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March 2008

Check point


Self-Experimenters: Can 200,000 Hours of Baby Talk Untie a Robot’s Tongue?

Deb Roy wants to make robots smarter by getting them to imitate his kid
By Nikhil Swaminathan

When Deb Roy and his wife have overnight guests that might encounter their two-and-a-half-year-old son—the couple is withholding his name to protect his privacy—the first thing they do is ask their visitors to fill out a consent form. Unusual, for sure, but the couple is merely trying to make people aware that their actions and voices may be captured by the 11 fish-eye cameras and 14 microphones hidden around their Cambridge, Mass., home listening in on nearly every sound their son has ever uttered.

The two main goals of the setup: to understand how children acquire language and use the intelligence gleaned to teach robots to talk.


Winter Soldiers Sound Off

By Dahr Jamail, April 2008 Issue

Jason Moon suffers from persistent insomnia as he wrestles with memories of his time in Iraq. “While on our initial convoy into Iraq in early June 2003, we were given a direct order that if any children or civilians got in front of the vehicles in our convoy, we were not to stop, we were not to slow down, we were to keep driving,” says the former National Guard and Army Reserve member. “In the event an insurgent attacked us from behind human shields, we were supposed to count. If there were thirty or less civilians we were allowed to fire into the area. If there were over thirty, we were supposed to take fire and send it up the chain of command. These were the rules of engagement. I don’t know about you, but if you are getting shot at from a crowd of people, how fast are you going to count, and how accurately?”


Rachel Corrie, a girl with dreams

Rachel Corrie her testimony

In the press this morning

Murder trial recalls tale of Arsenic and Old Lace

For two septuagenarians, they certainly displayed a sprightly energy as they went about their retirement. Helen Golay, 77, and Olga Rutterschmidt, 75, befriended two homeless men, found them places to live, fed them – and then murdered them, prosecutors claim.As their trial opened in Los Angeles yesterday, the case was likened to the Frank Capra film Arsenic and Old Lace in which Cary Grant’s two maiden aunts are discovered bumping off lonely old men.


Fairuz – Jerusalem Zahrat Almadaen

Farid el Atrache at the oud

Russia cracks down on bloggers

by Kim Zigfeld

It looks like the beginning of the end for Russia’s celebrated blogosphere.

On February 15, 2007, a 21-year-old Russian artist and blogger named Savva Terentyev (pictured above) located in the northern Russian city of Syktyvkar posted a comment on the blog of a local journalist named Boris Suranov. Suranov’s post dealt with a raid by local police officers on a local opposition newspaper called Iskra (“the spark”), a raid which Suranov believed was politically motivated and illegal. As such, the raid would have been part of a pattern of such attacks on independent media by the Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, a pattern that had been underway since Putin first took office.


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