Jan 30, 2009

Soviet Animation

My neighbour told me stories of the beautiful animated films the Soviet occupation forces showed in their improvised cinemas in the years after the second world war. Thanks to Al Gore I was able to quickly learn a bit about the History of Soviet Animation.

If you think all animation was like Worker and Parasite from The Simpsons, you may be in for a surprise.

The Magic Flower (part one). 1948.
Beautiful, fluent animation, based on rotoscoping (or, in Russian terms, eclair).

The Magic Flower (part two). 1948.

The Magic Flower (part three). 1948.

The Humpbacked Horse (part one). 1947.
The lack of subtitles makes the story somewhat hard to follow here. Reading the Wikipedia entry helps a bit.

The Humpbacked Horse (part two). 1947.

The Humpbacked Horse (part three). 1947.

The Humpbacked Horse (part four). 1947.
Huh ? The Phoenix looks a lot like Tezuka's Phoenix (drawn in1954) ! The God of Manga a plagiator ? Hmm, no, apparently there exists something like a global consensus on how a Phoenix is supposed to look like...

The Humpbacked Horse (part five). 1947.

The Humpbacked Horse (part six). 1947. Yay, whale island !

The Humpbacked Horse (part seven). 1947.

The Humpbacked Horse (part eight). 1947.

Girl and Dolphin (with substitles). 1978. The matter of dolphin intelligence, or sentience, was indeed vigorously studied in the Soviet Union. I fondly remember reading a Soviet book from the Seventeed on that topic during a voyage to Spitzbergen on a Russian cruise ship in 1990...

Bandar-Logs, from The Adventures of Mowgli. 1973. This adaptation of the story is quite close to Kipling's dark, violent vision.

Jan 20, 2009

Every Time.

  • Every time a physicist plays God, we get one step closer to making catgirls reality.
  • Every time Schroedinger thought about catgirls, Gernsback frowned and sighed "God..." while leafing through a bad manuscript.
  • Every time someone calls the Singularity "The Rapture of the Nerds", some catgirls get physical with each other.
  • Every time you ask about Tipler in a lecture on General Relativity, you'll get frowned upon.
  • Every time a bookstore clerk files "The Call of Cthulhu" under "Science Fiction", a lonely physicist googles for catgirl pictures.
  • Every time a lonely science fiction fanboy feeds his cat, he fantasizes about studying physics and finding a proof for God's non-existence that'll show those stupid theologians.
  • Every time a physicist complains about poor characterization in an SF novel, a catgirl quotes Nietzsche.
  • Every time God checks on his Catgirl Planet, he reminds himself to have a look again at that Monkeyboy Planet soon.
  • Every time you mention catgirls into a discussion on applied theology, a physicist writes some Permutation City self-insertion fanfic.
  • Every time a catgirl tries to understand Permutation City, God finds himself in the dust.
  • Every time a catgirl tries to understand physics, nyaaa!

Jan 13, 2009

When Will The Singularity Occur ?

Now and then I get asked about estimates of how long it will take us to get to the Singularity. Now Ray Kurzweil has demonstrated that this question can easily be answered by plotting various trends on a log-linear scale. Let me demonstrate how this works.

First, we notice that the average age of winners of the Turing Award, the most prestigious award in computer science (the "Nobel Prize" of this field), has been steadily increasing since the time of its inception in 1966:

Donald Knuth is apparently somewhat of an outlier. We will nevertheless include him in our further analysis.

We now switch to a log-linear scale, which is a much more scientific way of looking at trends, and try to fit an exponential trend to our dataset (including Donald Knuth):

We can now easily extrapolate this trend to the middle of the century.

We learn that by 2050, the average Turing awardee will be a centenarian, which is quite realistic given the expected progress of anti-aging technologies over the next decades.

Now, when the Singularity occurs, Ray Kurzweil will surely get the Turing Award for having foreseen it, either that year or the next, depending on circumstance. We therefore add him to our diagram (note that Ray ages linearly, or, on his own account, even sub-linearly; for fairness, and out of scientific rigor, we just plot the time from his birth in 1948.)

If you squint, you can see that crossover occours around 2035. Therefore, the Singularity will either happen in 2034 or 2035.

Coming soon: posts on "What is the computing power of the human brain?" and "What's the best programming language for writing an AI (like, while I finish high school) ?".