Monthly Archives: November 2014

Dora Dougherty Day

doradoughertyIf you’re delayed in an airport on this busy Thanksgiving weekend, give a thought to Dora Dougherty and the trail she blazed for women in the skies.Born today in 1921, her life path progressed from childhood airplane fanatic to accomplished, record-holding pilot and WWII veteran.

Dougherty learned to fly in a civilian program to increase the number of trained pilots prior to the USA’s entry into World War II. In an era where women pilots were frowned upon, Dougherty took her final flight test from an instructor who wouldn’t speak to her or any female flying a plane. After scoring her license, she applied to serve as a WASP (Women’s Air Service Pilots) and was accepted in 1943; her main duties were flying drones and pulling targets until she and a fellow female pilot were the first to fly the B-29 Bomber. Dougherty was chosen because of her adaptive skills in flying any type of plane, and because most military pilots believed the B-29 would be unreliable and dangerous and men were skittish about flying the massive craft. After proving the B-29 was “so easy to fly even a woman could do it,” she went on to train many male pilots to fly it.

After the war, Dougherty continued to pursue the science behind her passion, earning her PhD in aviation education and psychology. She also saw the future in helicopters, and set two records for helicopter altitude and distance in 1961. Later on, she and her fellow WASPs fought for recognition for their wartime duty, and eventually won their military benefits.

Dougherty passed away last year, but her amazing life and ambition will inspire girls for generations to come, and reminds us all that childhood dreams do matter.


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Artistic Surprise is Key to Next-Gen Lovelace Test

160405716_d922229704_zFirst there was the Turing Test, then the Lovelace Test. Now there’s Lovelace 2.0, an intelligence test for the next generation. While the focus of Turing’s methodology was all about the fake out, this test requires a computer program to gaze into its own navel and come up with something unexpected.

The first Lovelace Test, named for geek pioneer Ada Lovelace, theorized in 2001 that instead of tricking people into believing a computer was a human, it would be more effective if the computer could create something artistically unique, something beyond the output expected by the test’s creators.

“It’s important to note that Turing never meant for his test to be the official benchmark as to whether a machine or computer program can actually think like a human,” said Mark Riedl, an associate professor at Georgia Tech and the scientist behind Lovelace 2.0. “And yet it has, and it has proven to be a weak measure because it relies on deception. This proposal suggests that a better measure would be a test that asks an artificial agent to create an artifact requiring a wide range of human-level intelligent capabilities.”

While the original Lovelace Test merely required the original creation to be a surprise, Lovelace 2.0 sets up parameters based on the originality of the computer’s creation and not necessarily the quality of it. In essence, if the computer creates an original song, poem or other piece of art, the only thing that counts is its uniqueness and not if humans like it or understand it. Someone break out the digital berets, because it sounds like computers may have a future in artistic expression.



Photo: Andrew Becraft

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Filed under Computers, Education, Science