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Social Foraging
Dynamics of Social Interaction
Curated by Ashish Umre
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Neurolaw; changes the landscape of criminal responsibility; or does it? (Part 1 of 3)

Neurolaw; changes the landscape of criminal responsibility; or does it? (Part 1 of 3) | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
One early Saturday morning in May 1987, Kenneth Parks arose from his bed and went outside to his car. He proceeded to drive the car more than 20 kilometres from Pickering, east of Toronto, to Scarborough, where his mother- and father-in-law lived.

Upon arriving at his in-laws’ house, he retrieved a tire iron from the car, entered the house, and bludgeoned his mother-in-law to death. He also nearly suffocated his father-in-law, though the man survived.

After the attack, Parks drove to a police station and told police that he thought he had killed someone. He was charged with murder and attempted murder, but he pleaded not guilty, arguing that during the entire time that morning — while driving, while attacking his in-laws and while speaking with the police — he was asleep.

One year later, a jury agreed. The jury acquitted Parks, in part as a result of evidence that electrical signals produced by his brain — as measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG) — were extremely unusual, and further evidence that such readings are, unlike a polygraph, impossible to fake.

Parks’ defence, which is known as non-insane automatism, suggests that Parks committed no voluntary act, since he was in an “automatic” state at the time — that he was, in effect, an automaton — much like an epileptic who hits someone while experiencing a seizure. As one could expect, the defence is rarely used and even more rarely successful.

Yet as the Parks case displays, neuroscience evidence can help a defendant establish the necessary elements of an automatism defence and, more broadly, can influence jurors’ — and judges’ — determination of whether a defendant should be held criminally responsible.

And while non-insane automatism remains a rare defence, the Parks case seems to suggest that, in some circumstances at least, bad biology rather than bad intentions is responsible for bad behaviour.
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The Big Problem with Big Data

The Big Problem with Big Data | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
These days it’s hard not to hear someone or the other talk about Big Data, especially if you are a journalist covering IT in Bangalore. The term always comes up in press conferences, seminars, in the power point presentations, and sometimes, even in casual conversations. The pronouncements on Big Data are often delivered with the passion of an evangelist, and arise from an awareness that every day, astronomical amounts of data get generated.

A McKinsey report, released last year, glowingly quoted an IDC analysis, saying that in 2009, 800 exabytes of data was created – “enough to fill a stack of DVDs reaching to the moon and back.” Nearly all sectors in the US economy, it said, had at least an average of 200 terabytes of stored data per company with more than 1,000 employees.
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Physicists To Test If Universe Is A Computer Simulation

Physicists To Test If Universe Is A Computer Simulation | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Physicists have devised a new experiment to test if the universe is a computer.

A philosophical thought experiment has long held that it is more likely than not that we're living inside a machine.

The theory basically goes that any civilisation which could evolve to a 'post-human' stage would almost certainly learn to run simulations on the scale of a universe. And that given the size of reality - billions of worlds, around billions of suns - it is fairly likely that if this is possible, it has already happened.

And if it has? Well, then the statistical likelihood is that we're located somewhere in that chain of simulations within simulations. The alternative - that we're the first civilisation, in the first universe - is virtually (no pun intended) absurd.

And it's not just theory. We previously reported that researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany had found evidence the Matrix was less than fiction. That story was by far our most popular of the year - indicating it's something about which you lot have wondered too.
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The Difference That Makes a Difference 2013

The Difference That Makes a Difference 2013 | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
The Difference that Makes a Difference 2013, An interdisciplinary workshop on Information: Space, Time, and Identity.

Location: The Open University and the MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, UK
Dates: 8-10 April 2013
Website: http://www.dtmd.org.uk
Via Complexity Digest
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Neuroscience offers a glimpse into the mind - and our future

Brain scans show intriguing activity among some people in persistent vegetative states

The thought that we might be removing from life support people who are fully aware of their circumstances is most troubling indeed. If only there were a way to read the minds of those whose bodies no longer work, to see if they're really "there" and if so, to ask them what they want.
Now, thanks to recent groundbreaking neuroscience research, it appears there might just be a way to peer into the minds of people who are incapable of expressing their thoughts. The research, led by Adrian Owen, formerly of the University of Cambridge and now at Western University in London, Ont., involves performing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on the brains of people diagnosed as being in a PVS.

