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Bill DeSmedt
I’ve spent my life living by my wits and my words. In my time, and as the spirit has moved me, I’ve been: a Kremlinologist and Soviet exchange student, a computer programmer and system designer, a consultant to startups and the Fortune 50, an Artificial Intelligence researcher, an omnivorous reader with a soft spot for science fiction and science non-fiction, and the author of the award-winning science thriller Singularity (with its sequel Dualism due to appear this summer).

Entries by Bill DeSmedt

Enter Eugene: The Curious Case of 'Eugene Goostman,' Part II

(0) Comments | Posted June 18, 2014 | 10:31 AM

As I alluded to in Part I of this blog, Saturday, June 8th, 2014 is a day that shall live in A.I.nfamy. For on that day, Reading University visiting cybernetics professor Kevin Warwick announced that a "supercomputer" masquerading as a Ukrainian teenager had successfully convinced ten out of...

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Quantum Dualism? -- The Making of a Thriller, Part IV

(1) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 2:49 PM

We closed Part III of this blog on a glimmer of hope that consciousness might in fact be a real thing, in some way separate and apart from the physical universe in which it finds itself. By the same token, this threatened to land us back in the...

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Turing's Bar: The Curious Case of 'Eugene Gosstman,' Part I.5

(0) Comments | Posted June 13, 2014 | 11:49 AM

No, it's not a hot new AI nightspot. The "Turing's Bar" of the title is rather a reference to a comment I made on LinkedIn's "Turing Test breakthrough" discussion thread.

In that comment, I characterized Alan Turing's expressed belief, in his 1950 "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" article, that "in about...

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Can Machines Think? The Curious Case of 'Eugene Goostman,' Part I

(1) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 1:04 PM

So, over this past weekend, a computer running a program that styles itself "Eugene Goostman" is said to have successfully passed the Turing Test. Did that really happen? And, if so, what does it even mean? As the late, lamented John Belushi mused in the movie Continental Divide, "Am I...

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Consciousness and Other Stories -- the Making of a Thriller, Part III

(0) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 9:41 AM

So, when we left off last time we had been marveling at the hoops philosophers like John Searle and David Chalmers seemed willing to jump through in hopes of proving that mind is not simply reducible to gross materiality. And we closed by suggesting that what justifies the...

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Mind Games -- The Making of a Thriller, Part II

(0) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 5:33 PM

So, as Part I of this "Making of a Thriller" blog series drew to a close, it alluded to a conundrum on which the plot of my technothriller Dualism was said to turn. Which is to say that Dualism the book spends at least some of its time...

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Bits, Pieces and MacGuffins -- The Making of a Thriller, Part I

(0) Comments | Posted May 29, 2014 | 11:29 AM

Two scenes and a thought experiment, that's where my latest technothriller, Dualism, started.

For a while there after I finished writing Singularity, I thought I was done writing, period. I'd exorcised this incubus of an idea that'd had me hagridden for the better part of seven years (you can check...

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The 'Why' of Stories, Part II

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2014 | 10:32 PM

"And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea -- have a point. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!" -- Steve Martin as Neal Page to John Candy as Del Griffith, Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

Well, then, what is...

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The 'Why' of Stories, Part I

(0) Comments | Posted May 19, 2014 | 3:10 AM

Pick up any how-to book for the aspiring author, and somewhere around page three it'll tell you what stories are all about: They're all about conflict. They're all about character. They're all about characters in conflict, or maybe conflict in characters.

Point is: depending on who's doing the talking, stories...

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Building a Conversational Agent from the Ground Up, Part III

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 8:41 PM

In the second installment of this three-part blog on creating an AI that can hold up its end of a free-form conversation, we took a look at how discourse analysis and management (DAM) can help redress some of the challenges that ambiguity presents to both symbolic and statistical...

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Building a Conversational Agent from the Ground Up, Part II

(0) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 10:45 AM

In the first installment of this three(?)-part blog on creating an AI that can hold up its end of a free-form conversation, we took a look at what doesn't work (ELIZA) and what would work (full sentence parsing), were it not for the problems raised by ambiguity. And...

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Building a Conversational Agent From the Ground Up, Part I

(6) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 10:23 PM

Having recently completed Dualism, my latest technothriller, I thought to complement it with an online conversational avatar of one of the book's protagonists, enabling fans to discuss the book's plot with a simulated character drawn from its pages.

The character I chose to emulate was Dualism's resident artificial intelligence, a...

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My Dog, the Knowledge Engineer

(28) Comments | Posted January 27, 2014 | 10:55 AM

The "Genius of Dogs" ...

... is all the rage these days, especially so in the wake of the same-named book by canine cognition researchers Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods. But it turns out that what Hare and Woods have in mind is dogs' genial talent for letting...

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Adventures in Commenting, or How I Fail to Make it to the Andromeda Nebula and Invent Sub-Space Radio Instead!

(3) Comments | Posted September 4, 2013 | 9:04 AM

... but not without a massive (no pun intended) assist from a fellow HuffPost commenter!

I'm getting ahead of myself (not too unusual when the topic is time travel). Let me drop back to the beginning: This all started when I saw Jillian Scharr's HuffPost article "Wormhole Time...

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Why Does the World Exist? A Review

(70) Comments | Posted August 16, 2013 | 2:06 PM

One chill Paris night shortly before the turn of the millennium, Jim Holt stood on the Ponts des Arts smoking, looking down at the Seine, and pondering Leibniz's old question "Why is there Something and not Nothing?" Maybe I should write a book about it, he mused. And now he...

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