One new tradition that has emerged from early research on autonomous robots is embodied cognitive science. This paper describes the relationship between embodied cognitive science and a related tradition, synthetic psychology. It is argued that while both are synthetic, embodied cognitive science is antirepresentational while synthetic psychology still appeals to representations. It is further argued that modern connectionism offers a medium for conducting synthetic psychology, provided that researchers analyze the internal representations that their networks develop. The paper then provides a (...) detailed example of the synthetic approach by showing how the construction (and subsequent analysis) of a connectionist network can be used to contribute to a theory of how humans solve Piaget's classic balancescaletask. (shrink)
For various domains in proportional reasoning cognitive development is characterized as a progression through a series of increasingly complex rules. A multiplicative relationship between two task features, such as weight and distance information of blocks placed at both sides of the fulcrum of a balancescale, appears difficult to discover. During development, children change their beliefs about the balancescale several times: from a focus on the weight dimension (Rule I) to occasionally considering the distance (...) dimension (Rule II), guessing (Rule III), and applying multiplication (Rule IV; Siegler, 1981). Because of the detailed empirical findings the balancescaletask has become a benchmark task for computational models of proportional reasoning. In this article, we present a large empirical study (N = 420) of which the findings provide a challenge for computational models. The effect of feedback and the effect of individually adapted training items on rule transition were tested for children using Rule I or Rule II. Presenting adapted training items initiates belief revision for Rule I but not for Rule II. The experience of making mistakes (by providing feedback) induces a change for both Rule I and Rule II. However, a delayed posttest shows that these changes are preserved after 2 weeks only for children using Rule I. We conclude that the transition from Rule I to Rule II differs from the transition from Rule II to a more complex rule. Concerning these empirical findings, we will review performance of computational models and the implications for a future belief revision model. It is one Thing, to show a Man that he is in an Error, and another, to put him in possession of Truth. John Locke. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to offer a view of the current status of women in medical physics and biomedical engineering, while focusing on solutions towards gender balance and providing examples of current activities carried out at national and international levels. The International Union of Physical and Engineering Scientists in Medicine is committed to advancing women in science and health and has several initiatives overseen by the Women in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering Task Group. Some of (...) the main strategies proposed by the Task Group to attain gender balance are: identify and promote female role models that achieve successful work-life balance, establish programs to develop female leaders, create opportunities for females to increase the international visibility within the scientific community, and establish archives and databases of women in STEM. (shrink)
The remodeling of biological membranes is crucial for a vast number of cellular activities and is an inherently multiscale process in both time and space. Seminal work has provided important insights into nanometer‐scale membrane deformations, and highlighted the remarkable variation and complexity in the underlying molecular machineries and mechanisms. However, how membranes are remodeled at the micron‐scale, particularly in vivo, remains poorly understood. Here, we discuss how using regulated exocytosis of large (1.5–2.0 μm) membrane‐bound secretory granules in the (...) salivary gland of live mice as a model system, has provided evidence for the importance of the actomyosin cytoskeleton in micron‐scale membrane remodeling in physiological conditions. We highlight some of these advances, and present mechanistic hypotheses for how the various biochemical and biophysical properties of distinct actomyosin networks may drive this process. (shrink)
In three experiments we tested hypotheses derived from the goal specificity literature using a real-world physics task. In the balance-scale paradigm participants predict the state of the apparatus based on a configuration of weights at various distances from the fulcrum. Non-specific goals (NSG) have been shown to encourage hypothesis testing, which facilitates rule discovery, whereas specific goals (SG) do not. We showed that this goal specificity effect depends on task difficulty. The NSG strategy led to rule (...) induction among some participants. Among non-discoverers, SG participants were faster and more accurate on difficult problems than NSG participants. The use of misleading exemplars (scale configurations that obscured the rule governing outcomes) led to fixation on inappropriate hypotheses for NSG but not SG participants. When more diagnostic learning exemplars were used, NSG non-discoverers still performed worse than SG participants on difficult problems. SG participants also outperformed NSG participants on a post-test of difficult problems. These findings qualify the generality of goal specificity effects. (shrink)
