Archive for the ‘conference reports’ category


Judea Pearl’s Turing Award Lecture at AAAI-12

August 2nd, 2012

Douglas Fisher, Vanderbilt UniversityJudea Pearl received the 2011 ACM A. M. Turing Award “for fundamental contributions to artificial intelligence through the development of a calculus for probabilistic and causal reasoning.” In this guest post, Douglas Fisher, associate professor of computer science and computer engineering at Vanderbilt, summarizes Pearl’s Turing Award Lecture, delivered at last week’s AAAI Conference.

Judea Pearl, University of California at Los Angeles [image courtesy ACM]Professor Pearl delivered his Turing Award Lecture as the opening invited address at the 26th AAAI Conference in Toronto, Canada, last week. He opened by acknowledging the support of the AAAI community in a great collaborative enterprise, a remarkable “journey” as he said, and he shared the award with the community and his coauthors. He also cited three of his seminal papers, which had been presented at past AAAI conferences and that presaged the hierarchy of processes — probabilistic, causal, and counterfactual — that formed a trajectory of his research and a focus of his talk: “Reverend Bayes on Inference Engines: A Distributed Hierarchical Approach” from the second annual AAAI conference; and “Symbolic Causal Networks” with Adnan Darwiche and “Probabilistic Evaluation of Counterfactual Queries” with Alexander Balke, both from the 12th annual AAAI conference (more following the link…).

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Solving the Turing Test by 2029?

July 6th, 2012

Ray Kurzweil at The Wall Street Journal's annual CTO Network Conference in Washington, DC, last week [image courtesy Ralph Alswang for The Wall Street Journal].At The Wall Street Journal’s annual CFO Network Conference in Washington, DC, last week, inventor and entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil spoke about “frontiers in technology,” discussing, among other topics, recent advances in artificial intelligence — and what they might mean for the future of the field. During his comments, Kurzweil referenced the Turing test and made an interesting prediction (emphasis added):

“Alan Turing in 1950 defined a way in which we can say that a computer is operating at human levels. You have a human judge interview a computer and a human — maybe several of each. If the judge can’t tell which is which, we say the computers have passed the Turing test.


“Every year, our Turing test is run by the Loebner Foundation, and the computers are getting better every year. If you just look at the rate at which they’re getting better, the crossover is about 2029. My prediction all along has been that computers will be able to deal with a full range of human intelligence by 2029.

Check out a couple short clips of Kurzweil’s comments at the CTO Network Conference after the jump…

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ACM Webcasting Turing Centenary Celebration Today, Saturday

June 15th, 2012

ACM's A.M. Turing Centenary Celebration [image courtesy ACM].The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is holding its A.M. Turing Centenary Celebration in San Francisco, CA, today and Saturday — marking the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing’s birth by bringing together 33 living Turing Award winners for the first time, and raising awareness of Turing, reflecting on his contributions, and discussing the fundamental importance of computing and computer science. The event, which kicks off at 12pm EDT this afternoon, will be streamed live via the web. Over 1,000 in-person attendees are expected.

As Vint Cerf, the General Chair for the celebration and himself the 2004 ACM Turing Award winner, writes (following the link):

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“Rethinking Privacy in an Era of Big Data”

June 5th, 2012

danah boyd studies privacy and children’s use of social media [image courtesy Erik Jacobs/The New York Times].Last week, the UC Berkeley’s School of Information held a forum — called the DataEDGE Conference — seeking to explore the challenges and opportunities associated with the transition to a data-intensive economy. One of the speakers was danah boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and an Assistant Professor at New York University, who discussed the implications of Big Data on privacy — and the role for researchers and technologists moving forward.

The New York Times Bits Blog has coverage of boyd’s talk:

“Privacy is a source of tremendous tension and anxiety in Big Data,” says Danah Boyd, a senior researcher at Microsoft Research. Speaking last week at a conference on Big Data at the University of California, Berkeley, she said, “It’s a general anxiety that you can’t pinpoint, this odd moment of creepiness.” She asked, “Is this moving towards a society that we want to build?”


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Scanning the Robots at ICRA 2012

May 30th, 2012

Our colleagues at IEEE’s Spectrum have posted a neat montage of the exhibit hall at last week’s 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2012) — which featured more than two dozen exhibitors and attracted over 1,700 attendees.

DARPA's ARM Robot [image courtesy IEEE Spectrum].The robots at the exhibit hall included the DARPA ARM… NASA’s Robonaut 2Willow Garage’s PR2Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci Surgical System, and [ReconRobotics, Inc.’s Scout], which is based in Edina, Minn., and brought a makeshift Afghanistan village to the show floor. Though we’ve seen all of these bots before, we’ve learned some new things about each of them.

Check it out after the jump…

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Computing at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

May 1st, 2012

USA Science and Engineering Festival [image courtesy NSF].Computing was among the excitement this past weekend at the 2nd Annual USA Science & Engineering Festival, held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. The festival is the largest celebration of science and engineering in the U.S. and featured over 500 exhibits and 75 performances and shows on multiple stages.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) was an Einstenium sponsor of the Festival and supported a performance stage and the participation of 16 projects, including the SpelBots. The SpelBots are a team of students with an interest in robotics from Spelman College, a female historically black college, and were formed to inspire and encourage young women and underrepresented students to study computer science, engineering, and robotics. In addition to participating in outreach activities, the SpelBots compete in robotics competitions around the world and have qualified for RoboCup 2012, to be held in Mexico City in late June (continued following the link…).

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