Category Archives: Robotics

CIUUK15: Less than 2 Weeks to go!

A Message from Daniel Lewis – Chief Co-organiser of the Computational Intelligence Unconference:

Computational Intelligence Unconference UK 2015
#CIUUK15
15th August 2015 : 10am – 6pm : Strand Campus, Kings College London

There are less than two weeks to go until the event, and everything is full steam ahead!

We’ve got so many high quality speakers we almost ran out of space on the schedule for them. Rohit Talwar and Prof. Murray Shanahan will be opening the unconference with a discussion about the future of artificial intelligence from a business and societal point of view. We’ve got a section on human-computer interaction with Blaise Thomson and James Ravenscroft. We’ve got a section on Smart Cities and the Internet of Things with David Beeton and Rajesh Bhardwaj. We’ve got a section discussing the practicalities of computational intelligence with Marcelo Funes-Gallanzi, Dr Leandro L. Minku and Peter Morgan. We’ve also got a health and medicine section with Pam Yoder, Hari Ponniah and Dr Yonghong Peng. Plus we’re also putting together a panel of politics/government experts from across the political spectrum to discuss the impact of AI and technology on policy.

It really will be an immensely interesting day, and we are very excited. We hope you are too. Have a look at the schedule on the website.

So far we have three sponsors confirmed: The Goodwill Company as Platinum Sponsors, AVNTK as Bronze Sponsors and ContactSingapore as tea&coffee break sponsors. We have also had a good number of you provide a little bit of crowdfunding sponsorship, which really does help! Plus we’ve had a couple of other offers recently which are yet to confirm. However, we are still short, and so if you personally or if your organisation can help then please do let us know. We are a non-profit organisation, and we don’t charge for admission, and so we are reliant on the generosity of sponsors. The email address is at the bottom of this email if you wish to get in touch about this.

 

You may also want to consider getting yourself a T-Shirt, and profits go towards the venue and catering costs. Get your T-Shirts here: https://www.tboom.co.uk/ciuuk15

CIUUK15 T-Shirt

There is still much to do. We will be updating the website over the next few days with the most recent information, and we will be responding to many emails which came through over the past few days about the event. (Apologies if you’re one of the people waiting for a response!). We will also try to put a list of nearby hotels on the website, just in case you’re staying in the area.

What can you do? Well, make sure you can still come. It’ll be on the 15th August 2015, and we will start at 10am – so try to arrive 15-20 minutes earlier. But no problems if you can only be there part of the date. If you booked multiple tickets, then please also make sure that you can still bring those people, and I will be asking for names of your plus-ones shortly before the event. Come to the event with ideas, come to share, and come with a problem-solving hat on.

The website is: http://ciunconference.org/uk/2015/  & the hash-tag is: #CIUUK15

Any questions then please do send them in my direction, I’d be happy to respond.

See you there!

Daniel Lewis

daniel@ciunconference.org

CIUUK15 Update

I’ve just sent out a message (similar to what is below) to our Computational Intelligence Unconference UK 2015 attendees…

At the time of writing we have 109 days to go (event is on 15th August 2015), we have 100 people already registered (our capacity is over 200) – 7 of which have given us some crowdfunding,  we have 5 speakers already confirmed (with much more time and space for additional talks/workshops). A very big thank you to those who have registered, and if you haven’t registered yet, then go do it now (website: http://ciunconference.org/uk/2015 )

But we need help! Here is how you might be able to help:

(1) Social Networking: We need help to get the word out about the event. If you have a twitter, facebook, linkedin or other social network account then it would be great if you could advertise the event. You can use our official Short-URL bit.ly/ciuuk15 and our official tag #CIUUK15

(2) Sponsorship: We are in urgent need of sponsorship. We’ve got to raise funds to cover the cost of the venue and the food & drink. We are doing our best to keep costs down and get the best deals. Ideally we need a few corporate sponsors, and preferably quite soon, however smaller organisations and personal donations will be very welcome (including crowdfunding offers). If you work for an organisation who could offer some sponsorship in return for marketing/advertising and bespoke audience-engagement, or if you could personally offer to cover the costs of attendance (which is roughly £60 a head), then please let me know as soon as possible. Even if you have a contact in a related company which might be interested in helping us out, then let them know and let me know. I will reiterate, we are non-profit, and are entirely organised by volunteers, and all incomings will go straight into venue/catering costs. The event is heavily dependent on the generosity of our sponsors and volunteers.

