Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back from Backpacking

Just returned from a much needed 3-day walk through the Glacier Peak wilderness area in the Cascades of norther Washington. Un-edited pics up here with some more to come from the other camera.
Thoughts about the trip:

  1. pay whatever you have to for boots that fit and socks that wick or tragedy awaits

  2. must make a habit of doing this sort of thing more often - good for body, mind, and soul

Thoughts that surfaced while walking:
Every time I do this sort of thing, I am amazed at the diversity of life I see and am curious to know more about it. I thought again about how cool it would be to have a handheld sequencing device + blast database so that I could identify whatever I saw. A great application of this would be to identify what I should and should not be eating... I tasted some excellent berries on the trip, but shied away from the plentiful mushrooms because of my ignorance and fear of death by poisoning. The handheld sequencer remaining impracticable at the moment I thought, hey - maybe we could do something with image recognition! I know a few people that are quite good at that sort of thing, maybe we could put together a database, train up some classifiers, and stick it into an iPhone or something. Finally, I realized that most of the functionality that I'd like to see could be achieved with a simple (though vast) set of classification rules that could definitely be stored in lots of different handheld devices. I like this a lot - though not as Star Trek as the tricorder type devices above, this would still appear to be pretty clever, but would take advantage of things that people are good at (seeing, labeling), things that machines are good at (storing and accessing vast amounts of information), and thus have the advantage of definitely being possible in the immediate future. If I ever have enough time, maybe I'll see if the folks at the Global Biodiversity Initiative have anything like this yet or if I might be able to use their data to build it.

Lets see.. anything else.. Ahh yes, I thought of a name for my next project for school - stay tuned for the P.R. machine...


Morgan Langille said...

Looks like a great trip! I'm jealous!