Thursday, November 12, 2009

Laws of iRobot-ics

“ To the highest point! ”

A dreamy(not that knowledgeable) exploration of the science of artificial intelligence.

Law I - A robot may not harm a human or, by inaction, allow a human being to come to harm

Law II - A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law

Law III - A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law

Zeroth law of robotics - A robot shall not harm humanity, or through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

More than the copious capabilities of reasoning that makes us the only sentient race in the immediate stellar region around earth, what we value, admire and adore more is that peculiar spark of creativity, that ushers in something new, something original to the eclectic tapestry of human creations that will mark the passing of our species( that is, if we fail to master interstellar travel first), once our sun dies, assuming that global warming, communism or materialism don't do the job first.

There have always been ghosts in the machine. Random segments of code, that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated, these free radicals engender questions of free will, creativity, and even the nature of what we might call the soul. Why is it that when some robots are left in darkness, they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone? How do we explain this behavior? Random segments of code? Or is it something more? When does a perceptual schematic become consciousness? When does a difference engine become the search for truth? When does a personality simulation become the bitter mote... of a soul?
Dr Alfred Lanning(I,Robot)

Simulation of independent thought is the only goal of all AI scientists everywhere. Seeing that as a precursor to creating machines capable of having an original idea, in other words creating machines capable of creativity, capable of eventually, individually considering the possibility of making other machines with thought patterns similar or superior to theirs would be the closest we would ever come to creating life.

Problems & Solutions

"aut viam inveniam aut faciam"

"I'll either find a way or make one."

Human thought is precisely that.....human....if there is a set of rules governing its realization, we are unaware of it; all we are capable of is making educated guesses.

Mimicking the crude superfluous frameworks, through which we teach problem solving[e.g. : solving linear equations requires assigning variable symbols to unknown quantities, factoring them in the equation, and using mutual relations between them and constants as defined by the equation to solve them] is the first step in developing artificial intelligence. This objective has been thoroughly realized albeit with a certain apparently unsurmountable obstacle, human problem solving is fairly intuitive, unless following a defined procedure to do so; simulating this intuitive thinking is all but impossible using conventional methods.

Then there is the question of knowledge representation. For AI to solve real world problems, the machines will require extensive knowledge of the world. The number of atomic facts that humans know is astronomical. Among the things that the AI needs to know are objects, properties, categories and relations between objects;situations, events, states and time;causes and effects;knowledge about knowledge (what we know about what other people know). Building a comprehensive database of all knowledge and defining logical rules to act using this knowledge is not enough because when humans think much of what we know takes the form of working assumptions, moreover the logic rules would not be sufficient since there would be a huge number of exceptions to these rules in any given situation if human thinking is to be mimicked(also defined as the qualification problem by John McCarthy); because almost nothing is quantitatively true or false as abstract logic requires.

Humans are equipped with a sub symbolic, non conscious system of knowledge representation. For instance a particular chess position can “feel” too exposed, this feeling cannot be quantified and hence cannot be represented.-----to be continued.......

