By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Technology
A smartphone-powered robot beats the world record of set by Feliks Zemdegs (a human).
Puzzles have this paradoxical appeal where no matter how much they give the human mind fits, people can't seem to put them down. Part of this is a testament to the degree in which we pride ourselves as relentless problem-solvers. But for some of life's most perplexing problems, it's becoming more apparent that we're better off handing them off to computers.
A recent demonstration of this can be seen in a video released last week in which a smartphone-powered robot solved the legendary Rubik's cube in 5.352 second flat, beating the world record of 5.66 seconds set by Feliks Zemdegs (a human). David Gilday and Mike Dobson built the Cubestormer II by combining the processing power of a Samsung Galaxy S II and Lego's Mindstorm NXT, robotic kits that can be programmed and pieced together in a variety of configurations.
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However, the secret to the Cubestormer II's prowess is a two-phase algorithm. Through the smartphone camera, it quickly probes the cube to determine the most optimal combination of moves. All this is calibrated simultaneously as the computer progresses through each decision, which is displayed three-dimensionally on the touchscreen.
Alright, so the computer beat the human record by a fraction of a second. Big deal you say. The big difference in this case, though, was that while the person who got to inspect each side of the cube prior to accomplishing his feat, the machine does it on the fly. Now take that silly humans!
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Oct 23, 2011
Sorry. Just a play on words. Is there an algorithm to stop comments from being duplicated? Does not solving Rubik's cube quickly, depend on the number of actions taken to scramble it in the first place?
Actually, the solution to the rubix cube is itself an algorithm. There is a formula, a series of turns, that will solve the cube no matter what it's current configuration. Those who solve the cube fast don't need to examine it, unless those who accomplish it in seconds are finding faster formulas. I cry foul in any case, though. The machine beat the human by a fraction of a second, but it was using twice as many hands and "wrists" that spin 360. Lets see a robot do it faster with a human-like physique. :)
We just need to make certain WE stay in control, and so far we are. Computer chess playing programs already play much better than the best humans, and are faster. To give some perspective, even a low level chess player as myself can beat 98% of the population. Grand master chess players are the very best human players and would beat me every time. But put them against the best chess playing engines and they will feel as they have won when they simply draw a game! Too, humans just don't have the stamina to keep up with machines that can focus all their energy on one task. Machines never get tired - humans get exhausted!