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The Fundamental Limits of Machine Learning - Facts So Romantic

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To tackle my aunt's puzzle, the expert systems approach would need a human to squint at the first three rows and spot the following pattern: The human could then instruct the computer to follow the pattern x * (y 1) z. Even when machines teach themselves, the preferred patterns are chosen by humans: Should facial recognition software infer explicit if/then rules, or should it treat each feature as an incremental piece of evidence for/against each possible person? And so they designed deep neural networks, a machine learning technique most notable for its ability to infer higher-level features from more basic information. These questions have constrained efforts to apply neural networks to new problems; a network that's great at facial recognition is totally inept at automatic translation.


How Information Got Re-Invented - Issue 51: Limits

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He kept odd hours, played music too loud, and relished the New York jazz scene. John Pierce was another of the Bell Labs friends whose company Shannon shared in the off hours. It turns out that there were three certified geniuses at BTL [Bell Telephone Laboratories] at the same time, Claude Shannon of information theory fame, John Pierce, of communication satellite and traveling wave amplifier fame, and Barney. If people didn't believe in them, he ignored those people," McMillan told Gertner.


Can a Living Creature Be as Big as a Galaxy? - Issue 51: Limits

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If both our brains and our neurons were 10 times bigger, we'd have 10 times fewer thoughts during our lifetimes. We can argue, then, that, it is difficult to imagine any life-like entities with complexity rivaling the human brain that occupy scales larger than the stellar size scale. Conversely, a planet with 10 times lower gravity than Earth's could potentially have animals that are 10 times bigger. As was first pointed out in the 1930s by Max Kleiber, the metabolic rate per kilogram of Earth's animals decreases in proportion to the mass of the animal raised to the power of 0.25.2 Indeed, if this heating rate didn't decrease, large animals would literally cook themselves (as recently and vividly illustrated by Aatish Batia and Robert Krulwich).


Emotional Intelligence Needs a Rewrite - Issue 51: Limits

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Our traditional understanding and practice of emotional intelligence badly needs a tuneup. Your brain may automatically make sense of someone's movements in context, allowing you to guess what a person is feeling, but you are always guessing, never detecting. To teach emotional intelligence in a modern fashion, we need to acknowledge this variation and make sure your brain is well-equipped to make sense of it automatically. A reasonable, science-backed way to define and practice emotional intelligence comes from a modern, neuroscientific view of brain function called construction: the observation that your brain creates all thoughts, emotions, and perceptions, automatically and on the fly, as needed.


How I Taught My Computer to Write Its Own Music - Issue 50: Emergence

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We wanted to invent a silicon-based life form to help make music that mere carbon-based life forms could never imagine on their own. After three years of discussions and experiments, Bill and I produced an album of electronic music called s_traits. The database sources included fragments of discarded pieces; field recordings; recordings of our respective early works; acoustic instrumental samples, including recordings Bill and I made on a beautiful Steinway at Duke; electronic drones; soundtracks from obscure, old documentaries; and digital noise generated by opening PDFs as raw data in a sound editor. We wanted to invent a silicon-based life form to help make music that mere carbon-based life forms could never imagine on their own.


Claude Shannon, the Las Vegas Cheat - Issue 50: Emergence

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What impressed him more than any of the gadgets was his host's uncanny ability to "see" a solution to a problem rather than to muscle it out with unending work. "I left the table quickly and discovered the speaker peering from my ear canal like an alien insect." "I left the table quickly and discovered the speaker peering from my ear canal like an alien insect." From A Mind at Play by Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman.


How Do You Say "Life" in Physics? - Issue 50: Emergence

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The 34-year-old assistant professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the architect of a new theory called "dissipative adaptation," which has helped to explain how complex, life-like function can self-organize and emerge from simpler things, including inanimate matter. Wittgenstein argued that a word's meaning depends on its context, a context determined by the people who are using it. Wittgenstein, however, argued that a word's meaning depends on its context, a context determined by the people who are using it. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth ..." Here, the Hebrew word for "create" is bara, the word for "heavens" is shamayim, and the word for "earth" is aretz; but their true meanings, England says, only come into view through their context in the following verses.


The Strange Similarity of Neuron and Galaxy Networks - Issue 50: Emergence

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The total number of neurons in the human brain falls in the same ballpark of the number of galaxies in the observable universe. Interestingly enough, the total number of neurons in the human brain falls in the same ballpark of the number of galaxies in the observable universe. Researchers regularly use a technique called power spectrum analysis to study the large-scale distribution of galaxies. Based on the latest analysis of the connectivity of the brain network, independent studies have concluded that the total memory capacity of the adult human brain should be around 2.5 petabytes, not far from the 1-10 petabyte range estimated for the cosmic web!


Where Did Time Come From, and Why Does It Seem to Flow? - Facts So Romantic

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There might be some pre-geometry, that would give rise to geometry just like atoms give rise to the continuum of elastic bodies. Clocks don't measure the flow of time, they measure intervals of time. And the other thing people contemplate: They think denying the flow of time is denying time asymmetry of the world. John Wheeler believed in and wrote about this in the 1950s--that there might be some pre-geometry, that would give rise to geometry just like atoms give rise to the continuum of elastic bodies--and people play around with that.


Ingenious: Jack Gilbert - Issue 50: Emergence

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So, instead of curing the patient and removing the dangerous sources, we're actually creating an environment inside the patient that selects for organisms that are dangerous. But if we add the bacteria back into the mouse, literally with probiotic formulations into its gut, it'll start to hide back in the boxes like a normal mouse would. And we've started to demonstrate this in humans by taking formulations of bacteria that produce gamma-Aminobutyric acid [GABA], a neurotransmitter, which produces a sense of calm. So if we took the bacteria from an obese person and we put it into a mouse, the mouse would put on more calories than a mouse that got bacteria from a thin person for the same calorific intake, and for the same exercise regimen.