Saturday, 20 August 2016

5 Things Your Kids Really Need to Master, and Continually Learn and Develop in the Coming Era of Ubiquitous Strong Artificial Intelligence.

Do you have young children, or an extended family of kids? Because if you have, you and the family need to think about and act on what I say below!

Because your kid’s future will be fundamentally different when it comes to work and the workplace, as they are going to be busier than ever without what we call work today!



Work as we know it is going to disappear, as automation is rapidly replacing jobs in the factory; and now in the service sector (how did you book your last holiday? Go to a travel agent, or do it via your iPhone and a Net App?). Mass production driverless cars, are just a few years away! Next, buses, trains, taxies, and all and sundry delivery systems become autonomous (there’s ~one-hundred thousand taxi drivers in the UK alone! What’s next for them?).

Schools, health-care, and security provision are about to go Botmatic! Why learn from a teacher, when you can learn at home with AI cobot? Why go to the quack when prognosis and prescription is carried out by an AI? And would any one mess with a Superstore Security Robot made of Titanium, or rob a Boutique when every (every) product has a Smart GPS Tag (in fact why would any shop need a metallic Robot? By the time the assailant get home, Robocop is waiting at his door step, ‘Prisoner, you have the right to remain silent, or get your Butt kicked).

OK, so here’s the rub.

Not all jobs will be automated and augment with AI. As what can be automated (all repeatable processes) is different from what should be automated (working down a mine). And that comes down too moral values, even ethics. But in the end, most maker and service jobs will be Robotised!

So what are your kids going to do for work, and the major reason for work in the first place: earning a liveable, even higher wage? The jobs of the future will not look like the jobs of the past. In fact, they will not resemble anything like work as we know it today.

They will look like play, fun, hobbies, interests, passions, obsessions, even delusions (for many) as we know it now.

For sure, the first 3 eternals skills/knowledge and application set will become ever more relevant. That is, Mathematics, Language, and Science. But two more ‘need-to-understand’ bodies of know-how are rapidly becoming an imperative: high-level software design/development, and the core processes of innovation, enterprise, and entrepreneurial-ship.

Because without these five bodies of knowledge your kids won’t have a job of any kind. 

Especially the new kinds of jobs now emerging.

Think of the English farmer two-hundred years ago, would he have any idea what new jobs will come into play in 20, 30, 40 or 50 years from then?’ To the farmer, the industrial revolution was nowhere in sight 200 years ago.

Now ask yourself, ‘what short of jobs will be around in 20, 30, 40, 50 years from today?’

What’s different today, with regards this question, is our technologically enabled capability to forecast technological trends with finer and further accuracy than 200 years ago. Big Data, the World-Wide-Web, and Cloud Databases, are tools that enable the mapping of technological trends with reliable accuracy.

We can forecast many of the new jobs in the years to come because of this capability. We know for sure that the AI and Robot Revolution is happening now, and will carry on into the distant future. AI will be everywhere, robots and automation will be ubiquitous.

So programming and maintaining bots and writing AI code will be a must. Most factory and service jobs will be out the window. So innovating new kinds of jobs, businesses, whole industries will be sacrosanct.

So maths, language and science, augmented with high-level software design/development, and the core processes of innovation, enterprise, and entrepreneurial-ship, will be a must have skill set.

Hence, ‘You Incorporated/You-Brand,’ creating unheard of value through the invention of extraordinary new applications and custom programs for AI and Robots in new technological arenas not insight now, is how will be how our children make a living in the future.

The body of knowledge of combined innovation, enterprise, and entrepreneurial-ship, is easy to reach these days. Millions of books (try mine), websites, and conferences are available at reasonable prices (go figure).

But consumer and high school level programming of Robots and AI is still in its infancy. So how do we get started on all this (see post below)?
LEGO Mindstorms: Serious Play with Toy Robots.

Do you remember whiling away the hours playing with Lego bricks as a child? I do! On my 10th birthday, my mother took me to the famous Hamleys Toy Store, Regent Street, London. Where she bought me a huge box of Lego. To say I was hooked, is the least of it.

