Nov 23, 2007

The Trains To Orbit Leave From Platform 5

Not a road to the stars, but a railtrack to orbit. "The restaurant car is on the top of the train." How far ? Well, like riding the Transib проезда туда и обратно, twice in a row. But the view ! The view ! Sure, it's expensive to build, but that's a cherished tradition. In Austria, too. Equator ? No, no, Linz is +48° 17' 43", but that's no problem, believe me. The Van Allen belt ? I'm more afraid of railroad strikes. And once we're in GEO, you can take the connecting train to the southern hemisphere from platform 3, and go down again over Brazil. Transatlantic bridge !

(Artwork Ticket to the moon by Christoph Steinbrener & Rainer Dempf)

A Simple Heuristic Explanation of Solomonoff Induction

Solomonoff induction, named after its inventor Ray Solomonoff, is a mathematical method that describes how to take some set of observations and produce an educated guess about possible processes underlying that observations. You could then use that guess, among else, to make a prediction about your next observation. The great thing is that this guess would, in a very general way, be better than any other guess anyone could make using just the same observations. Solomonoff induction is a simple and useful, yet widely misunderstood idea. Here I'm trying to give a very short, heuristic explanation of the basics. You can also try out this slightly more challenging explanation. A follow-up post to this one will deal with possible applications of Solomonoff's results.

Something simple beforehand: A string of 5 bits can take 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 =2^5 configurations. A string of n bits can take 2^n configurations. A string of n+1 bits can take 2^(n+1) configurations, that's an additional factor of two over 2^n. So if we have one extra bit of length, we can make twice as many different strings.

Imagine the following task: You are sitting in a lab in front of a computer screen. The computer is running a simple program, but you have no idea what the program looks like. The program is printing output after output on the screen. After a while, you should give an educated guess about the unknown program's next output.

To make things a little easier, the experimentator is telling you the program is at most 1 million bits in length. This is not part of Solomonoff induction originally, but accept it for the moment.

"Well", you say, "I could look through all possible programs shorter than million bits, see if they could produce the output I've seen, and throw away all programs that don't. That is, programs that output something different, or get trapped in infinite loops, or crash, or don't even compile. Because, it is an old maxim of mine that when you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Then I'll let this "truth" run on my own computer, and use the output to predict the next output on the screen.

That's a good idea, but what if you end up with more than one program in the end ? Well, there's no reason to think the experimentator tried to make things particularly easy or complicated, and you're not a big fan of medieval philosophy either, so you decide to split the bets evenly between all the remaining programs. If you'd end up with 5 possible candidate programs, you'd say each one has 1/5 probability of being the right program.

But it may take a while to sift through all the 2^1.000.000 possible programs. So the experimentator has mercy and gives you two sheets of paper containing the printout of two programs that do in fact produce the output you've seen. One is 1.999 bits long (it's titled SHORT), the other 2.000 bits (it's titled LONG). The experimentator also tells you that the two programs embody the only two simple approaches to produce the data you've seen, any other approach would be waaayyy more complicated. SHORT will output Cat next, long will output Fish.

You're about to say "there's a 50% chance LONG is the right program, and a 50% ..." but then you hesitate. Because you just found a simple way to create more programs that are using the same approaches as LONG and SHORT: Just insert some comments into LONG and SHORT. The comment doesn't even have to be witty, nonsense will do just fine. The output will be the same, and if the program is shorter than 1.000.000 bits, it'll be OK. These will be valid programs, and although they do the same things that LONG and SHORT do, they must be counted as individuals.

You realize you can make a lot of variations of LONG and SHORT this way. With LONG, you have 1.000.000 - 2.000 = 1.998.000 bits remaining for commentary. With SHORT, you have 1.000.000 - 1.999 = 1.998.001 bits, that's one extra bit. If you can make a Gazillion comments on LONG, this one extra bit allows you to make two Gazillion comments on SHORT, twice as many.

So within all possible programs of less than 1.000.000 bits of length there are twice as many variants of SHORT as there are of LONG. Consequently, you decide to say "I'll bet 2:1 that the program inside the computer is behaving like the program SHORT, and not like the program LONG. So it's 2:1 for Cat against Fish."

