QUEST Weekly Meeting, December 4th

QUEST Topics Dec 4, 2009:
1.) Review our Definitions of data, information, knowledge and context and our general purpose processing element, an Agent.
2.) That provides the background to lead into a discussion of the homework assigned during our absence – use of GIST and links as a means to represent concepts = qualia.
3.) Brings us back to Types of concepts (qualia) and Types and purposes of Links.
4.) Link Game – thought experiment on continually assigned homework on examples of the link game and how we can come up with a demonstration of its use.
5.) News:
a.     Touch transforms speech perception – ‘Air puffs delivered to volunteers’ hands or necks at critical times alter their ability, for better or worse, to hear certain speech sounds, a new study finds… Tactile and auditory information, as well as other sensory inputs, interact in the brain to foster speech perception… many languages, speakers expel a small burst of air to make aspirated sounds. In English, for example, aspiration distinguishes ta from da and pa from ba… power of the human perceptual system to make use of whatever information is available from any of the senses… Consider what researchers call the McGurk effect: Someone mouthing, say, ga on a videotape while saying ba on the soundtrack is often perceived as emitting a compromise sound — da…’
b.    AF cyber security unit prepares for operations – ‘24 U.S. Air Force is about to bring limited aspects of its cybersecurity command operations center online… launching the San Antonio-based cybersecurity facility by the end of the year… We have limited ability to monitor various ‘types’ and we have the ability to push ‘patches’, but it is not a war fighting operation”… Air Force wishes to buy 2200 PlayStation 3 game consoles to build a Linux-based research supercomputer for its research center in Rome, NY… An example would be determining additional software and hardware requirements for Advanced Computing Architectures (ACA) and High Performance Embedded Computing (HPEC) applications…. The new unit effectively unites space and cyberspace operations within a single command’
c.     High tech trends for 2009 – ‘look just as quaint to our own descendants. We still hunt around for a coffee shop when we need a wireless Internet connection. We still buy movies on plastic discs. Some people still read “newspapers…The first pico projector hit the market late last year: a pocketable, rechargeable, iPod-size box that could project a six-foot image … No more connecting cameras to TVs or downloading to computers; you just say “Hey guys, come ’ere!” and push a button for a communal slide show… CAMERAS TACKLE LOW LIGHT… take no-flash photos in low light… abandoned their decade-long obsession with megapixels. Instead, several of them began working on things that really count — like bigger sensors for better pictures… THE RISE OF THE APPS- 100,000 wildly creative, infinitely fascinating free or cheap programs that you can download to your iPhone or iPod Touch… NETBOOKS – cheap ($300-ish), light (3-pound-ish), limited (no CD drive) laptops occupy a new, under-served spot on the size spectrum between cellphones and laptops… E-BOOKS GET SERIOUS – second-generation Kindle, a larger-screen Kindle and a series of new rivals from Sony…’
d.    Behavior treatment works for very young autistic kids – ‘first rigorous study of behavior treatment in autistic children as young as 18 months found two years of therapy can vastly improve symptoms… Early autism treatment has been getting more attention, but it remains controversial because there’s scant rigorous evidence showing it really works…therapy is similar to other types of autism behavior treatment. It focused on social interaction and communication — which are both difficult for many autistic children. For example, therapists or parents would repeatedly hold a toy near a child’s face to encourage the child to have eye contact — a common problem in autism. Or they’d reward children when they used words to ask for toys… After two years, IQ increased an average of almost 18 points in the specialized group, versus seven points in the others. Language skills also improved more in the specialized group. Almost 30 percent in the specialized group were re-diagnosed with a less severe form of autism after two years, versus 5 percent of the others. No children were considered “cured…. is expensive; participants didn’t pay, but it can cost $50,000 a year, Dawson said. Some states require insurers to cover such costs…’
e.     Bigger brains not always smarter – ‘More brains doesn’t necessarily equal more smarts, a new comparison of animal noggins reveals… suggest larger animals may need bigger brains simply because there is more to control… bigger brains we often don’t find more complexity, just an endless repetition of the same neural circuits over and over… might add detail to remembered images or sounds, but not add any degree of complexity *** this has been a theme in quest ***Honeybees, for example, can count, categorize similar objects like dogs or human faces, understand “same” and “different,” and differentiate between shapes that are symmetrical and asymmetrical, the scientists write…”advanced” thinking requires a very limited number of neurons. Computer modeling shows that even consciousness can be generated with tiny neural circuits ****bold conclusion that we seek – the formation of  consciousness ***’