In 2005, Owen and his colleagues scanned the brain of a 23-year-old woman who had suffered a traumatic brain injury in an automobile accident and was subsequently diagnosed as being in a PVS. While scanning the brain, Owen asked the woman to perform two different mental imagery tasks: First, she was instructed to imagine playing tennis (motor imagery task) and second, she was asked to imagine walking around her house (spatial imagery task).

When the woman was asked to perform the motor imagery task, Owen noticed significant activity in the supplementary motor area of her brain. And when she performed the spatial imagery task, Owen noticed significant activity in three areas of the brain associated with spatial imagery: the parahip-pocampal gyrus, the posterior parietal cortex and the premo-tor cortex.

The women's neural responses proved to be indistinguishable from the responses of healthy subjects who performed the same mental imagery tasks. And this suggests that the woman was capable of understanding and responding to spoken instructions. Furthermore, Owen notes that the woman's decision to cooperate with the researchers provides evidence of intention - incontrovertible evidence that, despite being diagnosed as being in a PVS, she was in fact consciously aware.
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Phase Resetting Reveals Network Dynamics Underlying a Bacterial Cell Cycle

Phase Resetting Reveals Network Dynamics Underlying a Bacterial Cell Cycle | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Genomic and proteomic methods yield networks of biological regulatory interactions but do not provide direct insight into how those interactions are organized into functional modules, or how information flows from one module to another. In this work we introduce an approach that provides this complementary information and apply it to the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, a paradigm for cell-cycle control. Operationally, we use an inducible promoter to express the essential transcriptional regulatory gene ctrA in a periodic, pulsed fashion. This chemical perturbation causes the population of cells to divide synchronously, and we use the resulting advance or delay of the division times of single cells to construct a phase resetting curve. We find that delay is strongly favored over advance. This finding is surprising since it does not follow from the temporal expression profile of CtrA and, in turn, simulations of existing network models. We propose a phenomenological model that suggests that the cell-cycle network comprises two distinct functional modules that oscillate autonomously and couple in a highly asymmetric fashion. These features collectively provide a new mechanism for tight temporal control of the cell cycle in C. crescentus. We discuss how the procedure can serve as the basis for a general approach for probing network dynamics, which we term chemical perturbation spectroscopy (CPS).

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Carl Zeiss moves into machine vision - Vision Systems Design

Carl Zeiss moves into machine vision - Vision Systems Design | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Carl Zeiss Industrial Metrology (Oberkochen, Germany) has strengthened its presence in the car body inspection market by acquiring HGV Vosseler (Öhringen, Germany) and forming a new company -- Carl Zeiss Machine Vision.

 

HGV Vosseler is one of the world's three leading companies that manufacture 3-D inline measuring systems that are mounted on robots primarily for car body inspection directly on the production line in the automotive industry.

 

Dr. Kai-Udo Modrich will be responsible for the new company which employs around 60 individuals in Öhringen.

 

The industrial metrology business group of Carl Zeiss manufactures metrology solutions that include co-ordinate measuring machines and metrology software for the automotive, aircraft, mechanical engineering and plastics industries.

 

Around 2,100 employees work for the company, generating revenues totaling 394m Euros in fiscal year 2010/2011. Headquartered in Oberkochen, it operates manufacturing sites in Germany, the USA, China and India.

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Imaging Mind's curator insight, July 29, 2014 3:47 AM

Smart move by legendary imaging company to acquire position in robotics/automative industry.

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Evolution: Social exclusion leads to cooperation

The study, by IIASA Evolution and Ecology Program postdoctoral fellow Tatsuya Sasaki, provides a simple new model that ties punishment by social exclusion to the benefits for the punisher. It may help explain how social exclusion arose in evolution, and how it promotes cooperation among groups.

