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The nature of collective intelligence

The nature of collective intelligence | cognitive event | Scoop.it

Presentation by Pierre Levy


Via Viktor Markowski
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Viktor Markowski's curator insight, March 2, 2013 11:57 AM

45 minute video presentation supported by slides on the nature of collective intelligence and the philosophical and technical construct behind the next level of the internet as a global mind.

Luciano Lampi's curator insight, March 22, 2013 2:15 PM

Pierre Levy, c´est toujours très intéressant!

Bernard Ryefield's curator insight, June 18, 2013 2:32 PM

Pierre Lévy invented IEML; think semantic web

cognitive event
The operation of, action and reflection, futures; And otherwise interesting stuff
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Explainer: how the latest earphones translate languages

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, Douglas Adams’s seminal 1978 BBC broadcast (then book, feature film and now cultural icon), one of the many technology predictions was the Babel Fish. This tiny yellow life-form, inserted into the human ear and fed by brain energy, was able to translate to and from any language.

Web giant Google have now seemingly developed their own version of the Babel Fish, called Pixel Buds. These wireless earbuds make use of Google Assistant, a smart application which can speak to, understand and assist the wearer. One of the headline abilities is support for Google Translate which is said to be able to translate up to 40 different languages. Impressive technology for under US$200.

So how does it work?

Real-time speech translation consists of a chain of several distinct technologies – each of which have experienced rapid degrees of improvement over recent years. The chain, from input to output, goes like this:

Input conditioning: the earbuds pick up background noise and interference, effectively recording a mixture of the users’ voice and other sounds. “Denoising” removes background sounds while a voice activity detector (VAD) is used to turn the system on only when the correct person is speaking (and not someone standing behind you in a queue saying “OK Google” very loudly). Touch control is used to improve the VAD accuracy.

Language identification (LID): this system uses machine learning to identify what language is being spoken within a couple of seconds. This is important because everything that follows is language specific. For language identification, phonetic characteristics alone are insufficient to distinguish languages (languages pairs like Ukrainian and Russian, Urdu and Hindi are virtually identical in their units of sound, or “phonemes”), so completely new acoustic representations had to be developed.

Automatic speech recognition (ASR): ASR uses an acoustic model to convert the recorded speech into a string of phonemes and then language modelling is used to convert the phonetic information into words. By using the rules of spoken grammar, context, probability and a pronunciation dictionary, ASR systems fill in gaps of missing information and correct mistakenly recognised phonemes to infer a textual representation of what the speaker said.

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Funny people are more intelligent than their po-faced peers

Albert Einstein attributed his brilliant mind to having a child-like sense of humour. Indeed, a number of studies have found an association between humour and intelligence.

Researchers in Austria recently discovered that funny people, particularly those who enjoy dark humour, have higher IQs than their less funny peers. They argue that it takes both cognitive and emotional ability to process and produce humour. Their analysis shows that funny people have higher verbal and non-verbal intelligence, and they score lower in mood disturbance and aggressiveness.

Not only are funny people smart, they’re nice to be around. Evidence suggests that having a good sense of humour is linked to high emotional intelligence and is a highly desirable quality in a partner. Evolutionary psychologists describe humour as a “heritable trait” that signals mental fitness and intellectual agility to prospective mates. In studies of attractiveness, both men and women rate funny people as more attractive, and cite having a good sense of humour as being one of the most important traits in a long-term partner.

In psychology we use the term “positive humour style” to refer to people who use humour to enhance relationships and reduce conflict. This type of humour is associated with relationship satisfaction, extroversion and high self-esteem Having a humorous outlook on life is also a good coping strategy. It helps people better manage stress and adversity.

More negative humour styles, such as sarcasm, ridicule and self-defeating humour, do not offer the same benefits. Instead, they tend to alienate people and are more often associated with depressed mood and aggression.


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Reading stories creates universal patterns in the brain

Reading stories creates universal patterns in the brain | cognitive event | Scoop.it
New research shows that when we hear stories, brain patterns appear that transcend culture and language. There may be a universal code that underlies making sense of narratives.

Telling and listening to stories is a pastime that spans all cultures. From crime novels to bedtime stories and from ancient legends to spicy romances, humanity loves a good book.

We are all very used to the idea of stories, but the processes at work in the brain are more complex than it seems.

Following a narrative and understanding the story's meaning and themes, as well as the interaction of causes and effects across time, involves challenging cognitive gymnastics. But of course, our brains make it seem effortless.

Neuroscience has made headway in finding out which brain regions help us to understand smaller chunks of language - words and sentences, that is - but we still have a lot to learn about how the brain understands a narrative. Following a story involves a steady accumulation of meaning.

