Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “The Cats”

Adventures of the feline kind.

[twenty twenty-four day one six eight]: what ISN’T embodied AI?

centaur 0
two hangry cats

The Embodied AI Workshop is coming up this Tuesday, starting at 8:50am, and I am busy procrastinating on my presentation(s) by trying to finish all the OTHER things which need to be done prior to the workshop.

One of the questions my talk raises is what ISN'T embodied AI. And the simplest way I can describe it is that if you don't have to interact with an environment, it isn't embodied.

Figuring out that the golden object on the left and the void on the right is a tremendously complex problem, solved by techniques like CNNs and their variants Inception and ResNet.

But it's a static problem. Recognizing things in the image doesn't change things in the image. But in the real world, you cannot observe things without affecting them.

This is a fundamental principle that goes all the way down to quantum mechanics. Functionally, we can ignore it for certain problems, but we can never make it go away.

So, classical non-interactive learning is an abstraction. If you have a function which goes from image to cat, and the cat can't whap you back for getting up in its bidnes, it isn't embodied.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Gabby, God rest his fuzzy little soul, and Loki, his grumpier cousin.

[twenty twenty-four day one four nine]: master of all he surveys, redux

centaur 1

Our big butch cat - Loki is 16+ pounds of fur and muscle, with relatively little flab - is actually a little scaredy guy. I mean, I might be a scaredy guy too if the situation was reversed: I'm approximately 6 times taller and 11 times heaver than Loki, and I'd be freaked to live in a world where 35-foot-tall, one-ton creatures felt like picking me up at random times for no discernible reason.

But he's scared of other things too, like his shadow. And I think that happened because once, when he tried to go outside, a baby rat snake was coiling by the door. He ran to the nearby French doors to be let out, but the rat snake had also fled - to the same doors! And then, both of them again fled to the next door down. He was pretty freaked, and a little more cautious going over thresholds since then. Not this guy, though:

Regardless, Loki frequently gets animated, starts looking outside or in the yard to see what's going on, and stares at it for a long time, before settling down and chilling out. Even when something is really there, though, it doesn't mean that the cause is always actionable. Sometimes things are just passing through, and worrying about them or doing something about them can only lead to more disruption.

I'm not saying to ignore real problems, of course; seeing the fox requires different reactions than the deer.

But how often do we stress out about things which will ultimately pass us by?

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, the snek, and the deer. Fox was not available for comment.

[twenty twenty-four day one four five]: so convenient

centaur 0

It's good to be home, but Loki sure doesn't make it convenient. Cat, I have work to do.

Still, I guess you're going to do you.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, in my lap as I type this (likely because, right now, I'm not letting him sit on my recently-filled-in whiteboard desk) and Loki, eating with his feet in his food bowl, because ... ?????

[twenty twenty-four day one four oh]: this chair is mine now

taidoka 0

Brief placeholder I'm scheduling for tomorrow, in case we get caught up with Silicon Valley Open Studios stuff. But what it strikes me is how animals behave differently when we're not around. Case in point, Loki is pictured here, sitting in my rocking chair - which he rarely does if I'm present, either sitting on my lap, or sitting on the table. But never in the other rocking chair. I wonder why that is.

Or maybe it's Heisenberg's Cat Principle: if you observe a cat, you have disturbed it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, on MY rocking chair, disputing that "MY" part.

[twenty twenty-four day one three zero]: and then he rested

centaur 0

It's been a long day dealing with a whole sequence of guff, so here I present to you Loki, taking a nap after his hard work on reconciling large language models with classical symbolic artificial intelligence.

-the Centaur

P.S. The Kickstarter is almost there! ... 94%, with ~3 days to go! Like, back and share!

[twenty twenty-four day one-oh-four]: he’s doing it again

centaur 0

Okay, it wasn't a fluke: Loki sought me out, meowed for attention, climbed up into my lap ... then moved to the nearby table and deliberately turned his back to me.

Now, it is true that he wanted more scritches, but just a little, and it was just as clear that he wanted his large primate to be near enough to protect him, but without a lot of interaction.

He is a weird little cat. He often meows that he wants something, but can't seem to walk in the direction of what he wants, and you need to trial-guess it by walking in several different directions until he follows.

He clearly wants something though ... he just can't make it clear.

What, you expected my behavior to make sense?

-the Centaur

Pictured: that guy, yes, that guy, rocking the golden hour.

[twenty twenty-four day one oh two]: sit close enough to ignore

centaur 0

Loki has asked me to pass on this public service announcement for cat partners everywhere: "Please, sit close enough that we may ignore you. We can't very well ignore you if you aren't there, now can we?" I suppose this is a security blanket thing, though later in the day he changed tactics on maintaining proximity of his human and went for "doing cute things, please pay attention to me."

I picked him up recently for one of the back-stretches he enjoys, and I swear he yawned when he did it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, trying to ignore me, but from a comfortably close distance, then attracting attention.

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-nine]: thank you, loki …

centaur 0

... your contributions to my productivity are invaluable.

I do not know how I could remember to get everything done without you.

