QuEST Weekly Meeting, Oct 30th

Quest Topics 30 Oct 2009:

1.)  First we need to revisit the end of our synaesthesia discussion – specifically the ‘laws of qualia’.  What we are after here is the set of functional characteristics that enable the engineering advantage of the use of qualia in representation of an entity’s environment.

2.) Types of Qualia – we want to revisit the Stanford site discussion on different views of Qualia and links .  In that light we will go through our current thoughts on types of qualia.  We can also discuss our recent experiments associated with vivid dreams and the implication to types of links.

3.) Architecture of QUEST solutions – these first two topics then lead to the discussion on our definitions of data, information and knowledge and the concept of ‘Agents’ as the embodiment of a general purpose description of entities that process measurements of stimuli to modify their internal representation.

4.) News:

a.     The return of banned USB drives – interesting to discuss the impact of this cyber threat and our recovery back to normalcy… may soon be allowed to plug back into U.S. Defense Department computers… banned in November 2008 after thousands of military computers and networks became infected by worms, viruses and other malicious software…. For starters, not everyone will be allowed to use them. Only “authorized individuals” are likely to be permitted to use thumb drives for “mission-essential functions,”… approved drives won’t be like the thumb drives on sale at your local office supply store; they probably will be “government-owned and procured….”A whole lot of procedures are being developed” to govern the return of thumb drives, he said. “Issuance procedures, monitoring procedures, control procedures, it’s all in progress.”… Only “trusted products” sold by “trusted suppliers” should be allowed, Conway said. And the trusted thumb drives should have multiple layers of built-in defense. … TRUST is a discussion we want to have … Note the overhead that will be required – this is an interesting discussion and similar to the one we have been having with Prof Mills on insider threat ** Defense Department should also require that a unique serial number be assigned to each thumb drive. The number would enable network operators to set specific restrictions on what each drive will and won’t be allowed to do…

b.    Two articles on the negative impact of screening on the patient population – we have had considerable discussion on the ways to generalize our discussions on fighting an adaptable foe (whether that foe is a cancer, an insurgent or a piece of malicious code) – ‘Besides finding tumors that would be lethal if left untreated, screening appears to be finding many small tumors that would not be a problem if they were left alone, undiscovered by screening. They were destined to stop growing on their own or shrink, or even, at least in the case of some breast cancers, disappear… contrary as it seems to everything they had thought, cancers can disappear on their own…Testicular cancer is unusual; most others do not disappear. But there is growing evidence that cancers can go backward or stop, and researchers are being forced to reassess their notions of what cancer is and how it develops… autopsy studies of people who died of other causes, with no idea that they had cancer cells or precancerous cells. They did not have large tumors or symptoms of cancer. “The really interesting question,” Dr. Tlsty said, “is not so much why do we get cancer as why don’t we get cancer?”… If every one of those early cancers were destined to turn into an advanced cancer, then the total number of cancers should be the same after screening is introduced, but the increase in early cancers should be balanced by a decrease in advanced cancers has not happened with screening for breast and prostate cancer. So the hypothesis is that many early cancers go nowhere… — second article ‘Most prostate cancers occur in older men and are so slow-growing that the patient would die from something else before the cancer became a problem. Yet about 30,000 men do die each year of the disease… But for every 1,000 healthy women who undergo annual mammograms, about half will have a stressful false positive within 10 years, and 180 of them will undergo a biopsy… impossible to distinguish between harmless prostate cancers and deadly ones…

c.     Cyber warfare article on the need for trusted foundaries – Counterfeit computer hardware, largely manufactured in Asian factories, is viewed as a significant problem by private corporations and military planners. A recent White House review noted that there had been several “unambiguous, deliberate subversions” of computer hardware… Maliciously tampered integrated circuits cannot be patched,” General Clark wrote. “They are the ultimate sleeper cell…In the future, and possibly already hidden in existing weapons, clandestine additions to electronic circuitry could open secret back doors that would let the makers in when the users were depending on the technology to function. Hidden kill switches could be included to make it possible to disable computer-controlled military equipment from a distance…A Trojan horse kill switch may already have been used. A 2007 Israeli Air Force attack on a suspected partly constructed Syrian nuclear reactor led to speculation about why the Syrian air defense system did not respond to the Israeli aircraft… IEEE Spectrum, cited a European industry source in raising the possibility that the Israelis might have used a built-in kill switch to shut down the radars…

