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Open Source Software Technology Apache

Why the 'Star Trek Computer' Will Be Open Source and Apache Licensed 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-we-can-keep-an-eye-on-the-bynars dept.
psykocrime writes "The crazy kids at Fogbeam Labs have a new blog post positing that there is a trend towards advanced projects in NLP, Information Retrieval, Big Data and the Semantic Web moving to the Apache Software Foundation. Considering that Apache UIMA is a key component of IBM Watson, is it wrong to believe that the organization behind Hadoop, OpenNLP, Jena, Stanbol, Mahout and Lucene will ultimately be the home of a real 'Star Trek Computer'? Quoting: 'When we talk about how the Star Trek computer had “access to all the data in the known Universe”, what we really mean is that it had access to something like the Semantic Web and the Linked Data cloud. Jena provides a programmatic environment for RDF, RDFS and OWL, SPARQL and includes a rule-based inference engine. ... In addition to supporting the natural language interface with the system, OpenNLP is a powerful library for extracting meaning (semantics) from unstructured data - specifically textual data in an unstructured (or semi structured) format. An example of unstructured data would be the blog post, an article in the New York Times, or a Wikipedia article. OpenNLP combined with Jena and other technologies, allows “The computer” to “read” the Web, extracting meaningful data and saving valid assertions for later use.'" Speaking of the Star Trek computer, I'm continually disappointed that neither Siri nor Google Now can talk to me in Majel Barrett's voice.
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Why the 'Star Trek Computer' Will Be Open Source and Apache Licensed

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the words of William Shatner: Get a fucking life.

  • LCARS24*cough*
    • Re:*cough* (Score:5, Funny)

      by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @06:24PM (#43798209) Homepage Journal

      LCARS any version will never be open sourced because Paramount/CBS will never release their rights to the design.

      Now the original 23rd century design, which was all voice interface and blinky lights, would be neat, but pretty damn hard to implement until we can get a computer to "recognize speech" instead of "wreck a nice beach".

      • Re:*cough* (Score:5, Funny)

        by tnk1 (899206) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @06:36PM (#43798317)

        That was only a problem because you were trying to talk to a Klingon interface. Klingon computers interpret everything as targeting orders.

      • by cogeek (2425448)
        Paramount doesn't hold the rights. Gene Roddenberry made the LCARS interface open source long ago, for anyone to use in free projects.
        • Re:*cough* (Score:4, Informative)

          by wbr1 (2538558) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @06:51PM (#43798431)
          Sorry to burst your bubble. From Wikipedia:

          CBS Studios Inc. claims to hold the copyright on LCARS. Google was sent a DMCA letter to remove the Android app called tricorder [8] since its use of the LCARS interface was un-licenced. The application was later re-uploaded under a different title, but it was removed again.

          • Claims to hold the rights, not proven. This has yet to be tested in court.
            • by Anonymous Coward

              If you have ~$200k to perform this test, and were willing to do it, I would love you for it.

              Justice is *not* cheap. :(

          • by Phil Urich (841393) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @07:10PM (#43798563) Journal

            The original post about the takedown request can be found at http://web.archive.org/web/20111130013603/http://code.google.com/p/moonblink/wiki/Tricorder [archive.org]. It says in part,

            It's apparently the graphical design that's at issue, not the name. According to Wikipedia, "Gene Roddenberry's contract included a clause allowing any company able to create functioning technology to use the name". Now that GR is dead, I guess CBS believes they own swoopy curves.

            Since I don't have legal weasels of my own, or the time to deal with this, that's it for Tricorder.

            It's far from clear that CBS has any copyright on LCARS, it's more that any entity like CBS with enough money to throw at the legal system can get away with claiming such, and random people just have to go along with it thanks to the way our legal system works.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by wickedskaman (1105337)
              This makes me wonder if Kickstarting legal funds could be viable for David to have a war chest against Goliath in these kinds of IP controversies.
          • It is now "SciScanner" and the interface vaguely resembles LCARS, but isn't. It also has had much of its original functionality removed, unfortunately.