There are strong indications that many consumers are switching towards more socially and environmentally responsible products and services, reflecting a shift in consumer values indicated in several countries. However, little is known about the motives that drive some toward, or deter others from, higher levels of ethical concern and action in their purchasing decisions. Following a qualitative investigation using ZMET and focus group discussions, a questionnaire was developed and administered to a representative sample of consumers; nearly 1,000 usable questionnaires were (...) collected. The degree of awareness, concern and action regarding 16 ethical issues was quantified, using a measure developed from the Stages of Change concept within the Transtheoretical model. Motivations for ethical behaviour, in relation to each individual’s most salient ethical issue, were investigated using initially 22 motive statements within the framework of the Decisional BalanceScale (DBS). The findings suggest that the DBS and Stages model have an explanatory value within the ethical decision-making context, and that the motives identified do reflect the Decisional Balance Constructs. Indeed the study suggests that respondents’ motivational attitudes are a function of their stage of ethical awareness, concern and action. Therefore, the Decisional BalanceScale may well prove useful for designing appropriate interventions and communications to facilitate movement towards more ethical decision-making. These findings yield strategic insight for communicating messages to ethical consumers and for better understanding their purchasing decisions. (shrink)
Two assertions of Halford et al. are critiqued: their claim of priority in relational complexity analysis and the sufficiency for cognitive development of their relational-complexity analysis of tasks. Critical discussion of concrete task analyses (i.e., the relational complexity of proportionality problems, of balancescale problems, and the Tower of Hanoi) serves, by way of counterexamples, to highlight problems in their method.
So-called climate-ready GM crops can be of great help in adapting to a changing climate. Climate change, caused in great part by anthropogenic greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution by the developed world, is felt much stronger in the developing world, causing unexpected droughts and floods that will cause large harvest loss, leading to more hunger and malnutrition, rising death tolls and disease vulnerability. The current intellectual property regime (IPR) strikes an unfair balance between profit (...) oriented seed industry giants and low-acreage farmers. The biotechnology industry, mainly headquartered in the developed world, has started to patent new seed varieties, taking biomaterials from developing countries, with the claim, that they will be more tolerant to flood, drought, heat, and cold. Special sales contracts prohibit saving seeds from the harvest for the next season, thus forcing the farmers to buy them every season anew, which goes against traditional farming. Using a widely accepted concept of global justice, that tackles the fact that around 10% of the world's population profits from 90% of the earth's resources, and by taking into account the feasibility of a fair IPR, we will discuss three issues. First, an ethically acceptable IPR should prevent unjust and unfair assignments of property rights (e.g. patents) that completely ignore small-scale farmers inventiveness and efforts to save agrobiodiversity. As a second task, this regime should encourage globally a just distribution of the objects of innovation that are covered by patents. Third, such a regime should encourage innovations at a rate that is effective to cope with climate change. (shrink)
In this contribution, I will argue that the image of a balance is often used to defend the idea of a trade-off. To understand the drawbacks of this line of thought, I will explore the relationship between online security technologies and fundamental rights, notably privacy, nondiscrimination, freedom of speech and due process. After discriminating between three types of online security technologies, I will trace the reconfiguration of the notion of privacy in the era of smart environments. This will lead (...) to an inquiry into the metaphor of the scale, building on the triple test regarding the justification of the limitation of fundamental rights such as privacy. The conclusion will be that in the case of a trade-off, infringing measures will have to be balanced by effective safeguards. No trade-off without balance. (shrink)
With a global commitment to scaling up AIDS care and treatment in resource-poor settings for some of the most HIV-affected countries in Africa, availability of antiretroviral treatment is no longer the principal obstacle to expanding access to treatment. A shortage of trained healthcare personnel to initiate treatment and manage patients represents a more challenging barrier to offering life-saving treatment to all patients in need. Physician-centered treatment policies accentuate this challenge. Despite evidence that task shifting for nurse-centered AIDS patient care (...) is effective and can alleviate severe physician shortages that currently obstruct treatment scale-up, political commitment and policy action to support task shifting models of care has been slow to absent. In this paper we review the evidence in support of task shifting for AIDS treatment in Africa and argue that continued policy inaction amounts to unwarranted healthcare rationing and as such is ethically untenable. (shrink)
This paper presents research conducted during two coffee farming seasons in Costa Rica. The study examined coffee farmers’ weed management practices and is presented in the form of a case study of small-scale farmers’ use of labor and herbicides in weed management practices. Over 200 structured interviews were conducted with coffee farmers concerning their use of hired labor and family labor, weed management activities, support services, and expectations about the future of their coffee production. ANOVA and regression analyses describe (...) the relationships between farm size, labor, and herbicide use, and three farm types (i.e., conventional, semi-conventional, and organic). Based on findings regarding the amount of labor used to manually control weeds on different types of farms (large farms, small conventional, semi-conventional, and organic farms) I am able to challenge small conventional farmers’ perceived need for herbicide use. Semi-structured interviews of coffee farmers and extension workers further revealed a dominant role played by agro-chemical companies in assisting farmers with production problems, and documented a high transaction cost for information provided from elsewhere. Chemical companies hire extension workers to visit farmers at their farms, free of charge, to offer recommendations on how to treat different pest problems, while government and cooperative extension agents charge for the service. There is a need to increase the amount of resources available to the National Coffee Institute to fund one-on-one farmer support services in order to balance the influence of agro-chemical company representatives and allow farmers to make better decisions regarding weed management. (shrink)
