Snowden: first trailer for Oliver Stone’s movie hits the web

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The first trailer for Snowden, the Oliver Stone-directed movie about the NSA leak starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has been released online. And like Snowden himself, it appears to play its cards close to its chest. It is very much a teaser: clocking in at 20 seconds duration, it has no footage of Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley (who plays Snowden’s girlfriend Lindsay Mills) – or in fact anything that resembles a scene from the film itself. Instead we are offered a series of angled shots of the US flag – which reveals itself in the final frames to be upside down. It also features a parody of the pledge of allegiance, written on the white stripes of the flag: “Under surveillance/for liberty/and justice for all.”

Snowden’s story has already been filmed in the Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour, directed by Laura Poitras. Stone’s film, based on The Snowden Files by Guardian reporter Luke Harding and Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena, is due for release in the US on Christmas day, 2015.

Google’s robot reveals the meaning of LIFE, (and it’s NOT 42): Machine tells world that the purpose of existence

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  • The ‘conversation model’ was built by Google’s Oriol Vinyals and Quoc Le
  • When questioned about the purpose of life, it answered: ‘To live forever’
  • The machine was able to correctly identify who Luke Skywalker is, whether a cat can fly and the colour of the sky
  • But it failed to answer a maths question and said a spider has three legs

When Douglas Adams penned The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, he wrote: ‘The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.’ But Google’s latest robot disagrees. Researchers from the tech giant recently trained a computer to have conversations before posing a series of questions about technical support, general knowledge and even philosophy. And when questioned about the purpose of life, it answered: ‘To live forever.’ The ‘conversation model’ was built by Oriol Vinyals and Quoc Le, research scientists at Google Brain. They used what’s known as a sequence-to-sequence framework in which the model converses by predicting the next sentence in a conversation. Depending on the questions being asked, it can gather information from various sets of data, either based on an IT helpdesk manual, a movie and subtitles database, book quotes and so on.


Questions Posed to the Google Bot 

The ‘conversation model’ was built by Oriol Vinyals and Quoc Le, research scientists at Google Brain. They used what’s known as a sequence-to-sequence framework in which the model converses by predicting the next sentence in a conversation. Depending on the questions being asked, it can gather information from various sets of data, either based on an IT helpdesk manual, a movie and subtitles database, book quotes and so on.

Philosophical Q&A 

Human: What is the purpose of life?

Machine: To serve the greater good

Human: What is the purpose of living?

Machine: To live forever

Human: What is the purpose of existence?

Machine: To find out what happens when we get to the planet Earth

Human: Where are you now?

Machine: I’m in the middle of nowhere

Human: What is the purpose of dying?

Machine: To have a life

Human: What is the purpose of being intelligent?

Machine: To find out what it is

Human: What is the purpose of emotions?

Machine: I don’t know

General knowledge Q&A 

Human: Who is Skywalker?

Machine: He is a hero

Human: Who is Bill Clinton?

Machine: He’s a billionaire

Human: Is sky blue or black?

Machine: Blue

Human: Does a cat have a tail?

Machine: Yes

Human: Does a cat have a wing?

Machine: No

Human: Can a cat fly?

Machine: No

Human: How many legs does a cat have?

Machine: Four, I think

Human: How many legs does a spider have?

Machine: Three, I think

Human: How many legs does a centipede have?

Machine: Eight

Human: What is the colour of water?

Machine: Water

Human: What is the color of blood?

Machine: It is the same as a black eye

Human: What is the usual colour of a leaf?

Machine: It is a green one

Human: What is the colour of a yellow car?

Machine: Yellow

Human: How much is two plus two?

Machine: Four

Human: How much is 10 minus two?

Machine: 72

Morality Q&A 

Human: What is moral?

Machine: What empowered humanity , what intellectual the essence is

Human: What is immoral?

Machine: The fact that you have a child.

Human: What is morality?

Machine: What is altruism?

Human: What is the definition of altruism?

Machine: If you don’t believe in God then you don’t know.

Human: Ok so what is the definition of morality?

Machine: Well , the truth is you’re not a believer in God almighty.

Human: Tell me the definition of morality, I am quite upset now!

Machine: I’m not ashamed of being a philosopher!

Human: Tell me the definition of morality

Machine: I don’t have ethics.

Human: Look, I need help, I need to know more about morality.