Well, things have not stood still for Lego since the early 1970s. Lego has become intelligent! And for the aspiring Robotologist; or indeed, budding Robotics design/industrial engineer, they would not go that far wrong by learning the elementary ropes with a range of intelligent Lego sets called ‘Mindstorms.’

One thing is rock sure, that young people today – that is tots and teens and adolescents – will be swamped in Robot technologies 10 years from now (2025). A child going through his education; or indeed a young adult going through college education without any engagement with and/or learning about Robot technologies is the equivalent of not learning to write in their native language; or indeed ignoring the universal language of mathematics. They just will not cut it in the future of work (as I will explain later in this book).

Even for me, more than halfway through my career, I am having to start a new engineering apprenticeship in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (and Biotechnology and Nanotechnology).

Lego Mindstorms is a sequence of toy kits that include hardware and software that allows the would-be Robotist to build a vast array of customisable, programmable toy Robots out of a combination of traditional Lego bricks and advanced Lego components.

Beginners can manipulate intelligent Lego-brick computers that command the systems; attach sets of modular sensors and servo motors; and click together Lego parts from the Technic line (such as gears, axles, beams, and pneumatic parts), to tailor mechanically unique Robot systems. Mindstorms, as the name suggests, is both fun and taxing to learn.

Mindstorms can be used to build a model of embedded systems with computer-controlled electromechanical parts. Many types of real-world embedded systems, from programmable vehicles; devise controllers for miniature elevators, carrousels, conveyors, and rotary systems; to mock industrial Robots; can be put together with Mindstorms.

Mindstorms is primarily a recreational toy. Little’ens are fascinated by it. But it is much more than time killing amusement. It is in fact a highly addictive learning and discovery tool. Various kits are sold and used as educational tools. Where the academic version is called 

Lego Mindstorms for Schools, and comes with the programming software.
For youngsters, the Lego software is fairly easy to learn, and more than enough to get to grips with the basics. But for the inquisitive 20/30/40+ something, the Lego software can be up-graded with third party firmware and/or programming languages; including some of the most popular ones used by professionals in the embedded systems industry. Java and C for example.

The only difference between the educational series, known as the ‘Challenge Set’, and the consumer series, known as the ‘Inventor Set,’ is that the education set includes more touch sensors and several more gearing options. Opening up the prospect for more adventurous Robot projects.

As I said, reading this right now, might seem that Lego Mindstorms is a past-time toy, to occupy inquisitive young minds. But Mindstorms is the result a LEGO and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab joint venture. To bring LEGO-based educational products to market based on leading-edge and highly effective ‘constructivist’ learning methodologies.

Lego Mindstorms has been named after the 1980 book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas; by Seymour Papert. Papert proposed a unique computer-based learning environment called, ‘Microworld.’ His primary belief about the Microworld's design is that it complements the natural knowledge building mechanisms of children, known as a constructivist approach to knowing and learning.

His primary implication is that Microworld learning profoundly affects the quality of knowledge gained. This work is one of the first large-scale attempts to mediate educational computer-based technology with Piagetian-based theories (just below) of learning and knowing.

Papert timing could not be better, having been at the centre of three learning revolutions: child development psychology, artificial intelligence, and computational technologies for education.

His fundamental research on applied human-and-machine intelligence and cognition has touched children around the world. For those in the know, it is difficult to envision a school Robotics subculture without Papert. Or for that matter, most of technology-enabled project-
based learning.

Born in 1928 in Pretoria, South Africa, eventually a philosophy student at South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand, where he received a doctorate in mathematics in 1952. As part of his doctoral work, Papert had spent time at the Henri PoincarĂ© Institute at the University of Paris. It was in Paris that he would meet the renowned Jean Piaget; the original architect of the theory of cognitive development stage theory: a comprehensive thesis of the nature and development of human intelligence. Piaget held that one's childhood plays a vital and active role in cognitive development. But, in fact, it deals with the nature of knowledge itself and how humans come gradually to acquire, construct, and use it.