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Now the original 23rd century design, which was all voice interface and blinky lights, would be neat, but pretty damn hard to implement until we can get a computer to "recognize speech" instead of "wreck a nice beach".

        Oh but we *have* that already... Never mind the error rate.... Ever called an IVR based phone tree? Yea, they can recognize speech *just* fine. Personally I go for the DTMF interface, it's usually faster.

        Speech recondition that is speaker independent generally has to be vocabulary constrained. It's usually easy to tell the difference between "Yes" and "No" but if the speaker says anything else, it's going to go off the rails pretty quick. The more things you are listening for, the less confidence you a

      • LCARS was the coolest looking shitty UI anyways. Honestly. It only looked awesome because there was limitations on how detailed you could get a picture broadcasted in 480i. That and pastel colors on black made them stand out. When you get right down to it, TV is artful entertainment first and foremost. I seriously doubt LCARS was based on any recommendations by those in UI design. But then again, this was before the .COM rise in 1997.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, the LCARS UI wouldn't really 'work', but the touch interface depicted was 20 years ahead of it's time, which is generally good enough for a sci-fi show.

          Meanwhile the Star Trek movies still had big red buttons and low-res 1980s computer displays.

  • I've spent more time than I care to remember moving content from:

    http://www.shapeoko.com/forum [shapeoko.com]

    to

    http://www.shapeoko.com/wiki [shapeoko.com]

    Why can't it be automated?

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Of course it can, and it doesn't need a supercomputer. A competent programmer could do it with a 386.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        An incompetent programmer would need at least a Pentium-III

        • by Anonymous Coward
          And Visual Basic.....
      • by bratwiz (635601)

        A competent programmer could do this with an abacus or a slide-rule.

    • A truly competent programmer could do this in CP/M.

    • Do it yourself. It can be automated with a few scripts, would probably take me the lesser part of an hour. If you actually learned how to use computers, i.e., program, instead of just using pre-made functionality, then your life would be a lot easier. Blame your elementary school. Mine taught me BASIC on an Apple IIe when I was 8.

      Hell, once I moved a whole forum once using JavaScript and a bit of Perl. Hit a page, then hit the "Quote" buttons on all posts to get at the BBCode, snag the textarea's te

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd rather have this software developed in the open at Apache than closed in directories called "Secret business I.P." at Google or worse, Facebook. It's good to see its potential, and would also act as a warning what can be concluded from bits and pieces of personal, private details people tend to give away.

  • I'm OK with it as long as it's not in freakin' PHP or JavaScript.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @06:08PM (#43798101)

    'When we talk about how the Star Trek computer had âoeaccess to all the data in the known Universeâ, what we really mean is that it had access to something like the Semantic Web and the Linked Data cloud.

    The Enterprise computer was not hampered by being in another galaxy, nor was Voyager's computer hampered by being in the Delta Quadrant. They had local copies of all the data at all times.

    • by Ambvai (1106941)

      Were there any storylines where that actually came into play? It would've been an interesting bit of foresight to implement that.

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Every episode of Voyager. There was a significant time delay even with subspace communications.
        Also, in TNG: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/11001001_(episode) [memory-alpha.org]
        http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701-D)_library_computer [memory-alpha.org]
        And in TNG, they traveled to far reaching places on occasion, with no failure in new data queries.
        And there was Data, who had the complete neural imprints and electronic records of every colonist of Omicron Theta embedded in his positronic "brain".
      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Also, there wasn't really any foresight. TNG was started before the Internet was in the mainstream consciousness (especially Hollywood consciousness), and Encarta CDs were the "current" computer version of an encyclopedia, so scaling that up in Sci-Fi would turn into "a computer database that has everything pre-loaded".
    • It is called caching, and is already possible. My phone has all the KNOWN DATA that I want, in less than 16GB (well, almost- it is time for a new SD card)

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        Except in this case, the Enterprise computer cached the entire available knowledge of the Federation whenever it got the chance. It was like a souped-up archive.org with regard to data.
        • by WillAdams (45638)

          There was actually explict mention of this in one of the books --- whenever 2 Federation ships meet their computers synch w/ each other --- can't recall it being a plot point though.

