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kbavier / Ken Bavier

There are twelve people in kbavier’s collective.

Huffduffed (92)

  1. YANSS 090 – Questioning the nature of reality with cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman – You Are Not So Smart

    Back in the early 1900s, the German biologist Jakob Johann Baron von Uexküll couldn’t shake the implication that the inner lives of animals like jellyfish and sea urchins must be radically different from those of humans.

    Uexküll was fascinated by how meaty, squishy nervous systems gave rise to perception. Noting that the sense organs of sea creatures and arachnids could perceive things that ours could not, he realized that giant portions of reality must therefore be missing from their subjective experiences, which suggested that the same was true of us. In other words, most ticks can’t enjoy an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical because, among other reasons, they don’t have eyes. On the other hand, unlike ticks, most humans can’t smell butyric acid wafting on the breeze, and so no matter where you sit in the audience, smell isn’t an essential (or intended) element of a Broadway performance of Cats.

    Uexküll imagined that each animal’s subjective experience was confined to a private sensory world he called an umwelt. Each animal’s umwelt was different, he said, distinctive from that of another animal in the same environment, and each therefore was tuned to take in only a small portion of the total picture. Not that any animal would likely know that, which was Uexküll’s other big idea. Because no organism can perceive the totality of objective reality, each animal likely assumes that what it can perceive is all that can be perceived. Each umwelt is a private universe, fitted to its niche, and the subjective experiences of all of Earth’s creatures are like a sea filled with a panoply of bounded virtual realities floating past one another, each unaware that it is unaware.

    Like all ideas, Uexküll’s weren’t completely new. Philosophers had wondered about the differences in subjective and objective reality going back to Plato’s cave (and are still wondering). But even though Uexküll’s ideas weren’t strictly original, he brought them into a new academic silo – biology. In doing so, he generated lines of academic research into neuroscience and the nature of consciousness that are still going today.

    For instance, when the philosopher Thomas Nagel famously asked, “What is it like to be a bat?” he thought there was no answer to his question because it would be impossible to think in that way. Bat sonar, he said, is nothing like anything we possess, “and there is no reason to suppose that it is subjectively like anything we can experience or imagine.” All one can do, said Nagel, is imagine what it would be like for a person, like yourself, to be a bat. Imagining what it would be like for a bat to be a bat is impossible. This was part of an overall criticism on the limits of reductionist thinking, and is, of course, still the subject of much debate.

    The siblings of these notions appear in the writings of everyone from Timothy Leary with his “reality tunnels” to J.J. Gibson’s “ecological optics” to psychologist Charles Tart and his “consensus trances.” From the Wachowski’s Matrix to Kant’s “noumenon” to Daniel Dennett’s “conscious robots,” we’ve been wondering about these questions for a very long time. You too, I suspect, have stumbled on these problems, asking something along the lines of “do we all see the same colors?” at some point. The answer, by the way, is no.

    The assumption in most of these musings is that we humans are unique because we can escape our umwelten. We have reason, philosophy, science, and physics which free us from the prison of our limited human perceptions. We can use tools to extend our senses, to see the background radiation left behind by the big bang or hear the ultrasonic laughter of ticklish mice. Sure, the table seems solid enough when we knock on it, and if you were still trapped in your umwelt, you wouldn’t think otherwise, but now you know it is actually mostly empty space thanks to your understanding of protons and electrons. We assume that more layers of truth reveal themselves to us with each successive paradigm shift.

    In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast, we sit down with a scientist who is challenging these assumptions.

    Donald Hoffman, a cognitive psychologist at the University of California with a background in artificial intelligence, game theory, and evolutionary biology has developed a new theory of consciousness that, should it prove true, would rearrange our understanding of not only the mind and the brain, but physics itself.

    “I agree up to a point,” said Hoffman, “that different organisms are in effectively different perceptual worlds, but where I disagree is that these worlds are seeing different parts of the truth. I don’t think they are seeing the truth at all.”

    Hoffman wondered if evolution truly favored veridical minds, so he and his graduate students created computer models of natural selection that included accurate perceptions of reality as a variable.

    “We simulated hundreds of thousands of random worlds and put organisms in those worlds that could see all of the truth, part of the truth, or none of the truth,” explained Hoffman. “What we found in our simulations was that organisms that saw reality as-it-is could never outcompete organisms that saw none of reality and were just tuned to fitness, as long as they were of equal complexity.”

