Thoughts on… communication online

As I prepare to take part in the exclusive GW4 “Communication for Collaboration” course for postgraduate researchers, I am thinking about communication online.

I would firstly like to reiterate that the views that I express on this blog, and via my social networking accounts are my own views – and do not (necessarily) represent those views of any past, present or future organisations of which I have worked, collaborated or been a member. Whether they be employers, clients, educational bodies, religious/political/other bodies. Where I put opinions online is entirely time sensitive, and therefore my opinion is very highly likely to change and evolve as I experience new things, plus it is entirely dependent on mood at that particular time (I am, after all, human). None of my opinions are set in stone, and they are certainly never meant to offend. I have a huge amount of love to give to humanity, and I try to show tolerance for other views whenever possible (providing they do not harm peoples human rights or physical being).

Secondly, I’d like to highlight how I use particular social networking tools – i.e. how I treat them, and for what purpose:

  • LinkedIn –  My LinkedIn account is very formal. I try to make it professional, yet it represents both my academic side, and my business side. Any status updates that I do on here will usually be academic and/or business orientated.
  • Twitter – My twitter account is my informal professional/academic outlet. Sometimes it involves communication with others which may highlight some opinion/belief (including religious or political views) that I have at that particular time.
  • Facebook – My facebook account is for my personal thoughts and ramblings.  It is often opinion/belief-based, sometimes about work, sometimes about my political views at the time. It is a chance to socialise.
  • Google+ – I have a few Google+ accounts at the time of writing. I use them simply to interact with Hangouts, I rarely post status updates on it. When I do post things on it, it’ll either be informally, or will be relating to some event that I am taking part in, or organising.
  • Academia.edu – My academia.edu account is a kind of informal academic outlet, its mostly links to my papers on publishers websites (e.g. Springer and IEEE).
  • Google Scholar – My google scholar account is a formal academic outlet. It is largely automatically generated, therefore very formal and very academic.
  • Blog – My “Thoughts…” blog, I try to make informal, yet quite rational. I try to express my beliefs and opinions on it, at that particular time of writing, logically/rationally but with expressiveness. It is primarily orientated to my academic and professional interests.

No doubt I probably have a few other accounts on various social networking tools, but they don’t take up a huge amount of my attention at the moment.

You see, we are all multifaceted, and different tools are useful for different facets. I, like all of us, are still exploring how technology and humanity co-exist, and that relationship will evolve over time. Shaping our lives (as it has done for many thousands of years). Hopefully, by our own monitoring of our thoughts and believes, we can improve ourselves for the betterment of humanity as a whole.

We are all foundation stones in this superstructure we call human society. Improve yourself, help others improve, and society will become a stronger edifice.

Thoughts on… truth

Didier Dubois and Henri Prade wrote the following quote in a 1988 book entitled Non-standard  Logics for Automated Reasoning:

A degree of truth is not a degree of uncertainty about truth.

This is a very important quote, and gets right to the matter I’d like to highlight. It distinguishes those problems with truth which are answered by two distinct, but related theories.

To answer the question of “a degree of uncertainty about truth”, something known as “Probabilistic Logic” was created. This merged together classical forms of logic, with its propositions and predicates, with Bayesian (or Bayesian-style) probability theory. It puts probability theory in a subjective perspective, and assigns probabilities to rules and statements, without the need for a frequency-based possible-worlds probability calculation.

As Didier and Henri rightly point out however, this really should not be confused with “a degree of truth”. For a degree of truth, fuzzy theory (i.e. fuzzy set theory and fuzzy logic) holds the solution. Fuzzy theory allows an object or statement to have a degree of membership of a set or a particular scenario.

For example “John is tall”. Tall is a vague concept, and “John” has a degree of truth of belonging to the vague “tall” concept. This is how fuzzy set theory, and matches our human way of thinking about tallness.

