They had problems with providing a mapping service in China without a license though. They were forced to shutdown for a very long time + redesigned their website to survive. Make sure you get the right license first in China!
I wonder how frequently this will be updated. I notice several skyscrapers built over the past few months that aren't displayed yet (they only show the construction huts). So it's at least several months out of date.
This clearly has the most detail for zooming and browsing that I've seen, but for my day-to-day use I'll still be using map.sogou.com, which already has pretty good building and landmark decomposition, but has the best path-finder / location search of everyone in the market by far. I just made several queries on bj.o.cn that fell flat. For really hard-to-find places, I suspect I'll do my searching on sogou first, then pull up the closest landmark on o.cn and scroll over to where I want to be for a good visual description of where I'm going.
I've mentioned this before, but entering the "Chinese" internet (or internet of any foreign culture for that matter) is like entering a whole new world. It's amazing how the cultural aspects impacts small things like design sense and advertising colors.
The buildings are meticulously 3-D modeled and texture mapped--you can see the texture repetition artifacts. I've read some research about automatic modeling techniques from street view images+, but I'd suspect this was done by hand.
This is essentially the same as a traditional animated movie: gigantic sum of work to do, essentially infinitely parallel, and capable of being process-optimized such that two adjacent frames require much less work than freehanding them. They're probably using a large library of templated buildings (how many silhouettes are there at that resolution, really?), brushes, and then just applying detail work to the significant ones.
It's a big job, and it's impressive, but it isn't "We had enough people to freehand a scale map of the entire country, bwahaha."
Props for the reference, but aside from matching /Chin/ the Chinese room has absolutely nothing to do with this approach. It is staffed by a single guy and it is critically important to the thought experiment that he does not understand Chinese.
(Brief sketch of the Chinese room: there is a locked room with a slit which permits paper to come in and paper to go out. Inside the room is a man who does not speak Chinese. He receives paper with Chinese symbols on it, consults a vast library of books with rules on what to do in response to particular symbols, laboriously copies his response onto paper, and pushes it out through the slit. The response is intelligible as Chinese responsive to the input Chinese. Searle argues that the man can't understand Chinese. Personal opinion: it's navelgazing that only matters to philosophy, but I think the man and books together constitute a system which speaks Chinese, in the same way that people bidding in an auction together constitute an efficient price discovery mechanism even if none has expert knowledge of the "true value" of all items at auction.)
aside from matching /Chin/ the Chinese room has absolutely nothing to do with this approach. It is staffed by a single guy and it is critically important to the thought experiment that he does not understand Chinese.
It raises an alternate formulation: What if the operation of the room was crowdsourced? What if the individuals of the crowd could communicate and organize, or what if not? Would that change the properties of the thought experiment in any interesting ways?
Obviously, if the room included Chinese people the language would have to be different. We could call it the "English room" thought experiment.
> The point is not whether the system understands Chinese
From early in Searle's paper: "Partisans of strong AI claim that in this question and answer sequence the machine is not only simulating a human ability but also 1. that the machine can literally be said to understand the story and provide the answers to questions, and 2. that what the machine and its program do explains the human ability to understand the story and answer questions about it. Both claims seem to me to be totally unsupported by Schank's work, as I will attempt to show in what follows."
And, just after describing the "Chinese room" scenario: "Now the claims made by strong AI are that the programmed computer understands the stories and that the program
in some sense explains human understanding. But we are now in a position to examine these claims in light of our
> human-like consciousness
No, Searle is not at all only concerned with "consciousness". Searle again:
""" "But could something think, understand, and so on solely in virtue of being a computer with the right sort of program? Could instantiating a program, the right program of course, by itself be a sufficient condition of understanding?" This I think is the right question to ask, though it is usually confused with one or more of the earlier questions, and the answer to it is no. """
(The focus on "consciousness" is a more recent development, and I cynically suspect it's motivated by a recognition that as far as anything we can observe goes, computers are in fact likely to be able to do everything humans can in the not too distant future -- so best to concentrate on something conveniently unfalsifiable, such as the claim that computers couldn't really be "conscious" even if they behaved in every respect exactly as if they were.)
Searle talks about "understanding" throughout. He occasionally makes reference to other mental capabilities, including "consciousness" once or twice, but "understanding" is much the most frequent.
> The experiment is the centerpiece of Searle's Chinese Room Argument which holds that a program cannot give a computer a "mind" or "understanding", regardless of how intelligently it may make it behave.
The real question is, is this more useful than the photographic approach? i.e. does a user identify these landmarks better in this slightly abstracted hand drawn rendering than in a photo rendering of the same?
There's less cognitive overhead in processing these renderings because there's less stuff to pay attention to. A photograph tends to record everything, which can be overwhelming if you're looking for select landmarks.
Also, the real world tends to be more drab and polluted than these cheery 100% saturation renderings.
Seriously by hand? How many mechanical turks?
Why do you say so? The textures and all seem to suggest otherwise. I am very much interested in the actual technology. Perhaps the textures were superimposed on the 3d models and not a direct input of the 3d modelling.
I have no opinion on what is true in this context, but completely in the abstract: when drawing things it's possible to put in fake data (residential area or forest where a military facility or nuclear reactor is located) without it being possible to be detected. The blurring at least shows that something is there.
It's hard to explore o.cn in detail because everything is in Chinese, but whatever they have is quite impressive. Not only is the 3D view really well rendered (i.e. easy on the eyes), they have incredible attention to detail, down to using billboards as ad space.
There's another company eDushi created this kind of map in 2007 or earlier. The company is in Hangzhou. They cover more cities than o.cn. I've checked the details of architecture. Quite accurate. And there is a lot daily life related information hidden in the map.
The technical/theoretical side of it, the how do you scale up the (automatic) creation of those Sim-Cities ... yes, VERY fascinating and interesting.
The other side of the medal: those maps are creating a cute, sleek, clean and well-behaved view on the areas of high(est) population density ... they are I think heavily distorting the perception of the reality in those areas. I consider them a very strange way to do propaganda.
The reality is hidden by this means, which is the opposite of what maps/sat maps should be providing...
"Pixel Perfect" nails it quite good.
They are unrealistically perfect.
Constructed down to every pixel presented.
Event the most horrible sweatshops look cute in this renderings.
If this had/has an API it would make for a great game-board for MMOG's/on-line-&-offline-games or even strategy-games. Imagine adding textures for units and/or craters (though I'd guess this latter would be banned pretty soon).
there's no restriction, most of google earth works. personally i feel that these sim city maps are easier to view compared to live ariel photos.
i went to edushi to discuss a business opportunity, they were telling me how these were updated, i heard it's weekly. they also have a program with a school that teaches 3d studio max so they have a pipeline of people to help render these sim city like maps.