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Mariana Soffer (F, 44)
Buenos Aires, AR
Immortal since Feb 16, 2010
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I am an artificial intelligence researcher, studied in California a Master in Information Science and specialized in Genetic research there. Currently I am doing research on NLP (natural language processing), particularly in the opinion mining area. I am also interested in neuroscience, Buddhism, literature, music, anthropology among other things.
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    From folkert
    On to the syntactical...
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    The we among us
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    To understand is to...
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    Language that has no words
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    Polytopia
    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    The Total Library
    Text that redefines...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.


    The fashionable ideology that “artificial” lacks the inherent goodness of “natural” is an appealing, but hopelessly simplistic notion of the intellectually chic. Artifice is the result of a deliberate intent to make. Nature also “makes” things, using a set of basic building blocks common throughout the universe. Exchanging infinite time for deliberate design, nature has ingeniously built plants, planets, galaxies and unimaginable constructs which seem to structure the univers itself.

    What we call “natural” is simply the result of whatever set of rules nature has followed in fashioning our observable reality. On planet Earth, nature has manipulated the common elements to fashion everything from bacteria to the molten core of the planet.

    Discoveries in the “nano” technologies of bio, molecural and micro engineering will re-edit the nomenclature of “natural” versus “unnatural”, blurring if not erasing the line of distinction between “machine” and “organism”, “natural” and “unnatural”, “God-given” and “man made”.

    Syd Mead
    Fri, Jul 5, 2013  Permanent link
    Categories: natural, artificial, words, meaning
    Sent to project: The Total Library
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    Minds might base cognition on 4d(space-time) representation. All conceivable things are located at a certain place, which can vary with time.

    Ex 1: Tools main function similarity can be measured by 3d distance at the same time.

    Ex 2:The same idea can be expressed with 2 different abstraction levels, their distances can be measured by the time that separates the 2 expressions from being in the same 3d coordinates in space.

    Ex 3: A feeling can be expressed by describing an emotional state, or by a metaphor that represent a similar emotional state trough the description of a scene from nature. Their distances can be measured by the time that separates the 2 expressions from being in the same 3d coordinates in space squared.

    Instead of thinking of math as the language of the mind, and metaphor as the language of the soul (By the way what is soul?). Why don’t we think in terms of a single and indivisible entity we can described as mind-intuition-awareness-feelings-thoughts-life-universe.

    We can see math as a framework that can be used to evaluate examples like the ones described before. We can only obtain mathematical results from it. One of the many artifices, that are part of our culture.

    Language is defined here as something that can be evaluated in isolation from life-culture-society-..-universe which is another fallacy. We live in a complete and indivisible universe(multiverse) fully interconnected. Isolated systems do not exist, everything influences everything else.

    All frameworks, which are considered true, limit the range of awareness which allows us to understand/perceive/be/flow-with the universe. They also get us closer to the ideas that we can predict/control reality, which are really dangerous ones.
    Thu, Dec 29, 2011  Permanent link

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    This post was based and inspired on the writings of Brian Christian

    Turing test


    The objective of the Turing test, created by Alan Turing in the year 1950, consists in evaluating during small conversations, if computers could imitate humans. The test incited the creation of Chatterbots such as ELIZA, launched on 1966. Later on the Loebner prize was created, offering a monetary award for the first chatterbot that could pass the test, this competition still takes place once a year.

    The classic Turing test consists in one room with judges that make questions for 5 minutes to computers or to humans that are in a second room. After conversations take place judges reveal which chats they think they had with chatterbots and which with humans. The chatterbot that is considered the best is the one that fools the higher percentage of judges. Turing believed that the test would have been passed by the year 2000; far from his prediction a new record that was able to deceive only 30% of the judges was recently achieved.



    Controversy


    The principal question Turing wanted to solve with this test end up generating lots of controversy because it derivated mainly in three others "Can machines think?", "Are machines intelligent?", "Do machines have a conscience?" Lots of arguments where stated in favor and against them (including the ones that follow), but no unanimous conclusion was reached:

    * How we could tell if a machine was intelligent. After all, mankind has tried to define intelligence for ages and had made little progress except to decide that whatever it is, we've got it.