OK, that's it, in principle. Be aware that the length limit of 1.000.000 bits is imposed only for didactic reasons. The 2:1 ratio would be unchanged if we increased the limit to a Trillion bits - there's still the extra bit available in SHORT, and we can make twice as many comments. So let's ditch the limit altogether. Let's just say being one bit shorter makes a program twice as likely.

Be also aware that we have shown no preference for short programs in the beginning. We had no idea whether to expect short or long programs, so for simplicity we decided to split the probability even between all programs, irrespective of length. We just put our bets on SHORT in the end because there are more variations of SHORT than there are of long.

To rephrase it: If we had sampled random programs of less than 1.000.000 bits, and at the end of the day had ended up with twice as many programs outputting Cat than programs outputting Fish, we'd probably put our bets on Cat being the next output. But what we did was we found a very short Cat program and a slightly longer Fish program. From this we were able to deduce that there must be more Cat programs out there than Fish programs, because the shorter Cat program leaves more room for crazy comments without hitting the length limit (no matter how big the length limit really is).

So you see the basic idea is really simple - not having the slightest idea beforehand what program to expect means assigning equal probability to all candidate programs. And finding a short program means deducing that there are more variations of the short program than of any longer program - a factor of two for every extra bit - so there are more variations of the short program in our set of candidate programs, so we'll put higher bets on the short program (again, a factor of two for every extra bit.)

Nov 19, 2007

Wheelchaired Robot Girl Totally Un-Moemoe IRL.

Canadian robot enthusiast Le Trung's creation Aiko, the "world's first sexually harassed, disabled Fembot" (Engadget), once again vividly demonstrates the Grand-Canyon-like dimensions of the uncanny valley. Watch the video here. Some comments by various posters:

- "Her right hook punch looks promising." - "I, for one, welcome our wheelchair-bound, face-slapping female android overlords." - "Wow. She speaks perfect Engrish." - "OK, so I'm going to finish that underground bunker after all."

I have to admit that this makes me seriously reconsider my own robot-girlfriend project.

Hey, I'm joking.


And if - I'm saying if - I ever were to hypothetically build a robot girl in my basement I surely wouldn't ever sink as low as to cannibalize an Oriental Industries Candy Girl, as Le Trung apparently seems to have done. (A Nana, if you ask me; notice the slightly more protruding chin in Aiko resulting from added motorization, which is in fact difficult to do without...OK, forget what I just said.)

To make today's cup of weirdness full, I found there is also a Candy Girl available that looks bizarrely like often-spaced-out Osaka-San* from Azumanga Daioh , once again nicely illustrating MIT professor Max Tegmark's cosmological theory of radical Platonism, which states that every logically possible entity does in fact exist somewhere in the Universe, most likely in Japan.

( * = It's the 未来; I will not post a link. It's deplorable enough already that my blog is linking to Oriental Industry's main page. Look her up for yourself, if you think you're brave enough. )

Nov 9, 2007

....with science !

Comic artist Aaron Diaz of Dresden Codak fame has decided to quit his day job and work full time on his webcomic. It's nice artwork, it's high-brow, it's fun, and it's got characters you wish you could meet in real life. And DC seems to really understand the hardships of being a Singularitarian. Let's support him through purchasing stuff and through donations ! (It might even get you a place reserved in secular heaven.)

Nov 8, 2007

Science Has No Use For Ockham's Razor

entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
"Please keep things simple."

(William of Ockham)
(Bertrand Russel)

manus non sunt ventilandae praeter necessitatem.
"Please keep the handwaving down."

You know, I've had it with Ockham's razor.

