This article is relevant to our recent discussions and Zak Stein’s (see Edward’s recent post) suggestion that great destabilizing events open gaps in which new structures can supplant older, disintegrating systems–with the inherent risks and opportunities.
In his new book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, David J. Epstein investigates the significant advantages of generalized cognitive skills for success in a complex world. We’ve heard and read many praises for narrow expertise in both humans and AIs (Watson, Alpha Go, etc.). In both humans and AIs, however, narrow+deep expertise does not translate to adaptiveness when reality presents novel challenges, as it does constantly.
As you ingest this highly readable, non-technical book, please add your observations to the comments below.
The NYU Center for Mind, Brain & Consciousness hosts presentations, including topical debates among leading neuroscience researchers. Many of the sessions are recorded for later viewing. The upcoming debate among Joseph LeDoux (Center for Neural Science, NYU), Yaïr Pinto (Psychology, University of Amsterdam), and Elizabeth Schechter (Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis), will tackle the question, “Do Split-brain patients have two minds?” Previous topics addressed animal consciousness, hierarchical predictive coding and perception, AI ‘machinery,’ AI ethics, unconscious perception, research replication issues, neuroscience and art, explanatory power of mirror neurons, child vs adult learning, and brain-mapping initiatives.
A Nieman Reports article highlights four startups seeking to improve public discourse. Let’s hope efforts to create methods and technologies along these lines accelerate and succeed in producing positive outcomes.
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An experiment in a remote Ethiopian village demonstrates the potential of mobile devices to enable children to learn and teach each other how to read without traditional schooling.
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In her new book, Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World, author Maryanne Wolf explores how reading affects the brain and mind. What different effects result from consuming digital media rather than print media and long forms rather than tweets, posts, and other microcontent? In her excellent recent article, she says,
Will new readers develop the more time-demanding cognitive processes nurtured by print-based mediums as they absorb and acquire new cognitive capacities emphasized by digital media? For example, will the combination of reading on digital formats and daily immersion in a variety of digital experiences — from social media to virtual games — impede the formation of the slower cognitive processes, such as critical thinking, personal reflection, imagination, and empathy, that are all part of deep reading?
Wolf first addressed the evolution of reading and its implications in her earlier book, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. She summarizes her thesis in this interview (14 min video).
Stanislas Dehaene, an author whose work we’ve discussed, also investigated the brain circuits involved in reading. Hear him speak on the topic in this video (33 min).
Neural learning occurs at dendrite roots, not in synapses.
The newly suggested learning scenario indicates that learning occurs in a few dendrites that are in much closer proximity to the neuron, as opposed to the previous notion. …
The new learning scenario occurs in different sites of the brain and therefore calls for a reevaluation of current treatments for disordered brain functionality. … In addition, the learning mechanism is at the basis of recent advanced machine learning and deep learning achievements. The change in the learning paradigm opens new horizons for different types of deep learning algorithms and artificial intelligence based applications imitating our brain functions, but with advanced features and at a much faster speed.
During our next discussion meeting, we’ll explore the status, future potential, and human implications of neuroprostheses–particularly brain-computer interfaces. If you are local to Albuquerque, check our Meetup announcement to join or RSVP. The announcement text follows.
What are neuroprostheses? How are they used now and what may the future hold for technology-enhanced sensation, motor control, communications, cognition, and other human processes?
Resources (please review before the meeting)
• New Brain-Computer Interface Technology (video, 18 m)
• Imagining the Future: The Transformation of Humanity (video, 19 m)
• The Berlin Brain-Computer Interface: Progress Beyond Communication and Control (research article, access with a free Frontiers account)
• The Elephant in the Mirror: Bridging the Brain’s Explanatory Gap of Consciousness (research article)
Other resources (recommend your own in the comments!)
• DARPA implant (planned) with up to 1 million neural connections (short article)
Extra Challenge: As you review the resources, think of possible implications from the perspectives of the other topics we’ve recently discussed:
• the dilemma of so much of human opinion and action deriving from non-conscious sources
• questions surrounding what it means to ‘be human’ and what values we place on our notions of humanness (e.g., individuality and social participation, privacy, ‘self-determination’ (or the illusion thereof), organic versus technologically enhanced cognition, etc.)
I like using concept maps to organize my thoughts and to plan articles and projects. I would like to share member-editable concept maps through this website.
I’ve used the free Cmap Tools program for many years. Unfortunately, Cmap Tools is developed on the Java platform and I have been unable to get it to work on my Mac for about two years. (Apparently, it needs an older version of the Java Runtime Environment and several other tools I use need a later version, which creates a conflict I’ve not been able to resolve.)
I am able to use Cmap Tools on my Windows 10 virtual machine, so it’s still a good candidate application.
Fortunately, there’s also a free cloud version of Cmap we can use to share concept maps. The downloadable (client) application has many more features for embedding functionality into concept maps, but the cloud environment is excellent for viewing and basic editing. Here’s a sample cmap I built in about five minutes this morning (displayed using the embed code from the Cmap Cloud Viewer):
Because this example is presented in a viewer window, it is not directly editable. If I provide a link to a shared cmap online, you’ll be able to edit it as well. If you install the downloadable version of Cmap Tools, you’ll be able to add richer content and more advanced features, including collapsable detailed nodes, embedded images and other resources, links to other nodes and maps, links to online content, etc.
If you might be interested in viewing and/or collaborating on concept maps, please reply and identify the operating system of the computer you would use. (If you don’t want to post your OS reply, please tell me by email.) Once you create a free account online, we’ll be able to collaboratively work on cmaps, which is a great way to negotiate meaning with a bit more structure and persistence than real-time conversations.
Last, if you want to know how cmaps and other visual representation benefit learning, read the articles on the IHMC site. I also highly recommend the little book, Learning How to Learn, by Novak and Gowin. Thanks!