(3) Meet-ups/Hackathons: We have a seminar room, and we’re keen on having guest meet-ups and guest hackathons use the space for an hour or two each. So, if you lead or are a part of a (related) meet-up or hackathon, then please get in touch.

(4) Tutorials/Workshops: The same seminar room could also be used by a business or organisation for a tutorial/seminar/workshop. However, we may ask for a donation if the business is for-profit. Feel free to email me to find out more.

(5) Talks: We are also in need of more talks. Short talks and Long talks. If it’s a talk by a business then the business might also want to think about helping to sponsor the event. If its a talk from a personal perspective, or a very technical perspective, then the talk can be done freely (libre et gratis).

(6) Volunteering: We will need on the day volunteers. Volunteers will help manage the rooms and the microphones, and will help give out the badges/lanyards at start. We also need people to: bring cameras (still and moving); to help live tweet the event; and to blog before/during/after the event.

Contact me now if you can help. My email address is:
daniel [at] ciunconference [dot] org

More information about the event is on our website:
http://ciunconference.org/uk/2015
Kings College, London - 15th August 2015 – 10:00-18:00

On behalf of the organisation team, thank you for your interest, thank you (in advance) for your help, and to those of you attending, I look forward to seeing you on the 15th August 2015.

Daniel Lewis
* Chief Co-organiser of the Computational Intelligence Unconference UK 2015
* Founder & Chair of the Computational Intelligence Unconference Association (a Non-profit Unincorporated Association)
- Email: daniel [at] ciunconference [dot] org

Thoughts on… What will happen in 2015?

At this time of year, like many people, I tend to reflect on what has happened in the previous year, and what this year will bring. In the past I’ve blogged about my thoughts on what we might see as a community in the year ahead. Stay with me, as my (for want of a better word) “predictions,” tend to be a little different from the usual crystal ball blog posts out there on the web. Primarily because of my interests aren’t just in tech or science.

First of all, I want to say that this year is going to be a big one for me. I’ll be reaching 3 decades of age in the middle of the year. Beki and I will have been married 5 years this coming August. I’m also plan to fully complete my PhD in Artificial Intelligence & Data Mining (or more officially ” Engineering Mathematics (Intelligent Systems)”), and hope to have secured a postdoctoral position by the end of this year (please do let me know if you’re interested in employing me or working with me!). I’ll also progress from Journeyman to Freeman status in the City of London Livery “the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.” We’ll also be running the second Computational Intelligence Unconference (CIUUK15), and I hope to start planning other unconferences in 2016. Finally, I’m also hoping to progress from Deacon to Priest in my very liberal (and Science-friendly!) independent church.

Enough about me though, on to the societal forecast…

Politics in 2015!

In the United Kingdom, over the past couple of years, we’ve rather unfortunately seen a rise in ring-wing politics in the form of the political party known as UKIP. This is largely due to distrust amongst the population of the main three political parties here (the Conservatives (“Tories”), the Liberal Democrats (“LibDems”) and the Labour Party), why is there distrust? Well we had two terms of a Labour office, which saw terrorism spread, wars occur, prices of oil and housing rise, and the destruction of main party socialism (i.e. the Labour Party slowly became less and less socialist). We then, in 2010, had an election result leading to a hung parliament, the Centre-Right Tories joined forces with the Centre-Left Radical LibDems. The result of that has been more things getting privatised, the excessive rise of university tuition fees, oil prices rising gradually (although more recently falling), various things being taxed, and various other things not being taxed, it has also destroyed the publics belief that the LibDems are leftward leaning at all. People in the UK are searching for another option. Many people, unfortunately, like to blame other people, and blame is what UKIP do best (they are a traditionalist and nationalist political party with a neoliberal economic perspective). So the right-wing UKIP has seen a rise in interest. This is bad news. However, we’ve also seen a rise in support for the Green Party (which is centre-left/left-wing), as well as the SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales (which are both centre-left), so perhaps not all is bad.