 

"Punishment is a common tool to promote cooperation in the real world," says Sasaki. "And social exclusion is a common way to do it." From reef fish to chimpanzees, there are many examples of animals that promote cooperation by excluding free riders. Humans, too, use social exclusion as a way to keep people following societal rules. For example, says Sasaki, traffic violators or drunk drivers may be punished by losing their drivers licenses, essentially excluding them from the driving community. But how did such punishment evolve?

 

The new research, which uses evolutionary game theory, shows that excluding people from a group indirectly provides rewards for the punisher, thus encouraging them to exclude those they have reason to punish. "Imagine a pie," says Sasaki. The fewer people sharing that pie, the more pie everyone gets. But you can't deny people pie for no reason.

 

There needs to be a justification, for example, that someone did not contribute to baking the pie—a free rider, in game theory parlance. Sasaki says, "If you punish free riders with social exclusion, it increases the payoff for the punishers." Social exclusion also promotes cooperation, the study shows. If free riders are denied a piece of the pie, people will be more likely to cooperate and ensure they get to share in the reward.

 

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Method developed by Finnish researchers targets diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease

Method developed by Finnish researchers targets diagnosis of early Alzheimer's disease | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

A software tool called PredictAD developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland promises to enable earlier diagnosis of the disease on the basis of patient measurements and large databases. Alzheimer's disease currently takes on average 20 months to diagnose in Europe. VTT has shown that the new method could allow as many as half of patients to get a diagnosis approximately a year earlier.

 

VTT has been studying whether patients suffering from memory problems could be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at an earlier stage in the light of their measurement values. The study involved processing patient measurements using VTT's PredictAD system, which was developed to support clinical decision-making. The findings were published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in November 2012.

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How Random Is Social Behaviour? Disentangling Social Complexity through the Study of a Wild House Mouse Population

How Random Is Social Behaviour? Disentangling Social Complexity through the Study of a Wild House Mouse Population | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Out of all the complex phenomena displayed in the behaviour of animal groups, many are thought to be emergent properties of rather simple decisions at the individual level. Some of these phenomena may also be explained by random processes only. Here we investigate to what extent the interaction dynamics of a population of wild house mice (Mus domesticus) in their natural environment can be explained by a simple stochastic model. We first introduce the notion of perceptual landscape, a novel tool used here to describe the utilisation of space by the mouse colony based on the sampling of individuals in discrete locations. We then implement the behavioural assumptions of the perceptual landscape in a multi-agent simulation to verify their accuracy in the reproduction of observed social patterns. We find that many high-level features – with the exception of territoriality – of our behavioural dataset can be accounted for at the population level through the use of this simplified representation. Our findings underline the potential importance of random factors in the apparent complexity of the mice's social structure. These results resonate in the general context of adaptive behaviour versus elementary environmental interactions.

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The Benefits of Cycling: Viewing Cyclists as Travellers rather than Non-motorists

This chapter provides a think piece on economic evaluation and policy for cycling. Bicycle investments are often motivated by a desire to improve health, the environment and congestion conditions. However, we argue that since the bicycle is a part of the transport system, it should be evaluated as such. Focusing on implications for cycling appraisal in general, we also discuss two conflicting trends in Stockholm: a sharp decrease in cycling in the outer areas, and a sharp increase in the inner parts.

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Invasive ants alter foraging and parental behaviors of a native bird

Introduced species can exert outsized impacts on native biota through both direct (predation) and indirect (competition) effects. Ants frequently become established in new areas after being transported by humans across traditional biological or geographical barriers, and a prime example of such establishment is the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta). Introduced to North America in the 1930's, red imported fire ants are now firmly established throughout the southeastern United States. Although these invasive predators can dramatically impact native arthropods, their effect on vertebrates through resource competition is essentially unknown.

