Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes research on intelligence and behavior, especially focusing on how information is represented, processed, and transformed (in faculties such as perception, language, memory, reasoning, and emotion) within nervous systems (human or other animal) and machines (e.g. computers). Cognitive science consists of multiple research disciplines, including psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is "that thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures." Wikipedia (en)
This question begins Alan Turing's paper 'Computing Machinery and Intelligence' (1950). However he found the form of the question unhelpful, that even the process of defining 'machines' and 'think' in common terms would be dangerous, as it could mistakenly lead one to think the answer can be obtained from some kind of statistical survey.
Did you know that 63-65 percent of Americans think we're spending too little on welfare? Well, as long as the polls calls it "assistance to the poor." Use the word "welfare", and that number drops to 20-25 percent. Yeah, as we've mentioned before, just the way you word a question can change people's opinion on important matters, but, at least, this isn't a U.S.-only problem: The entire human race sucks at democracy. And we can't even help it because ...
Magic illusions provide the perceptual and cognitive scientist with a toolbox of experimental manipulations and testable hypotheses about the building blocks of conscious experience. Here we studied several sleight-of-hand manipulations in the performance of the classic “Cups and Balls” magic trick (where balls appear and disappear inside upside-down opaque cups). We examined a version inspired by the entertainment duo Penn & Teller, conducted with three opaque and subsequently with three transparent cups. Magician Teller used his right hand to load (i.e. introduce surreptitiously) a small ball inside each of two upside-down cups, one at a time, while using his left hand to remove a different ball from the upside-down bottom of the cup. The sleight at the third cup involved one of six manipulations: (a) standard maneuver, (b) standard maneuver without a third ball, (c) ball placed on the table, (d) ball lifted, (e) ball dropped to the floor, and (f) ball stuck to the cup. Seven subjects watched the videos of the performances while reporting, via button press, whenever balls were removed from the cups/table (button “1”) or placed inside the cups/on the table (button “2”). Subjects’ perception was more accurate with transparent than with opaque cups. Perceptual performance was worse for the conditions where the ball was placed on the table, or stuck to the cup, than for the standard maneuver. The condition in which the ball was lifted displaced the subjects’ gaze position the most, whereas the condition in which there was no ball caused the smallest gaze displacement. Training improved the subjects’ perceptual performance. Occlusion of the magician’s face did not affect the subjects’ perception, suggesting that gaze misdirection does not play a strong role in the Cups and Balls illusion. Our results have implications for how to optimize the performance of this classic magic trick, and for the types of hand and object motion that maximize magic misdirection.
It's amazing what a rigged game of Monopoly can reveal. In this entertaining but sobering talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares his research into how people behave when they feel wealthy. (Hint: badly.) But while the problem of inequality is a complex and daunting challenge, there's good news too. (Filmed at TEDxMarin.)
To maintain stability yet retain the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, social systems must strike a balance between the maintenance of a shared reality and the survival of minority opinion. A computational model is presented that investigates the interplay of two basic, oppositional social processes—conformity and anticonformity—in promoting the emergence of this balance. Computer simulations employing a cellular automata platform tested hypotheses concerning the survival of minority opinion and the maintenance of system stability for different proportions of anticonformity. Results revealed that a relatively small proportion of anticonformists facilitated the survival of a minority opinion held by a larger number of conformists who would otherwise succumb to pressures for social consensus. Beyond a critical threshold, however, increased proportions of anticonformists undermined social stability. Understanding the adaptive benefits of balanced oppositional forces has implications for optimal functioning in psychological and social processes in general.
Observing that the creation of certain types of artistic artifacts necessitate intelligence, we present the Lovelace 2.0 Test of creativity as an alternative to the Turing Test as a means of determining whether an agent is intelligent. The Lovelace 2.0 Test builds off prior tests of creativity and additionally provides a means of directly comparing the relative intelligence of different agents.
Recent studies (e.g., Kuhn and Tatler, 2005) have suggested that magic tricks can provide a powerful and compelling domain for the study of attention and perception. In particular, many stage illusions involve attentional misdirection, guiding the observer's gaze to a salient object or event, while another critical action, such as sleight of hand, is taking place. Even if the critical action takes place in full view, people typically fail to see it due to inattentional blindness (IB). In an eye-tracking experiment, participants watched videos of a new magic trick, wherein a coin placed beneath a napkin disappears, reappearing under a different napkin. Appropriately deployed attention would allow participants to detect the “secret” event that underlies the illusion (a moving coin), as it happens in full view and is visible for approximately 550 ms. Nevertheless, we observed high rates of IB. Unlike prior research, eye-movements during the critical event showed different patterns for participants, depending upon whether they saw the moving coin. The results also showed that when participants watched several “practice” videos without any moving coin, they became far more likely to detect the coin in the critical trial. Taken together, the findings are consistent with perceptual load theory (Lavie and Tsal, 1994).
