Sunday, December 28, 2008

Absolute Beauty

The fact that human teams operate towards a goal with all the shortcomings, problems and errors in their individual and teamwork efforts is beautiful. Alas it seems that the real meanings of the human race is hidden somewhere in between these inabilities and distances from ideal and optimum processes. As long as there is a strong will towards action, its all beautiful.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Following this post by yzt regarding Paul Graham's new essay and a previous post on this blog, I've come up with a suggestion for the education system that might have the potential to enhance the current situation a bit, although this is a totally impractical solution but at should be fun as a thought experiment.

Here is the idea: One day all of a sudden all schools decide to not deliver anymore certificates to anyone. The whole University system remains intact except the parts where they hand a piece of paper or some kind of aknowledgement that a student has studied a certain course and for a certain period of time, no Bsc, Msc, PhD or anything else.

Now what will happen? From the University side, they should be able to operate as usual with the normal classes and teachers and exams. The education system would ideally be divided into multiple plans rather than rigid 4 year Bsc degree as an example. There could be 12 paths available for a specific major instead of that. Students are free to drop out anytime. They can start a path anytime, the only requirement is that they have to take an entrance exam since they do not have any proofs of previous studies.

From the students side, we will have a lot of drop offs, all the ones who were there for the degree and didn't care much about learning, and a lot of new students joining because they can now and they only care about learning. The education quality should be much higher in this system since there should be people with same motivations gathered. Better students can joing better schools.

From the industry side. Now these guys will have a tough time selecting the employees since there aren't any bold school history in the resumes. What they can do is to do proper interview and run tests in order to select the best individual, the hiring process for them will be a bit harder and requiring more efforts but the positive values they'll gain by hiring better suited individuals being filtered from their specific process should by far help them in long term. Relying on ones capabilities just by the degree they have from a school is the most risky decision a business can make.

It seems that low quality schools would rather fade in this model since no one would bother attending them since they have no real values, the only value they provide in our existing models are the cheap certificate the hand to graduates which superficially makes them and their parents happy for a week. Void values injected into society which complicates things much more and helps in the degeneration of the education system.

Would you have studied in such a hypothetical world?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Enter Gyoomard

Gyoomard is the ambitious evolutionary AI project which we've started out recently. With the goal of developing simulated character control mechanisms using evolutionary computation and neural networks.

Gyoomard means the living mortal and has been the first human in Persian Mythology.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Finally Alive

Moving as wind past the infinite clouds ... feeling the pleasing wind flow by the ears... am I in a painting ... is this for real? ... never saw so much beauty in the sky ... I can watch the sun rays for years ... feeling no weight ... the smell of the Sake still living in my body... my tongue feels for ever different for feeling it ... the brave look of my friends while holding up the shots is always in front of me ... my most meaningful words written forever (1) ... I am alive .... why wasn't I alive before? ... what was I doing all these years? ... this is life ... why don't people know? ... I will regain the honor of this blade (2) ... the handle in my hand so well crafted ... I can feel the love of the makers ... they are me ... I am them ... I am this thing I'm flying with ... moving so fast ... the blue eternity below ... just beautiful and white eternity above ... everything moves except the big Fuji behind me ... telling me how I should be ... farewell ... hello ... I am as strong as you now that I have no doubts and fear my big friend ... I am approaching ... they are so many ... beautiful smoke rising from some of them ... so naive they are ... the waves tried to stop them ... they forced their way ... their intention to be above their breeder ... above the nature ... here comes the wind ... the divine wind (3) ... the name brings more fear in your soul than you already have ... fear induced by your fake god ... this is the god ... I can see you move so fast on the steel ... running afraid ... feeling in hell already ... gripping to all your grudge and self centered disfunctional beliefs like a spear which is tearing your heart ... I see the pain in your eyes while the reflections of sun rays from my sun symbol(4) burns and reveals them ... a pain which isn't a lot more than what you have already had all your non living life ... you were dead ... this will be your birth ... you're trying to run ... you're trying to send bullets at me ... heh ... you are doing what I want ... I am your god now ... bullets or no bullets my path is straight now ... straight down towards you ... the wind is coming ... we are all one now ... we will be beautiful red, orange, grey and black flying up towards the white and blue ... I had all I wanted ... the wind of god will soon wipe your ugly tearful frightened regretful face and return it to the pure beauty where it belongs ... into the dark light.

(1) Death Poem
(2) The Blade
(3) Divine Wind
(4) Rising Sun

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do the Evolution

Artificial Intelligence was the main title of a magazine called "Rizpardazandeh" which was written with big bold letters on it when I was in the 9th grade. With full curiosity I bought the magazine and read all the articles in it related to the topic, it was mostly about the main ideas and the MIT research lab and Marvin Minsky. Whatever it contained, the event raised my interest and made me sneak into any magazine, book, talk or conference related to AI which I saw close by from that time on.

The general idea of intelligent machines was just so exciting and fun to think of but as I studied more and more about the classical/Symbolic AI, this feeling changed a bit and witnessing the different algorithms in symbolic AI which simplify the human intelligence activities to a few simple steps and enable machines to follow it, made the special human activities seem less complex and important and the real magical feeling behind a real intelligent machine was reduced to rather deterministic computing machines. The glory and value of Artificial Intelligence was over shadowed by the reduced value of the actual intelligent tasks. During that time thinking about AI would result into many ideas in other fields such as psychology, biology and neuroscience.

