Episode 173 – Babel Fish

Computer to computer communications protocols used to start with a high pitched whine & crackle over a telephone line, using a modem – a modulator / demodulator – to establish a handshake.  Computer to computer interactions are nothing new — but AI to AI interfaces are becoming more and more common.  We discussed some of the ramifications in earlier episodes of the podcast — links below for those — and now we turn to how artificial intelligences create optimized methods of communication between themselves.  Like the Twitch example of two Google Home bots talking with one another, the first few articles tell the story of how Facebook and Google AIs created a new way to communicate more effectively by negotiating with one another.

The Google example for the translation services reminded Michael and Michael of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Babel Fish translation concept of a fish that fits in your ear to automatically translate one language to another.  The Bragi Dash in ear headphones are designed to do just this.  Pretty futuristic stuff.

Riffing on what our friend @epredator tweeted, the team discusses the ramifications of knowing what people are looking at in VR in the YouTube Creator Blog.   And the last item deals with gamification to improve cyber defense.  What would you think could benefit from a blue team vs red team gamified process?

Selected links 

The Atlantic article:  An Artificial Intelligence Developed Its Own Non-Human Language — https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/06/artificial-intelligence-develops-its-own-non-human-language/530436/

Tech Crunch article:  Google’s AI tool seems to have invented its own secret internal language — https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/22/googles-ai-translation-tool-seems-to-have-invented-its-own-secret-internal-language/

The Atlantic article:  What an AI’s Non-Human Language Actually Looks Like — https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/06/what-an-ais-non-human-language-actually-looks-like/530934/

Twitch: C:>Bots Chat — https://www.twitch.tv/seebotschat

Edelweiss Little Singers of Armenia — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JMHXbxZYf4

Wired article:  Bragi’s Fancy New Earbuds Translate for You in Real Time — https://www.wired.com/2017/05/bragis-fancy-new-earbuds-translate-real-time/

Babel Fish, probably the oddest thing in the galaxy — http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Babel_Fish

Games At Work Episode 51:  Tea.  Bojangles.  Hot. — http://gamesatwork.biz/2013/06/30/episode-51-tea-bojangles-hot/

Games At Work: Episode 159:  Virtually Secure — http://gamesatwork.biz/2017/01/22/episode-159-virtually-secure/

Games At Work Episode 163:  Chat Me Maybe — http://gamesatwork.biz/2017/02/27/episode-163-chat-me-maybe/

YouTube Creator blog:  Hot and Cold: Heatmaps in VR — https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2017/06/hot-and-cold-heatmaps-in-vr.html

Mind over Machines blog: Symphony of Big Data — http://mindovermachines.com/blog/a-symphony-of-big-data/

Security Intelligence:  Game Over: Improving Your Cyber Analyst Workflow Through Gamification — https://securityintelligence.com/game-over-improving-your-cyber-analyst-workflow-through-gamification/

What are the co-hosts playing these days?

Michael R:  TechCrunch article:  SEGA’s new SEGA forever collection brings classic games to mobile for free — https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/21/segas-new-sega-forever-collection-brings-classic-games-to-mobile-for-free/

Michael M:  Yoga Studio — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/yoga-studio/id567767430?mt=8


Episode 172 – Shining a light on AR

Michael and Michael are back — and take a long careful look at the newest capabilities that Apple is bringing to light in augmented reality with the new iOS 11 operating system.  Michael R has already downloaded the development framework, and has started bringing into mixed reality the digital test objects, to great effect.  The pictures included in this post are from Michael R’s experiments with the framework thus far, and it is quite amazing to see the fidelity of the objects, as well as the recognition by the software of the planes, shadows & angles of placement.  There much to be very excited about here, and once the digital augmented reality experience is not through the screen of an iPhone, but in a more natural way (dare I even bring up the possibility of contact lenses again?) — then, then we are really onto something.  Until that point, this version of augmented reality is an interesting step in the right direction, but the consumption cannot be via holding a phone at arm’s length or wearing a ski goggle-esque contraption that distances the person from the reality they are looking to more deeply engage with.

Robots are not just for vacuuming your floor — they are also quite useful for teaching ballroom dancing, and in determining the skill level of the human student, the artificial intelligence can quickly adapt the lessons to be challenging for whatever level the student is at.  And speaking of  AI, the recent Microsoft acquisition Maluuba has crushed Ms. Pac-Man using a new method called Hybrid Reward Architecture to more effectively manage the very difficult problem of balancing the multiple rewards (and threats) in a game like Ms. Pac-Man to achieve the maximum score.