f.       Cell phones as cyber sensor to provide measurements of human interaction – ‘team of research participants will report their interpersonal interactions in real time to provide a better view of human behavior thanks to a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Aging…new heights in data collection frequency and test new data collection technology. Rather than fill out questionnaires, which can be tedious, participants will submit data via smart phones with touch screen displays and an application that prompts them with questions on the spot **** this is an area we are very interested in – capturing relevant data without forcing the human to answer questions ****… perceptions of health including their general, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health; emotions including whether an interaction made them feel angry, happy, sad, etc., and interpersonal behavior including actions they engaged in during the interaction and whether they perceived the other person as cold or friendly, dominant or submissive…The statistical methods we’re developing should help tailor theories so that they more accurately describe individuals and their own unique idiosyncrasies. So we should be able to say, ‘this family has three children’ or ‘this family has no children…
g.     DARPA argus article – ‘combines the images from many low-resolution sensors to create a high-resolution picture…central processor combines the images into a single picture, producing a higher resolution than the individual imagers. The intelligence is in the way that the system identifies areas of interest and concentrates the sub-imagers on the relevant part of the scene…After a first frame or two was collected, the system could identify that certain areas, like the open field, had nothing of interest, whereas other areas, like the license plate of a car parked outside or peering in the windows, had details that were not sufficiently resolved… Panoptes stands for “Processing Arrays of Nyquist-limited Observations to Produce a Thin Electro-optic Sensor…Air Force-funded Variable Acuity Superpixel Technology system. In it, the software-defined fovea can be trained to follow a point of interest. This speeds up processing so much that the high-resolution “window” of the VAST camera can follow speeding bullets in flight…
h.    Behind the breast cancer screening guidelines the quest for data – clearly an area we follow carefully – the emotion in this area and the science conflict – ‘straightforward job: gathering the newest science and asking about the benefits and risks of breast cancer screening, the best time to start and how often women should be screened…women forgo routine mammograms in their 40s and test every other year instead of every year… New studies allowed scientists to zero in on benefits and harms for women in their 40s and to evaluate with far more certainty not just whether women should be screened but also how often… new results from a huge study in England of mammograms for women in their 40s…British study saw only a small decline in the breast cancer death rate after 10 years, and it was not statistically significant, meaning it could have occurred by chance. Previous studies also failed to find a statistically significant effect for women in their 40s… In 2002, when the group last reviewed breast cancer screening studies, the idea of overdiagnosis was not well formed…cancer is as three different diseases, Dr. Harris said. One type grows so fast that early diagnosis is futile. Another grows so slowly it does not need to be found early to be cured. And as many as a quarter of those slowing-growing cancers would never be noticed in a woman’s lifetime. Cancers in the third group can be cured if they are caught early. But, Dr. Harris said, at least with breast cancers, that third group makes up only 15 percent of the deadly cancers *** this is the most interesting statement in the article – this position points to the real problem – prognosis NOT detection ***
i.       Date checking app – ‘stud or dud … could hurt subjects by returning false results…their new applications for smartphones can tell you in real time whether someone is married or divorced, has a criminal record, has filed for bankruptcy or has any number of potential red flags in their past… information on educational background, social networking activities and professional history while Compatibility compares the subject’s horoscope and astrological sign with the user’s… Accurate searches also require a date of birth, which may be tricky to extract tactfully from someone on a first or second date… main danger lies in thinking you’ve dug up dirt on someone when you’ve actually found someone else… we’ve had cases where somebody might not get a job because of an inaccuracy [from online information brokers], so it does become a big deal
