2018-11-06

It's been a crazy past couple weeks. Work has been extremely busy (and productive), lots happened on the personal side of things, and there's a lot of tech stuff that hasn't made it onto here, so I'm just going to move along. I haven't been working so much on personal stuff (or even class) outside of work, so there's not been a whole lot to put here. Interest is still high on a lot of fronts, but time has been limited. I've had some good conversations with a coworker about some maths and philosophy stuff, including finding out what my idea for the neural-network-as-memory (e.g. AQE) was called (translational embedding) and ended up with a slew of papers to read on the subject.

I also got the itch to write Haskell again, so I started a project to work on. It's a location service, and I've enumerated clear milestones to get there without trying to do everything at once.

On the robotics side, the Anki Vector SDK was released, and I decided to build a little Raspberry Pi-based neural network terminal thing.

Pi neural compute system.

This is based around the Raspberry Pi 3B+, which was a huge pain to get setup. Ubuntu has made their Pi images pretty anti-local-user, and I had to find someone else's image linked via a forum post. I wanted Ubuntu 18.04 because A) security updates and B) ROS Melodic only supports armhf on Ubuntu. I looked at doing arm64, but that was going to be even more painful. The touchscreen just worked once I got a working Ubuntu image. A quick list of parts:

My idea is to use this to maybe do some API integration with Digit (my Anki Vector), experimenting with various capabilities. I'm sort of loathe to turn it into more of a puppet than it is. I'd also use it for other experiments in neural networks (though I did order a second neural compute stick for my laptop).

The Vector has been a lot of fun; I appreciate their approach to the problem in that a "pet robot" is naturally more credible than trying to make something human. That is, I think that more progress can be made in emulating non-human intelligences now, and that it makes more sense to get a working robot that feels like it's "alive," for some sense of that word. This is admittedly all very vague and I need to sharpen my thinking here. It probably merits its own essay. Suffice it to say for this arena that Digit has been making me think a lot about HRI (human-robot interactions) and what intelligence looks like.


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