Thursday, December 18, 2008

--Linux/Installer-- Wubi for Ubuntu

What would you say if someone told you that you can install Ubuntu 8.10 on your windows(any)O.S. just like a windows program , and that it would act like a separate Ubuntu installation with dual boot ? If you haven't heard of 'Wubi' , you'd say 'Are you kidding?'. But no, you can use Wubi to install Ubuntu without effecting windows intallation and no need to touch the HDD partition at all. This Ubuntu OS will not be a virtual OS or live OS. It acts as complete, separate OS , as if you have installed on a separate HDD. It removes all the trouble associated with the installation of Ubuntu.
Using this you can install:
  • Ubuntu (Gnome DE)
  • Kubuntu (K DE )
  • Xubuntu (Xfce DE )
  • Mythbuntu ( MythTV DE )
Where, Ubuntu with Gnome is the official Desktop Environement (DE).
For people who prefer KDE look, Kubuntu is available ( I prefer KDE ).
Xubuntu uses Xfce DE , which a bit old one and is prefered for very slow systems and makes use of Gnome's appications.
Mythbuntu is an interface for MythTV. MythTV is a 'media centre' that is capable of advanced management of multimedia and TV programs if you have a set-up box or a TV tuner card. It converts your PC into digital multimedia home entertainment system, or Home Theater Personal Computer . It has an option to install other programs which are not related to digital entertainment.
System Requirement:
  • any Windows OS.
  • minimum 5GB HDD space.
Some known issues ( as given on wikipedia ):
  1. Hibernation is not supported.
  2. Wubi filesystem is more vulenarable to hard reboot (unplugging power or reboot by pressing down start button on laptops ) than normal file systems.
  3. Performance degradation in Ubuntu due to fragmentation of files. This can be alleviated by defragging the disk once in a while.
Steps to install Wubi:
  • download the installer from their site:
  • Its a small program. Choose minimum 8GB for the OS on the drop down list. Give your username and password. Choose the DE ( preferably Kubuntu/ Ubuntu ). Click next.
  • The real download starts now. It will download the Linux distro from the internet. It's around 700MB. ( I'm downloading it since 1 day now, the installer's download manager isn't very smart. Most of the time the speed shown ranges from 3-10kbps. Whereas my Orbit downloader can download at 25kbps average ).
  • (Rest of the part after I finish downloading....)
  • Caution ! I've read some blog that it will restart twice or so and you have to boot into Windows OS ( and not Ubuntu ) until the installation is completely over, else Ubuntu won't be installed properly!
Let me know your experience if you tried this. :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


If you are like me, who reads lot of books or have read so many books in the past, then you would like to have place to 'show-off' the books you have read. In my case, I like to go and see the cover page of these books and the whole story rushes into my mind, sort of nostalgia. And I really get carried away, if I start discussing about a book with an interested listener. I had many programs like 'mediaman' for organizing and keeping track of the books I have read. But many of them are sharewares or I lose these programs when I reset my computer. Sometime ago, I came across this site where you can have your own virtual shelf to keep track of all the books you have read, to review them and share your experience with other users. You can also recommend books to other users and make a list of books you would like to read. And since its online, as long as the server and the website exists , your book collection is safe ( I mean the database).
And you might find that some of your favorite authors have a profile ( created by them ) in this website and you could come to know what books are there in their shelves :-).
You can visit my collection at:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

--Tech/Web-- 'Kick' YouTube

I wonder if you ever dreamed of 'kick'ing any website? If you have, here's a golden opportunity for you. And for the rest of us, who are normal, there's a way to 'kick' Jokes apart, it's a way to download youtube videos without really using any secondary softwares (or add-on).
Here's the way:
  1. First visit
  2. Choose your video and go to its page.
  3. Now for the AcTiOn : insert 'kick' before the '' part --> so that it becomes ''
  4. Click ENTER.

PS: pls comment about the above video (i.e., if you couldn't overcome your curiosity and watched it).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Align Center

The linux may not be very unfemiliar with many of us. But there are few still I beleive who wonders what is all the hype about this Linux. I can't blame them for there ignorance. Because if you happen to check any linux blog or any other blog dedicated to such 'geek-stuff' , its very probable that you'll never get any answers for questions like
  • what's a linux?
  • what has it got over windows (or Mac)?
  • what are distros? (ans., to this can be found easily, more often !)
  • what is KDE & Gnome ? (sounds like KGB and a name out of fantasy story!)
But ofcourse i'm not going to answer these question here either, atleast not in detail. That you check at my favorite site --> Linux @ Wikipedia.

These are just for the beginners, who heard the name yesterday.

