Thursday, February 19, 2009

Steve Darwin

On the day after Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, announced at the 2009 AAAS meeting in Chicago that the 1000th Steve had been added to the list of scientists named Steve who endorse evolution. Project Steve started as a tongue-in-cheek response to Darwin-doubters -- now it is a movement. I may even change my name to Steve, and I am pretty sure that Simon's original name was Steve and that his middle initial ("R!") actually is an encrypted version of the name Steve. Shockingly, the 1000th Steve is Steven P. Darwin of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Tulane University. See the ScienceNews article "AAAS: Darwin is the 1000th Steve" for further details.

Embodied Cognition

I just returned from the AAAS 2009 Annual Meeting in Chicago, where I organized and chaired a symposium called "Embodied Cognition: Brains, Mouths, and Hands." There were three great presentations. David Poeppel, New York University, "A Brain's Eye View on Language: Neurobiological Foundations of Comprehension"; Louis Goldstein, University of Southern California and Haskins Laboratories, "An Embodied Theory of Syllabic Organization of Speech"; and Susan Goldin-Meadow, University of Chicago, "Using our Bodies to Change Our Minds". See the AAAS News report, "Early Gestures Can Build A Preschooler's Vocabulary" for more information on the work of Meredith Rowe and Susan Goldin-Meadow, which also appears in a report in the February 13 issue of Science.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wired for War

Nearly coinciding with the wonderful recorded rant (audio, NSFW) by Christian Bale on the set of the craptastic-looking Terminator IV comes this Wired interview with author Peter W. Singer (not to be confused with ethicist Peter Singer), on the robotics revolution in the military. It reminded me of the work of Ron Arkin, who not only builds robots but writes and consults on the ethics of their use in warfare. (And if you want evidence that we're moving gradually toward Skynet, check out this article on automating scientific discovery by Hod Lipson & co.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Robot Video Review: 2008

Singularity Hub, a blog about longevity, nanotech, robotics, genetics, AI, the brain ..., featured a review of robot videos for the past year. Thanks to mark for forwarding the url.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Voice Search 2009

Patti Price draws our attention to Voice Search 2009, which will be held March 2-4, 2009 in San Diego, California. She says "I think it's a nice conference that tends to bridge the gap between technology and applications. And it is a good place to network." This is the second year of the conference which is organized by the non-profit Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS) and Bill Meisel (president, TMA Associates, editor, Speech Strategy News) to address the disruptive role of speech recognition, text-to-speech synthesis, and multimodal user interfaces in mobile, Web, and call center applications. "In the past, application effectiveness was often compromised in order to aid the speech technology; today, the technology has advanced to the point where user requirements can dominate a design. The paradigm shift is having dramatic competitive impacts in many product and service categories." The conference will highlight the wide range of applications that the maturing of speech recognition and text-to-speech technology make possible.


"An artist's daydream in a roomful of his kids' toys leads to a view of New York you've never seen." I LEGO N.Y. can be found in the Feb. 2, 2009 entry of Christoph Niemann's Abstract City blog in The New York Times. Thanks and a hat tip to Robert Remez for letting us know about this.