 

Using a paired experimental design, we compared patterns of foraging and rates of provisioning for breeding eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) in unmanipulated (control) territories to those in adjacent (treated) territories where fire ants were experimentally reduced. Bluebirds inhabiting treated territories foraged nearer their nests and provisioned offspring more frequently than bluebirds inhabiting control territories with unmanipulated fire ant levels. Additionally, nestlings from treated territories were in better condition than those from control territories, though these differences were largely confined to early development. The elimination of significant differences in body condition towards the end of the nestling period suggests that bluebird parents in control territories were able to make up the food deficit caused by fire ants, potentially by working harder to adequately provision their offspring. The relationship between fire ant abundance and bluebird behavior hints at the complexity of ecological communities and suggests negative effects of invasive species are not limited to taxa with which they have direct contact.

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These 19th-century diagrams were one man's attempt to illustrate human consciousness

These 19th-century diagrams were one man's attempt to illustrate human consciousness | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Could you represent the stages of human consciousness with a diagram? In the late 19th century, New Zealand psychologist Benjamin Betts tried to apply mathematics to the problem of visualizing human consciousness. What he produced were striking, almost floral designs that he believed represented the shape of out consciousness for a given activity.

 

Maria Popova of Brain Pickings came across these images in the 1887 book Geometrical psychology, or, The science of representation, an abstract of the theories and diagrams of B. W. Betts, edited by Louisa Cook and available on Open Library. In his metaphysical explorations, Betts attempted to represent the successive stages of the evolution of human consciousness with symbolic mathematical forms; he was quite pleased to find that his mathematical representations frequently resulted in plant-like forms, taking this to mean that he was on the track to some universal representation of consciousness.

 

Incidentally, he also believed that human consciousness was the only thing that we as humans could study directly since everything else must necessarily be perceived through human consciousness.

 

While Betts methods and illustrations seem ultimately abstract, there is something appealing about his diagrams. We can almost imagine how a student of metaphysics might make perfect sense out of one state of consciousness working like a petalled bowl and another like a deep and narrowing funnel.

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Need to move soon? Don't trust your emotions

Consumers are more likely to make emotional instead of objective assessments when the outcomes are closer to the present time than when they are further away in the future, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"The proximity of a decision's outcome increases consumer reliance on feelings when making decisions. Feelings are relied upon more when the outcome is closer in time because these feelings appear to be more informative in such situations," write authors Hannah H. Chang (Singapore Management University) and Michel Tuan Pham (Columbia University).

From which snack to buy to which apartment to rent, we base many of our decisions on either feelings or objective assessment. The option that appeals more to our feelings is often not the one that "makes more sense." When do consumers rely more on their feelings than objective assessments? And how does the proximity of the decision outcome influence consumer decision-making? For example, when looking for an apartment to rent, some consumers may decide which apartment to rent only a week before moving in, while others may decide several months in advance.

In one study, college students were asked to imagine that they were about to graduate, had found a well-paying job, and were looking for an apartment to rent after graduation. They were then given a choice between an apartment that appeals more to their feelings (a smaller, prettier apartment with better views) and an option that is objectively better (a bigger, more conveniently located apartment). Compared to college juniors and those who imagined graduating a year later, college seniors and those who imagined graduating and moving into an apartment next month were more likely to choose the former option.
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Vivien Dohyun Jung's comment, April 3, 2013 2:11 AM
It's quite interesting that customer decision relates to the length of time. I think that is whether the good is low involvement product or high involvement product. When a consumer needs to buy low involvement products such as let's say pens or tissues, purchase would occur once they recognise the need. However, high involvement goods such as cars, designer clothes, houses will obviously require the purchase decision process of need recognition, assessing the alternatives, evaluation etc which would require more time.
lorren's comment, April 3, 2013 7:00 AM
i guess that spells out the mystery vivien, thanx
Shaokang xie's comment, April 9, 2013 8:42 AM
I agree with that topic emotion does has a effect on purchasing and I have better example which is luxury begs for lady. I have many friends who are crazy for that and sometimes they just buy it without thinking about their budget. But I guess they will not be that crazy if they have a rent fee to pay next month.. Actually I dont quite understand why there is different choices in that example from the article, maybe that is because I am no more a college student.
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Against 'Objective' Algorithms: The Case of Google News

Against 'Objective' Algorithms: The Case of Google News | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
Whole new categories of weird noise are being introduced into the news world as a result of Google’s algorithm, whatever its virtues.

