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Insects inspiring new technology

Insects inspiring new technology | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Scientists from the University of Lincoln and Newcastle University have created a computerised system which allows for autonomous navigation of mobile robots based on the locust’s unique visual system.

The work could provide the blueprint for the development of highly accurate vehicle collision sensors, surveillance technology and even aid video game programming according to the research published today.

Locusts have a distinctive way of processing information through electrical and chemical signals, giving them an extremely fast and accurate warning system for impending collisions.

The insect has incredibly powerful data processing systems built into its biology, which can in theory be recreated in robotics.

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Social Foraging
Dynamics of Social Interaction
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Properties of artificial networks evolved to contend with natural spectra

Properties of artificial networks evolved to contend with natural spectra | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Understanding why spectra that are physically the same appear different in different contexts (color contrast), whereas spectra that are physically different appear similar (color constancy) presents a major challenge in vision research. Here, we show that the responses of biologically inspired neural networks evolved on the basis of accumulated experience with spectral stimuli automatically generate contrast and constancy. The results imply that these phenomena are signatures of a strategy that biological vision uses to circumvent the inverse optics problem as it pertains to light spectra, and that double-opponent neurons in early-level vision evolve to serve this purpose. This strategy provides a way of understanding the peculiar relationship between the objective world and subjective color experience, as well as rationalizing the relevant visual circuitry without invoking feature detection or image representation.

 
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Origin and Structure of Dynamic Cooperative Networks

Origin and Structure of Dynamic Cooperative Networks | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Societies are built on social interactions among individuals. Cooperation represents the simplest form of a social interaction: one individual provides a benefit to another one at a cost to itself. Social networks represent a dynamical abstraction of social interactions in a society. The behaviour of an individual towards others and of others towards the individual shape the individual's neighbourhood and hence the local structure of the social network. Here we propose a simple theoretical framework to model dynamic social networks by focussing on each individual's actions instead of interactions between individuals. This eliminates the traditional dichotomy between the strategy of individuals and the structure of the population and easily complements empirical studies. As a consequence, altruists, egoists and fair types are naturally determined by the local social structures, while globally egalitarian networks or stratified structures arise. Cooperative interactions drive the emergence and shape the structure of social networks.
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Predicting fruit fly’s sensing rate with insect flight simulations

Predicting fruit fly’s sensing rate with insect flight simulations | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Without sensory feedback, flies cannot fly. Exactly how various feedback controls work in insects is a complex puzzle to solve. What do insects measure to stabilize their flight? How often and how fast must insects adjust their wings to remain stable? To gain insights into algorithms used by insects to control their dynamic instability, we develop a simulation tool to study free flight. To stabilize flight, we construct a control algorithm that modulates wing motion based on discrete measurements of the body-pitch orientation. Our simulations give theoretical bounds on both the sensing rate and the delay time between sensing and actuation. Interpreting our findings together with experimental results on fruit flies’ reaction time and sensory motor reflexes, we conjecture that fruit flies sense their kinematic states every wing beat to stabilize their flight. We further propose a candidate for such a control involving the fly’s haltere and first basalar motor neuron. Although we focus on fruit flies as a case study, the framework for our simulation and discrete control algorithms is applicable to studies of both natural and man-made fliers.

 
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Accurate decisions in an uncertain world: collective cognition increases true positives while decreasing false positives

Accurate decisions in an uncertain world: collective cognition increases true positives while decreasing false positives | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

In a wide range of contexts, including predator avoidance, medical decision-making and security screening, decision accuracy is fundamentally constrained by the trade-off between true and false positives. Increased true positives are possible only at the cost of increased false positives; conversely, decreased false positives are associated with decreased true positives. We use an integrated theoretical and experimental approach to show that a group of decision-makers can overcome this basic limitation. Using a mathematical model, we show that a simple quorum decision rule enables individuals in groups to simultaneously increase true positives and decrease false positives. The results from a predator-detection experiment that we performed with humans are in line with these predictions: (i) after observing the choices of the other group members, individuals both increase true positives and decrease false positives, (ii) this effect gets stronger as group size increases, (iii) individuals use a quorum threshold set between the average true- and false-positive rates of the other group members, and (iv) individuals adjust their quorum adaptively to the performance of the group. Our results have broad implications for our understanding of the ecology and evolution of group-living animals and lend themselves for applications in the human domain such as the design of improved screening methods in medical, forensic, security and business applications.

