Episode 178 – L33T Learning Siri


Just say no to enabling autonomous bots & drones with the ability to apply lethal force.  Following on last week’s episode 177, Michael & Michael start off with a continuation of the discussion on the Pandora’s Box of armed robots.

Moving on to a happier topic, while still staying on the machine learning concept, the pair talks about how Siri and other voice interactive systems have been improved with deep learning.  Not just recorded scripts, but actual intelligence, and more natural interaction is apparent when you listen to how far things have come since the earliest days of Siri — listen to the examples from the Apple Machine Learning Journal article, and we think you’ll agree.

Understanding that you’re talking with a bot vs a human is important to help avoid the uncanny valley where the interaction becomes weird vs expected — perhaps this is why Michael R preferred the Australian accent reminiscent of J.A.R.V.I.S, and how in Star Trek and other science fiction, interaction with the computer was prefaced with “computer!” before issuing a request.

Feedback loops getting faster & faster, which is really evident in machine learning examples applied to games.  When the machine — the program — is experimenting with the game to learn, and figure out what is rewarded, what is not rewarded, and determine a heuristic model for playing the game, which for a human is for fun and for the machine learning example is to maximize the outcome.  The example from the O’Reilly article was particularly intriguing to Michael M who wondered why the AI playing the game did not scoop up each and every present while playing the game.  Michael R made the interesting point that if the machine learning algorithms assume that there’s an infinite number of presents ahead, it makes more sense to quickly move forward and grab the presents because there are more ahead of you than behind.  The screenshot above is from a machine learning model playing Super Mario Kart, where it is easy to see how machine learning quickly gets better and better with successive plays of the game.

Closing out this episode, Michael and Michael include David Ma’s videos of food imagined in the style of  famous directors, a funny song about waffles and a discussion on Zork.  Hope you enjoy these tasty treats!

Selected links 

last week’s show, E177 — What could possibly go wrong? — http://gamesatwork.biz/2017/08/31/episode-177-what-could-possibly-go-wrong/

An open letter to the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons — https://futureoflife.org/autonomous-weapons-open-letter-2017

We don’t have long to act — https://qz.com/1058280/we-do-not-have-long-to-act-teslas-tsla-elon-musk-and-others-warn-the-un-about-autonomous-weapons

Six Colors article:  Deep Learning Improves Siri’s voice — https://sixcolors.com/link/2017/08/deep-learning-improves-siris-voice/

Apple’s Machine Learning Journal:  Deep Learning for Siri’s Voice: On-device Deep Mixture Density Networks for Hybrid Unit Selection Synthesis — https://machinelearning.apple.com/2017/08/06/siri-voices.html

Uncanny Valley — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

J.A.R.V.I.S. — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Jarvis#J.A.R.V.I.S.

O’Reilly article:  Bringing gaming to life with AI and deep learning — https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/bringing-gaming-to-life-with-ai-and-deep-learning

YouTube:  Super MarI/O Kart Commentary — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9Y_I9vY8Qw

Food by Favorite Directors (Sort Of) — https://www.subtraction.com/2017/08/14/food-by-famous-directors-sort-of/

YouTube:  What if Alfonso Cuaron made pancakes?  — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_hpJHNt4IE

Do You Like Waffles?  By Parry Gripp — https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/do-you-like-waffles/id468568946?i=468568983

MIT Technology Review — The Enduring Legacy of Zork — https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608670/the-enduring-legacy-of-zork/

MIT Technology Review article:  Siri for Business — https://www.technologyreview.com/s/600990/siri-for-business/


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 159 – Virtually Secure

Michael R and Michael M, go deep on virtual assistants and the security storm around WhatsApp in the news recently. We also look at how an old virtual world shopping experience may be coming to life in virtual reality.

The duo start with the Facebook/Oculus tour of the White House and think about whether movies and television shows have the layout and rooms of the building right.  Michael and Michael quickly then turn to Amazon’s focus on virtual reality shopping experiences stemming from articles from TechCrunch and Variety.  Michael R shares his experiences in developing just this kind of experience for Sears 10 years ago.

Then things get even more interesting with holographic personifications of artificial intelligences — where the Gatebox anime character looms large — or rather hovers in a coffee machine style enclosure, and interacts with the user via voice and text chat.   While speech commands are picking up steam, it is still has a social hurdle to climb.  It is embarrassing or just feels weird to talk to inanimate objects, even though the author of the Digital Trends article makes the valid connection that talking to devices is like talking to a pet, and pets do sometimes listen…

The show wraps up with an interesting discussion on the security news related to WhatsApp.  We hope you enjoy!