The border between AI and any computer program was soon diminishing since any computer code would follow some steps to solve a problem which would seem it required intelligence. The definition of intelligence itself was moving like an avalanche. A simple example is the game of chess which was thought of as a game needing lots of intelligence to be played but when Deep Blue beat the human chess master, chess wasn't assumed such an important activity to measure AI anymore.

The original magical feeling returned to me one more time when I read about Genetic Algorithms for the first time a few years later. I was even on the absolute climax the first time I wrote a code that would try to optimize the soluton to a problem using GAs. It was just unbelievable to see every line of output getting better and better as the CPU was processing while you knew that deep inside the code, there are no explicit algorithms that would suggest a solution and actually no heuristics in there to help. Just pure Evolution. Finding out about Neural Networks and their mechanisms and the way they can be used to solve problems added to this feeling of joy. AI contained the magical essence once more but this time in the form of evolutionary and non-symbolic AI.

I've worked on implementing these ideas into different projects and the techniques have proved to be very valuable every time. Most recently, along with MNO, we have started a new research project in the field of evolutionary optimization for sensory motor controllers of a simulated robot. The simulation test bed is almost ready now and the main task which is evolving the robot brains for walking (the first test) needs to be followed. The previous project which we worked on with MNO was "Farsi Cursive Hand-Writing Recognition" software which used feed forward neural networks which were trained by GAs but in the current project we will focus on the use of Continuous Time Recurrent Neural Networks (CTRNN).

Its evolution Baby ....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Empty Spaces

Quiet halls ... empty classes ... confused few ... dimmed goals ... drowned plans ... crushed talents ... this is the current state of the NCC education branch in Tehran which I've been involved with during the past five years. It is an unfortunate ending ... probably the most unfortunate ending for a spark in space-time which provided a great opportunity for many to follow proper Information Systems related education. A vanishing spark which had it found a chance to make the smallest of fires, could have changed the education system in ways to make it more efficient. It just didn't happen.

My belief in the positive effects of this system did not vanish quite linearly throughout these years and I tried to form the un-achievable future till the last days which means the present. I have but a few experiences and hopes now. Experiences related to the tough job of teaching and the dynamics of an educational system and its complexities and all the little links which need to be strong in order to converge to a successful education institution, or at least all the things that can make it go wrong since this system never converged to the goal.

My only hope is that I could've had the slightest effect in the success of all the ones going up and the least negative effect on the ones going down through this system. (Up and Down in pure educational state space)

Would anyone or any event have been able to save this sinking ship? This is a big question which I've thought about many times and even discussed with many a lot, there are many guesses and assumptions which can only be tested in a different time at a different place, this one is already down. Some say the administration wasn't ideal, some say students had problems, some blame the government and some point it at the whole systems model from the source, all I know now is that education is very critical and hard to plan for and a good education system is just really hard to form, although not un-achievable, the main root problem I see in this case is the loss of love, loss of love in every layer, some layers lost it just sooner than others. Every spark can only survive on the strong foundation of love.

I feel a pitty here, I don't usually feel pitty for things I don't have control authority over, but in this case its just sad, I would've been quite ok if the past 5 years were a total mess with no output but thinking about the differences of this system with the ancient-malfunctioning standard higher education plans and all the talented individuals which were channeled in this system to reach better and higher opportunities in an almost efficient way and knowing how many more exist out there who could've had a similar chance is just an annoying thought.

Grab the tubes remaining ones, I've got to get in the boat, set sail for another ship, might not sink this time, one of them should reach the land, one of them will, just more strength is needed, more focus, more belief, persisting love.

The show must go on ...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Entertainment Thoughts ...

It is getting quite cold ... Afro Samurai is just excellent... the animation series ... the game seems really nice ... can't wait ...Axl has come back acceptable ... great band... Prince of Persia 4, although technically beautiful, isn't as fun as the previous series ... Joe Madureira's "Battle Chasers" is something which is absolutely "omoshiro'ee" ... America's got talent is among the most stupid shows ever, but very educational for studying the current state of America, culturally and psychologically ... Heavenly Sword, good style but seeing God of War makes everything else feel elementary ... got reminded about the great book named:"Thinks".

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

My euphoria with Endorphin

I had a chance to go over the Endorphin product in detail today and it amazed me big time. This technology is really great and playing with the product is really fun. Advanced animation systems in a physically simulated test bed with artificial intelligence for active agents, what could be better. The technology is called motion synthesis by Natural Motion.

Behavioral animation is created using Artificial Neural Networks which are trained using Genetic Algorithms, combined with forward and inverse kinematics and a flexible animation framework brings the otherwise lifeless dolls to life.

This video on TED by the owner of the company describes the techniques.

This is the original research paper, "Evolution of central pattern generators for bipedal walking". The following paper is one of the main sources of inspiration for the study.

"The Use of Genetic Algorithms for the Development of Sensorimotor Control Systems"

This area of science is just so interesting.