1425: "Tasks"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

The Synologist
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 5:50 pm UTC

1425: "Tasks"

Postby The Synologist » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:18 am UTC

Image

In the 60s, Marvin Minsky assigned a couple of undergrads to spend the summer programming a computer to use a camera to identify objects in a scene. He figured they'd have the problem solved by the end of the summer. Half a century later, we're still working on it.

I think this would be a great comic to show to a non-technical person in lieu of actually attempting to explain why a request they've made is orders of magnitude more difficult than an earlier one.

Also, kind of off-topic, but isn't it weird that explainxkcd was updated with this comic, but there wasn't even a forum thread for it yet?

User avatar
jalohones
Posts: 59
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:12 am UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby jalohones » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:30 am UTC

I work for an environmental NFP. We have an app that allows people to identify at risk species and upload sightings to a database. Tonight, I'm going to talk to a group of hackers who do pro bono work and ask them to do pretty much the things in this comic.

We should be right with the national park bit.

User avatar
rhomboidal
Posts: 801
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:25 pm UTC
Contact:

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby rhomboidal » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:31 am UTC

By the time we figure it out how to identify birds in photos, birds will probably have their own smartphones.

hujackus
Posts: 79
Joined: Sat Aug 22, 2009 4:30 am UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby hujackus » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:37 am UTC

Since when does it take 5 years to make an image captcha server? Or easier still, send the images to a click farm. Brings to mind the earliest meaning of the word computer.

User avatar
Eternal Density
Posts: 5589
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:37 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Eternal Density » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:01 am UTC

Just feed its quantum wavefunction into a regular expression!

At least it's not for cats. We can't determine whether those are alive or dead yet.
Play the game of Time! castle.chirpingmustard.com Hotdog Vending Supplier But what is this?
In the Marvel vs. DC film-making war, we're all winners.

TuringTest
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:19 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby TuringTest » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:16 am UTC

I've read this month a news article with an algorithm that accurately identifies a large number of animals and classifies them by species better and faster than humans. So at least that problem wouldn't need a research team, only someone to build an API.

Maybe Randall also read that news and that's why we have today's comic?

User avatar
azule
Saved
Posts: 2132
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:45 pm UTC
Location: The land of the Golden Puppies and Rainbows

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby azule » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:26 am UTC

The Synologist wrote:Also, kind of off-topic, but isn't it weird that explainxkcd was updated with this comic, but there wasn't even a forum thread for it yet?
Off-topic-man to the rescue! They have a bot that posts immediately. If the message was gone (about the bot posting), then they're just fast with the human portion of the updating. Speed it up, boys, you have no excuse! ;)
Image

If you read this sig, post about one arbitrary thing you did today.

I celebrate up to six arbitrary things before breakfast.
Time does drag on and on and contain spoilers. Be aware of memes.

User avatar
sfmans
Posts: 104
Joined: Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:09 am UTC
Location: High Peak, UK

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby sfmans » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:26 am UTC

Round here we call them 'psychic connectors' - the bit of the app which accurately guesses what the user intended the end result to be (rather than just relying on what they actually input) and progresses accordingly.

As programmers we are basically all victims of our own success. So much can be achieved within an app, that non-programmers assume the rest of it is just as 'easy' ...

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby orthogon » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:06 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:Just feed its quantum wavefunction into a regular expression!

Won't work. You need to run it through an "enhance" filter first.

I just got a new phone yesterday, and was thinking of setting up "Face unlock", until it warned me that "somebody who looks like you might be able to unlock your phone". Suggests a lack of confidence in their own algorithms, but I suppose if you had an identical twin you might want to use an alternative security method... Then again there's a good chance that your identical twin would choose the same pattern anyway.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

nigenet
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2009 10:27 am UTC
Location: Sunny Buxton, Derbyshire, UK (Where the water comes from)
Contact:

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby nigenet » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:13 am UTC

"Stupid app keeps adding my photographs of velociraptors to the 'Birds In Yosemite National Park' Flickr group..."
"Your mother ate my dog!"
"Not all of him..."

User avatar
da Doctah
Posts: 995
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:27 am UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby da Doctah » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:26 am UTC

Google, of all things, may be closing in on this capability, but it still needs some work:

Searched images for "angry bluebird", got this:

Image

Dragged the same image back into the search window and among the "visually similar images" got:

Image

and

Image

Apparently "grumpy" dominates "bird".