Analogy and similarity are central phenomena in human cognition, involved in processes ranging from visual perception to conceptual change. To capture this centrality requires that a model of comparison must be able to integrate with other processes and handle the size and complexity of the representations required by the tasks being modeled. This paper describes extensions to Structure-Mapping Engine since its inception in 1986 that have increased its scope of operation. We first review the basic SME algorithm, describe psychological evidence (...) for SME as a process model, and summarize its role in simulating similarity-based retrieval and generalization. Then we describe five techniques now incorporated into the SME that have enabled it to tackle large-scale modeling tasks: Greedy merging rapidly constructs one or more best interpretations of a match in polynomial time: O); Incremental operation enables mappings to be extended as new information is retrieved or derived about the base or target, to model situations where information in a task is updated over time; Ubiquitous predicates model the varying degrees to which items may suggest alignment; Structural evaluation of analogical inferences models aspects of plausibility judgments; Match filters enable large-scaletask models to communicate constraints to SME to influence the mapping process. We illustrate via examples from published studies how these enable it to capture a broader range of psychological phenomena than before. (shrink)
Vogelstein cautions medical organizations against jumping into the fray of controversial issues, yet proffers the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics' Task Force policy position on infant male circumcision as ‘an appropriate use of position-statements.’ Only a scratch below the surface of this policy statement uncovers the Task Force's failure to consider Vogelstein's many caveats. The Task Force supported the cultural practice by putting undeserved emphasis on questionable scientific data, while ignoring or underplaying the importance of valid contrary (...) scientific data. Without any effort to quantitatively assess the risk/benefit balance, the Task Force concluded the benefits of circumcision outweighed the risks, while acknowledging that the incidence of risks was unknown. This Task Force differed from other Academy policy-forming panels by ignoring the Academy's standard quality measures and by not appointing members with extensive research experience, extensive publications, or recognized expertise directly related to this topic. Despite nearly 100 publications available at the time addressing the substantial ethical issues associated with infant male circumcision, the Task Force chose to ignore the ethical controversy. They merely stated, with minimal justification, the opinion of one of the Task Force members that the practice of infant male circumcision is morally permissible. The release of the report has fostered an explosion of academic discussion on the ethics of infant male circumcision with a number of national medical organizations now decrying the practice as a human rights violation. (shrink)
Consciousness can be measured in various ways, but different measures often yield different conclusions about the extent to which awareness relates to performance. Here, we compare five different subjective measures of awareness in the context of an artificial grammar learning task. Participants expressed their subjective awareness of rules using one of five different scales: confidence ratings , post-decision wagering , feeling of warmth , rule awareness , and continuous scale . All scales were equally sensitive to conscious knowledge. (...) PDW, however, was affected by risk aversion, and both RAS and SDS applied different minimal criteria for rule awareness. CR seems to capture the largest range of consciousness, but failed to indicate unconscious knowledge with the guessing criterion. We close by discussing the theoretical implications of scale sensitivity and propose that CR’s unique features enable a finer assessment of subjective states of awareness. (shrink)
This article argues for a task-based approach to identifying and individuating cognitive systems. The agent-based extended cognition approach faces a problem of cognitive bloat and has difficulty accommodating both sub-individual cognitive systems ("scaling down") and some supra-individual cognitive systems ("scaling up"). The standard distributed cognition approach can accommodate a wider variety of supra-individual systems but likewise has difficulties with sub-individual systems and faces the problem of cognitive bloat. We develop a task-based variant of distributed cognition designed to (...) class='Hi'>scale up and down smoothly while providing a principled means of avoiding cognitive bloat. The advantages of the task-based approach are illustrated by means of two parallel case studies: re-representation in the human visual system and in a biomedical engineering laboratory. (shrink)
If we had a balance of reasons, where the arguments presented in favor and against the case were weighed precisely and the verdict could be pronounced in favor of the most inclined scale ... [we would have] a more valuable art than that miraculous science of producing gold.