    The implication, Hoffman said, is that an organism that can see the truth will never be favored by natural selection. This suggests that literally nothing we can conceive of can be said to represent objective reality, not even atoms, molecules, or physical laws. Physics and chemistry are still inside the umwelt. There’s no escape.

    “If our perceptual systems evolved by natural selection, then the probability that we see reality as it actually is, in any way, is zero. Precisely zero,” said Hoffman.

    Well aware that these ideas come across as woo, Hoffman welcomes challenges from his peers and other interested parties, and in the interview you’ll hear what they’ve said so far and how you can investigate these concepts for yourself.

    Also in the show, Hoffman explains his ideas in detail in addition to discussing the bicameral mind, artificial intelligence, and the hard problem of consciousness in this mindbending episode about how we make sense of our world, our existence, and ourselves.

    https://youarenotsosmart.com/2016/12/02/yanss-090-questioning-the-nature-of-reality-with-cognitive-scientist-donald-hoffman/

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  2. Kevin Kelly: How AI can bring on a second Industrial Revolution

    "The actual path of a raindrop as it goes down the valley is unpredictable, but the general direction is inevitable," says digital visionary Kevin Kelly — and technology is much the same, driven by patterns that are surprising but inevitable. Over the next 20 years, he says, our penchant for making things smarter and smarter will have a profound impact on nearly everything we do. Kelly explores three trends in AI we need to understand in order to embrace it and steer its development. "The most popular AI product 20 years from now that everyone uses has not been invented yet," Kelly says. "That means that you’re not late."

    http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_kelly_how_ai_can_bring_on_a_second_industrial_revolution

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  3. Sci-fi writer Ted Chiang on his story’s ‘unconventional’ adaptation into the film Arrival - Home | q | CBC Radio

    The hit sci-fi film Arrival is based on Ted Chiang’s short story, Story of Your Life.

    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/q/schedule-for-tuesday-december-20-2016-1.3902909/sci-fi-writer-ted-chiang-on-his-story-s-unconventional-adaptation-into-the-film-arrival-1.3902939

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  4. Sources and Methods #33: Gabe Weatherhead — Sources & Methods

    https://www.sourcesandmethods.com/podcast/33-gabe-weatherhead

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  5. Cross Section: Neil deGrasse Tyson – Science Weekly podcast | Science | The Guardian

    What first attracted one of the world’s foremost astrophysicists to the night sky? Are we alone in the universe? And how can scientific thinking benefit us all?

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2016/dec/07/cross-section-neil-degrasse-tyson-science-weekly-podcast

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  6. Hardtalk - Brian Eno

    Stephen Sackur talks to Brian Eno, the hugely influential contemporary music maker once styled the ‘brainiest guy in pop’ – except the word ‘pop’ does not really fit. Briefly a member of Roxy Music in the early ’70s, he then went his own way, creating ambient music, developing audio-visual installations and collaborating with a host of big names including Bowie, U2 and Coldplay. His output has been prolific and varied, but what is he? A musician, a composer, or an artist impossible to label?

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  7. UI Breakfast Podcast. Episode 47: Using Pattern Libraries in Web Design with Laura Elizabeth

    Pattern libraries can help you streamline the design process and build a flexible system (instead of static pages). Today we’re exploring this concept with Laura Elizabeth — a fantastic designer, writer, and speaker. You’ll learn how to plan and build a pattern library, how to document it, and how to make your clients fall in love with the result.

    Show Notes

    Double Your Freelancing — the website Laura is now redesigning with pattern libraries

    Design Academy — Laura’s design course for developers

    Style Tiles — another concept for web design process

    Styleguides.io — great collection of website style guides

    Episode 26: Bridging the Gap Between Designers and Developers with Roger Dudler

    — our episode with the founder of Frontify

    Laura’s official website

    Client Portal — Laura’s product that helps keep all client deliverables in one place (use your special promocode uibreakfast to get $100 off)

    Follow Laura on Twitter: @laurium

    http://uibreakfast.com/47-pattern-libraries-web-design-laura-elizabeth/

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  8. Ever Wonder What A Woolly Mammoth Sounds Like?

    About a year ago, in a synthetic biology class at London’s Royal College of Art, 24-year-old Marguerite Humeau learned about the work of Japanese researcher Hideyuki Sawada.

    You might have seen his work in a recent viral video: a creepy, dismembered mouth "singing" a Japanese lullaby. That mouth has been called the most mechanically accurate talking robot, with real moving lips, a windpipe that flexes and expands, and even lungs — a pressurized air tank.

