An article in USA Today announced a European-funded project called RoboEarth that is designed to give robots a mechanism by which to access information to dispense. The project is backed by five technical universities in Europe who recently met in the Netherlands.
But RoboEarth is more than an encyclopedia. It has a system of networked computers that allow it to perform intensive computing tasks that smaller computers—or in this case simpler robots—may not be able to. It also allows individual robots to communicate between themselves, the so-called RoboCloud of networked computers, and the robot database.
The scientists and programmers involved hope that this is only the beginning of a bright future for artificial intelligences manifested through robots. Who knows, will robots some day write the rest of Wikipedia for us?
Wikipedia: a temperamental teenager
Several articles this week noted that Wikipedia is now 13 years old. One, from Mashable.com, opined that Wikipedia has "reshaped the knowledge industry". The article noted that one of Wikipedia's de facto competitors, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, has made changes due to Wikipedia, including a 2005 report from Nature that asserted Wikipedia is almost as reliable as Britannica in terms of accuracy despite the encyclopedias' different methods of publication—crowdsourcing for Wikipedia, and top scholars with rigorous review processes for Britannica. Jay Walsh, a spokesman for the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), noted that, in the opinion of WMF, "In a nutshell, our biggest challenge in 2014, the 13th year of Wikipedia, is: How do we continue to grow that community of global editors?" He went on to say, "How do we sustain that growth, and how do we support the people who are editing Wikipedia today?" The article concluded by wondering what Wikipedia's future holds:
With more than 30 million articles in 285 languages, Wikipedia seems to be the awkward teenager, sometimes struggling to hide its growing pains. But as the site attempts to come of age, one can't help but wonder what it might turn into if it's around anywhere close to the nearly 250 years Britannica has endured.
Jimmy Wales promotes … cell phones?: NBCNews.comreported that Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is promoting a cell phone service called The People's Operator, which, according to its Wikipedia page, aims to be an "ethical" mobile network provider. Wales is a co-chair of the network.
Wikipedia shows the value of a vibrant public domain: The Electronic Frontier Foundationasserted the value of a vibrant public domain in an article detailing the principles it feels should define and guide copyright policy.
Richard Sherman is (not) human garbage: LegalInsurrection.com noted that after Seattle Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman made some controversial comments in the aftermath of his team winning a conference championship game to go to the Super Bowl, his Wikipedia article was vandalized to indicate that he is "human garbage", and to change a picture of him to one of a monkey. The vandalism was promptly removed, and the article semi-protected.
Wiki-Validation for Judith Newman: Judith Newman wrote a follow-up to her New York Times article (discussed in last week's In the Media), describing the feelings she experienced while watching her article being created, nominated for deletion, and kept, along with observations on several Wikipedia editors.
Fictitious children in Wikipedia: Hugh Dennis was asked by The Telegraph whether he really had two adopted children named Sidney Smith and Dominic Vincent, as stated in his Wikipedia biography. He replied, "Ha, ha, no, my son added that – and if you look at it tomorrow, he'll probably have changed their names again for a laugh." The false information was removed by User:Bilby a day after the Telegraph article appeared; it had been present for four months.
Ukrainian Wikipedia goes dark: KyivPostreports that the Ukrainian Wikipedia is displaying a banner protesting new laws that make criticizing government officials a crime. Starting from January 21, the report said, the Ukrainian Wikipedia will also go offline for 30 minutes each day to protest the new legislation.
Collaboration between Cancer Research UK and Wikimedia UK: Third Sectorreported that Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is looking for a Wikipedian in Residence to help ensure Wikipedia's information on cancer is correct and up to date. CRUK is believed to be the first organisation of its type to create a position for a Wikipedian in Residence. Jon Davies of Wikimedia UK said, "This new role would see Wikimedia UK and CRUK joining forces to build on Wikipedia's extensive information on cancer. The possibility of recruiting cancer scientists to help edit these important articles is very exciting."