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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sunspots 394

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Science: A National Public Radio report that says that fetuses yawn while in the womb.

National Public Radio also reports on two very long-term experiments, at Michigan State University. One of them was begun in 1879. The other, on bacterial evolution, began in 1988. (For the Wikipedia article on the second experiment, see here.)

The New York Times has an interactive set of maps, showing what parts of several metropolitan areas would become submerged, if the ocean rose to 5, 12, or 25 feet above its current level.

The Arts:  (and computing) A novel is itself a kind of advanced Turing test, in which a writer tries to convince readers that lifeless signs on a page are not just real intelligences moving through the real world, but actual human beings, with lustful urges, deep regrets and breakable hearts. As this novel demonstrates, part of the challenge of giving a machine a truly human intelligence is making it sound humanly unreasonable. Turing predicted that in order to pass his test, a machine would have to fool a judge at least 30 percent of the time, but Scott Hutchins, in this charming, warmhearted and thought-provoking novel, already has that beat. Quoting James Hynes, "Fooled You," review of A Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins. New York Times Book Reviews, November 21, 2012. For more on the Turing test, see here.

Image source (public domain)

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