j.       Gen Deptula article –  success of getting MC-12 w into theater so quickly … discussion of decision loops and poor acquisition approach vs an adaptable foe … very interesting discussion of how the number of combat air patrols is not a good measure of ISR impact once we break the paradigm of one asset to one user of the data
k.     Destination memory – why we forget who we have told what – ‘You hear people of all ages, not just elderly people, say, ‘Stop me if I’ve told you this before… We often have a hard time remembering who we told things to, and clearly it starts early…important distinctions between the short-term and long-term varieties. They have documented crucial differences between explicit memories, like for faces and vocabulary, and the implicit kind, like for driving skills. They have published hundreds of studies on autobiographical memory, false memories and so-called source memory — the ability to recall where a fact was learned, whether from the radio or a book, from a work colleague or the neighborhood gossip… call destination memory: about whose ears information has landed on… The main finding by Dr. Gopie and Dr. MacLeod — that destination memory is relatively weak
l.       Newborn cells and memories – ‘idea that neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons, could disrupt existing memories, but the Cell paper is the first to show evidence supporting the idea…Scientists have known that memories first form in the hippocampus and are later transferred to long-term storage in other parts of the brain. For some amount of time the memory resides both in the hippocampus and elsewhere in the brain. What’s not been known is how, after a few months or years, the memory is gradually cleared from the hippocampus…debated the role of neurogenesis in learning and memory. The hippocampus is one of only two places in the adult brain where scientists know that new neurons form. On the basis of previous studies, many researchers think new neurons stabilize memory circuits or are somehow otherwise necessary to form new memories…Our findings do not necessarily deny the important role of neurogenesis in memory acquisition,” Inokuchi says. “Hippocampal neurogenesis could have both of these roles, in erasing old memories and acquiring new memories…
m. Playing sounds aides memories during sleep – ‘new study about a different kind of audio approach during sleep gives insight into how the sleeping brain works, and may eventually come in handy to people studying a language, cramming for a test or memorizing lines in a play… playing specific sounds while people slept helped them remember more of what they had learned before they fell sleep… taught people to move 50 pictures to their correct locations on a computer screen. Each picture was accompanied by a related sound, like a meow for a cat and whirring for a helicopter… thinking is that during sleep, memory consolidation is going on and that rehearsal is a good way to strengthen memories… you can get information in during sleep using the auditory system and that you can cue that rehearsal by providing sounds specific to each episode of learning… adds a dimension to a theory that sleep allows the brain to process and consolidate memories…
n.    Feeling the way – helping the visually impaired – ‘for blind people, Google maps and other visual mapping applications are of little use. Now, a unique device developed at MIT could give the visually impaired the same kind of benefit that sighted people get from online maps… BlindAid system, developed in MIT’s Touch Lab, allows blind people to “feel” their way around a virtual model of a room or building, familiarizing themselves with it before going there… when blind people have the chance to preview a virtual model of a room, they have an easier time navigating their way around the actual room later on … *** begs the question of providing on demand the preview – using maybe the 3d robotics we’ve recently discussed to generate a map ***… blind people not only preview public spaces such as train stations, but also plan and travel by public transportation using virtual route maps that they can download and interact with through touch… There is a big difference between going to a totally unknown place and a place for which you have a mental map’
o.    Emulating the human brain in a computer – ‘computer-based architecture that mimics a pair of human brain functions. System that detects and compensates for their own shortcomings is a possible application, another is to reduce the impact of noise… three modules representing different senses. With one, a part of the brain that deals with visual information is modelled, with another, a part which deals with auditory information is modelled and with the help of the third a fusion of the first two is modeled… qualitative improvement that can be done in a sensory impression at the input of an additional signal through a different sensory…’
