Public attitudes concerning cognitive enhancements are significant for a number of reasons. They tell us about how socially acceptable these emerging technologies are considered to be, but they also provide a window into the ethical reasons that are likely to get traction in the ongoing debates about them. We thus see Conrad et al’s project of empirically investigating the effect of metaphors and context in shaping attitudes about cognitive enhancements as both interesting and important. We sketch what we suspect is (...) a central theme that runs through these public attitudes, but that Conrad el al’s paper elides. We were disappointed that they did not more directly explore the efficacy of frames and metaphors associated with the values of authenticity and self-expression. This seems like a missed opportunity. Based on the premise that individualistic values enjoy centrality in Western and especially North American culture (e.g. Taylor 1989), we hypothesize that metaphors and frames informed by those values will be especially effective in shaping public attitudes. That is, when various kinds of novel enhancement are described as allowing people to more fully express themselves, or as helping people overcome obstacles to being authentic and true to their inner sense of themselves, those enhancements will be considered justified, and their use more likely to be viewed as socially acceptable by the public. We support our contention by drawing on work by Elliott (2004, 2011, c.f. Kadlac 2018), and discuss how this study, and others modeled on it, might shed light on our hypothesis. (shrink)
Clark & Thornton present the well-established principle that recoding inputs can make learning easier. A useful goal would be to make such recoding automatic. We discuss some ways in which incrementality and transfer in connectionist networks could attain this goal.
Three and 4-year-old children were tested on matched versions of Zaitchik's (1990) photo task and Wimmer and Perner's (1983) false belief task. Although replicating Zaitchik's finding that false belief and photo task are of equal difficulty, this applied only to mean performance across subjects and no substantial correlation between the two tasks was found. This suggests that the two tasks tap different intellectual abilities. It was further discovered that children's performance can be improved by drawing their attention to the back (...) of the photo but not by drawing attention to the person holding the false belief. Results are interpreted as showing that children's difficulty with the photo task is due to referential confusion about which scene the question refers to (the picture or reality) while the hurdle in the false belief task is to understand that the believer misrepresents reality. (shrink)
Recent data show that human children (up to 8 years old) perform poorly when required to innovate tools. Our tool-rich culture may be more reliant on social learning and more limited by domain-general constraints such as ill-structured problem solving than otherwise thought.
The two brothers Julius and Adolf Hurwitz were born in the middle of the nineteenth century in a small town near Hanover. Already during their schooldays, the two of them became acquainted with mathematical problems and both started to study mathematics, but while the younger brother Adolf turned out to be extremely successful in his research, the elder brother and his work seem to be almost forgotten. This paper examines the lives and works of the two brothers with particular emphasis (...) on the contributions of Julius Hurwitz, and the subsequent reception of their research. It deals with the development of an arithmetical theory for complex continued fractions by Julius and Adolf Hurwitz around 1890 and its rediscovery in the twentieth century. (shrink)
Throughout the biological and biomedical sciences there is a growing need for, prescriptive ‘minimum information’ (MI) checklists specifying the key information to include when reporting experimental results are beginning to find favor with experimentalists, analysts, publishers and funders alike. Such checklists aim to ensure that methods, data, analyses and results are described to a level sufficient to support the unambiguous interpretation, sophisticated search, reanalysis and experimental corroboration and reuse of data sets, facilitating the extraction of maximum value from data sets (...) them. However, such ‘minimum information’ MI checklists are usually developed independently by groups working within representatives of particular biologically- or technologically-delineated domains. Consequently, an overview of the full range of checklists can be difficult to establish without intensive searching, and even tracking thetheir individual evolution of single checklists may be a non-trivial exercise. Checklists are also inevitably partially redundant when measured one against another, and where they overlap is far from straightforward. Furthermore, conflicts in scope and arbitrary decisions on wording and sub-structuring make integration difficult. This presents inhibit their use in combination. Overall, these issues present significant difficulties for the users of checklists, especially those in areas such as systems biology, who routinely combine information from multiple biological domains and technology platforms. To address all of the above, we present MIBBI (Minimum Information for Biological and Biomedical Investigations); a web-based communal resource for such checklists, designed to act as a ‘one-stop shop’ for those exploring the range of extant checklist projects, and to foster collaborative, integrative development and ultimately promote gradual integration of checklists. (shrink)
This mini review examines the impact of tropical climate on motivational factors during aerobic performance and proposes the tracks of an integrative theoretical model to better understand the direct and indirect motivational mechanisms that can operate on athletic performances. TC is detrimental for aerobic performance and, although it clearly induces physiological constraints, these do not seem to be the only factors that explain the performance decline. Indeed, TC performance researchers have developed a theory of anticipation, which suggests that the brain (...) commands a reduction in effort to protect the body from probable harm and heatstroke risk. The objective of this mini review is thus to examine the possibility that motivation may be a key factor in TC performance. The main psychological impacts of TC on aerobic performance are reviewed and an integrative theoretical model is presented that may help to better understand the mechanisms of motivation. (shrink)
(in press, under contract with MIT Press, accepted on June 30th, 2006). Attention, Information and Epistemic Perception. In Terzis, G. & Arp, R. (Eds) Information and the Living Systems: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology. The MIT Press. (14,000 words).
An arms race for an artificial general intelligence would be detrimental for and even pose an existential threat to humanity if it results in an unfriendly AGI. In this paper, an all-pay contest model is developed to derive implications for public policy to avoid such an outcome. It is established that, in a winner-takes-all race, where players must invest in R&D, only the most competitive teams will participate. Thus, given the difficulty of AGI, the number of competing teams is unlikely (...) ever to be very large. It is also established that the intention of teams competing in an AGI race, as well as the possibility of an intermediate outcome, is important. The possibility of an intermediate prize will raise the probability of finding the dominant AGI application and, hence, will make public control more urgent. It is recommended that the danger of an unfriendly AGI can be reduced by taxing AI and using public procurement. This would reduce the pay-off of contestants, raise the amount of R&D needed to compete, and coordinate and incentivize co-operation. This will help to alleviate the control and political problems in AI. Future research is needed to elaborate the design of systems of public procurement of AI innovation and for appropriately adjusting the legal frameworks underpinning high-tech innovation, in particular dealing with patenting by AI. (shrink)