Ideatrotter: Disruptive 2.0 Intelligence

Idea Sex and the Evolutionary Logic of Knowledge Transfer

Why do certain ideas succeed? Ideas have to pass a kind of Darwinian fitness test, argues the computer scientist Ramez Naam, who is the author of “More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement.” It turns out the most useful ideas are the ones that spread, like the wheel that was invented in Egypt and was improved upon in Sumaria by going from a solid disk to spokes. 

Passing the usefulness test crucially involves the ability of ideas to propagate themselves, just as biologically successful humans are able to pass on their genes. In the case of the wheel, two ideas met, and reproduced. In other words, the wheel was carried by humans to another place where it was then improved upon by other people. 

#video #science #cognitive computing

Your brain on video games

How do fast-paced video games affect the brain? Step into the lab with cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier to hear surprising news about how video games, even action-packed shooter games, can help us learn, focus and, fascinatingly, multitask.

#video #brain #neural networks #gaming #cognitive computing

A Cognitive Model for Embodied Gesture Processing in Virtual Agents

Human social interaction encompasses verbal and nonverbal aspects in which hand gesture is a widely used nonverbal communication way. Handling gestures requires different cognitive and knowledge levels, from motor skills to social intentions behind those movements.

During social interaction all of these levels can be used for cognitive processes of both perception and generation, as evidenced by neuropsychological studies. In this video, motor skills of gestures at different levels of abstraction from movement trajectories towards higher levels of semantics is discussed. In this context, the aim to engage humanoid virtual agents in social interaction with humans.

To this end, the creators developed a cognitive computational model which tries to capture the embodied basis of hand gestures and we demonstrate how it enables to combine and bootstrap the online learning, perception, recognition and generation of gestural movements in a human-agent interaction scenario.

#video #cognitive computing #robot #technology #innovation #Presentation
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Matthew Goodwin PhD reveals several innovative technologies being developed to enhance and accelerate research and learning in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. During this talk, Goodwin also discusses applications of these technologies and what it means for families affected by autism.

KiDA (Kids Institute for Development & Advancement) is Orange County’s premiere center for autism, encompassing education, medicine, therapy, and research for children with autism. Learn more at or follow them on facebook ( or Twitter (@KiDAcares4kids).

#technology #youth #cognitive computing #education #medicine

In a recent conversation, the question came up “How do the blind see or experience color?” This fascinating look at Superflux and neuroscientist Dr. Patrick Degenarrs collaborative project shows one possibile answer.

“What if we could change our view of the world with the flick of a switch? ‘Song of the Machine’ explores the possibilities of a new, modified – even enhanced – vision, where users can tune into streams of information and electromagnetic vistas currently outside of human vision.”

(Source: curiositycounts)

#eyesight #technology #brain #cognitive computing #innovation #video
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It is a well-known fact of cognitive science that human short-term memory (SM), when compared to other attributes of our memory systems, is exceedingly limited. This fact has been the focus of thousands of studies over the last 50 years. Scientists have poked and prodded this aspect of human cognition to determine exactly how SM operates and what impacts SM effectiveness. As we go about our daily lives, short-term memory makes it possible for you to engage with all manner of technology and the environment in general.

SM is a temporary memory that allows us to remember a very limited number of discrete items, behaviors, or patterns for a short period of time. SM makes it possible for you to operate without constant referral to long-term memory, a much more complex and time-consuming process. This is critical because SM is fast and easily configured, which allows one to adapt instantly to situations that might otherwise be fatal if one were required to access long-term memory. In computer-speak, human short-term memory is also highly volatile. This means it can be erased instantly, or more importantly, it can be overwritten by other information coming into the human perceptual system.

Where things get interesting is the point where poor user interface design impacts the demand placed on SM. For example, a user interface design solution that requires the user to view information on one screen, store it in short-term memory, and then reenter that same information in a data field on another screen seems like a trivial task. Research shows that it is difficult to do accurately, especially if some other form of stimulus flows between the memorization of the data from the first screen and before the user enters the data in the second.

This disruptive data flow can be in almost any form, but as a general rule, anything that is engaging, such as conversation, noise, motion, or worst of all, a combination of all three, is likely to totally erase SM. When you encounter this type of data flow before you complete transfer of data using short-term memory, chances are very good that when you go back to retrieve important information from short-term memory, it is gone!

