Episode 179 – May The Merch Be With You

BB-9E augmented reality

In honor of Force Friday part deux, Michael and Michael geek out on all the awesomeness that is Star Wars merchandise now available for sale.

You could use have a Lenovo-enabled lightsaber battle.

You could build your own R2-D2 with a littleBits kit.

You could own your very own Corellian freighter of your very own, putting together over 7,500 pieces in the new, and most awesome Millennium Falcon model from Lego.

Switching gears, the team discusses the interaction among & between conversational artificial intelligences, and how they could do a platform of platform strategy play to talk with other AIs to gain the benefit of those services, all via natural language as the interface.

You’ll find drones, droids and how to do much more in this episode!

Selected links 

Star Wars iOS app — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/star-wars/id960108075?mt=8

Business Insider article:  The hype around ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ is kicking into high gear — here’s what Disney just announced — http://www.businessinsider.com/new-star-wars-the-last-jedi-toys-2017-8

Battle Chess (Commodore 64) — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Chess

Archon — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archon:_The_Light_and_the_Dark

TechCrunch article:  The littleBits Droid Inventor Kit lets you build an R2-D2 of your very own — https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/31/the-littlebits-droid-inventor-kit-lets-you-build-an-r2-d2-of-your-very-own/

Nerdist article:  New Lego Millennium Falcon Is The Largest Set Ever — http://nerdist.com/star-wars-lego-millennium-falcon-largest-set-ever/http://nerdist.com/star-wars-lego-millennium-falcon-largest-set-ever/

TechCrunch article:  Bragi’s Dash and Dash Pro wireless earbuds to get Amazon Alexa — https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/01/bragis-dash-and-dash-pro-wireless-earbuds-to-get-amazon-alexa/

TechCrunch article: Nobody is going to ask Cortana to talk to Alexa — https://techcrunch.com/2017/08/31/nobody-is-going-to-ask-cortana-to-talk-to-alexa/

Dark Sky — https://darksky.net/app

TechCrunch article: Google reveals the top things people want to find out ‘How to” do — https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/01/google-reveals-the-top-things-people-want-to-find-out-how-to-do/

How to Fix a Toilet — http://how-to-fix-a-toilet.com

Icon Factory — https://iconfactory.com

The Noun Project — https://thenounproject.com

An Event Apart Josh Clark: The Tools I Use — https://aneventapart.com/news/post/josh-clark-the-tools-i-use

The Durham Savoyards — http://durhamsavoyards.org


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 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 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 137 – Augmented Reality in the Boardroom & Beyond

Episode 137 – Augmented Reality in the Boardroom & Beyond was recorded on Friday, the 20th of May 2016.

Microsoft’s Hololens NFL of the future —

Phaedra and Michael M take time out to talk about mental wellness gaming applications, a “first person shooter” from the perspective of a civillian struggling to survive, and corporate collaboration applications making great use of data visualizations for problem solving now, and for the opportunities for machine learning and augmented reality for the future.

Michael was very impressed with the Microsoft Surface he saw at the SAP SapphireNow coference in Orlando last week, and made the connection for how the Microsoft Hololens product could make the collaboration even greater with augmented reality — not just for business applications, but also for medical scenaros, where a specialist could ‘beam into’ the operating theater, and highlight what needed to be done for the surgeons in the room.

We hope you enjoy the show!

Selected Links

War of Mine by 11 bit studios — http://www.11bitstudios.com/games/16/this-war-of-mine

SapphireNow — http://events.sap.com/sapphirenow/en/home

Knowledge Workspace (play at 1:26:00 mark) — http://tinyurl.com/zx5blzq

IMG_5400  IMG_5399
Digital Boardroom — (play at 38:51 mark) — http://tinyurl.com/h6zgbj6

IMG_5347 IMG_5348

Virtual Reality & the Digital Boardroom — http://blog-sap.com/analytics/2016/05/16/check-out-the-sap-digital-boardroom-and-virtual-reality-experience-at-sapphirenow/

Washington Post “Why virtual reality won’t transform sports viewing” — https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2016/05/16/why-virtual-reality-wont-transform-sports-viewing/


Episode 133 – Game Brains


Episode 133 – Game Brains was recorded on Friday, the 18th of February 2016.

Does playing video games make you smarter?  Michael and Michael answer this question with a resounding “maybe”, as they go through a tour of several interesting links, from Google’s DeepMind computer playing Go, to Volvos starting up without keys, to toys that think and 3D printing going back to 1964 with plastigoop.

We hope you enjoy the show!

Selected links
Can Video Games make you Smarter? — https://youtu.be/OOsqkQytHOs
Luminosity — http://www.lumosity.com
Gmailification — http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/17/google-launches-gmailify-a-way-to-use-gmails-best-features-with-non-gmail-accounts/
Mailbox — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mailbox/id576502633?mt=8
Airmail — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/airmail-your-mail-with-you/id993160329?mt=8
Google Now — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Now
Connected Toys and the Serious Business of Play — http://techcrunch.com/2016/02/15/the-serious-business-of-play/
Mattel 3d printer — http://www.engadget.com/2016/02/15/mattel-thingmaker-3d-printer/
Mattel’s Creepy Crawler Thingmaker with Plastigoop — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creepy_Crawlers
Sphero — http://www.sphero.com/starwars
Teddy Ruxpin — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teddy_Ruxpin
Monopoly — http://www.avclub.com/article/monopoly-now-cashless-economy-232281
DeepMind plays Go —  http://mashable.com/2016/01/27/google-ai-beats-go-champ
Pacman 256 — http://pac-man256.net
Rogue on iOS —  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rogue/id298113808?mt=8
Volvo keyless cars — http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-35611130
Keyless remote app — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/car-remote-keyless-entry/id718121721?mt=8
Smartphone app ride pickup zone — https://twitter.com/doctorow/status/700734551132282880
Global Gamification Market estimated to be $11.1B by 2020 — http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160218006350/en/Global-Gamification-Market-Worth-USD-11.10-Billion

Games Michael & Michael are playing
Michael R — A Tiny Game of Pong — http://mashable.com/2016/02/17/apple-watch-a-tiny-game-pong
Michael M — Tomb of the Mask — https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/tomb-of-the-mask/id1057889290?mt=8