Archive for the ‘people’ Category

Palm Pilot Inventor Wants to Open Source the Human Brain.

October 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Wired article about brain inspired software:

Palm Pilot Inventor Wants to Open Source the Human Brain.

Hawkins founded the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience to study the brain full-time, and he co-authored On Intelligence with Sandra Blakeslee. In 2005, he co-founded Grok, originally known as Numenta, to turn his intelligence research into a marketable product.

But he wasn’t content to keep the company’s secrets to himself, so in addition to publishing a white paper outlining the theory and mathematics, the team has released NuPIC, an open source platform that includes the company’s algorithms and a software framework for building prediction systems with them.

Numenta Cortical Learning Algorithm.

Numenta Platform for Intelligent Computing (NuPIC).

And, maybe people should learn about it in new ways?

Radical New Teaching Method:

Wired: Learning in school could be so much more fun.

says Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford and founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. “In 1970 the top three skills required by the Fortune 500 were the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 1999 the top three skills in demand were teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. We need schools that are developing these skills.”

Theorists from Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi to Jean Piaget and Maria Montessori have argued that students should learn by playing and following their curiosity.

The study found that when the subjects controlled their own observations, they exhibited more coordination between the hippocampus and other parts of the brain involved in learning and posted a 23 percent improvement in their ability to remember objects. “The bottom line is, if you’re not the one who’s controlling your learning, you’re not going to learn as well,” says lead researcher Joel Voss, now a neuroscientist at Northwestern University.


Kurzweil is joining forces with Google

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

On December 14th 2012 there was a super-interesting post on that Kurzweil is joining forces with Google.

Ray Kurzweil confirmed today that he will be joining Google to work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing…

Ambitions certainly run high:

Im thrilled to be teaming up with Google to work on some of the hardest problems in computer science, so we can turn the next decades ”unrealistic” visions into reality.

As you read on, you begin to wonder, if this is really the start of Arthur C Clarkes 2025 Braincap vision.
See my Braincap article.

It is certainly all very intriguing:
On page 156 in Kurzweils ”How to Create a Mind” one reads that Kurzweil has started a new company called Patterns:

…Which intends to develop hierarchical self-organizing neocortical models that utilize HHMMs (Hierarchical Hidden Markov Models) and related techniques for  the purpose of understanding natural language. An important emphasis will be on the ability for the system to design its own hierarchies in manner similar to a biological neocortex.

Our envisioned system will continually read a wide range of material, such as Wikipedia and other knowledge resources, as well as listen to everything you say and watch everything you write (if you let it).
The goal is for it to become a helpful friend answering your questions –
before you even formulate them
– and giving you useful information and tips as you go through the day.

So, finally Gordon Bells full MyLifeBits is under way …

Ten years later, Wireless Sensor Nets making automatic digital diaries and putting them directly out on the internet for you, and what have you from Futuropolis 2058, seems almost commonplace.

Obviously, IBMs Watson was only the start.
In Jeopardy a question is posed, and Watsons machinery goes to work. Its UIMA (Unstructured Information Management Architecture) deploys hundreds of subsystems, all of which are attempting to come up with a response to the Jeopardy query. I.e. more than 100 different techniques are used to analyze natural language, identify sources, find and generate hypotheses, find and score evidence, and merge and rank hypotheses. Finally, Watsons then acts as an expert system that combine the results of the subsystems. Helping to figure out how much confidence it has in the answers subsystems come up with.
Not only can Watson understand the Jeopardy queries, it can also search its 200 million pages of knowledge (Wikipedia and other sources) and come up with the correct answer faster than any human expert…

And that is just 2012 stuff. Kurzweill obviously won’t let us stop there.
On page 169 of ”How to Create a Mind” one reads that a better Watson should not only be able to answer a question, but also understand – pick out themes in documents and novels:

Coming up with such themes on its own from just reading the book, and not essentially copying the thoughts (even without the words) of other thinkers, is another matter.
Doing so would constitute a higher-level task than Watson is capable of today – it is what I call a Turing test-level task (That being said, I will point out that most humans do not come up with their own original thoughts either. But copy the ideas of their peers and opinion leaders).
At any rate this is 2012, not 2029, so I would not expect Turing test- level intelligence yet.

Intriguing indeed.

Arthur C. Clarke’s vision is surely well under way …

But even he didn’t anticipate a future where our memories belonged to the Cloud, Google or similar.
A cloud that will design its own cognitive hierarchies in a manner similar to a biological neocortex, based on our memories, and feed the result right back to us, shaping and directing our lives, as our most trusted friend.


Simon Laub

Posted on UseNet, Dec. 17th 2012:
Newsgroups:, rec.arts.sf.written
From: Simon Laub
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 23:43:03 +0100
Local: Mon, Dec 17 2012 11:43 pm
Subject: Kurzweil is joining forces with Google

A Robotic Best Friend

July 2, 2012 Leave a comment

I-SODOG, Your New, Robotic Best Friend:

Takara Tomy I-SODOG (Tokyo Toy Show 2012):

Orgasm snapshot

April 28, 2012 Leave a comment

One moment in time in different slices through the brain. More precisely, the brain of Kayt Sukel as she is having an orgasm, while being inside a brain scanner.

Kayt Sukel in the scanner.