    Humeau was inspired to do the same thing. But with animals.

    "I realized there was no area of science that specialized in extinct sound," she says.

    Enlarge this image Marguerite Humeau’s ‘Lucy’ reconstructs the voicebox of an ancient hominid. Marguerite Humeau That was a year ago.

    Since then, Humeau has completed two works of extinct sound, the first of which is Australopithecus Afarensis. You might know her as Lucy — one of the earliest known hominids.

    Lucy Finds Her Voice

    To recreate Lucy’s voice, Humeau studied available skeletal data from Lucy’s remains. As best she could, she constructed synthetic versions of the resonance cavities in Lucy’s skull. She even spoke to the Martin Birchall, a British doctor who performed only the second successful human larynx transplant on a California woman earlier this year.

    "He told me this very funny story," Humeau says. "I was thinking the woman would get the voice of the donor. And actually she recovered her own voice, meaning that the specificity of the voice doesn’t come from the larynx itself — but from the way you shape air in your lungs and the way it resonates in your resonance cavities. So it meant I was on the right track."

    After more meetings with paleontologists and even an ear, nose and throat doctor, Humeau set to work reconstructing Lucy’s voice box out of resin, silicone and rubber. The result is a haunting yowl that sounds a lot like a human groan.

    "It was an interesting being to me," she says. "What makes the difference between a human voice and an animal sound? The difference is the brain, so we think before we talk. I mean, for most people."

    A Shaggy Sequel

    Enlarge this image Marguerite Humeau worked with the the Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin to study the resonance cavities of elephants, a distant mammoth relative. Marguerite Humeau About the same time she was working on Lucy, Humeau decided she wanted to go bigger.

    How much bigger? Woolly mammoth bigger.

    She met with more experts, elephant vocalization specialists, even the guy who advised Stephen Speilberg on the dinosaur sounds in Jurassic Park.

    French explorer Bernard Buigues was one of her most helpful sources.

    "He has actually been able to touch these animals. They are completely preserved. And so he told me about the smell of them, and being able to touch the fur of a mammoth that lived 10,000 years ago."

    Both works — Lucy and the mammoth — went on display earlier this year at the Royal College of Art. And Humeau was told that children would run in fear from the mammoth’s chest-thumping growl.

    "I would have loved to have seen that," she says. "That was the whole purpose!"

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  9. audioBoom / The Bletchley Park Podcast - E54 - The Zimmermann Telegram

    January 2017

    The Zimmermann Telegram tells the story of how the US became embroiled in World War One. The threat from Germany came home to the United States 100 years ago this month, courtesy of an intercepted telegram sent by the German Foreign Secretary, Arthur Zimmermann. The tricky thing was, British intelligence didn’t want the US finding out they were reading what was coming over those cables. That made it rather difficult to warn the US, without giving the game away and thereby doing enormous diplomatic damage.

    We hear from the grandsons of two key figures in this story; Nigel de Grey played his part in decrypting this all-important message in Room 40, and went on to be crucial to codebreaking during World War Two. The other, Thomas Hohler, was our man in Mexico at the time. Last summer their grandsons met up at Bletchley Park, reflecting on the significance of the telegram and their ancestors’ involvement in bringing it to light.

    Also in this episode, you really never do know who you might meet at Bletchley Park. Eagle-eyed listeners may have spotted the TV historian, Dan Snow, waxing lyrical on social media recently, about the wonders of the Home of the Codebreakers. He came to visit and - like most people when they first see how brilliantly the story is now told - was moved and amazed. He stopped for a chat with Bletchley Park’s very own broadcast-friendly historian, Dr David Kenyon.

    Throughout this year, we’ll bring you more never-heard-before interviews with veterans of Bletchley Park and its outstations, celebrating the ongoing Oral History project, as well as freshly researched stories about what the Codebreakers achieved and the difference it made to the outcome of the war, in the Bletchley Park Podcast’s exclusive It Happened Here series.

    https://audioboom.com/posts/5502643-the-bletchley-park-podcast-e54-the-zimmermann-telegram

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

  10. Mike Rowe | The Way I Heard It

    Did you know Mike Rowe started his show business career in opera — to get women? What are Anagnorisis and Peripeteia? Discover how Mike broke a pattern of commodity hosting by approaching the profession as a tradesman. Bromide busting and the problems with conventional wisdom. Why finding and filling a niche may ultimately be better than chasing what you think is your dream job.

    download

    Tagged with improvement

    —Huffduffed by kbavier

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