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Artificial Intelligence PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Fink Christian Locksmith   
Thursday, 11 February 2010 12:36

What is Artificial Intelligence ?

Artificial intelligence is a fascinating topic. How our brains store information and quickly correlate that information in a manner which allows us to only use information which is relevant to the task at hand is quite a miracle. Speaking, writing, or any other form of activity which we do daily requires multiple functions which are stored in our minds as we develop from infants to mature adults. When we use our minds to solve complex problems however, the capability of our minds includes unique past experiences and the ability to assess visual information which far overshadows the capability of even the most impressive computer systems. The branch of computer science concerned with making computers behave similarly to humans is called artificial intelligence. Some examples of artificial intelligence being used today would be games playing, expert systems, natural language, neural networks and robotics. Artificial intelligence is often referred to as AI.

An example of games playing would be chess or checkers. While many computer programs have been developed that will beat even championship chess players, I have not heard of one that could assess the visual layout of the board without the position of the pieces on the board having been input to the computer by some other means. The power of our minds to do all the assessment necessary in a game of chess includes the visual interpretation of what pieces are positioned at what square on the chess board, while the computer has to have that information provided to it without the gift of eyesight.

An example of an expert system would be diagnostics. Diagnostics have been around as long as computers, we relied on them heavily while I worked as a General Purpose Computer Technician with the United States Marine Corps from 1978 to 1982. What is impressive about modern diagnostic expert systems is the ability to diagnose and repair systems that require the ability to rapidly recognize the various possible causes of a failure, and the subtle differences that enable them to know which of the various possible causes is the underlying problem. Even still, with all the impressive ability of these systems, I have not heard of one that would actually conduct the repair, and a mechanic or mechanical engineer would still be required.

An example of natural language artificial intelligence would be software that is designed to understand natural human languages. This field, in particular, is of particular interest to me because if you can differentiate between words that are the content of your message from the words which are to be invoked as commands, then it is conceivable that computers could be taught by you to do precisely what you want to do and not waste your time on obtaining the latest service pack or software update to do so. The amount of time that people use to interact with their computer and try to get meaningful, productive work done is very often a lot of time wasted on doing things that could have been given to the computer to do with spoken commands. My idea of a really useful implementation of this would be having the ability to tell your computer to check all your email and only tell me what I feel is important for me to know. This would be great if I were able to walk about my home and do chores at the same time, talk to my children, allow background music to be playing. Not so simple, right? The systems would not be able to differentiate the background noise from commands or content spoken to it. Additionally, the computer would have to be taught daily, or hourly, or to the second what requires my attention or not.

An example of neural networks would be systems that simulate intelligence by attempting to reproduce the types of physical connections that occur in animal brains. What a miracle it is that we can do simple tasks like grabbing a glass without breaking it, filling it with water without missing it or allowing it to overflow, and raising it to our lips to carefully drink its contents without spilling it all over ourselves. We are gifted by a power much greater than ourselves in our ability to do things which animals just wouldn't begin to know how to do. I don't know of any system that could both create the glass and drink the water from it.

An example of robotics would be programming computers to see, hear and react to other sensory stimuli. In the area of robotics, computers are now widely used in assembly plants, but they are capable only of very limited tasks. Robots have great difficulty identifying objects based on appearance or feel, and they still move and handle objects clumsily. I find robotics, however, to be the most compelling use of artificial intelligence because robotics will essentially delegate a task to its mechanical form when possible, understanding well enough that there really is no replacement for the gifts of sight, touch, hearing and intelligence all in the same package.

As human beings, we are so gifted by God with incredible capabilities that I always find it quite astonishing when someone who is quite gifted fails to recognize that our mere existence is not an accident, or scientific event that can be explained in a history channel program. The incredible capabilities and skills that we have and develop in our lives are gifts of God to us that we must use to our best ability, and part of our ability is to recognize where these gifts come from.