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The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows | cognitive event | Scoop.it
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of invented words written by John Koenig
FastTFriend's insight:
"occhiolism: n. the awareness of the smallness of your perspective, by which you couldn’t possibly draw any meaningful conclusions at all, about the world or the past or the complexities of culture, because although your life is an epic and unrepeatable anecdote, it still only has a sample size of one, and may end up being the control for a much wilder experiment happening in the next room."
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Our illusory sense of agency has a deeply important social purpose – Chris Frith | Aeon Ideas

Our illusory sense of agency has a deeply important social purpose – Chris Frith | Aeon Ideas | cognitive event | Scoop.it
I’m trying to concentrate on writing this piece, but my two grandchildren in the room next door have stopped making paper aeroplanes and started arguing. ‘You kicked me,’ yells Freya. Her brother Ben insists it was an accident. ‘I didn’t mea
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"What’s more, by considering our experiences and sharing them with others, we can reach a consensus about what the world and we humans are really like. A consensus need not be accurate to be attractive or useful, of course. For a long time everyone agreed that the Sun went round the Earth. Perhaps our sense of agency is a similar trick: it might not be ‘true’, but it maintains social cohesion by creating a shared basis for morality. It helps us understand why people act as they do – and, as a result, makes it is easier to predict people’s behaviour. Responsibility, then, is the real currency of conscious experience. In turn, it is also the bedrock of culture. Humans are social animals, but we’d be unable to cooperate or get along in communities if we couldn’t agree on the kinds of creatures we are and the sort of world we inhabit."
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Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think

Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think | cognitive event | Scoop.it
Awareness can be part of it, but it’s much more than that
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Descartes was wrong: ‘a person is a person through other persons’ – Abeba Birhane | Aeon Ideas

Descartes was wrong: ‘a person is a person through other persons’ – Abeba Birhane | Aeon Ideas | cognitive event | Scoop.it
According to Ubuntu philosophy, which has its origins in ancient Africa, a newborn baby is not a person. People are born without ‘ena’, or selfhood, and instead must acquire it through interactions and experiences over time. So the ‘self’/‘other
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The Birth And Death Of Privacy: 3,000 Years of History Told Through 46 Images

The Birth And Death Of Privacy: 3,000 Years of History Told Through 46 Images | cognitive event | Scoop.it
*This post is part of an online book about Silicon Valley’s Political endgame. See all available chapters here. Cerf suffered a torrent of criticism in the media for suggesting that privacy is…
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most interesting: 
Early Christian saints pioneered the modern concept of privacy: seclusion. The Christian Bible popularized the idea that morality was not just the outcome of an evil deed, but the intent to cause harm; this novel coupling of intent and morality led the most devout followers (monks) to remove themselves from society and focus obsessively on battling their inner demons free from the distractions of civilization. 

 In 1215, the influential Fourth Council Of Lateran (the “Great Council”) declared that confessions should be mandatory for the masses. This mighty stroke of Catholic power instantly extended the concept of internal morality to much of Europe.
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Humans enter a Vulcan-like mind meld when conversing

In the Star Trek universe, Vulcans would sometimes bust out one of their most impressive abilities: the mind meld. In this maneuver, the Vulcan would form a mental bond with someone else, and the two would sync up to the point that they basically shared one consciousness. Researchers at the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain, and Language (BCBL) in Spain have now shown that humans do something a bit similar – just by having a conversation.

While the team there didn't quite uncover our latent psychic abilities, they did discover that when two people hold a conversation, their brain waves synchronize.

To carry out its research, the team placed pairs of people on either side of an opaque partition and had them hold a scripted conversation. The people in the study were strangers to each other and they were all same-sex pairs. They also took turns as both the listener and the speaker.

All the participants were connected to electroencephalography (EEG) machines which monitored the electrical activity of their brains through electrodes placed on their scalps. Sure enough, once the conversation began, the researchers were able to see that the pair's brainwaves fell in synch. The effect was so pronounced, in fact, that the researchers say they can now actually tell if two people are communicating simply by looking at their EEG results.

"To be able to know if two people are talking between themselves, and even what they are talking about, based solely on their brain activity is something truly marvelous," said team member Jon Andoni Duñabeitia. "Now we can explore new applications, which are highly useful in special communicative contexts, such as in the case of people who have difficulties with communication."

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The Benefits of Talking to Yourself

The Benefits of Talking to Yourself | cognitive event | Scoop.it

A stranger approached me at a grocery store. “Do you need help finding something?” he asked. At first, I wasn’t sure what he meant. Then the realization kicked in: I was talking out loud, to myself, in public. It was a habit I’d grown so comfortable with that I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

The fairly common habit of talking aloud to yourself is what psychologists call external self-talk. And although self-talk is sometimes looked at as just an eccentric quirk, research has found that it can influence behavior and cognition.