Staying on the Microsoft theme a moment longer, the team discuss Minecraft as a platform, his where multiple operating systems and devices are now converging on a common Minecraft environment.

Binky has loomed large in the news this past week — what started as a joke has turned into something more.  In this app, you can experience all the joy of social media likes & shares but not have anyone ever see your posts.  Michael M is reminded of Ian Bogost’s Cow Clicker social media game.

Selected links 

Apple ARkit — https://developer.apple.com/arkit/

Apple ARkit WWDC video — https://developer.apple.com/videos/play/wwdc2017/602/ 

Ballroom dancing robot — https://twitter.com/qz/status/874061192196534272

Ms PacMan — http://time.com/4819067/microsoft-pac-man-maluuba/

Maluuba — http://www.maluuba.com

Hybrid Reward Architecture for Reinforcement Learning — https://arxiv.org/pdf/1706.04208.pdf

Minecraft — http://www.businessinsider.com/minecraft-unites-all-platforms-2017-6

Binky — https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/10/binky/

Cow Clicker — https://cowclicker.com

BikeSphere — http://bgr.com/2017/06/14/bikesphere-michelin-safety/


Episode 171 – Jelly Jelly Bo Belly

Zoolander phone


This episode is chock full of tasty treats, of the cellphone and robotic kinds!  Michael & Michael start off with a conversation about the Kickstarter for the Jelly phone — a 4g cell phone that is running Android Nougat (Michael M still believes it should have been Nutella) and can handle two SIM cards for, wait for it, under $100 unlocked.

The pair talk about the new capabilities expected to be included with Apple’s Swift Playgrounds when announced at WWDC next week.  The ability to code in a simple-to-learn language and have that code execute in real 3d life — in a Sphereo BB-8 or a Lego Mindstorms robot would be just great.

Speaking of robotics, the Draper DragonflEye concept of marrying a live dragonfly with a mind-controlling solar powered backpack brings to mind other variations of insect robotics — from the selfie drone Nixie, to a full cast of drones that will follow you around.

Maximizing screen real estate by extending the MacOS desktop to a nearby iPad Pro captures the attention of the pair, and Michael M gives his thoughts about two solutions that he’s been working with over the past week.

Closing things out, Michael M surprises Michael R with a game he’s playing that is not 8-bit.

Selected links 

Jelly phone — https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jellyphone/jelly-the-smallest-4g-smartphone

Nutella — https://www.nutella.com/en/us

Eater article:  America’s First Nutella Cafe Opens With Lines of Chicagoans — https://chicago.eater.com/2017/5/31/15719018/nutella-cafe-chicago-open-lines-michigan-avenue-millennium-park

Motorola’s StarTac phone — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_StarTAC

MacRumors article: Swift Playgrounds Will Soon Be Able to Program and Control Robots, Drones, and Toys — https://www.macrumors.com/2017/06/01/swift-playgrounds-robots-drones-instruments/

Pine64 — https://www.pine64.org

Raspberry Pi — https://www.raspberrypi.org

TechCrunch article: Draper’s DragonflEye cyber-bug takes flight — https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/01/drapers-dragonfleye-cyber-bug-takes-flight/

Business Insider: This Incredible Selfie-Taking Wrist Drone Just Won $500,000 — http://www.businessinsider.com/nixie-wearable-drone-wins-intel-contest-2014-11

Nixie — http://flynixie.com

Airdog — https://www.airdog.com

droneguru.net article: 9 Best Drones That Follow You [Crystal Clear Video] Summer 2017 — http://www.droneguru.net/8-best-drones-that-follow-you-follow-drones/

Episode 150 — Cyber Dementors — http://gamesatwork.biz/2016/10/23/episode-150-cyber-dementors/

Robotic cockroaches — http://www.businessinsider.com/cram-robotic-cockroaches-disaster-recovery-2016-2

Daily Mail article:  Student creates cyborg cockroach that he can control with his thoughts…. — http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3112404/Student-controls-cyborg-cockroach-MIND-Video-shows-insect-guided-maze-powered-thoughts.html

Smithsonian article: A Visit to Seoul Brings Our Writer Face-to-Face with the Future of Robots — http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/visit-seoul-writer-future-robots-180963238/

Quarantine, a Greg Egan novel — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarantine_(Greg_Egan_novel)

Air Display 3 by Avatron Software — https://itunes.apple.com/app/id967502646?ign-mpt=uo%3D8

Duet Display — https://www.duetdisplay.com

Game Michael M is playing 

Mini Metro — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mini-metro/id837860959?mt=8


Episode 170 – Holographic Whiteboard Penguins


Michael and Michael kick off this episode with holographic dragons demoed by the folks at Microsoft Research.  Beside the amazing ability to project monoscopic holograms within the frame of a normal set of eyeglasses, another really exciting aspect of this innovation is the ability to use the processor to correct for astigmatism or other eyesight issues.

