Author Archives: bnwhitchurch

Is Artificial Intelligence like J.A.R.V.I.S. Possible?

If you are a fan of Marvel Comics or the Marvel Cinematic Universe,  you are likely aware of J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark’s personal artificial intelligence(AI) program. J.A.R.V.I.S. helps Tony Stark reach his full potential as Iron Man by helping run operations and diagnostics on the Iron Man suit, as well as gathering information and running simulations. J.A.R.V.I.S. also has a distinct personality, sometimes displaying sarcasm and wit, no doubt programmed in by Stark. With artificial intelligence and machine learning developing at a breakneck pace, it’s worth asking if an AI like J.A.R.V.I.S. is even possible.

One of the most prominent AI programs in use right now is IBM Watson. Watson made its debut in 2011 as a contestant on Jeopardy in a special broadcast against two of the show’s best contestants and won. Commercial use of Watson began in 2013.  Watson is now being used for a variety of functions from tracking elevator use in support of maintenance efforts, to planning irrigation systems for farms. (For more stories about Watson’s many jobs, look here.)

As far as hardware is concerned, Watson relies on a cluster of 90 IBM Power 750 servers that each have a 3.5GHz processor, 16 terabytes of RAM. This allows Watson to process the equivalent of one million books per second. The estimated cost of Watson’s hardware was 300 million dollars.

When Watson competed on Jeopardy, all of the information Watson had access to had to be stored on the machine’s RAM because it would not have been able to access it within a competitive time frame if it was stored on the machine’s hard drive. Since Watson’s bout on Jeopardy, solid state drives have started to emerge, which would allow information that is used more often to be accessed at a faster rate than if the same information was stored on a standard hard drive. With further advances in memory storage technology, information could be accessed at faster rates.

IBM’s Watson appears to be a step in the direction toward AI similar to J.A.R.V.I.S. With quantum computing as an expanding frontier, processing speeds could become even faster, making something like J.A.R.V.I.S. a more realizable reality. Personally, I believe such a feat is possible, and could even be achieved in our lifetime.

Should smart watches be allowed in professional sports?

With the advent of smart technology, the relative ease with which we access information is changing. The smart watch puts much of what a person does on their phone, on their wrist, and on the internet. While we make these technological advances, some things remain constant, like professional sports. With the exception of some minor rule changes here and there, many of the most-watched games in the U.S. have remained the same. Recently, The Red Sox allegedly used smart watches to steal signs from The Yankees, which raises an important question: should smart watches be allowed in professional sports?

Most smart watches have the common ability to monitor the wearer’s heart rate. This data could be useful in monitoring players condition so the coach knows when to make substitutions, but it could also be used for medical research. If every professional athlete wore a smart device while they played in games and did workouts, the amount of data that could be made available to medical professionals in one year would be astounding. This data could lead to a better understanding than we have now of the human body at work.

While wearing smart watches in professional sports hold potential societal gain, the reality of the situation is not as optimistic. Many sports involve physical contact, which leads to a risk of either the smartwatch breaking, or increased injury due to contact with a smart watch on a player’s wrist. There is also an increased risk of cheating if players and coaches can view text messages on their wrist.

In my opinion, sports would be better off without smart technology becoming part of any game. The beauty of sporting matches is that they are meant to display the raw athletic abilities of players in competition. Adding smart technology to the game could lead to records that have asterisks by them, similar to home run records set by players who used steroids.

Next Generation Consoles: Will you make the Switch?

I’ve been playing video games for about as long as I can remember. If you’re experience was anything like mine, your first gaming experience was with a Nintendo, or maybe your mom just called your console a Nintendo. The first game I remember playing was Tetris on the Game Boy Color, and now Nintendo is working on their next release.

In late October Nintendo announced their next big release with the following video.

The Nintendo Switch is taking the next step forward in console gaming. The Switch is a unique hybrid of a powerful home console and a portable gaming system. As seen in the video, the multiplayer capabilities of the console are also available while using it as a handheld console.