This issue provides readers the opportunity to broaden understanding of methods used in applied ethics. We hope you will be inspired to decide on which method, or a combination of different ones, to use towards achieving reflective balance that can enhance understanding of all considerations relevant to deciding what should be done. Like tools, methods are used because they are well suited to the task we seek to accomplish.
The performance of the Mundurucu on the number-space task may exemplify a general competence for drawing analogies between space and other linear dimensions, but Mundurucu participants spontaneously chose number when other dimensions were available. Response placement may not reflect the subjective scale for numbers, but Cantlon et al.'s proposal of a linear scale with scalar variability requires additional hypotheses that are problematic.
The present work investigates whether the hemispheric processing of both verbal and emotional stimuli, studied by means of a dichotic listening task, differs between normal high and low dissociators as assessed by the Dissociative Experiences Scale . Development, reliability and validity of a dissociation scale. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 174, 727–735). Two groups of subjects , participated in the experiment. The task consisted in identifying both verbal and emotional stimulus-targets, respectively, on successive sessions. Reaction (...) time and response accuracy were registered and analysed using ANOVA . The interaction between stimuli , channel , and dissociation level reached statistical significance in terms of accuracy measures = 4.75; p < .05). Both high and low dissociators exhibited the expected right ear advantage on verbal targets. On the other hand, whereas low dissociators exhibited the expected left ear advantage on emotional targets, high dissociators failed to follow this typical pattern of hemispheric asymmetry: both hemispheres exhibited similar performances. These results confirm the hypothesis that dissociation is related to changes in hemispheric processing, specifically of emotional information. (shrink)
ABSTRACTNegative emotion influences cognitive control, and more specifically conflict adaptation. However, discrepant results have often been reported in the literature. In this study, we broke down negative emotion into integral and incidental components using a modern motivation-based framework, and assessed whether the former could change conflict adaptation. In the first experiment, we manipulated the duration of the inter-trial-interval to assess the actual time-scale of this effect. Integral negative emotion was induced by using loss-related feedback contingent on task performance, (...) and measured at the subjective and physiological levels. Results showed that conflict-driven adaptive control was enhanced when integral negative emotion was elicited, compared to a control condition without changes in defensive motivation. Importantly, this effect was only found when a short, as opposed to long ITI was used, suggesting that it had a short time scale. In the second experiment, we controlled for effe... (shrink)
Task shifting is increasingly used to address human resource shortages impacting HIV service delivery in low- and middle-income countries. By shifting basic tasks from higher- to lower-trained cadres, such as Community Health Workers, task shifting can reduce overhead costs, improve community outreach, and provide efficient scale-up of essential treatments like antiretroviral therapies. Although there is rich evidence outlining positive outcomes that CHWs bring into HIV programs, important questions remain over their place in service delivery. These challenges often (...) reflect concerns over whether CHWs can mitigate HIV through a means that does not overlook the ethical and practical constraints that undergird their work. Ethical and practical guidance thus needs to become the cornerstone of CHW deployment. This paper analyzes such challenges through the lens of Ethical Principlism. We examined papers identifying substantive and ethical challenges impacting CHWs as they provide HIV services in low- and middle-income contexts. To do this, we analyzed papers written in English and published from year 2000 or later. These articles were identified using MEDLINE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and Google Scholar databases. In total, 465 articles were identified, 78 of which met our inclusion criteria. Article reference lists and grey literature were also examined. CHWs experience specific challenges while carrying out their duties, such as conducting emotionally- and physically-demanding tasks with often inadequate training, supervision and compensation. CHWs have also been poorly integrated into health systems, which not only impacts quality of care, but can hinder their prospects for promotion and lead to CHW disempowerment. As we argue, these challenges can be addressed if a set of ethical principles is prioritized, which specifically entail the principles of respect for persons, justice, beneficence, proportionality and cultural humility. CHWs play a crucial role in HIV service delivery, yet the ethical challenges that can accompany their work cannot be overlooked. By prioritizing ethical principles, policymakers and program implementers can better ensure that CHWs are combatting HIV through a means that does not exploit or take their critical role within service delivery for granted. (shrink)