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby orthogon » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:41 am UTC

sfmans wrote:Round here we call them 'psychic connectors' - the bit of the app which accurately guesses what the user intended the end result to be (rather than just relying on what they actually input) and progresses accordingly.

When I was working briefly in Paris, one of my colleagues had a comic called something like "the ages of computing".

The first panel had the guy in a white coat saying something like "MOV A, 1; ADD A,X; RET".
The second was a man in a suit saying "Donnez moi une liste de toutes les filles celibataires dans la ville" ("give me a list of all the single girls in the town").
The third was a guy in a T-shirt saying "Ca par exemple! J'm'souviens pas de c'qu'j'voulais! Tu peux me le dire?" ("Damn, I can't remember what I wanted! Can you tell me?").

This is all from memory - I'd love to track down the original, but have had no success with Google so far. It might have been translated from English, although something about the style makes me think it the French version was the original. I like the tutoiement in the last panel representing the change in the relationship we have with computers, but again I might have misremembered that. I also like the serial elision resulting in the consonant cluster "c'qu'j'v'", raising the bar for the speech recognition system (not to mention the poor non-native speaker).

Your "psychic connector" seems to belong to the third generation according to this model.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

User avatar
Lenoxus
Posts: 120
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:14 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Lenoxus » Wed Sep 24, 2014 10:26 am UTC

orthogon wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:Just feed its quantum wavefunction into a regular expression!

Won't work. You need to run it through an "enhance" filter first.


In addition to the assumption that one can "enhance" any image to any resolution, a far-too-common request of photo-manipulators is to "turn it around" so that the customer can see the back of the subject. Of course, that exceeds even the potential powers of computers, unless the customer already has an idea of what it should look like, or we just put drones everywhere on earth. (Or a "capture all information in a nearby range" camera is invented?)

Carteeg_Struve
Posts: 124
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 12:56 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Carteeg_Struve » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:18 am UTC

1960s: "Begin writing a program that identifies objects."
2000s: Program - "Yes... that is a face."
2010s: Facebook - "Do you want to tag Billy Bob in this picture?" (Uh, that's Mary.)

User avatar
cellocgw
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:22 am UTC

I'd take the easy way out: statistics.

Collect the last 10^6 photos taken in national parks and make your grad students categorize them. My guess is it'll be along the lines of

people standing in front of a "scenic view" : 75%
big animals that you shouldn't be close to: 10%
cute flowers: 14%
birds and all other random stuff: 1%

Now you can categorize new photos as "not bird' with 99% accuracy, without even looking at the photo. :twisted:

PS: yes, I know I am cheating about statistical probabilities here.
resume
Former OTTer
Vote cellocgw for President 2020. #ScienceintheWhiteHouse http://cellocgw.wordpress.com
"The Planck length is 3.81779e-33 picas." -- keithl
" Earth weighs almost exactly π milliJupiters" -- what-if #146, note 7

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby orthogon » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:31 am UTC

cellocgw wrote:PS: yes, I know I am cheating about statistical probabilities here.

That's your biggest barrier to being elected POTUS right there. (Not the cheating about statistics, but the admitting it).
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

User avatar
cellocgw
Posts: 2067
Joined: Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:40 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:48 am UTC

orthogon wrote:
cellocgw wrote:PS: yes, I know I am cheating about statistical probabilities here.

That's your biggest barrier to being elected POTUS right there. (Not the cheating about statistics, but the admitting it).


In that case, ummm...

-- "the above was only cheating in my heart" ?
--" the above was not intended as a statement of fact" ?
--" my damn smartphone autocorrected 'a world-renowned expert in' " ?

Ahhh, the heck with it. I'll sell my soul to the Koch Brothers (does that make me a Koch Addict?) and get elected the Chicago way
resume
Former OTTer
Vote cellocgw for President 2020. #ScienceintheWhiteHouse http://cellocgw.wordpress.com
"The Planck length is 3.81779e-33 picas." -- keithl
" Earth weighs almost exactly π milliJupiters" -- what-if #146, note 7

GodShapedBullet
Posts: 686
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:59 pm UTC
Location: Delaware
Contact:

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby GodShapedBullet » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:59 am UTC

I am going to be so happy when we develop an app that does bird identification for me. I will be the best naturalist.

Edit: I think we get a false sense of security from Facebook's missed identifications. We notice things like that much more readily than we notice when the software gets it right.

arcanechili
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:52 am UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby arcanechili » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:08 pm UTC

I once had a co-worker who did a very good impression of a researcher trying to get funding from a clueless funding agency, along the lines of:

"Natural Language understanding? Nah, that's boring. Even a three year old child can do that.
Let's work on something that really hard even for adults, like, say long division!"

