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Author Topic: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game  (Read 6316 times)

mouser

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The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« on: March 03, 2014, 09:21:40 PM »
Did anyone else have one of these Merlin early electronic games, circa 1978?

I did, and it was magical.

Here's an article about it's creator and the early days of these electronics games:

http://www.xconomy.c...me/?single_page=true




from http://games-beta.sl...he-first-mobile-game

ewemoa

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2014, 12:58:06 AM »
Had a Simon at some point - only got to play with a Merlin on a few occasions.

app103

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2014, 01:34:54 PM »
I still have one in a closet somewhere, and an A/C adapter for it. It was my first non-human opponent for Mastermind.  :)

40hz

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2014, 03:48:08 PM »
Own one and still play with it. It's a fun gadget. :Thmbsup:

TaoPhoenix

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2014, 07:10:46 PM »
A few of y'all are a hair older than me. The "target sales year" of these classics stretched well into the mid 80's. So I had my Simon in 80-something.

But maybe I sorta disagree with the article pinpointing it as the early key to fun computing. I'd give that set of honors on the other side, the "PC" side dating from my Commodore 128, backed by my Atari (which I think caught fire after a four hour game of PacMan with bad ventilation that day.)

Little "tricks" like Simon didn't feel like computers - right on their heels came Nintendo handheld games, etc. Instead, the start (and finish! Yikes!) of my computing respect came from the C128 where I made some twelve simple programs of my very own. The stars were a Maze game where you could move only in right angles but had to deal with maze Tron-Esque walls of varying angles, and what I now joke about as a "New York Crowd Subway Simulator" - "Avoid the masses of faceless people, none of whom you care about, but none of whom you dare bump into"! (Holy hell, 30 years ahead of its time!!)

:D


TaoPhoenix

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2014, 07:20:07 PM »
Starting a *whole* new topic, let's look at this quote:

"The notion of the mind as a computer, or of a computer intelligence, has fascinated me my whole life,” Doyle says.

I *So* believe in this. I truly believe that people are incredibly like computers, involving "hardware problems" and "software problems", and when faced with five misc struggles by people, the minute you ask that question, parts of it all snaps into place.

I absolutely believe that the related but sometimes maligned Loebner prize is important, with a chunk of "defensive code" that people do automatically. (Background. It's a variant-TuringTest competition, but it rewards too highly people who ask nonsense questions. Put a bit of push-back in there, and things might change a bit.)

And my secret weapon in AI is the much maligned but maybe surprisingly important P1 of "math error" fame. Because that's what "intelligence" does. Makes errors. Then just build in some meta-code that expresses doubt about its results and then you're on a new path.

Going a bit darker, I (from my dangerously arrogant flippant layman's chair) think that "AI" is just on the verge of totally owning a whole class of service workers. I still say I welcome PM's / other going into AI topics. (With no way to prove anything, I still think I have useful algorithms on this in my head that no one has considered.)

The Cyc project struggled a little in the early days, but we're just turning those corners. Somewhere between Watson that beat Jeopardy, plus X custom code, the "McDonalds Algorithm" isn't that hard, if you skip the robotics and abstract it a bit.

Heh - I chatter to much. More some other day. :  )


40hz

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2014, 09:53:13 PM »
Based on what I know about human minds and computers, I think they're completely different mechanisms that operate (to date) on entirely different principles. Beyond a certain surface similarity of outputs and responses (which you can find looking most things - if you look hard enough and aren't too fussy) I can't think of anything further apart. And there's still Turing's 'halting problem' for a machine to get around.

But while I'm not too hopeful for genuine AI in the foreseeable future, I certainly am for a-life research. Self-organizing autonomous virtual machines (i.e. bots, agents, virus-like cyber-mechanisms, adaptive sensing devices, etc.) are an entirely different proposition. That's where I think we'll see the real breakthroughs in the next twenty or so years.

In fact...OMG! Look at the time! Yeah, let's leave this for some other day ... ;D

TaoPhoenix

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2014, 05:15:52 AM »
Based on what I know about human minds and computers, I think they're completely different mechanisms that operate (to date) on entirely different principles. Beyond a certain surface similarity of outputs and responses (which you can find looking most things - if you look hard enough and aren't too fussy) I can't think of anything further apart. And there's still Turing's 'halting problem' for a machine to get around.

But while I'm not too hopeful for genuine AI in the foreseeable future, I certainly am for ... research.

In fact...OMG! Look at the time! Yeah, let's leave this for some other day ... ;D

Heh joke at the end, ends too much research!

Sadly, human minds are much overrated, and we're risking "No True Scotsman" calling "Human Minds" to be the best 12%! (Tax season has shown me this!)

So I still think we're all falling back to my semi-paranoic theory that we're afraid of super-AI. Armchair wise, I like to say that with 10K, I could overturn some of these theories. But then, I'm just a ranter and I don't matter. But I think it's true. 170k lines of code could change the world.

I think we might have to Agree to Disagree.