From a probabilistic logic perspective we would need to ask “what is the probability that John is Tall?”, which is quite a different question.

Of course, this is an area which has, for some reason, been a thorn in the fuzzy theorists side. There are many more probability theorists in this world at the moment, than there are fuzzy theorists. Once you start working with probability theory, it is easy to apply it to everything, even if it doesn’t quite fit. There are also some strong believers of probability theory, often labelled “Bayesians”, which attempt to assert that fuzzy set theory and fuzzy logic is somehow weak because the models can be “made-up” by experts instead of generated through statistics. Many fuzzy theorists have argued back, saying that its flexible model is actually a strength and not a weakness.

My own (current) research draws heavily from fuzzy set theory, but it (i.e. my current research) also has an element of probability theory as it implements data mining algorithms such as association rule mining and sequence pattern mining, which have a statistical element. I’m keen to investigate some more areas of the overlap between fuzzy and probability theories, as I consider them both to have a place (as do most other fuzzy theorists in fact). Of particular interest is the relationship of Fuzzy Formal Concept Lattices and Credal Networks. (Credal Networks are (and I simplify here) Bayesian Networks with added imprecision).

Let me know your thoughts on the above, and whether you have any hints or tips on the above. Feel free to email me or post a message in the comments box on this blog post.

CI Unconference UK 2014 – Organisers Report

The following post was originally posted at:

http://ciunconference.org/uk/2014/report.php

 

Computational Intelligence Unconference UK 2014 on Saturday 26th July 2014 at BT Centre, Newgate Street London

CI Unconference UK 2014: http://ciunconference.org/uk/2014/

Organisers Report

Report Written on Monday 28th July 2014 by Daniel Lewis

 In short, the day went incredibly well, and I would consider it to be a success.

The talks were of very high quality, and when they were given to our attendees the talks became high quality discussions.  This was largely due to a good amount of questions and comments from the group, and also the time-cushions between talks that I had scheduled. Thank you to the speakers!  Talks were split over two rooms, with longer talks and large-group discussions happening in the 170-seater “Auditorium”, and shorter talks and smaller-group discussions happening in the 40-seater “Media Suite”. We also had Damien and Viktoriya give demonstrations during lunchtime of the Micro Python kit. Also, Andrew Vladimirov gave demonstrations through the whole afternoon of his brain monitoring and brain stimulation devices. Both demonstrations received much attention, and a good amount of dialogue.

Some videos, and a good amount of still photos, were taken of the day, and will be available to find via this years event website (along with slides from the talks). The event was supported by the volunteers, and a big thank you from all attendees go to: Beki, Marcelo, Dennis, Steve, Cathy and Abi. The event was also live-documented by attendees via twitter with the hash-tag #CIUUK14. I suspect that blog posts and other forms of report will appear online in due course.

The venue was sponsored by the BT Innovate and Design Team (based at Adastral Park, Martlesham Heath (near Ipswich), Suffolk), and was hosted at the BT Centre at 81 Newgate Street, London. On behalf of all the attendees I thank BT for helping us get the unconference running, from those that sponsored the event, to the production team, the AV team and the reception & security teams. A special mention to Rebecca, Monika, Nick and Nick, who helped us a huge amount on the day itself.

The food and drink was sponsored by:

  • Gold Sponsors – Storybricks,
  • Silver Sponsors – RecSys, EF and Oxford University Press,
  • Bronze Sponsors – futuretext and The Human Memome Project

and was provided by the BT Centre Catering team. A big thank you to all of our sponsors on behalf of all of the attendees.

However, there are a few lessons learned. 

Attendance rate. We had approximately 180 people attend, with most attending the entire day (10am – 6pm). Although this is a very healthy number and turned-out to be a good number, it is approximately a 45% no-show rate from our original 325 bookings. Such a high no-show rate is usual when free tickets are involved. However, we will be looking to investigate how we might get a lower no-show rate next year. This might involve either a two-tier ticketing system (for waged a very-low ticket price and unwaged/students at no ticket price), or a donations-based ticket approach where an attendee decides how much they pay based on how much they can afford and how much they think it will be worth. Of course revenue from these methods would go straight into the event itself, and the event would retain its completely non-profit status.