User avatar
akacat
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:39 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby akacat » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:24 pm UTC

The Synologist wrote:In the 60s, Marvin Minsky assigned a couple of undergrads to spend the summer programming a computer to use a camera to identify objects in a scene. He figured they'd have the problem solved by the end of the summer. Half a century later, we're still working on it.


Am I the only one wondering what sort of grade the students got? And if it was bad, at what point they decided to challenge it?

"Um, prof... you know, it's been 20 years and nobody (including you) has solved that problem you gave me a C- on..." :)

(I'm aware that they were likely graded on effort and/or as a simple pass/fail.)

User avatar
Arancaytar
Posts: 1642
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:54 am UTC
Location: 52.44°N, 13.55°E
Contact:

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Arancaytar » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:00 pm UTC

In the 60s, Marvin Minsky assigned a couple of undergrads to spend the summer programming a computer to use a camera to identify objects in a scene. He figured they'd have the problem solved by the end of the summer. Half a century later, we're still working on it.


Half a century? Sheesh, you'd think they might have just dropped that course and graduated by now.
"You cannot dual-wield the sharks. One is enough." -Our DM.
Image

rtanenbaum
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri May 30, 2014 7:16 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby rtanenbaum » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:25 pm UTC

When Ponytail says it will take 5 years, isn't there an xkcd that says that a 5 year work estimate is equivalent to saying, "it will probably take forever"?

User avatar
Whizbang
The Best Reporter
Posts: 2238
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:50 pm UTC
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Whizbang » Wed Sep 24, 2014 1:48 pm UTC

rtanenbaum wrote:When Ponytail says it will take 5 years, isn't there an xkcd that says that a 5 year work estimate is equivalent to saying, "it will probably take forever"?



http://xkcd.com/678/

Seems like she should have said 10 years.

User avatar
Wee Red Bird
Posts: 192
Joined: Wed Apr 24, 2013 11:50 am UTC
Location: In a tree

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Wee Red Bird » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:05 pm UTC

I wonder which side of their filter I'd land on. *chirp*

taoistknight
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:01 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby taoistknight » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:07 pm UTC

I think that's the first mention of my profession (GIS) in xkcd. Enough for me to actually make a forum account, post an inane comment, and then subsequently resume lurking.

User avatar
jc
Posts: 356
Joined: Fri May 04, 2007 5:48 pm UTC
Location: Waltham, Massachusetts, USA, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy
Contact:

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby jc » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:10 pm UTC

GodShapedBullet wrote:We notice things like that much more readily than we notice when the software gets it right.

Just for fun, I did the google-translate-loop thing: Starting with the above sentence, I had it translated to French to Japanese to Greek to Croatian to English. The result was:

We, please refer to things like this much easier than you see when sesoftver is correct.

I didn't know the word "sesoftver" in the Croatian, and apparently neither does google translate. But it's fairly obvious how "notice" ends up as "please refer to".

In any case, the successes of machine translation so far are mostly good examples of "cherry picking" of results. In reality, garbled results like the above are so common with even the best translation software that it doesn't take much to persuade most users that the software can't be trusted with anything of the least importance.

OTOH, machine translation has given us things like you find at engrish.com, so it has added greatly to the world's store of humor.

GodShapedBullet
Posts: 686
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:59 pm UTC
Location: Delaware
Contact:

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby GodShapedBullet » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:46 pm UTC

jc wrote:
GodShapedBullet wrote:We notice things like that much more readily than we notice when the software gets it right.

Just for fun, I did the google-translate-loop thing: Starting with the above sentence, I had it translated to French to Japanese to Greek to Croatian to English. The result was:

We, please refer to things like this much easier than you see when sesoftver is correct.

I didn't know the word "sesoftver" in the Croatian, and apparently neither does google translate. But it's fairly obvious how "notice" ends up as "please refer to".

In any case, the successes of machine translation so far are mostly good examples of "cherry picking" of results. In reality, garbled results like the above are so common with even the best translation software that it doesn't take much to persuade most users that the software can't be trusted with anything of the least importance.

OTOH, machine translation has given us things like you find at engrish.com, so it has added greatly to the world's store of humor.


No doubt, translation software is not good enough at its present time.

That said, translation is a lossy process, and if you used capable human translators in French, Japanese, Greek, Croatian and English and did the same thing, you would lose shades of meaning, and if you continued, I think you could lose meaning altogether.