My work in machine learning is more or less orbiting the Solomonoff - Chaitin - Kolmogorov - Hutter - Boulton - Wallace galaxy. This simply means I'm assuming that the data I'm analyzing is the output of a computational process, any computational process. I have no idea whatsoever as to the sourcecode of this process, so I'm trying to assign equal a priori probability to all programs. Now suppose I'm stumbling over two short programs which in fact do output my data. Both programs are 1000 bits long. Let's say the first one is a neural net, and the other's a support vector machine.
Now assume, after playing around with my first program, I'm finding out that only the first 50 bits are in fact important for producing the output. The rest is just random garbage. I could in fact try out all combinations of those remaining 950 bits and get 2^950 different neural nets that all output my data. Now I'm trying the same thing with program two. Here, only the first 49 bits matter, and I could create 2^951 variations of support vector machines, that's twice as many as in the case of program 1. Since I try to assign equal a priori probability to all programs, and possible support vector machines outnumber possible neural nets two-to-one, I'd bet two-to-one that my for the support vector machine and against the neural net.
Note that the "1000 bits" do not figure into the result, I could just have well have chosen 10.000 bits, or 10 Gazillion bits. Also, if the first program had been 723 bits instead of 1000, I could have just padded it with 277 extra garbage bits to make it as long as the second. The argument stays the same. We're cutting a few corners here, but the basic idea is that, when you have to assign probabilities to various models, you calculate the number of bits absolutely necessary to produce your models, and penalize all models but the shortest by a relative factor of 0.5 for every bit of extra length. Let me repeat it, this is just a consequence of assuming the true process that's creating your data (the "world") is a program, any program, and before having seen the data, you have no idea whatsoever which program. Simple, isn't it ?

Welcome to the world of of Solomonoff induction.

The attentive reader might have noticed the complete absence of any reference to Ockham in the above explanation. What Ockham himself really intended to say is not entirely clear, nor is it actually too clear what people today mean when they invoke his name. To repeat it once again, the reason we penalize long models, or theories, in Solomonoff induction, is because we don't know a priori which program created our observation. It's not like we have anything against long models, or that we said hey, remember Ockham! Sure, what we've ended up with seems to go along somewhat with Ockham's razor, but we notice this after we got our results. So if anything, you could try to say Solomonoff induction explains why Ockham's razor works, and not the other way round. But don't, for it doesn't.
To illustrate this think of the two hypotheses "Afro-Americans get comparatively few PhDs because of [a complicated interplay of socioeconomic factors]" and "Afro-Americans get comparatively few PhDs because of they don't have the intelligence gene X." Shooting from their hip, people would say the second hypothesis is simpler. Is it ?
How the hell should I know !! Imagine just for a moment trying to translate those two verbal statements into computer programs which produce the data in question. The data in question being human academic achievement. PhD theses. Social interactions. Application interviews. Then imagine what has to be included in the program's source code: Human genetics, human brain structure, social dynamics, macroeconomic systems...We're talking at least gigabits of data here. Trying to estimate the length of such huge programs down to a few bits is like doing a bit of lattice quantum chromodynamics in your head in order to estimate the proton mass. Humans simply can't do this. If you can, give me call. I have a job for you.
So the connection between the rigorous theory that is Solomonoff Induction, and the intuitive insight that is Ockham's razor is tentative at best. OK, nonexistent. The same goes for machine learning theories like minimum message length (MML), minimum description length (MDL), or the Akaike information criterion (AIC), which can all be shown to be approximations of Solomonoff induction.
Then why do so many people, even those working in the very field, handwavingly invoke Ockham as the forefather of their discipline ?

Ockham’s Razor has long been known as a philosophical paradigm, and in recent times, has become an. invaluable tool of the machine learning community. (link)

Algorithmic probability [comment: the theory behind Solomonoff induction] rests upon two philosophical principles...[]...The second philosophical foundation is the principle of Occam's razor. (link).

Or this, that, and many more examples ?

Let me make it clear that I really respect the authors quoted above as scientist, (the author of the second quote contributed fundamentally to the field of algorithmic probability theory himself !). But really, I cannot imagine any other reasons for summoning Ockham in this context than the desire to look humanistic, or philosophical, the desire to make students nodd in "comprehension", or, I'm sorry, a bit of muddled thinking.