A good example of how far we have yet to go with computers would be website design. To properly explain to someone what you need to express in the form of a page that is presented on one's computer may seem like a simple task, and yet, the ability to present precisely what you want to present, in the multiple ways available to us- Content Management Systems, blogs, Dreamweaver, notepad, etc, all have basic shortcomings that prevent us from just putting something where we want it no matter what. The reason I feel this is a good example is because if we really were at an advanced stage with computers, I would be able to tell my computer, with my voice, exactly how to create the vision that I have for a website without ending up with an irrelevant disaster. Those of us who try and fail, or perhaps succeed in web design, may laugh at the thought of being able to do this. My intent here is to explain how we have so far yet to go with computers, and in an example like web design, being accomplished by speaking to your computer, there are many, many functions going on that would need to be solved in order to succeed in the task, and artificial intelligence would at least be a part of the problem of that functionality. It would not be acceptable to simply copy something that appeals to you, and yet, somehow, your words would not only have to be understood as commands, but you would have to somehow convey to the machine the art form that you witness with your eyes, that cannot, in our current development stage with computers, be witnessed by the machine. The machine has no feelings for what you may feel is pleasant or painful, informative or irrelevant, distinct or indistinct.

Interpretation of images is paramount to my reasoning that everything that goes on in our mind is quite complex, and mere commands, or even being able to draw the distinction between commands and content to be displayed are far overshadowed by the lack of capability by machines to interpret images the way humans do. It is often an art form that is subject to interpretation, and my friend, the possibilities are indeed endless when you mention the word interpretation to anyone. How do you interpret this article? How do you interpret the image displayed next to it? How on earth could you write instructions for a machine to form the same conclusion you do, and better yet, WHY would you want anyone or anything to draw the same conclusion as you would anyway? That is what friends are for.

Is Google an example of artificial intelligence?

Absolutely! I must confess that when I first heard of Google I did not think much of it, because I feel more inclined to provide content than to be looking for it. As the years have gone by, though, I have found this wonderful resource has made it easier to solve problems quickly. The ability to solve problems, or emulate human behavior, is artificial intelligence. Therefore, our use of indexed Google search results is a sort of hybrid artificial intelligence. Google has demonstrated that they are quite adept at changing "the rules" for search engine optimization. Showing up on Google is akin to hitting a moving target, because the rules could change at any time. I would be fascinated to know how many of the decision processes have become automated or not, and must assume they have to become more and more automated to keep up with all the exploits. Because it is the goal of so many to appear first page, it seems quite appropriate that those who take the time to create relevant content, would in fact be found with the phrase, and not necessarily because a lot of people think the phrase is popular. I have long been an advocate of not putting so much weight on popularity, because it is so easily skewed. Sometimes the truth is not so popular. I think they must have it within their algorithm to determine which links can be deemed to be more credible, and thus weigh the popularity of links accordingly. This is the equivalent of "consider the source", and leads me to believe that many levels of artificial intelligence will someday be employed by Google, if not already.

While artificial intelligence may be quite fascinating and have real world ramifications, both positive and negative, it must be concluded that computers, or machines, may never possess the ability or artificial intelligence to properly assimilate information and do with it the tasks that we would like them to do as well or better than we do as gifted children of God. I feel the subject of artificial intelligence really reminds me of just how lucky we are to be in possession of so many capabilities ourselves. I think the email thing is a great idea, by the way. There are several obstacles to implementing it in a manner where you could be doing other things at the same time. When I can walk in my self opening security door with my hands full, have both my sons run to me and shout "Daddy, you're home!", and sift through the snail mail at the same time as having my HAL 9000 computer determine which email is worthy of my attention, then I know we will have arrived at a significant moment in the information age. Until then, the movies we saw many years ago, like 2001, A Space Odyssey, or Star Trek, are often a reminder that the insights of incredible visionaries like Kubrick, Clarke or Gene Roddenberry may in fact have been so far ahead of their time that they may have been disappointed with how much we have not been able to do today. In the meantime, the challenge of making machines behave in a manner which is intelligent, like humans, is a considerable challenge which will continue to fascinate many of us and remind us how blessed we are to be in possession of so many gifts from God.

