Sunday, November 3, 2002

When you don't live in a 9-5 world, this is a typical Saturday

I still haven't started marking the papers I need to hand back on Monday, but I feel as though I accomplished something worthwhile today ;)

Spent the afternoon with Trent, a smart and imaginative guy with a background in electrical engineering and computer science. And after the obligatory half-hour of establishing a common vocabulary, and drinking too much coffee, we made some progress. Although we spent most of the time talking about social engineering, I did manage to convey my notions of what constitutes a sociable machine. We were able to articulate that in order to be sociable, a machine (in part) should be able to be irrational, be deceptive, work with incomplete or "false" models, and be able to break down. In short, pretty much everything that programmers try to avoid or control, despite how difficult that can be. (Okay, I know it's not that simple but I gotta start somewhere!) We also spent a fair amount of time talking about mimicry and mimesis, and how machines that seek to copy an ideal sociality tend to be easily recognised as artificial - perhaps because we are actually accustomed to negotiating imperfection in other people. Anyway, he gave me lots to think about, and allowed me to get more comfortable with the basic rules and practices of engineering intelligent systems. I'm pleased.

And there was some very helpful feedback on my IA Summit proposal waiting for me when I got home. It seems that I failed to understand who my audience would be, so I'll take a go at a substantial revision as soon as I can. Thanks go to Karl for snapping me out of academic mode ;)

In the meantime, I'm tired and find myself wanting to be wrapped up in strong arms and left to think in comforting silence...

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