Karl E. Rothschuh is one of the most important,but, on an international scale, relativelyunknown representatives of German philosophy ofmedicine in the 20th century. This paperpresents and discusses his central conceptssystematically, especially those ofanthropology, theories of health and disease.Rothschuh distinguishes two methodologicalapproaches to anthropology: a causal analysisthat considers human organism as complex causalsystems, and a so-called bionomicalinvestigation that clarifies the meaning orfunction of single processes in respect to thewhole organism. These two perspectivescomplement each other. From a naturalisticpoint of view, Rothschuh (...) conceptualisesdiseases as disorganisatorial or disbionomic processes;nevertheless, he stresses the culturalinterweavement, and, hence, the normativefoundation of diseases. ‘Disease’ is both arelational and a gradual term: It can beexperienced and conceptualised subjectively bypatients (aegritudo), clinically byphysicians (nosos, pathos) and bysociety (insalubritas). Further,Rothschuh differentiates between the verydefinition, a notion and a concept ofdisease. Because of the normative character ofdisease, medicine cannot be a science strivingfor pure theoretical knowledge like physics orchemistry. Medicine is a practical science,oriented towards its goals of healing. Becauseof the societal position of medicine, Rothschuhdescribes it as task (Aufgabe). Withregard to modern developments in philosophy ofmedicine, this paper discusses Rothschuh’stheories critically and offers somestarting points for necessary enhancements. (shrink)
Las relaciones entre el mundo de la educación y el trabajo tienen objetivos diversos, relacionados con la pertinencia, la formación recibida, el ejercicio profesional, la eficiencia universitaria y la repercusión social; de manera que resulta valiosa la información sobre el cumplimiento del encargo social del profesional, al tiempo que se convierte en instrumento de gestión universitaria. Objetivo: determinar la satisfacción alcanzada por el cumplimento del encargo social de egresados de maestrías ejecutadas en la Facultad de Ciencias Médicas "Manuel Fajardo". Métodos: (...) se emplearon teóricos, empíricos, y estadísticos. Se asumió como universo a los 40 empleadores de egresados de maestrías del territorio, a quienes se les aplicó un cuestionario para obtener información sociodemográfica y de satisfacción, según escala Likert. Resultados: entre las opiniones emitidas por los empleadores predominaron las satisfactorias; seguidas por aquellos que no dieron su opinión y en tercer lugar por el grupo que manifestó insatisfacción con la labor investigativa de estos egresados al no dar respuesta al banco de problemas institucional y por tanto no reportar ningún beneficio al centro donde dirigen. Discusión: La satisfacción alcanzada por sus usuarios finales en el mundo laboral posibilitó a la Facultad de Médica del municipio determinar que las maestrías ejecutadas, cumplen satisfactoriamente con su encargo social, escuchar directamente cómo repercute su posgrado y convertir sus resultados como medida de gestión y herramienta interna institucional para monitorizar desde una perspectiva no explorada, el desempeño de sus egresados en opinión de sus empleadores directos. The relations between the world of education and work have different objectives related to appropriateness, the received training, professional practice, university efficiency and social impact; therefore the information on the fulfillment of professionals' social task is valuable, and it becomes a tool for university management at the same time. Objective: establishing the satisfaction got by the fulfillment of the social task of graduates from master degree courses implemented at Manuel Fajardo Medical Sciences Faculty. Methods: theoretical, empirical and statistical methods were used. The sample group was constituted by 40 employers of graduates from master degree courses in the region who were asked to fill in a questionnaire in order to get sociodemographic and satisfactory information according to the Likert scale. Results: satisfactory opinions prevailed among those given by employers, followed by those who did not give their opinions. The third place belongs to the group that expressed its dissatisfaction with the research work of the graduates who did not solve the institutional problems bank and therefore did not generate profits to the establishment they direct. Discussion: The satisfaction accomplished in the working world by final users made it possible for the Medical Faculty of the municipality to determine that the implemented master degree courses satisfactorily fulfill their social task, to directly listen to the impact of the postgraduate course and to change results as a management measure and as an internal institutional tool to monitor, from a non-explored perspective, the performance of graduates in their immediate employers' opinions. (shrink)