What does this have to do with 2015? Well it is General Election year here in the UK, where the population will go to the polls in May and vote for a new parliament. So here is my prediction…

Distrust in the three main political parties will continue to rise. This means that more people will begin to move away from what the three main political parties see as the “centre of politics”, to political ideologies at the extremities. As 2014 saw a significant rise in nationalist neoliberalist agenda of UKIP.  This year, 2015, there will be more hardcore socialists and communists coming to light. However, in order to combat the right wing, they will have to empathise. This empathy will come in the form of anti-authoritarianism and anti-statism, yes, we’ll start to see a rise in ideologies of anarcho-socialism, libertarian socialism, Trotskyism and anything that combines decentralisation with strong communal welfare. We just have to look at Spain and Green to see their rise in radical socialism (in the form of Podemos and Syriza respectively).

This might be slow, and it may not make a significant impact on the general election, but I suspect that by the end of the year it will be making more impact.

Politics and Technology

I would like to couple this with technology though, as something big is happening behind the scenes. This big thing originates from technology is now reaching every part of our lives, and actually making us live healthier and more sociable lives. It can be used as a force for good, and I think that gone are the times when people think tech is bad simply based on a perception of the masses watching television for endless amounts of hours. You just have to look at the CES 2015 exhibition happening at the moment, to see some wonderful things (including for sustainability of the natural environment! – e.g. the electric scooter “Gogoro” will attempt to make low pollution travel in urban areas). With this is a sense that technology really can help the welfare of humanity, this is good (because I believe it can!).

Coupled with this individualism (in otherwords libertarian) perspective living in a communal welfare system (in otherwords socialist), that I think is going to be on the rise, we will see technology fitting in very nicely indeed.

A few of organisations to look out for are:

There is one word to look out for, and this is a very positive word… techno-progressivism.

 

Technologies and Sciences

  • This year I think we will see very significant progress in terms of preventative medicine for cancer. I think this will at first involve analysing our bodies cheaply and easily before we have cancer. So that we can try to stop it in its tracks before we it even develops its early stages. I think this is likely to involve DNA and/or RNA analysis on a large scale.
  • Public and private organisations will shift from just green living, and especially from “greenwashing”, perspectives into a bright green evironmentalist perspective. With particular advances in bright green architecture, but obviously we’ve already seen advances in “smart lighting” and “smart heating,” and that will continue to see uptake by organisations as well as individuals.
  • The rise of privately-funded space project. Not just SpaceX, and other private organisations, but also home-builds. Think home-made quadcopter drones that can easily fly very high, maybe into space ;-)
  • At least one significant and highly publicised study on the positive results of meditation will be released. It would be great if this was related to the relation between meditation and the length of telomeres, which apparently there have been a few studies on already.
  • “Smart clothing” – I think we’ll start to see wearable technology on clothes in retail shops that you see on the high-street. Prices will be quite high at first, and totally unrepresentative to the cost it would be to make it at home, but it’ll begin to reach the masses.
  • There might be a co-operation between bitcoins (or another cryptocurrency) and credit unions. Which would be very neat!
  • I don’t think that computers will see superintelligence this year, but artificial intelligence tools and techniques will continue to be updated and improved… possibly with a bit more effort, and possibly making them a lot more polished.

 

These are just some thoughts. They are based on some insight, but it is all just for fun really, and I don’t in any way guarantee these things happening. Feel free to comment, or to get in touch directly.

Thank you for reading.

Daniel

Thoughts on… my postdoctoral position (late 2015 / early 2016)

I’ve been thinking about what happens after my PhD, I am due to complete it around October/November 2015. I would love to know for sure that I’ll be at X University doing Y research and Z teaching. As I am a strong believer in transparency and openness, I’d like to open up my careers search. Below you’ll find some details about me and what I am looking for, and if you can help me in any way then I would love to hear from you. Please contact:
danieljohnlewis [at] gmail [dot] com


 

Who (name): Daniel John Lewis
Who (current detail): Daniel is a PhD student in Engineering Mathematics (Intelligent Systems) at the University of Bristol, where he is researching a form of fuzzy data mining over hierarchical data sets. Due to complete PhD in October/November 2015. He has also received teaching experience while at the University of Bristol, and has assisted with “widening participation” programmes.
Who (background detail): Before beginning his PhD he worked for a non-profit on a Linked Open Data EU-funded project (LOD2). Before that he has had numerous positions in Semantic Web / Linked Data Consultancy and Web / Software development.
Who (other detail): He is also an events organiser (voluntary, e.g. Computational Intelligence Unconference), and has written technical documents for numerous online (e.g. IBM developerWorks) and print outlets (e.g. .net Magazine).
Who (languages spoken): English (mother-tongue), Italian (improving), Spanish (very basic)
Who (currently where): Bristol, England, United Kingdom.
Who (previously where): Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom, and before that, Kent, England, United Kingdom.