Scheduling. One thing that seemed to be quite essential was that many attendees seemed to expect a printed copy of the schedule. Although this is quite understandable, it is a little worrying as the nature of unconference is quite free-flowing, and we had moved some of the talks to up to 15 minutes earlier during the day, and actually scheduled in a tea & coffee break which did not exist prior to the day. We will ensure that in the future we have printed copies of the schedule, however, we’ll have to ensure somehow that attendees are aware of changes as they happen.

Temperature. We are aware that the temperature of the Media Suite got quite high, I personally spoke to the events production manager at the BT Centre about this, and the cooling system was at full power. Unfortunately it got too warm simply because the room being at (or possibly above) maximum capacity at times, also with people using laptops and mobile devices, and the temperature from outside (it was a very hot summers day outside!).

Video. Many people, both attendees and some who could not attend, wished to have videos of all talks (and some wanted video of the demonstrations). Unfortunately we had not arranged this fully, this was simply a matter of human error. That said, we managed to arrange for two people to come in last minute to video the talks. One turned up (Jamie (thank you!)), and one did not. We could have organised for the BT Centre to bring somebody in to record the auditorium talks with their equipment, however, this would have cost quite a large amount of money for which we did not have the sponsorship.

Lunch. We had ordered sandwiches for 200 people, and we had approximately 160 attendees wanting lunch. The sandwiches all disappeared within 15 minutes. We also had several bowls of fruit, which largely disappeared quite quickly. Nobody mentioned to me that there was not enough lunch, although I suspect that it was quite simple and some attendees may have still been quite hungry. The cost of the lunch, the tea and coffee in the morning and afternoon, and the labour equated to 1212 GBP (which is inclusive of VAT). This was a “haggled-down” price in order to achieve 100% funding. If we are to have a better lunch, we will need to receive more sponsorship, or investigate other forms of revenue. We are, of course, thankful for the food and drink we did receive, and a big thanks go (again) to the sponsors listed earlier in this report.

We have started to think about next year. 

We would like to organise another CI Unconference in Summer 2015, in London (UK). However, I’d like to put together an organisation team, as collectively we can do more than just a single (or couple of) individual(s) organising everything. If you, dear reader, would like to help out, then please let me know. We will also need sponsors, speakers, and on-the-day volunteers. We also need to think about venues. If you can help with any of this, please do email me with CI Unconference UK 2015 in the subject. I will be part of such an organisation team, however, it will become increasingly more important as I am due to finish my PhD in late 2015!

I also have some initial ideas of running CI Unconferences in the USA and elsewhere in Europe. A few of the attendees of the UK 2014 unconference have given me a few suggestions, but I’d like to get some interest from those in USA and Europe, to see if it would be worth doing. If you are interested then please do let me know by sending me an email with CI Unconference USA/Europe in the subject.

Finally, I am keen to find out if there are success stories from the CI Unconference UK 2014. The best way to do this is for attendees (particularly those who hadn’t met before the event) to stay in contact with each other. I would be keen to find out if new projects have been started because of the event. Or, if somebody got a job or a new contract because of the event. Or, perhaps you learnt something which will change the way that you work. Or anything else, personal, academic or professional! Send me an email, or maybe tweet it with the hash-tag #CIUUK14.

To conclude, this years event was incredibly successful, and I look forward to working with you all on making the next one bigger and better.

Daniel Lewis

 

Thoughts on… making a future

The problems that we have today, for example seemingly endless loops of recession and conflict, are caused by what has happened in the past. It seems that we are having many problems today, than we did in yesteryear. However, we also have it better than ever before – new scientific and engineering advances are improving life and health of humanity and the planet.