      • My phone has the entire text contents of the Wikipedia installed on it. It's about a 10GB download and the Android app is free. It takes up part of the 32GB external sd card. I'm sure glad I didn't buy a Google branded phone (Google hates SD slots.)

        • I agree with all of that except the last part. My wife's G1 and my G2 both had microSD slots. OTOH, when I upgraded, she went with a Mytouch, and I went with a Samsung- both of which have microSD slots.

          On the Samsung, you can even change the SD card without removing the battery- which was somthing that *really* bothered me about the G2 (the G1 was even strange- had to open the keyboard to access the SD slot).

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by sconeu (64226)

      The Trek computes being open sourced certainly explains how everybody from the Ferengi to the Kazon could take control (also known as the "Invader Friendly Operating System").

    • As well as a magical process by which new data was miraculously transferred across billions of miles of space in just shy of an instant. Star fleet just added this info and we're 2,000,000 light years away? No problem...it'll be available by tomorrow.
      • by ewibble (1655195)

        Its clear that Voyager they could not communicate with earth (:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunters_%28Star_Trek:_Voyager%29) is an episode where they found communications array and where finally able get letters from home. So previously they couldn't transfer a letter from home however they the computer could access the all the knowledge in the universe.

        Anyway this is fiction so it doesn't have to make sense.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The Enterprise computer was not hampered by being in another galaxy... They had local copies of all the data at all times

      The Enterprise computer knew what it needed to know to serve the plot. No information lost, corrupted or concealed. No conflicts in interpretation. The perfect machine for a culture turned self-righteous and complacent, without doubts or uncertainties.

    • by BetaDays (2355424)
      Yep the space ships computers hold vasts amount of data and they get regular updates. Example In the Next Generation there was an episode dealing with a group of people called the "Binars" who downloaded their entire populations memory into the ships computer. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0708668/ [imdb.com]
  • you pick it up, face the back, and say, "Computer..."

  • From somebody who spent a few hours working a show with Gene Roddenberry before his ashes got the cosmic brush off... Having run film clips and sound for his famed "lecture" on Star Trek's past and how that changed our future, I thought he was nuts (1987).

    Science Fiction has foreseen future events, but it is NOT an accurate representation of what is going to happen. So how on earth (or in space for that matter) can we tell what software will be used in the future for some yet to be designed hardware? Add

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ... -retrograde.com'> on Thursday May 23, 2013 @02:03AM (#43800571) Homepage

      From somebody who spent a few hours working a show with Gene Roddenberry before his ashes got the cosmic brush off... Having run film clips and sound for his famed "lecture" on Star Trek's past and how that changed our future, I thought he was nuts (1987).

      Science Fiction has foreseen future events, but it is NOT an accurate representation of what is going to happen. So how on earth (or in space for that matter) can we tell what software will be used in the future for some yet to be designed hardware? Add to this that we are not even sure when or even if such a theoretical machine will ever exist and how can we figure any kind of useful debate will come from this?

      Oh yea, this is star trek.. Home to the group that thinks some group of two bit "B" list actors are somehow for tellers of the future

      Your argument from authority is unappealing. The components of a computing system similar to a fictitious one have been identified. The likelihood of their software licensing approach is being projected based upon current component licensing and development plans. We do not think the "B" list actors knew what the "techno-babble" they were spouting meant.

      However, when we create devices that are similar to the fictitious devices, we can and will make comparisons. The Hypo-spay exists. Tablet Computers exist. Food replication systems are in development. 3D TV exists. We launched a rocket similar to Jules Verne's to the moon. Eventually the rockets we send to Mars and/or the Moon will land vertically Delta-V style, like Verne's rocket did (so they can take off again). Cars can apply brakes when proximity alarms go off -- Cars can even drive themselves now, like in Sleeper; They can parallel park too! Applications for Mars Colonization are being accepted...