    * How do you know if the machine actually understands what it is doing, seeing, or saying? A particularly strange side effect of being a conscious being is that you can never truly know that someone other than you is conscious.

    * Not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain-that is not only to write it but know that it had written. Neither until they can feel an emotion (Jefferson).

    * Computers can’t originate anything we explicitly tell them to do (Lovelace).

    My preferred theory concludes that machines can't think; I argue that thinking cannot be separated from feelings (Damasio) and that it also includes an intuitive component.

    Questions and thoughts


    * Do things have an essence, and if so is it possible to describe it? (Like Plato did in the Allegory of the Cave)?

    * What makes something to be something? We guide ourselves mostly by external appearances and actions. But indeed I think the evaluation would be more accurate if we compare that something internal structure and organization.

    * Can we extend the meaning of consciousness? By adding an exception to inanimate objects that does not include the act of thinking, emotions, intuition or any other aspect of the brain, in this case being conscious would mean only to have knowledge of their own existence.

    * Our brains consider that a certain entity is or is not something often by doing lots of assumptions. Instead we could assign a degree of credibility of what we think the entity is.
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    The brain is a world consisting of a number of unexplored continents and great stretches of unknown territory - Santiago Ramon y Cajal


    This amazingly easy to read and understand book, written by Douglas Fields give us a new and fascinating perspective of how the brain functions. Allowing to understand, not only to neuroscientists, the most recent discoveries about the brain. As its name indicates this book is focused in the study of glial cells which are located in the brain and make up to approximately 85% of the cells in it.

    In the past neuroscientists dedicated themselves to study only neuron cells to understand the human behavior trough the brain functioning. But two decades ago they realized that glial cells also played an important role in how the mind works. The evolution of brain knowledge is similar to the history of DNA knowledge: scientists first thought that genes caused beings to express certain traits and the rest was junk DNA; but later on they discovered that the so-called "non-coding" parts of the DNA also had an important role in the organism.

    According to J. Kwasniak there are (at least) two types of junctions between neurons: chemical synapses and electrical synapses. In chemical synapses there is a tiny space between the membranes of the two neurons, molecules of neurotransmitter are bled into this space by one neuron and taken in by the other. In this way a signal is sent from the pre-synaptic neuron to the post-synaptic one. The signaling occurs when the pre-synaptic cell is firing and the post-synaptic cell is influenced to fire more easily, or less easily in inhibitory synapses. But there is a slightly simpler junction found both in the brain and in other tissues. It is a cluster of tiny channels in one cell membrane that lines up with a similar set of channels through another cell’s membrane so that small chemicals or electrical currents can pass directly between the two cells. The tiny channels can be opened and closed. We think of the brain as using only chemical synapses when actually the gap junctions exist in many areas of the brain, especially between glial cells. They are noted to pass electrical currents in the form of charged ions but may also signal using calcium ions and other chemicals. A group of cells connected by gap junctions have, in effect, a continuous cytoplasm as far as small molecules and electrical charge are concerned. The activity of cells using gap junctions is another whole level of activity in the brain.

    Fields explains what is known about how this cells function trough a mix of scientific history, descriptions of the latest neurobiological techniques and chronicles of scientific experiments.He describes the role and importance of glial cells by detailing how they participate in different types of illnesses such as brain cancer, spinal chord injury, “mad cow” infection, HIV and degenerative brain diseases. These new insights of the glia offer hope for breakthroughs in healing these illnesses.

    Fields also suggests trough additional evidence that glia play a key role in maintaining mental health, addictions, regulating pain, processing memories, wiring up the baby’s brain and many other functions.

    This book envisions that “we are glimpsing a far greater universe of brain function than we had ever imagined.”


    Read the Scientific American articles from the author

    Wed, Mar 16, 2011  Permanent link
    Categories: brain, human being, neuroscience, reading, glia, neuron
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    Facebook has 100M people that play every day an average of 30 minutes. This equals to 50,000,000 hours / day, or 1,5B / hours month spent playing games only in this site.

