QuEST Weekly Meeting, Oct 2nd

Quest topics 2 Oct 2009:
1.) Data, Information and Knowledge – review our strawman definitions for these ideas with respect to QUEST.  Using the article by Boisot et al as a guide and point of departure we will work our way through a series of examples.
2.) What Turing meant to say – use the discussion above to lead into a discussion on ‘trust’ in ad-hoc networks, next generation CAPTCHAs and a medical application (autism detection).
3.) News
a.     Autistics may retain aptitude for analogy – difficulty forming social relationships. But they discern relationships among objects in visual scenes surprisingly well… theory of weak central coherence holds that people with autism focus on details of what they encounter rather seeing the big picture. **** this is the name of the theory we talk about when we say ATRs are autistic – that they concentrate on details versus the big picture ****… some people with autism—the roughly one-quarter who possess unusually large heads and brains, a sign of disturbed neural development—focus excessively on details. “It’s possible that participants with autism in the new study aren’t particularly detail-focused,” Frith says, and thus could grasp analogies within the bigger picture. (co-developer of theory of weak coherence) …
b.    Reading your mind – researchers translated recorded patterns of neural activity into pictures of what test subjects had seen… researchers translated recorded patterns of neural activity into pictures of what test subjects had seen…closer to reconstruction than identification, which Gallant likened to “the magician’s card trick where you pick a card from a deck, and he guesses which card you picked. The magician knows all the cards you could have seen…they looked at parts of the brain linked to the shape of objects. Unlike before, they looked at regions whose activity correlates with general classifications, such as “buildings” or “small groups of people…calibrated, the test subjects looked at another set of pictures. After interpreting the resulting neural patterns, the researchers’ program plucked corresponding pictures from a database of 6 million images
c.     Malicious new botnet in Fortune 500 computers – information-stealing botnet is on the loose in corporate America…70 variants of the virus with varying purposes, including email address harvesting, injecting code into known system processes, and surreptitiously downloading malware onto corporate computers and networks… running automatically from USB sticks, through an Internet-based update module, and across the MSN Messenger chat network, plus there’s a command and control interface to talk to other elements….
d.    Mesmerized brain – hypnosis – psychologists have used it to help patients calm preflight jitters, get a good night’s sleep or chuck a cigarette habit… striving to figure out how it works… told to see colors, for example, the color-processing parts of their brains light up—despite the absence of any real color in view…Hypnosis got its start as a “miracle cure” in 1774 when physician Franz Mesmer found a way, using ethereal music played on a glass harmonica, to induce a hypnotic trance in patients suffering from various unexplained medical problems. Though eventually discredited as a healer, Mesmer demonstrated that the mind could be manipulated by suggestion to produce an effect in the body…People sometimes report feeling disconnected from their surroundings and lost in thought. During hypnosis, subjects are more open than usual to suggestions and have the ability to focus intensely on a specific thought, feeling or sensation… Most adults, about two-thirds, are hypnotizable to some degree, though some people experience the effects of hypnosis more intensely than others do…
e.     Soft grasp robotic hand – veloped a simple, soft robotic hand that can grab a range of objects delicately, and which automatically adjusts its fingers to get a good grip. The new hand could also potentially be useful as a prosthetic arm… reaching for an object, people do not normally use a rigid grasp, but keep their fingers relaxed, so as to avoid knocking the object over…
f.       Web spiders for everyone – Web crawlers, or spiders, are software that automatically visit pages on the Internet and can be used to index them and gather bits of information from different pages. Crawlers are used by search engines, for example, to monitor the location of information on the Web. But the scale of the Web means that comprehensive crawling consumes a lot of processing power, which typically means building huge data centers to power the software. … For example, a user might want the crawler to find images and check them against a database of copyrighted ones. Deysarkar says his company’s crawlers are capable of processing up to two billion pages a day. The company charges $2 for every million pages crawled, plus a fee of three cents per hour of processing used…
g.     Wolfram Alpha – goal is to compute all – it’s a computational knowledge engine. Massive amounts of data have been collected and transformed into computable formats. WolframAlpha.com computes data, often presenting query results in the form of lists, charts and graphs… We can take the knowledge that humans have accumulated and can make the whole thing computable. So that when someone asks a question, we can dip into that base of knowledge and compute a specific answer, as opposed to providing (links to) Web pages… If you ask how much knowledge is there, there is no particularly good way to quantify that *** this is something I think our discussion is about – if we define knowledge as the means we transform data into information- we should be able to quantify how much knowledge is in alpha ***…. We’re approaching 7 million lines of mathematic code. It’s a little hard to quantify. I can tell you how much code is inside. If you ask how much knowledge is there, there is no particularly good way to quantify that *** this is something I think our discussion is about – if we define knowledge as the means we transform data into information- we should be able to quantify how much knowledge is in alpha ***

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