d.    Exercise and cognition – another way to get impact on subjective representation by taking objective measurements – in this case by giving cognitive skills test – Most notably in children, what we see is that they perform better on academic achievement tests following single bouts of exercise… Cognition Following Acute Aerobic Exercise,” found that moderate exercise -– 30 minutes for adults and 20 minutes for children -– results in a 5 percent to 10 percent improvement in cognition…

e.     Fingerprint technology that works with difficult users (construction workers) – ‘identify partial, distorted, scratched, smudged, or otherwise warped fingerprints in just a few seconds has just scored top marks in the world’s two toughest technical fingerprint tests…allows the researchers to “unwarp” any finger print that has been distorted by smudging, uneven pressure, or other distortion and create a clear digital representation of the fingerprint that can then be mapped on to an “image space” of all other finger prints held on a database…“Warwick Warp”… Improving accuracy on low quality images is important for many biometric applications, and I am delighted to see that the innovative approach of a British company scored so highly in the benchmark test…

f.       Grieving chimps – abc news story on a chimp death impact on the rest of the group…. From special k ‘Mourn is a quale. They might show some specific death-triggered behavior like I observed once in a group of crows  over a dead crow on the ground, The great chimp researcher (I can’t remember her name!!!) described the strange behavior of a chimp mother upon the death of her child, and the behavior of an adult son upon the dearth of his mother.’

g.     Computers that are designed to understand your perspective (emotion recognition), specifically our QUEST model suggests that the Libet soup provides avenues of communicating nonverbal stimuli critical to understanding the message – ‘automatic system to spot non-verbal social signals in natural conversation, allowing computers to better understand meaning in speech, and ultimately enabling more intuitive computer interfaces… following initiation of a study into lip reading which identified the need to provide more than the literal words for useful understanding… technology social cues such as agreement, understanding, thinking and questioning are detected in continuous video…humans unconsciously use body gestures, emotions and gaze direction to understand the meaning of spoken language. *** we would suggest humans also ‘unconsciously’ transmit those signals using the Libetian process *** The automatic recognition of communication signals provides a valuable tool for computer interfaces and the study of social situations… new direction in emotion recognition.  Most previous work focused on actors or artificial social situations.  The ability for computers to understand meaning in natural conversation is key to being able to use our innate communication skills to use computers …

h.    Knowledge and eHow – not only interesting application of net solutions an interesting business model for the entrepreneurs in the crowd, looking for quick solutions to questions ranging from how to make a great margarita to how to format a computer hard drive… Get writers and editors to work for little money upfront — but share generously in the ad revenue… all populated with a mix of low-cost user-generated and professionally produced content, and social-media tools to spread the love…. combination of low-cost content and a large audience that wants to read it is a strong one, he believes. “Multiply that with several other properties, and it becomes really powerful…. You ask people what they’re interested in, and give it to them…

i.       Mirror mirror – an interesting application (PARC) that requires the system to detect and recognize the person’s orientation in the dressing room to provide you the similar pose in a prior wardrobe option.

j.       Plasticity of self – phantom pain that often accompanies these limbs has been successfully treated by using visual feedback from mirrors to trick the brain…achieved without external help — amputees have learned to mentally manipulate their phantom limbs into anatomically impossible configurations through thinking alone, scientists report October 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science… suggests that people with a distorted body image — such as those with anorexia — may be able to alter their self-image by imagining a change to the body… This shows that body image is constructed in a dynamic manner — it can be changed,” says V.S. Ramachandran, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego…Body image turns out to be extraordinarily plastic,” says Ramachandran. “We think of ourselves as stable people with a stable body image — but we can inhabit a body that cannot exist in the physical world

k.       Robot perception and fusion – enables a robot to combine data from both sound and vision to create combined, purposeful perception… robotic perception is much weaker in less defined situations, like understanding and responding to human behaviour and even conversations… decide what is foreground and what is background using sound alone, but by combining the two modalities – sound and vision…

l.        Google Wave – to replace email – allows you to interact versus having email replicate snail mail.

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