Would be a fun experiment to do, actually, if anyone knows any translators.

philipwhiuk
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:32 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby philipwhiuk » Wed Sep 24, 2014 2:56 pm UTC

To me, GIS means Google Image Search as much as Geographic Information Systems so it's amusing 'GIS' is a decent approach to both problems :)

User avatar
FrobozzWizard
Posts: 61
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:01 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby FrobozzWizard » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:08 pm UTC

My favorite instance of this was a startup who's goal for their first product had, as a prerequisite, a program that could perfectly understand written English. The moron who had preceded me as head of the tech team (before getting fired for failing to deliver on his promises for something like a year) had absolutely convinced management that such a thing was possible and within their (not-very-large) budget.

What was worse is that the CEO had read the book about Steve Jobs and decided that the way Jobs had succeeded was simply demanding the impossible and abusing his staff until he got it. Of course, he neglected to realize that Jobs was himself a tech guy and had a pretty good idea of what was possible, and had Woz to consult if he wanted to be sure it was possible, whereas this CEO was decidedly not a tech guy and had no idea what was possible.

It ended up working out well for me: I had my next job basically lined up the day that the CFO told the employees (after the rest of the management team had skipped town) that they wouldn't be paying people on schedule. I'm a professional, and that means I don't work if I'm not getting paid.

User avatar
orthogon
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 7:52 am UTC
Location: The Airy 1830 ellipsoid

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby orthogon » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:21 pm UTC

jc wrote:
GodShapedBullet wrote:We notice things like that much more readily than we notice when the software gets it right.

Just for fun, I did the google-translate-loop thing: Starting with the above sentence, I had it translated to French to Japanese to Greek to Croatian to English. The result was:

We, please refer to things like this much easier than you see when sesoftver is correct.

I didn't know the word "sesoftver" in the Croatian, and apparently neither does google translate. But it's fairly obvious how "notice" ends up as "please refer to".

In any case, the successes of machine translation so far are mostly good examples of "cherry picking" of results. In reality, garbled results like the above are so common with even the best translation software that it doesn't take much to persuade most users that the software can't be trusted with anything of the least importance.

OTOH, machine translation has given us things like you find at engrish.com, so it has added greatly to the world's store of humor.

I guess the subject pronouns got lost when it went into Japanese and then had to be reinvented again somewhere along the way. This is one of the seriously hard problems: how to fill in the information that the source language allows to be omitted but the target languages requires. There are so many of these things and each language has its own particular set: no doubt there are languages where the word for "software" has to be inflected according to whether it was written in the morning or the afternoon.

Also I suspect that Google Translate has to go via an intermediate language, since it probably doesn't have exhaustive coverage of the 2N2 translations. Given the problem of lost information, this intermediate language ought to be a sort of canonical one that captures the union of everything that it's possible/necessary to convey, but perhaps there's an optimum choice of natural language for any given pair of source and target languages. (I remember reading that the EU had to start using intermediate languages for simultaneous interpreting when the union was enlarged to 25 member states, since it was going to be tricky to find and accommodate enough translators to do all the combinations of Latvian<->Portuguese etc that would have been required; I don't know which intermediate languages are used).

I definitely have a bipolar response to all practical AI. Either it's flabbergastingly brilliant, or it's totally stupid.

BTW hilarious translations pre-date the era of machine translation. In fact there's even more scope for error when somebody who knows nothing at all about the target language, or worse still nothing about languages in general, tries to translate using only a dictionary.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

chris857
Posts: 100
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:04 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby chris857 » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:43 pm UTC

As a programmer: this, so much this.

schapel
Posts: 244
Joined: Fri Jun 13, 2014 1:33 am UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby schapel » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:14 pm UTC

akacat wrote:Am I the only one wondering what sort of grade the students got? And if it was bad, at what point they decided to challenge it?

"Um, prof... you know, it's been 20 years and nobody (including you) has solved that problem you gave me a C- on..." :)

(I'm aware that they were likely graded on effort and/or as a simple pass/fail.)

Usually research assistant positions are not graded. They may have been paid hourly, or they volunteered to do research work with Minsky to help their chances of getting into grad school. Maybe one or more of the students wrote a thesis which could have been graded, but failing to solve a research problem completely would not result in a poor grade. A paper describing the approaches they tried and their limitations could easily result in an A if it was well written, even if all the approaches failed miserably.