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 November 2010 07:21
Our Forestry Plan PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Fink Locksmith and Forester   
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 09:08

Harold Fink Locksmith and Forester

Paulownia Plantation at 124 Price Station Rd. in Church Hill MD 21623

Many people slow down and stop along Price Station Rd. to admire the beautiful purple flowers of our Paulownia trees in May. A few people drive in to ask what they are. They are Paulownia Tomentosa, one of nine varieties of Paulownia growing here in North America. Paulownia Tomentosa does best in our zone here in Maryland.

We now have well over 1000 Paulownia Tomentosa trees growing at our farm in Church Hill Maryland. About 460 of these trees are between 12 and 14 years old and the largest is about 16" in diameter at breast height. The wood is in excellent condition and is free of any insect damage. We have fourteen more rows of three year old trees, just over 500, that have been coppiced twice. The largest growth of these trees since coppicing in early May 2009 was over 16 ft in one season! The diameter of that tree is already about 3". Those trees are growing from roots that have developed for three years and we were very proactive in avoiding deer damage this last fall and winter, so it appears we will have no need to coppice again. We also use Growth Products' Essential Plus micro nutrients with Miracle Gro. We injected fertilizer into the ground around each tree and the roots are loving it. In areas where we have wetter locations we build up the ground and plant the tree higher, or take steps to allow for better drainage away from the roots. Paulownia trees don't like wet feet. Even if you had a tree live a few years in a wet location, it will not grow as well and may die as the roots begin to grow farther from the base and deeper into the earth. We drill with a 3ft auger prior to planting the trees from our pots to determine how well drained the location will be.

We continue to grow new trees every year. Last year, we started over 500 trees from root cuttings and they will be planted in the ground next fall. We also have an additional 300 or so that we will start with root cuttings this year, and look forward to witnessing the incredible rapid growth of these beautiful trees. We have given many trees to neighbors and hope to have our plantation completed soon, when we will be able to provide both root cuttings and seedlings in pots for sale.

Part of our being able to provide these beautiful ornamental trees for their beauty and for their timber value was the adoption of a forestry plan. Without a forestry plan, the State of Maryland would not recognize that our land is indeed being used for an agricultural purpose. Interestingly, Paulownia trees grow so rapidly that I thought it would be interesting to calculate what the carbon offset value of the trees would be, in terms of how well they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. I have included our forestry plan here for anyone to verify and perhaps use as a reference for their own someday. I would highly recommend Mr. Warren Spencer as being both an accomplished forester and a good neighbor as well.



Forestry Plan for Paulownia Plantation

Forest Stewardship Plan
Harold E. & Gina Fink
124 Price Station Rd.
Church Hill, MD 21623
Telephone: 410-556-6250
On the west side of Rt. 405 approximately .25 mile
from the intersection of Rt. 405 and
Rt. 19 (Roberts Station Road)
Tax Map #23, Parcel 212
Maryland Grid: 1088-473
Queen Annes County
Total Ownership: 10.526 acres
Homesite: 1.78 acres
Open Ground: 1.60 acres
Woodland: 4.846 acres
Paulownia plantations: 2.30
Total Wooded Acres: 7.146
Prepared by
Warren G. Spencer
Licensed Professional Forester
December 7, 2009

