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About NLN

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  • Location
    Southern California
  • College Major/Degree
    MS Biology
  • Favorite Area of Science
    Cognitive science
  1. Hi folks. A bit of shameless self-promotion here, but I hope you'll find that it's worth it. I just finished an interview with Daniel Everett, a linguist with Illinois State University who has attracted a storm of controversy with this theory of language that contradicts Chomsky's Universal Language. The implications are profound for cognitive science, and for defining what makes us human. Machines Like Us interviews Daniel Everett I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a prosperous new year. All the best, Norm Nason
  2. We also must remember that all children start off being less intelligent than their parents, but as they grow up, many become much more intelligent.
  3. In the recent election, California State ballot Proposition 8--eliminating same-sex marriage--posed complex ethical, legal, religious, and scientific questions. Proposition 8 is the California State ballot proposition that would amend the state Constitution, to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman--overturning a recent California Supreme Court decision that had recognized same-sex marriage in California as a fundamental right. The official ballot title language for Proposition 8 was, "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry." On the day after the election, the resul
  4. I thought you folks might be interested in reading An Atheist's Creed, by physicist Mano Singham. It's a remarkable piece.
  5. The difference is that with the former, the entity would be self aware; with the latter, it would have no self-awareness.
  6. Was HAL, the computer featured in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001: A Space Odyssey, a sentient being, or merely the product of "brute force" computation? Since his debut in 1968, HAL has served as the guidepost for artificial intelligence research. More than any other character in fiction, he has represented the enormous potential of the field, and has helped to launch the carriers of many an AI researcher. Calm, rational, and eerily human, HAL would certainly pass the Turing test. But was he actually a conscious being -- an emergent byproduct of some robust future algorithm -- awake and aware
  7. I just finished reading a remarkable biography of Albert Einstein, and want to recommend it. It's called Einstein, His Life and Universe. It's the first biography to tackle Einstein's enormous volume of personal correspondence that until recently had been sealed from the public. It's hard to imagine another book that could do equal justice to Einstein's richly textured and complicated life. It's really a wonderful read, and tells us not only about Einstein's science, but his personal life as well. Machines Like Us
  8. Here's why I don't think it will be possible for a human to ever travel either forward or backward in time: both time and motion would prevent it. Why time itself is the problem: Let's say we have built a time machine. A human steps into it, expecting to be transported to another time. But because he has a physical body composed of trillions of spatially separate and distinct molecules, each molecule would have to be simultaneously transported and reassembled at the other end. It would all have to occur at exactly the same instant, because if it did not, one part of the body would dema
  9. When I was in the sixth grade (longer ago than I care to admit), the elementary school I attended administered a program that has benefited me ever since. Not long before graduating, a single week was set aside to prepare departing students for their move up the ladder of higher education. For five days we no longer attended a single classroom, but rather six, as would later be the case in Junior High, High School and College. Separate teachers instructed us on a variety of topics: Music, History, Art, Science, Literature, and, my favorite—Critical Thinking. This class was taught by Mr. Anders
  10. In this interview, molecular biologist Johnjoe McFadden discusses human cognition, synthetic life, and artificial intelligence. An excerpt: "The basic problem is that our subjective experience of consciousness does not correspond to the neurophysiology of our brain. When we see an object, such as a tree, the image that is received by our eyes is processed, in parallel, in millions of widely separated brain neurons. Some neurons process the colour information, some process aspects of movement, some process texture elements of the image. But there is nowhere in the brain where all these disp
  11. The universe’s clock has neither a start nor finish, yet time is finite -- according to a New Zealand theorist. The theory, which tackles the age-old mystery of the origin of the universe, along with several other problems and paradoxes in cosmology, calls for a new take on our concept of time -- one that has more in common with the “cyclic” views of time held by ancient thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci, than the Christian calendar and Bible-influenced belief in “linear” time now so deeply imbedded in modern western thinking.
  12. A new interview with evolutionist/atheist Mano Singham can be found here. To quote him: "Once you concede the idea of a god, you have ceased to think rationally in that area of your life, and are prey to those who preach extreme forms of religion. Of course, most people do not go so far, but that is because most people are not really that religious, though they say and act like they are. In the TV show House, someone asks the title character whether he is an atheist and he replies "Only on Christmas and Easter. The rest of the time it doesn't seem to matter." I think he is right. Most peo
  13. Ben Goertzel is CEO of Novemente, a software company racing to develop the first artificially intelligent agent for Second Life, the internet virtual environment. His creation will learn by interacting with Second Life participants, and Ben in confident that it will meet -- and eventually exceed -- human level intelligence. In this new Machines Like Us interview, Ben discusses his projects in detail.
  14. Controversial Artificial Intelligence researcher Hugo de Garis tells us his thoughts about American science, "brain building," and superhuman intelligence in a new interview which can be read here.
  15. NLN

    Steve Grand

    A terrific new interview with Artificial Intelligence guru Steve Grand can be found here.
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