Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

The Myth of a Superhuman AI

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Kevin Kelly wrote an excellent article on the fundamental assumptions behind the myth of the superhuman AI, and why they’re either unsupported or contradicted by evidence. He does a good job on some points that I’ve thought through myself, and brings up some other points I hadn’t considered.

The Myth of a Superhuman AI

Spectacular Cosmographic Maps Chart Galaxies and Superclusters in Local Universe | Wired Science |

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Spectacular Cosmographic Maps Chart Galaxies and Superclusters in Local Universe | Wired Science |

I’ve been searching for this kind of map for years. I’d forgotten about it after so many frustrating failures. This is a wonderfully guided tour of the local galactic structures and their observed motions. Did you think the galaxies were just sitting still out there? Expanding uniformly, like raisins in bread? Nope!

The lesson you never got taught in school: How to learn! | Neurobonkers | Big Think

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

This is what we’ve been saying for years! Oh, and we’ve got our own experiments to back it up, though we haven’t taken the time to test all the alternative study strategies used in this comparison. If only it were easier to develop targeted, computer-based tests for all needs. The computer could test you until you knew the material. It could present things you need more help learning, and slowly phase out the things you already know, giving you more time to master more material.

That’s what our software does!

The lesson you never got taught in school: How to learn! | Neurobonkers | Big Think.

Huge Meteor Explodes Over Russia

Friday, February 15th, 2013

This just made my day exciting. It’s apparently coincidental that another huge asteroid is making a flyby tomorrow, since the approach will be from a different angle than was apparent in this encounter. The blaze lit up the sky like the sun, and the shockwave set off car alarms and shattered windows. Very exciting!

BREAKING: Huge Meteor Explodes Over Russia..

Quantum Levitation – YouTube

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Michael Ham: Negative Irreproducible Tweets… for Science

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Michael Ham: Negative Irreproducible Tweets… for Science.

It seems like all my original ideas are now being independently reproduced by other people, so I’ll just start dumping a few others that I’ve heard recently.

  • “Placebo” brand pills – scientifically proven effective on many maladies
  • Idiot urine test – always comes up positive

Scratching an itch through the scalp to the brain : The New Yorker

Friday, November 25th, 2011

This: Scratching an itch through the scalp to the brain : The New Yorker.

Memory is Pain

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

This idea keeps coming back into my head. It happened again when I read this article on atheist/theist thought processes, especially the bit about how it relates to Cypher from The Matrix.

In the movie, of course Cypher never gets plugged back into the matrix the way he wants. But either way, he no longer has memories of living his renegade life on an outlaw vessel, eating disgusting mush and being miserable all the time. There are actually drugs being used as anesthetics which cause amnesia for the procedure! So if you don’t remember it, did you experience it? You can only infer that it happened. I bet psychologists could implant false memories in you about what had happened. You wouldn’t remember, but you’d come to think of it like something you used to remember. You would believe that things happened, even though they didn’t really happen.

Or did they? Maybe if you believe something with all your heart and with all your soul, then it has to be true! This seems to be the feeling of the deeply religious people I’ve talked to, when they talk about their belief in God. They just know their beliefs are true, because they can feel it as a warm feeling in their hearts.

Then again, some of us believe in something called objective truth. We’re called “scientists” and we explore the world in order to find out what these truths are. Some of us try to find out objective truths about the way our minds work. We’re called “cognitive scientists” and we study cognition, perception, learning, memory, language; basically: intelligence.

Not only do we study it, but we also make computer models to try to make our theories of mental functioning concrete. Then we test those theories, and if we believe that they’re true then we make up elaborate scenarios in order to show them to be true, rather than shining the light of truth on them and jettisoning them if they don’t cast a shadow. But that’s where other cognitive scientists come in: they see our theories as competition to the theories which they fervently believe are true, and will point out the many shortcomings of those competing theories. The way we get around this negative attention is to make our computer programs as unavailable or incomprehensible or unusable as possible, so that other researchers aren’t able to level such criticisms against us without our being able to reply “well, you must not have done it right!”

So much for Objective Truth, huh? When I think about it this way, I can no longer proudly claim that I am a Brain Scientist. I now have to admit that I am a Brain Hacker. I have a hack that seems to work very well in inducing learning, and I’m trying to promote and augment that hack. I’d like to be a scientist one day, though…

Blogging for no good reason

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Anyone reading this blog will notice that I haven’t been sick much lately, so I haven’t been posting anything. Today I’m taking the time to remind my future self what I was thinking about and doing way back in June.

Sangeeta is getting ready to take Saranya to Nepal for a month. She’s got a week left to get everything ready, her car is in the shop with a major intermittent coolant leak that they can’t seem to find, and she just got addicted to Korean soap operas so she spends all day sitting in front of the computer watching them and reading the subtitles.

World of Warcraft is holding less and less of my attention. I still log on every day to do my jewelcrafting daily quest, and sometimes I take a break and do some Argent Tournament stuff. Oh, and I have calendar reminders to check and renew my Mysterious Eggs on 5 different characters. I can do all this while only actually paying attention to the game for as little as 30 minutes per day. The rest of my time I’m either programming, reading about programming, reading literature on human memory models, or studying math/statistics.

I’m the only employee of Insight Learning Technology, Inc. who’s not on vacation. I’m using the time to take cars back and forth for repairs, and to rework, refactor, and modernize all my PLM server code. I had to fake object orientation before, but PHP5 lets me write code the way I’m used to thinking about it. We’ve got at least two big projects coming up this summer, so I’m scrambling to get some of this background work done and tested before I have to focus on deliverables. The hope is that all this will make later projects easier.

I’ve been studying Psychological journals to see what other people have been doing in the field. Phil Pavlik and John Anderson have a nice model that predicts forgetting and recall time, and I think I’d like to adopt a similar model. Our system has a couple of arbitrary parameters, and I need to figure out a system for making them less arbitrary.

Whenever we create a new module for adaptive training, we have to decide what sort of performance reflects sufficient learning that the learner will be able to correctly answer the item (or an item from the same category) after a delay. We also have to determine the parameters that tell us approximately how long to wait after an item is presented before we show it again. Right now, these parameters are arbitrary and independent, but I think we need to come up with a system for not only generating these parameters automatically, but for relating them theoretically. That’s a path we’ve been loathe to tread, but access to funding for research in the field lies down that road, and we need to show our feet thereupon before the monetary gates will be opened to us.

Then there’s math and statistics. I’ve been looking at performance data from an earlier experiment, and trying to find a pattern of accuracy following particular patterns of problem presentation. I guess I need to learn some data mining and regression techniques to figure out the relationships. My lack of statistics background is holding me back, so I think I’m going to try to sit in on some classes next year.

If I still have a job…

PHD Comics: Science News Cycle

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Science News Cycle
PHD Comics: Science News Cycle