Laurence Lampert has written an engaging, bold, and insightful book that should stand above much recent Nietzsche scholarship for its attention to Nietzsche’s purposes and its care with Nietzsche’s text. Nietzsche’s Task offers the first book length exegesis of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, attending to its structure and offering commentary on each section, or aphorism, of the book. Lampert provides a valuable contribution to Nietzsche scholarship, an extraordinary guide to the major issues of political philosophy, and a fine (...) resource to anyone reading, studying, or teaching that book. Nietzsche’s Task provides more than textual exegesis; Lampert makes a sustained argument for Nietzsche as a political philosopher in the tradition of Platonic political philosophy. Nietzsche’s task, argues Lampert, is the task of philosophy, and the task of Beyond Good and Evil is to establish the rightful rule of philosophy, to persuade nonphilosophers—the scholars, skeptics, and “free spirits” Nietzsche addresses—of the nobility and superiority of philosophy. Placing Nietzsche within the tradition of Western political philosophy, Lampert demonstrates Nietzsche’s full-scale engagement with Plato and Platonism throughout Beyond Good and Evil. I do not think it would exaggerate Lampert’s position to say that Nietzsche’s task is an assault on Platonism in the name of Platonic political philosophy. Yet, this involves a radically new approach to the presentation of philosophy, one much more open about the nature of philosophy and willing to expose the esoteric secrets hidden behind the dogmatic masks of previous philosophers. (shrink)
Beginning with our cosmic ancestors and the 1950s ancestors of Institute on Religion in an Age of Science, this essay highlights the wider, post-World War II cultural context, including other science and religion organizations, in which IRAS was formed. It then considers eight challenges from today's context. From the context of science there are the challenge of scale that leads us to question our place in the scheme of things and can lead to a challenge to morale concerning whether (...) we make any difference; the challenge of human variability that leads to the question whether there is a single human moral nature; and the challenge of detailed explanation that leads to the question of what is the task of theology in relation to detailed scientific explanation. From the religion context there are the challenge of objectivity—studying religion without practicing religion; and the challenge of pluralism and the variety of cultural and religious perspectives. From the context of the growing and diverse science-and-religion enterprise, considered from the perspective of IRAS developed in the first part of this essay, there are the challenges of apologetics and intellectualization. Finally, from the context of our growing, worldwide consumerist culture that is contributing to the radical alteration of the planetary environment, leading to much suffering, there is the challenge of becoming more motivated to act for the long-term global good. (shrink)
In the biomedical context, policy makers face a large amount of potentially discordant evidence from different sources. This prompts the question of how this evidence should be aggregated in the interests of best-informed policy recommendations. The starting point of our discussion is Hunter and Williams’ recent work on an automated aggregation method for medical evidence. Our negative claim is that it is far from clear what the relevant criteria for evaluating an evidence aggregator of this sort are. What is the (...) appropriate balance between explicitly coded algorithms and implicit reasoning involved, for instance, in the packaging of input evidence? In short: What is the optimal degree of ‘automation’? On the positive side: We propose the ability to perform an adequate robustness analysis as the focal criterion, primarily because it directs efforts to what is most important, namely, the structure of the algorithm and the appropriate extent of automation. Moreover, where there are resource constraints on the aggregation process, one must also consider what balance between volume of evidence and accuracy in the treatment of individual evidence best facilitates inference. There is no prerogative to aggregate the total evidence available if this would in fact reduce overall accuracy. (shrink)