If something comes out of a computer on the basis of statistics, it must be objective, right? No bias is even possible, unlike the judgment of us flawed Homo sapiens!

But… that’s not actually true. Over at Nieman Journalism Lab, Nick Diakopoulos has a great story about the ways that various algorithms introduce biases that are different from the human ones, but no less real.

His story is well worth reading for the ways in which it shows how many algorithms are now at play in the news ecosystem and the potential they have for bending the information people receive in one way or another.

What I want to discuss, though, is how the rather simple application of a series of rigid rules can introduce new and bad behaviors on the part of human actors who realize that they can exploit the system. Whole new categories of weird noise are being introduced into the news world as a result of Google’s algorithm, whatever its virtues.

Because the rules are quite rigid, e.g. newer is *always* better, different organizations try to have the newest stories about a given popular event. So, in the lead up to the early December snowstorm here in California, the Weather Channel’s website published a great preview of the storm on November 29th or 30th. I read it on or about when it came out. *After* the storm on December 3rd, I went looking to see which of the predictions from the story had come true. I popped a few search terms into Google News and lo and behold, there was a December 3rd story from the Weather Channel. Excitedly, I clicked through the link and found … the exact same preview with a timestamp that now read December 3, 2012, 9:08 AM.

Keep in mind that this now makes the story completely nonsensical. It is a preview of an event dated after that event has already passed. It’s like a story dated November 7th story about who might win the presidential election. A Christmas preview on December 29th.

In short, this is lunacy! At least to a human.
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What Can CMOs Learn From Neuroscience?

What Can CMOs Learn From Neuroscience? | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
At the center of every CMO challenge is an effort to try and figure out how to generate growth. Driving growth requires understanding the consumer and what impacts their behavior. Whether it is extracting insight from ‘Big Data’ or leveraging technology to micro-target, all effort comes back to the singular goal of optimizing your audience’s engagement or attraction to your brand in the search of incremental, profitable growth.

Recently, there has been a growing interest in the field of neuroscience as leading scholars and market research firms are striving to understand consumer physiological brain responses in an attempt to go directly to the source of what is happening – the brain. This information is being used to enhance positioning, product design, communications, and overall marketing strategy.
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The ethical minefield of using neuroscience to prevent crime (Part 2 of 3)

The ethical minefield of using neuroscience to prevent crime (Part 2 of 3) | Social Foraging | Scoop.it
On the evening of March 10, 2007, Abdelmalek Bayout, an Algerian citizen living in Italy, brutally stabbed to death Walter Perez, a fellow immigrant from Colombia. Bayout admitted to the crime, saying he was provoked by Perez, who ridiculed him for wearing eye makeup.

According to Nature magazine, Bayout's defence argued that he was mentally ill at the time of the offence. The court accepted that argument and, although it found Bayout guilty of the crime, imposed on him a reduced prison sentence of nine years and two months.

Bayout nevertheless appealed the judgment, and the Court of Appeal ordered a new psychiatric report. That report showed, among other things, that Bayout had low levels of the neurotransmitter monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) — an important development given that previous research discovered that men who had low MAO-A levels and who had been abused as children were more likely to be convicted of violent crimes as adults.

Ultimately, the Court of Appeal further reduced Bayout's sentence by a year, with Judge Pier Valerio Reinotti describing the MAO-A evidence as "particularly compelling."

Upon a brief review of the scientific evidence, certain glaring problems with the court's judgment quickly become apparent. Most obviously, the research showing an association between low MAO-A levels and violence tells us nothing about Bayout's — or any specific individual's — propensity for violence. Indeed, while a significant percentage of men with low MAO-A levels commit violent offences, the majority do not.

Yet the fact that the court allowed such evidence to influence its verdict suggests that neuroscience, while not eliminating criminal responsibility, might lead courts to conclude that defendants with certain neurological deficits are less responsible than those with "normal" brains.