As the orgasm arrives, activity shoots up in two parts of the brain called the cerebellum and the frontal cortex, perhaps because of greater muscle tension. During orgasm, activity reaches a peak in the hypothalamus, which releases a chemical called oxytocin that causes pleasurable sensations and stimulates the uterus to contract. Activity also peaks in the nucleus accumbens, an area linked to reward and pleasure

Quotes from a Guardian newspaper article.

Todays links, April 21st 2012

April 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Tomorrows worlds:

People of tomorrow:
What faces will be like – The faces of tomorrow:
With different personalities? Personality variation by region (USA):

A strange world for sure:
Brain illusions – The break of the curveball:
Quantum suicide:

A world of XNA – not DNA?

Artificial genetic material XNA:
Artificial genetic material that can store information and evolve over generations in a similar way to DNA. A team at the J Craig Venter Institute , in Rockville, Maryland, are hoping to make synthetic organisms from scratch.

Still, we are part of the universe:

And kids still play:
Kids Send 3D GoPro Cameras Into Space, Get Back Stunning Footage:
Throwable Ball Camera Captures Spherical Panoramas:

As do grownups:
Rotating Images:
Flying balls … :

It is all in the mind:
Amsterdam Anatomie:
Info overload? Don’t worry, there might be a pill for that coming up soon….
Just take a synapse-regulating inhibitor, induce temporary autism,….

Enjoy the times:
While they last …(Time might be running out, or slowing down):

Its all right here, on the internet:
The internet. Where people swap files:
And stay invisible:
Like one giant brain?

Or, just browse on.

Determinism and Free Will

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Free will is a tricky subject.
In the book ”Who is in charge” Michael Gazzaniga has some good insights.

The two main positions within that debate are the claim that determinism is false and thus that free will exists (or is at least possible); and hard determinism, the claim that determinism is true and thus that free will does not exist.

See more at Wiki.

The hard determinists will tell us, that:

1. The brain enables the mind and the brain is a physical entity.
2. The physical world is determined. so our brains must also be determined.
3. If our brains are determined, and if the brain is the necessary and sufficient organ that enables the mind, then we are left with the belief that the thoughts that arise from our mind also are determined.
4. Thus, free will is an illusion. And we must revise our thoughts about what it means to be personally responsible for our actions.
Put, differently, the concept of free will has no meaning.

Most people agree that the first claim is ok. Claim 2, however, is under attack.
From the 3 body problem and moving on to non linear complex systems it is seen that complex systems does not allow exact predictions of future states.

Which, obviously, puts claim 3 (and then claim 4) on shaky ground…

There are other problems though.
Can we derive the macro story from the micro story – find a mental state from neural state?
According to Gazzaniga, ”analyzing nerve states may be able to inform us how the thing could work, but not how it actually does.”
It has to do with emergence.
Gazzaniga quotes nobel prize winner Philip W. Andersen:

The ability to reduce everything to simple fundamental laws does not imply the ability to start from these laws and reconstruct the universe.

Emergence is not very much liked. Finally, we have gottan rid of the homunculus inside our brains, and finally, we have gottan rid of Descartes dualism – and other ghosts in the machine – and then people propose, that there are still ghosts in there …

According to Gazzaniga:

You cannot analyze traffic at the level of the individual car.
You have to throw in location, time, weather, society and other drivers, then a new set of laws emerge, that can predict traffic.

So, once a mental state exist – is there downward causation. Can a thought constrain the brain that produced it?
Not, really, it is more complex than that.
Take genes. Codons are controlling the construction of the whole (enzymes), but the whole is, in part, controlling the the identification of the parts (translation) and the construction itself (protein synthesis). Its not upward or downward. Its complementary.

How do we get from brain state M1 to brain state M2?
M1 is produced by a physical state P1 and M2 is produced by P2.
If we just go from P1 to P2 – then there is no free will, and we are just along for the ride.
The tough question is though, does M1, in a downward constraining process, guide P2, thus affecting M2?

In genetics there is a multiplicity of events going on? And the same might be the case for action? Downward and upward causation working together.

Action is the result of complementary components arising from within and without.

And different levels and in different languages. Some levels completely emergent from the levels below?
And it gets worse. Social context and social constraints on the group level might also influence our actions. In a language that is completely emergent (not producible) from the level of brain hardware.

Free will is a tricky thing ….
And we didn’t even throw in quantum mechanics and the observer problem to make it tricky…. 🙂

Todays links, April 14th 2012

April 13, 2012 1 comment

“Why” is, in that sense, the most dangerous word in history, Because as soon as you ask that question, you open up the possibility of change. So asking “why” may be the hardest thing for people to do..

See more: The power of imagination.

“You must see yourself see. It’s about observation and curiosity, having a sense of wonder, becoming aware of the connection between the past and the present. Becoming an observer of yourself enables you to do amazing things.”


And we can indeed improve:

New research, led by Swiss postdoctoral fellows Susanne M. Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl, working at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, suggests that at least one aspect of a person’s IQ can be improved by training a certain type of memory.

See more: Improved IQs.

Still, humans are pretty strange creatures: 9 Strange human behaviours

In a pretty strange world. With plenty of places like ours, out there…
See: Astronomer Finds Evidence for Record-Breaking Nine Planet System.

Carl Sagan had something to say about it.

From Carl Sagan speaks – The Humans.

Here’s to you, Carl. An inspiration.
See more: Sagan series.

Todays pics: Fractals, Lunar Parthenon and Future cities.

100 Web sites you should know: 100 Essential web pages.

And search it, not with a browser, but, with a Wowser.