Thursday, July 29, 2004

Links you never new existed

So here are a few interesting links I've run across lately...

The RhymeZone

Church Fathers Online

After watching the final assembly of one, I wanted it... Too bad...

Where I work

That's enough for now! Enjoy browsing and laughing...

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

I have succeeded...

... in making my contribution to Murphy's Laws. The webmaster took the newly discovered Horn-Murphy Law of Laundry and added it to the "Miscellaneous Laws" page. Click on the link below and scroll to the very end of the page to view...

Murphy Laws Site - Miscellaneous Laws

My life has progressed one more step towards completeness...

Monday, July 19, 2004

Robots, Metaphysics, and REAL Artificial Intelligence

What a catchy title...

I watched the latest craze I, Robot last night, and it was impressive. I really enjoy Will Smith's movies, and they even had that guy who played Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact to play Dr. Lanning (sp?). Set in 2035, the plot of the movie is about how robots attempt to take over the world, but not in the same way or for the same reason as The Matrix.

Before I go any farther, I need to make sure and put out a disclaimer - kids make sure you check the content of the movie with your parents, conferring with a site such as, before venturing to see this movie. I do not want to be accidentally responsible for offending someone because I endorsed a movie they would not pre-approve. Be smart and check out what you're thinking about watching.


The following should be read at your own spoiled risk. It might give away some of the storyline of I, Robot (henceforth referred to as IR).

Robots in this story are governed by the immutable three laws (precisely quoted fromt the oh-so-interesting Wikipedia):

Law 1: A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Law 2: A robot must obey the orders given to it by the human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Law 3: A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

However, in IR we see a robot evolution in the extremely complex AI called VIKI, which effectively decides that for humanity's own protection against itself must take charge and, possibly-good intentions aside, control the world. VIKI, who indirectly is in charge of all the NS-5 robots, apparently uses logic to conclude that accomplishing this goal must necessitate the forced removal and execution of certain humans who cause too much danger to her idealistic robot-driven society.

This makes a very cool story, no doubt. Fortunately, we don't have to worry, for even if we were able to invent sufficient artificial intelligence that might mirror those of robots in IR I seriously doubt that sort of robot uprising has any possibility of occurring.

The metaphsyical, scientific, and AI question I have concerning this is the following: can the supposed "Ghost code" of Dr. Lanning be sufficient to provide the leap of logic necessary for VIKI to violate the first law to harm individual humans for the good of humanity? Another way of posing the question is HOW does "Ghost code" allow VIKI to take over the world.

To *hopefully* start some discussion and wake up our friendly-neighborhood-blog-circle, I offer my initial answer. The "Ghost code" supposedly allows a fundamental switch in the first law, possibly caused by an ambiguity. The robot must fully re-interpret the phrase "a human being" to "the whole of humanity" or simply restate the first law into "A robot must harm the fewest number of human beings to protect the well-being of the balance number of human beings." Robots must effectively redefine a number. Considering that it must ultimately think in binary form, this seems unlikely. Also, I think William Dembski's Law of Conservation of information ultimately prevents artificial intelligence from moving beyond their original programming. In short, it restates what everyone understands as the "no free lunch" principle, that you only get out what you put in. Thus, there is no way for a robot to evolve beyond what is programmed into it.

Go see the movie, I really enjoyed it and I bet you will too.

Friday, July 16, 2004


I have made a scientific breakthrough on laws of necessity today.  I am now prepared to offer the Horn Addition to Murphy's Laws. It is as follows:

"Pens sent through the dryer intentionally never break, but those sent by accident always attack white clothes."

I hate it when that happens!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Excursion into virtuality

I meant to blog on this Monday but never got around to it...

On Monday we had a plant tour. It is always fun to see what the different areas of the plant have to offer, considering that KCP can do just about anything, from materials production to advanced microchip engineering - all under one roof. So I got to see a water cutting machine that uses simple H2O to cut up to 8 inch-thick blocks of steel, gears smaller than a grain of sand, and virtual reality. Yes, virtual reality. For the first time, I donned head-gear and walked in a 3D virtual world! You could turn your head and the visual would change to another part of the virtual environment. Your "virtual hand" could interact with objects. It was amazing! Not quite a Star Trek holodeck, and at times it was a little polygon-ic, but nevertheless it was one of the neatest things I've ever seen done with a computer. How 'bout them apples, folks? We really CAN make virtual reality work!

"Stupid" Sayings

I have been researching Renaissance period stories/fables/tales, and happened to come upon this website and this particular page. Enjoy!

"Stupid" Sayings - Story-Lovers SOS Story Lists

Monday, July 12, 2004


Here is a quick post for today...

One of the annoying things about working at Honeywell is the constant muzak over the speakers across the plant. So I asked the question to the oh-so-knowledgable Internet: WHY does Muzak exist? Here's the answer.

The Science of Muzak

It's unfortunate, stupid, maybe even a bunch of lies - but it is interesing.

Comment with your thoughts about muzak. Rant or praise all you want, I care not.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

IBM ViaVoice...

Well, well, well, this is certainly a new experience. Recently I've purchased software enabling my computer to be voice automated. This happens to be called IBM ViaVoice. But it apparently is quality software, albeit there are few errors that it makes every once in awhile. In fact this entire post has been composed from my speaking voice! Don't you think that's pretty cool?

Not only can you dictate to this program but you can also run programs with your voice. All I have to do is say 'Start Internet explorer' and Internet explorer starts! You can navigate your favorite sites with but a spoken word. In fact, you can even use ViaVoice to click on links in a Web page you're looking at. ViaVoice also has the ability to add words to its own vocabulary. It will even search all your documents for words that you commonly use in your work. This is particularly significant because, of course, I am a chemist, and I have to teach the program to recognize words tetrachlorobenzene. Fortunately, it's a pretty smart program. Even with a small amount of work that I have actually done with the program, it should be apparent that it is very, very cool.

One thing I would like to do with this software is to begin taking more frequent notes of what I read. The incentive to take detailed notes increases dramatically when you don't have to cramp your hand to complete the job. I think this alone makes ViaVoice very appealing. But furthermore, this makes dictating e-mail's, short essays, or long papers very simple. Collect your thoughts, and write! Or shall I say, talk! All in all, the program is very impressive.

If you're interested, IBM ViaVoice can be purchased very simply on eBay. Depending on which version you want, you can spend anything from $10 to $50 on the basic version for simple dictation, up to the professional version for Advanced Options. I purchased the advanced version for $30, and it seems to be a pretty good deal.

This ends the first-ever broadcast transcription of my blog! Hopefully, more of my post will be written like this. See you next time!