2008-05-30

From know-what to know-where

One measure of people's knowledge is the amount of information that a person can come up with. In the "old" days, this information would come mainly out of your head. From experience, you can know what things are, e.g. facts, dates, etc. With a good memory, you can reproduce much learned information. Add reasoning, and you can combine your experiences to produce novel information and know how things work. Thus, people will have more knowledge if they are able to store and manipulate information. This was the game humankind played... until a decade ago. Blame it on Google.

What is the use of memorizing information when you can find it in an instant? Before you had to go to a library to search for information, so it was a big advantage to have a good memory. Now remembering and reasoning are not enough. You need to know where to find information. Certainly, this does not displace reasoning, only encyclopedic memory. The thing is that having such an accessible information repository makes Internet search abilities more useful than a good long term memory. You can forget information without a problem if you can find it again whenever you need it.

Is the Internet making us dumber? Of course not! We can be smarter. We're becoming dependent on it, that is true, but I see this as an unavoidable symbiosis. Can we say that the Global Brain already awakened?

2008-05-23

Evidence for Cyclic Universe

When I was in high school I read a book by Stephen Hawking, which stimulated me to develop my own theory of the universe. Still in my teens I wrote about it and presented these ideas at a conference in Mexico in 1997.

It was funny more than a decade afterwards to find about this paper by Aurich et al. They analyzed cosmic microwave background radiation and suggest that the universe is cyclic... same as I did. Let's see how the community responds to their results.

2008-05-13

Book Review Published: "Self-Organization and Emergence in Life Sciences"

Gershenson, C. (2008). Book Review: "Self-Organization and Emergence in Life Sciences", edited by Bernard Feltz, Marc Crommelinck and Philippe Goujon. Artificial Life 14 (2):239-240.

Excerpts:

Self-organization and emergence have received much attention in biology and artificial life [1, 2, 4, 5], even though these pervasive concepts have eluded strict definition [3]. This makes the contributions contained in this interdisciplinary volume relevant to many aspects of artificial life.
(...)
The book consists of three parts, dedicated to the scientific approach, the historical approach, and the epistemological and conceptual approaches,
(...)
The study of self-organization and emergence is still in development, and although this volume is worthwhile for those familiar with the field, a definitive introduction has yet to be written. This volume is not recommended as a first reading on the topic, as the articles are at the discussion level. It is certainly recommended for people doing active research related to emergence and self-organization. It contains important perspectives sometimes ignored in the Anglophone community.

2008-05-06

New Aphorisms

“Sciences, not even the hardest ones, are not purely objective, nor arts are purely subjective...”

“We can access reality only through models/metaphors”

“The more you scream, the less I'll hear”

“So few intelligent people, so many wise guys...”

“Belief in an absolute truth leads to intolerance”

“Is it me, or is it the context?”

“Nature brings us closer to ourselves”

“To fool others, you need to fool yourself first, thus becoming a fool”

*“The easiest way to cope with complexity is not having it”

“A failure is not that awful if you learn something from it”

*“People fear/hate other nations only when they don't know them”

*“If only cars were fueled by road rage...”

“The first step to understand people is to accept them as they are”

“Everybody is special. You just need to observe carefully...”


You can find more aphorisms here.