Moving from one collaborative display means to another, Michael & Michael talk about Google’s recently announced Jamboard and Michael R shares his experiences with the Ricoh interactive whiteboards.  Mural is another example of a collaboration solution that allows for multiple people to interact on the same board together, and this spurred a discussion on other ways to accomplish in software what the Google & Ricoh hardware  can do.

Michael & Michael both joined Pinguin to see what they could learn about this new chat system, and naturally, after the article said that the #podcasts room was empty, that was precisely the first place they went.  It wasn’t empty by the time they got there, and Michael M used the opportunity to do some marketing for this podcast.

The CNN Money article about John Oliver’s efforts to encourage his viewers to comment on the FCC proceeding 17-108 Restoring Internet Freedom caught the team’s attention, and highlighted how such requests for public comment can be spammed — FCC McFCCFace anyone?   And how in a strange circular logic, evidence that someone had loaded voter addresses and spammed the public comments with messages in favor of the new FCC regulations could be used to undermine the validity of nearly 3m public comments (at the time of this posting).

Michael and Michael close out this episode by imagining what video games could be created using the plot lines of movies.  While neither Michael is a big horror movie fan, they did come up with some interesting ideas.

Selected links 

Engadget article: Microsoft’s true holographic display fits in your glasses — https://www.engadget.com/2017/05/20/microsoft-holographic-display-in-glasses/

Google’s Jamboard — https://gsuite.google.com/products/jamboard/

Ricoh’s interactive whiteboards — https://www.ricoh-usa.com/en/products/pl/equipment-interactive-whiteboards/_/N-1w

Mural — http://mural.ly

TechCrunch article:  Pinguin is a public chat room for nerd(ier) people — https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/10/pinguin-is-a-public-chat-room-for-nerdier-people

CNN Money article:  John Oliver tackles net neutrality again, encourages viewers to ‘go FCC yourself’ — http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/08/media/john-oliver-net-neutrality/index.html

Go FCC Yourself — www.gofccyourself.com

Slashfilm article: Hack ’n Slash: 20 Horror Movies That Should Be Video Games — http://www.slashfilm.com/horror-movies-that-should-be-video-games/


Episode 169 – Virtual Surgery & Artificial Black Boxes

Michael and Michael take a spin from the physical to the virtual, starting with an article by Scotty Allen, describing how he constructed an iPhone 6s entirely from parts he bought in markets in China.  Moving into the virtual space, the pair discuss the merits and benefits of a syringe with haptic feedback to help surgeons learn the amount of pressure needed to inject a patient, in what appeared to be way too close to reality.  Squeamishness aside, this use case is particularly well suited to the virtual reality training space, as it combines visual and physical feedback, developing the appropriate muscle memory needed to perform the surgery successfully.

Rounding out this episode, Michael and Michael talk about the importance of transparency in artificial intelligence algorithms, particularly for audibility.  As machine learning allows for enhancements to decision making, blockchain recording of the decisions can provide the benefit of how the AI made the decisions it did at the time it made those decisions.  A fascinating potential blend of these technologies.

Hope you enjoy!

selected links 

Strange Parts: How I Made My Own iPhone – in China! — https://strangeparts.com/how-i-made-my-own-iphone-in-china/

New Scientist: Virtual syringe lets surgeons practice piercing skin and muscle — https://www.newscientist.com/article/2127828-virtual-syringe-lets-surgeons-practise-piercing-skin-and-muscle/

MIT Technology Review: The Financial World Wants to Open AI’s Black Boxes — https://www.technologyreview.com/s/604122/the-financial-world-wants-to-open-ais-black-boxes/

Games we’re playing

Bacon Escape — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bacon-escape/id1199364353?mt=8

Shooty Skies — https://shootyskies.com


Episode 168 – Reboot vs Repeat

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.   Michael and Michael discuss the difference between reboots and repeats using movies such as the Matrix and Aliens, as well as in the gaming world such as Leisure Suit Larry and the Nimblebit games.  The review of Thimbeweed Park serves as a tremendous launch point for this conversation.