PARIS – There was the psychotic HAL 9000 computer in “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
The humanoids that attacked their flesh-and-blood masters in “I, Robot.”
And, of course, “The Terminator,” where a robot is sent into the past to kill a woman whose son will end the tyranny of the machines in the future.
Never far from the surface, a dark, dystopian view of artificial intelligence (AI) has returned to the headlines thanks to British physicist Stephen Hawking.
“The primitive forms of artificial intelligence we already have, have proved very useful. But I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking told the BBC.
“Once humans develop artificial intelligence it would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said.
Perpetually happy individuals are wonderful to have around, until you experience something worth complaining about. Recent research in PLOS ONE suggests that people who are generally cheerful are not so great at reading other people's negative emotions, though what's especially interesting is that they think they're very good at it.
More from Science of Us: Grumpy People Get The Details Right
Researchers asked the participants both how happy they tended to be from day to day and how empathetic they considered themselves.
The cheerier volunteers tended to tell the researchers that they were more empathetic, too, when compared to their not-quite-so-happy study subject counterparts. Alex Fradera, in a post at the British Psychological Society's Research Digest, describes what happened next:
•Literature suggests negativity bias might underlie variations in political views•fMRI responses to disgusting images accurately predict political orientation•Self-reports about affective images are not predictive of their political views•Single-stimulus data can reliably classify conservatives from liberals
An agent-based simulation model (ABM) is developed and implemented using Python to explore the emergence of intragenerational and intergenerational skill inequality at the societal level that results from differences in parental investment behavior at the household level during early stages of the life course. Parental behavior is modeled as optimal, heuristic-based, or norm-oriented. Skills grow according to the technology of skill formation developed in the field of economics, calibrated with empirically estimated parameters from existing research. Agents go through a simplified life course. During childhood and adolescence, skills are produced through parental investments. In adulthood, individuals find a partner, give birth to the next generation, and invest in offspring. Number and spacing of children and available resources are treated as exogenous factors and are varied experimentally. Simulation experiments suggest that parental decisions at the household level play a role in the emergence of inequality at the societal level. Being egalitarian or not is the most important distinction in parental investment behavior, while optimizing parents generate similar results as egalitarian parents. Furthermore, there is a tradeoff between equality at home and inequality at the macro-level. Changes in the environment reduce or exacerbate inequality depending on parental investment behavior. One prediction of the model on intragenerational inequality in cognitive skills was validated with the use of empirical data. The simulation can best be described as a middle-range model, informed by research on skill formation and the intrahousehold allocation of resources. It is a first step toward more complex ABMs on inequality from a life course perspective. Possible model extensions are suggested. The Overview, Design Concepts, and Details (ODD) protocol and Design of Experiments (DOE) were used to document the model and set up the experimental design respectively.
Peer review is ubiquitous in modern science: from the evaluation of publications to the distribution of funding. While there is a long tradition of, and many arguments for, peer review as a beneficial and necessary component of scientific processes, the exponential growth of the research community, the 'publish or perish' pressures and increasing insecurity and competition for research grants have led to an increasing number of voices describing the weaknesses of the system. One of the most frequent accusations against the peer review system is that it inhibits true innovation. The availability of better data mining tools allows interested stakeholders, in principle, to monitor many aspects of the process and to promote a better understanding of the interplay of various factors. 'In principle' – because a lot of information is hidden behind the screens of anonymity and confidentiality. Our work presents an attempt at a theoretical understanding of some aspects of the process via an idealized agent-based model, which describes the effects of the peer review done by 'imperfect' agents, in particular with respect to promotion of mediocrity and to formation of self-serving cliques. The results of the model suggest that both phenomena can be quite robust and require careful monitoring of the system to combat their negative effects. Some mitigating measures are simulated and discussed.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A trolley carrying five school children is headed for a cliff. You happen to be standing at the switch, and you could save their lives by diverting the trolley to another track. But there he is – an innocent fat man, picking daisies on that second track, oblivious to the rolling thunder (potentially) hurtling his way. Divert the trolley, and you save the kids and kill a person. Do nothing, and you have killed no one but five children are dead. Which is the greater moral good?