-the Centaur

Pictured: my whiteboard desk, after Loki sat on it; and while I didn't catch him in the act this time, I have caught him doing it previously, and there we are.

[twenty twenty-four day eighty-eight]: master of all he surveys …

taidoka 0

... he's just going to survey it from the safety of the inside.

Lots of work on Embodied AI #5 and Clockwork Alchemy and the Neurodiversiverse, more tomorrow. Until then, please enjoy the above pictures of a cat.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, who for some reason wants to look out the window on the opposite side of the room - perhaps because there's more activity out in the trees than in the little courtyard behind him. Also behind him, a sofa modified by my wife Sandi, and one of her paintings.

[twenty twenty-four day seventy-five]: i’m not your sphinx, man

centaur 0

Cats supposedly have brains the size of a large walnut, and are not supposed to be intelligent according to traditional anthropofallicists. But there's something weird about how Loki remains perfectly still ... right up until the point where you want to take a picture, at which point he'll roll over. Or how he'll pester you, right until you're done with a task, but when you are done and can attend to him, he'll walk away.

Almost like there's something devious going on in that aloof,yet needy little brain, some thought process like, I want you to pay attention to me, but I don't want you to think that I need it.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, who looked just like a sphinx, until I pulled out my camera and he immediately rolled over.

[twenty twenty-four day seventy-four]: damn you google spotlight

centaur 0

Damn you, Google Spotlight: it's a nice-sounding feature to pop up images from the past, but there's always the chance that the person or thing you pop up will be gone, and you didn't think of that, did you?

I miss you, little guy.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Gabby. No offense to any other animal I've ever owned, but Gabby was my favorite pet.

[twenty twenty-four day fifty-two]: master of all he surveys

centaur 0

When we finally get superintelligence, I want it to explain to me what cats are thinking. Loki clearly wants something, but it isn't clear what it is. He wants your attention, he wants to go outside, he wants to go somewhere not too far from the house, but he doesn't seem satisfied with you just standing there, nor with you bending down to scratch him, nor with you going anywhere else.

What do you want, for me to just stand here, so you feel safe rolling in the dirt?

There's no pleasing some people.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, in the external cat condo which we got as part of our successful "cat sitting solution".

[twenty twenty-four day forty-eight]: he haz a comfort

centaur 0

When it rains, it pours. I missed a few meetings last week due to work on the Neurodiversiverse - we were working through edits, and needed more time, and decided to extend our meeting, ultimately taking three and a half hours. But I had an afternoon meeting I was supposed to schedule - we hadn't put it on the calendar yet, and were going to schedule it over email after my Neurodiversiverse meeting. But since that scheduling hadn't happened yet, I didn't see it on my calendar when we were deciding to extend the NDV meeting, and since that meeting didn't end for several hours, I completely missed the window my colleague and I were planning to meet in.

What's worse, I forgot what evening of the week it was, and completely spaced on the Vestry (church board) meeting scheduled for that night. I've added a recurring meeting for that, but the damage is done - and cascading. Since I missed that meeting, I missed the discussion at the Vestry meeting of when we were supposed to meet with the bishop - a retreat that I just found out is scheduled in just thirty minutes, when I had already booked this time to work on Neurodiversiverse edits, which are time urgent.

Sometimes I think it would be easier to be a cat.

However, I feel the need to point out that our capabilities often exceed our estimation of them. I was wondering how I was going to get everything done. Well, now, I am still going to get everything done - I'm just, somehow, going to do more than I thought I was capable of. Funny how that happens. We often imagine that we have less resources available to us than we do - this is an adaptive self-defense mechanism that keeps us from burning out. But it can make us feel that we can't handle things - when we can.

-the Centaur

Pictured: a cat, in comfort. Actually Loki had a very terrible, no good, bad night as he wanted out around midnight, right when I went to bed, and was forced to sit on his warm heating pad, unable to get crunchies for SEVERAL HOURS while his human slept. Imagine the injustice! When FINALLY let in, Loki went to every bowl in the house in turn, sampling each one, before finally settling down to warm and fuzzy sleep.

[twenty twenty-four day twenty-six]: make up your mind

centaur 0

Cat, when it's raining: "Let me out! Let me out! But not this door, it's wet. Let's try another door. And another! Or another! I gotta get out! Just hold the door open until the rain stops!"

Also cat, when it is nice and sunny: "Who cares about going outside? Ima gonna havva nap."

-the Centaur

Pictured: the cat-shaped void, Loki, actually using his void-colored cat tree for once. Image taken in infrared bands and color enhanced by NASA to show surface detail.

no, seriously, i can help

centaur 0

Yeah, right, buddy. You just want my dinner, after not eating yours.

Lots of news, much of it good - particularly, a new way to structure projects with a literature review, book document and manuscript doc. But workmen arrive in the AM, so you just get a picture of a cat.

-the Centaur

Pictured: He is determined.

[eighty-seven] minus one-two-one: can i help? i think i can help

centaur 0

So, in case you don't own this cat, the little brow-furrowed face Loki is currently making is his "I really want your food but you're not letting me eat it, so I'm going to sit just at arms length and fume" face. He thinks if he waits long enough, he'll be able to sneak in and try some. My long arm thinks otherwise.

Anyhoo, while I said I wanted to put blogging at the first of the day to make sure it got done, it turns out that I was way more interested in making sure that I didn't fall grievously behind on my Camp Nano project, Dakota Frost #7, SPIRAL NEEDLE, nor miss any of my other responsibilities.

I'm mostly caught up now, so I'm trying to put blogging back on the queue. Interestingly enough, after my rant about blocks, the WordPress folks have reached out to talk to me about blocks. Talk about customer service! So I'm also blogging trying to replicate the bugs I observed the other day that set me off.

So far, I cannot replicate the cut-and-paste error, where trying to select all the text only copied part of it - it is entirely possible that the system had just gotten into a cruftly state, which can happen to any program of sufficient complexity.

I can, however, replicate the cut-and-paste problem I had, where trying to re-order sentences introduced new paragraph breaks in a way that's not standard for Word, Google Docs, or TextEdit. This is probably most directly attributable to the text being in blocks, but it might be fixable.

I also reproduced the "Where's Waldo" interface issue where I could not easily inject new blocks - though now I see that can be fixed with a carriage return followed by a slash, which is documented in the interface, it is also possible that at the time something was just wrong with my editor.

I also debugged the problem I had with the interface. In TextEdit, Word and Google Docs, the first line of your document is the first line of your document. In WordPress, it is invisibly a title, as opposed to the Classic Editor which distinguishes this with a different text entry box. This is also probably fixable.

But there are other strange errors. Like, the sidebar that let you change the properties of the post are normally present when I blog, but had disappeared when I started this post. Weirdly, not even the button to show them was present - I had to toggle several other buttons and then it appeared, just where I remembered it. Not sure what's going on there. Since I restarted my computer recently and re-logged into WordPress, perhaps this is a "sticky" setting that went away when I cycled my browser. Still investigating.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, trying to help me study generative AI.

[eighty-seven] minus one-oh-six: be kind to yourself, but prioritize

centaur 0

Last week, frankly speaking, I was feeling kind of low. I had launched a major paper to arXiv (an event which I tweeted et al, but somehow haven't blogged yet) and had a big opportunity to get caught up on stuff. But I couldn't seem to get rolling, not even on my Camp Nano project, Dakota Frost #7, SPIRAL NEEDLE.

I met with my buddy Jim Davies and came up with the idea of restructuring my day, which worked well and I blogged about last week. But when Monday rolled around, and a lot of stuff wasn't done, I decided that I needed to throw away that script and make sure that the important "hanging tasks" got done.

And I did. Maybe not a third of the ones I wanted to get done, but I chewed through a lot of them. And I realized that, after spending a year and a quarter on that big arXiv paper and the Embodied AI Workshop, that I probably needed more recharge time than I had given myself.

But I had felt I didn't have time, as I had to roll into Camp Nano on July 1st and there were other tasks, like managing the repair of our air conditioning system and disbursing awards to the winners of Embodied AI Workshop challenges, that also couldn't wait. Things often just start when they are scheduled to start.

But whether I had that time to take off, I needed that time, as you can maybe see above. The first week of Camp Nano, I was running below full power. After a week's worth of the motor sputtering on 50%, giving me a forced recharge, you can see my writing rate start to climb up again, as it should be.

But the lesson isn't just that it's important to be kind to yourself - the modern phrase is "self-care" - because, as I said, things often start when they wanna start. And this includes planned things, like Camp Nano, and unplanned things, like lightning taking out your A/C. And even emergencies, like a sick cat.

So, I had put blogging aside a bit until Camp Nano was rolling again and my business were taken care of, and was getting ahead on both this morning, just prior to going to lunch with my 90-year-old uncle, when our cat Loki started yowling, puking, and trying to go to the bathroom without success.

The little guy has a history of urinary tract infections, which can kill a cat in hours and almost killed him three times, and had gotten the zoomies after trying to use the litterbox last night. His condition didn't seem bad then, but it was markedly worse today, and reluctantly I called Uncle Paul to cancel, then called the vet.

It often seems that I'm called to do the most just when I've "run out of spoons" dealing with some other problem, but, somehow, God provides enough spoons in the clinch when I need them. Less than an hour after canceling with Uncle Paul, I was pulling into the vet's office, who worked us in to their lunch hour.

Blessedly, the surgery Loki had after his previous urinary tract blockages prevented any buildup this time; in fact, the doctor suspected this was possibly a simpler case of a gastrointestinal infection - kitty food poisoning - and gave him antibiotics / anti-inflammatories to help Loki's system calm down.

Within hours of getting home, he was eating and drinking again, and soon returning to his alternately lovable/needy, grumpy/jerky self. And I got yet another lesson that the resources you need to solve your problems are often there, even if you don't always feel like they are.

Be good to yourself. But put first things first when you have to, and often, it will all work out.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Loki, after recovery (but looking like he looked when he was sick), Camp Nano progress, Loki at the vet, and Loki definitely in recovery mode with his medicine in him. And may I complain again about the Gutenberg editor making simple operations like selecting text an exercise in frustration?