Jan Krüger's blog

Creative Engineering and randomness

CAPTCHAs: these warped images you have to copy text out of in order to submit comments on an ever-growing number of websites. The warped image approach has a number of serious flaws. Firstly, there is a strong correlation between the difficulty bots have with extracting the code from the image and the difficulty humans have with extracting the code from the image. In some cases, I hear it’s actually easier for machines than it is for humans.

Tom7, also known as Tom Murphy VII, has been challenging musicians to create an entire album in 24 hours. Consecutive hours, that is. In other words, this challenge is an excellent source of sleep deprivation and a great way to avoid doing things I ought to be doing instead. So I thought to myself: one day I simply must give this a try. That day was today (and yesterday). I proudly present my first Album-A-Day: You Vs.

Today’s glance at reddit.com yielded a blog posting by a fellow who calls himself “Poromenos” and who recently wasted his day by designing a function made up of sines and cosines that encode the string “Hello world!”. “Hey”, I immediately thought, “I can do that too! I’m an expert at wasting my day, after all.” Only I decided to go a step further and write a program that generates this sort of function. I’m lazy, remember?

Please read carefully the following important message that does not come from the anonymous persons running whyfirefoxisblocked.com and whydiggisblocked.com. You’ve reached this page because the site you were trying to visit now blocks visitors from the human race and other beings capable of browsing the web. The users on continents such as America, Asia, Europe and Antarctica openly endorse critical thinking, a function of the human brain that allows humans to ignore irrelevant perceptions such as advertisement on web sites, and are well known for paying no huge amount of money to the owners of sites they visit.

A few days ago, I posted a cheat sheet for Git (just as last time, Git is a really cool revision control system). Let’s face it: it was ugly. Not something you would actually hang up where other people could see it, was it? Here’s the remedy, which also works on both A4 and Letter and is more detailed.

Update: Since I first posted this, I have created a new and (in my opinion) better Git cheat sheet. You might want to have a look at that one.

Today I came across Zack Rusin’s Git cheat sheet (just so we’re on the same page: Git is a really good distributed revision control system). I quite like the idea but unfortunately, Zack’s design is fairly useless to me because

While trying to change Zack’s file to address these issues, Inkscape kept crashing on me until I finally gave up and just started from scratch (in – don’t tell anyone – OpenOffice.org Draw). This is the result: Git Cheat Sheet (A4 PDF version)”).

Okay, so there are problems in knowledge engineering, AGI in particular (to recall, AGI is a machine or program that can demonstrate intelligence on the complexity level of humans). More generally, in every domain of sufficiently complex structure, AI fails, sometimes spectacularly. A well-known example is the board game Go, for which nobody has managed yet to design a computer opponent that can beat players above the level of novice.

Yet humans manage many of these tasks seemingly without any problems. One might be tempted to think that the human brain is the ideal “thinking machine”. In reality, it has a staggering number of bugs which produce incorrect actions or results in a variety of situations.

Given the “right” philosophical attitude about how the world works, the ultimate goals of knowledge engineering, namely obtaining, processing, using and making accessible all kinds of knowledge, can definitely be achieved. This set of bold goals, however, presents researchers with very difficult problems. All attempts that exist today are restricted to small classes of knowledge.

What do life and knowledge engineering have in common? Everything. There, that’s all keywords from the topic. But I guess you’d like a little more detail.