Summarizing This Class

This is something that’s really hard to do. This class has gone over so much. Being in a different major, this class has nothing to do with what I will be doing in my career. However, I will still be using technology in my everyday life. From using my computer to playing video games online, technology is in my everyday life. Even though this class went way deeper into a this subject than I ever thought I would actually go, I’d say this has been one of the most interesting and fun classes I’ve been in.

The second section is where I actually started getting interested. I always thought programming required a high level of expertise to even begin the process. Now I see that it’s just a matter of language. It’s an algorithm. Think of what you want or need the computer to actually do as an end result, and then spell it out step by step to the computer. This was the first time that neurosystems were introduced. When something couldn’t be spelled out step by step because it was too complex or had too many variables. This was one of the most interesting things to me, because it meant that computers could learn like humans do. Sending a series of experiences and processing them individually until the correct results are compiled into a working process. For computers, it’s a little difficult to tell what exactly it was taught, because it will only look for what is common in the correct result and sometimes pick up on the wrong part of the experience. It would be like going to a wedding and coming out thinking, “Wow, they know alot of people.” I think these neurosystems will probably lead to computers becoming self aware because they will be able to experience different the world around them.

The robotics section was fun, of course, getting to play with the lego mindstorms. But the programming was what made it so interesting for me. I had to fight with this program for no apparent reason. The program seemed to work fine, until the next day. It was like the brick had a mind of its own and decided it wanted to be like humans and have flaws. While in the mindstorm program, I happened to discover that a total of three command lines could exist at one time. This opened up our design from just doing one event and then having to reset the whole project, to having the car run around on its own and sort of have a sense of the world around it. It was like we gave birth to an actual life form because it could interact with the world around it. It lacked memory though and couldn’t record anything. So I don’t think our lego tank could ever become self aware, sadly.

Over the semester I don’t think I’ve had anything to really process internally. While some questions did arise in my mind when virtual reality was covered, I believe that this world is reality to me. In my mind, I know this world is real, and unless something can prove that beyond a reasonable doubt, I’m just going to continue living as I have.

The World as We Know It

Whenever I thought of virtual reality, I thought of video games putting you inside the system. Goggles, and possibly gloves, controlling characters and moving as you pleased in a way that was humanistic, yet super human. Things like a series called “.Hack” come to mind and kind of makes me yearn for it. Video games are getting to that point too. Being able to control the avatars in the game as if you were actually there experiencing the same thing.

This week made me think a little bit more on what we perceive as reality. As it is essentially electrical signals sent to our brain from sensory systems set up in our body, reality is only really what we want to believe it is. Questioning what is real and what is virtual brought up many more questions. How do we tell if this is real or if this is just a virtual reality set up by something else out there? I think the truth is, we wouldn’t have any way of knowing whether this world is real or not.

Creating Intelligent Beings

I never really gave any thought to what was currently going on in the field of creating AI. It honostly seemed too much like science fiction in my mind. I always thought of it as how it was portrayed in movies, self adapting, self preserving, and lacking in emotion.

Neural networks made alot of sense in how it could be used to teach a machine how to learn on its own. It’s funny how some of the simplest actions require an understanding of such complex concepts, yet the human mind and body take care of that on a subconcious level. Things like balance, gravity, and and seeing don’t even have to be thought about to be taken care of.

Genetic algorithms seem interesting because of the method in how things are chosen. Based on the performance of something, the top being chosen to mix together to create a new line of super machine, or whatever the matter may be. This is one of the more science fiction like concepts I guess in AI and technology creation.

Doing the Robot

This week of working on robots has been one of the most fun weeks I’ve had in class. Given the liberty to build our own contraption out of legos and to program it to do specific functions has been exhilarating. I’ve always had fun playing with legos, and to be able to add motors and to give it functions has been awesome. My partner, David Hedger, came up with the idea of building a tank, using rubber bands as the ammunition. While David has been working mainly on the physical design of the tank, I have been coming up with the programming portion. I stumbled upon being able to create multiple command lines within the program. I think this is how I will be able to make the tank use multiple sensors simultaneously so that the tank can not only move on its own, but also sense when it’s about to run into something and fire the rubber bands. One problem i have been running into is that, even without changing the program, slight errors keep occurring when we return the following day to test it out. Very simple commands seemed to be efficient at first, but then I had to spell out everything i wanted the tank to do. After that, i had to combine two of the three command lines i had created to run the motors for moving forward and backing up. Hopefully the program will not pull another fast one on me, forcing me to recreate it in another matter once more.

ALS basic commands

After messing around with the Assembly Language Simulator, it was fairly easy to navigate. The commands were pretty simple and easy to understand, except for the jump command. The jump command took a little bit of use to understand the uses and restrictions it had. Other than that slight speed bump, everything went smoothly and was easy to understand. Although this seems easy now, i get the feeling like programming software is no where near as simple and easy.

It’s a bit out of my realm of knowledge to think of only being able to do one thing at a time on a computer. I’m so use to multitasking and running multiple programs at once. Thank goodness for multitasking processors and multiple processors to do so. And I can’t even begin to imagine how many lines of code it takes to program an operating system for a computer, not only for a text based system, but especially for a graphical user interface.

Binary in the World Today

Binary seems easy, yet is truly complicated. Many series of these 1′s and 0′s are processed through computers at amazing speeds to produce audio and video. Calculating binary is easy, and makes perfect sense. However, it’s still hard to believe how fast computers can translate so many 0′s and 1′s. To think that programs are made up of an unfathomable amount of these, and how old programmers used to use just these to program computers, makes my brain rattle. I’m glad hex was thought of to make programming easier and faster.

ASCII and UTC-8 seem so confusing at the moment. Just looking at the ASCII chart is overwhelming my brain. I don’t even want to think about UTC-8 yet. Hopefully i’ll grow to understand it as the semester goes on.

So far so good! Let’s continue this way!!!!! XD

Me, Myself, and I

My name is Spencer Hargis. This is my first full year at Pellissippi, although this is my third year of college. I plan on taking the next year off to travel and work abroad in Thailand, teaching english as a second language. I will most likely be returning back to Knoxville after this year away to attain a BA in some field, most likely pre-physical therapy or some science. I want to travel to other countries to do work for a living. I’m on www.facebook.com and www.stumbleupon.com for the most part.