17 January 2012

Gut feeling, the fancy name for blind luck when it turns out right

There's a fun story today about two men who kayaked around Ellesmere island in the Arctic north last summer.

The island is between Canada and Greenland. Here you can see a map of the north Arctic including Ellesmere island.

I like this quote from the story:

“We paddled out at 11 in the morning, got scared and came back,” Turk said. “We went out at 4 in the afternoon, got scared and came back. And then we went out at 9 and looked at each other. ‘O.K., we’re going for it.’ By 3 in the morning, we got clear around Cape Union.”

He added: “We each had a gut feeling that that was the right time. But is a gut feeling just a fancy name for blind luck? Or did we really know something? I don’t know. We made it.”

13 January 2012

Glad Calvinball is at the bottom!

Remember Watson, the computer that can play Jeopardy? Scientists love to create algorithms that can beat humans at games-- it's one of the most interesting, fun, and useful ways to address questions of artificial intelligence. You can now find an up-to-date categorization of games, with respect to how easily computers can beat humans, in xkcd. Thinking about the different games might give you some insight as to what computers are good at and what they are not!