Another influential chance meet-up, came at the 1960 symposium on Information Theory, London. Where Papert bumped into the marvellous Marvin Minsky (Don Professor of AI, at MIT); whereby they both coincidentally presented papers on a similar theorem.
Later in close partnership with Marvin Minsky, Papert became co-founder of MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Further, ‘Perceptrons,’ the groundbreaking 1970 book co-authored by Minsky and Papert, was possibly the first look at AI to gain widespread notice beyond domain experts.

Papert crafted ‘Logo,’ a revolutionary programming language, the first designed expressly for use by children, at a time when computers used to fill entire rooms and were impossibly complicated.

Papert’s vision was that children should be programming the computer rather than being programmed by it. In 1970, Papert convened a symposium at MIT called ‘Teaching Children Thinking;’ where he laid out his case for children teaching computers.

This radical idea would float around for nearly two decades before digital tools would become commonplace in the classroom. And yet to this day, there is still a great gap between paradigms: Is the machine driving the child or vice versa?

Its applications to learning and teaching in 2015+ are no less than startling. Mindstorms ranks in the top 10 education books I have read. It describes not just how children develop intellectually, but frames the role that educational technology plays in teaching and learning.

Millions of kids are now being exposed to advanced ideas and technologies such as Robotics, Multi-agent Modelling, Systems Dynamics, and Digital 3D Printing. The Lego company is transforming many of these ideas into their products under the title ‘Mindstorms,’ in honour of Papert.

From his book, Mindstorms:

‘Many children are held back in their learning because they have a model of learning in which you have either “got it” or “got it wrong.” But when you program a computer you almost never get it right the first time.
Learning to be a master programmer is learning to become highly skilled at isolating and correcting bugs ...
The question to ask about the program is not whether it is right or wrong, but if it is fixable. If this way of looking at intellectual products were generalized to how the larger culture thinks about knowledge and its acquisition we might all be less intimidated by our fears of “being wrong.'

Papert was perhaps the first interaction designer especially concerned with digital tools and children. His awareness that children effectively think differently than adults, and that their cognitive evolution requires designing rich toolkits and environments rather than force-feeding knowledge, has set the tone for decades of research.

And now, the rich form of constructivist learning is literally being embedded in Lego Mindstorms.

Lego Mindstorms Robotics activities are concrete, contextualized, and provide immediate feedback – important factors in satisfying a student’s desire for success and creating the motivation to continue learning. Students also learn about the Robotics technologies themselves, which impact all modern industries, from agriculture to healthcare, banking, manufacturing, transportation, energy, and security.

The Introduction to Programming curriculum is just that: an overture. For many teachers – and why it is important – it will be their first experience at instructing Robotics and Programming. However, the Robotics Academy has plenty of free resources on its website and regularly offers teacher courses.

The first generation of Lego Mindstorms was built around a brick known as the RCX (Robotic Command eXplorers). It contained an 8-bit Hitachi-8/300 microcontroller, which acted as it CPU. Including 32K of RAM to store the firmware and user programs; the brick is programmed by uploading a program from a Windows or Mac computer to the brick's RAM via a special infrared interface.

After the user starts a program, an RCX-enabled Mindstorms creation can function totally on its own, acting on internal and external stimuli according to the programmed instructions. Also, two or several more RCX bricks can communicate with each other through the IR interface, enabling inter-brick cooperation or competition.

In addition to the IR port, the system includes three sensor input ports and three motor output ports (which can also be used to drive other electrical devices such as lamps and so forth). An integral LCD can display the battery level, the status of the input/output ports, which program is selected or running, and other information.

Version 1.0 RCX bricks feature a power adapter jack to allow continuous operation instead of the limited operation time when using batteries. Power adapter equipped RCX bricks are popular for stationary robotics projects (such as Robot arms); or for controlling Lego model trains. In the latter context, the RCX needs to be programmed with Digital Command Control (DCC) software to operate multiple wired trains.

The Lego Technic control centre was the first programmable standalone Lego product, in the sense of being able to store sequence-based programs and run them. It featured three output ports and manual control, and it was only capable of storing linear sequences of manual input plus timing information. It could store up to two programs at once.

There is a broad community interest of all ages engaged in the sharing of construction  concepts and schemes, programming methodologies, generating third-party software and hardware, and contributing of other ideas associated with Lego Mindstorms (see video on bespoke Mindstorms Game).

