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Choice Bits

Hot Books and The Talk of the Tech

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  AI springs back.  

What’s Hot

Top-Ten lists are passé—ours goes to 11. These are the top titles that folks are interested in currently, along with their rank from last month. This is based solely on direct sales from our online store.

1^NEWiOS SDK Development
2v1Practical Vim
3^5Agile Web Development with Rails
4v2Core Data
5^NEWThe Cloud and Amazon Web Services
6^10Programming Ruby 1.9
7^NEWSeven Databases in Seven Weeks
8^NEWThe Rails View
9^NEWRails Recipes
10^NEWDeploying Rails
11v7The Pragmatic Programmer

The Talk of the Tech: AI Springs Back

Artificial intelligence is hot again. Anyway, it’s getting prime space in The New Yourk Times, where John Markoff discussed some of the recent successes of deep learning, the latest buzzword in neural nets. Siri and Google Street View are well-known examples of the technology, but a recent success in its use in drug design is getting some attention.

A history of hype. But Gary Markus, in the New Yorker, warns that deep learning, like every past hot topic in artificial intelligence, is just another brick in the wall. Still, deep learning, in some cases “performs far better than its predecessors.”

Several recent articles have suggested interesting applications for the latest advances in artificial intelligence. Here are some of the things AI might be good for:

Googling the ungoogleable. Some information is inherently hard to search for. Google hates that, and according to a report in Technology Review, they have some ideas on how to google the ungoogleable. But they’re no using artificial intelligence, it sounds like. They’re just trying to map the darkness. Let’s try again...

Learning why Kandinsky makes you cry. That’s more like it. This article from ExtremeTech describes a system that uses machine vision to analyze features of abstract art and correlate them with emotions in viewers of the art. The artist Wassily Kandinsky argued that abstract art must achieve its emotional effects through perfectly objective, analyzable means. This system seems to support Kandinsky.

Replacing analysts. Dell, according to an article in Logistics Viewpoints, is using machine learning to power forcasting software.

Determining intents from tweets. And if AI can replace analysts, surely it can replace marketing gurus, as this VentureBeat article suggests.

Emotion on demand. Then let’s replace animators. Video games are too expensive. Technology Review thinks emotions may become plug-ins. OK, maybe that’s not AI. But surely this is...

Controlling things by thinking. Controlling stuff with your mind, yeah, that’s more like it. This article in Technology Review describes work in this area that starts humbly, with moving a cockroach’s leg. But this surely implies...

Brain-controlled helicopters! All I want for Christmas is one of these. Technology Review again, with hope for those who want to fly choppers with their brains. But wait...

Forget all that other stuff. This is the coolest thing ever. NASA is working on a FTL warp drive. io9 has the details.

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