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The Question of Religion Print E-mail
Monday, 12 February 2007

Many may think that the issue at stake is God vs. Science but it is not. The real issue is just religion vs. us.

Because religion and related derivatives as new age "science", god, morals or intelligent design are opossed to the very nature of humans: i.e. evidence-based thinking systems.

Just consider the enormous possibilities that real science opens to us with its analytic and predictive capabilities. There's no real need of gods but for those that are unable to understand the vast ammount of knowledge that science is constinuosly producing.

It is not necessary to understand Einstein's Field Equations to be aware of the impact that general relativity may play in our understanding of the universe and -may be- in our re-shaping of it, or the many possibilities that stem cell research may open to health and well living.

The rationale of getting comfort from religion is the same rationale of getting comfort from alcohol. Beware, it seems to work but kills your neurons.

Last Updated ( Monday, 23 February 2009 )
The business case for conscious machines Print E-mail
Saturday, 17 June 2006

It may sound strange to claim for the existence of a business case for conscious machines when there is even disagreement on the role that consciousness play in natural systems and its evolutionary value. This is clearly shown in the fact that there is even a school of thought that claims that consciousness is an epiphenomenon, i.e. nothing we can't live without.

Obviously, we don't think that way, and the best proof of its evolutionary value is our own everyday perception of consciousness: What do you prefer? a conscious or an unconscious taxi driver? What do you prefer? a conscious or an unconscious neurosurgeon? It's pretty clear that consciousness do play an important role in the correct execution of tasks, in the exercising of adequate behaviour in the presence of uncertainty.

But beyond exploring ideas on what consciousness is and how can it be manifested by an artificial agent we may consider the question of real needs for this technology. Is there any real business case for it?

Indeed it is. Not one but many business cases. Let's mention just two in quite different niches and then do some analysis that may serve as a general business drive for this technology.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Why read? Print E-mail
Sunday, 07 May 2006

There are several conclusions (or just changes of point of view?) from the perspective of the cognitive sciences regarding the process of knowledge acquisition by reading.

Readers don't get but construct meanings

This is of special relevance to us doe to the nature of the research work we're performing.

Meaning is not just in the words on the page. The reader constructs meaning by making inferences and interpretations in his own mental context, his model of the world.

Reading researchers believe that information is stored in long-term memory in organized "knowledge structures." The essence of learning is linking new information to prior knowledge about the topic. This is a form of model integration.

How well a reader constructs meaning depends in part on metacognition, the reader's ability to think about and control the learning process (i.e., to plan, monitor comprehension, and revise the use of strategies and comprehension); and attribution, beliefs about the relationship among performance, effort, and responsibility.

Reading and writing are integrally related. That is, reading and writing have many characteristics in common. Also, readers increase their comprehension by writing, and reading about the topic improves writing performance.

Collaborative learning is a powerful approach for teaching and learning. The goal of collaborative learning is to establish a community of learners in which students are able to generate questions and discuss ideas freely with the teacher and each other. Students often engage in teaching roles to help other students learn and to take responsibility for learning. This approach involves new roles for teachers. We have tried to provide some support for this in our new courseware site.

To get more details on research about reading processes, visit Knuth & Jones web page What Does Research Say About Reading?.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Mind building on culture Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 April 2006

To what extent can ideas be owned and exploited by individuals?
To what extent should intellectual work be protected against reuse?

"No one can do to Disney, Inc. what Walt Disney did to the Brothers Grimm"

A comment from Lawrence Lessig at OSCOM 2002 on the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (aka Mickey Mouse Protection Act) shows the irrationality of protecting new ideas when they are based on past ideas.

What is worse is the fact that there are no ideas that appear from nowhere, without any relation with thoughts done by others in the past. It is well know the quotation from Isaac Newton about the shoulders of giants. What is not so well known is the sociobiological nature of the human mind. We are what we are because we grow our minds upon the ideas of our ancestors.

Following the policy of GNU or Creative Commons licenses, new ideas should be public domain as they are necessarily based on former ideas implicitly released under these principles.

So there is no biological possibility of having ownership of ideas.

Don't think of making money from your ideas, think of being a giant !

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
Robots with guns Print E-mail
Monday, 09 August 2004

Source: USA Today, April 14, 2006

Talon with M-240 machine gun
Although the USA militars initially focused just on unmanned aircraft, e.g. the Predator, now new ground- and sea-based robots are being developed and tested not only for demining and convoy driving but also to carry ground-level weapons. As the new Talon robot carrying a M-240 machine gun (they claim just to be used remotely!).

Much larger and more ambitious robot weapons are in testing, including a tank-like, 1,600-pound vehicle called the Gladiator, which can fire a variety of guns, or can even "shout" instructions, such as those to calm a mob or request surrendering.

Scott Myers, president of General Dynamics Robotic Systems claims that a robot can find a human with its sensors and kill the person, but "we don't want to shoot our own people or children".

Obviously they plan to kill other's.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 18 November 2007 )
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