Position wanted: Research position or Research+Teaching positions
To start: End of 2015 / Beginning of 2016
Location type wanted: A University or a Research institute. Public or private. I am only currently interested in university / research institute positions, and not for-profit business.
Location wanted: United Kingdom (preferably South England or South Wales), elsewhere in the European Union (preferably Italy or Italian-speaking Switzerland), or in the USA (preferably California), but open to other suggestions
Department wanted: Open to ideas, but could be Computer Science, Mathematics, Philosophy or Psychology
Research wanted: Can come with own ideas, or happy to work on existing ideas. Would be good to focus on Data Mining and/or Artificial Intelligence and/or Artificial General Intelligence. Preferably including the use of fuzzy set theory / fuzzy logic, would also be open to belief function research. Would also be happy to partake in research into Digital Humanities, Robotics and/or Smart Cities. Also happy to use my knowledge of Semantic Web / Linked Data.
Teaching: Would be happy to teach/lecture things relating to computer science, particularly artificial intelligence, logic and/or programming (primarily Python and/or C).

For more details about Daniel please visit his LinkedIn profile ( @danieljohnlewis ), and if you can assist with his search for a postdoctoral university position then get in touch via email. His personal email is:
danieljohnlewis [at] gmail [dot] com

(
Replacing the [at] with @, and the [dot] with .
This is for spam deterrence.
)

FuzzBot – Part 2 – Photos

And, we have some photos of FuzzBot. Apologies for my awful photography skills.

Front-side view of FuzzBot version 1alpha
Top view of the FuzzBot
Close up of the arduino sitting on the back of the meccano body.

At the moment we’re sitting the arduino inside a plastic pot, which sits on top of the meccano base. Ideally we want to fix the arduino on to the meccano base properly, so that will be something we look at in the future. The ultrasonic sensor on the front is “hooked on” to a little platform that I made last night, and I covered that platform with some electrical tape to prevent any undesirable electrical faults.

For now though it all works as it should. Next stage is a bit more intelligent behaviour…

FuzzBot part 1

Well, new blog, new style…

Some of you may know that I’m currently building a robot (with help from Beki). It has the following components so far…

  • An Arduino Mega 2560
  • An Arduino Motor Shield rev 3
  • An Arduino Ultrasonic Ping Sensor (HC-SR04)
  • Meccano for the shell
  • A Meccano motor base (with the remote control circuitry removed)
  • Batteries: 1x 9v (PP3), and 6x 1.5v (AA)
  • USB cable for connecting with the Laptop (at the moment I’m using Ubuntu Gnome 13.10  distribution of Linux operating system. The hardware is an Intel Core i7.)

At the time of writing, we’ve out together some very basic Arduino-C code which does the following (just for test purposes):

  1. Slowly inches forwards until it reaches 10cm away from an object, then…
  2. Reverses straight 10cm, then…
  3. Turns left, right, left while reversing for another few more seconds.

Today, I’ve refactored out the code which controls the sensors and actuators, along with some of the basic calculations, into a library. This means that I’ve written some C++ code, which is the first bit of C++ I’ve done for quite a few years. This will mean that I can easily create a new Arduino-C sketch and import my C++ library.

I’ve also added some very basic fuzzy commands, to do the following fuzzy rule “if too slow, then speed up a bit”. Which seems to work fine, but probably could do with a bit more tuning.

I plan to research on some data mining methods for collision detection in robotics, as data mining is an area of interest in my PhD I thought it would be appropriate to try to relate it somehow. The final plan is for FuzzBot to have some forms of (Fuzzy) Artificial Intelligence, which I hope will look reasonably organic to a viewer of this machine.

Keep an eye on this blog for more details. I hope to post some pictures when we’ve put the Meccano together in a better way…