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Alexa, can you have a conversation with us? (At least a short one?)

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Digital assistants like Amazon's Echo can listen to you. And they can talk back. But that doesn't mean they can carry on a good conversation. As the devices that run these assistants become more commonplace -- 39 million Americans now own one, according to a recent study -- Amazon and competitors like Apple and Google foresee a day when you can chat with their assistants as you would with a friend. After consulting with the companies involved and a few artificial intelligence experts we created tests that show what they can and can't handle.


THE AGE OF INTELLIGENT MACHINES Chapter 2: Philosophical Roots

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"Some philosophers hold that philosophy is what you do to a problem until it's clear enough to solve it by doing science. Others hold that if a philosophical problem succumbs to empirical methods, that shows it wasn't really philosophical to begin with." "The chance of the quantum theoretician is not the ethical freedom of the Augustinian." "There's something queer about describing consciousness: whatever people mean to say, they just can't seem to make it clear. It's not like feeling confused or ignorant. Instead, we feel we know what's going on but can't describe it properly. How could anything seem so close, yet always keep beyond our reach?" How can mind arise from nonmind? In examining human thought through the ages, philosophers appear to have gone down one of two paths. One school of thought, which we might call mind as machine, starts with the observation that human thought takes place in the human brain. The brain, in turn, is made up of tens to hundreds of billions of neurons. Neurons, while not simple structures, can nonetheless be fully understood as biochemical machines. Our brain thus consists of billions of biochemical machines interacting with each other, a fact from which we can draw two conclusions.


The Best Espresso Machine, Grinder, and Accessories for Beginners

Slate

This post was published in partnership with Wirecutter, the site devoted to finding the best gear and gadgets. Every product is independently selected by the Wirecutter team. We update links when possible, but note that deals may expire and are subject to change. If you buy something through our links, Slate and Wirecutter may earn an affiliate commission. After more than 60 hours of research and then testing five espresso machines, four grinders, and a dozen accessories with the help of Stumptown Coffee's education crew, we think the Breville Infuser espresso machine along with the precise and consistent Rancilio Rocky coffee grinder are the best beginner's espresso setup. The Infuser pulls reliably great espresso shots more easily than any machine we tested, froths milk well enough to make a café-quality latte, and it comes with all of the small accessories that you need to get started. Among espresso machines that cost less than $1,000, the Breville Infuser stands out for its ability to reliably produce very good shots of espresso. It was also the easiest to use of all the machines we tested. It has a user-friendly design (with ample labeling and easy-to-read instructions), and comes with the basic accessories that you need to get started. Even its steam wand is excellent: When frothing milk, the Infuser was the only model we tested that was able to produce the dense, rich microfoam you need to make a café-quality latte. It's everything a beginner could want in an espresso machine. The Gaggia Classic is capable of hitting higher highs than the Breville Infuser, but at the cost of consistency. Although we pulled some truly great shots with the Gaggia, we weren't able to do it with the regularity that we were able to get good shots with the Infuser. The Gaggia's clunky steam wand also failed to produce a good thick foam in our pitcher of milk, no matter how many times we tried.



Legally Free Python Books List - Python kitchen

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The Non-Programmers' Tutorial For Python 3 is a tutorial designed to be an introduction to the Python programming language. This guide is for someone with no programming experience. "The Coder's Apprentice" aims at teaching Python 3 to students and teenagers who are completely new to programming. Contrary to many of the other books that teach Python programming, this book assumes no previous knowledge of programming on the part of the students, and contains numerous exercises that allow students to train their programming skills. The book aims at striking the balance between a tutorial and reference book. Includes some fun exercises at the end! "A Byte of Python" is a free book on programming using the Python language. It serves as a tutorial or guide to the Python language for a beginner audience. If all you know about computers is how to save text files, then this is the book for you.