 
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A texture-processing model of the ‘visual sense of number’

A texture-processing model of the ‘visual sense of number’ | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

It has been suggested that numerosity is an elementary quality of perception, similar to colour. If so (and despite considerable investigation), its mechanism remains unknown. Here, we show that observers require on average a massive difference of approximately 40% to detect a change in the number of objects that vary irrelevantly in blur, contrast and spatial separation, and that some naive observers require even more than this. We suggest that relative numerosity is a type of texture discrimination and that a simple model computing the contrast energy at fine spatial scales in the image can perform at least as well as human observers. Like some human observers, this mechanism finds it harder to discriminate relative numerosity in two patterns with different degrees of blur, but it still outpaces the human. We propose energy discrimination as a benchmark model against which more complex models and new data can be tested.

 
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The Effects of Within- and Between-Group Competition on Trust and Trustworthiness among Acquaintances

The Effects of Within- and Between-Group Competition on Trust and Trustworthiness among Acquaintances | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Several studies have indicated that between-group competition is a key stimulator of trust and trustworthiness. Another important but neglected type of competition may also affect trust and trustworthiness: within-group competition, especially competition among acquaintances. The present study investigated the effects of both within- and between-group competition on trust and trustworthiness, which were measured using an investment game played by acquaintances. We found that, compared to the participants' performance in the non-competition condition, when individuals were motivated to compete with their in-group members or the other groups for financial rewards, they demonstrated more trust. When individuals were motivated to compete with their in-group members, they exhibited lower trustworthiness than in non-competition and between-group competition. In addition, within-group competition decreased the trustor's payoff while both within- and between- group competition increased the trustee's payoff. Finally, we found that males trusted their group members more than females.

 
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Say Hello to the Robotic Personal Assistant of Your Dreams

Say Hello to the Robotic Personal Assistant of Your Dreams | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Born from MIT's Media Lab, 'Jibo' can take photos, remind you of important dates and events and, more importantly, interact with you and learn about you.
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What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime

What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

 

http://on.ted.com/sz7m


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How collective comparisons emerge without individual comparisons of the options

Collective decisions in animal groups emerge from the actions of individuals who are unlikely to have global information. Comparative assessment of options can be valuable in decision-making. Ant colonies are excellent collective decision-makers, for example when selecting a new nest-site.


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Designing for Success: Creating Business Value with Mobile User Experience (UX)

Designing for Success: Creating Business Value with Mobile User Experience (UX) | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The popularity of mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, provides both new opportunities and challenges for companies. Mobile devices allow companies to reach users anywhere, anytime; however, these devices present the challenge of designing websites that can adapt to smaller screen sizes. Because competition is shifting more and more toward user experience, creating a positive mobile experience is becoming increasingly important in maintaining a competitive edge in the market place. To address this issue, we measured the user experience of an actual e-commerce website before and after it was optimized for mobile devices and used Google Analytics to follow user behavior. The results suggested that optimized websites are likely to have a major positive impact on the ROI for a company.

 
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Cultural Divergence in Website Interaction Spanish vs. English

Cultural Divergence in Website Interaction Spanish vs. English | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Our perception of the world around us is based on our knowledge and experiences. Web design has used this concept to improve websites by matching expectations derived from the knowledge and experience to design concepts. Understanding the role culture plays in perception of websites needs to be better understood. This paper uses eye-tracking gaze patterns (ETMAP) in conjunction with a cultural identification survey (ARSMA-II) to explore divergences between American and Latino-Americans. Our results suggest a relationship between sequential reading and scanning behaviors with acculturation scores. While these results demonstrate that the methodology has potential, the findings need to be confirmed in future studies.