Work into Siri is along the lines I have been saying, with a bit to go. But why is "Siri" different? Maybe for once not a cute little nonprofit, but a Big Biz entity working on it?

« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 05:21:57 AM by TaoPhoenix »

40hz

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2014, 10:09:18 AM »
^I don't think I'm being paranoid or giving undue emphasis to what passes for human intelligence. I just don't think the current state of AI is that great as to be overly accommodating towards the assertions being made for it. Because from my own personal perspective (admittedly as little more than intelligent and interested bystander) it ain't nowhere near there yet.

FWIW I have a purely personal belief that 'intelligence' (or something close enough it may as well be) will ultimately be shown to inevitably emerge from from any system once it reaches sufficient power, capacity, and complexity. But that's just as much my accepting something on faith as somebody else insisting human intelligence is unique and non-reproduceable by engineering or technology. Truth is...we just don't know.

Now I'm not saying it can't be done. Just that it hasn't - and it doesn't look like there's even been a significant breakthrough in the last 20 years or so to speed the advent. Most of the approaches being taken seem pretty brute force from the readings I've done.

But that's me. I have a bias for elegant solutions.
 8)

Innuendo

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2014, 08:07:43 PM »
Back to the OP, I had one of those! Bought it with my allowance and I loved it! Played it every single day for years.

TaoPhoenix

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 12:07:56 AM »
^I don't think I'm being paranoid or giving undue emphasis to what passes for human intelligence. I just don't think the current state of AI is that great as to be overly accommodating towards the assertions being made for it. Because from my own personal perspective (admittedly as little more than intelligent and interested bystander) it ain't nowhere near there yet.

FWIW I have a purely personal belief that 'intelligence' (or something close enough it may as well be) will ultimately be shown to inevitably emerge from from any system once it reaches sufficient power, capacity, and complexity. But that's just as much my accepting something on faith as somebody else insisting human intelligence is unique and non-reproduceable by engineering or technology. Truth is...we just don't know.

Now I'm not saying it can't be done. Just that it hasn't - and it doesn't look like there's even been a significant breakthrough in the last 20 years or so to speed the advent. Most of the approaches being taken seem pretty brute force from the readings I've done.

But that's me. I have a bias for elegant solutions.
 8)

Great comment.

My own private theory was that we could have had it fifteen years ago, if it was an "important goal". I think deep Racial Fear is involved. Also, see the rise of "Security".

I also believe that once you get past the odd gap of Shannon-Cyc-Robotics-LoebnerDefense-Other stuff, any four of you hotshot programmers combined can create "pseudo-AI". (And that's part of the problem, by explicitly declaring it "not important" it falls to TaoP and four people to do mockups that should have been done twenty-two years ago!)


TaoPhoenix

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2014, 12:17:23 AM »
^I don't think I'm being paranoid or giving undue emphasis to what passes for human intelligence.

Yes. Yes you are. I wasn't kidding. "No True Scotsman" is deadly.

I give you the following item heard about once per week in my tax office:

"I'm on welfare. I want to file like I did last year so I get my $5,000 back, for free."

So yes. Your idea of "human" ... has serious statistical flaws!

*That's* why "Entry AI" ... isn't that tough!

Put another way, via different questions, *people* fail the Turing Test about once per week!

 :o  8)


40hz

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 05:42:35 AM »
^I don't think I'm being paranoid or giving undue emphasis to what passes for human intelligence.

Yes. Yes you are. I wasn't kidding. "No True Scotsman" is deadly.

I give you the following item heard about once per week in my tax office:

"I'm on welfare. I want to file like I did last year so I get my $5,000 back, for free."

So yes. Your idea of "human" ... has serious statistical flaws!

*That's* why "Entry AI" ... isn't that tough!

Put another way, via different questions, *people* fail the Turing Test about once per week!

 :o  8)



@Tao = You completely lost me. That, or I'm afraid I came in on the middle of another discussion. (Welfare extrapolations? and "No True Scotsman??? Love it! But I have absolutely no clue as to what that is alluding to!  :huh:  ;D)

------------------------------------

Tech note: the Turing Test is not the same thing as Turing's Halting Problem in case anybody's interested. Check it out. It's a rather fascinating topic. More on it here and  here. 8)

Or if you're more the visual type:





------------------------------------


Back OT for a moment...

simon.jpg

We also have that less capable "me too" Simon game by Milton Bradley. I just checked and was surprised to discover it still works too - although the yellow light looks like it's starting to go.
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 05:55:38 AM by 40hz »

TaoPhoenix

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2014, 08:59:29 AM »
^I don't think I'm ... giving undue emphasis to what passes for human intelligence.
...

@Tao = You completely lost me. ... "No True Scotsman??? Love it! But I have absolutely no clue as to what that is alluding to!  :huh:  ;D)
[/quote]

Put another way:
As I understand it, the Turing Test was supposed to be about a person talking through one terminal and a computer program talking via another one, and the human operator is supposed to try to figure out which is which.