Most of us think we know some basic facts about how time works. The facts we believe we know are based on a few intuitions about time, which are, in turn, based on our conscious waking experiences. As far as I can tell, these intuitions about time are something like this: 1) There is a physical world in which events occur, 2) These events are mirrored by our perceptual re-creation of them in essentially the same order in which they occur in the physical world, 3) This re-creation of events occurs in a linear order based on our conscious memory of them (e.g., event A is said to occur before event B if at some point we do remember event A but we don not yet remember event B, and at another point we remember both events), 4) Assuming we have good memories, what we remember has occurred in the past and what we don not remember but we can imagine might: a) never occur, b) occur when we are not conscious, or c) occur in the future. These intuitions are excellent ones for understanding our conscious conception of ordered events. However, they do not tell us anything about how the non-conscious processes in our brains navigate events in time. Currently, neuroscientists assume that neural processes of which we are unaware, that is, non-conscious processes, create conscious awareness as a reflection of physical reality (Singer, 2015). Thus, if we wish to understand how events unfold in time in the physical world, we would do well to attempt to get some hints about how these events are navigated by non-conscious processes.
Not wanting to risk another run-in that night, Pitts stayed hidden until the library closed for the evening. Alone, he wandered through the stacks of books until he came across Principia Mathematica, a three-volume tome written by Bertrand Russell and Alfred Whitehead between 1910 and 1913, which attempted to reduce all of mathematics to pure logic. Pitts sat down and began to read. For three days he remained in the library until he had read each volume cover to cover—nearly 2,000 pages in all—and had identified several mistakes. Deciding that Bertrand Russell himself needed to know about these, the boy drafted a letter to Russell detailing the errors. Not only did Russell write back, he was so impressed that he invited Pitts to study with him as a graduate student at Cambridge University in England. Pitts couldn’t oblige him, though—he was only 12 years old. But three years later, when he heard that Russell would be visiting the University of Chicago, the 15-year-old ran away from home and headed for Illinois. He never saw his family again.
Since that day, empathy has become my touchstone in everything I do. I have created lessons, given talks, conducted workshops, and been interviewed numerous times on the subject of empathy.
Often, when working with others on this topic, it feels as if on that early winter’s day in 1989, in that small elementary school built in the 1930’s, I was given a glimpse into my life’s work: to teach how empathy in practice brings to life one of life’s greatest lessons: To treat others the way you would like to be treated.
I review the data on human visual perception that reveal the critical role played by non-visual contextual factors influencing visual activity. The global perspective that progressively emerges reveals that vision is sensitive to multiple couplings with other systems whose nature and levels of abstraction in science are highly variable. Contrary to some views where vision is immersed in modular hard-wired modules, rather independent from higher-level or other non-cognitive processes, converging data gathered in this article suggest that visual perception can be theorized in the larger context of biological, physical, and social systems with which it is coupled, and through which it is enacted. Therefore, any attempt to model complexity and multiscale couplings, or to develop a complex synthesis in the fields of mind, brain, and behavior, shall involve a systematic empirical study of both connectedness between systems or subsystems, and the embodied, multiscale and flexible teleology of subsystems. The conceptual model (MEM) that is introduced in this paper finally relates empirical evidence gathered from psychology to biocomputational data concerning the human brain. Both psychological and biocomputational descriptions of MEM are proposed in order to help fill in the gap between scales of scientific analysis and to provide an account for both the autopoiesis-driven search for information, and emerging perception.
Abstract: Moral intuitions operate in much the same way as other intuitions do; what makes the moral domain so distinctive is its foundations in the emotions, beliefs, and response tendencies that define indignation. The intuitive system of cognition, System I, is typically responsible for indignation; the more reflective system, System II, may or may not provide an override. Moral dumbfounding and moral numbness are often a product of moral intuitions that people are unable to justify. An understanding of indignation helps to explain the operation of many phenomena of interest to law and politics: the outrage heuristic, the centrality of harm, the role of reference states, moral framing, and the act-omission distinction. Because of the operation of indignation, it is extremely difficult for people to achieve coherence in their moral intuitions. Legal and political institutions usually aspire to be deliberative, and to pay close attention to System II; but even in deliberative institutions, System I can make some compelling demands.
The literature has been relatively silent about post-conflict processes. However, understanding the way humans deal with post-conflict situations is a challenge in our societies. With this in mind, we focus the present study on the rationality of cooperative decision making after an intergroup conflict, i.e., the extent to which groups take advantage of post-conflict situations to obtain benefits from collaborating with the other group involved in the conflict. Based on dual-process theories of thinking and affect heuristic, we propose that intergroup conflict hinders the rationality of cooperative decision making. We also hypothesize that this rationality improves when groups are involved in an in-group deliberative discussion. Results of a laboratory experiment support the idea that intergroup conflict –associated with indicators of the activation of negative feelings (negative affect state and heart rate)– has a negative effect on the aforementioned rationality over time and on both group and individual decision making. Although intergroup conflict leads to sub-optimal decision making, rationality improves when groups and individuals subjected to intergroup conflict make decisions after an in-group deliberative discussion. Additionally, the increased rationality of the group decision making after the deliberative discussion is transferred to subsequent individual decision making.
This is the second article in a series, How we make decisions, which explores our decision-making processes. How well do we consider all factors involved in a decision, and what helps and what holds us…
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