      Stop for a moment and think about current technologies. Now extrapolate a bit. Extrapolate a bit further. Write a story about it. Marvel as some of your ideas weren't actually bat-shit insane after all. Some are more accurate than others. I think you need to re-evaluate your life. The future they did not "predict", happened the way they said it would despite your claim to the contrary...

  • What tools are the Borg supposed to use then?


    (Oh wait - Googleplex, nevermind...)
    • by mcl630 (1839996)

      Don't you mean Microsoft?

      Bill Gates Borg [google.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        We can only hope. That way, when their Exchange license expires, they'll be unable to send messages or organize meetings.

  • Google's 'Star Trek computer' voice search [watoday.com.au] is cool, but Siri is already here. Scanadu's Scout, "the first Medical Tricorder" [mashable.com] could be another Trek-inspired innovation that will make the world a better place.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      but Siri is already here.

      But it's going to be a *really* long delay involved in getting the data back to Apple's servers when you are a light year away from earth when you try and connect with Siri... (grin) I'm thinking that's going to make Siri system pretty much useless before you get halfway to Mars..

    • by lennier (44736)

      Scanadu's Scout, "the first Medical Tricorder" [mashable.com] could be another Trek-inspired innovation that will make the world a better place.

      They have a tricorder? Well that's it. The gloves are off. Listen up everybody - we're going to a quadcorder.

  • I swear that when they demonstrated voice search with Google Now on desktops during Google I/O last week, the computer read out the resulting query in Majel Barrett's voice.
  • I swear the demonstration of Google Now voice search at Google I/O last week had Majel Barrett's voice reading back the search query.
  • by Tarlus (1000874) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @07:08PM (#43798551)

    And in a ironic twist, the algorithms used to manifest a cup of Earl Grey tea will be closed and patented.

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      Yea, but by the time they have a machine built to make the cup of tea, the patent will have expired...

      How will the patent trolls go after all the bittorrent client's that download that one or will the existence of a hot cup of Earl Grey be enough to get you sued?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The real issue is the political anre regulatory stalemate about weather or not molecular pattern replicators should be a household item or not, due to the fact that you can create phasers cheaply and discretely with one.

        How can the future be peaceful and safe, if just anyone could walk up to a pattern replicator and say "I'll take 3 tricobalt devices, a type 12 compression phaser rifle, and a rack of subspace interphasic antipersonel mines please.", without even the slightest of overhead!
        (/snark about all

      • Ha, I know the proper place to get "Tea Earl Grey Hot(TM)" [thinkgeek.com].

  • by Alsee (515537) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @08:48PM (#43799211) Homepage

    the natural language interface with the system, OpenNLP is a powerful library for extracting meaning (semantics) from unstructured data... An example of unstructured data would be the blog post, an article in the New York Times, or a Wikipedia article.

    Warning: Other examples of "unstructured data" include 4chan and Conservapedia.

    -

  • Apparently the ST:TNG computer couldn't even handle Boolean queries, much less queries with semantic awareness...

    TROI: Computer, search for the term Darmok in all linguistic databases for this sector.
    COMPUTER: Searching. Darmok is the name of a seventh dynasty emperor on Kanda Four. A mytho-historical hunter on Shantil Three. A colony on Malindi Seven. A frozen dessert on Tazna Five. A
    TROI: Stop search. Computer, how many entries are there for Darmok?
    COMPUTER: Forty seven.
    .
    .
    .
    DATA: Computer, search f

    • the ST:TNG computer couldn't even handle Boolean queries

      That, or Troi was too dumb to effectively operate the computer. I've got an opinion on which of those is more likely...

      • by dcsmith (137996)

        the ST:TNG computer couldn't even handle Boolean queries

        That, or Troi was too dumb to effectively operate the computer. I've got an opinion on which of those is more likely...