But I think there are some assumptions going on about the level of intelligence of the participants. So if the human on the other side of the terminal is less coherent than a chatterbot and can't type either, and the test taker is also feebleminded, and if the chatterbot is tuned well, it very well could win!

So the "No True Scotsman" part kicks in if we start trying to say things like "oh, well, that's not a true test...".


Renegade

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2014, 09:56:14 AM »
I played with them in the store, but never got one.
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40hz

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2014, 12:13:01 PM »
^I don't think I'm ... giving undue emphasis to what passes for human intelligence.
...

@Tao = You completely lost me. ... "No True Scotsman??? Love it! But I have absolutely no clue as to what that is alluding to!  :huh:  ;D)
Quote
Put another way:
As I understand it, the Turing Test was supposed to be about a person talking through one terminal and a computer program talking via another one, and the human operator is supposed to try to figure out which is which.

But I think there are some assumptions going on about the level of intelligence of the participants. So if the human on the other side of the terminal is less coherent than a chatterbot and can't type either, and the test taker is also feebleminded, and if the chatterbot is tuned well, it very well could win!

So the "No True Scotsman" part kicks in if we start trying to say things like "oh, well, that's not a true test...".



Ah...ok. I got confused because I was talking about Turing's Halting Problem, not the so-called 'Turing Test.'

FWIW, the Turing Test was intended to be wholly subjective - which makes the validity of the result entirely dependent on the person evaluating the responses received. Hardly "scientific" in the modern sense. But as to whether or not the Turing Test is a "true test," I have no idea since I'm not 100% sure what I think 'true' is in this domain - or how it could be established beyond all doubt. (Thank you Kurt Gödel!) So I tend not to want to use the Turing Test as an bullet point in discussions of human/machine intelligence (either pro or con) because it's such a hokey test anyway.

Sorry for the misunderstanding - and thank you for that "No true Scotsman" phrase. I love it! :Thmbsup:


Vurbal

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Re: The Story of Merlin: The 1978 Electronic Game
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2014, 01:40:01 PM »
IMO there are 2 major barriers we have to cross before a true AI - at least in terms of human style intelligence - is possible. The first one is self organization and that's already somewhere on the horizon in the form of computers modeled on the brain's actual architecture. It's potentially a quantum leap forward from simply cranking up the horsepower of a computer built around the traditional Von Neumann Architecture.

But that's the easy part. That's not the same as a functioning brain any more than a box of transistors, diodes, and capacitors is an iPhone. When we talk about intelligence, as in identifying one person as more or less intelligent than another, what we're really talking about is creativity and that's fundamentally the product of abstraction.

Here's what I mean by creativity. The human brain is extremely underpowered in terms of raw data processing. By that I mean if your brain were to process all the available information from just your vision by itself it would be sort of like streaming a DVD across a dialup connection. To compensate for that our brains focus on identifying patterns that involve as little information as possible.

When we are very young we spend a lot of time being taught new patterns. Through experience, as we apply those patterns to solve problems, we unconsciously select which patterns are most useful based on successful outcomes. We also use that process to narrow down the elements of any given pattern as far as possible.

Normal human problem solving is primarily just that - recognizing patterns which naturally follow from what we already know. Once you know that 1+1=2, 32+1=33, and 739+1=740 it naturally follows that 4,930,776+1=4,930,777. You can take that reasoning a long way. You can advance to subtraction, multiplication and division, fractions, exponents, and so on. It will not magically enlighten you about using complex conjugates to deal with imaginary numbers.

That's where creativity fits in, which I define as the ability to recognize patterns that can't be predicted based purely on previous knowledge or experience. It requires us to create our own reality, or at least our own perception of reality, which doesn't fit our preconceptions, and may even directly contradict them. That, in an oversimplified nutshell, is abstraction.

It allowed Rafael Bombell to realize it didn't matter if a number was real or imaginary. Every factor of a number must be another number so - math. As simple as it is, right up until the point somebody explains it or shows you how it works it might as well be magic. Realizations of that magnitude may be rare, but creative thinking leads to "new" discoveries all the time.

Shakespeare didn't invent iambic pentameter but at some point, probably while listening to a stage production, he recognized it's power for not just poetic interludes, but as the framework for an entire play. Jazz musicians had been experimenting with improvisation for decades before it dawned on Charlie Parker he could reduce a song to a few key notes and play anything he wanted the rest of the time. Their innovations weren't in doing something completely new, but rather recognizing something unexpected.

Abstraction allows me to record my ideas in the form of these funny lines and shapes. It enables us to conceive of repeating sequences of events as something akin to a circle even though that shape does not literally describe them in any way, shape, or form. Perhaps most importantly it allows us to transmit those complex ideas to one person or millions of people.

I can see where we might be knocking on the door of creating crude brain-like functions, and perhaps even a lot closer to approximating the relatively homogenous cognitive functions of most higher order vertebrates than we know. But we understand very little about either the neurological or psychological underpinnings for our own self direction, not even enough to gauge how much we have to learn. I can't imagine we're anywhere near being able to translate that into a machine.
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