Harold E. & Gina Fink - page 2

OVERVIEW: Purchased by Mr. Harold Fink, a Locksmith, in 2004, this property included a one-acre planting of paulownia trees. (A valuable tree species). Mr. Fink is very interested in paulownia culture and has increased his paulownia acreage. He also desires to plant the remaining clear ground (approximately 1.50 acres, Stand 2A), within the next few years.
The property does not contain any sensitive species as per the Queen Annes County Planning and Zoning maps. It does contain a blue line stream, and non-tidal wetlands. (See attached map)
OWNER=S PRIMARY OBJECTIVE: Forest Products, specifically, the culture and growing of paulownia (also called princess tree) for both the foreign and potential domestic market.).
AREA: 1.00 acre
DOMINANT OVERSTORY SPECIES: Paulownia (plantation)
DOMINANT UNDERSTORY SPECIES: None (plantation is kept mowed)
AGE: 13 years
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Average tree size is 10"-12" at Diameter breast height with total heights of 35+/- feet.
STOCKING/BASED AREA: High, 140 square feet/acre.
SOIL TYPE: Ingleside sandy loan, 5-10% slope, a very deep well-drained soil, good for paulownia production
AREA: 1.30 Acres
DOMINANT OVERSTORY TREES: Paulownia (plantation)
AGE: 3 years
Harold E. & Gina Fink - page 3
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Sapling size with average stem size at D.B.H. (diameter breast high) of two inches with stem heights of seven to twelve feet.
STOCKING/BASAL AREA: High, B.A. N/A, (seedlings planted on a 10' x 10' spacing (435 trees/acre).
SOIL TYPE: Ingleside Sandy Loan 5-10% slope, a very deep well-drained soil, good for paulownia production.
STANDS 1A and 1B
The primary market for paulownia has been the Japanese. This market requires wood with tight growth rings (slow growth). Consequently, the planting of trees at a high density (10' x 10') is warranted. My observation of wild grown trees is that they seem to be able to survive and grow with very small live crowns under severe competition from other forest trees. However, in plantations, it is probable that thinning will be necessary, as trees compete for growing space. Ideally, trees marked for thinning would be inferior trees of poor form or bole quality or suppression. Guidance regarding thinning can be obtained from available publications devoted to growing paulownia.
Although a strong, viable domestic market does not exist at this time, it is reasonable to believe that with adequate supply and more research into paulownia usage, a firm domestic market will develop. Domestic markets may not require dense wood, and stand spacings could be adjusted with rotation time shortened.
Paulownia culture is unique. The species is site selective, and successful propagation and culture is often a learning process. The owner is managing his plantings very well with pruning, mowing, deer damage control, etc. He has sought management guidance from literature and a consultant.
STAND #2A - 1.25 acres. This is clear ground adjacent to Stand #1B. It is scheduled to be planted to paulownia on a staggered basis over the next several years.
AREA: .35 acres. This is a small open area located adjacent to Rt. 405 and Stand #4 at the entrance way to the county transfer site. Presently, the owner desires to leave the area fallow.
STAND #2A - As trees are established for one year, amend the plan accordingly, and provide information annually to the Queen Anne=s County Department of Assessments & Taxation.
STAND #2B - None at this time.
Harold E. & Gina Fink - page 4
AREA: 4.146
DOMINANT OVERSTORY TREES: Red oak, pin oak, tulip poplar, white oak, ash, hickory, red maple, cherry, walnut and sycamore.
DOMINANT UNDERSTORY SPECIES: beech, ironwood, black gum, with cherry, sassafras, green briar and honeysuckle along the woodland edge where more sunlight is available.
AGE: Uneven
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Primarily pole and small sawtimber size with a component of mature trees with breast high diameters in the 20" to 46" range.
STOCKING/BASAL AREA: 75 square feet per acre, adequately stocked.
SOIL TYPE: Longmarsh and Zekiah 0-2% slope, these flood plain soils serve as a valuable storage medium for nutrient retention and sediment. Ingleside sandy loam 5-10% slope, well drained, well suited for the production of quality timber.
This Stand #3 is located in the northwestern section of the property on both sides of a tributary stream of Southeast Creek. The stand contains a small component of very large mature trees, a number of which have defects due to declining vigor.
Mature trees are important producers of food, in the form of seeds, nuts and acorns, for birds, squirrels and deer. In addition, mature trees provide nesting habitat in hollows and cavities.
As natural nesting habitat is often limited, a number of nesting boxes should be erected to support several species of wildlife. These include wood ducks and squirrels in the forest interior, and bluebirds along the woodland edge. The small screech owl will also nest in squirrel nesting boxes.