“Language provides us with this tool to gain distance from our own experiences when we’re reflecting on our lives. And that’s really why it’s useful,” said Ethan Kross, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan.

When we talk to ourselves we’re trying to see things more objectively, Mr. Kross said, so it matters how you talk to yourself. The two types of self-talk you’re likely most familiar with are instructional self-talk, like talking yourself through a task, and motivational self-talk, like telling yourself, “I can do this.” It might be corny, but motivating yourself out loud can work.
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One study published in Procedia — Social and Behavioral Sciences researched the effects of both motivational and instructional self-talk on subjects playing basketball. It found that players passed the basketball faster when they motivated themselves through the task out loud.


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Consciousness is not a thing, but a process of inference – Karl Friston | Aeon Essays

Consciousness is not a thing, but a process of inference – Karl Friston | Aeon Essays | cognitive event | Scoop.it
The special trick of consciousness is being able to project action and time into a range of possible futures
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"I have a confession. As a physicist and psychiatrist, I find it difficult to engage with conversations about consciousness. My biggest gripe is that the philosophers and cognitive scientists who tend to pose the questions often assume that the mind is a thing, whose existence can be identified by the attributes it has or the purposes it fulfils."
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The Kekulé Problem - Issue 47: Consciousness - Nautilus

The Kekulé Problem - Issue 47: Consciousness - Nautilus | cognitive event | Scoop.it

Cormac McCarthy is best known to the world as a writer of novels. These include Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, and The Road. At the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) he is a research colleague and thought of in complementary terms. An aficionado on subjects ranging from the history of mathematics, philosophical arguments relating to the status of quantum mechanics as a causal theory, comparative evidence bearing on non-human intelligence, and the nature of the conscious and unconscious mind. At SFI we have been searching for the expression of these scientific interests in his novels and we maintain a furtive tally of their covert manifestations and demonstrations in his prose. …


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The Cognitive Upside of Aging

The Cognitive Upside of Aging | cognitive event | Scoop.it
Big Data involving thousands and thousands of participants is enabling researchers to track the development of different cognitive skills across the lifespan with increasing accuracy. And the results of these studies bring light to some surprising — and perhaps heartening — findings about the aging brain.
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Volunteering keeps older minds sharp - Futurity

Volunteering keeps older minds sharp - Futurity | cognitive event | Scoop.it
Volunteering may improve cognitive function of older adults, especially for women and those with lower levels of education.

While the links of volunteering to physical health are well known, its associations with mental functioning are less clear.

“Cognitive functions, such as memory, working memory, and processing are essential for living an independent life,” says Christine Proulx, an associate professor of human development and family science department at the University of Missouri.

“They’re the tools and methods the brain uses to process information. It’s the brain’s working memory and processing capacity that benefit the most from volunteering.”

Processing is how fast the mind is able to take in and store information. Working memory, which is different from long-term memory, is what the brain needs to temporarily store and manage information.

Proulx used national data from the Health and Retirement Study, which researchers have collected for the past 25 years. The results from more than 11,000 adults aged 51 and older show significant associations between cognitive function and volunteering among all participants, regardless of the amount of time spent. Adults with lower levels of education and women seemed to benefit the most.

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Reality is an Activity of the Most August Imagination | Edge.org

Reality is an Activity of the Most August Imagination | Edge.org | cognitive event | Scoop.it
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In charge of the narrative - Our world is full of ideas that spread, spreading new ideas about the way our world can be different is a huge job for all of us. That things are Inevitable is merely a belief… We have to look at the beliefs we hold as a society and ask ourselves: Can we invent a new map of the world that makes more sense? Reinvent what’s possible?
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Facts Don't Win Fights: Here’s How to Cut Through Confirmation Bias

Facts Don't Win Fights: Here’s How to Cut Through Confirmation Bias | cognitive event | Scoop.it

If you want someone to see an issue rationally, you just show them the facts, right? No one can refute a fact. Well, brain imaging and psychological studies are showing that, society wide, we may be on the wrong path by holding evidence up as an Ace card. Neuroscientist Tali Sharot and her colleagues have proven that reading the same set of facts polarizes groups of people even further, because of our in-built confirmation biases—something we all fall prey to, equally. In fact, Sharot cites research from Yale University that disproves the idea that the social divisions we are experiencing right now—over climate change, gun control, or vaccines—are somehow the result of an intelligence gap: smart people are just as illogical, and what's more, they are even more skilled at skewing data to align with their beliefs. So if facts aren't the way forward, what is? There is one thing that may help us swap the moral high ground for actual progress: finding common motives. Here, Sharot explains why identifying a shared goal is better than winning a fight.


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Dorothy Retha Cook's curator insight, September 25, 3:03 PM

Ministry for the whole person knowing how to win even when it look like you lost with man because God has a bigger plan. 