    Why do people play social games?


    • They provide fun outside of their game mechanics. They provide fun via their flexibility and emphasis on customization. FarmVille itself (a social game where the main objective is to take care of a farm doing chores like harvesting plants) is very simple to play. The fun in playing is mainly found in doing things like choosing where to put your barn, how to decorate around your farmhouse and creating an apple orchard in one corner.

    • They make people feel part of a community in which they relate to other people by helping each other with their farms chores, sending each other’s gift, posting messages in the network, competing with each other and allowing others to see the farm built with your own effort, patience and good taste.

    • They require no download or install. They can run on old computers and they are (initially) free.


    Why do people pay for virtual goods?

    A virtual good, it is most commonly thought of as a discrete digital item upon which a player can exert some level of control. Examples include interior design accessories, and machines. They can be functional or purely visual.


    • Desire to accelerate progress: they provide shortcuts to insider knowledge or to skip-to-the-front-of-the-line. As in the real world, we are willing to pay for access or knowledge to get ahead faster. Some of these virtual goods do the same within the environment they are part of a better barn, a boost, or tools to enhance the game play.

    • Competing: you want to beat others, and desire to be the best, thus you purchase virtual items that can clearly help you achieve that goal.

    • Entertainment: this seems to appeal more to females. Shopping (especially if there is a social feedback loop) and/or collecting (mainly when there is an overlay of social cooperation or competition) can be a strong form of entertainment.

    • Self-expression: often related to aesthetic rather than functional virtual goods, is tied to the human desire to show off a sense of style/identity/personality.



    Maybe the truth is based on what Caesar believed 1900 years ago, he said that people need just two things: food and games, meaning physical and virtual goods. Physical goods solve the physical problems of existence, while virtual goods solve mental 'problems' such as curiosity, aesthetic value judgment and boredom.
    Fri, Nov 5, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: social games virtual goods
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    The meaning of ku, which is a part of the Buddhist concept of Three Truths (Ke, Ku and Chu).

    Ke/temporary existence- Can be thought of as life's manifestations and earthly phenomena.

    Ku is that which can not be perceived with the senses but exists as pure potential. Non substantiality. Ku is used to describe the state we are in after we die. "Ku is entirely different from non-existence. It is the potential-void combining the three views of existence: Ketai, Kutai and Chutai."

    Chu/The Middle Way The way which both transcends and unites dualities such as life and death.The realization of the unchanging essence of the universe. This concept is so difficult to grasp, it has been explained by saying what it is not; in the Eightfold Negations: 'neither birth nor death, neither cessation nor permanence, neither identity nor difference, neither coming nor going.'

    Ideas (ku) become realized as tangible changes or actions (ke). The nature (ku) of these actions will be influenced by Chu. Chu is the permeating life force of the universe; it may be compared to our essence, which in turn is shaped by our dominant life state.

    The concepept of ku, has been translated as latency, non-substantiality, emptiness and void. The first articulations of this idea comes from Nagarjuna. He believed that the state of "neither existence nor nonexistence" described in this concept expressed the true nature of all things. The paradoxical nature of this idea, however, makes it somewhat foreign to Western dualist logic. Ku, however, is down-to-earth, and in fact consistent with the findings of contemporary science.

    Modern physics, in attempting to discover the essence of matter, has arrived at a description of the world that is very close to that of Nagarjuna. What scientists have discovered is that there is no actual, easily identifiable "thing" at the basis of matter. Subatomic particles, the building blocks of the physical world that we inhabit, appear to oscillate between states of being and nonbeing. Instead of a fixed "thing" in a particular place, we find only shifting waves of probability. At this level, the world is actually a highly fluid and unpredictable place, essentially without substance. It is this non-substantial nature of reality that the concept of ku describes.

