cognition
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How it evolved, what we do with it, futures; And otherwise interesting stuff
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A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition — consc.net — Readability

ABSTRACT

Computation is central to the foundations of modern cognitive science, but its role is controversial. Questions about computation abound: What is it for a physical system to implement a computation? Is computation sufficient for thought? What is the role of computation in a theory of cognition? What is the relation between different sorts of computational theory, such as connectionism and symbolic computation? In this paper I develop a systematic framework that addresses all of these questions.

Justifying the role of computation requires analysis of implementation, the nexus between abstract computations and concrete physical systems. I give such an analysis, based on the idea that a system implements a computation if the causal structure of the system mirrors the formal structure of the computation. This account can be used to justify the central commitments of artificial intelligence and computational cognitive science: the thesis of computational sufficiency, which holds that the right kind of computational structure suffices for the possession of a mind, and the thesis of computational explanation, which holds that computation provides a general framework for the explanation of cognitive processes. The theses are consequences of the facts that (a) computation can specify general patterns of causal organization, and (b) mentality is an organizational invariant, rooted in such patterns. Along the way I answer various challenges to the computationalist position, such as those put forward by Searle. I close by advocating a kind of minimal computationalism, compatible with a very wide variety of empirical approaches to the mind. This allows computation to serve as a true foundation for cognitive science.


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3quarksdaily: Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky, Marvin Minsky and others discuss the roots of Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, and Neuroscience

3quarksdaily: Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky, Marvin Minsky and others discuss the roots of Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, and Neuroscience | cognition | Scoop.it

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Pursuing literary immortality illuminates how the mind works

Pursuing literary immortality illuminates how the mind works | cognition | Scoop.it
The initial excitement of hearing a new song fades as it’s replayed to death.

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Xaos's curator insight, December 16, 2012 8:16 AM

"We are evolutionarily designed so that we focus on new objects and ignore familiar ones," Clune says. "When the mind confronts a new object, our perception is intense and vivid, but it soon dies with familiarity. Every minute, this feeling fades as the mind grasps the object."

Many writers in the Romantic tradition are animated by an impossible ambition to indefinitely extend that intensity. Clune writes about the strategies some literary greats have used to slow the brain's familiarity and create a never-fading image. Vladimir Nabokov's literary images imitate the look of an addictive sexual object. Neuroscience, Clune says, has shown that levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is linked to pleasure, are similar to the first shot of heroin and the first look at artwork.

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Wildcat: ReBeComing Human 2012 an Optimistic Perspective

Wildcat: ReBeComing Human 2012 an Optimistic Perspective | cognition | Scoop.it
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My best quote so far from this post is:

We need a different poet and a different poem, a different view of nature and our place in it.
We need a different language and a different vision that does not imply upon our perception of reality.

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Hallucinations with Oliver Sacks

In the first installment of the World Science Festival's new series, Science & Story, famed neurologist Oliver Sacks joined award-winning journalist John Hocken

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Scientists claim that homosexuality is not genetic — but it arises in the womb

Scientists claim that homosexuality is not genetic — but it arises in the womb | cognition | Scoop.it
A team of international researchers has completed a study that suggests we will probably never find a ‘gay gene.' Sexual orientation is not about genetics, say the researchers, it's about epigenetics.
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The future of the novel | China Miéville

"The machine is unbuilt. The past future of the novel did not lie in being digitally produced. As traumatically, it's being digitally distributed.

 

We are, at last, leaving phase one of the ebook discussion, during which people could ritually invoke the 'smell of paper' as a call to cultural barricades. Some anxieties are tenacious: how will people know what a splendid person I am without a pelt of the right visible books on my walls, without the pretty qlippoth husks? A hopeful future: that our grandchildren will consider our hankering for erudition-décor a little needy.

 

Early predictions for what digitality would do to the novel look pretty creaky, as the futures of the past always do. The hypertext novel? A few interesting experiments. The enhanced ebook, with soundtrack and animation? A banal abomination.

 

In fact what's becoming obvious - an intriguing counterpoint to the growth in experiment - is the tenacity of relatively traditional narrative-arc-shaped fiction. But you don't radically restructure how the novel's distributed and not have an impact on its form. Not only do we approach an era when absolutely no one who really doesn't want to pay for a book will have to, but one in which the digital availability of the text alters the relationship between reader, writer, and book. The text won't be closed."