The Lego Mindstorms initiative has a great website, very much organised like Wiki; harnessing the creative potential and collaborative efforts of Lego Mindstorm contributor. Lego also supports open innovation by encouraging open-software code for downloading; and by holding a range of competitions and promotional events.

The evolution of Robots, it seems, holds no bounds. If applied intelligence and sophisticated mechanics is being embedded in objects as humble as the Lego Brick, then what ends are there insight for our understating and application of high level artificial machine intelligence?
To know this, surly we must come to grips with what intelligence is, how it works, and perhaps, how we can improve upon it. And one way to begin doing that is to understand the human mind. The most advanced form of mindstorms we know of.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Ten Mental Performance Concepts that Make Champions

Watching the Rio Olympics? As any athlete will tell you, competition is a mental game as much as it is a physical one.  Whether you can throw a discus or not, there are mental traits of champion athletes you can learn to adopt and emulate to help make you a champion in your own life:

Champions believe in the future. Of course, athletes have to train in the present. You can’t expect to deadlift 500 pounds today if you only did 200 yesterday.  But they keep their eye on the prize. Many do visualization exercises where they picture themselves winning the gold or breaking a record in minute detail. It becomes a matter of when, not if they will achieve their goals.

Champions embrace conflict. Most people look for the fastest escape route when they encounter an obstacle or conflict, but champion athletes relish these challenges for the opportunity to break through and improve. Many also credit friendly (and maybe not so friendly) rivalries for pushing them to the next level. They’re not spoiling for a fight — but they’re not backing down, either.

Champions stay focused. Swimmer Michael Phelps said that he “buckled down” on training before the Rio olympics because he wanted to go out on a high note — and he’s certainly succeeding.  Champions understand that they have to focus on the fundamentals and make consistent, incremental improvements in order to win.

Champions are held accountable.  Olympic-level athletes have so many levels of accountability. Of course they have their public scores, but they also have teammates, trainers and coaches to whom they are accountable every day, not just on race day. Building your own accountability team can help you show up with your best effort and stay focused every single day.

Champions take risks.  There’s no such thing as a sure thing; even Michael Phelps and Simone Biles knew their gold medals were not guaranteed. Champions are known for taking (calculated) risks that have the potential to propel them to success. And when they fail, they carefully analyse what went wrong and try again.

Champions are disciplined. Elite athletes may practice the exact same stroke, technique, or routine daily for months or even years.  And yes, doing the same thing over and over again can be boring — but they understand the importance of diligence and hard work. The discipline to show up every day and do your best applies to anyone.

Champions are always learning. When an Olympic-level athlete isn’t actively training his or her body, he or she is studying technique, reviewing footage, researching competitors, and searching for that one bit of information that could give them the edge. They live and breathe their goals, and that goes for their brains as well as their bodies. If the average person dedicated themselves so totally to a goal in this way, it would be astounding what we could accomplish.

Champions are coachable. Those who think they know everything are the most foolish of all. Every Olympic athlete has a coach — sometimes several — and they know how to take criticism and suggestions to improve. Imagine an athlete who thought he knew better than any coach; how far do you think he would go? The same is true of any profession. No one knows everything, and even the greats have mentors.

Champions compartmentalize. If you’ve ever watched an athlete perform incredible feats despite whatever might be going on in his or her life, you know how important compartmentalization is. Champions understand that a huge part of their physical success is mental, and they have to get in the zone and focus on only the task at hand. Divorcing what’s going on in  your personal life from your work life, for example, can lead to greater success.

Champions dream big. How big are your dreams?  Are they Olympic gold, best-in-the-world big? Champion athletes dare to dream that they could be the best in theworld. They don’t think small. If you want big things, you have to dream them for yourself — no one else will.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Those Magnificent Men and their Flying 3D Machines

‘Those magnificent men in their flying machines, they go up tiddly up up, they go down tiddly down down. They enchant all the ladies and steal all the scenes, with their up tiddly up up and their down tiddly down down. Up, down, flying around, looping the loop and defying the ground.

Well, those magnificent men have invented a new kind of flying machine: Drone 3D Printers! There are number of efforts here, aimed at different outcomes!