It seems to me very odd that many people, and my thoughts are primarily on Europe at the moment, want to revert to some kind of ultra-traditionalist and tribal culture – where greed, injustice, inequality and conflict are commonplace.

So here are the principles I think might solve many of the problems that exist today:

  1. We should communicate and collaborate more, not less. Toleration is crucial for this, particularly of differing opinions and cultural differences. Working together for the purpose of the future. In this, I would propose a worldwide network of communities. I would also propose that Love, Communication, Collaboration and Toleration should be taught in schools, and should be prevalent in news outlets.
  2. Consensus and direct democracy need to become more prevalent, particularly when combined with some pre-existing human rights constitution. We also need a lot more grassroots efforts.
  3. Remove authority from governments. Governments are supposed to work for the people they represent, if they are imposing and limiting humanity, then they are clearly not doing their job. They work for you!
  4. Tie the economy to the environment. No matter whether our community wishes to use a capitalist, a socialist or a communist implementation, we need to tie our processes to the environment. Our products and our energy come from the planet, so if we’re using techniques which damage the earth for the future, then that has a negative value to the community.
  5. Improve news, and take responsibility. We should, as individuals, be getting objective news, about important subjects which relate to the future. We, as humanity, need to know how to live more sustainably and self-reliant. We need to know about environmental issues, and not about the latest celebrity hiccups. We need news outlets to be objective, not full of bias, and we need news outlets not to be afraid of governments because they are being objective. Once news is improved, then we as the populous can take responsibility, and can start to act, rather than relying on governments or businesses to “sort it out”.
  6. Trust developments in science and engineering, in fact push for more progress, and have a greater say in what would be useful for humanity and the environment now and in the future. If rationality and intuition agree, then this is probably the best solution for progress into the future.
  7. If we can use science and engineering to get rid of “toil”, we can end slavery, we can end injustice, we could even end boredom. The workplace could become a joyful place, and productivity would increase. This means, for example, an initial acceptance of robotics – it might be that robots seem to “take jobs” at first, but it does mean productivity would increase, and other jobs begin to open that are less toilful.
  8. As time advances here on planet earth, we get a greater probability of existential risk – i.e. where humanity ends. We need to work out how to get off the planet, and become a multi-planetary humanity (or at least have communities in space). That way if one community dies, then humanity has a higher probability of continuing into the future.
  9. Think global, act local. Think multi-planetary, act global. (Recurring Microcosmic-Macrocosmic relationships)

These are just some initial thoughts. My beliefs on the above may change in the future, and no intention of aggravation, usurpation or mutiny is intended. I present them here in full tolerance of differing opinions, and I would be happy to declare myself incorrect if found to be so.

Thoughts on… progress and tolerance

This morning I have been looking at the news, particularly focusing on computing, engineering and health. Some of the news pieces come from sources such as the IEEE Spectrum and the h+ Magazine.

We are really living in very exciting times… where machines and medicines are beginning to solve some of the toughest problems that humanity faces, and has faced for some time – long term physical disease, debilitating mental disease, “disabilities”, longevity problems, genetic problems, general “health & safety”

Meanwhile, there is an increasing level of hatred:

  • in Europe we’re seeing communities becoming increasingly harsh towards immigration,
  • in Eastern Europe and Russia we’re seeing increasing tension about nationality,
  • there is continued conflict in the middle east, and some arabian and african countries,
  • we’re seeing more and more hatred between fundamentalist atheists and the fundamentalist religious, in both directions! – and a loss of a voice for those in the middle!
  • we’re seeing people become quite vocal against people in same-sex relationships and marriages, or those that have a different gender or are transgender
  • more tension between “democratic countries” and “communist countries”/”ex-communist countries”
  • democratic countries are starting to move towards more authoritarian structures, and less democratic.

