And you can play God Games too! The SIMS are nice, but limit your godhood to a single environment on a single planet. To get into the game from a Universal level, try Discover’s Star Formation. You start with a dust cloud, and set up conditions to optimize star creation as gravity nodes gather mass. Another fun one is the Universe Sandbox, where again you start with the basic laws of physics, and modify the parameters to create your desired results. For a Gods-Eye view of the universe, you can try World Wide Telescope, the Windoze ripoff of the classic Open Source monster Celestia. And if you like the Open Source version better, be sure to visit Celestia Motherload, with a ton of upgrades and plugins, including the Selden Ball data.
It is Worldwide Dungeons and Dragons Gameday today, and lots of people are playing. But here is a prototype of a toy I would like to start playing with. It is built with off-the-shelf parts totaling about $350; a camera, a small projector, a cell phone, and some colored plastic or tape for your fingers. But it combines them for functionality we have never had before, and in production it would cost around $100. They are calling it the Sixth Sense, and it is the first wearable computer I have seen that turns your environment and the things in it interactive. This project is from the MIT Media Lab, one of many they are developing to invent a better future. Thanks to Technology Story for the heads-up on that one.
Not only has the Turing Test been passed, but it was the IEEE who accepted the computer as a human, publised its paper, and asked it to chair a session at the CSSE (Computer Science and Software Engineering) 2008 Conference held a few weeks ago. Alan Turing proposed a test of intelligence as a replacement for the question “Can machines think?” back in 1950, and there is even an award, the Loebner Prize, for whoever pulls it off. The test itself is simple: if a conversation with the computer was indistinguishable from that with a human,the computer could be said to be thinking. The machine that generated the paper accepted by the world’s leading professional association for the advancement of technology was SCIgen – An Automatic CS Paper Generator, and this is not the first time it passed for human. This MIT-built program was also accepted to the 2005 WMSCI conference and has been published elsewhere; you can get details on its blog.