant direction that the Pentagon has determined to go.

 

An example of a Project Maven user is the Special Operations Command (SOCOM). There are thousands of hours of video and pictures stored of information for their zones of operation. Commandos need specific information about their operations they can greatly be enhanced by the use of Artificial Intelligence. The Project Maven machine learning algorithm can be used to spot a specific kind of anomaly a huge database of information. Much of that requires visual recognition.

 

In September 2018 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced it will invest up to $2 billion over the next five years. That announcement was made by DARPA director Stephen Walker saying that the agency was to explore “how machines can acquire humanlike communication and reasoning capabilities.” I first became familiar with DARPA in 1980 when it was known as ARPA when I was a regional manager for Research Inc. managing the Eastern United States for its computer terminal sales to universities and businesses. I became most familiar with ARPA when I became the North Central sales representative for GTE Telenet selling their X.25 product from Bolt Beraneck and Newman which was directly active with ARPA in its development. That was the direct forerunner to the Internet.

 

DARPA has said that the $2 billion with fund projects over and above the 20 AI projects the Pentagon has going now. (Google, the primary contractor for Project Maven has said they are pulling out of the program. Thousands of Google employees signed the petition for Google to get out of the project and top management caved in to that demand.) According to Peter Highnam, the deputy director of DARPA, “hundreds if not thousands” of schools and companies have bid “aggressively” on these programs.

 

There is a good chance that Microsoft and Nvidia, and maybe Amazon, will go after this business. Google’s AI software – Tensorflow – is being used by the US military drone program. Fortunately for everyone, Google made Tensorflow open source.

 

As of December 2018 the DOD who oversaw Project Maven leads its new Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) which will coordinate AI research across the Department, government labs, and private companies. The goal of this is to speed up the process of getting AI tools to the war fighters.

 

There is a sense of urgency to this. China does not operate with the same legal constraints that the US has, and they can mandate that companies such as Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent must comply with the Communist Party’s wishes. We also don’t know how much technology has been transferred to the Chinese by American companies doing business in China. Russia is not a leader in Artificial Intelligence but it has a large base of students could be conscripted to train fairly fast.

 

 

 

 

Claude E. Shannon: Another Contemporary Giant and the Father of Information Theory Lost to Eternity

 

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Spectrum (IEEE) ran a Special Edition about Claude Shannon, which they called Tinkerer, Prankster, and Father of Information Theory in its April 1992 issue because he was so revered by the scientific community.

He was born in Petoskey, Michigan (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) to Claude Senior and Mabel Wolf Shannon. Both were smart and well educated.

At the age of 16 years, Shannon graduated from Gaylord High School. He had an inclination toward mechanical and electrical things. That year he entered the University of Michigan where he took a course that introduced him to the mathematics of George Boole. In 1936, at the age of 20,  he graduated from UMich with bachelor’s degrees in engineering and mathematics. That same year he began his graduate studies in electrical engineering at MIT.

At MIT, he worked on Vannevar Bush’s Differential Analyzer an early analog computer. During this period Shannon designed circuits based upon George Boole’s concepts. In 1937, he wrote his master’s thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. But Shannon didn’t stop there.

Vannevar Bush suggested that Shannon should work on his doctoral dissertation at the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, a private nonprofit institution located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in order to develop Mendelian genetics. This resulted in Shannon’s PhD thesis An Algebra for Theoretical Genetics. He received his PhD degree from MIT in 1940.

From his work and logic circuits, he simplified the relays that were used in call routing switches, and proved that his circuits could solve the same problems that Boolean algebra code solve.                                     

In 1940, he became a National Research Fellow with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. This gave him the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with such people as Herman Weyl and John von Neumann. Occasionally he met with Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein.

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SpaceX to Announce the First Private Passenger Mission to the Moon tonight 9-17-2018

SpaceX will announce its new BFR Rocket to take private passengers to the Moon and back tonight at 9:30 EDT. When I worked at Sperry Univac in Eagan, Minnesota we had a huge rock buried in the ground called a BFR (which meant Big F’ing Rock). SpaceX says it means Big Falcon Rocket but I’m betting it’s more akin to our famous BFR.

You can watch the announcement on YouTube here’s the link at 9:30 pm EDT tonight.

Elon Musk thinks on a grand scale. Google talks about “Moon Shots”, Elon does them.

George A. Ceremuga, MD – A Rising Star

Dr. George A. Ceremuga, Resident Physician at Mayo Clinic (June, 2017 – Present) Rochester, Minnesota. He attended USD Sanford School of Medicine, where he was a Medical Student from (July 2012 – June 2016)- 4 years in Vermillion, South Dakota and received his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). He was a Resident Physician from (June 2016 – June 2017) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He has offices in Rochester, Minnesota and Sioux Falls South Dakota. His specialties and expertise are in EMG/Nerve Conduction Studies, Prosthetics, Chronic Pain, Sports Medicine, Nerve Damage, Rehabilitation, and Injury.

I had spinal surgery in late January 2018 at Mayo Clinic.

I was fortunate enough to have Dr. Ceremuga’s group for my post operative therapies. All of his people were good and I got to know some of them as being outstanding.

Several times Dr. Ceremuga had a group meeting with his staff and me to see how I was coming along, I was included in the group discussions , which was very helpful, and I do believe that help to accelerate my healing process. It was also good to know that his staff was talking with each other and could understand the various strategies each was using.

A few days into my therapy, my right knee became very painful. After some discussion with him. Dr. Ceremuga had a blood draw done by the nurses. The conclusion was I had pseudogout. I found out later that gout or pseudogout is not uncommon after surgery. He had a visiting physician who assisted him in performing surgery on my knee. After removing the crud from my knee he gave me a cortisone shot and I was good to go. Where else but Mayo Clinic can you get instant surgery and from your attending physician?

You can tell that Dr. Ceremuga really enjoys his job. During the last group meeting I had with the group, I thanked them and told them how great they had been. (Most of my career has been high dollar high-value and C-level Advanced Technology sales and understanding verbal and physical feedback from my customers.) I can tell you that Dr. Ceremuga was truly happy when I told them that. I was being genuine when I was telling them how great they had been.