    Tue, Sep 21, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: Chu, Ke, Ku, Soka Gakkai, Buddism
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    Most people are well aware of the undesirable consequences that making their personal lives public can bring, nevertheless they keep publishing about it. Here are several possible reasons that might explain why they do it:

    To stay close with friends and family members who live far away: Social networking permits folks to stay in contact with relatives who live in different cities. College students, sibling in different states and countries and family members who are only on vacation for a few weeks can all find value in being an affiliate of different social media portals. They can stay in touch more often than they usually would without the simplicity of being connected in an internet network.

    To help construct their own narratives: Narratives are an often ignored aspect of psychology , though they are essential for us and are fundamental for providing us with a framework in which we can reconstruct our memories and think about the future. Narratives of the life stories we tell ourselves help to make sense of our lives.

    Because they feel the need for more human contact: Social networking sites actually appears to reduce loneliness and improve well-being, as was reported as long ago as 2002 in the Journal of Social Issues, People who have difficulties with conventional socializing, such as those with Asperger's syndrome, experience great benefits.

    To connect with people who have similar interests: Facebook created it's "Community Pages" for people to connect more easily with others on the social network who share similar interests. It will serve as an alternative to the official Facebook Pages for businesses, organizations and public figures. The aim is to let people create unofficial pages around topics, themes or ideas that don't fit easily in narrowly tailored Facebook Groups.

    To achieve fame: There's little doubt that the Internet supports new kinds of publicity, enabling average people to develop audiences and speak broadly while also giving those who know how to build an audience new tools in which to do so. This is part of what makes Twitter such a fascinating phenomenon. And Twitter has become a space for celebrities, micro-celebrities, wanna-be-celebrities, and all of their fans.

    To form part of a community where they feel respected and appreciated: In social media we can recognize how highly respected bloggers receive respect from others. In parallel to honor cultures, where public reputation is more important than one’s self esteem, bloggers achieve huge respect within their community.

    To maintain relationships with people they meet offline: Social networking sites are a poor alternative to real-world socializing, but they can help people stay in touch.
    Build on self-confidence: this can be attained through interacting with tweeps who continuously praise your tweets, personality,knowledge and/or looks.

    To transmit personal experiences that they feel can be valuable for others.
    Wed, May 12, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: privacy, public lives, social networks
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    Human beings have a natural tendency to protect their privacy. It's in our essence to allow only certain people to see who we really are, what we really do, what we really think, and how we really feel. Nowadays Social Networks make us feel more comfortable sharing more information openly and with more people making people's lives less private.

    Twitter can feed the narcissistic tendencies of human beings. A large amount of people believe others are interested in the everyday minutia of their lives. Judging by Twitter's initial success and unparalleled growth, it appears to have fulfilled a need for self-expression far beyond what other technologies allow. This incessant broadcasting of people's lives, however, comes with its own set of dangers beyond its pernicious effect of inflating our egos.

    When you make private information public it is easier for others to spot your weaknesses and figure out ways to harm or take advantage of you.

    It is not uncommon to receive inaccurate feedback from others, which can lead to misunderstandings and/or misinformation.

    The information you publish can be taken out of context, making you an easy target for defamation.

    People do not fully understand the extent of the impact information disclosure can provoke. Twitter is less than five years old. This is a brand new medium, and we are just now beginning to recognize its potential consequences.

    Every one must think hard before they make any data public. Realize that the information, once released, will live forever on the Web. The consideration must always be whether or not it can ever come back to haunt you resulting in any kind of damage (to your reputation, relationships, businesses, job, etc.). It is easy to avoid bad results from happening just by thinking before acting.
    Wed, Apr 14, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: privacy, twitter, social networks
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    The material and the spiritual are so closely entwined in the human mind that making meaning for us almost seems like an involuntary act. It is near impossible to dissociate the two while making our reality comprehensible to us which is to give it meaning. 'Meaning' verily is elicited by the brain by putting the material and spiritual within a unified lens to conjure an image within our minds that makes sense - Id it is


    First, we need to examine “meaning” itself, and expose a mistake, a very basic mistake, in how many people think about it. To say that some event means something without at least some implicit understanding of who it means something to is to express an incomplete idea, no different than sentence fragments declaring that “Went to the bank” or “Exploded.” Without first specifying a particular subject and/or object, the very idea of meaning is incoherent.

