Podcast with @jamestagg: Are The Androids Dreaming Yet?

On the Sunday morning at Hacklands, after we’d heard some lovely Chopin, James Tagg got up to speak about his new book “Are The Androids Dreaming Yet?” a popular science look at the history and potential future of Artificial Intelligence.  I sat down with James a few weeks later to talk more about the ideas in the book.

Back in August, listening to the talk, I realised just how strongly ingrained our idea is that machines will just get smarter and smarter until they meet and then exceed human capability but also the implication that we’re advanced machines ourselves.  Many people are resigned to it, accepting that it will happen sometime in the near future.  And we do see machines doing things routinely now that a few years ago would have been impossible – the example I always think of is language translation, I would have argued (even five years ago) that it was just too complex a task for machines to do, and while Google Translate isn’t quite perfect, it does a much better job than I would have predicted.  I was wrong.

But.  I also believe that there are human qualities and activities that machines might mimic well, but that that isn’t the same as them being intelligent.  But what if I’m just wrong (again…)?

In his book and in the conversation we’ve recorded, James moves the argument from beliefs and faith, to the arena of mathematical proof.  He shows how the work of Hilbert, Gödel and Turing (among many others), which formed the basis of digital computing in the last century, also holds the key to understanding its limitations.

The good news is that creativity and free will remain something we can reserve for ourselves – and to prove it, I woke up this morning and decided to write this post, and I made up which words to use and the order in which I put them.  I think.

Download the podcast (21MB)

Buy the book!

PS if you like talking about this stuff and you’re near London, you can join in the conversation at Future of Work: Artificial Intelligence on November 10th.

Open Data Institute, Devon at Hacklands

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What can you do with open data?
With enough of it and with enough processing power you can predict the future. Much of this useful data is often locked away in government departments or publicly funded institutes. If only people could get to it and exercise their creativity we might be able to predict the onset of crop disease or plan harvest times better.

ODI Devon will be at Hacklands to explain how you can harvest information from these large data sets and put it to good use.

A bit of background
Open data has to have a licence that says it is open data. Without a licence, the data can’t be reused. The licence might also say:

  • that people who use the data must credit whoever is publishing it (this is called attribution)
  • that people who mix the data with other data have to also release the results as open data (this is called share-alike)

For example, the Department for Education makes available open data about the performance of schools in England. The data is available as CSV and is available under the Open Government Licence, which only requires reusers to say that they got the data from the Department for Education.


Parrot Dones to play with at Hacklands


We have a couple of these coming to Hacklands for you to play with. They have a mile range, are somewhat artificially intelligent – they can find their way home and take hi resolution video which can be streamed to the Internet. Maybe we can hack the Samsung Oculus VR headsets so you can experience the world as a bird does – in first person.

Sleeping Bells @ Hacklands

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Sleeping Bells bring you the ultimate in affordable and spacious luxury “glamping’ this year at Hacklands. We love the idea of the event, and so are offering our fleet to try and entice more of you to stay on site, and enjoy sleeping under canvas.  Imagine just turning up on site and your tent is ready to go, all you need to do is get stuck into whatever takes your fancy, and when you want to leave, they’ll be no messing about either.

As a family operator with a passion for being outside, and encouraging others to enjoy nature, we will do our best to make Hacklands a very special one for you. Our 4m canvas Bell tents hark back to jamboree camping under the stars and offer a cool and comfortable stay for you (with removable sides if the temperature hits the 80”s). The Luxury units sleep two in luxury, or up to 4 with extra bedding. Memory foam matters toppers, “Like Down” Duvets, pillows, 100% cotton sheets, cotton rugs, blankets and fairy lights, will ensure you and your family sleep well, and have the space to make your stay special. Port hole windows, wood poles and toggings, and a rain / sunshade porch, make our units your home from home at Hacklands this year.

If you want to bring your kids and don’t fancy bringing their bedding, we have an offer: for just £25, we’ll bring you a kids “Ready Bed” to use. We will also offer extra full bedding single kits (mattress, memory foam, duvet, pillows, etc.) for just £45 per bed).

We are offering 2 levels of “glamping” at Hacklands. The complete luxury option is the Deluxe Sleeping Bell, with full Queen size bedding and is £200. This sleeps 2,  and can be expanded with the bedding options above. If you need a larger tent, we can provide a 5m tent, which offers extra space for more beds for £250.

A more affordable option is to take one of our “Modern Belles”, nylon 4m Bell Tents, which will come complete with lighting and an Air Mattress for just £80 per unit.

If you want to talk through your options, please call Gavin on 07973 830710 or email gavin@sleepingbells.com