Appreciating Neurodiversity

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Appreciating Neurodiversity

Dr. Eiko Ikegami, YHouse Co-founder and the Walter A. Eberstadt Professor of Sociology and History at the New School for Social Research in New York City, appeared in an English-language interview with Japan's NHK WORLD TV on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 to discuss her research on virtual worlds and autism. You can watch the interview at the NHK website, where it will be available until the end of January.

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[#27] World and Mind: What Contains What?

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[#27] World and Mind: What Contains What?

The world appears in our mind, and it makes sense to assume that our mind is inherently connected to our body which is part of the world.  When we ask "what contains what?" a sensible answer is: "our mind is contained in the world, but we use our mind to access the world, so the experienced world . . .

By Piet Hut

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Synopsis of Christoph Salge’s 11/16/17 YHouse Luncheon Talk

Synopsis of Christoph Salge’s 11/16/17 YHouse Luncheon Talk

Presenter: Christoph Salge (New York University / University of Hertfordshire)

Title: A Short Introduction to Empowerment – an Information Theoretic, Intrinsic Motivation

Present: Olaf Witkowski, Ed Turner, Piet Hut, Michael Solomon, Stephen Lin, Renzo Comoletti, Christoph Salge.

Abstract: “Empowerment is a formalization of how much an agent is in control of its own perceivable future. This is captured by the channel capacity from an agent’s actuators to an agent’s sensor at a later point in time. In this short presentation, I will briefly introduce the formalism and idea behind empowerment. I will outline how empowerment relates to the concept of intrinsic motivation and show some recent applications that demonstrate the range of behaviors that can be created in different scenarios. In particular, I will talk about recent work looking at coupled empowerment maximisation in a human-AI system – and how this can be used to define some core companion duties.”

Christoph introduced himself as now working at NYU’s Game Computation Group.  He stated his goal for this talk is to introduce Empowerment and formalism....

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[#26] A Challenge for Humanity: Time Scale Crossing

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[#26] A Challenge for Humanity: Time Scale Crossing

In physics, whenever we confront a new problem, we ask ourselves the question of time scales.  Typically, different processes operate at quite different time scales, but  occasionally time scales cross.  That's when things get really interesting, as in "may you live in interesting times."

By Piet Hut

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Synopsis of Smitha Vishveshwara's YHouse Luncheon Talk 10/15/2017

Synopsis of YHouse Luncheon Talk 10/5/2017 by Smitha Vishveshwara

Title: Pathless Journey

On Thursdays at noon Yhouse holds a lunch meeting at the Institute of Advanced Study, in Princeton. The format is a 15 minute informal talk by a speaker followed by a longer open-ended discussion among the participants, triggered by, but not necessarily confined to, the topic of the talk.  In order to share I am posting a synopsis of the weekly meetings.

Preliminary Abstract: "The Universe at the quantum and cosmic scales instills wonder and exercises physical laws quite foreign to the human scale. Here, I share my three interconnected collaborative ventures that explore these two awe-inspiring realms through the arts. One concerns the writing of a popular book on quantum physics and Einstein's relativity in the format of letters between father and daughter. Another relates to science-art creations stemming from an interdisciplinary course,  Where the Arts meets Physics. The third involves devising a performance piece entitled Quantum-Cosmic Journeys."

The title of Smitha’s presentation was inspired by her quoting philosopher and educator J. Krishnamurti, ‘Truth is a Pathless Land’. ....

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[#25] Toward a Science of Computer Architecture

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[#25] Toward a Science of Computer Architecture

Steam engines use energy to power motion, and computers use energy to power calculations.  The invention of steam engines gave rise to the theory of thermodynamics, where entropy growth describes loss of information.  What will the invention of computers give rise to?  Whatever it will be . . .

By Piet Hut

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Workshop summary: "Naturalizing Phenomenology": Is this the way to proceed?

Workshop name: "Naturalizing Phenomenology": Is this the way to proceed?

Date: November 10-11, 2017

Place: Hunter College (first day) and WeWork Park South (second day)

Organizer: Yuko Ishihara (Tokyo Institute of Technology / Institute for Advanced Study / YHouse)

How can phenomenology contribute to the study of consciousness today? This is the underlying question of the YHouse Phenomenology Group, a group of philosophers and scientists interested in exploring the potentials of phenomenology. Here “phenomenology” designates the philosophical enterprise initiated by Edmund Husserl in the beginning of the twentieth century. According to Husserl and many other phenomenologists, phenomenology is a scientific discipline which studies the nature of consciousness. If this is true, then how does it differ from other scientific studies of consciousness such as psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience? Furthermore, if phenomenology is to collaborate with the other sciences, how should we understand the nature of this collaboration?

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[#24]  The Presence of the Present

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[#24]  The Presence of the Present

Last week, I pointed out how we are born in the present, live in the present and will die in the present.  Even though we experience our own virtual reality creation, in the form of our mental constructs of a past and a future, those are current constructs based on current memories and anticipations.  This does not necessarily mean . . .

By Piet Hut

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[#23]  Time and Reality

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[#23]  Time and Reality

Last week I wrote about language weaving a virtual reality from us, through the use of concepts that tend to dress up all that  we experience.  Naked reality remains largely hidden for us, except perhaps for a split second after waking up, while we are putting on our conceptual clothes, or in moments of great surprise.  Time is the greatest concept of all, hiding . . . .

