Archive for category Science

A Theory of Mind

Consciousness in specific, and the mechanism of thinking in general, have remained an opaque block to science in general and researchers in the area in specific. As an AI person (I work on associative memory as it [hopefully] applies to AI), this is something that is both immensely interesting to me, and which occupies a considerable amount of my “spare cycles”, as it were. I think about it in an orderly fashion, I day- and night-dream about it in a most decidedly disorderly fashion, I draw charts and diagrams, I take copious notes, and I constantly ask people why they say what they say, hoping for insight into the thought process — not the issue or the answer, but the mechanism.

Here I will present a description of my theory, which seems to me that it could be an, or the, answer. Not a metaphor — metaphors tell you what things are like, not what they are — but my suggestion as to how the brain, and therefore the mind, actually work.

I am not saying that I’m certain that I’ve intuited the answer — that, frankly, seems unlikely to me — but after almost forty years of examining the problem, for the very first time, I have a model that has turned out to satisfy every question that I have about thought and consciousness in what I can only describe as a manner satisfactory to myself. Which is, I think, in itself notable. If for no other reason than everything I have ever come up with previously, or read about, has utterly failed to do so. So, dear reader, please come along as I try to explain myself. Literally.
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Let’s talk Evidence.

One of the common aphorisms we hear in two varieties is, first form, “absence of evidence is evidence of absence”, and second form, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Either statement seems to make sense on its face; but this is because of a common misunderstanding. In truth, only one form actually works for us within the bounds of reason.
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Maxwell’s Daemon rolls over in grave, finds pea

So, perpetual motion… nah. Of course not. And therefore, no device can have an efficiency over 100%. Right? RIGHT? Well, apparently not. Follow that link. Read. Imagine the consternation of the scientist upon determining the first results. I’ve been smiling ever since I thought about it that way.

There, wasn’t that interesting? Physics is COOL. huh. huh.

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Ultracaps — has the “wall” been jumped?

After years of ultracaps lagging battery power density, but tempting us with an almost endless stream of other benefits, UCLA has announced a breakthrough: easily manufactured, physically robust, high energy density ultracaps. After having been burned so badly by EEStor’s complete failure to back up its claims, we’ve every reason to be skeptical, but… this comes from UCLA. Surely they actually know what they’re doing, have actual peer review, and so on?

Well, all I can say is, bring it on, baby. If I never buy another battery, it’ll be too soon.

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Robotics and Sex – Social Consequences

My prediction: The days of women pushing against gender identity at the plumage and courtesy levels will come to an end with a screeching halt when robotics come into their own. For two primary reasons:

First, because domestic and working robotics will provide people with the free time to court and interact (something notably lacking in today’s multi-job, rushed world.) Since that’s actually kind of fun, or at least, I think it is, I suspect courting between real people will become common behavior. Again.

Second, if a fellow can buy a social companion that is as exactly up for sex, cuddling and whatever other interests he has… that whole “I wear pants and cut my hair short and makeup is too much work” thing will evaporate like it never existed if a lady actually wants a flesh-and-blood companion.
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Demolishing AI’s “needs a body” argument

robbyAmong other things, I’m extremely interested in the presently nascent field of artificial intelligence. I do some coding in the area as I find time, as well as in the area of artificial life and evolutionary software. One consequence of this is that I am often exposed to opinions and ideas from others with the same interests. Here, I’m going to take on – and take down – one of the less well thought-out ideas that are currently making the rounds; that idea that, in order to have intelligence, that device must also have a body.

Where does this idea come from, you may ask? Professor Alan Winfield, Hewlett Packard professor of electronic engineering at the University of the West of England, says “embodiment is a fundamental requirement of intelligence in general” “a disembodied intelligence doesn’t make sense.” Susan Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University’s Lincoln College, says “My own view is that you can’t disembody the brain.”

So there’s the setup, as it were. Here’s the knockdown.

If a person is deaf, do they suddenly become unintelligent? No. If a person is deaf and blind, do they suddenly become unintelligent? No. If a person is deaf, dumb and blind, do they suddenly become unintelligent? No. If a deaf, dumb and blind person suffers a spinal injury and loses nervous system contact with the body, do they suddenly become unintelligent? No. And so it goes. Intelligence is not about the senses, and it is not about mobility, nor, in the end, is it about structure.
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Interp project

graphYeah, about that coding problem. More of the same. This one is about generating temperature and humidity estimates with a single latitude / longitude input using the point measurements of the National Weather Service nearest the point of interest, and interpolating in a useful and hopefully likely manner. As a project, it gets its own static page, right here.

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Astrotron

atAw, man, I got this… this… coding problem. I keep finding myself writing things that only I would have a use for. So on my iPad, I found this App called “Emerald Observatory”, and I was so, so impressed. First, it’s pretty. Really pretty. Second, it’s full of astronomical data, useful stuff. And I thought to myself, wow… I really like some of this.

Then (oh, no…) I began to think about what parts of it I would like to use, that is, have directly available to me. So I wrote those nice folks, complementing them sincerely on what a nice App they had come up with (check it out, you won’t regret it), and suggesting they write what I had in mind, because actually, they sort of had the data in the app already, it was just a matter of organizing it differently. I got a nice reply, thanking me for the suggestion, but allowing as to how they had a lot to do, and so it would be “on their list.”

Well…
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