 
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Towards Personalized Multilingual Information Access - Exploring the Browsing and Search Behavior of Multilingual Users

Towards Personalized Multilingual Information Access - Exploring the Browsing and Search Behavior of Multilingual Users | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The shift from the originally English-language-dominated web towards a truly global world wide web has generated a pressing need to develop novel solutions that address multilingual user diversity. In particular, many web users today are polyglots, i.e. they are proficient in more than one language. However, little is known about the browsing and search habits of such users, and even less about how to best assist their multilingual behaviors through appropriate systems and tools. In order to gain a better understanding, this paper presents a survey of 385 polyglot web users, focusing specifically on the relationship between multiple language proficiency and browsing/search language choice. Results from the survey indicate that polyglot users make significant use of multiple languages during their daily browsing and searching, and that contextual factors such as language proficiency, usage purpose, and topic domain have a significant influence on their language choice and frequency. The paper provides a detailed analysis regarding each of these factors, and offers insights about how to support multilingual users through novelPersonalized Multilingual Information Access systems.

 
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Time-Sensitive User Profile for Optimizing Search Personlization

Time-Sensitive User Profile for Optimizing Search Personlization | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Thanks to social Web services, Web search engines have the opportunity to afford personalized search results that better fit the user’s information needs and interests. To achieve this goal, many personalized search approaches explore user’s social Web interactions to extract his preferences and interests, and use them to model his profile. In our approach, the user profile is implicitly represented as a vector of weighted terms which correspond to the user’s interests extracted from his online social activities. As the user interests may change over time, we propose to weight profiles terms not only according to the content of these activities but also by considering the freshness. More precisely, the weights are adjusted with a temporal feature. In order to evaluate our approach, we model the user profile according to data collected from Twitter. Then, we rerank initial search results accurately to the user profile. Moreover, we proved the significance of adding a temporal feature by comparing our method with baselines models that does not consider the user profile dynamics.

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Using sociometers to quantify social interaction patterns

Using sociometers to quantify social interaction patterns | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Research on human social interactions has traditionally relied on self-reports. Despite their widespread use, self-reported accounts of behaviour are prone to biases and necessarily reduce the range of behaviours, and the number of subjects, that may be studied simultaneously. The development of ever smaller sensors makes it possible to study group-level human behaviour in naturalistic settings outside research laboratories. We used such sensors, sociometers, to examine gender, talkativeness and interaction style in two different contexts. Here, we find that in the collaborative context, women were much more likely to be physically proximate to other women and were also significantly more talkative than men, especially in small groups. In contrast, there were no gender-based differences in the non-collaborative setting. Our results highlight the importance of objective measurement in the study of human behaviour, here enabling us to discern context specific, gender-based differences in interaction style.
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Detecting Communities Based on Network Topology

Detecting Communities Based on Network Topology | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Network methods have had profound influence in many domains and disciplines in the past decade. Community structure is a very important property of complex networks, but the accurate definition of a community remains an open problem. Here we defined community based on three properties, and then propose a simple and novel framework to detect communities based on network topology. We analyzed 16 different types of networks, and compared our partitions with Infomap, LPA, Fastgreedy and Walktrap, which are popular algorithms for community detection. Most of the partitions generated using our approach compare favorably to those generated by these other algorithms. Furthermore, we define overlapping nodes that combine community structure with shortest paths. We also analyzed the E. Coli. transcriptional regulatory network in detail, and identified modules with strong functional coherence.

  
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Why do honeybees love hexagons? - Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson

Why do honeybees love hexagons? - Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Honeybees are some of nature’s finest mathematicians. Not only can they calculate angles and comprehend the roundness of the earth, these smart insects build and live in one of the most mathematically efficient architectural designs around: the beehive. Zack Patterson and Andy Peterson delve into the very smart geometry behind the honeybee’s home.
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Rationality in collective decision-making by ant colonies