By Piet Hut

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[#22]  Language, Concepts and Reality

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[#22]  Language, Concepts and Reality

The origin of language, a few hundred thousand years ago, was also the origin of virtual reality: the ability to communicate about the not-here, not-now, not-you.  And in the process we learned to talk to ourselves, entertaining fantasies, spelling out hope and fear.  Since then we've rarely stopped doing so.

By Piet Hut

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Synopsis of 11/2/17 YHouse Luncheon Talk by Yuko Ishihara and Piet Hut

Title: Math, Matter, Mind, and Beyond

Presenter: Piet Hut (IAS, Princeton) and Yuko Ishihara (ELSI, Tokyo)

Title: Math, Matter, Mind, and Beyond

A link to the 2006 Paper is:  https://arxiv.org/pdf/physics/0510188.pdf

Present:  Piet Hut, Yuko Ishihara, Ed Turner, Michael Solomon, Bob McClennan, Kim Cheung, Michael Rassias, Olaf Witkowski

      Piet opened the presentation noting that the paper published 12 years ago was the product of 20 plus years of discussions...

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[#21]  Novelty: in Matter, in Knowledge of Matter, and in Knowledge of Knowledge

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[#21] Novelty: in Matter, in Knowledge of Matter, and in Knowledge of Knowledge

The last four days I spent in Atlanta, at Georgia Tech, visiting Eric Smith, the lead author of a pathbreaking book on the Origin of Life.  A couple years ago, I convinced Eric to write a book with me to extend his views to more general origins questions, from the origin of the Universe, to the origin of life, to the origin of consciousness -- or you could say, the origins of the Universe, life, and the ability to ask these questions.

By Piet Hut

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[#20]  Teaching Reality: Quantum Mechanics

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[#20] Teaching Reality: Quantum Mechanics

Last week I wrote about teaching physical reality in a more honest way in high school, starting with the best theory we have of gravitation, general relativity.  The other pillar of fundamental physics, also discovered early in the 20th century, is quantum mechanics, which is even more fun to teach without using mathematics.

By Piet Hut

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[#19]  Teaching Reality: Starting with Gravity

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[#19] Teaching Reality: Starting with Gravity

In high school, students are taught 19th century physics, two centuries out of date.  Mechanics and gravitation appear as it was known in the late 17th century, and electricity and magnetism as it was known in the early 19th century.  This is a shame: it would be like teaching pre-Darwinian biology!

By Piet Hut

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[#18]  Singularities as Hints, Unrelated to Reality

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[#18] Singularities as Hints, Unrelated to Reality

Predictions of technological singularities are as wrong as predictions of singularities in physics, which have always been the harbingers of new physics.  When any prediction leads to division by zero, we can be sure that new laws or regularities will set in.  What singularities are good for is . . .

By Piet Hut

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Synopsis of Li Zhaoping's YHouse Luncheon Talk 11/9/2017

On Thursdays at noon Yhouse holds a lunch meeting at the Institute of Advanced Study, in Princeton. The format is a 15 minute informal talk by a speaker followed by a longer open-ended discussion among the participants, triggered by, but not necessarily confined to, the topic of the talk.  In order to share I am posting a synopsis of the weekly meetings.

Synopsis of Li Zhaoping’s Yhouse Luncheon talk 11/9/17

Presenter: Zhaoping Li (University College London)

Title: Looking And Seeing In Visual Functions Of The Brain

Abstract: "Vision is a window to the brain, and I will give a short introduction and demonstrate that it can be seen as mainly a problem of "looking and seeing", which are two separable processes in the brain.  Understanding vision requires both experimental and theoretical approaches, and to study the brain using our own brains have its peculiar difficulties."

Present: Piet Hut, Olaf Witkowski, Yuko Ishihara, Arpita Tripathi, Li Zhaoping, Michael Solomon

Li Zhaoping studied physics in China before getting her PhD in Brain Science at Cal Tech and coming to the IAS 27 years ago as a post doc working then on the olfactory system. She currently works at University College London on vision, with an emphasis on computer science and on artificial and natural intelligence. She began with the statement that “The Eyes are the window to the Brain”...

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[#17]  First Mist in the Universe

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[#17] First Mist in the Universe

When the Universe was ten microseconds old, mist started to form in the Universe.  By the time the Universe reached the age of a hundred microseconds, the mist was complete: the Universe was drenched in tiny quark-gluon droplets that would become the protons and neutrons in the nuclei of the atoms that our bodies are built out of.

By Piet Hut

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Synopsis of Michael Solomon’s YHouse Lunch talk 10/26/17 Cancer As A Metabolic Disease

TITLE:  Is cancer a metabolic disease caused by mitochondrial dysfunction?

ABSTRACT:  For the past 40 years we have thought of cancer as the result of somatic mutations in nuclear DNA that either block tumor suppressor genes or unblock oncogenes resulting in malignant transformation.  But our success in understanding or in treating cancer has been sadly limited. Thomas Seyfried and others have made a strong case that, in fact, cancer results from the loss of the cell’s ability to obtain energy (ATP) via oxidative phosphorylation, resulting in the cancer cell’s reverting to more primitive metabolic pathways and fermenting glucose (and the amino acid glutamine) even in the presence of adequate oxygen (aerobic glycolysis).  This theory was originally suggested by Otto Warburg in the 1940’s, the so-called Warburg effect.  I will offer evidence supporting the possibility that malignant transformation in all cancer is a metabolic disease resulting from mitochondrial dysfunction and is not a genetic disease caused by nuclear DNA changes which occur secondarily.  This leads to alternative management strategies for cancer without toxic radiation or chemotherapy.....

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