Although there is a number of large trees in this woodland, it would be difficult to sell them for timber products due to their small number, the environmentally sensitive site with stream and wetlands, (disturbance activities are restricted within the 50' stream buffer) and overall access.
Boundary lines should be located and marked with paint or equivalent, especially where forest meets adjoining forest.
AREA: .70 acre
Harold E. & Gina Fink - page 5
DOMINANT OVERSTORY SPECIES: Tulip poplar, beech, pin oak, ash, sweet gum and black
DOMINANT UNDERSTORY SPECIES: Sweet gum, sassafras, red cedar, cherry, ironwood and black gum.
AGE: Uneven
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Sapling to pole size with a scattering of small sawtimber size trees.
STOCKING/BASAL AREA: 75 square feet, adequately stocked.
SOIL TYPE: Ingleside sandy loan 5-10% slope, a deep, well-drained soil.
This is a relatively narrow stand that lies adjacent to Rt. 405 and extends northward ending adjacent to the Queen Annes County transfer site. The stand varies in width from 25' at its southernmost point to about 100' at its northern boundary.
Trees in the southern part of the stand occupy ground that was once clear and allowed to revert to woodland. Being adjacent to Rt. 405 the trees largely function as a screen and barrier to road noise. The value of the balance of the stand is largely one of wildlife habitat, leave as is.
Completion Date Practice Stand Acres
June 2010 Erect 2 wood duck nesting boxes 3, 4 4.84
Along the stream; 2 squirrel boxes
In the woodland interior, and 2
Bluebird boxes along the woodland edge.
Clean annually by 2/15.
Information regarding wildlife management
may be obtained by contacting Josh Homyack
State Wildlife biologist at 410-928-3650.
June 2012 Plant fallow ground to paulownia 2A up to 1.25
Ongoing Plantation maintenance 1A, 1B 2.30
Mowing, deer protection, pruning,
Ongoing Clearly mark and maintain boundary 3 7.14 +/-
Lines every five years
June 2015 Re-examine All Stands 7.14 +/-
Harold E. & Gina Fink - page 6
Note: Your Stewardship Plan will be given to Queen Annes County Assessment and Taxation Office by June 30, 2010, it is important to note that they will require that your property be inspected once every three (3) years by a Licensed Professional Forester verifying written plan compliance in order to continue to receive the assessed woodland rate of $187.50 per acre on forested acres covered under the plan.
If the State of Maryland DNR-Forest Service performs the inspection, there is a minimum $100 per inspection fee. The plan requires that you continue to follow the Management Practice Schedule to receive favorable inspections every three (3) years to satisfy Queen Annes County Assessment& Taxation program requirements.
At any time, you can choose the other more formal option referred to as the F.C.M.A. if so desired. The difference between the two (2) relates primarily to 1) formalized signed notarized paperwork recorded in the Courthouse; 2) 100% Assessments of $126 vs. $187.50 per acre and; 3) inspections every three (3) years, every five (5) years; both at $100 cost each; and; 4) entrance fees (min. $50 entrance & $40 recordation fee), vs. no entrance fee.
If landowners wish to choose the FCMA option, signed and approved paperwork should be processed and on file in Queen Annes Assessments and Taxation prior to June 30 of the year in question. Contact State Forestry to receive copies of these formal documents for processing if desired at some future time.
It is the landowners= responsibility to keep up-to-date with the management schedule included in the Forest Stewardship Plan. Before any changes (INCLUDING SELLING/SUBDIVIDING OR NAME/DEED CHANGES OR TREE REMOVAL/ADDITION CHANGES) are made by the landowner as it pertains to the Woodland Forest Stewardship Plan. THE LANDOWNER should notify the local forester ONE MONTH PRIOR TO CHANGE for advice and necessary actions needed.
To provide further assistance and advice in carrying out the recommended practices, please contact WARREN SPENCER or M. TERESA ATeri@ BATCHELOR, Upper Shore Project Manager/Forester, Maryland, Maryland DNR/Forest Service, 120 Broadway Ave. #14, Centreville, Maryland 21617. Telephone (410-778-4439 or (410-819-4120).
Fax: 410-819-4110
Email: @dnr.state.md.us


I would highly recommend any of the parties mentioned in this forestry plan as they made this entire process much easier than I thought it would be. I am encouraged that the State of Maryland recognizes our efforts in growing a tree that is both highly desirable for its ornamental qualities as it is for its timber. We simply would not be able to continue to grow these trees if the State of Maryland were not to recognize properly the agricultural use of our property. We hope to provide valuable carbon study information on these trees in the future. - Harold Fink Locksmith and Forester



Last Updated on Monday, 22 February 2010 21:26