OK, so let's make it clear once more:
  • Ockham's razor is an intuitive philosophical insight.
  • Ockham's razor is NOT the underlying principle of Solomonoff induction. It may have been an inspiration to Solomoff, but so may have been, say, talking to Marvin Minsky. Note also the complete absence of the name "Ockham" (or Occam) in this talk.
  • MML, MDL, AIC, MAP, and even least-squares approaches to theory formation can all be derived from Solomonoff induction. Logically, Ockham's razor is NOT the underlying principle of any of these theories.
  • Solomonoff induction is NOT a "formalization" of Ockham's razor. Solomonoff induction does NOT proof Ockham's razor is useful.
  • Ockham's razor is NOT an empirical observation. It's a maxime, a rule of thumb, a heuristic. It's usefulness can in fact be debated, since it's a rubberband rule, i.e. you can stretch it in to various sizes and shapes. Your intuitionist notion of simplicity may not be the same as mine. In the end, we're back to gut feeling.
  • Ockham's razor is intended for use by human beings. You cannot really translate it into a rigorous mathematical statement. In particular Solomonoff induction is not a "version" of Ockham's razor.
  • MDL, MML, MAP, AIC are valid mathematical approaches at scientific data analysis. A scientist should not defend the use of these methods by invoking Ockham's razor. And if a scientist invokes Ockham's razor in a non-mathematical situation, be aware he's essentially talking about his gut feeling.

Nov 6, 2007


この写真ザンクト・フローリアン(St. Florian)修道院のブナの木が表示されます。 ところで作曲家アントン・ブルックナーはこの場所の近くに生まれた。日本人の読者のごあいさつを!

Oct 26, 2007

The Absence Of Monologue

How do I tell them that because of the unfreezing process I have no inner monologue? I hope I didn't just say that out loud...
Austin Powers

I still don't know why humans have an internal monologue. This means I'm seriously wondering about it's evolutionary motivation, and could not imagine why I would include it in an AI design.

But of course, I'm somewhat biased from personal experience, here.

The truth is, until the age of 12 or 13 years, I myself simply had no inner monologue at all. Unlike the International Man of Mystery however, I was not talking out loud. I was simply thinking completely non-verbally all the time. This seemed to have had no negative net effect on my cognitive abilities at all; I was a bit smarter than most kids my age. (Well, maybe a bit smarter than most smart kids, too...) Social cognition or speech production, two likely first casualties, weren't impaired either. Personally, I was not even aware of this anomaly in the first place, since I did not know how noisy other minds were. When I was exposed to inner monologue in film or literature, I interpreted it as a style device, like the "sweat drop" in manga. In the same spirit, I interpreted a sentence like " The pig thought: "I should be going home" " as the pig thinking that it should go home, but not literally subverbalizing "I should be going home".

Curiously, I absolutely cannot remember how or when I started to develop an inner monologue. Neither can I remember being aware of any change for months or maybe even years. But I have biographical memories from when I was about 13 years where I was reflecting on the apparent change.

Bottom line: "thought = language" = BS.

Oct 5, 2007

W2V2 Part 4: My Other Car Is A Tractor

An you thought your SUV makes you look rugged...

The Wondrous World of Vogelweiderplatz Vehicles is a series of snapshots I recently took on Vogelweiderplatz - just around the corner from where I live - a place where people seem to have a taste for extravagant vehicles.

Oct 3, 2007

Inhaling The Fresh, Clear, And Wonderfully Radioactive Mountain Air.

Last week I went on a holiday in the beautiful mountains of Salzburg. I went to Bad Gastein, a spa resort spectacularly located directly beside a waterfall, which had it's heydays in the 1900s. Bad Gastein offers great hiking in summer, skiing in winter, several spas, a casino, clean air, and many belle epoque grand hotels. But the reason people have been going there since the middle ages is the therapeutic effect of it's thermal water. No one else than Marie Curie was it who discovered the water contains a high amount of 222Radon. Scientific studies have concluded the products of Radon decay (Radon itself has a very short biological half-life of ~30 minutes) stimulate anti-inflammatory cytokine release, corticosteroid release, endorphine release, and trigger various cellular repair mechanisms. If bathing in radioactive spring water for health reasons sounds too much like a Captain Future setting for you, how about this: going a mile down underground in a little train, through an airlock, to a place where the temperature is 40°C, the humidity at 80%, and lying down there, naked, in the dark, for an hour, to get the Radon directly from the source ? This is the famed Gasteiner Heilstollen, and of course I could not keep myself from going down the shaft at least once during my stay. You can't just purchase a ticket at the local train station, though - before you're allowed to go inside the mountain one has to undergo a medical examination and an informational session. We're talking radioactivity here, after all. The dose from a single one-hour session, however, is still pretty moderate (0.2 mSv), about what you'd get in a month from environmental sources anyhow, so you'll still need a flashlight when the night's too dark.