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The Death of “Near Death”: Even If Heaven Is Real, You Aren’t Seeing It | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

The Death of “Near Death”: Even If Heaven Is Real, You Aren’t Seeing It | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network | cognition | Scoop.it

Why would the brain react to death (or even imagined death) in such a way? Well, death is a scary thing. Scientific accounts of the NDE characterize it as the body’s psychological and physiological response mechanism to such fear, producing chemicals in the brain that calm the individual while inducing euphoric sensations to reduce trauma.

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Origins of Us: Human Anatomy and Evolution

Origins of Us: Human Anatomy and Evolution | cognition | Scoop.it

We are all members of a very special species. Whilst our anatomy and physiology is undoubtedly that of an ape, we have done things that no other ape can do, and become the most successful ape on the planet. Today, our global population numbers almost seven billion; we survive and thrive everywhere from the tropics to the Arctic.
So just what is it that makes us so special? In some ways we are so similar to our closest cousins, chimpanzees, but it’s also clear that we are a world apart. But we can understand ourselves, how we got to where we are today, by going back into our deep past, to the time when we were just another African ape. And then tracing the small changes that over time, and unpredictably, led to us becoming human.
The answers to the question of ‘what makes us human?’ lie buried in the ground in the form of fossils and traces of our ancestors, but also lie deep within the form and function of our bodies.

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Reasoning Is Sharper in a Foreign Language: Scientific American

Reasoning Is Sharper in a Foreign Language: Scientific American | cognition | Scoop.it
We might be least rational about money in our native tongues...

 

“When people use a foreign language, their decisions tend to be less biased, more analytic, more systematic, because the foreign language provides psychological distance,”

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Sarah Blaffer Hrdy - Mothers and Others

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy presents a new vision of human evolution and to argue that our capacity to understand, engage and empathise with each other stems from our status as a cooperatively parenting species.

 

 

NB: Due to copyright issues, the RSA has substituted other images for those actually used in the lecture. 

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How to Create a Mind

How to Create a Mind | cognition | Scoop.it

Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential – and often controversial – futurist. In How to Create a Mind, Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization-reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines.
Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world’s problems. He thoughtfully examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating.
Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil’s previous classics.

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What makes us intelligent?

What makes us intelligent? | cognition | Scoop.it

The mind relies on the world as a better record than memory, and usually that's a good assumption.

 

As a result, philosophers have suggested that the mind is designed to spread itself out over the environment. So much so that, they suggest, the thinking is really happening in the environment as much as it is happening in our brains. The philosopher Andy Clark called humans "natural born cyborgs", beings with minds that naturally incorporate new tools, ideas and abilities. From Clark's perspective, the route to a solution is not the issue – having the right tools really does mean you know the answers, just as much as already knowing the answer

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21st Century Enlightenment

21st Century Enlightenment | cognition | Scoop.it
Matthew Taylor explores the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, and how the idea might help us meet the challenges we face today. At the heart of this t
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Xaos's curator insight, December 24, 2012 2:15 AM

Matthew Taylor explores the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, and how the idea might help us meet the challenges we face today.

At the heart of this talk about the future prospects for the human race is the question ‘can we go on like this?’ Will the ideas and values which transformed our world in the last two centuries be sufficient to find solutions to the challenges we now face or do we need new ways of thinking?

The focus on 21st century enlightenment invites us to return to core principles of autonomy, universalism and humanism, restoring dimensions which have been lost and seeing new ways to fulfill these ideals.

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Eight Shocking Quotes from 2012 that will Redefine Our Future | World Future Society

Eight Shocking Quotes from 2012 that will Redefine Our Future | World Future Society | cognition | Scoop.it

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Xaos's curator insight, December 16, 2012 11:56 AM

“We have ability to solve almost all of man’s grand challenges within the next 30 years.” – Peter Diamandis, Founder of the X-Prize Foundation.