Show Links:
Virtual White House – http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2017/01/13/obamas-lead-white-house-tour-virtually-help-oculus/96532192/
The West Wing http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0200276/

Amazon possibly working on VR Shopping Experience https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/19/amazon-job-posting-suggests-plans-to-bring-shopping-experiences-into-vr/
Google Daydream View https://store.google.com/product/daydream_view
Oculus Rift https://www.oculus.com
Samsung Gear VR http://www.samsung.com/global/galaxy/gear-vr/
Bridge AR/VR headset https://bridge.occipital.com
Sears VR Shopping Experience – now 10 years old https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ABxTr8sL3U&feature=youtu.be

Variety article — Amazon VR Shopping app http://variety.com/2017/digital/news/amazon-vr-shopping-app-1201962695/

AI Assistants are like Pets http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/talk-to-ai-assistants-like-your-pets/
Gatebox Home AR Powered Holographic Robot http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/12/the-anime-girlfriend-experience-gateboxs-ai-powered-holographic-home-robot/
Gatebox story http://gatebox.ai/story/
Gatebox https://gateboxlab.stores.jp/items/57ea607100d331404d002d77

Twitch See Bots Chat https://www.twitch.tv/seebotschat

Security Researchers call for Guardian to retract false WhatsApp backdoor story https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/20/security-researchers-call-for-guardian-to-retract-false-whatsapp-backdoor-story/?ncid=rss
SecurityNow! Transcript Episode 595 -What’s up with WhatsApp? https://www.grc.com/sn/sn-595.txt


Episode 156 – AI for All

For what may be the final Games At Work recording of 2016, Michael and Michael get ready to welcome our new robotic overlords in all the ways they may arrive.

First off, the co-hosts marvel at how Google Translate has made dramatic improvements through the rewrite completed in a mere nine months, turbocharging the understanding of language, and making the automatic translation of text and full sites even more powerful. Michael R has even set up our own website to use the service to translate Games At Work into a language of your choosing. Unfortunately, Klingon and Pirate are not currently available choices.

Switching gears from language AI to automotive AI, Michael and Michael discuss the new capabilities that Nvidia is unlocking, as well as the recently announced Waymo spinoff from Alphabet approaching the challenges of mobility from an AI perspective.

Going from AI to AL (as in Yankovich), Michael M shares the ALsongs.com website which is oh so handy, to help you find the lyric that’s been floating around in your brain, along with the song being parodied. Bookmarked!

And talking about bookmarking sites, the team concludes with an intriguing article which describes how researchers can capture a person’s interest by reading their EEG brainwaves and in their tests, bookmarking the relevant Wikipedia pages. Amazing.

From the science fiction meets reality, know that you can now buy yourself an authentic original series Star Trek communicator, which will pair with your cellphone and allow you to talk with your friends & colleagues, and prepare for your away team adventure. How cool!

selected links

New York Times article — The great AI awakening — http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/magazine/the-great-ai-awakening.html

TechCrunch article — Nvidia is now clear to test self-driving vehicles on California roads — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/08/nvidia-is-now-clear-to-test-self-driving-vehicles-on-california-roads/

Waymo — https://waymo.com

Spectrum iEEE article — Google’s car graduates to standalone business —

ALsongs — http://alsongs.com

TechCrunch article — Researchers use machine learning to pull interest signals from readers’ brain waves — https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/14/researchers-use-machine-learning-to-pull-interest-signals-from-readers-brain-waves/

Emotiv headset — https://www.emotiv.com

MacRumors article — Apple AirPods now estimated to ship in 6 weeks — http://www.macrumors.com/2016/12/14/airpods-now-ship-in-6-weeks/

Bluetooth 5.0 — http://www.trustedreviews.com/opinions/what-is-bluetooth-5
Star Trek Communicator with awesome videos via ThinkGeek — https://www.thinkgeek.com/product/iphv/

Games the hosts are doing

Playing Michael M: just starting Walkr — https://walkrgame.com/en/

Reading Michael R. – The Last Firewall (Singularity Series Book 3) by William Hertling — http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18305964-the-last-firewall