    Nature is concrete reality, we presume, something more real than abstraction. But if nature is more real than abstraction, what use is abstraction? Perhaps it is the case that abstraction is more real than "nature". Perhaps abstraction can be used to extend what is effortlessly given to us. Perhaps abstraction can be employed to usefully transform what is now presented to us without effort as the object. Maybe we can perceive with our (collectively-expanded) imagination levels of reality that are hidden, not so much from our senses, as by our senses.

    We think we live in the "objective" world, but we do not. The objective world is something that has been conjured up for us recently - absurdly recently, from the perspective of evolutionary biology - by the processes of science operating over a span of five centuries (or, perhaps, to give the Greeks their due, over the last thirty centuries). This does not mean that the objective world is not real, even though theories about its nature are in constant flux. What it does mean is that the environment of human beings might well be regarded as "spiritual," as well as "material."

    Now if we give a closer look at reading, because it may be fundamental, about how the brain gives meaning to letters on a page has been fundamentally a mystery. New studies fill in some details on how the brains of proficient readers handle words. One suggestion is that a visual-processing area of the brain recognizes common words as whole units. Another, is that the brain operates two fast parallel systems for reading, linking visual recognition of words to speech.

    Changing the angle if we look at it from the traditional targets of scientific inquiry that are available to sensory analysis, localized in time and space, and simultaneously accessible to the individual experience of multiple observers (at least under carefully controlled conditions). Meaning, which can vary dramatically between observers, does not reveal itself in any such straightforward manner. It is therefore not clear that it can be addressed scientifically, even in principle. At least this is the classical argument. But what if meaning could be construed as a stable emergent consequence of the interaction of subjects, objects, elements or situations, conceived of from a more abstract point of reference than that commonly utilized?
    Tue, Mar 16, 2010  Permanent link

    Sent to project: The Total Library
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    People are fascinated by language. An enormous amount has been discovered about language in linguistics, in computer science, in psychology, in philosophy. Also it bears on human evolution, on political rhetoric, on the enjoyment of poetry and fiction, on the organization of the brain. Language plays such a role in our lives, even sexuality, as we see in the language of swearing.

    Language drives thought in the sense that you acquire a lot of your thoughts from other people through language, but thought is not the same thing as language. Stretches of sound that we call sentences have meanings and those meanings themselves are part of a huge database of our understanding of the world and reality and ourselves. Language is just a tip of the iceberg of what's going on in the mind. With language we can identify two sentences that have the same meaning, we can identify a single sentence that has two meanings; In order for a given sentence to have two meanings there have to be meanings that are separate from the sentences themselves, and we often know that words can be inadequate to the thoughts that we have. We struggle to put our thoughts into words.

    Language help us express our intentions with the words we say. probably because language has to do two things at once; it has to transmit content, a promise, a proposition, a command; and at the same time it's got to ratify or change a relationship type because people aren't just modems downloading information into each other's brains. We always have a social relationship with the person we're talking to and the content of our conversation can affect that relationship.

    Metaphors are a fundamental part of language, It's hard to find a passage of everyday speech that doesn't contain them. For all of the brilliant abstraction that the human mind is capable of—philosophy and law and science and government and so on—is it all a cooping of mental structures that are concrete and physical; and is metaphor a fundamental mechanism that allows us to apply Stone Age ways of thinking to abstract subject matters?

    I often ask myself the question: does language save us from ourselves, in effect, in our instinctual ways? And the more I think about the answer I approach the following solutions: Yes, and not just language but what language reveals. That is, the metaphor that we see in language I think is like analogical thinking that we put into scientific understanding. The combinatorial rules that we see in language are like the combinatorial rules that build up complicated thoughts. So it's not just that we negotiate these new social arrangements and new knowledge via language, which of course we do, but in addition language gives us a hint as to what's going on beneath language, which has to be at least as complicated as language.
    Thu, Mar 11, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: Language, Ontology, Steven Pinker
    Sent to project: The Total Library
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