There is, in fact, a precedent for this, and it's one that few people question. Adolescents in virtually every country are subject to differential sentencing, and in many cases to an entirely separate system of justice, because their neurobiology renders them less blameworthy, less responsible than adults.
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How Large Is Your Network? The Power of 2nd and 3rd Degree Connections

How Large Is Your Network? The Power of 2nd and 3rd Degree Connections | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Imagine you receive a digital camera with a built-in memory card for your birthday. You bring it on a six-month trip to Africa where you won’t have access to a computer—so all the photos you want to keep must fit on that one memory card. When you first arrive you snap photos freely, and maybe even record some short videos. But after a month or so, the memory card starts filling up. Now you’re forced to be more judicious in deciding how to use that storage. You might take fewer pictures. You might decide to reduce the quality/resolution of the photos you do take in order to fit more. You’ll probably cut back on videos. Still, inevitably, you’ll hit capacity, at which point if you wish to take new photos you’ll have to delete old ones.

 

The maximum number of relationships we can realistically manage—the number that can fit on the memory card, as it were—is described as Dunbar’s Number, after evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar. But maybe it shouldn’t be. In the early nineties, Dunbar studied the social connections within groups of monkeys and apes. He theorized that the maximum size of their overall social group was limited by the small size of their neocortex. It requires brainpower to socialize with other animals, so it follows that the smaller the primate’s brain, the less efficient it is at socializing, and the fewer other primates it can befriend. He then extrapolated that humans have an especially large neocortex and so should be able to more efficiently socialize with a great number of humans. Based on our neocortex size, Dunbar calculated that humans should be able to maintain relationships with no more than roughly 150 people at a time. To cross-check the theory, he studied anthropological field reports and other clues from villages and tribes in the hunter-gatherer era. Sure enough, he found the size of surviving tribes tended to be about 150. And when he observed modern human societies, he found that many businesses and military groups organize their people into cliques of about 150. To wit: Dunbar’s Number of 150.

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Internal Representations of Temporal Statistics and Feedback Calibrate Motor-Sensory Interval Timing

Internal Representations of Temporal Statistics and Feedback Calibrate Motor-Sensory Interval Timing | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Humans have been shown to adapt to the temporal statistics of timing tasks so as to optimize the accuracy of their responses, in agreement with the predictions of Bayesian integration. This suggests that they build an internal representation of both the experimentally imposed distribution of time intervals (the prior) and of the error (the loss function). The responses of a Bayesian ideal observer depend crucially on these internal representations, which have only been previously studied for simple distributions. To study the nature of these representations we asked subjects to reproduce time intervals drawn from underlying temporal distributions of varying complexity, from uniform to highly skewed or bimodal while also varying the error mapping that determined the performance feedback. Interval reproduction times were affected by both the distribution and feedback, in good agreement with a performance-optimizing Bayesian observer and actor model.

 

Bayesian model comparison highlighted that subjects were integrating the provided feedback and represented the experimental distribution with a smoothed approximation. A nonparametric reconstruction of the subjective priors from the data shows that they are generally in agreement with the true distributions up to third-order moments, but with systematically heavier tails. In particular, higher-order statistical features (kurtosis, multimodality) seem much harder to acquire. Our findings suggest that humans have only minor constraints on learning lower-order statistical properties of unimodal (including peaked and skewed) distributions of time intervals under the guidance of corrective feedback, and that their behavior is well explained by Bayesian decision theory.

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The evolution of cooperation by social exclusion

The exclusion of freeriders from common privileges or public acceptance is widely found in the real world. Current models on the evolution of cooperation with incentives mostly assume peer sanctioning, whereby a punisher imposes penalties on freeriders at a cost to itself. It is well known that such costly punishment has two substantial difficulties. First, a rare punishing cooperator barely subverts the asocial society of freeriders, and second, natural selection often eliminates punishing cooperators in the presence of non-punishing cooperators (namely, "second-order" freeriders). We present a game-theoretical model of social exclusion in which a punishing cooperator can exclude freeriders from benefit sharing. We show that such social exclusion can overcome the above-mentioned difficulties even if it is costly and stochastic. The results do not require a genetic relationship, repeated interaction, reputation, or group selection. Instead, only a limited number of freeriders are required to prevent the second-order freeriders from eroding the social immune system.