Why so much hatred in the world? Is there a link between good technological/scientific progress, and intolerance? Or is it simply as we become more globally orientated, that we also find that we have more conflicting beliefs?

Fortunately, I am sure that the readers of this blog will know the need for tolerance within a truly free society, and, of course, empathy is also an important human characteristic.

Unfortunately, I doubt that the message of the necessity of tolerance and empathy will reach the masses.

We, as individuals, should feel the need to:

  1. Improve ourselves, so that we can be the best we can, and to effectively serve humanity.
  2. Improve humanity through sharing the need for tolerance and empathy, and establishing communities.

Of course, “we are only human,” and we fail. In fact we fail quite a lot. However, we should have each other there, to be able to pick each other up and progress, for our own sake and for the sake of humanity. Without unity, the fall is quite a big, and always ends in pain.

This post is not intended to be political in any way, it does, however, highlight some of my own philosophical perspectives. The primary point of this post is to highlight that we have good technological and scientific progress, and I hope that there should now be an urge to improve humanity to match that progress. Do you agree?

Website Standardisation – Political Party Websites

I have very strong political views which are based around tolerance, harmony, community, equality and freedom. However, I will usually try my best to refrain from discussion of politics on my blog. That said, I’m making a slight deviation, as the following is technology based.

I’ve made a comparison of the main UK political parties websites, and their adherence to web standards.  The results were found thanks to W3C Validator, and are correct as of about 9am on 2nd May 2014.


* LibDems ( http://www.libdems.org.uk/ ), HTML5: 42 Errors, 16 warning(s)
* Labour ( http://action.labour.org.uk/with-us ), HTML5: 5 Errors, 1 warning(s)
* Conservatives ( http://www.conservatives.com/ ), HTML5: 10 Errors, 1 warning(s)
* Green Party ( http://www.greenparty.org.uk/ ), HTML5: 6 Errors, 1 warning(s)
* UKIP ( http://www.ukip.org/index ), XHTML 1.0 Transitional: 158 Errors and 178 warning(s)
* Plaid Cymru ( http://www.plaidcymru.org/ ), XHTML 1.0 Transitional: 33 Errors, 7 warning(s)
* Scottish National Party ( http://www.snp.org/ ), XHTML 1.0 Strict: 4 Errors

Come on developers and designers of these websites, get your act together! Political parties, you need to get your act together even more so!

That is all…

( Original post appeared on a facebook post, and on twitter tweet)

Thoughts on… formality

The following is entirely based on observation…

Formality is an interesting one isn’t it? We, as humans, seem to resort to formal speech when we meet somebody new, or when we talk about business. But why?

It comes naturally to my mind that rapport can be built between two people if they match their tone of language, style of dress, and even breathing rates. This would lead on to the indication that those who have particular styles or ways-of-life, seemingly manage to connect quite naturally and are able to work together successfully. This is magnified when the people involved also share particular areas of knowledge and interest.

Formality, in this context, is about taking a particular form. It seems to me that “formality” is often associated with business environments. These environments require wearing a particular type of dress, “formal wear”, indicating a two or three piece suit, or some other kind of office wear. These environments also seem to bring out a type of language from people which is quite foreign from their day-to-day speech. This language, when fully employed, sometimes comes out in a robotic fashion.

As humans are naturally beings which are both intuitive and logical, both emotional and rational, it seems very odd to me that we would try to remove all forms of the intuitive and emotional, from speech, whether that speech is “day-to-day” or “formal”.

Surely it would be better if we tried to transact conversation however rapport would guide us. Providing (and advocating) a careful balance of tolerance and personal belief. Why enforce, or try to enforce, conformities on those to whom it does not come naturally?

I would imagine that both the enforcement of conformity (authoritarian method), and the truly open rapport method (anti-authoritarian method), could lead to what we call tribalism. Tribalism has its pros and cons. One of the largest “con” is hatred between tribes, another large “con” is that it is extremely difficult to build bridges between tribes. So if we were to implement the anti-authoritarian method of non-formality.