Two of the games prominently featured in the video were The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the remastered version of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Both games are open world games, and boast large map sizes. The Legend of Zelda is a title owned by Nintendo, but Switch is being developed in partnership with Bethesda Game Studios, the developers of Skyrim and the Fallout series. In addition to Bethesda, Nintendo partnered with Activision, Capcom, Electronic Arts, Havok, Konami, SEGA, THQ, Ubisoft, and other game developers.

Nintendo Switch is predicted to launch in March of 2017, but price information is not currently available. For more information, you can visit the Switch wepage athttps://www.nintendo.com/whatsnew/detail/first-look-at-nintendos-new-home-gaming-system

Comparing Samsung and Apple Cameras

This year, Samsung and Apple both released a new generation of devices. If you don’t have a particular operating system preference and photography is your thing, then this article is for you.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge both have the same cameras with the following specifications: Dual Pixel Auto Focus 12 mp rear camera, F1.7 aperture, Records in UHD 4K resolution(3840 x 2160) @ 30fps, flash on rear camera.

Dual Pixel Auto Focus was introduced on smartphones for the first time with the Samsung Galaxy devices. All of the pixels in the camera’s sensor are allocated to phase detection and sensing light, whereas in previous smartphone cameras less of the pixels were used for phase detection and auto focus.

Aperture is the opening of the lens and it is measured in F-stops. These numbers correspond to the size of the opening in the lens. A smaller F-stop is a larger opening in the lens, and a larger F-stop is a smaller opening. With an aperture of F1.7, the 7th generation Galaxy devices have the largest smartphone aperture. This enables the camera to take in more light, resulting in better low-light photos.

The rear camera on the Samsung devices records in 4K resolution, which is the resolution that newer consumer TVs display in..

This information about Samsung devices and any further specifications can be found on their website at http://www.samsung.com/us/

Unlike the seventh generation of Galaxy devices, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have slightly different features, but they also have many similarities.

The iPhone 7 camera boasts the following features. For ease of comparison, the features that can be most easily compared to the Samsung Galaxy devices have been bolded.

12 mp rear camera with F1.8 aperture                                                                           Digital zoom up to 5x                                                                                                         Optical image stabilization
Six‑element lens
Panorama (up to 63 megapixels)
Sapphire crystal lens cover
Backside illumination sensor
Hybrid IR filter
Autofocus with Focus Pixels
Tap to focus with Focus Pixels
Live Photos with stabilization
Wide color capture for photos and Live Photos
Improved local tone mapping
Body and face detection
Exposure control
Noise reduction
Auto HDR for photos
Auto image stabilization
Burst mode
Timer mode
Photo geotagging
Video Recording
4K video recording at 30 fps
1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
720p HD video recording at 30 fps
Optical image stabilization for video
Quad-LED True Tone flash
Slo‑mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps
Time‑lapse video with stabilization
Cinematic video stabilization (1080p and 720p)
Continuous autofocus video
Body and face detection
Noise reduction
Take 8-megapixel still photos while recording 4K video
Playback zoom
Video geotagging

In addition to these features, the iPhone 7 Plus also features a telephoto lens with an F2.8 aperture. 2x optical zoom and digital zoom up to 10x are also available.

The F1.8 lens is a slightly smaller aperture than the 7th generation Samsung devices, but it is a very small difference. The additional telephoto lens and optical zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus make it capable of taking better pictures at a distance.

This information about Apple devices and any further specifications can be found on their website at http://www.apple.com

Digital and optical zoom both accomplish the same job, they just do that job different ways. Optical zoom is based on the lens itself. Different parts of the lens move to zoom and focus, which is why smartphone cameras have limited optical zoom. Digital zoom is entirely computer based, so it’s very similar to zooming in on an image you could find on Google. The processing unit is what manages the zoom.

Overall, both manufacturers make very capable cameras. The information is available on their websites and here for you to compare. For me, the decision would ultimately come down to operating system preferences and preference of user interface.