Wednesday, June 27, 2007


In this astounding video from the last TED Conference, Blaise Aguera y Arcas from Microsoft Live Labs demonstrates Photosynth.
Basically, it's a technology that displays images only in the amount of pixels your monitor can handle, allowing you to view a gallery of thousands of images all at once, and zoom into them instantly, even if they are 30 megapixel.
The other part is demoed as "Notre Dame". Searching for it in Flickr, the program takes every image of the landmark and made a computer composite of it. You can seamlessly view everyone's image of the cathedral, and see where they took the pic in relation to the cathedral, all in one huge 3D interactive map.
You can discover it yourself here.

This reminds me of a thought experiment that I came across on Wired:
3. Searle's room
A man sits alone in a room. Someone slips paper with Chinese writing on it under the door. The man doesn't read Chinese, but with a set of instructions he's able to manipulate the symbols and respond. To an observer, the man appears to understand the language. Philosopher John Searle devised the scenario in 1980 to make a point about computers. CPUs, like his man, lack comprehension and thus can't have humanlike intelligence.

Not sure if this thought experiment still applies. Can't computers become self aware? When does consciousness occur?

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