        Data was on hand, too, so we can't dump all the blame on her... ;-)

    • Whatever dude, Troi was just nearly computer illiterate. Geordi ran boolean searches and "cross references" all the time. Hell, it even created a sentient hologram once just to give Data a challenging case of who-dun-it, Moriarty figured out he was in a star-ship and wanted to stop playing the game and be told WTF was going on and have his own life... Yeah, a system with that degree of complexity can't run a boolean search. Look, we've already got enough compute power the world over that if you ran a

  • by DutchUncle (826473) on Wednesday May 22, 2013 @10:04PM (#43799627)
    Or perhaps you remember the Dumarest stories, each of which had a Cyber with "the trained voice which contained no irritant factors" . . .

    Seriously, there must be enough audio of Majel Barrett to synthesize a decent copy. Sounds like an open source Kickstarter to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ok, I'm only going to say this once. If it's going to be the future according to Star Trek. Then all computers have to sound like Majel!!!!! It's been that way for almost 50 years, it's set in stone. I've thought about this for years, even before she passed away. We need to digitize EVERYTHING SHE EVER SAID and make a standard open source dig chip that all computers, phones, tv's, microwaves, cars...everything has to sound like her. She's the voice of the computer!
    Siri can go @#!% it.

    • by VanessaE (970834)

      I'm not usually one to "+1" something, let alone an AC, but this guy is right, really. If a computer in the context of this article doesn't speak with Majel Barrett's voice, it just won't sound right. That said, we don't need any kind of chip to do it - there is software out there that runs on commodity hardware that can sound like pretty much anyone, given adequate samples of that person's voice as a pattern to model against.

      The real question is, what would Majel's estate, family, etc. have to say about

      • by ccandreva (409807)

        If Paramount/CBS were smart, they would fund the creation of the Marjel Barret voice, to be used in all future Star Trek projects, and set it free. From what I've heard in interviews, I thinks he would approve.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No.

    It's patently absurd to say we "know" what technology a Star Trek class computer will be built upon. Even assuming that some successful FOSS model will be the design space of the system is... overreaching at best, and blissful ignorance of the problem at worst.

    The Star Trek computers were not merely able to understand free-form speech, access vast databases, and resolve linguistic irregularities, assumptions, and unbounded problem areas. In some cases the crew asked the computer whether the computer wa

  • by cstacy (534252) on Thursday May 23, 2013 @02:05AM (#43800589)
    WARNING: Fatal exposure in 69 minutes!
  • I like my all knowing computers to constantly remind humans of their insignificance and gross inferiority. No computer personified this more than ORAC from the 1980's British Sci-Fi "Blake's 7".

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoHkaFDTiD8 [youtube.com]

    and remember "modesty would be dishonesty" for such an intelligence!

    • by RockDoctor (15477)
      Ah, good old ORAC!

      I'm guessing that the whole subject of discussion is some sort of spin off from yet another Star Trek movie. There's one out at the moment, isn't there? (I pay as little attention to advertising as possible, in the few seconds between the start of the adverts and my finger hitting the fast-forward button.)

  • To my joy, I notice that no-one actually tries to support or refute the claims from the OP. And that's a good thing. It is talk from someone who considers himself visionary because he says something very 2.0 based upon acronyms and projects he doesn't understand. The kind of tech in OpenNLP has been around for 20 years now, and adding a few components that can brokerage and leverage and whateverage unstructured data is not going to improve it.

  • So the Star Trek computer will had access to "All the data in the known Universe" ?

    Will someone ever ask: "How can the net amount of entropy of the universe be massively decreased?"

    Or will the question first be posed in 2061?

  • I figure this is as good a place to ask as any, since the buzzword keeps being paraded around every chance people get.

    What is the difference between the Semantic Web and the existing Meta Element system in HTML? As far as I can see from descriptions, the Symantec Web just wants to attach metadata to every single object on the web. This improves on the Meta Element (per-page descriptions only), but it's hardly a sea-change.

    Also, how are you going to entice authors to write all that metadata? The only reas

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