Rounding out the show, the team talks about the recent innovation from Adidas, shoes made from bioengineered spider silk.  3D printing remains a hot topic with both of them, as evidenced by Michael R’s recent creation, a sausage roll prop used for the Durham Savoyard’s recent Gilbert & Sullivan production of The Grand Duke.

selected links 

Ars Technica article : Thimbleweed Park review: Nostalgic to a fault — https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/04/thimbleweed-park-review-nostalgic-to-a-fault/

Daria creator imagines what the cast looks like 20 years later — https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/04/daria-creator-imagines-what-the-cast-looks-like-20-years-later/

Leisure Suit Larry — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leisure_Suit_Larry

Ultima — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultima_%28series%29

Nimblebit games — http://nimblebit.com

Nimblebit’s Bit City — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bit-city/id914343148?mt=8

Wired UK article : These lightweight adidas shoes are made from spider silk grown in a lab — https://www.wired.co.uk/article/adidas-futurecraft-biofabric-shoes

Durham Savoyards — http://durhamsavoyards.org

Grand Duke 2014 – 02, Opening Chorus, Sausage-roll song — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCDPIc8Yyvw


Episode 167 – Robotic Physics


Michael and Michael start this episode with big robots.  As in extra huge robots.  Like Mecha-sized robots.  The articulation of the robot Jeff Bezos piloted was reminiscent of the one that the character Eileen Ripley piloted in the Aliens movies (see video above).  Michael R was also reminded of the NASA Valkyrie robot, and it’s mission to go to Mars ahead of humans to set up the environment for human habitation.  Walking on two legs, and being roughly human-sized, the form factor is well suited to ensuring that the habitat structure such robots would build would be on the appropriate scale and work for the humans to follow.

The team also looks at a few learning games, starting with Big Bang Legends, which teaches the players about particle physics, and uses a SaaS subscription method the game company Lightneer calls “Learn to Play” that replaces video ads with a monthly fee.  This game reminded Michael M of DragonBox, a game that his kids really enjoyed that taught them algebraic skills while they weren’t really looking.

Michael R gave a shot at compiling the ported Pokemon Yellow Game Boy game to Apple Watch, but did not succeed during the recording session — will be interesting to see how it goes!

Rounding out the show, and just as Michael R predicted in the last episode, Michael M has been playing the new Nimblebit Bit City game, and, again, just as Michael R predicted, has been crushing it.

selected links 

PC Mag article: Jeff Bezos Pilots a Giant Robot — http://www.pcmag.com/news/352476/jeff-bezos-pilots-a-giant-robot

TechCrunch article: In a Massachusetts warehouse, NASA’s Valkyrie robot helps lay the groundwork for Mars settlements — https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/18/nasa-valkyrie-robot/

NASA’s Valkyrie robot — https://www.nasa.gov/feature/valkyrie/

Mecha — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecha

Robotech — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macross

Mashable article: This game is teaching particle physics to five-year-olds — http://mashable.com/2017/03/23/big-bang-legends/

Big Bang Legends — http://www.bigbanglegends.com

DragonBox — http://dragonboxapp.com

Making Giovanni, a Game Boy Emulator for the Apple Watch — http://gabrieloc.com/2017/03/21/GIOVANNI.html

Nimblebit’s Bit City — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bit-city/id914343148?mt=8


Episode 166 – Interactive Interaction

Episode 166 – Interactive Interaction

Teachers Breaks the Code

Interesting news this week about two new interactions for people in AR – Voice and Tilts. So our co-hosts Michael R. and Phaedra looking a bit further to see what it may all mean. But first we start off with a look at the teacher who solved Adobe’s Semaphore challenge. We continue looking at AR, VR and voice input and how this may play out as the future for human-computer interaction.

Speaking of computer interaction, we talk some TV with quick discussions on both Black Mirror and Humans. If you haven’t seen either of these shows, stop what you are doing and go – right now – watch some TV! This gets us thinking about Kurzweil’s talk at South by Southwest. Will AI’s have rights? If you upload your brain, is it you? Or is it a new consciousness with separate rights? Think about it for a while…

And while you’re at it, go and drop us a review over at iTunes, we’d love to hear from you!

Show Links:
Math Teacher Cracks Adobe’s Semaphore code: http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/03/13/adobe-semaphore-code-cracked-by-tennessee-high-school-teacher/

Tilt gesture control: https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/17/tilt-gesture-keyboard-could-hold-promise-for-typing-in-vr/
Surgeon Simulator: http://www.surgeonsim.com/

Amazon Alexa on your iPhone: http://fortune.com/2017/03/16/amazon-alexa-iphone/

Black Mirror: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/black-mirror/episode-guide/
Humans: http://www.amc.com/shows/humans

Kurzweil at SXSW: https://www.facebook.com/SXSWFestival/videos/10154414699178994/

What we are playing:
Michael R. – Bit City: http://www.gamezebo.com/2017/03/16/bit-city-review-best-of-both-worlds/
Phaedra – Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light – https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/lara-croft-and-the-guardian-of-light-ps3/


Episode 165 – Virtual Math

Phaedra, Michael and Michael get together to discuss some very interesting articles, kicking things off with how 3D pictures are used to explain mathematical concepts in a new pictorial language called Quon.  The paper explaining the concept dives into quantum concepts, including teleportation, topological algebra and Bloch spheres, quickly reaching the mathematical limits of the trio.