The ride itself is an elemental experience. Wearing a bathing robe, bedsheets over your arm, you start out at something like a subway station, where you board a claustrophobic, yellow, slightly retro-futuristic train. The train picks up speed, and after a few minutes you reach the undressing station, where the air is already hot and humid. From now one, no talking please ! You continue your ride past an impressive airlock (to keep the Radon inside), and to your designated stop. As this is your first ride, you have to get off at the last stop, Station I, where temperature and humidity are lowest. You find yourself in a system of tunnels carved from rock. The rock is exposed, no concrete or painting here, as it is the rock itself that is the source of the Radon. The rock feels eerily warm, quite exactly body temperature. The lights are very, very low. You walk a few dozen meters into one tunnel, put your sheets over one of the beds, and lie down. Thereafter, silence. Some people fall asleep, but you keep admiring the structures inside the rock. You let your hand wander over the warm, rough surface. You don't feel claustrophobic at all, though there's a million tons weighing down on this tunnel. On the contrary, you feel peaceful and protected.
Time goes by surprisingly quickly. A doctor (in Speedos) comes by to check whether you're feeling fine. For emergencies, there's a climate chamber at the train station, where it is bright, and cool, and the ceiling is high. But you tell the doctor you're feeling perfectly fine. After an hour has gone by (presumably; no watches here, please !), you hear the distant rumble of the train. Still, you keep lying down. You have been strictly instructed not to get up until you're called upon. If one stands up too long in here, waiting, one might collapse, the doctor has told you. Then it's time to leave. You're the last one to leave. As you exit, you look back, squint, but you can't see the end of the tunnel in this darkness.
Back on the surface, you're brought to a room overlooking the valley. You lie down in the bed, under thick linnen. The window's tilted, to get in the fresh air, and it's a cool september afternoon. You rest for half an hour or so, then finally get up. Still a bit weak on your knees, you dress yourself, (no showering, please), and go down to the lobby, where someone is going to pick you up for a ride back to the hotel.

And next time I'm going to tell you how I was bitten by a genetically modified lab mouse a few years ago.

Sep 14, 2007

Stumbling Across The Fibonacci Numbers

The sequence of numbers starting with 0, 1 , each number after those being the sum of the preceding two, known as the Fibonacci numbers, can often be found in nature. For example, yesterday I was taking a stroll in the woods of Salzburg, thinking of nothing in particular and suddenly - bang ! - there they were: 0,1,1,3,5,8, and so on, all the way up to 10946 ! A truly satisfying experience for an appreciator of mathematical regularity in nature.

(Artwork by Mario Merz.)

Sep 11, 2007

Singularity Satire From 1971

Unfortunately, one of Lem's best stories was never translated to English. Experimenta Felicitologica, set in a quasi-Swiftean pseudo-medievial steampunk-meets-discworld universe, is a story about genius robot inventor (inventing robots as well as being one) Trurl, who tries to once and for all make the world a happy place. So In fact we have here one of the few existing stories about the problem of Friendly AI, admittedly dealing mainly with Friendliness content, but also a bit with Friendliness structure here and there. In passing, the "inevitable" explosion of intelligence is also being mocked. Lem apparently felt comfortable enough with the concept of the Singularity already in 1971 to make it the subject of satire. Lem apparently came up with the concept independent of Good or Campbell, but then, Lem came up with many, many ideas in the sixties...

The following is a short excerpt from the German edition of the Kyberiade translated by myself. At this point Trurl has, over the last 30 pages or so, been struggling haplessly with his goal of universal beatification, and suddenly realizes he may in fact be too dumb for the task. Consequently, he decides to build an AI smarter than himself in order to solve the problem of universal happiness for him.