Such a topic also makes me think about the use of language. Is it truly ethical to enforce a particular style of language? Granted we have to actually teach the next generations how to use the language that we use in order that we can pass down concepts and history, but why are neologisms so frowned upon? Why are subtle modifications in language structure so frowned upon? Just by looking into the history of the English language you’ll find that it has changed quite a bit in the last 100 years, and is basically unrecognisable if you go back 1000 years. We even have regional differences – for example, I bet that it would annoy quite a few people to hear what is spoken in Bristol as “Warez ee to?”, which means “where is he?”, not only is the word “where” seemingly merged with the word “is”, but the “h” is dropped in “he”, and the word “to” is appended, which to some is more seemingly problematic than the word “at” which would sometimes be added in various other regions of the world. My point is to perhaps let it be, and let language evolve. In some cases regional dialects are not “new”, but have history longer than the authorised bibles.

One problem does come to mind though, which is learning a language. In which case it is useful to have a common basis.

Anyway, I have digressed quite a bit from my original topic. So I’ll end the post here.

Thoughts on… thinking and decisions

At the University we have weekly meetings for the Intelligent Systems Lab (ISL), that we cleverly call “LabMeets.” So, the topic today diverged from the usual talk on some aspect of computer intelligence, and was a brief talk followed by a short recording of an interview – the topic was essentially the Behavioural Economics of Daniel Kahneman. I was suitably impressed enough to write up some of my notes, and to exercise the liberal art of rhetoric. Although economics might at first seem quite distant from artificial intelligence, it is actually quite closely related.

As mentioned, the first section of today’s LabMeet was a brief overview of a paper by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky entitled “Choices, Values and Frames” published in 1984 in American Psychologist. This paper showed that people tend to be “risk-averse” when the outcomes are seemingly positive, whereas “risk-seeking” when the outcomes are negative. A number of examples were given which highlight that given exactly the same scenario, the language of two different options has a direct relationship to the option chosen. This is a key aspect of decision-making, and therefore having an objective view allows for a more rational decision. It matters quite a lot to humanity, because it means that humans can very easily be manipulated, just through the use of language.

Kahneman also wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow. Which, as far as I am aware, goes into more detail about this particular theory. In the labmeet, we watched a youtube video of an interview with Kahneman regarding Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman describes two systems which the brain uses:

  • System 1: Is, in essence, the part of the mental processes which includes intuition and subconscious thought. It is that “gut feeling,” and is our fast response unit.
  • System 2: Is, in essence, the more logical and rational mental processes. It (usually) takes more time to get a result from System 2 than it does from System 1, just because it takes time to calculate.

Considering one particular example. If somebody is on a short-term winning streak (e.g. in some kind of sport, or perhaps in playing the stock markets), our intuition (i.e. System 1) might tell use that that person is worth promoting or investing in. However, our rational mind (i.e. System 2) well tell us that statistically somebody that has been better than average for a lot longer (even if he/she is not currently having a winning streak), is better to promote or invest in. With this in mind System 2 is usually the better to go with.

However, we spend most of our lives, as humans, living in System 1 and it works for us most of the time. It is just that when the difficult decisions come, the result from System 2 will usually be the best decision. This is related to the regression towards the mean phenomenon.

What was also said was about leadership, and Kahneman mentions in the video that in terms of presidents of the USA; George Bush was more of a System 1 thinker, whereas Barack Obama is more of a System 2 thinker.

From my own point of view, I couldn’t help thinking that both System 1 and System 2 obviously have their pros and cons. I wonder, from a brain-improvement perspective, how this particular theory could help. Would it be possible to make our intuitions correct for more complex decisions (i.e. improving system 1 while retaining the speed), and would it be possible to improve our more rational brain by making our day-to-day lives more rational and making our rational thought incorporate the intuitive nature of our very being? It also leads me back to one of my previous blog posts where I consider how machines might deal with rationality and irrationality of humans.