Decision making in noisy and changing environments requires a fine balance between exploiting knowledge about good courses of action and exploring the environment in order to improve upon this knowledge. We present an experiment on a restless bandit task in which participants made repeated choices between options for which the average rewards changed over time. Comparing a number of computational models of participants’ behavior in this task, we find evidence that a substantial number of them balanced exploration (...) and exploitation by considering the probability that an option offers the maximum reward out of all the available options. (shrink)
This paper examines the problem of selecting a number of candidates to receive a good (admission) from a pool in which there are more qualified applicants than places. I observe that it is rarely possible to order all candidates according to some relevant criterion, such as academic merit, since these standards are inevitably somewhat vague. This means that we are often faced with the task of making selections between near-enough equal candidates. I survey one particular line of response, which (...) says that we should allow our choice of borderline candidates to be guided by non-relevant criteria such as gender-balancing. I argue that this would not, as commonly objected, be a case of sex discrimination if it is to be applied either in favour of men or women. Nonetheless, I argue that such policies are problematic because they violate the demand for publicity, which is required for legitimacy and to assure everyone that discrimination has not in fact taken place. Instead, I suggest that, if we are concerned to avoid discrimination, there may be a case for using lotteries as tie-breakers, not on grounds of fairness but to prevent taint of bias. (shrink)
Most research on mind-wandering has characterized it as a mental state with contents that are task unrelated or stimulus independent. However, the dynamics of mind-wandering—how mental states change over time—have remained largely neglected. Here, we introduce a dynamic framework for understanding mind-wandering and its relationship to the recruitment of large-scale brain networks. We propose that mind-wandering is best understood as a member of a family of spontaneous-thought phenomena that also includes creative thought and dreaming. This dynamic framework can (...) shed new light on mental disorders that are marked by alterations in spontaneous thought, including depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (shrink)
Quantum computers are hypothetical quantum information processing (QIP) devices that allow one to store, manipulate, and extract information while harnessing quantum physics to solve various computational problems and do so putatively more efficiently than any known classical counterpart. Despite many ‘proofs of concept’ (Aharonov and Ben–Or 1996; Knill and Laflamme 1996; Knill et al. 1996; Knill et al. 1998) the key obstacle in realizing these powerful machines remains their scalability and susceptibility to noise: almost three decades after their conceptions, experimentalists (...) still struggle to maintain useful quantum coherence in QIP devices with more than a pair of qubits (e.g., Blatt and Wineland 2008). This slow progress has prompted debates on the feasibility of quantum computers, yet the quantum information community has dismissed the skepticism as “ideology” (Aaronson 2004), claiming that the obstacles are merely technological (Kaye et al. 2007, 240). In a recent paper (Hagar 2009) I’ve argued that such a skepticism with respect to the feasibility of quantum computers need not be deemed ideological at all, and that the aforementioned ‘proofs of concept’ are physically suspect. Using analogies from the foundations of classical statistical mechanics (SM), I’ve also argued that instead of active error correction, the appropriate framework for debating the feasibility of large–scale, fault–tolerant and computationally superior quantum computers should be the project of error avoidance: rather than trying to constantly ‘cool down’ the QIP device and prevent its thermalization, one should try to locate those regions in the device’s state space which are thermodynamically ‘abnormal’, i.e., those regions in the device’s state space which resist thermalization regardless of external noise. This paper is intended as a further contribution to the debate on the feasibility of large–scale, fault–tolerant and computationally superior quantum computers. Relying again on analogies from the foundations of classical SM, it suggests a skeptical conjecture and frames it in the ‘passive’, error avoidance, context.. (shrink)