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The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty

The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty | cognition | Scoop.it
Are you more honest than a banker? Under what circumstances would you lie, or cheat, and what effect does your deception have on society at large? Dan Arie
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Understanding Is A Poor Substitute For Convexity (antifragility) | Conversation | Edge

Understanding Is A Poor Substitute For Convexity (antifragility) | Conversation | Edge | cognition | Scoop.it
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Further, it is in complex systems, ones in which we have little visibility of the chains of cause-consequences, that tinkering, bricolage, or similar variations of trial and error have been shown to vastly outperform the teleological—it is nature's modus operandi. But tinkering needs to be convex; it is imperative. Take the most opaque of all, cooking, which relies entirely on the heuristics of trial and error, as it has not been possible for us to design a dish directly from chemical equations or reverse-engineer a taste from nutritional labels. We take hummus, add an ingredient, say a spice, taste to see if there is an improvement from the complex interaction, and retain if we like the addition or discard the rest. Critically we have the option, not the obligation to keep the result, which allows us to retain the upper bound and be unaffected by adverse outcomes.

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A Question for the Holiday Season: Who among Us Identifies with All of Humanity?: Scientific American

A Question for the Holiday Season: Who among Us Identifies with All of Humanity?: Scientific American | cognition | Scoop.it
Psychologists discover a new element of religious—and political—impulses
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Quote: Ascale developed by psychologists Sam McFarland, Matthew Webb, and Derek Brown at Western Kentucky University measures the degree to which people identify with all humans, not just their kin, local communities, or other assorted in-groups.

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Texts and Tweets: Myths and Realities

Texts and Tweets: Myths and Realities | cognition | Scoop.it
Professor David Crystal, one of the world's leading linguistic experts, challenges the myth that new communication technologies are destroying language.
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As I Get Older, Why Does My Memory for Names Seem to Deteriorate?: Scientific American

As I Get Older, Why Does My Memory for Names Seem to Deteriorate?: Scientific American | cognition | Scoop.it

Vivid, accurate memory is actually a hard trick to pull off for the human brain.

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool

Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The future will not be cool | cognition | Scoop.it
Close your eyes and try to imagine your future surroundings in, say, five, 10 or 25 years. Odds are your imagination will produce new things in it, things we call innovation, improvements, killer technologies and other inelegant and hackneyed words from the business jargon. These common concepts concerning innovation, we will see, are not just offensive aesthetically, but they are nonsense both empirically and philosophically.

Why? Odds are that your imagination will be adding things to the present world. I am sorry, but this approach is exactly backward: the way to do it rigorously is to take away from the future, reduce from it, simply, things that do not belong to the coming times.

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Poor Us: an animated history - Why Poverty

Poor Us: an animated history - Why Poverty | cognition | Scoop.it
Amazing documentaries about poverty. Stories that encourage people to start asking questions about poverty. Watch the films and add your voice to the debate.
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Raising Darwin’s Consciousness: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy on the Evolutionary Lessons of Motherhood | The Primate Diaries, Scientific American Blog Network

Raising Darwin’s Consciousness: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy on the Evolutionary Lessons of Motherhood | The Primate Diaries, Scientific American Blog Network | cognition | Scoop.it

The recent approach her work has taken with Mothers and Others: The Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding offers nothing less than a reorientation of what it means to be human. If, as Hrdy proposes, we are a species that has thrived as a result of cooperative breeding–a childrearing strategy in which a network of individuals helps to raise a healthy child–it challenges many of the individualist assumptions that Western society is based on, particularly in the United States. How we can shift our society to reemphasize community will be the project that this generation will grapple with. Fortunately, there are scholars like Hrdy to offer their insight so that we won’t feel all alone while we do.

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Collective Intelligence | Conversation | Edge

Collective Intelligence | Conversation | Edge | cognition | Scoop.it

THOMAS W. MALONE is the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. He was also the founding director of the MIT Center for Coordination Science and one of the two founding co-directors of the MIT Initiative on "Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century".

Pretty much everything I'm doing now falls under the broad umbrella that I'd call collective intelligence. What does collective intelligence mean? It's important to realize that intelligence is not just something that happens inside individual brains. It also arises with groups of individuals. In fact, I'd define collective intelligence as groups of individuals acting collectively in ways that seem intelligent. By that definition, of course, collective intelligence has been around for a very long time. Families, companies, countries, and armies: those are all examples of groups of people working together in ways that at least sometimes seem intelligent.


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