No sooner said than done. After twelve days of work a huge machine stood in the midst of the shop, an energetically humming, exceptionally orthogonal beauty, consecrated to a sole task: to attack the problem of problems and to victoriously end this fight. He switched it on, but not even waited for the crystal diodes and triodes to warm up, and instead took a well-earned promenade. On his return the machine was radiating with zealousness, fully engrossed in its work, which couldn't possibly be more complicated: for the machine was busy with building, from whatever was at hand, a second, considerably larger machine. This machine, in turn, spent the night and the following day tearing down the walls and the roof in order to make room for the next machine giant. Trurl pitched his tent in the garden and patiently waited for the heavy labor to end, which however, was not yet foreseeable to happen anytime soon. Across the meadow, up to the woods, cracking trees like matches, a towering scaffold had spread; the original computerium was being pushed closer and closer to the riverbank, until it eventually went under with a bubbling sound. When Trurl finally wanted to get a general idea of the whole complex created so far, a hasty round tour took him a solid half an hour. Instantly he inspected more closely the way the machines were connected among themselves - and froze. This was a case he, until then, had known just from theory; because, as the hypothesis of the great Cerebron Pansophos Omniavidaudit, the legendary grand old man of Elementary and Higher Cybernetics clearly states, a computer which is given a task exceeding the limits of it's own capabilities, will - as long as it just crosses a certain threshold, the so-called Barrier of Wisdom -, instead of struggling with the challenge, build a second computer, which, knowing how the wind blows, will again pass on the work to a third, ad hoc constructed, computer, and so this chain of delegations continues ad infinitum. Indeed the steel beams of the forty-ninth generation of computers already towered on the horizon, and the noise of this enormous intellectual undertaking of passing on the problem could have easily drowned the roaring of a waterfall. Because it is this that is the essence of intelligence: making someone else do the work assigned to you. Blind obedience to programs and electronic regulations is therefore just a thing for dunces and sneaks. Having grasped so clearly the nature of the phenomenon, Trurl sat down on a stump, which, like so many, was a relict of the expansive computer revolution, and sighed deeply.

Following these events, Trurl will try to upload a copy of himself to a powerful computer, to control the runaway intelligence explosion. But like Paul Durham in Egan's Permutation City, he will find his uploaded copy to be somewhat uncooperative.

This is BTW not the first time I happen to stumble upon a striking parallel between Egan and Lem (whom PK Dick believed to be a consortium of Soviet writers.) For example, the concept of different intelligences collapsing the laws of physics into different, possibly conflicting states, which is the main plot device of the second part of Permutation City, can be found in the last chapter of the Lem's Perfect Vacuum.

Aug 29, 2007

Nuttiest Research Paper In A While

This is exactly the sort of research the Academy of Lagado would publish today:

New Approach to Financial Time Series Forecasting - Quantum Minimization Regularizing BWGC and NGARCH Composite Model

I partcularily appreciate the matter-of-factness they present the results from their (claimed) application of Hoyer's Quantum Algorithm in table 1.

Aug 12, 2007

W2V2 Part 3: Hello Kitty Car

Old enough to drive.

Young enough to crave Hello Kitty merchandise.

Choose one. Can't have both.

The Wondrous World of Vogelweiderplatz Vehicles is a series of snapshots I recently took on Vogelweiderplatz - just around the corner from where I live - a place where people seem to have a taste for extravagant vehicles.

Aug 11, 2007

Immune Epitope Database Of Unspeakable Horrors

The problem with reading Lovecraft is that, after a while, peptide sequences start looking decidedly demonic. Look, as an illustration, on the following sequence from Herpes virus:


Definitely Lovecraftian.

" As he translated the inscription at the bottom of the monstrous winged tentacled statue, I felt the blood draining from my face. " The Elder Evil ! " I whispered, " the amorph god of the deep, mentioned in folk lore of certain degenerate Papuan tribes - YIWPRNDYDGFLENAHEHHG ! "

Try for yourself:

Jul 19, 2007

"Why have engineers ignored results and knowledge of psychoanalysis ? " Well, there's a hell of a good reason.

To whom it may concern.

The upcoming "1st international Engineering and Neuro-Psychoanalysis forum" in Vienna, Austria was prominently featured by Austria's state- sponsored news agency today.

It is my opinion that the presentation of psycho- analysis as a discipline relevant to, and respected by, the AI community, is damaging to the scientific integrity of AI in general and AGI in particular.

Unfortunately, this event makes for a good news story, and will undoubtedly receive an amount of coverage widely disproportionate to its scientific relevance or novelty.
The resulting disinformation among politicians, grant agencies and the general public will, in my opinion, work to the disadvantage of AI researchers who seriously attempt to integrate (neuro-)psychological findings into their projects.

