Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Bon soir" --good evening

First evening in Paris, I'm feeling slightly discombobulated. The streets aren't straight, and we got quite lost on the way to the apartment *home* this evening.

First impressions of Parisians-- there was graffiti everywhere on the train ride into the city (like it's not controlled much).

Parents are very allowing of children to be outspoken--the light in babies faces is very different from USA babies-- parents allow the kids to be more determined--it's very hard to describe this difference.

There are many subtle language differences as well but I don't have command of the language so I digress. It seems to express similar ideas to our language but it does so in a way that is unique to being French.

I love it here.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Digestible chunks of reality

Buzz Zap!!! We were talking about robots after being inspired by this video on you-tube. It shows a robot able to cover a variety of terrains without falling over. Wow!

Being nerdy, we all had our input into the conversation. Here are a few of the things I took from us talking:

--memory and learning are simpler than you might think--Rosenfield uses a constructivist approach to explain how memory is built. His take is that memory is made up of the connections between neurons (rather than just being a retrieval system) and is therefore constantly being created by simultaneous stimuli that create a unique pathway in your brain.

--actually the other way of dealing with learning robots makes sense too. We have instincts which are 'hard-wired' into our mind--like little subroutines that can be 'called' when they're needed

--Lego robots--modular electronic components fused with legos, that could be built lego-style into a circuit--would be pretty cool. Kids could learn how to build working robots, people could make robots based on the need of the day

This morning I was thinking back on all of this and realized that going from simultaneous stimuli like Rosenfield talks about to actual stimulus & response behavior --it's all about the coding. How can you take impressions of the big world and make them digestible for a computer brain to decide what actions to take? What is the streamline-iest way to make a robot learn? Could we make a rubber-band powered robot?

Nerdy nerdy nerdy

As for making the big world digestible, I think the next big wave is going to skip reading research articles and just reading reviews of these articles, because there's too much to go through. That's what I'm doing for now anyway.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Just a Quick Update

Blah blah blah...I've re-read my recent posts and it's way too dry. Not a lot of vivaciousness to be sure, dear reader.

Here's an update about why I haven't been posting lately. I'm doing too much!

1) I learned to bake for Bouzies Bakery and covered for Thomas who was in France for 3 weeks

2) We're re-painting the house in expectation of Kathy's birthday extravaganza

3) I'm also delivery driving for the bakery

4) and applying for teaching jobs for this fall

5) and volunteering on Mondays, tutoring on Tuesdays, and whenever possible working with my dad on the weekends

It's enough to wear me out!

All that aside, my wife Amanda and I are going to FRANCE for too weeks! (After all this house-fixing is over we're renting an apartment near the Arch du Triomph and practicing our French. Amanda's Blog is more loquacious about this adventure.)

So kind reader, I hitherforth will try to write stuff that has more vim to it, for your sake.