p.    IBM announces emulation of brain – ‘still crucial ways in which a computer can’t match the problem-solving abilities of our own brains… developments that could one day lead to a new kind of computer — one that uses specially designed hardware and software to mimic what’s inside our heads…performed a computer simulation that matches the scale and complexity of a cat’s brain, and project members from IBM and Stanford have developed an algorithm for mapping the human brain at new levels of detail… federally funded effort to study what’s known as cognitive computing…key difference between human brains and traditional computers, Modha says, is that current computers are designed on a model that differentiates between processing and storing data, which can lead to a lag in updating information. The brain works on a more complex physical structure that can integrate and react to a constant stream of sights, sounds and other sensory information…***this has been a major emphasis for us – memory = perception = imagination – one process ***… There is a need for a new kind of intelligence that can sort through, prioritize and extract the most important information, much like how the brain deals with sight, sounds, tastes, touch and smell…
q.    Thought controlled robotic arm – ‘successfully connected a robotic hand to a man who had lost an arm, allowing him to feel sensations in the artificial hand and control it with his thoughts… first time an amputee has been able to make complex movements using his mind to control a biomechanic hand connected to his nervous system…
r.      Number of diabetics to double – ‘twice as many Americans will have diabetes and spending on the disease will triple, further straining the U.S. health system and testing the viability of Medicare and other government health insurance programs… in the next 25 years, the population size of people with diabetes — both diagnosed and undiagnosed — will rise from approximately 24 million people to 44 million people by the year 2034 **** emphasizes the need for compliance aides ***,…United States, about 11 percent of adults have diabetes. Most have type 2 diabetes, the kind closely linked to obes… the Diabetes Prevention Program — we know we can prevent diabetes through diet and exercise…
s.      Personalized real time web updates – ‘Nowadays, many home pages are custom-built, featuring headlines syndicated from favorite blogs and news sites and widgets that display the latest weather and sports scores, social network updates, and more… testing a service that pulls together real-time data from Twitter and Facebook… Competing services, including iGoogle, Bloglines, and Pageflakes…
t.      Purpose of fingerprints – ‘fingerprints process vibrations in the skin to make them easier for nerves to pick-up…. each ridge in a fingerprint acts like a tiny lever, magnifying the subsurface strain for the nerve endings beneath…mechanoreceptors that do this job are called Pacinian corpuscles. They sit at the ends of nerves and are responsible for sensing pressure and pain. These devices can sense vibrations over a wide area of skin but are sensitive only to a limited range of vibrations…Biologists have always assumed that humans can control the frequency of vibrations in the skin by changing the speed at which a finger moves across a surface. But there’s little evidence that people actually do this and the Paris team’s discovery should make this view obsolete… fingerprints resonate at certain frequencies and so tend to filter mechanical vibrations. It turns out that their resonant frequency is around 250 Hz. What an astonishing coincidence… There is a growing awareness that the processing power of the nervous system, including the brain, simply cannot handle the volume of number crunching that has to be done to keep a living body on the road. **** exactly where we live in quest ****… turning materials science into a branch of computer science. It’s even got a name: morphological computing…
u.    Math of Fly’s eye could help robotics – ‘researchers have found an ultra-efficient method for pulling motion patterns from raw visual data… can build a system that works perfectly well, inspired by biology, without having a complete understanding of how the components interact. It’s a non-linear system… find a simpler way of processing motion. Inspiration has come from the lowly fly, which uses just a relative handful of neurons to maneuver with extraordinary dexterity’
v.     Sleepwalker kills wife during nightmare –‘ A British man with a history of sleepwalking strangled his wife because he was convinced that she was an intruder who had broken into their camper van…couple had been asleep in their camper when they were disturbed by “boy racers” and decided to move. After they went back to bed, Brian Thomas had a nightmare in which the youths broke into their camper van…tape of the call played to the jury he was heard telling the emergency operator: “I think I’ve killed my wife. Oh my God. I thought someone had broken in. I was fighting with those boys but it was Christine. I must have been dreaming or something. What have I done? What have I done? Can you send someone… Medical experts had carried out tests that confirmed his behavior was “consistent with the legal concept of automatism…