Actually, it was one student, Gerald Sussman, and he went on to earn his PhD with Minsky as his advisor. I would say he got the A.

There's a lovely koan featuring these two researchers:
In the days when Sussman was a novice, Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6.
"What are you doing?" asked Minsky.
"I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-tac-toe," Sussman replied.
"Why is the net wired randomly?" asked Minsky.
"I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play," Sussman said.
Minsky then shut his eyes.
"Why do you close your eyes?" Sussman asked his teacher.
"So that the room will be empty."
At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.

User avatar
da Doctah
Posts: 995
Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 6:27 am UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby da Doctah » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:18 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:BTW hilarious translations pre-date the era of machine translation. In fact there's even more scope for error when somebody who knows nothing at all about the target language, or worse still nothing about languages in general, tries to translate using only a dictionary.


The story of English As She Is Spoke is informative. The author decided that the best way to produce a Portuguese-to-English phrase book while knowing no English would be to translate an existing Portuguese-to-French guide using a French-English dictionary, making such assumptions along the way as believing English nouns have gender which is reflected in the choice of "a" or "an" for indefinite article, so that the table headed "Degrees of kindred" includes "A widower" and "An widow", not to mention both "A guardian" and "An guardian".

User avatar
Whizbang
The Best Reporter
Posts: 2238
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:50 pm UTC
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Whizbang » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:22 pm UTC

Can sum1 pls hlp me with my xl wrkbk? I need a macro 2 do my job 4 me.

User avatar
PinkShinyRose
Posts: 835
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:54 pm UTC
Location: the Netherlands

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:39 pm UTC

I think it would be much more useful if my camera aided me in making a photo of the bird to begin with. It's fine if it just sits somewhere near me for a while, while I get my camera, turn it on and make a photograph. But in my experience birds often fly rather fast and tend to be too far away (telescopic lenses are huge, they still require me to see the bird first and make it even more difficult to photograph moving objects).

Xlythe
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:27 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Xlythe » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:49 pm UTC

How would you tell if someone is in a national park? The geodecoders I've seen usually just give a street address and would, at best, give the name of the national park (Which may or may not contain the phrase "National Park")

I've been looking for something similar... I want to know if someone is in the mountains, or on a beach, or in the middle of the ocean given gps coordinates...

jpvlsmv
Posts: 85
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2013 9:43 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby jpvlsmv » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:06 pm UTC

Lenoxus wrote:
orthogon wrote:
Eternal Density wrote:Just feed its quantum wavefunction into a regular expression!

Won't work. You need to run it through an "enhance" filter first.


In addition to the assumption that one can "enhance" any image to any resolution, a far-too-common request of photo-manipulators is to "turn it around" so that the customer can see the back of the subject. Of course, that exceeds even the potential powers of computers, unless the customer already has an idea of what it should look like, or we just put drones everywhere on earth. (Or a "capture all information in a nearby range" camera is invented?)

Nah, we don't need to record all that data, we just need to be able to simulate the universe in some approximation of real time. Easily extrapolated from a small piece of fairy cake or something like that.

Then we just change the virtual camera position, run the scene, and display the results. Like what NVidia did with the fake/simulated moon landing to advertise their new graphics card.

Of course, it's probably easier to simulate that since there's none of that pesky, chaotic (highly sensitive to small perturbations) weather on the moon.

User avatar
PinkShinyRose
Posts: 835
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:54 pm UTC
Location: the Netherlands

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:07 pm UTC

Xlythe wrote:How would you tell if someone is in a national park? The geodecoders I've seen usually just give a street address and would, at best, give the name of the national park (Which may or may not contain the phrase "National Park")

I've been looking for something similar... I want to know if someone is in the mountains, or on a beach, or in the middle of the ocean given gps coordinates...

A map? Otherwise elevation may give some indication.

User avatar
Whizbang
The Best Reporter
Posts: 2238
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 7:50 pm UTC
Location: New Hampshire, USA

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby Whizbang » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:08 pm UTC

I would guess there is a database of national parks and their area coordinates.

tomfuture
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:45 pm UTC

Re: 1425: "Tasks"

Postby tomfuture » Wed Sep 24, 2014 5:17 pm UTC

I feel this is a good opportunity to point people my site that uses computer vision to identify birds! It won't tell you if it's a bird, but if it is a bird, it will tell you what kind. If I include the URL here I get flagged as spam, but the site is called Birdsnap, and if you guess the URL based on that, you'll probably get it right.


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 82 guests