Participants of this conference have already implied that they will apply for Austrian state and industry grants. To me, as a "local", it seems very well plausible that a substantial fraction of these applications will be successful, meaning those ideas would be around for years to come, well funded, and well established within the (local) academia.

As far as I can see, neither the decades-long history of the field of affective computing (A. Ortony, C. Elliott, R. Picard..), nor the field of AGI itself have been explicitly acknowledged in interviews or on the conference's web page. Participants might still do so in their presentations and publications. If this silence is, however, kept, (be it the result of ignorance or deliberation) life (at least in Austria) will undoubtedly become somewhat more difficult for those scientists who wish to present their grant proposals with respect to the above mentioned fields.

If you think this is worrisome, and requires action, I'd suggest :

- informing concerned researchers and activists

- possibly delivering a statement to the Austrian ministry of science, the largest grant agencies in Austria, and the news, possibly signed by a number of AI researchers working in relevant fields, making clear that even though there's far from a consensus on how the mind works, there's definitely a consensus out there that the mind isn't working according to psychoanalytic theory.

Modeling of the affective-cognitive interplay is a vigorous and sound research discipline, especially when based on neurobiological insights. It is my impression that reaching out to a subdiscipline of psychology generally regarded as pseudoscience (to use a more printable word) is a challenge to the scientific integrity and respectability of this research paradigm.


Manuel Moertelmaier

Apr 7, 2007

W2V2 Part 2: Rudimentary Plug-In Hybrid

Yes, we Austrians know about jumper cables. But why not do something nice to the environment once in a while and recharge a dead battery from the grid ?

The Wondrous World of Vogelweiderplatz Vehicles is a series of snapshots I recently took on Vogelweiderplatz - just around the corner from where I live - a place where people seem to have a taste for extravagant vehicles.

The World's Most Beautiful Supercomputer

The Mare Nostrum supercomputer at the Centro Nacional de Super- computacion, Barcelona, is currently the most powerful supercomputer in Europe, featuring 2560 JS21 blade computing nodes, each with 2 dual-core IBM 64-bit PowerPC 970MP pro- cessors running at 2.3 GHz for 10240 CPUs in total. Residing in a former chapel named Torre Girona, it's undoubtedly an impressive sight. In fact, it would make an excellent real-world incarnation of transhuman AI Golem XIV from Polish SF writer S. Lem's 1973 book Imaginary Magnitude. ImMag, definitely one of the most underrated works by Lem (himself easily qualifying the most underrated among SF writers), casually introduces motives like superintelligent AI, recursive self-enhancement, auto- evolution, synthetic biology, the impossibility of controlling AI with injunctions, and Dawkins' selfish genes - three years before Dawkins himself did so. Oh, and BTW, the book consists mainly of a collection of forewords - but isn't all science fiction a foreword of sorts?
ImMag was the book that introduced me to transhumanism in 1996, and when I later worked through the more popular works on transhumanism, I often found myself thinking "well, isn't this all incredibly old hat ? Haven't SF authors been elaborating on such themes since the Sixties ?" No, by and large, they haven't. Just a guy in Poland, working in isolation, wrote stories on self-replicating nanomachines. the Singularity, and pompous supercomputers.

Mar 28, 2007

W2V2 Part 1: Furry Bike

The Ainu among bikes ? A tribute to Meret Oppenheim ? Or maybe just a way of proudly stating "I really, really love things *furry*." OK, let's better not pursue that last line of thought any further.

The Wondrous World of Vogelweiderplatz Vehicles is a series of snapshots I recently took on Vogelweiderplatz - just around the corner from where I live - a place where people seem to have a taste for extravagant vehicles.

Jan 8, 2007

Seven Deadly Haibane

This is basically correct.
The correct pairing, however, is in fact:

Nemu <-> sloth
Reki <-> pride
Hikari <-> gluttony
Kana <-> greed
Kuu <-> envy
Midori <-> wrath
Hyouko <-> lust

In a TV interview, ABe implied the existence of several Easter
Eggs in HR.What I can come up quickly with is this. Maybe
the world needs ?