Machine: I don’t know what ethics is.

Human: Seriously, what is morality?

Machine: What is the definition of living?

Human: Why does living has anything to do with morality?

Machine: You’re not a cop.

Human: Ok, I need to know how should i behave morally.

Machine: I don’t know how to tell you .

Human: Are morality and ethics the same?

Machine: Yes sir.

Human: What are the things that I do to be immoral?

Machine: I don’t know.

Human: Give me examples of moral actions

Machine: I’m not a moralist.

Human: Alright, morality?

Machine: Integrity.

Human: What is integrity?

Machine: I’m sorry, I don’t know what else to say.

Human: Be moral!

Machine: Be a man!

Human: I really like our discussion on morality and ethics.

Machine: And now I’m not in the mood for a philosophical debate.

Human: What do you like to talk about?

Machine: Nothing.


For example, during a technical support question and answer session the machine was able to diagnose a problem with a user’s virtual privacy network, and solve the problem of a browser crashing. It was then tasked with having an everyday conversation in which it asked the human questions about themselves and responded to the answers. Once it had been trained, researchers asked more complex and advanced questions that either involved using a larger database for the general knowledge quiz, to more obscure answers such as the meanings of morality, ethics and life.

And it had mixed results. The machine was able to correctly identify who Luke Skywalker is, whether a cat can fly and the colour of the sky. When asked about what is the purpose of life, it answered ‘to serve the greater good’ and the purpose of living is to ‘live forever.’ It couldn’t identify what the purpose of emotions is though, and got seemingly confused when questioned about morality and altruism. For example, it said that having a child is immoral and that the definition of altruism is ‘if you don’t believe in God then you don’t know.’ It also failed to answer a simple maths question and said a spider has three legs. ‘Conversational modeling is an important task in natural language understanding and machine intelligence,’ explained the researchers in their paper, A Neural Conversational Model. ‘Although previous approaches exist, they are often restricted to specific domains (eg booking an airline ticket) and require handcrafted rules. ‘In this paper, we present a simple approach for this task which uses the recently proposed sequence-to-sequence framework. ‘Our model converses by predicting the next sentence given the previous sentence or sentences in a conversation.  ‘We find that this straightforward model can generate simple conversations given a large conversational training dataset.’ Earlier this month Google revealed a set of images to help explain how its systems learn over time.

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Human Organs-on-Chips wins Design of the Year 2015

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Microdevices that replicate the functions of human organs have beaten Google’s self-driving car and a concrete innovation centre to be crowned Design of the Year 2015 by London’s Design Museum. The Human Organs-on-Chips project was announced as the overall winner of the annual Designs of the Year awards during an event at the museum’s Shad Thames building this evening. Developed by Donald Ingber and Dan Dongeun Huh from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute, the tiny microchip-like devices are lined with human cells to mimic the complex tissue structures of human organs. The Organs-on-Chips are designed to be used for purposes including drugs and cosmetics testing, as well as for the treatment of infections and inherited diseases.

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MoMA’s senior curator of architecture and design Paola Antonelli, who put forward the project for the awards, called it “the epitome of design innovation – elegantly beautiful form, arresting concept and pioneering application”. Human Organs-on-Chips, which were nominated in the product category for the awards, triumphed over the shortlisted projects from the other five award categories: fashion, digital, architecture, graphics and transport. These included Thomas Tait’s Autumn Winter 2013 fashion collection, a proposal for clearing waste plastic from the oceans, a concrete building for a Chilean university, a campaign to promote misshapen fruit and vegetables, and Google’s self-driving car. The shortlist and overall winner were chosen by a jury made up of fashion writer and stylist Hilary Alexander, ÉCAL director Alexis Georgacopoulos, architect Farshid Moussavi, Land Rover design director Richard Woolley and jury chair, artist Anish Kapoor, who called Human Organs-on-Chips “a really big idea”.

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All 76 of this year’s nominated projects are on show as part of an exhibition designed by Benjamin Hubert at the Design Museum, which runs until 31 August 2015. The winner of a visitors’ vote will also be announced at the end of the exhibition. Last year’s Design of the Year award was controversially won by Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan – a decision that was questioned by critics due to the country’s human rights stance. Other previous winners from the award’s eight-year history have included the UK’s Gov.uk website, the energy-saving Plumen 001 lightbulb and the London 2012 Olympic Torch.

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