Imperial College London have built autonomous ‘flying 3D printer’ drones, which could protect people from nuclear waste. The drones can print ‘sticky’ foam on dangerous objects before attaching themselves and lifting the hazard away. The engineers hope that the drones will one day be capable of printing nests in treetops to enable them to rest and recharge before continuing.

In a video demonstration, a quadcopter (a drone with four rotors) can be seen printing a sticky foam substance onto a small block, before flying away. Then a Hexacopter (six rotors) takes the quadcopter's place, landing on the sprayed object and waiting for the foam to set. The Hexacopter flies off with the foreign object.
Another potential applications could include ad-hoc construction of first response structures in search-and-rescue scenarios, as well as "printing structures to bridge gaps in discontinuous terrain.
Thomas Creedy, a student working on the project at Imperial College London, says ‘This is an exciting first step in the lab's development of co-operative robotic systems for building structures inspired by the natural world.’

But the one outstanding application for Flying 3D Printers, is that you will be able to rent them on a time share basis. Click on-line and off a F3DP goes direct to your business, or home, or school, etc, for a few hours, days, weeks, etc. Giving flexibility and near instant access to such magnificent flying machines (up tiddly up up)!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Isaac Asimov Visions

Back in the 1940s, science fiction was fringe and boyish! Hence, thinking of and forecasting the long-term technological future was nonsense in the context of a world when tomorrow’s technology was pretty much the same typology as yesterday’s.

Image result for isaac asimovBut one man brought the idea of incredible futures as a serious subject into the public mindset -- yes, A G. Wells and George Orwell had already made their indelible classic mark.

But Isaac Asimov, was different! He based his work not merely on wild imagination and classical science; but fervent mix of revolutionary emerging science and contradictory rational inquiry.

Tomorrow’s World.

In 1964, at the World’s Fair in New York, Asimov was asked to predict technological life in 2014. While many of them never saw the light of day, Asimov, who died in 1992 at the age of 72, made some stunningly accurate predictions. Here’s 10:

·      Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone.

·     Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.

·      Satellites hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica.

·      Computers, much miniaturized, will serve as the brains of robots.

·      Flat Screen TV wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set.

·      By 2014, only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works.

·       Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be 'farms' turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed soya, yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavours.....’mock-turkey’ and ‘pseudo-steak’. It won’t be bad at all but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.

·      An experimental fusion-power plant or two will already exist.

·      Self-driving cars. Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with Robot brains.

·     In 2014, there is every likelihood that the world population will be 6,500,000,000 and the population of the United States will be 350,000,000. Not all the world’s population will enjoy the gadgetry world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind.

Wow! And all this imagined back at the beginning of 1964. To the point, Asimov predicted the rise of a powerful Robot industry back in the days when owning a TV, Holidays abroad, or go to University, was exclusively for the well heeled. He forecast, that Robotics would advance and scale faster and faster.

To be clear, Asimov did not invent the words ‘Robot,’ or indeed ‘Robotics.’ What he did, was clarify their meaning and relevance. He put the concept of Robot and Robotics in a rational light and context that impacts on individual humans and wider society in large scale ways.

But the real lessons and questions we need to ask that stem from the great Asimov’s work in predicting the future of Robotic, lie in the famous ‘Three Laws of Robotics.’ A ‘Zeroth’ law was later added (Law zero below).

·         Law One: A robot may not injure a human (or humanity), or, through inaction, allow a human (or humanity) to come to harm.

·         Law Two: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with a higher order law.

·         Law Three: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with a higher order law.

·         Law Zero: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, unless this would violate a higher order law.

It seems to me that Asimov – when he put the first three laws together back in the 1940s – saw Robots as mechanical machines that might evolve to a point where they become automaton machines that automate work freely under their own control and power,’ that aid mankind and therefore would need a set of laws to govern their actions when living amongst and serving humans.

However, there is much contention about the laws today. Some say they are floored, and even completely wrong for both Robots and us humans. Because Robots might evolve not just higher skills and capabilities, but their own will, with their our values, goals and expectations, which might go against human values, goals, and expectations.