Clever-K: almost scary, but just so awesome.


obotics, originally from the Czech word for slavery, is growing into something much more than machines doing simple, mundane tasks. Today, robotics is one of the fastest-growing branches of computer science and engineering. Just read some of the other robotics stuff we’ve covered and you’ll see how diverse and rapidly-changing it is.

Today, we’re going to share an awesome video from Swedish robotics group IDSIA, and their project for the Clever-K learning architecture. Just watch:

MoBeE is their modular system for Clever-K, which helps a robot learn how to use its own ‘body.’

These robots basically are being programmed to grow through infancy and childhood.

(Also, check out that dude’s giant mohawk.)

What’s powering all of this? Computer science. It’s the fastest growing profession in the world, and will probably stay that way for a long time. Computer scientists can do everything from theoretical work, to programming AI, to making smartphone apps. Computer scientists live in the real world, but are at home in the virtual world.

If you’re interested in studying computer science, check out the “Read on” links.

Read on:

Computer science: then and now, Chess computing.


ast week we told you about Alan Turing, one of history’s most notable computer scientists, who would be 100 as of last Saturday. We also gave a brief overview of how times are changing in the world of computer science, and why now’s the greatest time ever to get into the field.

This week, we’re going to show you, rather than just tell you, why that is. In the video below, you can watch Chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov play against Alan Turing’s chess algorithm, Turochamp. At the time, this was a revolutionary algorithm, using groundbreaking concepts to think two steps ahead of the game…

…and it can be beaten in just 16 moves. A big step for computer science
back then, but now we’re way ahead! 

We’re not saying the code isn’t impressive. In fact, Turing didn’t even code it on a computer. It was all coded by hand. (Read more about Turing’s chess algorithm.)

But today, we’ve had Deep Blue and other chess computers which are so intelligent they can beat chess grandmasters. Watch this short, 6 minute documentary on Deep Blue vs Kasparov—the same grandmaster in the video above.

Kasparov later accused IBM of ‘cheating’ by having humans make some
of the moves. That means IBM’s Deep Blue passed the Turing Test for AI.

And this is in just the world of chess. In the 90s. In the almost 20 years since Deep Blue, AI technology has grown into such a big field that MIT offers free online AI classes*, and it’s used in basically every videogame made today—as well as fields like diagnostic medicine.

Artificial intelligence, and therefore computer science, is one of the biggest and fastest growing fields around today. Fast growth means high demand for workers, and good pay. If designing artificial brains and teaching computers to think sounds interesting to you, check out that MIT class linked to above, and see if your high school offers anything like it—and pick a college based on their computer science program!


*The class is over, but the content is still up for people to use.

Teach Yourself Programming, Part 3

To be plain, this isn’t (strictly speaking) how to teach yourself programming, but it basically is. And it’s a pretty good opportunity to prove yourself.

The Stanford University School of Engineering is going to offer an online course this fall, for free, called “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.” Not just uploading the course material, like MIT has with their open courseware, but offering the entire course online, for free. That’s homework, quizzes and graded exams.

Why take extra school? Because if you do well, you get a ‘statement of accomplishment’ for a Stanford AI course. Might not be the same as a diploma from Stanford, and it’s technically not an official certificate (read: you won’t get college credit), but if your resume says “CS Major who got an A in a Stanford AI course,” you look like some sort of superpowered geek. And that’s a good thing.

It’s an intro course, but not the most basic CS course Stanford offers. Point being, it probably won’t be easy. But it will be mostly video based, and there’s a recommended textbook as well. Check out this aptly-named video about the course:

Eager to learn what a Bayes net is? Look it up, or take the course (or both).

The professors are going to respond to student questions–even though there will be tens of thousands of students. How will they do it? Slashdot, a geeky news site (seriously, their motto is “News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters”) got this response from the professors, regarding the issue:

“We will use something akin to Google Moderator to make sure Peter and I answer the most pressing questions. Our hypothesis is that even in a class of 10,000, there will only be a fixed number of really interesting questions (like 15 per week). There exist tools to find them.”

The course website has a place to sign up, though official registration doesn’t start until later in the summer. It’s recommended you get to it.

Read what I read: