Do you really want to quit?

I have a question about dialog boxes on my computer. This is something I mentioned last night, and I’d appreciate some help.

Below is a picture of a well-assembled dialog box. UI folks say that dialog box options should be verbs, not nouns, but that’s not important here. (ie, you should have options “Don’t save” and “Save” for the question “Save this document?” instead of the buttons “OK” and “Cancel.”) I’m going to talk about why it’s well-assembled, but first:

Mac trivia! While the Mac (actually, the Lisa, but the Lisa informed the Mac) was being designed, the “OK” button did used to be an action: it used to be labeled “Do It.” But the space between the two words was too small, and the users read the button label as “dolt” and got kind of offended and wouldn’t push it. True fact!

dialogbox.jpg

Back to that dialog box…

Continue reading “Do you really want to quit?”

Alan Turing and the lusty robots

A news story in the online edition of the Guardian is reporting that a Korean professor has developed ‘artificial chromosomes’ that will allow robots to fell ‘lusty’ and have their own emotions and personality.

It sounds like some good PR for what seems to be nothing more than a genetic algorithm approach to artificial intelligence. Certainly interesting, but not new and hardly likely to lead to machine lust or emotion.

Nevertheless, Professor Kim Jong-Hwan would not be the first computer scientist to get a little overexecited about the possibilities of AI.

A certain Alan Turing suggested his ‘mechanical brain’ might eventually produce some fairly unusual things way back in 1949…

Continue reading “Alan Turing and the lusty robots”

Inside the mind of an arsonist

Rebecca Doley, an Australian doctoral student has been studying the forensic psychology of recurrent arson. Particularly, she’s been interested in being able to ‘profile’ or identify common behaviours or experiences that are distinctive of people who set fires.

Forest Fire

Profiling usually hits the headlines when applied to murderers or sex offenders and is often used to narrow the number of suspects in a criminal investigation.

It is also used to look at ‘risk factors’ in certain sorts of criminal behaviour, to allow policy makers and community leaders to make social changes to reduce the risk of criminal behaviour in the community.

Doley has found that serial arsonists often have a sense of excitement or pleasure seeing the damage done by their fires, although their background is not necessarilly very different from the troubled histories of other persistent criminals.

If you’re interested in profiling, forensic science or forensic psychology, it’s often worth checking your local adult education college who often run short courses or talks on these topics.

Link to write-up of Doley’s research via ABC Southwest.
Audio of streamed interview with Doley in Real Audio format.