w.  Social Search –‘ Cuil indexes your Facebook network and produces results based on your social connections… places direct and thematically related results from your Facebook network beside general Web search results…my search for “asthma” summoned Facebook posts from a friend who had started a health-care networking website, others from a high-school classmate writing about his cancer diagnosis (the word “diagnosis” was deemed relevant), as well as a few posts about people’s colds and sinus complaints. A search for “Ecuador” turned up a travel agent acquaintance who was talking about a jungle tour, as well as a post from a journalist friend who was passing along a news story about the Congo…when I performed my “asthma” and “Ecuador” searches within Facebook, the Facebook engine gave me only general hits such as Facebook pages for asthma sufferers or national fan sites for Ecuador, but nothing at all from any of my friends’ posts…Cuil launched in the summer of 2008 amid hype that it was a “Google-killer” because it claimed to hold the largest search index in the world. But after it launched, servers crashed and algorithms sometimes gave irrelevant results. But the company hopes the social-search strategy can bring it back…Google announced, within its Google Labs test bed, a technology called Social Search. This allows users to find results from their social networks; but only those results that are already publicly available on the Web, such as websites, blogs, status updates, and other public content…
x.     Surging ISR – ‘now flying 37 continuous remotely piloted vehicle combat air patrols in the US Central Command war zone… CAPs comprise 31 MQ-1 Predator patrols, five MQ-9 Reaper orbits, and a lone Global Hawk patrol… augmenting this intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance capability with the six in-theater MC-12 Liberty aircraft, an inventory that should grow to 35 aircraft by July 2010,… goal of 50 around-the-clock orbits in 2011, and the MC-12 went from concept to fielding in just 10 months
y.     Urge to help – ‘testing very young children, and partly from comparing human children with those of chimpanzees, hoping that the differences will point to what is distinctively human… babies are innately sociable and helpful to others. Of course every animal must to some extent be selfish to survive… infants 18 months old see an unrelated adult whose hands are full and who needs assistance opening a door or picking up a dropped clothespin, they will immediately help…Infants will help with information, as well as in practical ways. From the age of 12 months they will point at objects that an adult pretends to have lost. Chimpanzees, by contrast, never point at things for each other, and when they point for people, it seems to be as a command to go fetch something rather than to share information…children are often more cooperative outside the home, which is why parents may be surprised to hear from a teacher or coach how nice their child is. “In families, the competitive element is in ascendancy… grow older, they become more selective in their helpfulness. Starting around age 3, they will share more generously with a child who was previously nice to them…. Where do they get this idea of group rules, the sense of “we who do it this way”? Dr. Tomasello believes children develop what he calls “shared intentionality…what system of child-rearing best takes advantage of this surprising propensity? Dr. Tomasello says that the approach known as inductive parenting works best because it reinforces the child’s natural propensity to cooperate with others. Inductive parenting is simply communicating with children about the effect of their actions on others and emphasizing the logic of social cooperation…All 200 or so species of primates have dark eyes and a barely visible sclera. All, that is, except humans, whose sclera is three times as large, a feature that makes it much easier to follow the direction of someone else’s gaze. Chimps will follow a person’s gaze, but by looking at his head, even if his eyes are closed. Babies follow a person’s eyes, even if the experimenter keeps his head stil… structure of early human societies, including their “high levels of cooperation between kin and nonkin,” was thus an adaptation to the “specialized foraging niche…
z.      Using virtual worlds for security investigations – ‘making possible virtual worlds in which defense analysts can explore and predict results of many different possible military and policy actions… gives the commander a view of the most likely strengths and weaknesses of any particular course of action…pieces critical to building virtual worlds. These include stochastic opponent modeling agents (SOMA) – artificial intelligence software that uses data about past behavior of groups in order to create rules about the probability of that group various actions in different situations; “cultural islands,” which provide a virtual world representation of a real-world environment or terrain, populated with characters from that part of the world who behave in accordance with a behavioral model; and forecasting “engines” CONVEX and CAPE, which focus on predicting behavioral changes in groups based on validated on historical data…defense analysts can use such virtual worlds to interact with models of the behaviors of these groups and understand how certain actions they might take will affect the short-term and long-term behaviors of these groups…

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