One would logically assume that any aspect of user interface design that taxes short-term memory is a really bad idea. As was the case with response time, a more refined view leads to surprising insights into how one can use the degradation of short-term memory to actually improve game play engagement. Angry Birds is a surprisingly smart manager of the player’s short-term memory.

By simple manipulation of the user interface, Angry Birds designers created significant short-term memory loss, which in turn increases game play complexity but in a way that is not perceived by the player as negative and adds to the addictive nature of the game itself. The subtle, yet powerful concept employed in Angry Birds is to bend short-term memory but not to actually break it. If you do break SM, make sure you give the user a very simple, fast way to accurately reload.

(Source: underpaidgenius, via stoweboyd)

#gaming #cognitive computing #memory #brain #science #technology #tech
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IBM - SyNAPSE: a cognitive computing project from IBM Research

Beyond machines

For more than half a century, computers have been little better than calculators with storage structures and programmable memory, a model that scientists have continually aimed to improve.

Comparatively, the human brain—the world’s most sophisticated computer—can perform complex tasks rapidly and accurately using the same amount of energy as a 20 watt light bulb in a space equivalent to a 2 liter soda bottle.

Cognitive computing: thought for the future

Making sense of real-time input flowing in at a dizzying rate is a Herculean task for today’s computers, but would be natural for a brain-inspired system. Using advanced algorithms and silicon circuitry, cognitive computers learn through experiences, find correlations, create hypotheses, and remember—and learn from—the outcomes.

For example, a cognitive computing system monitoring the world’s water supply could contain a network of sensors and actuators that constantly record and report metrics such as temperature, pressure, wave height, acoustics and ocean tide, and issue tsunami warnings based on its decision making.

(via smarterplanet)

#cognitive computing #computers #memory
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“Researchers have demonstrated that the emotional system (aka Type 1 thinking) might excel at complex decisions, or those involving lots of variables. If true, this would suggest that the unconscious is better suited for difficult cognitive tasks than the conscious brain, that the very thought process we’ve long disregarded as irrational and impulsive might actually be “smarter” than reasoned deliberation. This is largely because the unconscious is able to handle a surfeit of information, digesting the facts without getting overwhelmed. (Human reason, in contrast, has a very strict bottleneck and can only process about four bits of data at any given moment.)

‘The moral of this research is clear…Use your conscious mind to acquire all the information you need for making a decision. But don’t try to analyze the information with your conscious mind. Instead, go on holiday while your unconscious mind digests it. Whatever your intuition then tells you is almost certainly going to be the best choice.’

Our emotions have a logic all their own, that our instincts are often rooted in the processing powers of the unconscious brain. The massive computational capacity of the Type I system – its ability to process thousands of bits of data in parallel – ensures that we can analyze all the relevant information when assessing alternatives. As a result, we’re able to make sense of the plethora of options, assigning each alternative an affective tag: the best option is quickly associated with the most positive emotion. We know more than we know – that’s what our feelings are trying to tell us.”

(via myserendipities)

#decision #data #cognitive computing #brain
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I.B.M. Announces Brainy Computer Chip


Dharmendra Modha, an I.B.M. researcher, is the leader of the project to create cognitive computer chips.

Since the early days in the 1940s, computers have routinely been described as “brains” — giant brains or mathematical brains or electronic brains. Scientists and engineers often cringed at the distorting simplification, but the popular label stuck.

Wait long enough, it seems, and science catches up with the metaphor. The field of “cognitive computing” is making enough progress that the brain analogy is becoming more apt. I.B.M. researchers are announcing on Thursday two working prototype cognitive computer chips.

The chip designs are the result of a three-year project involving I.B.M. and university researchers, supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The academic collaborators are at Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of California, Merced and the University of Wisconsin.

The results to date have been sufficiently encouraging that Darpa is announcing on Thursday that it will commit an additional $21 million to the project, the third round of government funding, which brings the total to $41 million.

The cognitive chips are massively parallel microprocessors that consume very little power. But they also have a fundamentally different design. The two prototype semiconductor cores each has 256 neuronlike nodes. One core is linked to 262,144 synapselike memory modules, while the other is linked to 65,536 such memory synapses.


(Source: The New York Times)