Friday, November 03, 2006

Pressing Onward


We've pressed onward to Wordpress. Wow, who knew what a real blogging platform looked like? Obviously, I was meta-clueless and will spend the rest of my life working to meta-fix that. Thanks for reading and hope to see you at the new digs.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

From Molecule to Metaphor

I hope I can make it to Jerome A. Feldman's talk today. BOLD and EXCITING are feeble understatements to describe the efforts in pursuit of a Unified Cognitive Science; which, as far as I understand it, is an absolute prerequisite to safe and effective uploading. Dvorsky is right to caution against hasty assumptions, but but researchers like Feldman are doing the kind of empirical work that will directly inform and influence the ultimate viability of uploading.

"Understanding language and thought requires combining findings from biology, computer science, linguistics, and psychology. A theory that seems perfectly adequate from one perspective may contradict what is known in another field. Problems that seem intractable in one discipline might be quite approachable from a different direction. Taking all the constraints seriously is the only way to get it right."

From Molecule to Metaphor, Preface: "While we are far from having a complete neural theory of language, there have been enormous scientific advances in all the relevant fields. Taken together, these developments provide a framework in which everything that we know fits together nicely. The goal of this book is simple; I would like you, at the end, to say: This all makes sense. It could explain how people understand language. There will be no attempt to convince you that other theories are wrong - in fact, I will assume that most of them are partially right. The book can be seen as part of a general effort to construct a Unified Cognitive Science that can lead the effort to understand our brains and minds. I will try to present a story that is consistent with all the existing scientific data and that also seems plausible to you as a description of your own mind."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bye, Bye, Blogger

It's a bittersweet necessity, but I just can't abide the MESS that Google has made of Blogger, post-acquisition. While repeatedly reminds us that "beta users are not affected by this outage," LONG TIME LOYAL USERS are both AFFECTED and UNABLE TO MOVE to the new platform. So, since the dawn of blogging, I've been using Blogger but will now move to WordPress 2.0; in large part due to WP's wise development of a content and comment import system based upon the work of Andy Skelton.

What's worst is that I've continued to sing the praises of Blogger for Ease of Use to friends and family, far and wide. When products blow it like this, they affect the reputations of those who trusted them and defended them. These things can be difficult to recover from. Might I return some day, post-beta? Perhaps, but only if there is a simple to use import system to bring my content back over from Wordpress, should that day ever arrive. In the meantime, I've now got grunt work to do. Thanks, for the Halloween Horrors, Google Blogger.

I2: Infective Invective

This is a one-time deflection to route a particular meme stream to a more appropriate frequency. For all the histrionic heavenly hyperbole you could ever want or need, be sure to tune in to I2: Infective Invective. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

Monday, October 30, 2006

From Molecule to Metaphor: Towards a Unified Cognitive Science



From Molecule to Metaphor: Towards a Unified Cognitive Science
by Jerry Feldman
Computer Science Division and Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences, UC Berkeley

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006
4:15-5:30 pm
Building 380, Room 380C (Math Corner) - MAP
(Parking in nearby lots at no charge after 4 pm)


The neural revolution in cognitive science, which was always inevitable, is well under way. There is already enough known about how our brains process information to render many traditional theories obsolete and a unified neurally-based cognitive science is emerging. Linguistics and Philosophy have, for both historical and technical reasons, been slow to integrate even the most basic neuroscience. Much of fundamental neuroscience is done with animals and, since only people use language, there has been no easy way to extend animal findings to human thought and language.

The talk is based on a new book that is a systematic attempt to show how human language and thought arise as an extension of the physiology and experiences that people share with other animals. Integrating findings from all the cognitive sciences yields a foundation for an explicitly neural theory of language that is an integral part of contemporary science. Many, but not all, of the fundamental issues about brain and mind become clearer in a Unified Cognitive Science.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

And you may ask yourself, "What is Rational Longevity?"

Existence is Wonderful: "Supporting longevity research is acknowledging that there is nothing special about aging that makes it any less solvable than any other complex engineering problem -- it's not a mystical force or a cosmic directive, it's a biological process. And the means of counteracting this process won't be mystical forces either -- they'll be the result of a lot of hard work and scientific inquiry."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Toward a Substrate Independent Engineered Subjective Qualia

The in the words of the ever uber salient, George Dvorsky, "Protopanpsychism and the consciousness conundrum, or why we shouldn't assume uploads." He writes:
The other broad approach to the issue of consciousness is emergence theory, the idea that self-awareness and qualia can arise from complex computational dynamics in the brain. The critical assumption here is that mind’s architecture is largely computational, but that consciousness emerges through the concert of myriad neuronal interactions. In this sense, consciousness is an epiphenomenon or metaphenomenon of the brain’s machinations.

