Can you sue an artificially intelligent machine?

The Herald reports:

A Paris court has convicted US search engine giant Google and its chief executive Eric Schmidt of defamation over results from its “suggest” function, a French legal affairs website has revealed.

The new function, which suggests options as you type in a word, brought up the words “rapist” and “satanist” when the plaintiff’s name was typed into the search engine, reported.

The court concluded that the search engine’s linking his name to such words was defamatory.

A Google spokesman told AFP by email that they would be appealing the ruling.

The statement said that the Google Suggest function simply reflected the most common terms used in the past with words entered, so it was not Google itself that was making the suggestions.

Now this is interesting, Google are correct that they are not manually making the suggestions. But a machine they programmed is. Where does the accountability for the suggestions it makes lie? You can’t sue a machine, or in the future maybe you can?

But does this mean that a machine that is artificially intelligent and makes money for you really makes money for itself? And if it gets sued then the money that it has made can be used to pay court costs? Can a machine be represented in court by a lawyer?

Adventures in the land of building Google Chrome OS

Okay I have now been working through the process of building Google Chrome OS for a little more than 12 hours. My main desktop computer has been on all night trying to sort out the development build environment so the code can be compiled. It does not help that we went over our data cap a few weeks back and are stuck on 64k internet until mid next week this makes downloading the required files ultra slow.

The build instructions provided by Google so far are quite clear and straightforward to follow. However, they are not very detailed. There are no timings for each step of the process or information about what each step does. So far I have downloaded the full source code (270mb) at uni so I would not have the dial up speed internet problem. However in order to compile the code it is required a strict development be provided. As such the compiling script creates a debootstrap environment virtualizing a minimal Debian OS. While this is a cool feature designed to ensure every build remains consistent it is a pain that this is not explained before the start of the process because the amount of data required to set this up is a lot more than the entire source code for the operating system.

Because the process of building from scratch is so long there has been a build snapshot uploaded onto The Pirate Bay. This is a good idea and I have seen on a few blogs comments that Google should be releasing a nightly build snapshot of the compiled OS. While this takes away the fun of building from scratch it does make testing the OS a lot more accessible. It is something I hope Google implement soon.

Hopefully my next blog on the OS will be a little more positive and lot more further down the building track.

Google Chrome OS goes open source available now

I have something to play with over the weekend.

Around two hours ago Google released the source code to their new operating system.

I am going to download it later today and will set about compiling and organising the installation of it.

For more info:

Thoughts on Google Chrome OS

It was interesting returning to Auckland on Thursday night to find out that in the past few days the world has completely changed. Yes Google has finnaly let the cat out of the bag (but I think it actually escaped months ago) that it was developing an operating system to rival Windows.

Google Chrome OS is not planned to be released until late 2010 however the source will be released later this year (so in some ways you could start using it later this year). The full announcement is here:

The points that I am most interested in are:

  • This is not Google’s first OS, in fact it is their third. In house they use Goobuntu ( which is a modified version of Ubunutu Linux. And at the end of 2008 they released Android an open source operating system for cellphones, and it rocks.
  • Cloud Computing. The operating system is going to be very light weight on the end users system and plug directly into the internet. This is going to be a lot like the Android where it is always on and things are straight away at your finger tips. This works really well for a cellphone but I do wonder how much functionality it is going to have for more high end activities. Sure you may be able to edit a word document etc, but what about being able to do some coding, or playing a game. In those realms I think that a full desktop environment will still be a lot better.
  • It is free. Well being open source and based off linux they really didn’t have much more of a choice. Having said that it really gives Microsoft a kick up the pants with the cost of Windows even at OEM price being really expensive.
  • The number of companies involved: Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba. This shows that it has some major industry support and the chances of success are high.

I am excited about what it can deliver, but building a web browser that gets 30 million users in 9 months is one thing. Building a operating system that can deliver a smooth user experience without bugs or issues is a whole lot harder.

Playing with Magic

It is official; I am in love; with my new HTC Magic Google Phone.

I have now had my new toy for two weeks and in some ways I cannot remember what life was like before it, or how I survived without it. To put it simply this is more than a gadget or a toy that will bore you after a while, two weeks in and I am still finding things to do with it.

Firstly the specs:

  • 3.2in flat panel touch screen running at 320×480 resolution
  • 528Mhz CPU
  • 512MB ROM
  • 192MB RAM
  • 8GB MicroSD
  • Quad Band GSM
  • Bluetooth
  • Wifi
  • USB
  • 3.2 Megapixel camera
  • Android 1.5 (cupcake) operating system

This mobile phone has more power than my computer from 2003. You may go wow 2003 was a long time ago in technology terms, but in the space of six years to compact more power into a phone then what was in a computer is still really impressive.

Here is a quick highlight of my experience with it over the past two weeks:

Android – Android officially rocks. It is Google’s open source Operating System for mobile phones and it has more power built into it then one could ever expect. Normally you do not have to wait long for a mobile phone to turn on or off. Android is like a computer it must be booted or shutdown and it does take time.

3G Coverage – In NZ Vodafone run their mobile network on three different frequencies. Having just been away I have experienced the use of all three. And the phone handles all really well and having the use of all three means I can get the best possible coverage in any location I go. Take that iPhone which only operates on two. (so if you are in a coverage area with the one that iPhone does not operate on you will have no signal).

3.2 Megapixel Camera – The photos and the video from my snow trip earlier this week were almost all exclusively taken on the phone. The camera is really good, however I have yet to find out if it can zoom, and also it is slow to focus and actually take the photos so it is probably not much use for fast moving situations, plus no flash so you need some form of decent light to get a good photo.

USB connection to computer – Now this is cool, while connected to USB the phone can charge, you can use the phone like a flash drive accessing the 8GB MicroSD card inside it, you can also download all your photos and videos and stuff from the phone. But best of all through the use of PDANET you can tether internet off it. So if you are in a place where your laptop has no internet access you can plug in your phone and get access through the 3G network.

Powered by Google – I cannot begin to describe how awesome this is. Gmail at the touch of a button you can both read and send email. Google Talk on the go. YouTube built in, and the streaming of video through 3G is really quick and smooth too, you can also upload video to YouTube. Google Maps built in, and GPS to show you where you are. Oh and did I mention Google Gears built in too.

Android Market – You can download apps on the go. This reminds me of a very old 8mb Palm Pilot I had many years ago, so far I have installed a weather app, a battery meter, a fuel mileage calculator, virtual bible software, wordpress blogging software, a notepad, and a voice recorder.

Full Internet Access – Android comes with a web browser built in, but it is a little slow and can’t quite handle all websites 100% right. Never fear just download Opera Mini through the Marketplace, it is really fast, the GUI is a little hard to use but the way it displays websites is really good. Only crashed badly once (through my own doing).

Touch-screen and Keyboard – this is my only annoyance. I have big fingers and even with the screen rotated the keyboard is still hard to use. Also a lack of stylus or any place to buy one and place it onto the phone.

Overall 10/10 this phone really does rock, and it just simply amazing.