Is this the future of AI assistants?


What if you could automate any task simply by saying what you want to achieve?

You’ve probably already heard about ChatGPT - the system from OpenAI that can write and debug software, generate essays, write poetry and more. You can give it tasks in plain English (“please write a haiku on why AI is not a threat to humanity”). Some tasks are one-shot - you get back exactly what you need after one interaction. Most often in my experience though it take a few attempts. The generated code is not quite right, or the answer doesn’t quite make sense to you. Sometimes you need to give ChatGPT some more background knowledge because it can’t search the internet by itself.

What if you could automate all that?

What if you could give ChatGPT a goal and it would work out what it needed to do to achieve that goal and then do it. Without you needing to do anything else?

That’s the promise of Auto-GPT systems.

Read More

Close encounters of the tentacled kind; A review of The Mountain in the Sea, by Ray Naylor

This is the best science fiction book I’ve read this year. It’s bleak and it shines an unflattering light on humanity, but it’s thought provoking and extremely well-written. So often in science fiction difficulties of communication between alien races are brushed over or the “universal translator” makes another appearance. But, how hard would it be really, to communicate with an alien species? What if their senses and medium of expression were different from humanity? Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky gets somewhat close - the Spiders don’t imagine that vibrations in air would be a way to communicate, but in this case there is a ready-made intermediary. Blindsight, by Peter Watts does an excellent job (although he’s more interested in whether consciousness is an advantage or disadvantage) - what if the very act of communication was perceived as an aggressive act? The Mountain in the Sea is closer to home though, and the aliens are already here.

Read More

More than useful - Miroki, a new humanoid robot is born

When you think about humanoid robots, what countries do you think of? You might think of Japan, well known as a powerhouse of robotics, the likes of Asimo and Aibo. Maybe you think of American companies like Boston Dynamics with Atlas. You might not think of France. Yet if you consider the numbers of humanoid robots worldwide it is almost certainly French robots that are in the majority. There are thousands of Nao & Pepper robots out there. Designed and built by Aldebaran, which became Softbank Robotics Europe and which is now Aldebaran again. Now, I’m in Paris again and Jérôme Monceaux, the mind behind Nao & Pepper, has a new company, Enchanted Tools, with a new robot that he’s ready to show to the world.

Read More

Review: Bastion, by Phil Tucker

I’ve been a long time fan of Phil Tucker and have read his Godsblood trilogy, Chronicles at the black gate and Euphoria Online series. So I was really happy to hear he had new book in the works and even happier to be given a chance to read an advance copy. Bastion is set in a new fantasy world with an premise that is new and, I think, quite unusual.

Read More

RC2014 speaks

Back in the 1980s when the ZX Spectrum 48K was the only computer my family had I had a speach synthesizer for it. It was made by Currah if I remember correctly. It was possible to generate comprehensible speech as long as you manually translated the text you wanted it to speak into phonemes which required some trial and error. I must have sold it with the rest of my ZX Spectrum gear (several years later I was raising money to buy an Amiga) but thanks to the MG005 kit by Jerry Frost I’ve been able to re-visit that 1980s experience on my RC2014.

Read More

Review: Agency, by William Gibson

I enjoy the works of many science-fiction authors, but only William Gibson influenced the direction of my career. Without “Neuromancer” and his depiction of Cyberspace I probably would not have chosen to make Virtual-Reailty the subject of my PhD. For me, the Sprawl trilogy (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive) is one of the classics of modern science-fiction and, pretty much, defnined Cyberpunk. How does his latest book compare?

Read More

Review: Emily Eternal, by M.G. Wheaton

When writing fantasy or science fiction set in the far future you can get away with plot devices that are not available to writers describing the current day or near future. It’s normal in fantasy to have magic and world mechanics that would be implausible in the real-world. Far future science fiction can also get away with magic (sorry, “sufficiently advanced technology”). Near future science fiction, in my opinions needs to be a little bit more careful and this is one area where “Emily Eternal” fails badly.

This review includes spoilers.

Read More

Hello Oric! Getting aquainted with the Oric and Oric Atmos

I never owned an Oric computer in my youth, but to Ghene’s despair, I have been aquiring old hardware off Ebay over the last couple of years. I managed to get my hands on an Oric-1 and an Oric Atmos earlier this year but only got as far as powering them on and verifying that they appeared to work.
I recently had a surprising amount of fun loading Spectrum software from tape and since I now knew I had a working tape recorder I thought I should try some of the small collection of Oric tapes I received with the Oric-1.

First up was dig dog and the Oric-1…

Read More