This approach to cognition is clearly essential, but it is not sufficient.
I was particularly happy to read this essay because it dramatically clarifies some ideas I shared on StumbleUpon, when asked by JollySpaniard (architect of the incomparably interesting Brain Parades on MemeTherapy.Net), "What's your 'pet prediction' of something that might happen in the next decade or two?" as a followup to his earlier stumbler poll, "What is the strangest thing you believe to be true?" In my case, both questions share the same answer. The strangest things that I believe to be true, I also believe will become better understood over the next couple of decades.

On Sept 30, 2006, I wrote to JollySpaniard:
For my part, the strangest thing I believe to be true is that Intelligent Design is on to something; but not what the feuding factions think they're on to. Remember, the Big Bang was first proposed by a clergyman, Father Georges Lemaître. The Big Bang was widely criticized as positing a Creation Event from which a Creator could be asserted into the scientific disciplines. A very similar argument is now leveled at so-called I.D. However, my own atheist belief is that Intelligence may be as palpable a force as any of the quantum entangling forces. In fact, it may be Intelligence that explains entangled behavior of quantum particles. Perhaps this is how one entangled particle "knows" the state of the other. My specific weird belief and pet prediction is the suspicion that just as the Big Bang adapted to the subsequently corroborating data, new OBJECTIVE DATA WILL EMERGE to suggest and subsequently bear out the influence of a "universally embedded intelligence" as a constituent feature of the observable and measurable universe. What some of us presently refer to as extropy, the inverse of entropy, could turn out to be Detectable Intelligence. This is a very quick and sloppy way to put it, but hopefully it is clear that I believe both sides of the present I.D. debate to be wrong for distinctly opposing myopic reasons. Put another way, if there's a Star Wars "Force," that "force" just might turn out to be Intelligence. Human Brains may not create Intelligence, they may simply be attuned -- like radio receivers -- to what is already there, in the ether. Of course, some antennas are far more effective and efficient than others.
I had no idea at the time that I was essentially describing some version of protopanpsychism. Then, imagine my surprise when I read, "This has lead to the development of what is known as quantum consciousness theory, which postulates the idea that consciousness is indelibly tied to quantum processes – that the brain is essentially a quantum computer utilized by an observer to “decohere” quantum superposition." This is not qualitatively different from what I was attempting to express a month ago when I spoke of intelligence as a fundamental force, particle, or energy that might have something to do with quantum entanglement. Interesting.

Monday, October 23, 2006


A humbling and awe inspiringPerspective.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Cyberwar, God And Television: Interview with Paul Virilio (1994)

0The year was 1993. Somewhere in a remote cubicle in Illinois, a couple of kids named Eric Bina and Marc Andreessen had grown tired of tunneling through gopher holes and fiddling with ASCII/BIN file transfer protocol modes. So they came up with something better called Mosaic and thereby "invented the internet" in the same way that Columbus "discovered" North America. Like the so-called new world, the internet had long been in existence, but soon it would become accessible to literally everyone.

The internet evolutionary steps of the late 1980's and early 1990's had emerged in response to the previous 30 years work; nevertheless, a few of the more visible -- and in some ways, quite superficial -- steps spawned heady thinking of brave new worlds and fired the imaginations of virtual Ponce de Leons in search of this "newly discovered" immortal cyberspace. In droves, the lemmings signed up for America's Orgy Line (AOL), as cybersex (such an elegant term, for what amounts to the rather pitiful image of isolated monkeys engaging in erotic text conversations combined with synchronized masturbation) made masses of lonely, increasingly fast-food obese and fast-porn horny Americans "feel young again." In many respects, the internet WAS the newest fountain of youth, and it delivered every bit as much youth as de Leon's.

Still, enthralled and enraptured by the perpetual bliss of this brave new cyber world, it would take literally a decade for many to glimpse the horizon beyond their bright afterglow and discover "THE" internet, vast and limitless, that had actually already existed for 40 years.

Philosophers and cultural theorists were not to be left behind in the old world; not for a second. In 1994 thinkers like Paul Virilio had already turned a vastly more aesthetic lens to gaze upon this new Promised Land, "All the qualities of the body are transferred to the machine. We haven't adjusted yet, we are forgetting our body, we are losing it. This is an accident of the body, a de-corporation. The body is torn and disintegrated." This, in response to nothing more than the world first two-dimensional hypertext link-following engine.

With artistic optimism marked by deftly placed and distinctly somber philosophical brush strokes, Virilio paints an impressively prescient canvas; particularly when one considers that this was written over a decade ago.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Anousheh Ansari Space Blog

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Future of Intelligence

0Ideum blog: museum and design news » Blog Archive » The Future of Intelligence: The Final Day of the Conference.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Scientists teleport two different objects

CNN reporting Scientists teleport two different objects: "Professor Eugene Polzik and his team at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University in Denmark have made a breakthrough by using both light and matter.

'It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium,' Polzik explained in an interview on Wednesday."

Sunday, October 01, 2006


0I'm as excited about posthumanism as anyone, but somehow the terminology GOOD AS NEW strikes me as just a wee bit hyperbolic.