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Jeremy Murphy
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Gender wars on Swanston St
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I heard two talks by A/Prof Kenneth Stanley from the University of Central Florida this week.  The first one on Monday was good; he demonstrated the ability to evolve content in games, which is a neat (ho ho) thing to do.  I did start to get a bit worried towards the end when he talked about social interaction in Petalz: I guess I just began to wonder if it was really still scientific and whether a computer scientist is sensitive enough to the social and political factors of social networks.
On Wednesday he gave his talk about novelty search, and it BLEW MY MIND.  So much that I am making it my first post to +.  This guy has basically harnessed serendipity. Formalized aimless wandering. Made the Zen Buddhism of search algorithms. It finds things without looking for them, and it does it much, much better than the intelligent algorithms that he has been working on for years.
His experiments demonstrate the basic idea that scientists and artists know intuitively: if you simply follow an interesting thread, pursue what piques your curiosity, you will discover cool stuff and you could not have predicted it from where you started. One implication of this, in all seriousness, is to ask for science funding with no goal in mind. Seriously. It was one of the most ironic conclusions of a science presentation ever.
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