Programming

What has happened to the perception of programming being a science, an engineering discipline, or even art? Today’s students seem to think programming is nothing but copying code snippets from some dodgy sources, renaming variables (if they can even be bothered with that) and hoping that by magic this conglomeration of code odds and ends will produce the desired result. This approach is certainly not science or engineering. One might see an artistic spirit in it, but to me it mostly resembles guessing, gambling, and hoping that the parser will highlight & correct some syntax errors … and when the code compiles it surely has to be correct. 

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Collaboration anticipated with the HAW (University of Applied Sciences, Hamburg)

The Ambient Intelligence Laboratory at HAW, Germany has offered our research group  access to their smart home lab to further our research and test the current version of our agent development framework in an existing life-like situation.The UbiComp-Lab in Hamburg was designed and built to study ubiquitous computing. We are planning to conduct a preliminary visit to ascertain the lab’s capabilities and interfaces so that our current work can be adapted to operate within the lab with a second, longer visit to conduct experiments using our software in the lab.

The Loebner Prize teams up with the AISB and Bletchley Park Museum

A warm welcome in the year of the AISB’s 50th anniversary

It has been an eventful year for the world’s oldest AI society. Interdisciplinary AI has been showcased as a thriving discipline at the hugely successful AISB-50 convention and in the no less successful AISB workshop series. But this is just the AISB’ s everyday business. Two behind-the-scenes events of the ongoing year are promising to have a longer-term effect on AI research and media coverage: A partnership between the AISB and the journal Connection Science published by Taylor and Francis has been arranged in October, and — following the official agreement with Hugh Loebner earlier this year — the decision that AISB would be taking permanent responsibility for running the annual Loebner Prize finals on the premises of Bletchley Park where Alan Turing worked as a code-breaker during World War 2.

We are thrilled that AISB has been chosen to host the longest-running Turing-Test competition started in 1991 and based on Alan Turing’s original conception of the test. Claims in the media that the Turing Test had been passed for the first time this year have left parts of the scientific community unconvinced due to various reasons. The Loebner Prize version of the test offers an established set of rules and even though still in its simpler first stage no submission has managed to pass this stage even 23 years after its inception. Once the it has been passed, the contest will enter a second stage introducing audio/visual components to the conversations. We are looking at some exciting years ahead.

On behalf of the AISB committee, I would like to thank the organisers of this year’s competition, Ed Keedwell and Nir Oren, and would also  like to express my gratitude to everyone who has helped make this event possible, in particular Claire Urwin from Bletchley Park Museum, Paul Sant from the University of Bedfordshire, David Levy, and the judges and confederates who volunteered to dedicate their time to the event … and, of course, many thanks to Hugh Loebner without whose organisational and financial support all this would not be possible.

Bletchley Park, November 2014

Dr Berndt “Bertie” Müller (University of South Wales and AISB Chair)

The Loebner Prize Finals take place at Bletchley Park Museum on Saturday, 15 November 2014