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Using DNA in the hunt for 'dark matter', the glue of galaxies

Using DNA in the hunt for 'dark matter', the glue of galaxies | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

That wonder molecule of life on Earth, DNA, is now being enlisted in the search for an exotic species zooming through the cosmos: dark matter.

 

As far back as the 1930s, astronomers watching distant galaxies saw that something was missing: there were not enough stars to account for the heavy gravity needed to whirl galaxies so quickly or smash them together so swiftly.

 

Something else must surround and suffuse every galaxy, some kind of gravitational glue.

 

Cosmologists dubbed it "dark matter", as it sheds no light. And, they say, it far outweighs all the ordinary matter – stars and planets – that they can account for.

 

The leading candidate for this mystery substance: subatomic particles called WIMPs, or "weakly interacting massive particles". They can't be seen, but they should be nearly everywhere (at least in our galactic neighbourhood). If true, every once in a great while, a zooming WIMP will by chance smack the nucleus of an atom like a well-struck cue against an eight ball.

 

For two decades, physicists have built detectors crammed with dense crystals and other heavy materials to try to catch WIMPs in this act. The results have been largely equivocal. There's no smoking WIMP signal yet – although hints have appeared.

 

Proposals for the next generation of dark matter detectors run into the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. One such project would require an empty mine filled with a cubic kilometre of gas.

 

But now, a group of big-name theoretical physicists and biologists has proposed a radical new type of detector that dangles DNA as dark-matter bait. At coffee-table size, it would be much less expensive than other proposed detectors, they say.

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The Algorithmic Origins of Life - Sara Walker (SETI Talks)

The origin of life is arguably one of the greatest unanswered questions in science. A primary challenge is that without a proper definition for life -- a notoriously challenging problem in its own right -- the problem of how life began is not well posed. Here we propose that the transition from non-life to life may correspond to a fundamental shift in causal structure, where information gains direct, and context-dependent, causal efficacy over matter, a transition that may be mapped to a nontrivial distinction in how living systems process information.

 

Dr. Walker will discuss potential measures of such a transition, which may be amenable to laboratory study, and how the proposed mechanism corresponds to the onset of the unique mode of (algorithmic) information processing characteristic of living systems.

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Conference in honour of Dan Sperber - INSTITUT JEAN NICOD

Conference in honour of Dan Sperber - INSTITUT JEAN NICOD | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Institut Jean Nicod will organise a conference in honour of Dan Sperber on 12-15 Dec., 2012, with the participation of leading figures in the areas relevant to Sperber’s work: philosophy, anthropology, psychology, and linguistics.

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Computer Communication within Industrial Distributed Environment - a Survey

Nowadays, computer systems are presented in almost all types of human activity and they support any kind of industry as well. Most of these systems are distributed where the communication between nodes is based on computer networks of any kind. Connectivity between system components is the key issue when designing distributed systems, especially systems of industrial informatics. The industrial area requires a wide range of computer communication means, particularly time-constrained and safety-enhancing ones. From fieldbus and industrial Ethernet technologies through wireless and internet-working solutions to standardization issues, there are many aspects of computer networks uses and many interesting research domains. Lots of them are quite sophisticated or even unique. The main goal of this paper is to present the survey of the latest trends in the communication domain of industrial distributed systems and to emphasize important questions as dependability, and standardization. Finally, the general assessment and estimation of the future development is provided. The presentation is based on the abstract description of dataflow within a system.

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Four Perspectives On Augmented Reality And Its Future

Four Perspectives On Augmented Reality And Its Future | Social Foraging | Scoop.it

Augmented reality (AR) — the term does not exactly jump off the tongue. But the concepts behind the technology are beginning to change what we think of ourselves, objects and the people in the world that surround us.

 

I am no expert on AR but over the past few months I have seen enough examples of the way mobile devices change our reality to start wondering if what I am looking at is really what I think it is. With Google Glass people will see a data layer that is not visible to the human eye. Through an iOS or Android device, a person can now use apps to provide a different context for playing games, monitoring environments or tracking one’s brain activity.

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