Just some thoughts, and I’d be happy to hear yours…

Thoughts on… the art of memory, and art of brain work

What follows is largely a rambling of my current thoughts of art of memory/brain work. I don’t claim to be very knowledgeable on the subject, and certainly would not claim to be even remotely an expert on psychology or neuroscience – if there are readers of this post who are in the field, then I’d be more than happy to hear from you about this subject.

As every day passes I find myself treating my body and mind, not as me, but as a vessel for ‘me’. What do I mean by this? Well, if I see my body and my mind as a carrier for myself, then I could potentially treat such entities as mechanical devices. Mechanical devices have components, which can either be enhanced or replaced. When we think of machinery these days, we usually think of the materialistic technology (e.g. mobile phones, computers, televisions, cars and planes, and even things like prosthetics and robotics). This need not be so, machinery could also be biological, or even psychological.

So if we take our bodies, then exercise and diet are obviously two key parameters improving and enhancing it (or conversely degrading it!). However, we don’t often think of ways to improve our own minds. Granted when you go to school, college and university, then you do improve your knowledge, your “key skills” and your learning/researching abilities. You can also keep your mind active through the use of crosswords and other puzzles (e.g. Sudoku). There have also been “Brain Training” games that have appeared over the last decade or so, which improve mathematical, logical and visual capability… but is this enough?

In order to analyse whether this is “enough”, we need to consider the types of brain work, here are some of the areas that immediately come to my mind (and no doubt there are others)…

  1. Memory
  2. Mathematics
  3. Logics
  4. Creativity
  5. Language
  6. Sensory stimulation
  7. Hand-Eye Co-ordination (or to put it in mechanical terms: Actuator-Sensor Co-ordination)

It is “memory” that has particularly been on my mind recently, partly because I’ve had to memorise various things recently. So we usually get the distinction between:

  1. Long Term Memory
  2. Short Term Memory
  3. Also, sometimes, Muscle Memory

I’d like to think of slightly different categories for memory (there are probably more, and I could probably clarify them better than I have here, but…):

  1. Sequential Memory – where things (e.g. words, or symbols) are memorised in order, and they must be kept in order so as to maintain semantic and pragmatic integrity. Usually used for memorising scripts.
  2. Rule Memory – where A is associated with B, through some kind of rule or relation. Usually used for memorising concepts, or mathematics. Also an important concept for (Pavlovian) teaching/learning.
  3. Loci Memory (or Method of Loci), where concepts are stored sequentially or rule-based, against more memorable locations. Sometimes known as the “Memory Palace”
  4. Muscle Memory. Repetition can be associated to concepts, or more usually sequences. Consider the act of memorising a script, one word follows another, if it does so regularly then the physical act of moving ones mouth, can actually begin to materialise itself as a muscle memory without it entering into the sequential memory of the mind.

So I think that its quite important to exercise all these areas. Through both “order” (i.e. repetition of the usual), and “chaos” (i.e. unexpected memorisation which goes against what you’ve memorised). When exercising the memory, I find that it is usually both the memory itself AND the process of memorisation, that are important.

With memory exercised, I would say that other areas can then begin to become enhanced. Mathematics (arithmetic in particular) and Logic (and Sets), are key. Then its also important to get enough visual stimulation. Once visual stimulation occurs, then our connection between the visual, and our ability to manipulate the world, can begin to be improved (i.e. hand-eye co-ordination / Actuator-Sensor co-ordination). With Actuator-Sensor co-ordination exercised, we begin to see that communication is important, and so we can use our actuators to stimulate other peoples sensors, through the use of language and creativity. If we’re receiving language and creativity, then we make new memories, and the whole process of brain enhancement begins again.