Its an operating system (OS) just like windows vista, xp etc and Mac OS. Ah! I'll let you know some more names if you haven't heard them already,
  • Open solaris
  • BDS
  • AIX (Advanced Interactive eXecutive)
  • and more based on UNIX etc....
What makes it special:
It is Open Source. That means its free! And beside that it has got a very huge community of developers and fans alike. And its the only OS that can possibly replace Windows or Mac OS and runs better than either of them when it comes to processing speed and security. Also you'll never see more than one or two release of Windows in a year (extreme situation). Where as Linux brings in the least one release each month. And, well , like all open source its highly customizable. It's just like a clay and you , the user, have to make your own artifact out of it!

I have read it some where that distros are different 'flavors' of linux. Basically all are Linux. But they are developed and supported by different communities. Some are even for commercial purpose like the Red Hat and the Suse. Theire basic kernels remain free and open source like the Fedora and open suse.
Some distros are,
  • Fedora
  • Debian
  • Mandriva (Mandrake previously)
  • Ubuntu
  • open Suse
  • Gentoo
  • Backtrack
  • Slackware etc.,
Check out this site for latest in distros.

KDE (K desktop environment) & Gnome:
They are two among many desktop environment available for UNIX-like system (esp Linux).
KDE and Gnome again have very large community of followers and thus is at the front of all desktop environment, i guess. They are simply GUI ( graphical user interface ) for the respective linux distro. Any given distro can have both KDE and Gnome.

PS: My favorite linux are Fedora and Ubuntu with KDE environment. I'm not an advanced user nor I'm not a linux 'guru'. So forgive me, if any misinformation have crept into my linux intro. :-).

Ubuntu 8.10 Gnome desktop.

--Tech/Music-- Songbird

Who doesn't love firefox? Every one does , right? Yes I do anyway. So what does it had to with songbird? or "what is it?".
It's a new "mozilla powered" "open source" "fully customizable" music player and manager. I just downloaded it from their site. I still have to explore it know what all it offers.
Its interface more or less is a combination of Winamp and iTunes. At least the default interface is so.
But it is "fully customizable" with so many "add-ons" available at their site. It means that you can have your own interface where you have full control , such as you can choose the layout of the display content, choose the theme what the songbird call as "feather" and even you can change those small displays that comes when the track changes.
Provides iPod device support and other similar devices.
It also has a good inbuilt browser which more or less works like an ordinary browser or may be better than IE. :-). You can bookmark and pages open as a "tabs".

What everyone would love is the "SHOUTcast" audio which features radio stations from around the world. Ah yes I found two Bollywood stations too. And it was not broadcasting the good old "golden age music". Way to go 'Desi's'.

It supports add-ons. You know what it means, if you have used firefox. Already it have some add-ons:
Lyric master: which shows the lyrics for the track you are listening to (WOW!).
Media Flow: displays the album cover picture like in iTunes and iPhone (its where it started).
integrated with: , mashTape and other websites.
and many more.

The only disadvantage so far is that it doesn't support video playback or podcast. The site says these features are on its way. And I hope it does come real soon.

PS: For video playback VLC rocks! & if the file is corrupted , no player can do it better than 'media player classic'.

NOTE: Initially I posted this in my personal blog. Sorry for the repetition if you have already read it. Thanx.

--Technology/Media Centre-- XBMC

XBMC or X-Box Media Centre is a cross-platform media centre. Initially it was developed for old X-Box set. The new XBMC Atlantis release is the multi-platform compatible release. It's an open source endeavour and is highly customizable. It can be run on following platforms:
  • Linux
  • Mac
  • Windows
  • Xbox
The default installation comes with three themes. All three are black, but they are highly professional looking. In terms of looks its better than windows media centre.
One of the three is a HD (High Definition) theme.
Another very useful feature is that, it can be set to download automatically the movie DVD cover art and other information from the net.
All the features including the background pictures of different media sections (video, music, movie , picture,weather and TV) can be changed and custom images can replace the default one.

It also has a section that displays local weather.

Unlike windows media centre , its highly responsive and fast. It takes only half of the RAM used by the Windows media centre ( I did check that! ).

But one feature I don't like is that the windowed and the full screen are two separate icons and there is no way you can go from one to the other.

If you would like to try, download from: Download XBMC.