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Imagination is such an ancient ability it might precede language – Stephen T Asma | Aeon Essays

Imagination is such an ancient ability it might precede language – Stephen T Asma | Aeon Essays | cognitive event | Scoop.it
Our imaginative life today has access to the pre-linguistic, ancestral mind: rich in imagery, emotions and associations
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For early humans, a kind of cognitive gap opened up between stimulus and response – a gap that created the possibility of having multiple responses to a perception, rather than one immediate response. This gap was crucial for the imagination: it created an inner space in our minds.
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The purpose of life is to be a nobody

The purpose of life is to be a nobody | cognitive event | Scoop.it
We all experience the world like we are at the center of reality.

We think and we feel in relation to how our senses absorb information and how this information mingles with our personal memories. The subjective perception created by these interactions provides the illusion of importance.

We forget that this perception only exists in our minds and that everyone near us is walking around under exactly the same psychological mindset.

In truth, we’re just one of billions, and over the course of history, everything about us is insignificant. Even people like Newton and Einstein, who we revere for their contributions to humanity, are only slightly less insignificant.

Our universe contains one septillion stars (a one followed by 24 zeroes) and a lot of these stars contain many, many more modes of dust that we call planets. If any of us ceased to exist tomorrow, little would change beyond the subjective emotional states of the people in our immediate circles.

Earth would continue its orbit, and the laws of physics would remain in tact. We’re nothing more than a fraction of a ripple in an infinite sea of entropy.

Many of us don’t like hearing this. It conflicts with the story our mind tells.

Via Wildcat2030
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Excellent! "The surest way to be unfilled is to walk around like you hold some sort of a privileged position in the universe. It’s not only a completely false and harmful illusion, but it also overlooks the fringe benefits of being a nobody".
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Openness to Experience: The Gates of the Mind

Openness to Experience: The Gates of the Mind | cognitive event | Scoop.it
People who are “open to experience” literally see the world differently
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These studies show that open people are less susceptible to the psychological “blind spots” that help us pare back the complexity of the world. And research shows that this characterization is more than a metaphor: Open people literally see things differently in terms of basic visual perception.
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Preserving the Right to Cognitive Liberty

Preserving the Right to Cognitive Liberty | cognitive event | Scoop.it
A new type of brain-imaging technology could expose—even change—our private thoughts
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The idea of the human mind as the domain of absolute protection from external intrusion has persisted for centuries. Today, however, this presumption might no longer hold. Sophisticated neuroimaging machines and brain-computer interfaces detect the electrical activity of neurons, enabling us to decode and even alter the nervous system signals that accompany mental processes. Whereas these advances have a great potential for research and medicine, they pose a fundamental ethical, legal and social challenge: determining whether or under what conditions it is legitimate to gain access to or interfere with another person's neural activity.
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A Theory of Reality as More Than the Sum of Its Parts

A Theory of Reality as More Than the Sum of Its Parts | cognitive event | Scoop.it
New math shows how, contrary to conventional scientific wisdom, conscious beings and other macroscopic entities might have greater influence over the future

Via Xaos
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Tononi argues that this special “integrated information” corresponds to the unified, integrated state that we experience as subjective awareness. Integrated information theory has gained prominence in the last few years, even as debates have ensued about whether it is an accurate and sufficient proxy for consciousness. But when Hoel first got to Madison in 2010, only the two of them were working on it there.
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Your Sense of Smell Is More Powerful Than You Think

Your Sense of Smell Is More Powerful Than You Think | cognitive event | Scoop.it
Humans have a centuries-old reputation as poor smellers. Though we can see more colours than the average mammal, our noses are simply no match for the questing snouts of rabbits and hounds.

Sure, the aromas of coffee and pie are great. But intelligent humans outgrew the need to sniff our way through life. Or so the thinking went.

In a review published Thursday in the journal Science, John McGann, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, argued that this is a flawed perception dating back to the 19th century.

He blamed pioneering French anatomist Paul Broca, who wrote that, given the comparatively small olfactory organs in the primate brain, "it is no longer the sense of smell that guides the animal."

As for smelling in apes, humans included, "All that exceeded the needs of this humble function became useless."

Broca was hunting for the part of the brain that gave humans free will, McGann said, to separate us from animals. At the time, too, the Catholic Church in France was criticising Broca's work at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris.

"He's under pressure for humans to be special," McGann said. "He's under pressure for humans to be different."

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The Myth of a Superhuman AI – Backchannel

The Myth of a Superhuman AI – Backchannel | cognitive event | Scoop.it
Debunking the myth of a superhuman artificial intelligence: Hyper-intelligent algorithms are not going to take over the world for these five reasons.

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