Rationality in collective decision-making by ant colonies | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Economic models of animal behaviour assume that decision-makers are rational, meaning that they assess options according to intrinsic fitness value and not by comparison with available alternatives. This expectation is frequently violated, but the significance of irrational behaviour remains controversial. One possibility is that irrationality arises from cognitive constraints that necessitate short cuts like comparative evaluation. If so, the study of whether and when irrationality occurs can illuminate cognitive mechanisms. We applied this logic in a novel setting: the collective decisions of insect societies. We tested for irrationality in colonies of Temnothorax ants choosing between two nest sites that varied in multiple attributes, such that neither site was clearly superior. In similar situations, individual animals show irrational changes in preference when a third relatively unattractive option is introduced. In contrast, we found no such effect in colonies. We suggest that immunity to irrationality in this case may result from the ants’ decentralized decision mechanism. A colony's choice does not depend on site comparison by individuals, but instead self-organizes from the interactions of multiple ants, most of which are aware of only a single site. This strategy may filter out comparative effects, preventing systematic errors that would otherwise arise from the cognitive limitations of individuals.

 
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Bridging the Mechanical and the Human Mind: Spontaneous Mimicry of a Physically Present Android

Bridging the Mechanical and the Human Mind: Spontaneous Mimicry of a Physically Present Android | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

The spontaneous mimicry of others' emotional facial expressions constitutes a rudimentary form of empathy and facilitates social understanding. Here, we show that human participants spontaneously match facial expressions of an android physically present in the room with them. This mimicry occurs even though these participants find the android unsettling and are fully aware that it lacks intentionality. Interestingly, a video of that same android elicits weaker mimicry reactions, occurring only in participants who find the android “humanlike.” These findings suggest that spontaneous mimicry depends on the salience of humanlike features highlighted by face-to-face contact, emphasizing the role of presence in human-robot interaction. Further, the findings suggest that mimicry of androids can dissociate from knowledge of artificiality and experienced emotional unease. These findings have implications for theoretical debates about the mechanisms of imitation. They also inform creation of future robots that effectively build rapport and engagement with their human users.

 
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The future lies in uncertainty

 

Statisticians have celebrated a lot recently. 2013 marked the 300th anniversary of Jacob Bernoulli's Ars Conjectandi, which used probability theory to explore the properties of statistics as more observations were taken. It was also the 250th anniversary of Thomas Bayes' essay on how humans can sequentially learn from experience, steadily updating their beliefs as more data become available (1). And it was the International Year of Statistics (2). Now that the bunting has been taken down, it is a good time to take stock of recent developments in statistical science and examine its role in the age of Big Data.
Much enthusiasm for statistics hangs on the ever-increasing availability of large data sets, particularly when something has to be ranked or classified. These situations arise, for example, when deciding which book to recommend, working out where your arm is when practicing golf swings in front of a games console, or (if you're a security agency) deciding whose private e-mail to read first. Purely data-based approaches, under the title of machine-learning, have been highly successful in speech recognition, real-time interpretation of moving images, and online translation.

 

The future lies in uncertainty
. D. J. Spiegelhalter

Science 18 July 2014:
Vol. 345 no. 6194 pp. 264-265
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1251122


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“Predicting the past is very easy. Predicting the future is not so easy” -Ignacio Méndez

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A Data-Driven Approach to Reverse Engineering Customer Engagement Models: Towards Functional Constructs

A Data-Driven Approach to Reverse Engineering Customer Engagement Models: Towards Functional Constructs | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Online consumer behavior in general and online customer engagement with brands in particular, has become a major focus of research activity fuelled by the exponential increase of interactive functions of the internet and social media platforms and applications. Current research in this area is mostly hypothesis-driven and much debate about the concept of Customer Engagement and its related constructs remains existent in the literature. In this paper, we aim to propose a novel methodology for reverse engineering a consumer behavior model for online customer engagement, based on a computational and data-driven perspective. This methodology could be generalized and prove useful for future research in the fields of consumer behaviors using questionnaire data or studies investigating other types of human behaviors. The method we propose contains five main stages; symbolic regression analysis, graph building, community detection, evaluation of results and finally, investigation of directed cycles and common feedback loops. The ‘communities’ of questionnaire items that emerge from our community detection method form possible ‘functional constructs’ inferred from data rather than assumed from literature and theory. Our results show consistent partitioning of questionnaire items into such ‘functional constructs’ suggesting the method proposed here could be adopted as a new data-driven way of human behavior modeling.