A Fast Company article on how the Knight Foundation and Google are providing jump start grants to journalists to engage with virtual reality connects with the team, and one of the CNN 3D videos prompts Michael R to share a story about how he flew in one of the large tanker planes as a student.

Closing out the show today, Michael, Michael & Phaedra take a look at the Sococo virtual office space, which provides a sense of place to people who use it to make virtual teams feel more in tune with one another — going to specific spots in the virtual office building to meet and collaborate.

selected links 

Harvard Gazette article:  Making math more Lego-like — http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/03/making-math-more-lego-like/

Quon 3D language for quantum information — http://www.pnas.org/content/114/10/2497.full

Arrival (movie) — http://www.arrivalmovie.com

Floo network — https://www.pottermore.com/writing-by-jk-rowling/the-floo-network

Weapons of Math Destruction — https://weaponsofmathdestructionbook.com

Understanding Variation: The Key to Managing Chaos — https://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Variation-Key-Managing-Chaos/dp/0945320531

Diagon Alley — https://www.pottermore.com/explore-the-story/diagon-alley

Alternet article: How Using Big Data to Understand Social Problems Can Create More Inequality — http://www.alternet.org/culture/data-science-inequality

Fast Company article: VR journalists could get $35,000 from Knight Foundation and Google for innovative projects — https://news.fastcompany.com/vr-journalists-could-get-35000-from-knight-foundation-and-google-for-innovative-projects-4032048

CNN VR — http://www.cnn.com/VR

Sococo — http://sococo.com


Episode 164 – Addictive AR




Michael and Michael start this episode off with an excellent roundup of how technology gets that dopamine drip going with an article from The Guardian that focuses on the newly published book by Adam Alter, Irresistible.  Starting with the psychological and cultural affinity with liking content, and proceeding quickly to the linkages between gambling and games, the article walks the path to augmented reality and virtual reality — what makes an experience repeatable and desirable to come back to again and again.

Turning their attention to augmented reality, Michael and Michael imagine the the future of not only designing 3D spaces with the Microsoft Hololens, but also how the perspective of the user of such technology is afforded the chance to see directly what could not be physically possible.  Not everyone can have a front row seat in the operating (or other) theater, but with AR & VR you can — and this begins to open up whole new worlds of possibility.

Michael M shares his experience from an Uber ride in New York this past week, where the car was outfitted with a Mobileye device that watches for speed limits, distance between the driver’s car and those ahead, as well as lane departure warnings.  This aftermarket option provides visual and audio alerts to the driver, and sparked a conversation on the nature of event data recording in automotive black boxes.

The team rounded out the episode with the Sony Xperia Touch Projector, which turns any surface into an interactive environment, prompting Michael R to break out his Magic Cube virtual laser keyboard.  Only a matter of time before the sharks with lasers appear…

selected links 

The Guardian article:  How Technology Gets Us Hooked — https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/feb/28/how-technology-gets-us-hooked

Irresistible by Adam Alter — http://adamalterauthor.com/irresistible/

Mashable article:  Why I Flooded Instagram With Likes — http://mashable.com/2014/02/14/lovematically-instagram/

Microsoft Devices Blog:  Stryker chooses Microsoft Hololens to bring operating room design into the future with 3D — https://blogs.windows.com/devices/?p=259304?ocid=newsletter_ema_omc_hol_Stryker

Techcrunch article:  Mobileye outfits 4,500 for-hire cars in NYC with collision avoidance tech — https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/17/mobileye-outfits-4500-for-hire-cars-in-nyc-with-collision-avoidance-tech/
Mobileye features YouTube — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXpiyLUEOOY

Event data recorder — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_data_recorder

A Car’s Black Box — http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2014/09/how-your-car-is-tracking-you/index.htm

Wired article:  Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium screen is so high-quality it’s better than most people’s TVs  — https://techcrunch.com/2017/02/17/mobileye-outfits-4500-for-hire-cars-in-nyc-with-collision-avoidance-tech/

Magic Cube virtual laser keyboard — http://www.virtual-laser-devices.com/Magic%20Cube_Final.pdf