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Archive for November, 2013

Gamers solve decade old HIV puzzle in ten days

This one speaks for itself.

Hat tip to my brother Jared for the link.

 

Puzzled by the intricate structure of the M-PMV retroviral protein… scientists have striven to find its chemical key for ten years now. Each enzyme has millions of possible combination in which it can fold its atom bonds, and determining its precise structure is a very laborious enterprise even for high-end computers with large processing power.

As a long-shot University of Washington biologists sent the virtual 3D model of the M-PMV to the online game Foldit, where gamers folded and turned it into a myriad of combinations. Eventually, and remarkably enough, the gamers obtained the optimum one – the state that needed the lowest energy to maintain….

“Eventually”?
“They actually did it in less than 10 days.”

Yeah gamers!

The reason why computers haven’t been able to do this, despite their evidently superior processing capabilities, is that they’re still far from being capable of having human-like spatial reasoning.

 

I buy that argument as part of it.  I also wonder about the characteristics of the neural super-net that is collaborative human interaction.

 

Interestingly enough, Foldit records the players’ actions and processes them in an algorithm which will eventually help the AI behind the game to someday be able to compile successful structures on its own.

 

Well, whether you buy that might depend whether you believe that algorithms can generate strong AI, or not.

 

Good stuff.

KBM
P.S. Let’s see if this successfully cross-posts to Facebook and Twitter…
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Fandom & adaptations

So who’s seen Ender’s Game?

Is it any good as a movie?

Unrelated question: which, if any, parts of the feel & experience of the book does it get right?

It’s funny, isn’t it, that those are unrelated questions? And movie reviews can only answer the second question when it’s obvious that the reviewer is a fan. e.g. for The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey (3-part Hobbit: WTF?), go straight to Anthony Lane’s review. It summarizes very neatly to “I loved it — but I’m a fanatic” (which is also, word-for-word, my own review of Terminator: Salvation).

I haven’t seen a fan’s review of Ender’s Game. (No, I haven’t searched at Hatrack River, why do you ask?) I knew I was in the wrong place at Entertainment Weekly upon reading, “The problem is, these initiation and training scenes go on forever.” I’m not a Card fanatic, but I’m pretty confident that anyone who considers Battle Room a problem hasn’t the slightest idea what Ender’s Game fandom is about.

P.S. Ben Kingsley as Mazer Rackham is, in theory, an unadulterated stroke of genius. Please tell me that, unlike Russell Crowe as Javert, it also works in practice.

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