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Coaction versus reciprocity in continuous-time models of cooperation

Cooperating animals frequently show closely coordinated behaviours organized by a continuous flow of information between interacting partners. Such real-time coaction is not captured by the iterated prisoner׳s dilemma and other discrete-time reciprocal cooperation games, which inherently feature a delay in information exchange. Here, we study the evolution of cooperation when individuals can dynamically respond to each other׳s actions.


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Poisson-Like Spiking in Circuits with Probabilistic Synapses

Poisson-Like Spiking in Circuits with Probabilistic Synapses | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Neuronal activity in cortex is variable both spontaneously and during stimulation, and it has the remarkable property that it is Poisson-like over broad ranges of firing rates covering from virtually zero to hundreds of spikes per second. The mechanisms underlying cortical-like spiking variability over such a broad continuum of rates are currently unknown. We show that neuronal networks endowed with probabilistic synaptic transmission, a well-documented source of variability in cortex, robustly generate Poisson-like variability over several orders of magnitude in their firing rate without fine-tuning of the network parameters. Other sources of variability, such as random synaptic delays or spike generation jittering, do not lead to Poisson-like variability at high rates because they cannot be sufficiently amplified by recurrent neuronal networks. We also show that probabilistic synapses predict Fano factor constancy of synaptic conductances. Our results suggest that synaptic noise is a robust and sufficient mechanism for the type of variability found in cortex.

 

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Reasons for Using Social Networks Professionally - The Influence of User Diversity on Usage Motivation

Reasons for Using Social Networks Professionally - The Influence of User Diversity on Usage Motivation | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Since the success of social media in private usage settings, social media applications spread rapidly in the working context. In business internal contexts these applications seem useful as a measure for strategic knowledge management. Social media in this context promises to offer adequate facilities to support a systematic storage of knowledge as well as a support of knowledge exchange and communication in enterprises. But since social media is only successful when used, the usage motivation of employees is one central key for their success. Therefore this paper focusses on the motivation to use social media professionally. To achieve this we are investigating the influence of user diversity factors such as age, gender, and social media expertise on aspects of usage motivation. In a study with N=84 the employees of an enterprise were asked which reasons for using social media are relevant to them. Findings show that both factors age and gender reveal a relatively low influence on the factors evaluation of usage motives, tools (as a measure for motivation), and incentives/reinforcements for social network usage. In contrast both expertise with social media and achievement motivation revealed many correlations with both usage motives and tools as well as incentives and reinforcements.

 
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Practical Eye Tracking of the Ecommerce Website User Experience

Practical Eye Tracking of the Ecommerce Website User Experience | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Eye tracking is a productive tool in researching the user experience of ecommerce websites. Because information throughout the online path to purchase is communicated visually, gaze behavior is among the most effective and informative means of testing the extent to which a given ecommerce site facilitates a smooth transaction. The process of analysis typically involves examining the characteristics and patterns of visual attention during the online shopping process. Eye-tracking metrics are used in conjunction with data-based visualizations and traditional usability techniques to answer a variety of questions about the online shopping process. Principles of appropriate design, execution and analysis of an ecommerce eye-tracking study are discussed, along with relevant case examples.

 
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Sparrows and Owls: Characterisation of Expert Behaviour in StackOverflow

Sparrows and Owls: Characterisation of Expert Behaviour in StackOverflow | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Question Answering platforms are becoming an important repository of crowd-generated knowledge. In these systems a relatively small subset of users is responsible for the majority of the contributions, and ultimately, for the success of the Q/A system itself. However, due to built-in incentivization mechanisms, standard expert identification methods often misclassify very active users for knowledgable ones, and misjudge activeness for expertise. This paper contributes a novel metric for expert identification, which provides a better characterisation of users’ expertise by focusing on the quality of their contributions. We identify two classes of relevant users, namelysparrows and owls, and we describe several behavioural properties in the context of theStackOverflow Q/A system. Our results contribute new insights to the study of expert behaviour in Q/A platforms, that are relevant to a variety of contexts and applications.

 
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