Although far from a formalised and scientific method, I think that the above informal formula would be beneficial, and over the last few months I’ve tried to implement it (with a bit of success). We just have to treat our bodies and minds like the beautiful vessels that they are, and we will begin to see the benefits into the long term, both individually and in society.

Thoughts on…. Politics & Artificial Intelligence

Firstly, I’d like to draw your attention to an article written by my newspaper of choice (The Independent) entitled “Advances in artificial intelligence could lead to mass unemployment, warns experts.” This particular article was highlighted to me by my good friend Alex Blok.

It pains me that people are probably going to be pulled in to believing that artificial intelligence will only lead to mass unemployment. It simply is not necessarily the case! Before I start my post properly, I’d just like to highlight that I’m not an economist, but I am quite passionate and hopefully quite knowledgeable about both artificial intelligence and politics.

Firstly, humanity has been innovating ever since we’ve been Homo Sapiens. Innovation can be defined as finding new or better solutions for problems we encounter. One of the biggest problems innovation has attempted to solve is problematic health & safety when working. The wheel allowed one person to push a heavy object, when four people would have had to lift it previously. The wheel also lead into innovations such as pulleys. The industrial era attempted to simplify peoples jobs by providing automation, it then also gradually improved health and safety in those factories. So, the assembly line simplified the process of people putting together things (e.g. vehicles and electronic items) – eliminating some of the dangers, and many repetitions of doing things by hand. Each of these innovations, arguably, caused some unemployment (but not mass unemployment). At the same time it, arguably, allows for different jobs to be created.

Automation allows for the simplification of processing, which directly leads to a “freeing up” of costs. This single fact often means that positions in a business are no longer required, and the people in those positions are released – aiding in the “freeing up” of costs. There are now at least four choices about where this freed-up wealth now goes, (1a) it goes on creating new jobs within the business, or (1b) new avenues of business, (2) it goes to philanthropic projects, (3) it goes into paying off debt early, or (4) it goes into the pockets of the management of the business as they’ve been “clever” enough to employ such a solution.

I suspect that in contemporary society, with its ever increasingly capitalist stance it goes more into option (4) and option (3) than the other options (although there does seem to be some hint towards (1b) and (2) but to a much lesser degree).

Now we come to Artificial Intelligence. We’ve been employing Artificial Intelligence techniques ever since about the mid-1900s, where simple AI techniques allow for automated route discovery, automated pattern finding, automated quality assurance, speech-to-text assistance for the visually impaired, etc etc. There will continue to be advances in Artificial Intelligence which simplify human life. Whats different now to allow for such an unemployment worry? Partly, it is more widely known about, and this is thanks to the general public become a bit more technology-savvy and providing greater funds to technology businesses. Another potential reason for such a worry could be that the technological singularity is a possibility within the next 1 to 100 years (there are a variety of speculations), but I think this is a lesser reason for such a unemployment worry, and is more of a problem to existential risk if global unfriendly AI were to be created (but that is a completely different topic).

What needs to happen?

I think that the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford is correct that we need to start thinking about the risks which artificial intelligence imposes. Particularly as evolutionary algorithms are at such a stage that they could self-evolve at a greater pace than society can cope with. This risk research needs to feed directly into local, national and international governments which are going to have to change rather rapidly. We must keep in mind that freed-up wealth, instead of being fed into the pockets of business owners (or even authoritarian governments), could (and should!) be shared out into making humanity better – allowing for new/different jobs, increased quality of education and research, better health for all of humanity, genuine ecological improvements that are sustainable, and allowing for creativity within humanity to encounter new problems and create new innovations to solve those problems. We must do this with freedom, equality and community in mind.

So in summary. AI, like any other innovation, is not really a problem but a solution. What could be a problem however is the management of those solutions including corporate bosses, politicians and media. We need to collectively find solutions – Collectively being the whole of the community: whether employed, unemployed, management, politician or journalist. Hysteria and panic are not the way forward. Careful analysis and genuine support for humanity is the way forward.